Last week was one of the most memorable weeks of my entire life! At the beginning of the week we got the news of Dr. Jones getting to go to the White House, the end of the week I participated in my first Ironman 70.3.
I’ve been training for months for this race and it finally came! (Ironman 70.3 is sometimes called a half ironman. And in case you aren’t familiar it involves swimming 1.2 miles, biking 56 miles and then running 13.1 miles.) I’ll give you a race report below, if you’re into that kind of thing or you can just look at the cookies. (I love to read race reports of others.)
It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But I finished (and I’m alive) and am so proud of myself. No accomplishment is complete without a set of self-aggrandizing victory Ironman 70.3 cookies.
Race Recap- This is more than you ever wanted to know, but this is for my memory as well, so read it or don’t read it. I won’t care one bit.
This race took place in Boise Idaho. I chose Boise instead of St. George (both are a 4 hour drive from my home) because St. George is full, full of big giant hills. And I have an aversion to those. However, I discovered there was a trade off, more on that later.
Friday, the Strongman (aka my Sherpa aka Jason) and I loaded up the car, dropped off the kids to the in-laws and headed for Boise. We drove pretty much what seemed like forever, through the middle of nowhere. There were lots of billboard ads for tractor insurance. I was focusing on trying to drink a lot, since the forecast for the race was in the upper 80’s and I wanted to be hydrated before the race started. The only reason, I’m sharing this info, was that about an hour outside of Boise the highway came to a complete and utter stop. We couldn’t see the exact cause of the jam, but we could see a giant plume of smoke in the not so far distance. My excessive drinking (water people, I don’t need to join AA) made things really uncomfortable pretty quickly. There was not a tree or bush or rock within sight to hide a lady peeing on the side of the road. We were stopped for a good 45 minutes. When we finally got moving again, we discovered there had been a grass fire in the median of I-84. I was super impressed at how quickly they got that under control! We stopped at the nearest gas station, just in the nick of time. It’s been a long time since I’ve done a potty dance.
The delay on the road, just heightened my already nervous state. But we made it in Boise in time for check in and athlete briefing. I was awarded with the coolest race number of all time. Lucky #777. I hoped it was an omen.
The check in process for an Ironman is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Epic. Exhausting. Stressful. You check in and get your race packet at one location. Then you have to drop your running gear at Transition 2, another location. Then you drop off your bike and biking gear at Transition 1, yet another location. It took a good 3 hours to get all checked in. Every other triathlon I’ve ever done had one transition area. This Ironman also had a “clean” transition. Which means everything you need has to be in a bag. So you can’t lay out all your stuff in a neat, easy to reach way.
After getting set up for race day, we headed to our hotel. I almost had a heart attack as the desk clerk explained to the guy in front of me that he didn’t have any rooms for him, despite the customer having a confirmation email. Luckily, for some reason, they did have a room for me.
We had thought we might go out to dinner with some friends, but I was too tired and we just stayed at the hotel and watched Jurassic Park 3, a classic work of theatrical art. Unfortunately, earlier in the week, I started to feeling sick. Like head cold sick. I took all the voodoo I could find. Vitamin D, Airborn tablets, Manuka Honey, Essential Oils. None of it worked. So I had a snotty nose to deal with. This just added to my inability to sleep that night. It’s okay because I expected to be restless.
Ironman Boise has a start time at 10:00 which is a late start. Usually it’s more like 6:00 AM. I would have like to have slept in, but I was up bright and early with nerves. We headed out to Lucky Peak Reservoir at about 8:00 AM. I had to listen to some music to calm my nervous energy. We parked and had to hike about a mile to the race beginning. Half way up the hill, Jason asked if I had my wet suit and googles and I realized I had left them in the car. We hike back down and got that stuff. I was so glad I realized before I was all the way up there.
I got into the transition area and had to find somebody with a pump to top off my bike tires. (There are a ton of people who have spent a great deal of money on triathlon gear out there. There was millions of dollars worth of bikes in T1.)
Then it was sunscreen time. Then it was time to wait. And wait. And wait. The Idaho Beef Council sponsored the race, and they stopped by and gave Jason a cow bell, WHICH WAS AWESOME! The swim started in waves according to age and gender. I was unlucky enough to be in the third to final wave. So I waited around and watched as almost everybody started. (I also watched as several unlucky people got pulled out of the water on jet skis, their races ending pretty soon after they started.) The energy was buzzing and it was fun. About 15 minutes before my swim time, I started getting into my wet suit. The water temperature was 65.
Then our group was called and I headed to the starting chute. I pulled my wet suit on the rest of the way, being very careful to pull it up onto my shoulders enough. It was like being in an oven, standing in the sun in a black wet suit. I had just a tiny urge to run the other direction, out of the chute, down the road and back to the car. This was really going to happen and this was the point of no return.
The start involved wading out into the water and waiting and acclimating at the starting line for 5 minutes before actually beginning. This was the most fun part of the entire race. I chatted with the other women a little and just soaked in the moment.
They sounded the air horn and we were off. The water felt great! Not too warm, not too cold. The start was pretty fun. Some people get freaked out about swimming around and on top of other people, but I thought it was exhilarating. We spread out pretty quickly and my goggles filled up with water pretty quickly too. Grrr. I emptied them a couple times before I realized that my strap was on funny on the back of my head. Once I fixed that, things went much better.
I kept a steady pace and tried not to wander too much in the water. I was sad when the blue caps of the wave behind me caught up, but these were the men in their 20’s, so I tried not to be too sad. After all, I had caught up to lots of people in the swim caps of earlier waves. I made it back to the dock and got out of the water. I felt great! I was jazzed to continue.
Swim Time 43:55. Age Group Rank 25
I had a hard time getting off my wet suit, as I couldn’t find the pull strap and then the arm got stuck on my watch. But the wet suit strippers helped me out and I headed to transition. I started by jogging, then had to walk because the asphalt was so ouchy on my feet. I wasn’t worried about super fast transition times, I was worried about getting my socks on straight. I got my helmet, sunglasses and nutrition. I decided I wouldn’t need the long sleeve shirt I had in my bag because I was plenty warm. I tried to get on my bike in transition. Everybody yelled at me to remind me I had to walk the bike out of transition. Duh, I knew that.
Transition Time 5:01
Onto the bike and down a big hill. What a thrill. That thrill ended pretty quickly. My knees were really hurting and my butt was really hurting. Which is unusual because I had only been riding for 5 miles. I was really concerned because I had 50 more miles to go and didn’t think I could continue in this much discomfort. My knees warmed up and apparently whatever was going on with my derriere resolved and I started feeling better.
However! There was a terrible amount of wind (this was the St. George hill trade-off.) No matter which way we turned there still seemed to be wind. People were passing me like crazy. People who looked like they shouldn’t be passing me. I’m not a really strong biker and I kept reminding myself that it didn’t matter. There were some moderate hills and I found out that I go the same speed on hills and on the flat. I passed tons of people on the hills, but they passed me right back on the way down. I stopped at the aid stations and re-filled my water bottles. I’m not crazy or talented enough to do that while moving. When I saw the 30 mile sign, I started singing out loud, “20, 20 25 miles to go, I wanna be sedated.”
I had to stop at the next aid station and use the porta potty. People just pee on their bikes, but I’m not trying to win that bad. I had a nice chat with two gentleman in the line. That was kinda fun. Then I asked the penalty tent guy if I could volunteer for a penalty and just sit in the tent for 5 minutes. He told me to pull up a chair, but I didn’t. The wind stayed strong. I started to think I was just imagining it, but after the race, I heard lots of people complaining about it.
My excitement that arrived at mile 30 went away. And I was not a happy camper at about mile 40. Because of my late wave start, I was all alone at this point in time on the bike course. The only reason I knew I was on the right course was because I was playing Hansel and Gretel with Gu packets strewn on the pavement. It was kinda depressing, because my brain was telling me I was so slow that I had fallen behind everybody else. My nose was dripping like crazy (thanks to my stupid cold.). The most chafing I had was on my nose from wiping it with the back of my hand, gross.
To makes things even happier, the last 11 miles were into a nice strong headwind. I just wanted to be done so bad! I had a goal to drink 3 water bottles, but I drank 4. So I was happy about that. I ate honey stinger waffles every 15 miles. They had been the most palatable thing I experimented with, but I was seriously sick of them at the end. Probably just because I was fed up with the bike ride in general!
Finally and I mean finally, the transition area was in sight.
Bike Time: 3:35:21 (SLOW!!) Age Group Rank 36
I gratefully got off my bike and walked to my area. I changed my socks. Put on my runnin’ shoes, visor and race belt and off I went.
I really thought I could turn in a time of 2:00. That is the pace I had kept on my long training bricks. But that wind tired me out more than I had bargained for. I only made it 3 miles keeping my desired pace. Then I start to feel the stomach slosh. So I backed off on drinking and stopped eating my chews. Which in hindsight was a big problem.
When I got to 7 miles, I was really struggling. I was running more like 10 minute miles. I was passing people like crazy though. I felt like my brain had stopped working. Up to this point I was trying to cheer on my fellow runners, but by then I stopped having energy to even move my mouth.
They had flat warm coke at each aid station and I discovered that this is the best stuff ever! I kept going just so I could get some more coke at the next aid station. I ate almost nothing (I had trained eating a chew every half mile.) I did try a couple potato chips, and they were good, but hard to eat. Up to this point, I was still pretending to have fun, since this was all my idea and I could blame nobody else.
It was sad that my 7 miles, was 12 miles for the racers ahead of me because the course had 2 loops. It was hard to make a left turn to another 5 miles, instead of making a right turn to the finish line.
I had promised myself that I would run at least 10 miles before allowing myself to walk, but I really wanted to run the whole thing. At about 9 miles, I caved and started walking. My calves started to cramp up immediately. I walked for about 5 minutes, then started jogging again. If you can call it that, I was holding an impressive 11:00 ish minute mile. I wasn’t smiling anymore. I was feeling like this was a really dumb idea and I was mad at myself for walking.
Finally, the finish line was in sight. I did the impossible and picked up my pace and “sprinted” to the finish line.
Run Time: 2:12:13 Age Group Rank 31
As I crossed the finish line they gave me a cold wet towel, put the medal around my neck, removed my timing chip and gave me a hat. I had dreams of crossing the finish line flexing my muscles or being showy in some way. That didn’t happen. This is the most accurate photo of the day. This is how I really felt. I posed with a big smile for the photographer and started walking. My husband got nervous because I wouldn’t talk to him. I was so gassed. I sat on the ground for a few minutes.
My friend came and found us and told us where the massage tent was. I staggered over there and sat while other athletes recounted their day. All of them complained about the wind, which made my happy. The massage was heavenly. I was disappointed, however, when I stood up and my legs were stir sore and tired. I was hoping they would be all better. (BTW those massage therapists have got the grossest job. Sweat bombs. That’s what we were.)
The food tent was full of crazy stuff like pizza and hamburgers in addition to the normal orange wedges and bagels. Too bad, none of it sounded remotely good (even though my watch told me I burned 9,000 calories during the race.) I got some sliders for Jason then went to visit the merchandise store. I bought a t-shirt and a visor, which is funny because the two things I got from the race were a hat and a t-shirt. Now I have two (they are slightly different, just so you know.)
And guess what? The day wasn’t over. We had to go recover my bike from T2. Luckily my Sherpa did all the work and I just sat in the car. When we got back to the hotel, I couldn’t stand up from the car! I finally was able to get up. I hobbled into the hotel, took some Aleve and got in the shower. I actually laid down in the bathtub with the shower going because I was so tired.
I had time now to examine my times and I discovered, that I wasn’t so slow after all. I wasn’t fast either. I was right in the middle of the pack. That made me happy!
Total Time 6:40:32 Age Group Rank: 31, Gender Rank 113
I thought I was going to be so sore in the next couple of days, but I wasn’t. That tells me that I was well prepared.
I met some fun new friends, learned really how far I can push myself and what it really feels like to run out of energy. I wasn’t as fast as I had hoped and I did walk a little, but hey, I’m an Ironman!