After 20 weeks of training, my first half Ironman or 70.3 was finally here and I was not what I had expected. Prior to Sunday, I had not slept through the night for over a week, waking up coughing and having to take my prescription cough syrup at least twice in the middle of the night. I was sleeping in the guest room and still waking Marc up with my coughing from across the house. On Wednesday night (the night before we left) he met me in the hall at 2 AM and said, “Do you really think this triathlon is a good idea?” Talk about peeved off, I gave him the stink eye and huffed “YES!” and I returned to the guest room.
When I started training back in November, I thought that I would morph into this fast, lean, ripped version of myself. Not a sore, coughing, wheezing heap of illness and injury. But life had other plans for me.
So, I am not very good at rehashing a race. In college when I left I test, I could never remember what I got for question #26. My brain doesn’t work that way. So I’ll give you a quick run down and show you some photos.
Pinky (my bike) in her bag at the airport
Pinky in pieces at the hotel
Pinky, one of the first to be racked
It was so fun to be at an expo and not work it! I got to walk around and shop with my hubby. I bought a hat and a lightweight jacket, that both read “FINISHER”. I normally would NOT do this, because I am very superstitious and would be jinxing myself. But I really wanted both items and wasn’t sure what frame of mind I would be in post-race. Plus it was extra motivation to finish! At the athlete briefing, the wind started to pick up and I got a little nervous. Even though I ride in wind all the time here, I don’t like it and I don’t do well in it. It just zaps the energy right out of me…so I was getting a little nervous.
I woke up a 5:30 and for the first time in weeks, I slept through the night with the help of healthy dose of NyQuil. I made some Kona coffee (any little help I can get) and had my go-to breakfast of PB toast and banana. Molly stopped by my room to see me off in case she didn’t make it to start in time. Marc and I drove to the start and by the time we parked it was 6:30, transition closed at 6:45 and I still had a good mile walk ahead of me. I am early for everything, I mean EVERYTHING. I am always at the gate before a flight with over an hour to spare, I HATE being late. So I booked it to transition and the announcer was threatening DQ if the athletes didn’t leave transition. But I am not one to spend 30 min setting up my gear, so I was fine. My wave didn’t start until 8:05, so I had plenty of time to kill. While I was rifling through my bag, I heard a gal ask if I was Shannon. I looked up and immediately recognized Jennifer, a sorority sister who was friends with my Big Sis, Tina. Tina had mentioned on Facebook that Jennifer was going to be there, but she used her married name and I honestly had no idea who she was talking to. Jennifer and I chatted and took a photo for Tina.
Jennifer and I showing off how sexy a wetsuit can be! LOL
Later when we were putting on our wetsuits we found each other again. I never have anyone to chat with before my wave and I always just sit there intimidated by the other ladies. It was SO fun to have Jen there and laugh and joke, it kept the nerves at bay. She told me how slow she was and that she was going to be last (she is full of it) and this was actually a training race in preparation for her FULL Ironman in May. Then we looked down and realized it was time. So we started walking to the dock and noticed that our wave was about the jump in the water! So we hauled A** and pushed a bunch of men out of the way to get with our wave. Again, I was late! So Jennifer and I gave each other high fives, wished each other luck and the horn blared!
Krystal, Me and Molly – the best cheer section in Galveston!
All through training, I wasn’t worried about the swim. That should have been a sign. I don’t know what was wrong with me, but I could not get in a grove until after the first turn. I spent the first part of the swim in a rescue swim (with my head out of the water) and every time I would put my head under the water I would have trouble. The water was SO salty and cold and I guess I was panicking. I was hoping I could finish and any thoughts of time went out the window. My breathing was labored and I was coughing After I turned the corner at the red buoy, I calmed down and I was able to put my head down and actually swim. After that, I was good, but the damage was done. I was behind, but my attitude changed at that point to wanting a good time, to wanting to finish.
It is no secret that I thought a flat bike was going to be easier, not easy, but easier. My average 20-30 mile ride is 2,000-3,000 ft of climbing. This 56 mile ride was under 300 ft of climbing, flatter than flat and for the first 20 miles, I was holding a 20 mph pace with a moderate effort. I thought, “I GOT THIS”! This is going to be cake! My hope was to avg 20 mpg for the ride, but knew that with my health…that might not be possible. After mile 20, I am not sure what happened, but I started to slow to 17/18 mph and I thought….okay I can keep this pace. This is where I will average for the rest of the ride. Then around mile 35 I started to have a pain where my glute and hamstring meet. Kinda at the very bottom of your bum. If you tend to ride on the hubs (like I do) because of the amount of traffic and climbing in my area, you usually tuck you hips under and sit more on the glutes, but if you drop down to the drops or in an areo position, you sit on this area of your tush. Well since I did not have areo bars on my bike, I was in the drops and I developed the worst pain in this area. Every time I pushed down on the pedal, it hurt, so the less I wanted to push on the pedal, so the slower I went. The last 20 miles of the ride I experienced a first, I wanted off my bike and I didn’t want to see it again. Usually I relish every minute of the bike portion, not today.
When I entered transition off the bike, I could hear the announcer announcing finishers names. I was one of the later wave and of course the pros go first, but talk about a kick in the shorts. I am looking at running 13.1 miles and I am hearing the names of folks who are DONE! UGH!
- look at that face, it pretty much sums up the last half of the bike
- THE RUN
- The dreaded run. The run was 3 laps, which at first I though would be torture but was actually a blessing in disguise. First off, my fan club could sit in one place and I could see them 6 times (2 per lap-back and forth) and second, you have no idea what lap anyone is on. There are a bunch of people on the course and some are walking but they could be on mile 10 or 3, so for someone like me who is always getting passed on the run…I loved not feeling like everyone was lapping me. After talking to my tri liaison, Jen Graham, I decided that I would run for as long as I could and then I would walk. The first 6 miles, I had no problem running….it wasn’t fast…but I was
running jogging moving. Then I made a deal with myself that I wouldn’t walk until the last lap, although I should mention that I did walk in order to drink water at the water stops, not sure if that counts as walking. It was hot, probably in the low 80′s but there was a nice breeze. There were 2 spots on each lap where you couldn’t feel the breeze and it was pretty hot, but they didn’t last long. Some folks looked like they were struggling with heat, using sponges, ice and dumping water on their head, but it didn’t bother me. On my last lap, my feet started hurting and I could feel blisters forming. I was tempted to walk, but A) I wanted to be done and walking would just prolong the race and B) it became a challenge to make it without walking.
- THE FINISH
- My final time was 6:42:08 (although my Garmin said 6:37)
- I finished 100/132 in my division and 1972/2335 overall.
- SWIM – 49:11 – 100/132
- T1 – 4:44
- BIKE – 3:13:20 – 78/132
- T2 – 5:47
- RUN – 2:29:07 88/132
- I will be honest with you, I am not thrilled with my time, I know I could do it much faster. But considering my injuries and illness, I am proud of what I did. I did the best I could, given the circumstance I was given.
Do you see that awesome blister on my middle toe. Thank you IM 70.3!
Finisher medal and hat (so glad I bought one the day before – UGH)
Today, I am feeling good. The flight home on Monday was a little tough, my feet swelled up like balloons and I still have red spots from the swimmer’s itch so my feet were looking pretty nasty! My cold is back in full force and I am coughing and sneezing, but I am still on antibiotics and the cough syrup, so I have high hope for a quick recovery.
I want to thank all of my Toughies for the well wishes and good luck messages. I was overwhelmed by the amount of support from you guys. I did dig deep and think of my team mates a few times, especially on the run at the end. You guys were with me every mile! You made this experience just that more special, so thank you!