Friday, October 21, 2016

Ironman 70.3 Arizona Recap Part Two

The plan was to be leaving Breezy’s by 5-5:10, walking into transition by 5:30, out of transition by 6:15 (to wait forever, this was the worst part of the way this race was set up), wetsuit on around 7:30, gun goes off for the swim at 7:56! Mission accomplished. We chatted with Ron, cheered on the guys that started at 6:20 when they came out of the water, took more photos, and went to the bathroom a billion times (stress man, it’s no fun). I got my wetsuit on at 7:30, kissed my husband goodbye, took one last photo with Ron and then off to the swim! 
I'm right in the middle! You can see the glare of my goggles from the sun.
The swim went well! The best part was swimming along the sea wall and having Chris and his parents walk with me the entire time. It was so encouraging to look up to breathe every time and see them cheering. They motivated me to really smooth out my stroke, concentrate on attempting to swim in a straight line and to be as fast as I could while still feeling pretty comfortable. Let me just say, the water was pretty gross. It was a great temp but it was murky as all heck. You could not see someone kicking directly in front of you! However, I’ve swam in similar conditions so it wasn’t too big of a deal. I did get a quick foot cramp maybe 10 minutes into the swim and I remember thinking ‘this is not how I wanted to start this race!’ I was able to relax my foot enough that it didn’t come back but then on the backside of the race course I dealt with cramps in both my calves (thankfully not at the same time!). I told myself if I could just use my arms the rest of the swim then my legs would feel fine on the bike and that I could take a salt pill as soon as I got to transition. I finished up, was helped up the stairs and then helped out of my wetsuit. Seriously, all tri’s need wetsuit strippers. I saw so many people not take advantage of this and I’m just confused as to why you wouldn’t. SO HELPFUL.
Swim time: 39:54.
I was having A LOT of trouble with my dang watch. Thankfully one thing remedied this: wetsuit strippers ;)

Transition 1: 4:28
Salt pill in, socks and cycling shoes on, helmet on, slather on sunscreen as well as I could, chapstick, wave to Chris and tell him I have calf cramps lol and then on to the bike!
The bike course was three loops in and around Tempe. For the most part it was flat and FAST with one hill and one longer gradual uphill that I disliked more than the actual hill. There were lots of turns and I was really grateful that most of my practice rides also include lots of tight turns. They were no big deal! I went out a bit too fast on my first lap but heck, this is my first rodeo so I’m okay with it. I was having a lot of fun. Smiling at spectators, passing people (!), and enjoying my aero bars. The one major hang-up was some bizarre cramping about halfway through the first lap. I was just in so much pain. I couldn’t inhale fully and was having to really focus on pushing my stomach out with belly breathing. I think it was the salt pill which helped the calf cramps but possibly caused some GI issues. Also, it was really hot. That second and third lap it really started to heat up and I was looking forward to the aid stations just so that I could grab a bottle of water and douse my head and back with it. My race plan called for UCAN at 1:30 which helped and then rice cake at 3 hours. Worked perfectly. I did not want that rice cake and I remember fighting back tears on the last lap of the bike course because my quads were cramping but I was scared of taking another salt pill, my nether regions were sick of sitting on the damn bike and that this was fun but not some miraculous experience and that I should’ve put more raspberries in my rice cake lol. The emotions you go through! I did stop on the second lap to fill up my two bottles. One with cold water (which wasn’t that cold) and one with ¾ water, ¼ Gatorade which I was using to try and stave off cramps and foggy brain from needing sugar and forgetting my honey stingers. Overall, I averaged 15.7 mph! I have never ridden this fast in my life, it completely makes sense that I was in quite a bit of pain when I got off my bike. This is also proof to Chris that I am very much a “recreational rider” for the most part but that I can bike much faster than I normally do. To which I say NOPE. Flat and fast is so much different than the hills we ride on in Vegas!
Bike time: 3:33:49, avg 15.7 mi/h
Transition 2: 4:28 (yup, exact same time. Who knows how I pulled this off)
Bike shoes, socks, gloves off, helmet off, suck down part of a UCAN, swig of Gatorade (disgusting, it was SO hot), race belt on, visor on, balegas (run socks) and run shoes on, wave to Chris and family, tell them the salt pill nearly killed me lol, shuffle out of transition!
The run course was 2 loops around Tempe Town Lake and let me tell you, it was HOT. I ran by Ron right out of transition and he complimented me on my good rhythm and form. I was feeling slow but my legs felt surprisingly okay. The race plan was to skip nutrition on the first 4-5 aid stations. This wasn’t going to work as I was pretty darn thirsty coming out of T2. I aimed for a little bit of water for those first couple aid stations and knew I would add in Gatorade on the later ones. The best part of racing Ironman (and something I witnessed firsthand when I volunteered for Silverman) is that they do a REALLY good job of taking care of athletes. If the day is hotter than expected they make sure there is ice at every aid station, they stock their aid stations full of volunteers so you don’t have to work hard to get nutrition, they WANT you to succeed, it is awesome. I chatted with other athletes when I needed to walk, tried to run as much as possible and accepted that the run was not going to be my fastest because it was just so darn hot. That being said, I somehow got a second wind on the second lap. I knew that I just had to make it one more time around the lake and then I would be DONE. Then I could cheer and celebrate and get out of my wet kit and everything else I had been hoping for. I ran a good portion of miles 6-9 and got so many encouraging comments that I was looking strong, that I was killing it on the run when so many people were walking and that I was almost there. I dumped ice down my bra and did water-gatorade-water at every aid station. It worked perfectly. I took pretzels on lap 1 and on lap 2 around mile 10 to help with quad cramps but for the most part felt good (just hot). On mile 12 I told myself to run that last mile. I kept looking for Chris as he had met me at mile 5-6 on the first lap but eventually realized that he would likely be in the finishers chute and that I had better pick up my damn legs and finish. I walked for a bit and then picked up the pace when I had maybe a half mile to go. The thrill (and pain) of that last section is something I will never forget. The energy is infectious. So many people are cheering for you and they don’t even know you! I gave Ron a high five, ran up that last hill and then threw my hands in the air as I crossed that finish line! 
Overall finish time: 6:59:31
DONE AND DONE. Officially half crazy, officially completed 70.3 miles in 90+ temps. I collected my finisher’s medal and hat, took my water and shuffled over to my family to cry lol. We took photos, I stood in front of the mister truck (which was AMAZING) and then was even more thrilled to find out that they had PIZZA, fruit, cookies, beer, etc for the athletes.
You guys, this was one of the best experiences in the world. I got pretty badly sunburned, my tan lines are even more outrageous than they were before, my back is chafed, and for several days my quads felt like they had pins and needles in them but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It was so worth it. Worth all the soreness, the never getting to sleep in, the long training days, the lack of work being done around the house, the never-ending tiredness, the not always getting to eat what I wanted because food=fuel and all the $$ that went towards this dream. I loved it, I love this sport and I really can’t wait to do another one.

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