Timberman 70.3, August 18th 2013
I drove to New Hampshire the Friday before the race and stayed at a secluded lake front property about 25 minutes from the race site. Once I got there, Kenrick and I went to pick up our packets and scope out the race expo. I have to admit, I was not impressed. We were in and out of there quickly and went back to the house for a short swim in the lake. A 20 minute swim had me huffing and puffing. My taper was right on point!
Saturday morning I woke up with a scratchy throat and stuffy nose. It seemed like the air in New Hampshire was dry. Maybe it was the pine trees? But my allergies were in full effect. Great! We ventured out for a 30 minute ride with a few race efforts, and followed it up with a 10 minute run to get the legs moving. My legs felt heavy on the bike but towards the end of the 30 minutes they started to feel better. My legs felt awesome on the run. I knew I was ready to rock.
We decided to drive the bike course on the way to the race site to rack our bikes. I am so glad that we did this because we were able to see where the hills were on the course. And yes, there were plenty of hills. The hills didn’t seem to be too strenuous but they were certainly there. There was one decent climb around mile 10, which meant one decent climb around mile 46, and also one climb leading back into transition.
When we got to the race site I was in awe! It was beautiful! The first thing we did was walk our bikes into transition and found our spots on the rack. I was located closest to the shore line about three racks in from the barriers, short run out of T1, longer run out of T2. I walked my path in and out of both transitions, visualized over and over again, looked for easy ways to spot my rack/bike, etc. I didn’t want to forget where my bike was like I did in NYC!
RACE MORNING: 4:30am wake up. My throat was still scratchy. Nose was stuffy. I tried not to dwell on it and go about my normal race morning routine; bagel, coffee, banana, race chip around ankle, double check transition bag and off to the race!
We drove to the shuttle which was located about three miles from the race start. Athletes could park at the race site, however no cars could leave until 5pm. So we decided to leave the car at the resort and use the shuttle. Athletes were boarded on the shuttle first, so Kenrick and I got on and caught up with his family at the race site. We sat in total silence the entire ride. Three miles felt like forever. I kept thinking about the race at hand. I spent a lot of time listening to other athletes converse about the race, the course, etc. It seemed like everyone had the dreaded hills on their minds. A few times I caught myself smirking and chuckling. In a way I felt confident knowing I was not intimidated by the hills on the bike. I train on hills everyday!
Once off the shuttle, it finally hit me that I was racing! I was in the midst of the race day whirlwind. Body marking, the hustle into transition, setting up transition, the hustle to the bathrooms, the LONG line at the bathroom, the brisk walk to the swim start. It is all second nature to me now. I never once had the pre-race butterflies or the panicked “what-if” thoughts. I was the most relaxed I have ever been. I have been in this situation before, I have done this before, I have felt this pain before. There was nothing left to do it, but to do it!
I remember looking at the time and thinking wow I have a long time to hang out until I start. I was wave 17 so I started over an hour after the actual race start. I don’t think I have ever started that far back in a race either. My age group is usually one of the first waves in the water. I knew I would be trampling over quite a few athletes. It was chilly so I stood on the shore bundled up as long as possible. I decided to forgo a swim warmup and would use my actual 1.2 mile swim as my warmup, after all, a half ironman isn’t a swim race!
Just as I felt like I looked at the time and thought I had forever and a day until I started, time seemed to sneak up on me and it was almost go time. I put on my wetsuit and made my way to my corral. Kenrick was wave 16 so he lined up at the same time. He gave me a few words/thoughts of encouragement. One really stood out. He said, “no matter what, no matter how things turn on you, even if/when they get bad, always stay positive!” I wished him good luck and told him I would see him out there!
SWIM: I casually walked out to the buoy start line, other girls swam. I adjusted my goggles and sunk down in the water to get my wetsuit soaked and warmed up. The announcer gave the thirty second warning and I started my watch. I wanted to know my swim time when I finished. I took off quickly at the start, as I always do, to find clear water out in front. I remember briefly thinking “how am I going to swim well when I can’t even breathe from these allergies!” But just as quickly as I thought it, I quickly forgot it and remembered what Kenrick told me, “stay positive!” I kept pulling forward.
This swim course consisted of two right hand turns. I had clear water to the first right hand turn, however it all changed the second I made the first turn. I immediately found myself in traffic! I caught the athletes from waves before me. At this point it felt like an ocean swim. The water was choppy and there was a current pushing me towards the shore. I was fighting other swimmers, waves and a current. I told myself to relax and swim as smooth as possible. There was also a fog coming off the water and I had a hard time seeing. At one point I stopped and swam breaststroke, lifted my goggles off my eyes just to find the next buoy! I thought, “wow this may not be a good swim.” Stay positive…
I managed to find my way to the last right hand turn which lead for home and I kicked it into high gear. I saw a rainbow of colors, pink, blue, green caps everywhere. I just kept ticking them all off. I swam over top of people, grabbed their feet/shoulders/heads and pulled myself forward. It was very congested. I made sure to swim all the way into shore until my hands touched the lake bottom. I got this swim tip from my favorite pro triathlete and superb swimmer, Andy Potts! People were walking into shore as I was still swimming. Once my hands hit bottom, I stood up, lost my footing and fell face first into the water. Ugh! Stay positive. I stood back up and hustled up the shore. I glanced down at my watch and subtracted thirty seconds.
OFFICIAL SWIM TIME: 29:38.
Fastest half ironman swim to date! It was go time! As I ran into T1, I heard Kenrick’s father yell that I was third out of the water in my age group and two minutes back.
T1: I was smiling from ear to ear as I entered transition. I couldn’t believe I swam so well in those conditions. I found my rack but ended up running right past my bike! “STAY POSITIVE!” Hey, at least I was on the right rack and only a few steps away. I tore off my wetsuit, put on the bike shoes, helmet, glasses and it was time to bring out the pink!
BIKE: Right out of the gate I rode up on course carnage! An ambulance was in the middle of the road, lights on, and four bikes lying on the ground. One person was loaded onto a stretcher and another person was on the ground with a very bloody leg. Stay positive. I paid a great deal of attention to my hydration and nutrition on the bike this race. More than I have ever done before. I had a lengthy conversation with Kenrick the Friday night before the race in which he told me that if you only drink when you are thirsty it is too late. He has a nutrition/hydration plan that he implements during the race and that it was something to consider. So before the race I made my own plan. I committed to drinking something every ten minutes and eating something every thirty minutes. Constantly thinking about when to eat and drink seemed to make the bike fly by! Before I knew it, I was staring at the hill at mile ten. Rather than panicking, like I saw a lot do, I shifted into the granny gear and spun my way up. I saw tons struggling; one guy even got off his bike and walked it to the top. I sat the entire time, my legs didn’t burn once. Nice, steady effort. No. Big. Deal.
The next forty or so miles were flat and very fast! I cleared the thirty mile mark at a 21.5 mph average! I felt great. I did a lot of passing, but was passed a lot too. In past races if I saw someone in my age group pass me, I would go harder and try to catch up with them. Not this race though. I stayed within my limits. I stuck to my nutrition/hydration plan, and the goal of not making my legs burn. After all, a half ironman is not a bike race!
There were a few aid stations on the bike and I made sure to grab something at each one. I grabbed a big bottle of water and drank half of it and dumped the rest of it on me to cool off. I was never overheated at any point, but cold water seems to always bring me back to life. At another aid station I grabbed a banana. Did that ever hit the spot! First time I ever ate something that I didn’t carry with me on the bike.
I was expecting the final climb in towards transition and seemed to take it with ease. I also realized that any time I climbed, it was always time for me to hydrate. There was something comforting to me holding a bottle while climbing. Don’t ask. This final climb was the only time I looked at my overall bike time. I knew that if all went well I was going to have my fastest half ironman bike split too!!
OFFICIAL BIKE TIME: 2:55:28
T2: At this point I knew what I had waiting for me and I knew that in order to go under six hours, I had to RUN.
RUN: Before I get into the meat of this leg I have a side note. A few weeks before Timberman, I had the privilege to be in Lake Placid for the Ironman. I was able to be there and cheer on my training partners as they took on that challenge. I can’t help but point her out in this section because I believe her performance at IMLP truly inspired me for this race. Mandy Lovett plowed through 26.2 miles at the end of an Ironman like I have never seen before. Maybe it’s because she is my biggest inspiration and I truly look up to her, but I thought to myself, “if Mandy can push through 26.2 like it was nothing and look unphased and strong, there is absolutely NO EXCUSE as to why I can’t run 13.1 miles at the end of a half ironman.” I feel that this photo needs to be put in this race report, because anytime I have doubts when I run I refer to this photo. There are no words needed.
As I ran out of T2, Kenrick’s son and daughter stood with their hands out ready for high fives. I was pumped. I went over the time mat and started my watch. At past races, I never used my watch on the run because it played too much on my mind. But this race I had more confidence going into the 13.1 miles and I knew what I had to do to reach my goal. I promised myself that if things went downhill that I would turn my watch off. But I knew in my heart that wasn’t going to happen. I committed to the run and refused to walk.
I got to mile one and felt great. I glanced at my watch, 8:21 first mile. WHOA! I needed to slow down, I had a long way to go!
Every aid station I grabbed something. Water, Gatorade, cola, oranges, banana, ice, cold sponges. By the way, I am totally obsessed with the ice cold sponges. I grabbed two every time they were offered. One for each hand! And just like the water bottle on the bike, it was comforting to hold them.
Kenrick passed me on the run as he was in his final lap. He slapped me high five and told me to keep it up!! It was very motivating to have yet another inspirational friend/athlete out there on the course competing and cheering me on.
I thought of the run as four 5k’s and a little extra. I cleared the first 5k and I still felt great! At Syracuse I got to mile two and felt like I was at mile ten! This race was different. I remember seeing the only real climb on the course and thinking I’ve got you! I refused to walk. Spectators were cheering for me! People were walking all around me, but I did not give up.
Before I knew it, I was already halfway through the run and into the turn around chute. I saw Kenrick and his parents and gave them all a thumbs up! ONE MORE LOOP TO GO!
Throughout the run I checked my watch every mile and could tell that I wasn’t slowing down or losing any time. I was simply plugging away. I knew if all went well I would definitely have my fastest half marathon time at the 70.3 distance. This run simply flew by. I approached the dreaded last climb into the finish, and I will admit I was at the point where I wondered if I had anything left to run up it. Stay positive. Up I went.
I made the turn for home and had a load of energy. I kicked it towards the line. Spectators were screaming out my bib number and my name. I knew I ran just over 2 hours, but had no idea my overall finish time. I knew I was under six hours but not how far under. I knew I had to deduct an hour from the official time clock because I started about an hour after the pros.
When the official clock was in my sights, I glanced at it and saw it read six hours and between thirty and forty minutes. I lost it. Choked up, tears rolling, arms raised in victory. Running and crying. I can honestly say I have never done that, and wow what a task that was! But I knew I accomplished my goal.
I crossed the finish line and a volunteer told me to breathe! Take a deep breath! Easier said than done! I still didn’t know my official time but let’s just say when I found out, the tears were back!
OFFICIAL RUN TIME: 2:06:46
OFFICIAL RACE TIME: 5:35:47 and a new PR by over 30 minutes!
“No matter what, always stay positive.”