Saturday was filled with pre-race training sessions. We all met at the Pro Bike Express trailer for a short bike ride that took us out on the beginning of the bike course. Next up was a quick run through the neighborhood. Finally, we made our way to the lake to wriggle into our wetsuits and test out the water. Not as cold as I had anticipated. I was glad we took the time to get in the water as it made any concern about water temperature on race morning evaporate.
After lunch, everyone headed their separate ways until race morning. At this point, my parents had arrived and so we went back to the hotel to pick them up and then headed out to survey the bike course. Again, glad I did this to get a feel for how hilly the course is. I find it is always better to eliminate the fear of the unknown. The rest of the day was uneventful….just rest, dinner and then off to bed early.
My race plan said to go hard the first 400 yards or so, and I did my best, but honestly at the beginning of the swim I am just looking not get kicked in the head. I eventually got a steady pace going started searching for some feet. Not much luck there for most of the swim but I was happy to find clear water most of the time. The course was a straightforward rectangle so that made sighting easy until the first turn. Now facing directly into the rising sun, it took me a couple tries to find the next buoy. Once I spotted it, I determined I could just follow the splashing of those in front of me and not worry too much. At the next turn, heading back into shore, I had trouble keeping an eye on those buoys and I think I drifted off course a little, but eventually I was seeing the bottom and headed out of the water.
So beautiful! So many climbs! The first out-and-back of the bike course was relatively flat and fast, but chilly as it was quite shady. I had debated about how much to wear on the bike and ultimately heeded coach Katie’s advice that if I was cold I wasn’t working hard enough and just went out in my tri kit. Definitely made me work harder to get warmed up in the first 15 miles. Once we rolled through town again the course headed out onto the highway and up! So glad I stuck to the tri kit as it was sunny and warm out there. Goals for the bike were to go strong and keep heart rate up and eat all the calories. Definitely got in all my calories and hydration and met the HR goals for the first 45 miles. In the last 15, the goal was to increase effort, and I did, but not quite as high as planned. Overall, I feel great about my effort and time especially given the amount of climbing (2400 ft).
What a fantastic run course. The spectator support is amazing. And this was the first race I have done where your name is printed on your race bib. This is awesome because as you run by, people cheering actually say your name. Feels like you have a huge cheering section during the whole race. It was also fun to hear, “Go Team Amazing Day!” a couple of times as well. The fun of racing with team gear!
As far as my run, it definitely hurt….but in a good way. I originally wrote HR goals in my race plan, but coach Katie scrapped that and told me to take HR off my Garmin as it would just stress me out. And, she felt I could run sub 10:00/miles for the whole thing which surprised me as I didn’t know if I really had that in me but I was excited to find out. The race plan was to negative split the whole thing by basically dropping pace by :15/mile every 3 miles. Right off the bat I started out too fast and had to fight the whole time to bring pace down. Who would think that it would be so hard to slow down during hour 5 of a race!?! I struggled a bit the whole time with uncertainty about how much to eat and drink and probably lost too much time at aid stations. But every time I looked at my watch during miles 3-10 I was executing the plan. I think it helped that I was constantly on the the lookout for Katie as I was convinced she’d tell me to push harder. When I finally saw her in the last three miles, she said something along the lines of, “You look great. Drink some Coke. Go hard!” And I did. Coming into the final stretch into town towards the finish line was awesome. Seeing family and teammates cheering along the streets lined with people made for an exciting finish to a beautiful race.
Leading up to this race has been a very exciting time for me. I have only raced one other 70.3 and that was back in 2012. This was my first Ironman branded event. And my first season training with Katie (or anyone for that matter) and being part of Team Amazing Day. When I started in November. I wasn’t sure if it would be a one season, or even one race thing. But now, after this race, and this experience with a coach and a team, I’m definitely in it for awhile and I’m excited to see what’s next!