“Racing is a privilege and nothing is guaranteed. Putting myself in discomfort is a privilege.”~ME
Cliff Notes Version: I GOT to race Ironman “70.3” Des Moines IN REAL LIFE on Sunday, June 20! 💙💛
- logistically, things were spread WAY OUT and there was a LOT of walking before and after the race
- athletes had to park about 1.5 miles from transition area and walk in
- there was nearly a 3 hour delay from the original start time due to storms (with thunder and lightening)
- the swim was 1.2 miles, the bike was 27.1 miles, and the run was 13.1 miles (the bike was shortened due to road closure permits not being able to be extended)
- transition opened at 8:45 am and was spaced out normally (pre-Covid)
- by 9:00 am they were already walking athletes down to Gray’s Lake
- the walk from transition to the swim start was about 1 mile
- the water temp was 78.3 (wetsuit optional…I wore my Roka swimskin)
- the swim start was self seeded with 3 athletes sent off every 3 seconds
- the swim was cloudy, but not rainy
- it was 0.58 miles from the swim exit to T1
- the roads for the 27.1 mile bike were smooth with rolling bumps (hills)
- there was one water/aid station on the bike somewhere between mile 15 and 20
- the run was HOT AF with full sun and SO HUMID after the morning rains…felt like we were running on the surface of the sun
- there were aid stations on the run nearly every mile with water, gatorade, gels, ice, bananas, cookies, etc.
- there was a buffet line with burgers, hot dogs, veggie burgers, chips, bananas, and lots of beverage options at the finish
- there was a 2 mile walk (or shuttles would take masked athletes only…no spectators/volunteers) back to transition to get gear and then another 1.5 mile walk back to the parking lot
Longer Version: I GOT to race my first “70.3” distance race since July 2018.
Saturday night we got notification that the race start would be delayed one hour due to the strong possibility of thunderstorms, so we got to sleep in an extra hour on race morning. Since we live about 40 miles from the race, we stayed at home. Sleeping in your own bed before a big race (and crazy day) is priceless! We were up by 4 am and on the road by 5 am. At about 5:15 am as we were driving south and watching the MAGNIFICENT lightening show, we received notification that we were further delayed, to stay in a sheltered location, and to wait for further updates to come by 7:30 am.
Once we arrived at the parking lot, we listened to music, danced a little (as much as you can in a car), and chilled listening to the rain + thunder as we continued to watch an amazing lightening show. We joked that we haven’t had rain in over month and Mother Nature chose race day to finally bless us with a little rain (not nearly enough to even turn the grass from brown to green, but hey…we’ll take what we can get). As we were waiting in the Volunteer parking lot (the Iron Hippie was kayak support again for this race), a volunteer came by in the pouring rain and gave him a breakfast sandwich. Such a great way to take care of the volunteers.
We eventually left the parking lot and headed to a gas station to use the restrooms and then decided to park in the athlete parking lot (as it was paved…not gravel…and was a closer walk to transition).
At 7:23 am we received notification that transition would open at 8:45 am and the race would start at 9:30 am for the professional athletes with the age group athletes starting at 9:40 am. The Iron Hippie had to be to the water by 8:00 am, so he headed out shortly after this announcement. I did some last minute fueling and race prep before making my way to transition. I was incredibly conscious of not getting sucked into the mind drama of the surrounding athletes…so much complaining about things out of our control. Hey folks…we GET to race today! Privilege! ⚡️ I put everything inside of the garbage bag so that it would stay mostly dry until I was ready for it at my transition location.
I hit the Kybo one more time, donned my Roka swimskin, and made my way to the swim line up in transition. There was about a one mile walk from transition to the swim start during which time it quit raining. Once we were at the swim start, I used the Kybo one last time and then got in line for the swim start.
Swim: (42:25 for 1.2 miles at 2:12/100 m average pace…58/168 F40-44, 225/828 F, 875/2352 overall)
After the National Anthem, the professional men were off, followed by the professional women 5 minutes later. When the age group athletes started at 9:40 am, athletes were sent off every 3 seconds. I felt strong and confident in the water, passing lots of green swim caps along the way. I didn’t have much congestion in the water, which made me feel good about where I had self seeded. As we made our way around the last swim buoy, the chop on the water was very noticeable! I think the winds had picked up quite a bit. It was great to plant my feet on the ground and make the long trek to Mojo.
T1 was 0.58 miles long…hence the LONG transition time! As I exited the swim, and ran up onto the trail toward transition, I got my swimskin off just below my hips as I was running, stopped quick to strip it all the way off so I didn’t have to run in it, and removed my goggles + swim cap while I continued running to my transition spot. I put on my socks + bike shoes, donned my helmet and clear glasses, threw my run nutrition in my (wrong) pockets, grabbed Mojo, and off we went!
Bike: (1:21:36 for 27.1 miles at 20.19 mph average speed…46/168 F40-44, 204/828 F, 1065/2352 overall)
After crossing the mount line and getting on Mojo, we cruised our way out of Water Works. The majority of the road surfaces were SO smooth! Shortly after starting the ride, the clouds separated and the sun came out. I wished I would have put my Roka SL-1X sunnies out in transition instead of my clears, but I couldn’t change it, so I went with it. I saw about 5 people riding who had forgotten to take their swimskin all the way off in T1. I also passed a lady on a B cycle bike cruising along. She was killing it!
It was an out and back course that was shortened to 27.1 due to the delayed start and not being able to extend road closure permits. Being an out and back course was a great way to cheer on friends who were also racing. I didn’t look at my power output/speed/cadence at all during this ride. I was so grateful to be racing that I only focused on playing and having fun. As I played chase trying to catch different people in front of me, I kept asking myself if I could go just a little bit harder in that moment. I felt SO strong on this bike ride, which put me in a great mental state heading back into T2.
I quickly racked my bike, changed into my Newton running shoes, grabbed my visor + race belt + hand-held water bottle, and exited T2.
Run: (2:11:10 for 13.1 miles at 10:01/mile average pace…45/168 F40-44, 212/828 F, 857/2352 overall)
As I exited T2, I knew I would have to be smart about my pacing and monitor my HR as it was HOT + HUMID…Like running on the surface of the sun HOT!
This run was a 2 loop course. Shortly after leaving Water Works and entering the trails around Gray’s Lake, I saw the Iron Hippie. He had just finished up with swim support and was going to load the kayak onto the car. It was nice to see him as I started the run. After seeing him, I was adjusting my tri top + race belt when I noticed that I didn’t have any of my run nutrition with me. I had put 3 gels in my tri top pocket in T1 before heading out on the bike. (I always take my run nutrition with me on the bike so that I can’t accidentally forget it in T2 when my brain becomes more foggy.) I know not to put my gels in my tri top pockets because they are not snug enough to hold them safely, but for whatever reason I didn’t put them in my tri shorts while in T1 and I lost all of them somewhere out on the bike course without my knowing. So here I am out on the run course with no run nutrition while running on the surface of the sun. Oh…and those Roka sunnies I wished I’d had on the bike, now I was really wishing I’d had them on the run! I knew there was nothing I could do to change the fact that I had no run nutrition nor Roka sunnies, so I let those negative thoughts go and reminded myself that I GET to race today. When I approached the first aid station, I looked to see what was offered so I could problem solve before needing nutrition at mile 3.5/4…bananas…that became my fuel for the rest of the day. Thank you Ironman for providing fuel out on the run course!
It was fun to see other athletes and cheer them on. After I turned around the first cone, I saw a Coeur Sports teammate, Michelle, making her way out to the first turn around. “Love you Michelle!” Shortly after mile 2, I saw another one of my Coeur Sports teammates, Jess (also a pro triathlete). She was on her second loop and running for a top 10 finish amongst the pro women. It was great to cheer for her! I continued to race from a place of fun + gratitude and reminded myself that it was a privilege to GET to race today. I took in water at every aid station and sipped from my water bottle throughout the run to stay hydrated. At mile 4 I took in about 3/4 of a banana (that was all I could get down the hatch before having entering the last trash zone). This is where Jess passed me as she was at mile 11. GO JESS GO!
There wasn’t much shade on this run course. As I was climbing up over the bridge by MLK Parkway heading toward downtown, I could feel my HR really climbing. When I looked down at my HR, it was nearing 170 bpm. My goal was to keep my HR between 155-165 for the duration of the run, so I knew I needed to take a quick walking break to let my HR come back down just a bit.
Downtown felt like a sauna, but there were so many cheers downtown from people I knew and strangers I didn’t. What a great distraction from that heat! After turning around the cone downtown to head back out for loop #2, I saw a sign that made me giggle… “Dig deeper than a kid going for boogers.” Thank you random stranger for that boost!
At about mile 7, I hammered down another 3/4 of a banana to get in the calories. It was shortly after this that I needed to let my HR come down a bit, so I walked and helped a fellow athlete by carrying her water bottle while she adjusted her onesie. I trudged on and eventually saw the Iron Hippie again before briefly walking with another friend on the bridge of Gray’s Lake to encourage and support her for just a minute before continuing on. The second half of the run had more walk breaks, but I kept them short as I reminded myself often that I am here to do my best. I have goals, which I set on purpose and with purpose.
At mile 10, I took in another 3/4 of a banana and continued to mostly run with short walking stints toward the finish. Making the last turn toward the finish chute was the best feeling in the world! I tried to pick up my pace just a bit as I hit the red carpet, but my legs immediately cramped and said, “Nope! We’ll get you across the finish at this pace, but don’t you dare try to go any faster!”
Overall: (4:25:05…34/168 F40-44, 156/828 F, 773/2352 overall)
I am incredibly grateful that I had the privilege to race on Sunday! I am super happy with how the day unfolded, the adjustments I made throughout the day to get to that red carpet, and the challenges I overcame to get to this finish line. I have some things to improve on before the next one, but this experience at Ironman “70.3” Des Moines lit a fire under my ass. The fires are burning HOT inside of me for what is to come!
Gear: Coeur Sports triathlon shorts, Coeur Sports triathlon tank with shelf bra, Roka X-1 Goggles, Roka Women’s Viper Swimskin, Specialized Transition tri bike, Specialized S-works Evade helmet, Specialized Torch 2.0 Road Shoes, Coeur Sports visor, Newton Kismet running shoes, Orange Mud hand held water bottle