The big race has come and gone and it was an incredible experience! It still hasn’t hit me yet that I did it even though I raced for over 12 hours but still I am so incredibly proud of myself and happy that I definitely will want to do another one in a couple years (maybe 2017).
But to start things off, I got into town on Friday because Ironman does not allow check-in on Saturday. I went and got my bib down at the south lawn down by the river where the swim is and everything I would need, picked up my bike from TriBikeTransport and waited out the fun rainstorm that just rolled through.
The expo had a few booths including NormaTec, race day wheels, Newton running and a bunch more in case you needed to buy some last minute stuff. Afterwards, we had lunch at Wild Eggs which was so good and right by the transition/expo area on S. Floyd street. Then I went back to the hotel which was the Hyatt Regency and a great location because it was right on 4th street live and less than a block from the finish line. We dropped off my stuff and rested before my SOAS teammate, her friends and I went and drove the bike course. It was nice to drive it and see what to expect during the race.
Afterwards, I had dinner with my mom on 4th street live since it was right out the door and had a bunch of options. The next day, the Team SOAS athletes had a brunch meet up before we went and dropped off our bikes, bike and run bags and was given a tour of things I would need to know in transition by an awesome volunteer. It was strange to drop everything off pretty much the night before but made for a very easy Sunday morning.
Sunday morning wake-up call at 5 am, went down to transition and made sure my tires hadn’t exploded. My boyfriend flew in the night before so he was my sherpa for the morning while mom was off running a half marathon in a town an hour away. Met back up with my SOAS teammate Heather and friends and we were off on our mile walk to the swim start. It was very easy to find as you just followed everybody. I would say we got there around 6:15 and the line was already huge. It was chilly out at a lovely 46 degrees and the water temp was 69 so it was very nice to jump into it. The swim started at 7:30 and I didn’t jump in until 8:01 because of the long line.
The swim start was nice and easy. You walked down a plankway and jumped on in. The plank was made of cement and very cold to the feet. There were also a bunch of crack so you had to be careful. It was a very nervous walk and I definitely cried beforehand but was very excited. I jumped in and just started swimming.
I had no idea timing wise how I was doing because I was focusing on my breath, staying on course and not getting knocked. It was very easy to get off course because there was a large distance between each buoy. I also couldn’t really tell if there was a current, but I heard there was. All I knew was that once I got past the two bridges, I was almost finished.
It was a long run from the swim exit to the bike out. That and add on strippers for the wetsuit, grabbing our transition bags and cramming into the changing tent. It was PACKED! I did what I needed to do while freezing cold, put on socks and arm sleeves to keep warm, got some sunscreen on me and off I went.
The bike course was flat in the beginning before you start the climbs and descents. They just repaved the out and pack portion on 1694 which was incredible because it was nice and smooth and no bumps. People were flying down it though which made for a scary moment or two.
Afterwards, we headed on out to LaGrange to start our first loop. There were loads of people lined up in LaGrange to cheer us on. But after LaGrange I began to notice that the police were letting cars onto the roads and in our lanes. This made for a very difficult and unsafe situation. This would continue the duration of the bike course. When I came around for loop 2, I grabbed what I needed from my special needs bag which was ready and waiting because there was a lady on her walkie announcing the numbers to volunteers in the back, and off I went. By that point, my mom and boyfriend were able to make it out to the viewing point to see me bike by. It was nice seeing their faces after being on the course for 4 hours. I also noticed that in this race, people weren’t very chatty on the bike so that was unfortunate. The aid stations were great, though, very well stocked and run perfectly and so much fun to bike by.
By the time we hit 42 to head back into town, a headwind started to develop and made for a challenging last 30 miles. By that point I also overstretched my hamstring/calf muscle I guess and had a very uncomfortable ride back into town. It was starting to warm up though which was nice and the sun felt great.
The run into transition again was a long one, but thankfully I didn’t have to carry my bike in thanks to the bike grabbers. So I grabbed my transition bag which I yelled to the announcer lady and was waiting for me when I came through. I went into the changing tent with an awesome volunteer who was there to help me in any way. I put on a new bra to make running easier, my shoes and socks and headed on out. She took my bag from me and made it much simpler. I grabbed more sunscreen, went to the bathroom and ran out the back.
The run started off fine. Doing 9-minute miles only to slow down due to stomach distress and use a lovely porta-potty at mile 9. I came around for my first loop and felt off. I did it in 2:03 for some reference. By this point, my leg was also killing me so it made for a challenging second loop. I was also sick of my gels so I started eating pretzels and orange slices which seemed to do the job. That and I also took in some Base salt on the run because I knew something wasn’t right in me. 20 minutes later I felt much better and continued on with my walk through the aid station, run in between method.
I met back up with my friend Meredith who I started the race with and we ran the last 9 miles together which helped me stay on track but also gave me someone to talk to which was nice. When we hit mile 25 it was guns blazing and we finished strong. I went ahead so we could both have our moments under the finish line. I picked up my pace, saw my mom and boyfriend as I came running down the shoot and just looked at the finish line.
It was full of bright lights so I couldn’t see much else. I stopped, whipped and nae nae’d and threw my hands in the air. I did it! Meredith came in right after and we hugged and celebrated. Heather was waiting for us at the end of the shoot and I was able to chat with her for a little before I went to the medic tent to get my knee looked at. I was given my finisher’s shirt and hat, handed it off to my mom who had found me at the finish line shoot.
The next day we were up early to get our finishers jackets, take my boyfriend to the airport and get breakfast. It was an absolutely incredible day and I couldn’t stop smiling the whole time. The volunteers made the experience so much more enjoyable and easier on me and they definitely made the race an even higher level of quality. While running the marathon I said one and done and now I’m looking for which one I can do next. I got the case of the Ironman’s!