Monthly Archives: November 2016

IMNC 70.3 Race Recap – Part II

Soooo, I was planning to post this a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, I got busy with the wonderful shingles virus and taking my kids and self to our fall doctor appointments for a total of seven visits. It’s been “fun”, and now I totally understand why there’s a chicken pox vaccine.  Praise medical science for that, because shingles is like riding the roller coaster of Forrest Gump chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get on any given day. For weeks. I digress, and here’s the very extended version of my IMNC 70.3 race report. Finally.

For Part I, click here.

Part II begins….NOW.

The morning of the race, I woke up at 4:00 am to my son’s words on my alarm label, “Move your bacon”. It always makes me smile. I got up, ate four pieces of toast with butter and peanut butter, and got my fuel ready….d’oh. My fuel. Yeah, I had forgotten it in my truck that I parked at the race finish the night before. Thankfully, I have awesome training buddies, and two of them were bringing me some fuel at the bike area where we planned to meet for a picture. My husband got up and headed out to volunteer, and my sister picked me up to take us to the start.

The temp tattoo my sissy got for my race

I was tired and nervous about the wind, as it was blowing pretty hard and steady around 15 mph from the northwest, which was to be directly in our faces on the bike. Oy. When we got to T1, it was buzzing with excitement. I love this feeling.  I checked my bike, fueled her up, checked on my T1 bag, and gathered with many of my friends.


My sister drove me to the start and we went to her friend’s place, 3rd floor, where you could see the full distance swimmers coming down the channel. I’m guessing we could see at least half a mile one direction and a full mile the other. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in a race, and I wish I could’ve gotten a video of it. It was a beautiful day, a little less cold than I thought it would be, but it was definitely windy. The water was choppy, so I mentally prepared to get some extra salt during my swim, haha.

Soon, it was time to head to the start and get the party started. I was wandering around, saw more buddies, when one of them happened to mention, “Hey, I think the orange caps are already across the road”, which means I missed my wave being called. Oh, man, this was the Boston Marathon all over again, when I missed my wave being called and I was LATE TO MY START. Geez. Thanks J. Mott, you could have totally saved my race! I quickly ran across the street in my cold, bare feet, thankfully, as my wave was just entering the water to wait for the start. The water was pleasantly warm, which made the wait less shivery and I tucked about six ladies’ wetsuit zipper strap into their suits to prevent them from getting tangled in the racing arms and legs. It was time to go!

Erin and me

I looked into the day that laid before me, and I was confident in my abilities, I trusted my training, borrowed a little of that confidence from my coach, and knew I could push through and have a great race. What would happen that day? Would I leave happy? Would I cross that finish line in glory? I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and I was nervous, but nothing worth having is easy, and if it was easy, everyone would do it.  Before I knew it, it was time to start the swim. My plan was to not head directly down the channel, it was to head towards the middle to catch as much current as I could and veer left to cut any tangent I could without missing a buoy.

The weird thing about the swim course was that it was not like any of the courses we locals have swam in before. When we started swimming, we normally head down the channel and take a hard left. This time, we were steered at an angle towards the swim finish, which was unusual and unexpected. I was always told to “Know where you are” when open water swimming, and during the swim, sure, I knew where I was, but I really had no idea what was going on and why my landmarks were not where they were supposed to be. I followed the crowd, allowing them to determine where exactly to turn.  I felt good in the water. I didn’t stop, I didn’t get kicked in the face, I didn’t feel stressed or out of breath. When we did make our left turn, we were directly into a stiff wind, and the water was choppy.  I got my face full of wave a few times, got my extra salt, but at least I didn’t throw up. The swim finish approached quickly, and I was thinking that I was going to get my huge swim PR.

Swim: 36:51

Yay!!! Finished with the swim!!

I climbed out of the water on wood ladders, declined many offers of help, and walked myself up the dock towards the parking lot. I was so thrilled that I did not get pummeled by the fast young men whose waves started after mine. Seriously, I was stoked. I found the wetsuit strippers, let them do their job, and was happy to find the warm showers so I could at least try and wash some of the salt water off my face, arms, and neck. It felt so good!

T1 for this race is long, and it was expected, but what I really did not like is that we were required to go get T1 bags with our gear in them. I was not changing my clothes, so I had to run extra to at least get my bike stuff out of my bag and put my swim stuff back in. I heard volunteers yelling there was plenty of room in the tent, but I stayed outside the tent to transition. I heard the full participants complaining after the fact they shouldn’t have had to share the tents with the half, but where I was, there was plenty of room for all. I dropped my bag with a volunteer, ran to my bike, and knew I needed to hustle to get going. THE CLOCK WAS TICKING. Every second counted.

I knew it was windy, but I thought I could tackle it. I started my bike carefully since there was a lot of traffic, but once over the metal deck of the Wrightsville Beach bridge, I started my true journey. We headed out of town with heavy car traffic. It boggles my mind that there are so many cars out there, since this race isn’t new and signs had been posted regarding heavy race traffic for at least two weeks. I heard the drivers were very verbally abusive towards the bikers, and one biker was even hit by a car, because the driver just had to get to the shopping center and turned in front of the biker. Ugh, people, when you see bikers, realize they are moms and dads and sons and daughters and uncles and aunts and teachers and friends. BE CAREFUL! You can snuff out a life with one impatient move.

I remember finding my groove as I headed towards the interstate portion of the course. I was trying to drink and I had my baby potatoes with Base salt somewhere in there. I felt good and strong, my wonky knee was behaving so far, although I knew the hardest part was ahead of me. Yes, as I turned onto the interstate, the wind took my breath away. I was surprised at how strong it was, but I was determined to push through and meet my goal.

That portion of the course got scary. I was trying to find a good “zone”, but with the strong wind blowing at an angle, it was extremely difficult. We were coned off in the left lane of a two lane highway, with cars and trucks barreling past on the right, faster bikers flying by on the left. I almost hit a cone a few times, so made sure I was always paying attention, which made my “zoning” impossible. When the wind wasn’t as strong, I was sure to push harder, and I really had no idea where I stood with my goal time. Just before we turned north (and into the direct head wind), we rode over a ginormous bridge. Cars and trucks were backed up to our right, and you’d have to be absolutely crazy to try and ride in aero. I got out of aero and held on to my handlebars like they were hundred dollar bills. It was not my favorite moment on the bike.

We took a short jog south (which is where the extra 6 miles came from), and then turned north. Oh, Lord, it was windy.

You can literally see the cold front that brought the wind in the night before the race. Or the wind brought it in. Regardless, it sucked. Or blew.

Let me tell you a story. I hate wind. The end.

I have hated wind since I was in high school, when I was riding RAGBRAI (a week-long bike ride in Iowa) I grew to hate it even more, and I’ve pretty much hated it since. You can explain the science behind wind, but it still doesn’t make sense to me. And this is where the mind melt began. I have heard reports it was 15, 20, 23 mph steady with up to 30 mph gusts. I don’t know what it actually was, but everyone was having difficulty and it was not just “breezy”. For competition sake, we all had the same conditions, so it was fair. But I hate wind, so it really wasn’t fair.

When I saw the first aid station, I grabbed a bottle of water and chugged as much as I could, then threw it down at the “last chance trash” sign. I was trying to drink as much of my Base Hydro as I could, and I believed I was doing a good job. Probably ten miles into hell (the direct head wind), I wasn’t feeling the best. Besides having a mental breakdown during what was supposed to be my record-breaking race, I started feeling like I was dehydrated. For me, this is a bobble head sort of feeling, like I can’t really see 100% straight. I’ve had this during some training rides, and it’s not a great feeling. I should have stopped to re-fill my hydro. But I did not want to stop. I couldn’t re-fill on the fly since I was afraid of getting blown over. **I should have stopped and re-filled.**

In the meantime, my mind was filled with negative thoughts. This is what wind does to me. It sucked my confidence, my drive, and my determination away. I let the wind beat me. I should have been stronger in this moment.  I remember thinking, besides my goal is shot, that all those early barf-o-meter mornings were pointless because of this one moment, that I was absolutely crazy for having such an aggressive goal, that I need to do triathlons for fun and not time because it ruins the joy of it (this is the only thing that I still think is true), that I sucked, that this was stupid, it was just. So. Hard. Then it clicked in my brain and I laughed at the irony of it. For those who don’t know, I am a youth running coach, and in my business email signature line, there’s a little quote, “It’s supposed to be hard. The hard is what makes it great.” From that point on, I thought about the kids that I yell at, the ones I tell to push past the discomfort, and I remembered that I needed to be an example to them and to myself, that I was stronger than the damn wind, quit whining and bitching, and PEDAL. So I quit being a big baby, got a hydration game plan together, and pedaled.

When we reached the end of hell and were able to turn around and get a tail wind, I re-filled my hydration and drank as much as I could. I ate my snack, and I pushed myself. I’d been having some knee issues, so I was careful not to go overboard, but I was happy to be able to sustain over 20 mph with our tail wind. Thank you, sweet Jesus, for the tail wind. I was careful not to drink too much, as I didn’t want my stomach full of fluid for the run, but I knew I was playing a make-up game, which is hard to do in the running portion of a triathlon.

As we headed into town, I felt defeated. I let the wind beat me. I made a big nutrition mistake, one I should have already learned.  I knew I wasn’t going to get my big PR, but I just wanted to finish the race strong, and I didn’t want the run to blow up. As we came into T2, there was short steep hill where volunteers were signaling to slow down. No one wanted to slow down, but we did, and the dismount line came very fast. I think this is when I saw my parents, one son, and my sister. Oh, what a sight for sore eyes! We then walked our bikes to what was a single file rubber mat covering dirt and gravel, and we had a long walk to the bike hand off. Ugh, so much wasted time here! Then we were told to put our bikes on the left instead of right. I was not feeling great, so in the middle of trying to quickly switch (there were stacks of people behind me), I became dizzy and fell down. So embarrassing. I knew I held up the line, and quickly recovered and ran my bike, carefully, to the hand off line and into the grassy T2 area. I found my bag and ran into the tent, put my stuff down, and started to cry. I. Was. So. Pissed.

This was going out on the bike (hence the smile) since I don’t have one coming back in

Bike: 3:12:07

My friend, Beth, was working in the tent, said hi, encouraged me (she is awesome), and I quickly changed, sucked it up, and headed out to run 13.1 miles. T2 was LONG and annoying. I know somewhere along the way, whether it was T2 or just into the run, I saw my dad and son on the side. I stopped and gave them both a hug, when across the lane runs my mom for her hug. I tear up at this moment because I do not know if they truly understand how important it was for me to see them at this particular point in the race. And I love the fact that my mom probably would have bulldozed other runners to get her hug. Haha, go mom. The hugs were just what I needed.

It was a pretty big deal my parents got to see one of my races. Pretty big deal.


I knew I needed to start slow but be steady on my run. The course was really weird the first mile – we twisted and turned, went behind buildings, and I didn’t particularly like it. But once we came out of that, we ran through the bars, shops, and restaurants of Front Street, which is one of my favorite places to be in downtown Wilmington. There were a lot of people out cheering us on, but that was short lived as we headed towards Greenfield Lake. I saw TONS of my fellow Without Limits teammates, friends I knew from other training, and I thought it was just beautiful out. Funny thing is, I was hot. There was no wind, barely even a breeze, so I was laughing to myself over the irony of it – I needed that wind to cool me down.

I took a Gu (or whatever they had on the course), kept my Base salt handy, and drank Gatorade at almost every aid station, which were spread out to be about every mile. I enjoyed my run, and as the miles ticked by, I didn’t even look at what my pace was. I was feeling better, something I wasn’t expecting, so I was hoping to at least finish my half marathon fast. I wanted my parents to see me finish strong, so I concentrated on recovery more than I did anything else.

About a mile before the course turnaround, I realized my Base salt tube was empty – wow. Luckily, there was plenty to grab at the Base Performance tent. Lucky me.  I was making sure to take salt, keep hydrated, and eat. I was walking a little here and there at aid stations, but I did my best to run faster every mile. Again, the course was beautiful, and I really loved being able to see and cheer on so many people that I knew.

The miles ticked down, and I came into downtown Wilmington again. There were some crowds, but not as many people as I had expected. I pushed hard through the last mile, saw my family as I came down the finish chute, and gave high fives to as many people who stuck their hands out for me. I was done. I finished.

Coming into the finish chute

Run: 1:58:58

Let’s break it down here.

Swim: 36:51

Bike: 3:12:07

Run: 1:58:58

T1/T2: LONG

Total time: 6:03:34 (I missed a PR by a mere 26 seconds)

76/435 women

18/89 age group

361/1060 overall

As disappointed in my race as I was, to finish strong with my family watching, and to finish well compared to others racing that day, I really can’t complain about anything. I trained hard, I raced hard, I made some mistakes, but I finished with a smile and a lesson, and there’s really nothing better than that.

See that guy with the mic? That is THE Mike Reilly. :):):)

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Categories: beach 2 battleship triathlon, being epic, follow your dreams, fueled by base, half iron distance, ironman, open water swimming, race with base, running buddies, running with friends, swimming, training for half iron distance, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Ironman NC 70.3 Race Recap – Part I

I’d be lying if I said I was completely happy with the result of my 4th triathlon, the Ironman NC 70.3, in my hometown of Wilmington, on October 22nd, but I would also be lying if I said I didn’t have a total blast with this race. It’s taken me a few days to really digest and absorb everything about it, learn from it, **I was going to put a spoiler in here but mwahahaha, you’re just going to have to read the WHOLE THING to see if I met my goal**, and well, my parents were in town last week so we were often found shenaniganing around the town or in someone’s kitchen. I am so glad I had an endurance race or I’d probably be up about 5-10 pounds about now from all the shenanigans I ate and drank. Yum-o-rama!

So let me start from the beginning. I signed up for the 70.3 last fall. It was a looonnnggg time ago, and when I signed up, I decided that I didn’t want to “just” participate, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I wanted to push my tri goals a little and aim for a PR (sub 6:03) and goal time (5:30). My sister gave me my first love/hate Christmas present, the gift that keeps on giving, ahhhh, coached swimming sessions. I decided I was going to take the fins off my back and face my strong desire to never swim again, and swim a ton. I became a little more comfortable in the water, and I actually. Started. To. Like. My. Coached. Swims.  I should’ve bought a lottery ticket because I never thought that would happen. Maybe it’s because you have friends to be tortured with and the time seems to go fast, except when doing those workouts when the pool water was over 90 degrees and you just want to take an ice bath.  My goal for the race was to get through the swim as fast as possible, which is basically, just making it through successfully, with the least amount of chafing possible and to be sure the wetsuit stripper didn’t grab my tri shorts by accident.

I got my tired butt out of bed to frequently find my anaerobic threshold (i.e. barf-o-meter) on my bike, chasing my coach and friends along the island of Wrightsville Beach, back and forth, never to fully catch up, but enough to feel a significant difference in my overall bike performance.  I biked with faster people on the weekends, often coming back to the parking lot with a feeling of euphoria that I could actually do what I just did. 22mph average for 58 miles? Why, yes! Ok, that was only once, but still, I’ll never forget how my legs felt that day and the days that followed, the power I could feel building as my bike speeds and strength progressed over the months. My goal for the 56 mile bike was a sub 3:00 time, which was a 19 mph average. I was confident my hard work would pay off on race day.

Because this summer felt like we lived in a jungle placed directly on the surface of the sun, running was extremely difficult for me. I think it was for a lot of people, but I think I should win the “whiniest summer runner ever in history” award.  I swear (and I did, A LOT), the heat and humidity were relentless until two weeks prior to the race. During the worst of it, my fast pace at the track was an 8:00 mile that I could hold for a whopping ¼ mile before literally melting into the track or throwing myself down next to my bag of ice cubes in a heat tantrum. wtf6

So anyway, my run goal went from a 1:45 half to “I hate running during the summer so I don’t care” goal. Really, I wanted a 1:49:59 for my 13.1 miles, and I knew I could do it if I stopped whining, if race day wasn’t 75 or warmer, and I got my game face on.  “Embrace the suck” was the theme this summer.

Everything was lining up, I stayed healthy, and my parents decided to come from Missouri and see me finish the race and visit the family. I was deeply honored for that, and then I could point to all the other athletes and prove that I was NOT the only crazy one out there, we were literally EVERYWHERE. And now they can say they’ve seen and heard Mike Reilly give people their Ironman crowns….I digress.

I have to mention that IMNC 140.6 and 70.3 were just purchased by Ironman/WTC, and it was a unique experience to have both the full and half on the same day. We were all a little wary of how bike traffic would go because of the increased participation, but we figured the full bikers would be pretty much out of the way of the 70.3 people. Then Hurricane Matthew happened. I live in the middle of Wilmington, really close to the coast, and we closely watched as the hurricane barreled its way up the coast. Fortunately for me personally, we only had 3ish inches of rain from the whole event, and we are now in the process of getting the roof replaced on our house. We have a house, insurance with a really high-but-less-than-the-cost-of-a-new-roof deductible, and we are lucky.

Hurricane Matthew

Inland, on the other hand, just 10-15 miles away from my house and for several hundred miles west, it was a different story. The rain was relentless. From the reports I’ve read, this was not a 100 year event or 500 year event. The rain from Hurricane Matthew caused a 1000 year flood event in North Carolina just two weeks before the Ironman races, and part of the massive flooding was on the bike courses.

To make a long story short, the Tuesday before the races, Ironman let the athletes know, because of the flooding, the bike course for the half would be reduced from 56 to 50 miles, and the full from 112 to 50 as well. I was not happy about the news regarding my race, but I felt a punch in the gut for all those athletes who had trained their butts off, sacrificed hours and hours to train for a 112 mile bike ride and would not get their race. I honestly did not think there was anything Ironman could do, it was cancel the race or shorten the course. The county resources were already stretched thin, and I assume to try and change the course would have been a logistical nightmare, if completely impossible for anyone to pull off. I felt the sadness and anger from the full athletes, and I certainly did not blame them, many of them being my friends and training buddies.  I know that you can be empathetic towards the flood victims and upset about your race at the same time, but it crossed the line when some of those athletes became mean and nasty about it, none of which were my friends, of course.

On Thursday, about 30 seconds after I had accepted and really liked the fact that my bike had been cut short, it was announced that both bike courses would be 56 miles, the half participants would get their “full” race, and the full got an additional 6 miles. It was good news, but there was still an air of disappointment for those who were racing the full.

This may seem irrelevant, but it’s actually a key point. My schedule during the two weeks before my race was packed, a lot more than usual. I don’t know what the heck was going on, although I’m sure my calendar could speak for itself (but I’m too lazy to get up and look at it), but I was just non-stop busy. Extraordinarily busy. School festival, band event, volunteering, team dinner, coaching, working, shopping for food, cooking the food, eating the food, you name it. I was exhausted. Part of that is how I normally feel before a race, but part of it was because I never had a chance to just breathe. I did my personal race stuff, volunteered at the Base Performance tent, met up with my new team at Team Blue Line (I can’t wait to talk more about this!), got in my last bits of training, ran my bike here, ran my run stuff there, had dinner, worked my two jobs, and took care of my kids and house stuff, you know, pretty much the normal stuff but with a big endurance race added to the mix.

I may or may not have sent this to a few people so they would just be aware.

Because I am me, I started checking the weather, not quite obsessively, but frequently that week. It was really warm in the days leading to the race, and it looked like a cold front was going to move in right before race day. You know what a cold front means? Yeah, WIND. Yuck.Little did I know.

Pre-race rituals set in, and I got all my stuff settled in the day before the race. My parents made it into town safely, and my sister had made plans to take me to the beach and let me hang out at her friend’s house right by the start. I was nervous, as normal, about the wind, about pushing myself hard to meet my goal, and about the race in general. After I ate my ritual chicken sandwich, complete with cheese and an egg, with fries and a huge glass of water, I said “Goodnight” to everyone, set my alarm for “ass o’clock early” the next morning, and quickly fell asleep.

Part II: COMING SOON!!!

Categories: anything is possible, beach 2 battleship triathlon, fueled by base, ironman, open water swimming, running, swimming, temper tantrum, training for half iron distance, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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