I’ll do a full post of all the before/after/during details but this is just a race report of the actual race itself.
My predictions for race day:
|Best Case||Worst Case||Prediction||Actual|
I was super pumped with my finish time & all my events, really. I beat my predictions in everything! I was ready for anything to happen and was glad I trained my booty off for this race because it was HARD! I can’t even imagine an ultraman or epic 5! like… one is more than enough!
The swim start was different than years past at this race so we weren’t really sure what to expect. It was a rolling start & we lined up kinda late so we had to squeeze through the masses to try to get as close to the 1:40 finishers as possible. I figured i’d do a 1:40-1:45 based on all our training swims so wanted to get up there so i’d be right around people my pace. Luckily I was with Maureen and we chatted while waiting to start, which was a great distraction! It took a long time to get into the water (we lined up around 6:40 and got in around 7:25) but before we knew it we were at the front of the chute and ready to jump in. by the time we got to the front they were just letting people get in- no two by two or three by three. just go go go! and then the 61.5 degree water was in your face. From the practice swim i knew it would take about 50-100 yards to warm up and sure enough before i knew it my face was numb and i was swimming. And for the first time EVER i was able to pee in my wetsuit mid-swim! be grossed out if you want but it’s a thing. Swimming during races is always way less boring than during training but my mind still wanders like crazy. my head will be all “focus on your form… reach… pull… don’t be lazy… full strokes… i wonder if the volunteers are local… what did i eat yesterday for breakfast… what’s the weather like in bali right now…” It’s constantly a battle to be present but i tried enjoying the swim as much as possible. we did get to see a super gorgeous sunrise when breathing to the right (which i do most of the time unless my back starts hurting and then i mix it up for a few strokes). The sun rising over the city was a great view!!! and then before we knew it we were turning back toward the finish! Alas I had no idea how long i was going to have to swim going back the other way and kept thinking “i’m almost there!” and wasn’t really even close. but i never stopped to look at my watch to see how far i was because i know i swim crazy crooked & didn’t want to get mixed up. According to my watch i ended up swimming over 600 extra yards- whoops! (that’s 12 extra full laps in a typical swimming pool) I did wear mirrored goggles but probably didn’t need them- i never felt like i was swimming right into the sun the way i did during oceanside. The swim to the finish wasn’t super well marked and i wasn’t really sure where i was going- just kept following the people in front of me. The swim was SUPER crowded and the water is disgusting so you can’t see you’re about to hit someone until you literally hit them. someone’s feet could kick your face and you literally would have no idea until you felt the pain. not cool, tempe. But finally i was swimming toward the exit and after a big step up onto the boat ramp and a slippery shuffle to solid ground i was headed toward transition! A quick glance at my watch showed me a 1:35 swim- i thought it couldn’t possibly be right. i felt like i had swam forever but sure enough i rocked my swim! for me that was a GREAT swim time!
it was about a quarter mile run to transition but super slippery and people kept yelling at you to slow down and be careful- i’m guessing lots of early finishers slipped on the wet concrete? In any case my feet were completely numb so i went slowly anyways. I had a lot of time to get my wetsuit down to my waist and got to see tons of friends cheering us on!
The wetsuit strippers were right by transition (score!) and helped pull off my wetsuit (they get you down your booty, have you lift your butt, then raise your legs, and help you up- it’s AWESOME!) and then i got to see my amazing friend Lorna cheering! it was so great to see a familiar face right there!! i was FREEZING and just wanted to get warm! Volunteers helped me find my bike bag and into the changing tent i went. The changing tent was SO WARM and i wanted to stay in there all day! i found an open seat near the back of the tent and got started changing into my bike gear. I made a checklist of everything to do in the tent so i followed it and was grateful to have it since my brain was full of nerves and adrenaline and excitement and freezingness. i had also taken the advice of a friend and wrote thank you letters for the changing tent volunteers that have to look at naked sweaty asses all day. i completely changed out of my swim gear and into a bike kit. i put on old socks as my bike sleeves to keep warm for the start of the bike (it was still pretty chilly outside at 9am) and off i went! the volunteers in the changing tent take your bag for you so you don’t need to worry about anything. best volunteers ever!! Then it was onto the bike.
I got my trusty Ariel from transition and noticed my friend Nicole’s bike was already gone- she’s faster than me at all three sports and i smiled knowing she was already rocking the bike! I walked my bike over to the mount line and off i went to rock that 112 miles. The headwinds started pretty quickly into the bike but i was feeling strong and just wanted to average 16mph on the bike overall, knowing i’d get some extra speed on the downhills. so i decided to be a little conservative on the first part of the bike to save something for later. i’d ridden the course so knew exactly what to expect- a couple of turns at the beginning, a 3-4 mile stretch on a boring road, a couple more turns, and then 11 miles out on the beeline going uphill and 11 miles of sweet sweet downhill before the turny party again. And do that two more times. The uphill on my first out on the beeline was tough. my legs were already tired & the wind had gotten to me a little. Luckily the headwinds weren’t nearly as bad as years prior but i definitely felt them! within the first five miles of the bike i was nice and warm and was able to discard my ghetto arm sleeves. The downhill on the first loop of the bike was rad! i was flying and hit 30mph for a quick second! woot woot!! i also made a mental note of where the aid station was and where the special needs bags would be for my second loop. i told myself i could take a pee break at the aid station that was around mile 56 so i was super pumped to get there. At the end of the first loop you go by transition and the IM village and there are TONS of people cheering! i got to hear my name being announced and saw a bunch of my friends out there. it was truly an amazing feeling! gave me a huge burst of energy to get through the next lap! I stopped at the half way point at mile 56 to go to the bathroom and re-fill my water bottles with water. As soon as i stopped and got off the bike a volunteer took it for me and asked what i needed. I said water and literally there was someone standing outside the portapotty with a bottle of water for me when i got out. what?! amazing. i told them i needed to refill all three of my bottles and literally three volunteers helped me fill them up. i can’t say enough about how amazing these volunteers were! There was also a group of girls singing and dancing across from this aid station ALL DAY. the support on the course was unreal!! then about six miles later was the special needs stop where i grabbed my CO2s that i never needed, a pair of socks i had in there just in case, my smores luna bar, and my extra carbopro for my water bottles. Refilled everything, grabbed some pictures i had stashed in there of giles and my friends, and went on my merry way. The headwinds going down the second loop were strong too (boo!) so i was averaging something like 22mph instead of the 27ish i had on the first lap but i’ll take that all day!! i stayed over 17mph almost the rest of the course so i was super excited!!! the end of the second loop there were way less people cheering but i still got to see so many of my incredible friends out there giving me life! IT WAS SO AWESOME!! i can’t tell you enough how much life it gives you whenever a random person cheers for you. you can’t help but smile! Overall the bike went amazing for me (even though i forgot to take my sport legs at the two hour mark and started getting weird knee pain i’d never had before). i stuck to my nutrition plan to a T (~200 calories/hour, just liquid + gel after hour 4) and never felt hungry or thirsty. The bike course was pretty boring and when you’re on beeline going up forever it gets REALLY boring. boring landscape, no spectators, and just lots of cyclists struggling in silence. at the beginning of the race it felt really quiet out there- maybe because of all the pros and fast age groupers still out there being all serious? But towards third loop there was way more chatting- people encouraging each other or making jokes as we passed back and forth. i love chatting with randos on bike courses! One huge awesome thing about this bike course too is that you are doing three laps- aka you get to see your friends out there a bunch of times! i definitely missed a lot of people a lot of times because you’re tucked in aero most of the time (thanks, wind) but still got to see everyone out there and that was so awesome!!
Then before you know it you’re in T2 handing your bike to a volunteer and “running” into the changing tent again. Again the amazing volunteers help you find your bag and guide you to a plastic chair where they get to help your sweaty stinky salty ass from one pair of spandex shorts to another. They are true angels. I again did a full change (this time much more quickly) and headed onto the run course. my legs of course felt like jello but i was feeling pretty energetic and strong! i was in shock of the time i started running- i felt like i wasn’t going to start til much later and realized i had 8 hours to get that run done. easy peasy! i started strong and fast (for me) and stuck to my 5/1 and a quickly declining pace. Whoops! My sharp shooting foot pain started at mile 3 but since it came up during every one of my training runs i knew it would go away within a mile or two and i just had to suck it up. Sure enough it was gone within a mile and then all of a sudden i was at the tri club tent seeing tons of friends & supporters!! the music was blasting and everyone was so encouraging!! honestly as soon as i got to T2 and saw the time i *knew* i was going to be an ironman. my biggest fear that day was having a mechanical issue with my bike that would prevent me from finishing. however on the run there’s not much that can go that wrong (as long as you’re feeling OK) and i knew that even if i walked the whole thing and had to take tons of bathroom breaks i’d be fine. so i was on cloud 9 even though everything hurt and i was exhausted. Early on in the run i was able to eat two pieces of banana they had and i was eating the clif shot blocks. i was sipping on my nuun the whole time (i brought my own water bottle) and refilled with water at almost every aid station so i knew i was drinking enough. however by mile 11 nothing sounded good. i had some warm veggie broth waiting for me in special needs around mile 13 and couldn’t wait to get there! after what seemed like the longest two miles of my life i was at my special needs bag and chugged my warming reviving broth made that morning with Protective Diet broth mix and hot water (from my coffee maker) in an insulated water bottle. it wasn’t hot but it was warm and everything my body needed at the time. i also grabbed my head lamp and another luna bar and some more pictures of giles and friends to carry with me. i was really slowing down but sticking to my 5/1 run/walk and knew i could totally do another 13 miles before midnight. i heard someone in special needs ask what time it was and a volunteer responded “7:34”. I looked at my watch and it was 6:34. So i looked at my other watch (yes… i wore two) and it also said 6:34. i was so confused about what time it was! were both of my watches wrong? what time did i start running? How long had i been running? was i really going that slowly? but the volunteer was wrong and my watches were right… but it scared me for a minute & also gave me a nice distraction to focus on for a few minutes. at some point over the next few miles i walked while eating my luna bar and ignored my 5/1. Then at another point i missed my walk break so once it was time to run again i used that for my walk and did more of a 4/2. I remember doing the 4/2 in whistler and being so frustrated and thinking it was going to take forever to finish when there were only a few miles left. This time i was grateful for the 4/2 and didn’t care if it would take hours… i’d finish and that was all that mattered. It was also starting to get chilly so i was grateful for my base performance arm warmers i had packed in special needs! I didn’t *really* need them but it was nice to have them, ya know? Especially with all my walking it was getting cold. At mile 18 my stomach gave out and forced me to take a potty break. Mile 20 felt super slow so i decided to walk all of mile 21 to see if it was a similar pace if i did 100% walking vs run/walking. it was super hard to get started running again at mile 22 and i was no longer sticking to my 5/1… i was just kinda running whenever. another potty break was very necessary. I felt so gassy and bloated! stupid coke and red bull and sugar. But then i saw maureen and she told me yumi was less than a mile ahead of me. I knew i had to catch her but couldn’t make myself go any faster so i just committed to my 5/1 til i caught up with her at mile 23. We walked the rest of the race side by side chit chatting and sharing our race stories! it was such a perfect way to end the race! that 3.2 miles of walking would have been brutal alone but together it was fun!!! we practiced our finishing pose, gave huge sweaty hugs to wayne and sue and rachel at the end of the course and before we knew it we were turning into that finisher chute. The lights are incredible. the buzz is electric. all pain is completely gone and all you can think about is how great you feel. it’s so surreal to actually be there after all that insanity. i can’t even express how rad it is! you just have to do it!
We crossed the finish line together, just like how we started this journey a year ago. it was epic. i put my body through something harder than it had ever been through and it held up great. immediately after i was 100% sure i’d never do anything like this again. And now a few days later i’m already looking up different courses to try! i do love the half distance though and might just stick with that!
I cannot express fully the gratitude i have for this incredible journey and every single person that has been a part of it. the friendships that have been forged, the late nights training, the early mornings watching the sun rise while we freeze on our bikes, the mapping out of bike routes, the planning of runs, the constant eating, the early bedtimes… it was incredibly challenging but also incredibly amazing and i just wish everyone i knew would try it because it’s so rewarding in so many ways!
Stay tuned for a post with details of what i had in all my bags, what the expo experience was like, and some lessons learned!