Ironman Muncie 70.3 Race Recap
November 27, 2013

I did it.  Officially became a Half Ironman in July.  And I legitimately had fun doing it.  I know, I can’t believe I’m saying that either!

Pre-race:
I drove up on Thursday before the race, and I’m glad I did.  It gave me time to get settled into the hotel and ready for the long weekend.  I arbitrarily picked a hotel in a nearby town and I’m so glad.  It really wasn’t far from the expo or the race site (because nothing is close to that!).  It also was centrally located to a strip with plenty of dining options and stores if I needed anything.  And the best part, my room had a large mini-fridge and small microwave.  This was a useful luxury!

On Friday, I slept in and drove up to Muncie for the expo and race meeting.  Downtown Muncie, how adorable.  I got to meet up with a Twitter friend who was also doing the race and drove all the way down from Maine with his young son.  Nice little father son bonding trip!  We went to the first athlete meeting together.  Then I finished checking out the expo and got some lunch before heading out to the middle of nowhere race site to check out the course.  Definitely glad I did that.  There is no easy way to get to the race site and it’s pretty confusing.  I did the race in reverse order, starting with a quick run, a short bike to check gears, and then a little swim to check the water and the sighting to the finish.  The shallow part of the water has quite a few rocks, so I was really hoping we didn’t have a beach run start. After that, I drove the remainder of the run and bike.  The run looked great, and those “rollers” weren’t going to be a problem.  I confirmed the bike is in fact flat, but a lot of the course was really rough, so I kept that in mind.  Then I drove back to the hotel to have dinner and an Epsom salt bath and get my gear ready for the morning.

Race morning:  I knew that there is really only one road in to the race, so traffic gets backed up early.  Therefore I planned on getting to the race site as soon as possible to when parking opened at 4:30am.  I set the alarm for 3:15am, got dressed, loaded the car, and packed some coffee and breakfast for when I got there.  I lucked out and got parking on the 3rd row.  I hit the porta potties before transition opened at 5am.  Then, I started unloading my stuff to take to set up transition.  We were lucky that pre-race bike check-in was optional.  I have separation anxiety from my bike.  Also, many thanks to the nice volunteer who checked and topped off my air pressure in my tires!  After getting set up, I went back to my car to relax and eat my breakfast and get my sunscreen started.  We got word that the water temp was 75 so it would be a wetsuit legal race, which meant some extra Body Glide.  While the pros were starting I got a little practice swim in to get used to the water.  Then I was ready to go get in line for the start line chute.

Swim:
Fortunately, we got to start a few feet into the water and get away from the rocks embedded in the sand.  I was surprised how small my wave was.  Usually my age group is pretty big, but this helped me relax about being in an aggressive swim wave/washing machine.  I lined up on second or third row out on the edge closest to the buoys.  When the bull horn went off, we started swimming.  I felt pretty good.  I did have one woman, who just wouldn’t leave me alone.  I couldn’t tell if she was just being especially aggressive towards me or was doing a terrible job of swimming straight and cutting me off and yanking on my feet on purpose.  I think I finally lost her when we caught up to the guys ahead of us about the second buoy and I trapped her between the buoy and the slower men.  I had a hard time sighting on the swim because the line out to the first turn is at a diagonal to the left, and we started running into the slower men in the wave ahead of us.  But for the most part it was manageable.  About halfway between the first and second turn, I was swimming behind a line of about 3 people across.  Then a guy wearing an orange cap (I think from the wave behind us) decided to swim diagonally across them.  And I caught his heel directly into my left eye, shoving my goggle deep into my eye socket.  I had to stop and adjust, and assess whether I thought I might actually have injured my eye.  It seemed to be ok (I could see), but hurt pretty badly.  But I was the furthest away from the shore that I could be so I had to keep going.  I was just hoping it wouldn’t be all bloody when I got out of the water and they would make me quit my race then.  I was also glad it wasn’t my nose.  A broken nose is a definitely DNF, something I didn’t want.  After the second turn, it started getting much more congested in the water as all the swim waves start catching up with the slower people in front of them.  I was worried about the sighting since the sun is rising over the shore, but it actually created a shadow on the buoys and wasn’t that bad to sight.  Plus there were enough people around me all going the same general (straight) direction back to shore. Once out of the water, I started running up the hill to transition.  We were told there weren’t going to be any wetsuit strippers, but I saw a group of teenage boys who were more than happy to yank that suit off me, pull me back up and get me back on my way to transition.  It’s amazing how efficient strippers are!

Transition 1 :
Tossed my wetsuit into my pile of stuff, grabbed my helmet and glasses, sprayed some sunscreen, grabbed my bike of the rack and ran to the “Bike Out” sign.  I had practiced a couple times with my shoes already clipped to my bike and I’m glad I did.  Our transition was in grass and it was much easier running barefoot and not getting grass or dirt stuck in my cleats.  Though I almost forgot and started to mount before the line, but caught myself.

Bike:
The bike course is over a lot of really rough roads.  It took a while to get comfortable where I could start putting my feet into my bike shoes and then longer before I could reach down and lock down the straps on my shoes.  The bike course goes out several local roads and through one neighborhood with moderately bumpy to smooth roads.  Once you turn on to the main highway, it’s really straight, flat, and smooth.  It was at this point that I got to see the lead male and female pro racers flying back the other direction on the course.  After a few miles, we turn off on to really incredibly rough farm roads.  There are several “no pass zones” but people aren’t observing them.  Apologies to the really fast people who were stuck behind me.  Then it’s miles and miles of relentless bumps and vibrations.  I kept having to shove my aero bottle straw back down into the bottle, the bumps were knocking it up out of the bottle.  I dodged numerous marked and even unmarked pot holes, ejected water bottles, and even an ejected rear water bottle cage (that poor person).  I passed several people who were fixing flats.  I took it easy on the bike.  It’s not my strength and why burn myself out just to blow up on the run where I can really make up time.  Plus, the whole goal for the race was to finish, not explode.  After the turnaround point, I was beyond done mentally with the bumpy roads. I started singing songs in my head to try to get through it.  It was difficult to fuel and hydrate with all the bumps and having to focus so hard on keeping a handle on the bike and dodging road obstacles.  I think the other side of the road for the second half was actually a little bit better and not as rough.  But I was definitely happy to get back to the smooth main highway and head my way back to transition.  I even smoothly handled a water bottle handoff!  I grabbed the bottle, dumped it into my aero bottle, tossed it before the drop point, and got in 2 tabs of Nuun to help with hydration and flavor!  So glad I had those Nuun tablets in my bento!

I definitely feel like I dialed in my nutrition plan just right for this race.  For me, my stomach doesn’t always tolerate a lot during the run and especially if I’m going hard or long in a race.  So, the key is to get everything in on the bike.  My plan was as follows (if nothing else it gave me something to do for 3 hours of pedaling):
Every 15min – sip of Nuun from my water bottle
Every 20 min – go up gear and pedal out of saddle for a few seconds
Every 20 min – fuel (On the :20 and :40 I took in a fig newton, on the hour I took a Hüma gel)

Transition 2:
I managed to get my shoes opened and my feet out before dismount. I hopped off my bike and ran barefoot in the grass back to my transition spot. Threw off the helmet and sunglasses, grabbed a hat and my race belt that I pre-loaded with gels and my bib.

Run:
This was by far my favorite part of the race.  Not just because it’s my strength, but I honestly had a good time!  I was, as usual, very happy to be out of the saddle and back on my own feet.  The course was great.  It says it is a challenging roller course, but really it wasn’t hilly or what this Tennessean would call a roller.  It wasn’t pancake flat (like the bike course), so it actually gave you a break from the constant pounding, and wasn’t enough of a roller to feel like you were climbing or breaking down a hill.  Just enough of a change to give your different muscles a break.  I started out at a great pace, maybe a little fast, but I was feeling good.  After a couple miles we turned on to the out and back portion.  At this point I saw a guy running back around his mile 11 with so many sponges stuffed in his tri top, he was easily taking a cue from that time I figure skated as Dolly Parton to “9-to-5” as a kid.  It provided some entertainment for the start of the run.  Eventually the miles ticked off.  I saw some athletes from back home heading back and hoped I could catch some of them after the turnaround.  My Coach had warned me to take it easy on the bike, but that most people go too hard on that flat course and leave nothing for the run.  During the run I grinned from ear to ear (that’s never happened in a 13 mile run ever!) and just had fun.  I bounced from water stop to water stop, grabbing a cub of ice and pouring it into my sports bra (seriously, “boob ice” is the best thing ever) and taking a sip of the cola they offered, with the occasional ice water dumped on my head just for fun.  At the turn around point, I couldn’t believe I was already there and had to actually ask the volunteer if it was “for real.”  She said yes, and I did a little hop and a dance right there, then kept running.  After the turnaround, I caught up to many of the athletes from home who were running, said hi, and passed them.  I think I passed pretty much everyone I was running with.  I’m not sure I really got passed much myself.  It felt great.  I’m sure I looked a little strange munching on my “boob ice” in between water stops.  I was feeling so good I almost forgot to take some gels, but managed to get down a couple of them.  I’m not sure if it was the sugar and caffeine from the cola or just pure adrenaline, but I was all kinds of excited.  As I got to the 11 and 12 mile markers it was hitting me that I was getting close to the finish.  Not only was I going to finish my first Half Ironman, but it was also almost done.  After 6 hours of racing (and countless hours of training), I was done. When I saw the 13 mile turnoff, I quickly threw out all the ice from my top, straightened my bib and hauled it in to the finish.  I literally skipped and bounded to the finish line!  My heart was exploding. I was so happy and a little sad it was already over, I was having so much fun!

My #1 goal for this race was to finish.  I thought best case scenario, I could maybe pull off a 6:30.  I finished the race in 6:09.  It helps we had really great weather, and I trained hard.  I took the course one step at a time and didn’t push myself really hard because ultimately I just wanted to cross the finish line.  So, of course now I want to go back and try to race and see what I can really do on that course, with more determination and background of the course.

muncie finish

Tracking a race
July 10, 2013

So race week is here.  The race is just a couple days away.  Six months of intense training will be tested on Saturday.  My goal for my first Half Ironman is to FINISH.  Honestly, that’s it.  Yes, I do have a range of time in mind for my finish time for a good day and a bad day, and maybe I’ll share that after the race is over.  But I really just want to finish.  There are a lot of things that can happen in the several hours it takes to finish a race like this.  I have a lot of things in my favor, relatively flat course, excellent weather forecast, possible wetsuit legal swim. So I have my fingers crossed for crossing that finish line myself and not in the medical tent.

If you want to follow my progress on Saturday morning, here’s the information you need to know:

Saturday, July 13, 7am Eastern time.

I am bib #975.

My swim wave takes off at 7:35am Eastern time.

Track all athletes here (I don’t know if they will have finish line video or not)

My swim, bike, run, and transition splits will be posted there.  Note, it is my experience that sometimes the splits are a little delayed.

One Month
June 13, 2013

One Month.

4 weeks.

30 days.

720 hours.

43,200 minutes.

There’s a lot of “time” in a month.  Temporal time, yes.  Actual time?

4 weekends.

2-3 really long brick workouts.

2-3 really long runs.

3-4 track workouts.

8-12 swim workouts.

7-8 bike rides.

4-5 mid-distance runs.

2-3 strength training sessions.

22+ 5am (or earlier) wake up calls.

2 weeks of taper.

1 long car ride to the middle of Indiana.

As of today, I am officially one month out from my first Half Ironman.  On the morning of July 13, I will be lining up along the shore of a lake outside Muncie, Indiana.  Once my group is called, I’ll swim 1.2miles, run to transition, then hop on my bike and pedal for 56miles.  After dropping my bike back off at transition, I’ll throw on my running shoes and run a half marathon before finally crossing a finish line.  My goal is to finish.  Over the past 6 months I have put in the training and have faith in my coach, my training, and my body to get me there.  But I still have one more month.  One month of training left.  One month of doubts.  One month of excitement.  One month of fears.  One month of confidence building.  A lot can happen in a month.  A lot can happen over the course of the day on July 13.  But I’m willing to do everything in my power to get myself to the finish line.

affresh_muncie

Nashvegas Olympic Tri – Race Report (and announcement)
September 28, 2012

Goofy pre-race with reflective lens goggles.

This race report is bittersweet.  I get to tell you about another great race, but it also marks the end of my triathlon racing season for this year.  But it also means I get a little reprieve from countless hours of training.  (I wonder if I’ll even recognize my friends any more.)  And I also have a big announcement…but you have to wait to the end.  And NO peeking, so quit scrolling down!

I’m trying to smile, but pre-race fear shows through.

Pre-race
Mentally I was feeling pretty good about this race.  The race directors had changed the bike course a couple times, and I rode it each time, so I felt I was ready to deal with all the turns and was glad I didn’t have to tackle that hill in the old course.  Just as it was getting close to time to head down to the water, it started to sprinkle slightly.  I knew rain was in the forecast, but they thought maybe it had already moved through overnight.  I pulled out the plastic bags from my transition bag and bagged up my bike shoes/socks/helmet/watch, then bagged up my running shoes, hat, and water bottle, and finally bagged up my transition bag that held my keys and cell phone.  As I headed to the water, I realized I forgot my Cliff Shot, so I ran back into transition to grab it (and hoped I didn’t set off my chip crossing the mats).

There’s a storm coming? The current is strong? Icky things in the water? Lalala I can’t hear you.

Swim – 1mile – 36:19
The loading ramp was slippery/slimy with algae so we all scooted our butts down to the rocks and sat in the drizzling rain to wait for the swim start.  My wave was all women plus relay teams.  We took off swimming to the other side of the river.  Because of the rocks and the ramp we weren’t able to spread out and really got started in a tight wave.

I was right in the middle of the washing machine churn of arms and legs, but I kept my breath under control!!  No anaerobic freak out!!  This was a first and I was so excited!  We made the turn at the first buoy and I was trying to hang on to this one girl and draft off her, but she was a little too fast.  So I stuck with this other girl who was right beside me, until I realized she was zig zagging her way between me and someone on the far right of her.  She would bounce off me, then zag over and bounce off the other person.  Ugh, I knew I needed to get away from her, so I pushed on and was swimming by myself for a while.  That’s when the “omigod am I ever going to finish this swim/ugh a mile is a REALLY long way to swim/can I do this/no, it’s like a really really long way” thoughts set in.  Not good.  But I was able to keep it from causing a panic in the water and just swam until I caught someone on the second buoy turn.  I tried to follow a new girl, but I was really fighting swimming perpendicular to the current.  But the last buoy turn, it had really started to rain hard.  It is a surreal sensation to have your face in the warm river water, then turn to breach and get pelted in the face with cold rain water.  Soon enough though, the zig zag girl was back, ugh! She was like a booger I just couldn’t flick.  At some point she started zigging towards  the shore (and trying to take me with her), but I was sighting and saw a tree sticking out of the water. I let her pass, took off towards the middle of the water, but not before a gentle shove to remind her that she’s not paying attention.  When I started getting close to swim out point, I took off to wake up my legs and to beat out the other swimmers to the volunteers to help you out of the slippery loading dock. (Seriously they had the worst job, and in the rain!)  But I felt pretty good about the swim.  No real freakouts, I didn’t feel terrible during the swim or right after.  Maybe I’ve got this swimming thing down.  And I even managed the currents (though I’ll admit I’m not smart enough to figure out which way the current was going).

 Don’t I look happy about the rain?
Also rain makes me levitate apparently.

T1 – 2:40

I ran towards transition and by this time it was pouring rain.  I made peace with the fact that this was not going to be a PR day.  I wouldn’t even like driving my car in this weather, much less riding on skinny slick bike tires.  So I took my time in transition and mentally prepared for a tough ride.  I’m SO glad I bagged my stuff, because I had dry shoes and watch to put on.  It didn’t last long, but still.

 Just starting the ride.  In the rain.

Bike – 25miles – 1:33:12
The first part of the bike course is 7miles out on the highway and turn around for a few miles before heading off on a bunch of side country roads.  That first 7mi I was taking easy, trying to get a feel for riding in such heavy rain.  I got passed a lot but I looked down and I was doing 20mph at a few points.  I looked over and saw the bikes coming back after the turnaround and was confused.  There were a bunch of fast guys on bikes with race wheels and the crazy aero helmets and it looked like they were hardly moving.  It wasn’t really much of a hill, why were they being so puny?  I made the turnaround and immediately hit a massive headwind wall and instantly dropped 10mph from my speed.  Ugh!  I cursed and yelled and tried to talk myself into fighting this downpour and headwind for the next 5 or 6 miles until we turned off to side roads.  Unfortunately the wind and the rain didn’t change on the side roads either.  And we ran into the problem of local people driving cars, who don’t know how to drive around a cyclist!  So they would slow down to about 10mph and ride behind a cyclist, which meant we would bunch up 3-4 at a time behind the car.  I was terrified I would get a drafting penalty and these cars were causing me to lose even more speed and time, so I finally started passing cars on the left in oncoming traffic.  I had no other choice.  It was such a frustrating ride.  Too many cars, too many obstacles to slow down around, and the weather was horrendous.  I was really glad I already knew the somewhat technical course or I would have been even more frustrated trying to figure out where to go.

 Finally drying out!

T2 2:39
As I headed into T2, the rain was starting to let up.  My shoes and socks were soaked and squishy since about 5miles into the ride.  I knew my running shoes would be nice and dry in the bag, but my socks were gross and I hadn’t really prepared my feet or my shoes to go barefoot, and especially not for 6miles.  Then I remembered I had an extra pair of socks in my transition bag because Indecisive Sally couldn’t make up her mind which socks she wanted to wear when she packed the bag the night before.  Hot Damn!!  I took the extra time to get into my bagged up transition bag and get out the socks, put on my shoes and hat and I was off.

Run – 10k – 53:32
I can’t begin to tell you how good I felt running with those dry shoes and socks!  Seriously I felt like a new woman.  The rest of me was totally disgusting, but my feet were warm and dry and soft, and on the run your feet are the most important part!  The rain had stopped (which is about the only sport I don’t mind being in the rain) and the sun had come out some, but it was still really cool (low 70s) and some cloud cover so it didn’t get steamy and gross.  The run course was fairly flat and I was feeling really good.  I was going along at a good pace, but I wanted to hold back on the first couple miles to make sure I didn’t blow up and have to walk the last 2 miles.  I felt great the entire run, and didn’t need to stop and take water from the volunteers.  I had my own handheld but I hardly used it, but you never know just how good the water support is going to be.  In fact I dumped out the remainder of my water bottle on the last mile and attached it to my race belt in the back and picked up the pace to haul it in for the last 1/2 mile.  I think the run felt so good, because I had to hold back so much on the bike.  I just had so much more left in the tank.  In fact I probably could have punched it even harder, but I’m pretty happy with the run.

Total: 3:08:22

What I learned in this race:

  • Always pack an extra pair of socks!  Seriously you might need them and they will make your life so much better.  (This also goes for an extra swim cap and goggles, which I already do.)
  • Keep plastic bags neatly folded up and tucked in your transition bags.  I like to save the big clear plastic bags that the UPS/FedEx guys put on your boxes when they leave them on your door.  Dry cleaning bags work great too, just tie a knot in the end that is open.  Clear is best so you can see your stuff, but any trash bag will do.
  • When you have a ride that you’re not able to really push on, you better push the hell out of the run because you’ll have so much more left in the tank.

So, overall I’m pretty happy with the race.  With the bad weather and terrible circumstances with the bike ride, I still had a pretty decent finish time.  I know without those issues I would have had a really good time and maybe a PR, but this year was about learning about the Oly race distance and what it takes.  For my second Oly, I’m very pleased.  I handled everything it threw at me and didn’t lose my mind or temper or breakfast.  I kept my focus (which is better than my first tri of the season 4 months earlier).

So, now that I’ve tackled the Oly distance, it’s time to take on the next big goal.  That’s right, a Half Ironman.  And for my big announcement, I’ve already signed up for my first Half Ironman for next year!  On July 13 next year, you can find me at Ironman Muncie 70.3!  That’s 70.3 miles = 1.2mi swim, 56mi bike, and 13.1 run!  I can’t wait.  But for now, tri season is over.  I still have 2 more big running races, then I have 3 months to relax before I start Ironman training in January!