“This girl is on fire~Alicia Keys
This girl is on fire
She’s walking on fire
This girl is on fire”
Cliff Notes Version: I GOT to race Ironman Des Moines on Sunday, June 12! 💙💛
- I was SO ready to create an experience I had never had before
- this was a “hometown” race for me (taking place 35 minutes south of our house)
- this was my first Ironman without my husband (either racing or spectating/supporting)…see this post for more info
- this is a one transition race with the transition area 2 miles from the finish area
- ALL gear (bike, bike bag/gear, run bag/gear) was dropped off on Saturday
- there was no body marking
- the water temp was 74.9F on race morning (wetsuit legal race…I wore my Roka Maverick Pro II Wetsuit)
- the pro men started at 5:30 am, the pro women started at 5:37 am, and the age group athletes started at 5:45 am
- the swim start was self seeded for age group athletes based on expected swim time finish with 5 athletes sent off every 4 seconds
- the swim was two loops with an Australian exit on each lap
- there was a lot of pre-race talk about the swim buoys being difficult to see due to swimming directly into the sunrise, but it was a cloudy morning so we weren’t swimming into direct sunlight
- I created an Ironman swim PR
- there were wetsuit strippers
- there were two volunteers in the women’s change tent for T1
- the bike course was 1 big loop
- there was cloud cover with a bit of rain and little wind (by Iowa standards) for the first 80 miles of the bike
- there was a water/aid station about every 15 miles on the bike course
- I created a solid bike split on this rolling hills course missing a bike PR by 11 minutes
- there were a couple volunteers to help change in T2
- the run course was 3 loops
- the heat + humidity + lack of shade + very little breeze made for a run on the surface of the sun
- there were aid stations on the run nearly every mile with water, gatorade, gels, ice, bananas, grapes, Coke, Red Bull, chips, etc.
- they brought chicken broth out after dark on the run (but in my opinion it was WAY TOO HOT OUTSIDE for warm chicken broth)
- I created an 11th place age group finish, which is my highest Ironman placement yet
Longer Version: I GOT to race Ironman Des Moines on Sunday, June 12 at home in Des Moines, Iowa! 💙💛
The alarm went off at 2:30 am. After letting the dogs out, changing into my race kit, and doing all of my morning rituals I made my way to Des Moines. On the way down, I consumed my breakfast smoothie in the car to get my calories in. I drove to the parking garage closest to the finish line and hopped on one of the first shuttle buses to Water Works Park where transition was. When I got to the transition area, I dropped off my bike special needs bag, put bike and run nutrition in each of my gear bags that I would pick up in T1 and T2, emptied my bladder, checked that Mojo’s tires were still full, loaded Mojo with my bike bottles, lubed up her chain, got some squeezes from some of my Coeur Sports teammates, ate my banana at about 4:45 am, and exited the transition area to head to the lake. When I got to the lake, I dropped off my run special needs and morning clothes bags at the designated drop off areas before donning my Roka Maverick Pro II Wetsuit, and taking in a gel at about 5:15 am. I lined up behind the sign for 1:10-1:20 swim time and as we made our way toward the shore, I saw Dad and Isabella (my niece) so I got quick hugs over the gate, and then found my friend Michelle. It was so great to see her, squeeze her, and chat with her before starting our day.
Swim: (1:14:50 for 2.4 miles at 1:56/100 m average pace…14/28 F45-49, 82/208 F, 402/867 overall)
I eased into the swim by remaining calm, certain, confident, and curious. I focused on my strokes + breathing… “1, 2, breathe…1, 2, breathe…1, 2, breathe” until I reached the first buoy where I kicked up the effort a few notches and found my groove. The water was a bit warm with the wetsuit on, so I found myself pulling the top of my wetsuit open a few times throughout the swim to let some water in to help cool me off. As we swam along the south side of the course, we were supposed to be swimming into direct sunlight due to the sunrise, but gratitude moment: yay for a cloudy morning, so there wasn’t much sun shining in our eyes to make sighting the buoys extra difficult. As we rounded the corner to head to the first Australian exit, the contact with others really started to pick up, but gratitude moment: contact with others in the water doesn’t bother me. I am a strong and confident endurance swimmer. The Australian exit provided a wonderful opportunity to get some extra water in the system (there was an aid station on the peninsula) since we knew the temperature dial would be cranked up later in the day. The second loop there was much less contact, except for the one encounter I had swimming directly into a SUP that was right in the swim path because the water support person wasn’t paying attention…she apologized profusely as I swam away toward the next buoy.
I remained calm, certain, confident, and curious during a full contact swim. I focused on laying one brick at a time while keeping my effort high, which allowed me to create a shiny new swim PR. ⚡️
It was a little bit of a jog (ahem…about 0.5 miles) from the swim exit to T1, but when I got to the change tent with my T1 bag, I quickly started to get my 4 peanut butter Oreos down the hatch, changed into my bike shoes, donned my helmet + sunnies, threw some water down the shoot, and ran to grab Mojo.
Bike: (6:29:13 for 112 miles at 17.4 mph average speed…12/28 F45-49, 73/208 F, 454/867 overall)
The one massive loop bike course gave us the perfect amount of challenge with rolling hills and a bit of a headwind as we returned to transition, but honestly I didn’t even notice the winds as they were relatively calm by Iowa standards.
As I headed out of transition and looped my way through Water Works Park, I settled into the ride making sure to check in with myself physically and mentally to set myself up for a successful ride. I immediately started fueling + hydrating like it was my job…because let’s be honest…with the humidity + heat to come later in the day, it was my job on this day!
Having previously ridden the majority of the course with my friend Michelle, I knew where all of the rough road surfaces, hills, and turns were. Making our way to Redfield, I was focused on fueling every 5 miles, continuously hydrating, and having so much fun! Gratitude moment: yay for the cloud cover and the little bit of rain to help keep us cool for as long as possible.
As we turned south out of Redfield, I knew we had a much longer stretch to the next turn and it might mentally get to people. This is where I really started to focus on remaining in aero, staying connected to my effort, and I magnified the fun factor…singing out loud while riding is a specialty of mine (just maybe don’t ride too close so your hearing isn’t damaged 🤪)!
Turning east to head into Winterset, I could feel that headwind people later complained about just a bit, but it was nothing like what Iowa is typically known for, so I was loving it! Gratitude moment: yay for the clouds still hanging around!
Alright…north to Cummings road. Here we go! Cummings road…this is where the fun begins! 🤪 At about mile 75, my friend Steve whizzed by me and then the clouds started to break up letting the sun start to REALLY warm things up! Yay…there is my Coeur Sports teammate Courtney! You are crushing it girl! Keep going! I made my way up the “big climb” (they are all relative right?!?!), through Norwalk, and onto Army Post Road where the Piedmontese Beef Challenge took place between about miles 98-103. I had zero desire to burn a bunch of matches on this stretch, so I kept my focus on fueling and hydrating like a boss all the way into transition!
I stayed connected to my effort while staying in aero for the majority of the bike. I made sure my fueling and hydration were on point to set myself up for a successful run (because I knew the run was going to be toasty). I was so grateful for the minimal winds, cloud cover, and just the right amount of rolling terrain. And, I had SO MUCH fun! All of this allowed me to create a super solid bike split that I’m oh so proud of! I rolled into transition missing a PR bike split by 11 minutes…this IMDSM course had over 2000 more feet of elevation gain than the course where I hold my current PR bike split (IMArizona). ⚡️
Ryan and Julie were volunteering in T2 when I arrived. Ryan took Mojo from me as I dismounted. I grabbed my T2 bag and made my way into the change tent. As I was changing my socks and spraying my feet with Skin Slick, Michelle came into T2! We chatted as we both changed and made our way out of the tent and toward the start of the run. I made a quick stop to empty my bladder (boy did I have to pee 🤪), chatted with Julie as I ran to the exit, hugged Char, and set out on the run.
Run: (5:50:43 for 26.2 miles at 13:30/mile average pace…15/28 F45-49, 109/208 F, 480/867 overall)
I immediately felt that heat + humidity slap me in the face. My goal was to hold back at the start of the run and keep a solid + strong effort throughout the entire run while only walking through aid stations to ensure proper fueling and hydration. Quickly into the run I knew I needed to change my goal. New goal: to give my best while surviving the run + not needing medical/an ER visit.
The run course was a 3 loop course, which was awesome because we got to see spectators so many times! During the first loop, I kept my pace steady and focused on the mile I was in. I continually asked myself, “how is my effort?” so that I wasn’t pushing too hard early on. I took in my nutrition and hydration as planned. At every aid station, I was pouring water on my head, shoving ice down my bra, and pouring two cups of water down the hatch. I saw many friends on the out and back sections, so getting/giving high fives, thumbs up, cheers, “love ya”, and encouragement kept me going. There were mist arches to run through, fire hydrants spraying water, kids with water guns, and lots of attempts to help cool the athletes, because shade was sparse. The number of athletes I saw laying down at aid stations, sitting on park benches/curbs, and receiving medical help was crazy. Gratitude moment: I’m not one of them. When I got to downtown, I saw one of my high school friends and got to say a quick “hi” while running by. Near the turn around, I saw Dad and Isabella. It was so nice to see family and friends.
At the start of loop #2 I was running when I could and sprinkling in walk breaks to keep the core temp as low as possible. I was constantly checking in with “how is my effort?” to remind myself to not burn too many candles. I continued to hydrate and fuel according to plan which helped me stay strong and determined to finish this race. As I covered more miles, more walking ensued while I stayed connected to laying one brick at a time. I continued to fuel and hydrate as planned and cooling myself down with all of the ice I could get my hands on. During this loop I saw Alex by the lake. He biked next to me briefly and tried to call Tim so I could chat with him, but when Tim didn’t answer I jogged off while Alex stayed by the lake to support others. Getting back downtown, I had the love and support of Dad, Isabella, Laylah (Isabella’s twin sister), and Sarah (my sister) at the turn around. I kept smiling, focusing on laying the brick I was in, and staying connected to giving my best to cross another finish line. Every time I was able to get ice I had a gratitude moment: ahhh…this feels SO good!
Setting out on loop #3 was wonderful! I knew everything I was seeing and experiencing was for the last time and that brought some relief in the almost unbearable conditions (a friend posted that the heat index was still 94F at 6:05 pm…I don’t want to know what it was at 2 pm when I started the run 🤪). I kept fueling and hydrating like a boss and at about mile 18 I really had to pee, so I knew I was doing a good job staying hydrated while running on the surface of the sun. Coming into downtown for the last time was such a welcome sight. Making the turn around the cone but this time heading into the finish shoot instead of out for another loop was even better!
I smartly paced my run while running on the surface of the sun, hydrating and fueling solidly, and staying connected while laying one brick at a time. Smiling from start to finish, soaking up the hometown cheers, and reminding myself that I have everything I need to succeed allowed me to persevere and get to that red carpet! ⚡️
Overall: (13:53:58…11/28 F45-49, 80/208 F, 434/867 overall)
As I ran down the red carpet in my first ever daylight finish with the cheers of family, friends, and random strangers surrounding me, I was full of emotions. I was SO drained, but also SO F’ING PROUD! I executed a solid race that allowed me to cross the finish line of Ironman #9 on an incredibly tough day! Icing on the cake…knowing I had given my best on this day while creating an 11th place age group finish (my highest AG finish placement yet in an Ironman race)! ⚡️
Gear: Coeur Sports triathlon shorts, Coeur Sports sports bra, Coeur Sports aero top, Roka X-1 Goggles, Roka Maverick Pro II Wetsuit, Specialized Transition tri bike, Specialized S-works Evade helmet, Specialized Torch 2.0 Road Shoes, Coeur Sports visor, Newton Motion running shoes, Roka SL-1X sunnies, Orange Mud hand held water bottle