Amica Ironman 70.3 Rhode Island
July 11, 2010
The days leading up to just leaving for Rhode Island were pure torture. My mind seemed to be getting the best of me…
Why was I so wound up? I suppose it comes down to fear. Fear of the unknown, the uneasy feeling that naturally occurs when doing something that you have never done before. At this point I’ve done more triathlons than I can count, but the fancy Ironman brand thing, the traveling to Rhode Island, and the half ironman distance definitely set up camp in the back of my mind.
We packed up the car and took the ferry route to Providence on Friday. Easy, relaxing trip, helped to get my mind off of the fear and doubt that pestered me leading up to this point. Soon enough, all that negative energy got its ass kicked by confidence and determination—I was all amped up and could not wait to race.
Being in the race environment in Providence only fed my newfound positive energy—I felt like a ‘real’ triathlete. We checked in, which was super easy, got all of our numbers and other race day items and were one step closer to racing. We spend the night meticulously getting our gear race ready.
Sleep that night was hard to come by (for me at least). Visualizing the race kept my mind racing the majority of the night. The only good part was that my mind consistently had me kicking ass every time This yielded me about 3 hours of sleep.
Saturday—Day before race
The big deal today was that we had to drive to T1 (about 45 minutes from Providence) to drop off our bikes. We had the 3-6pm slot, so we spent the morning exploring. We found T2 and the finish line area about 10 minutes from our hotel. Hung out, took some pictures, and dropped off our bike to run gear bags.
An underlying factor in this whole race was the weather. I was of course monitoring the forecast since Monday and continually the call for Saturday and Sunday was scattered thunderstorms. It’s been HOT in the northeast for a while now and something had to give sometime soon—I was just hoping it wouldn’t give on Sunday morning.
After we dropped off our T2 bags, a huge, dark cloud crept in over the capital building. We were getting odds and ends at the expo when we saw the cloud open up and unload on the city. Streets turned into rivers within seconds and made our trek to get dinner very interesting. But then the rain stopped and the streets drained, and we just wondered what the weather was going to decide for tomorrow.
After eating, and after the rain, we packed up the bikes and drove off to find T1 down by the beach. It was pretty easy to get to. We arrived at about 5:15 and had 15 minutes to set up our bikes and scope out the area. Water looked good. The 1.2 mile swim took place in a nice protected area, but I was still praying that no storms would sweep through to chop it up. We said goodbye to our bikes, hoped it wouldn’t downpour on them, and made our way back to the hotel. Got the last of the pre-race preparations finished and got ready for another wonderful 3 hours of sleep.
2:30am alarm…was I even sleeping? No matter now, it was race day and I was ready. Hit the power button on the hotel room coffee maker and got my Team Tri and Du It uniform ready. The adrenaline was already flowing through my veins and the caffeine just intensified it. We gathered our morning clothes bag and swim to bike bags and headed down at 3:30am to catch the shuttle to the beach.
We arrived around 4:30 and felt like we had all the time in the world. But after carefully arranging the transition area so that nothing touches the ground (those were the instructions), trying to eat, hitting the port-o-potty, and checking the transition area again, it was just about time to put the wetsuits on.
Women 30-34 (my new age group) went off first at 6:25, Lance at 6:30, and Brad at 7:00. Some swells and chops preceded the 1.2 mile out and back swim course, but I was almost uncharacteristically confident. Nothing could break my focus…it was amazing.
I started conservatively, wanting to keep my heart rate under control. Towards the back, I jogged in and fought the waves—one of my weaknesses. It took about 5 minutes to get past them and settle into my stroke (at this point I also realized I forgot to start my watch, so I started it about 5 minutes late). I wish I would have just put my head down and swam from the beginning and ignored the waves. Felt strong after that, remembered some of the last minute tips from Brad, and finished in 40 minutes and 11 seconds—5 minutes faster than my goal of 45 minutes.
Hmmm, wetsuit strippers…must be better than awkwardly struggling to get it off myself! It was. I told them I’ve never done this before, they told me to sit down and straighten my legs, next thing I know my wetsuit is off—awesome! Calmly found my transition area and got myself together for the 56 mile bike. T1 time—3 minutes 17 seconds
I knew the bike would make all the difference in my overall time. My goal was to go under 3 hours and 30 minutes…preferably as close to 3 hours as possible. The difference this season for me is that I always ride in the big chain, unless of course I am struggling up a sustained climb. With the first about 25 miles of the bike being relatively flat, I tried to maintain at least 18 mph. And even though I don’t have stats that isolate the first half of the bike, I’m pretty sure I accomplished that. The second half of the bike included some rolling hills, flats, and one sustained climb at about mile 45. Even though I attacked and felt strong, my overall average was 17 mph. I also took the last 5 miles through Providence very conservatively. The last thing I wanted to do at that point was wipe out and ruin everything! Pulled into transition area smiling, knowing that the run is my strongest leg and I am safely on my way to finishing my first half ironman!
Racked my bike, took my helmet and shoes off, took my Newtons and three Chocolate Outrage Gu’s out of the bag, stuffed the bike gear in, and took off. I’m pretty sure I was smiling as I left T2 and people cheered me on. T2 time—2 minutes 9 seconds
I thought it was a pretty nice day until I started running. Once my feet hit the pavement I realized it was freaking HOT. At least 90 degrees and sunny…great beach day, but not ideal for running the sub 2 hour half marathon I was dreaming for. I reluctantly looked at my watch, added 5 minutes because I started it late, and realized if I did run a sub 2 hour half marathon (which I am perfectly capable of doing) I would be sooo close to breaking 6 hours. Breaking 6 hours was my pipe-dream goal, so I did get kind of excited when I thought I had a chance. But as I ran the first few miles, I was quickly reeled myself back in, realized I actually felt pretty crappy, and began to shift my head back to my actual goal of 6 hours and 30 minutes. I knew I gave 110% on the bike course and took the run for granted, so now I was in persevere mode. The long, steep incline in the first mile did not help. I started to jog it, but quickly realized that might do more harm than good, so I resorted to big walking steps. Every aid station was a necessity. As I walked through the aid stations I would drink Perform and take two saturated sponges along with me in an attempt to stay cool. If I didn’t utilize the aid stations this way, I surely would have had heat stroke and possibly not finished. I actually felt much better on the second lap of the run and was able to up my pace…unfortunately not enough to go under 2 hours. My half marathon time would end up at 2 hours and 7 minutes.
At the last aid station I got rid of my sponges and doused myself with water, making sure my face
was somewhat cleanand my hair was under control for my finish line picture. It was a beautiful sight to see that capital building and run right towards it. As I strided for the finish line, I put all my remaining energy (which wasn’t very much) into mustering up a smile for the cameras. I saw Lance (5 hours 54 minutes) in the background cheering me on as I finally crossed the finish line. I did it! 6 hours and 10 minutes! We took pictures and reveled in the glory for a bit before Lance decided he might need the medical tent to tend to the bleeding blisters caused by the temporary orthodics in his shoes. Apparently all the water from the sponges did not agree with the ‘no sock’ strategy. Anyway, we both felt good…it being my first half, I was on cloud 9. There’s nothing I would change about my performance. Hit all my goals, left it all out on the course, and gained some confidence for our next race—Ironman Louisville.