I. Freakin. Did. It It's still surreal.
I am a Half Ironman Finisher!
Well I ruined the surprise ending. What? C'mon ... we know this story is like the movie Titanic. We all know the ending, but we tune in to hear all the good stuff of how we got there. Well I guess there isn't a lot of "good stuff" when a movie ends in everyone dying. Oh lord I am off track...
So the morning of the race began with a 4am wake-up call. I thought wow I got to sleep in compared to the 2:30am wakeup calls for the Run Disney races. :P
The alarm went off and I went through my normal morning routine on my phone: checking
Once that 15 minute ritual was over - it was time to face the day. Oh and that tiny way out of my comfort zone race.
I jumped out of bed and immediately ran over to get my outfit on - thank you OCD for having it all laid out the night before.
The morning was a blur. I tried to answer text messages and check my mental list over and over before heading down to breakfast at 5am. Thank you Comfort Inn for opening the complimentary breakfast at 5am rather than 7am for the racers.
Our plan was to be checked out of the hotel and on the road by 5:15 and you know what - we did it. Go us!
I was terribly nervous on the drive over the race as all sorts of situations buzzed through my mind.
The hotel was a quick 15 minute ride from the hotel and there seemed to be limited traffic until the final mile before the race, which was to be expected.
We easily parked - thank you volunteers - and made our way to transition.
As I brought myself over to transition to get body marked (number and ages on the body) I noticed other folks had the timing chip on their ankle, but I never got one.
<<Insert panic attack #1>>
After simply asking someone about it, I realized I had to get it day of. Phew!
I decided to set up my transition area before getting my timing chip. As soon as I walked into transition there was my friend and fellow Team Got Chocolate Milk team member John! Oh was it good to get a hug from that man. He is a huge motivator and inspiration of mine.
Normally I would have a nice pic of my transition area to post here, but I was a tad too nervous to snap one. #BloggerFail
The wife and I headed over to get my timing chip and I ran into my friend Robin. She is a rockstar Weight Watchers Success Story, Ironman and overall badass. I bothered the crap out of her during my training. :)
It was great catching up with Robin and a nice distraction. I headed into transition to grab my wetsuit, goggles and swim cap since it was 6:18 and transition would be closing at 6:30. We decided to head down the hill to use the port-o-potties near the water before the 6:45 mandatory race meeting.
I was able to catch up with other friends racing as well including my former Weight Watchers member and training buddy Darcie.
We listened to the announcements from race director Kat before her daughter sang the National Anthem. There was a little forgetfulness on the lyrics, which is understandable, but the whole crowd picked her up and finished the song singing together. :)
Once that was all said and done the elites were getting ready to kick off at 7am. Eek! My wave started at 7:11am.
So I had the wife snap a final pre-race photo and I sent out my final social media messages before handing the reigns over to the wife.
I do need to take a moment to thank my wife for keeping everyone up to speed during the race and rocking the #wifetweets!
I looked over and there the clock read 7:06am. Shit! Time to get into my corral. I gave the wife a final kiss and was off.
The nerves were erupting and overtaking my entire body.
I was standing in the water with the other ladies in my corral just thinking: "Enjoy this!" "You paid to do this." "You will be okay."
Then the horn went off...
Swim - 1.2 Miles
The start of the swim always makes me nervous as a bunch of folks are plunging in at the same time heading for the same goal.
I immediately felt like I couldn't breathe. I tried to pull down the zipper of my wetsuit, but it didn't help. Instead I unvelcroed the top of my wetsuit and everything felt okay. Phew! I told myself to get in my groove. And it happened.
The swim was a 0.6 triangle that we would do twice. Once I made the first left, I felt alone in the water. Like the other racers had fallen away... until I bumped into the age group in front of us. :P
But I felt like I was swimming a consistent race. After the second left, we were heading back towards the shore before doing the triangle again.
As I came to the shore, I looked up (the wife said she spotted me doing that) and noticed that another age group was starting the race JUST as I was coming around for my second loop. Really people? Poor timing on my part.
The second loop started out blindly as the sun was hitting the sky at a really awkward spot for us trying to spot the buoy.
I decided to cut to the inside and hug the buoys to try to avoid the mass of swimmers. It seemed to work well for me until I realized there was another pink cap that was pretty much in stride with me the whole way. She was on my left hand side. (I later learned that that person was a Chocolate Milk teammate. Ha!)
But it helped me stay on point.
I realized during the race I was spotting well and limiting my zig zag swimming that sometimes happens during Open Water Swimming.
Once I took the final left, the entire focus came on the shore. I couldn't believe that the swim was coming to an end. Not that I had any idea of time since my couldn't see my Garmin at all in the water.
I had heard that the water would be super weedy while leaving the water and it was true. I was all caught up in my arms and legs as I tried to get out of the water.
As I started to pull down my wetsuit, I hit my Garmin and saw a 34:xx on the swim. I was elated!!
Total Time: 34:34 Pace: 1:39/100 yds Overall Place: 109/425 Division: 3/27
**Can I just add how STOKED I was to see 3rd in my division in the swim? Clearly doing my swim workouts in meters when they were meant to be in yards (aka extra swimming) paid off!
I had decided I would take my wetsuit off before the run/walk up the mini hill to transition. It was a cool experience to get myself up the hill with all of the spectators on the side. I saw the wife, as well as, my best friend and niece. It was what I needed with 1/3 of the race over. :)
I knew I would run/walk/hustle up the hill. I wasn't about to waste energy on something like this this early on in the race.
Thankfully the hill was all grass without any stones so running up barefoot wasn't a problem.
Total Time: 1:36.8
Once again thanks to John who helped me figure out which rack was mine. I quickly got to my station and did the best change I could. I decided to wear my cycling jersey and my camelbak on the ride. I wanted to feel as comfortable as possible on my weakest leg. I had already put open luna bars in the back of my cycling jersey before the race so that was set.
I chatted with John about the swim and even saw my niece while I got my bike ready. She tried to get out of her stroller to see me. I wanted to just stop there and hang with her, but I pushed on.
Thanks for the pic John!
John caught me chatting with a woman in my lane asking if my niece was my daughter. :)
Total Time: 2:23.3
Bike - 56 miles
The portion of the triathlon I wish I could skip. :P
It is no surprise that the bike leg is my weakest and my least favorite so I really tried my hardest to get out there with a positive mindset.
I immediately wished I had music with me. I know it is not allowed in triathlons, but boy it would help.
It really was a gorgeous course so I tried to soak that in as best as possible.
I have mentioned the bike is my weakest leg so I really tried to get myself in the positive mindset.
Which immediately went away as about 6 people zoomed by me on the bike. Sweet - it is going be like that all morning.
And it was.
Here is where I won the bike course: my Sparkle Athletic skirt.
I lost the number of people who passed me, but 9 out of 10 of them complimented me on the skirt while they did it. So at least I had people to say "Thank You!" to. Hahaha.
One woman nicknamed me "Pumpkin Diva!" Ahh I loved it.
I definitely got dubbed Best Dressed my many a passerbyer as well.
At first being passed frustrated me, but then I kept telling myself: "Do you. Be you. Do your own race. Let them do theirs."
The rolling hills were thankfully not as big as I thought they were while driving the course the day prior. But they definitely took some out of me.
The bike course featured two loops.
The volunteers and cops did a GREAT job holding up traffic since the roads were open during the whole race, which originally freaked me out.
They were nice and complimentary.
So I knew I would be on the bike for hours and I wondered how one handled the bathroom situation. Well Robin had said you just pee on your bike. Ummm excuse me?
Well I tried it. And it didn't work. Haha. I tried multiple times since I had only seen one port-o-potty during the bike course. I knew if I got off the bike I would NOT want to get back on.
I held it.
I am proud to say while on the bike I was able to drink from my water bottles on the bike while moving AND eat while in motion.
I have been biking for just about a year so I am still learning.
I laughed out loud at how excited that made me.
I saw the 30 mile marker and BAM! I got all excited then realized I still had 26 miles to go.
So on the second loop, which featured just as many hills I tried to really enjoy the Maine scenery.
Multiple times I wished I had my phone on me to capture the sights. There were so many quaint cottages I wanted to capture, but wasn't able to. :(
And really I missed updating you all with my mid-race ramblings.
While my times might not be amazing race-wise, I was so proud with how I was doing on the bike.
Until I hit Mile 40 and thought UGH 16 more miles. That is when my positive mantra started failing. :P
So out came my singing - Frozen, Disney songs and some Taylor Swift.
Not sure how the folks passing me thought about that.
Additionally while out on the bike, I saw 5 people on the side of the road with flat tires and busted bikes.
Boy did I ask my angels above to look out for me in that time. I just asked: "Please don't let that be me."
When I roared past Mile 50 I knew I was in the home stretch.
But for me 6 miles still felt like forever. haha.
I was really proud of where I stood. I was well ahead of my sub-4 goal. I kept my Garmin on my wrist the whole time so I wouldn't be constantly looking at it. I was however doing a lot of math in my head with my cyclometer.
The bike course shut down at 12:30 and by my calculations I would be off the course by 11:22. Phew! An hour to spare.
As I took the final mile into transition, I saw folks heading out on their run. Oh was I jealous.
The roads were ROUGH coming into transition so I just wanted to be on my feet again.
I could tell my family was so happy to see me as they were just as worried about the bike portion as I was. I was waiving to Joanna, my niece, in this photo. :)
A big part of the bike that scares me is the downhill. Going fast down the hill gives me some serious anxiety and pictures fly through my head of me hitting something and heading over my handlebars, etc. But on that day I decided to trust myself and the bike and use the speed. I knew I would need it to get back up the hills since this course was seriously rolling the entire time. So Bravo to me for overcoming that.
Total Time: 3:24:56 Pace: 16.4/mph Overall Place: 361/425 Division: 18/27
** My goal was to hit at least an average 15/mph so I was wicked happy to see something better than that. And as you can see by my places, I have some serious bike improvement.
All I could think about was peeing. Haha. So as soon as I re-racked my bike and switched to my run gear I was in line at the port-o-potty in transition.
Thanks again John!
Best decision of the race was hitting that port-o-potty! Haha. I can tell you that far into the race the skirt was a tad annoying. :P But I made it work.
I quickly threw off the cycling jersey and camelbak and replaced it with my Team Chocolate Milk t-shirt and race belt.
Total Time: 3:13.4
Run - 13.1 Miles
I grabbed the Essentia water they had for us and chugged it. So refreshing. As I took the right turn out of transition I saw my whole support crew. I was wicked excited to see my dad since I hadn't seen him when I came out of the water. He was driving up that morning from Boston and I really didn't want him to miss anything.
Woo! I was wicked excited to be on my comfort zone ... the run! I knew that even if I had to run, run/walk or walk I was in a place where I felt confident.
I think I was a tad excited to be out there since my first mile was 8:07 min/mile pace. I knew I couldn't keep that up the entire run so I would have to slow it down.
I hadn't looked at the run course so I didn't know what to expect. The run was also two loops so I had the first loop to see what it was all about.
The rolling hills were still there. Haha.
As was an out and back course. I was happy with the out and back as it meant lots of other faces to smile at, cheer for and wave at.
It was funny seeing so many folks that had passed me on the ride still complimenting me on my skirt. ;)
I am happy to say the first 7 miles were all sub 9 min/mile pace, but then around Mile 8 the pain in my left hamstring really started to bug me. This is an injury I have been dealing with since May and I knew it may flare up.
I was happy to see my BFF and the niece at the Mile 8 turnaround. I needed that familiar boost.
So starting at Mile 8 I started a version of the run-walk method. It bothered me how much of a mental game it became at that point, but I tried to will myself through it.
I saw the sub 6 time slip away, but reminded myself that this was my first Half Ironman so I really couldn't beat myself up over whatever my time was.
During my second loop, I saw a lot of familiar faces on the course so I had folks to talk to and check up on.
I had promised myself that I would walk through every water stop (all 10) and I did.
In those final few miles, I opted to walk up the hill and run the downhill. In the moment, I was angry at myself, but I had to be kind.
When I saw Mile 12, I knew it was the home stretch. The was the end of my 20th half marathon and the final mile of a long 70.3 mile journey.
The race thought it was funny to put a large hill during that final mile. Har har. I tried to use the spectators to push me up and over the hill. No literally I asked to jump into a baby's stroller to get me up the hill. But for some reason they refused.
Once I made it to the top of the hill, it was "all downhill from there." And it was. I made the final turn into the Finish shoot and there was my BFF and her daughter. They ran with me for a few yards before I made the trek down the grassy hill.
I saw my wife and dad and may have uttered: "I am going to puke" since it was straight down a grassy hill. ;)
There was the Finish Line seconds away from me.
Then it was over.
Total Time: 1:59:22 Pace: 9:03 min/mile Overall Place: 180/425 Division: 10/27
Official Time: 6:06:03.4
I was wicked happy to see the first medal volunteer I could to place the medal around my neck. Oh it was glorious.
Thanks Barry for my special 2nd personalized medal!
The race also gives you a Finisher's t-shirt after you get your medal. I was in such a daze that I didn't understand what they were saying, but I gladly took my shirt. :)
I can say the Finish was surreal. So much time and months were spent training and worrying about the race and then it was over.
Thankfully I had these amazing people waiting for me with hugs and love.
How cute was she??? She did NOT give me a good look when she first hugged me. Apparently I smelled. ;)
Once the BFF and the little lady departed, we headed straight towards the beer tent. I have priorities folks. :P
The beer tasted sooo good. :) It was great recapping the race with my dad and wife.
I even got to see two Got Chocolate Milk teammates: Jaquelin and Kevin!
While we enjoyed our beers and listened to the awards ceremony, the wife enjoyed the thanksgiving dinner I got with my Finish and I caught up on social media.
I missed all of you while out on the course.
There was only so much time I could spend there before I needed to get some real food.
We headed back to the transition area so I could collect my belongings, got into the car, drove my dad to his car (spectator parking was 1/2 mile away) then headed to Shipyard Pub for lunch.
We enjoyed a great meal and some more celebratory beer before taking the drive back to Massachusetts.
Now the immediate question is: Will you do it again?
Honestly, I don't think so. I just wasn't a fan of the bike portion and it is over half the race for me.
Maybe if I move to a flat state, I would try it again, but as of now no.
Next question: Will you do a Full?
Oh hellz no. Again see the bike portion. I just couldn't imagine getting out there and going on a 7-hour bike ride some Saturday.
During the course of training for the Half Ironman, I did a ton of double workout days and a lot of early mornings. I missed social events and time with my wife. I don't want to do that again.
Again things can change, but that is my position now.
Overall, Pumpkinman was a great time. They did an awesome job with volunteers and aid stations. The spectators were sparse for the bike portion, but decent for the run. The volunteers were upbeat and I made sure to thank every single one I saw while out on the course.
Am I happy I took the leap outside of my comfort zone? Abso-freakin-lutely!
Can I successfully check this off my bucket list? You know it.
Now point me in the direction of the tattoo parlor ... time to add the 70.3 to my foot tattoo.
Have you done a Half Ironman? What was your favorite part?