My wounds have healed…er are still healing and the soreness following my half ironman journey are almost gone. After five days of reflection and trying to get back to “normal” I think I am ready to put my experience at Ironman 70.3 Racine in writing.
Before I go any further let me just say that I finished! I did it! First 70.3 is in the books!
I woke around 7, had breakfast and then walked over to the lake near my house for a short open water swim. I swam for about 25 min (across the lake and back), for a total of .83 miles. I swam at an easy, steady pace with a few pickups.
Once I was back home I changed into cycling gear and headed out for one last spin. I rode around for 30 minutes at a high cadence, easy pace with again a few pickups. I felt good and well rested.
After a shower, some food, and a little Tour de France viewing, I packed my bike into my new car!! and headed up to Racine (about a 1 hour drive) around 11AM. I wanted to make this trip as quick as I could so I could get back home and relax, plus gather up all my race day gear. The drive was quick and I found great parking immediately, but the athlete check-in line was outrageous. The whole process took over an hour, an hour standing in the sun…oh well, I chatted up some nice folks, which passed the time quickly.
Waivers signed and packet in hand I grabbed my bike and rode to the transition area. I racked my bike and quickly surveyed the area, made a stop at the restroom, then walked back to my car to make the drive home. At this point I was very hungry and starting to get a headache…not good the day before the race. I arrived home after 4PM, so it took me longer than expected, but still not too bad.
I ate a lot when I got back. Pretty much lunch and dinner was consumed before I went to bed around 9. I gathered my gear. At this point this process is super quick, I can practically pack everything with my eyes closed. I then tried to relax and watch a movie. I only made it through the beginning before it was getting late and with a 3:15AM wake up call, I needed to sleep. Nerves and excitement running through me, I envisioned a perfect race while I dozed off to sleep.
Race Day – I found no difficulty getting up at 3:15 as I was waking up periodically throughout the night in fear I was going to oversleep. I went through my pre-race routine. I filled my water bottles with ice, made an ezekiel, peanut butter, banana wrap for later, then had a bowl cereal. I doubled checked everything, changed into my kit, and headed towards Racine around 4. I remembered my water bottles in the freezer too! Already winning.
I arrived a little after 5, transition was open 5-6:30. I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time and I did not want to feel rushed. I parked in a nearby lot (paid $5), worth it, and walked to transition where I set up my gear.
I walked my extra stuff (big transition bag, bike pump) back to my car then waited to use the bathroom. After one last check in transition I started to make the mile walk up the beach to the swim start, eating my wrap along the way.
It was a beautiful morning and the sunrise was awesome… it was the calm before the storm.
The pros were off at 7AM and I was the 12th wave, expected to start at 7:41. After the pros started I slipped my Roka wetsuit on and got into the really cold waters of Lake Michigan.
The water temp race morning was 61 degrees, but I later learned that earlier in the week it was much colder and the swim was in danger of being canceled if it did not warm up. After the winter we had, I am not surprised.
I didn’t get much of a warm-up, I just wanted to feel the water beforehand. I then went over to the start and got in line with my wave, women 18-29. Nerves, excitement, I didn’t know how to feel. I had put so much training into this one moment. There had been so much build-up, anticipation, and fear of the unknown. I just wanted to get started so I didn’t have to think about it anymore!
Swim – The countdown began. As we entered the water I positioned myself in the second row, on the inside, but still in the middle. The gun went off and on we went! The water stayed pretty shallow for a while so there was swimming then some running until I was able to really start going.
This swim start was the worst for me in terms of being thrashed by arms and getting caught out of breath. There was no panic and no stopping, just a little more discomfort than I am used to. By the time we hit the first red buoy, which signaled a right turn, it was smooth sailing. The water was great. It was pretty calm and I was really enjoying it.
I swam at a steady, smooth pace. There was lots of dodging and weaving through the waves before. I have developed a game for this…I look at each swimmer before me as dynamite and I have to miss each one. Hahah it helps pass the time and keeps my mind occupied.
Before I knew it we were heading towards the shore. I was sad that the swim was over so soon, I just wanted to keep going!
I checked my watch when I hit sand…31 minutes. Not too bad, but it can always be better. I really want to get my swim under 30. I know I can, it just comes down to if I want to push it that hard.
1.2 miles 31:20 01:37/100m 8/42 AG 35/671 F 119/2163 OA
At least I have one leg going for me…top 5%! Here is the data from the swim.
T1 – There was a decent run into transition. Before I headed in I took the opportunity to have my wetsuit stripped, very fast, I loved it! I quickly put on my gear and grabbed my bike, passing a few girls in my age group. As I began to mount I could hear my Dad cheering and shouting “Go, Jessie, Go!” It was so good to hear his voice and I am glad my parents made it to the race!
My Garmin clocked .3 miles from the time I came out of the swim to the time I got on my bike. So, I am pretty happy with that 4 minute transition time.
Bike – We were faced with a steep hill immediately upon mounting our bikes. Being well aware of this hill, I put my gears in the small chain ring and in a low gear. I rolled right up the hill with little effort, passing many along the way who unfortunately did not get the message.
Here we go, 56 miles. I sped right along the first few miles, spinning fast. I had to remind myself that this was not a sprint or olympic race and I better not go all out. The course was flat, but very bumpy. This was quite the annoyance later on in the ride. I kept a high cadence, an average of 90 rpm, and I managed to go slightly faster the second half.
For nutrition, I made sure to drink water often from my front water bottle and every 5 miles I had a drink from my water bottle filled with Gatorade. I took one GU Roctane about 5 miles in. I then had two GU Chomps about every 5ish miles after that, finishing one bag by the end. I also took a GU Chocolate Outrage towards the end and it rocked my world. At every aid station (3 total) I grabbed a water and filled my front bottle. I thought this worked pretty well, maybe a little more nutrition could have helped, but overall I was feeling good at the end.
The roads outside of Racine, in fact anywhere in Wisconsin, are really boring. Between mile 40 I wanted the ride to be done. Plus I was tired of all the fast men passing me with their speedy wheels.
Coming back in on Main Street it was a zoo! We had only a small lane to ride through and there were runners on our left for part of the way. This made it difficult to pass and/or go fast. Plus it was so bumpy!
As I made the last turn I heard my Dad cheering again! I flashed a smile and headed down the hill to dismount.
56 miles 03:05:54 18.07 mph 11/42 AG 152/671 F 885/2163 OA
I was trying to get as close to that 3 hour mark as I could. I am content with this ride. However, I know I have so much room for improvement here, so I am excited for what is to come. Also, since this ride I have made some adjustments to my bike that I think will make riding easier or just make me faster. ;) Here is the data from the bike.
T2 – After a quick run through transition, I was out the other end and on to the run.
Very happy with both of my transition times.
Run – The first two miles were good, there are too sort, but steep hills in the first mile, but other than that the course is flat. I was so happy to be on the final leg, but by the time I got to mile three I thought how the heck am I going to run 10 more miles. This would be only my second time completing this distance. I had no idea how it would go. Unfortunately, by mile three I could feel a major pain in my right foot. The new no tie laces I put on were way too tight. After mile four it became so painful I had to stop to attempt to loosen them. I stopped again after an aid station to really loosen them as it felt like giant blisters were forming under my foot. This was the last thing I wanted to deal with.
Loosening the laces did help, but the pain would remain throughout the race and well afterwards. I ran through it…more like shuffling, at least that’s how I felt. I walked through all the aid stations. Drinking water, throwing water on my head, and grabbing ice/cold sponges when available. I sucked on some oranges from time to time as well. Other than that I took only two peanut butter GUs during the run. I started my run a little after noon, so the sun was high in the sky and it was hot! We were fortunate to get a nice breeze from the lake at times though. During some segments of the run we had great views of the lake, which made things a little more bearable.
I came in for my first lap and the crowds definitely boosted my spirit. I also saw my parents, which made it easy to pick up the pace. I then made the turn around for the last lap and made my way up the first hill. I knew my parents would be at the top so I could not walk it! The rest of the run was just a matter of survival. I tapped into a lot of mental toughness to keep going and not walk. When they say a huge portion of racing is mental, they are not wrong.
It was at this point where my Mom and Dad were cheering for me and my Dad said, “You can do this, you are doing awesome, I am so proud of you Jessie.” I was so exhausted, but beyond happy to hear that. It gave me chills. I managed to say thank you back to him, which he got a chuckle from.
Shuffling right along…
Closing in on the last mile I was ecstatic that I was going to finish, I was almost done. There was a slight hill then into the finish chute I ran! I had a huge smile on my face as they announced my name (wrong).
13.1 02:18:10 10:32/mi 15/42 AG 227/671 F 1028/2163 OA
Final Time: 06:01:14
So happy to be done. After seeing my Dad right there taking pictures I downed two waters, was awarded my medal and finisher’s hat, and got in line for my picture. I was immediately stiff by the way…not a good sign.
Coming in I glanced at the clock and did the math. Just over 6 hours. My goal was to be under as I thought my run would be better. I had no idea how I would do though, so I am happy with my performance, but I am eager to improve because I know I can do better.
Here is the run data.
After the race I chatted with a few people before finding my parents and giving them two big hugs. Finally, I sat down and enjoyed some food. I had a teeny tiny bagel with pb, two orange slices, chocolate milk, a cookie that tasted like heaven, and half a can of coke that tasted incredible. I never drink soda either.
I could not stop smiling for the rest of the day. I could not believe what my mind and body accomplished. It felt like it flew by. Although, during the race I told myself I am sticking to sprints and olympic distance races! But I know I will sign up for a 70.3 next year.
The rest of the day I was in recovery mode. I treated myself to a burger and sweet potato fries (tasted beyond amazing). I also had a puppy chow freeze with my sister later that night. Yummm When I took off my shoes I found out what I thought was huge blisters being formed on my feet was actually just the feeling of the circulation of blood being cut from the font of my feet. It was very difficult to walk the next two days and there is still a slight numbness in my right toes today!
I am almost back to “normal” today. I put in an easy swim and yoga session on Wednesday, a solid hour bike ride yesterday, and this morning I swam 2.6 miles and hopped on the treadmill for a mile to see if I can still run. I have also been rolling and stretching like crazy, but I still have some soreness in my hips.
For some reason I signed up for two races this weekend. A 10K tomorrow down in Chicago and an olympic triathlon in Wisconsin on Sunday. Let’s see if I can survive!