Yesterday was my second ever 70.3 or Half Ironman. For some crazy reasons, including tough training for Tahoe and cost ($75, can you say cheap), I chose to register for this Half Iron several months ago. I have been dreading it ever since. I’ve already complained on here about the bike course. Funny thing is I never looked at the run course until the day before the race. Lucky for me…. ha, ha, the run was dishing up just as much love as the bike course.
Um, hello, what?!
Anyhow, I went up to Hague, NY on Friday afternoon to attend the athlete meeting and learn the ins and outs of the Hits races and to get my packet and all of my goods. I really enjoyed picking up my packet only to recall the USAT age rules which makes me 34 this racing season….Grrrr. But truthfully I enjoyed racking my bike at transition and remember that Hits provides each racer with a stool! The stool really comes in handy when you’re in transition. I used mine in both T1 and T2.
It may say 34, but I feel as young as a 33-year-old! 😛
All set up complete with bags to keep Foxy dry during the night
I was remarkably calm as I tried to just push the race out of my head and enjoy the beauty of my surroundings. No matter what happened in the race, I was surrounded by beauty. As always I love the Adirondack Park and realize that we as New Yorker’s are so lucky to have such a spectacular area in our backyards. So, I gathered my things, I drove the run course and I snapped pictures of the surroundings.
Snapshots of the beautiful, sleepy town of Hague.
After setting up camp at a local state park, I readied all of my races stuff and spent a normal evening eating, camp firing and I think bedtime came around 10. Nothing over the top.
All of the goods required for a 70.3
Oh, and the water bottles …. and a beer
The wake up call was at 5:00 AM. I didn’t sit and cry as I had before my last 70.3, which I realized was one year ago that day. I was a little cranky because I knew how hard the race was going to be and I lamented not signing up for something that I could have done really well at and felt great about. But, I wasn’t freaking out so that was huge improvement in my book.
Upon arriving at the race, I set up my transition area, which as always, took me about 5 minutes. I borrowed a bike pump from another race and got sunscreened up. Once we were there and I was amongst the other 200+ racers and a good contingent of friends, my nerves were calmed dramatically. I was reminded multiple times by both my support crew friends and various other races that this race was nothing more than a long training day. Ok, point taken, now let’s go.
Looking a little sleepy, but ready to go in the sleeveless wetsuit – Thanks Jess!
At 7:00 AM, both the Half Ironman and the full Iron distance racers went off together in one mass start. 300+ racers in total makes for a relatively calm mass start. Once we got out far enough that I could swim, I put my face in and took a few strokes. People were taking their time in getting moving. I realized that I hadn’t started my watch, so I corrected that issue and then decided that I might as well swim. Remarkably it was uneventful. Swim, swim, swim, turn buoy, swim, swim, swim, turn buoy, etc. I had only one moment where I had to say (in my head) get yourself together. Otherwise, I swam with zero panic for what my garmin mapped as being 1.3 miles. It was beautiful. In fact, I exited the swim thinking that I could totally do another lap if a swim can feel that good. I was also a little sad. With the swim over, I had nothing but hills to look forward to out there, but to transition I went.
Coming out of the swim with a beautiful backdrop.
I made quick work of transition, losing my wetsuit, swim cap and goggles and donning all of my biking gear and fuel in under 4 minutes. I actually felt much slower than that, so seriously, I will take it.
This move is called… “My feet are stuck in my wetsuit.” You should try it.
And then came the bike. I climbed the hill, in granny gear and figured since I was going to suffer the first five miles, I might as well take it easy rather than die and want to quit right out of the gate. So I did. On the decent from the big hill, I jockeyed back and forth a few times with a woman riding a specialized shiv. About the third time we switched spots, she said “we’re going to do this all day.” And we did. We rode the entire rest of the bike course together minus that last five miles. On the uphills we chatted. I heard about her three ironmen that she did and I told her my story. I love people’s stories! So I loved having this opportunity. This was a small race so without this women, whose name I never got, I’d have been mostly alone out there minus the few people I passed or passed me. I do know that she worked for Hits and hadn’t looked at the elevation profile for the course. Surprise! But we did decide mutually to enjoy the ride as it was a nice day to head around Brandt Lake, Loon Lake and back. So, it was gorgeous, but my my was it hilly. This resulted in an extremely slow bike split for me. This is my calling to keep at it on the bike. Lucky for me, I’m learning that I really do enjoy it, so I’m looking forward to many more long bike rides. Anyway, I rode back into T2 to my support crew of about 5 or 6 people yelling my name. You rock peeps.
Clearly ready to be done with the bike…
T2 was uneventful. Swap the bike shoes for sneakers, bike helmet for a hat, refuel the pockets, put on the bib and I was out. Again, a speedy transition. Two of the support crew decided to run the first few miles with me to get a feel for how the day was going. When I left them, I said, I will finish this. It’s not going to be fast, but there’s no way I’m not going to do it. So I ran on. The run was so hilly after a very hilly bike that I bargained with myself that I would run as much as I could of the flats and the downhills and walk the uphills. This certainly resulted in more walking than I would have liked, but at this point my legs were hurting and the day had gotten hot. And at five plus hours of being on the course, I needed to adjust to what would help me get through the day.
I stopped at almost every aid station for water (one for me and one to pour on my head), some fuel and I took vaseline at several of the stops because of some incredibly awesome chaffing that I was having. I saw a lot of tri friends out on the course, so this really helped to keep my spirits up. Only in the last three miles was a I really begging for the race to get over. (Oh right, I forgot to mention that the bike course was 2 miles long….so I was also feeling like I was already done for the most part!) Anyway, I was running along with 1.5 miles to go when the thunder and lightning started. I knew it was time to get finished. All in all I was indeed slower than my half ironman last year, but I know that this race was a much tougher course. Am I happy …. yes, I’m happy that I found the mental strength to finish a tough race that I had been dreading (and ignoring) doing for months. Am I happy with my time…. no, and that will be addressed at the next half iron in Maine in August. Check with me then to discuss progress! So, it’s a win in some ways and not in others. But regardless, it was a beautiful course, a well run race and I really did have fun out there. And a huge thank you to all of my supporters who were out there cheering, training and taking great photos. Once again, you guys are amazing!
There be the bling…. time for a new rack as we have some overcrowding happening here!