I was supposed to complete my first 70.3 in June and that was going to help me to see where my training was at and how much work I needed to do. Then I came down with a horrible stomach virus and had to back out of the June 70.3. So there was a lot going through my mind for the Great Buckeye Challenge Half Ironman. This would be my first long distance open water swim, long bike race and all in some nasty heat.
After struggling with swimming all summer, this was my last chance to prove to myself that I could do this. And if I couldn’t, then reality would have to set in and I would not be able to complete the ironman.
To say I was nervous was definitely an understatement. I was pretty sure my heart was going to jump out of my chest. Then It started pouring down rain. Like cold heavy raindrops. Luckily I was close to my car so I climbed in stayed warm. I am so happy that I did because everyone else who was out in the rain was not only wet but freezing!
Once the rain stopped, I headed over to get a warm up in. But I was so nervous I just couldn’t bring myself to get in the water.
I was so happy to run into a local runner/triathlete who went with me to warm up and calmed me down about swimming in open water.
However, I was still so nervous that I almost missed my wave starting. I wanted to be one of the last in my heat to start. I had this huge plan to walk into the water, not run. Running makes me freak out and gets me out of breath when it happens before swimming. I learned this the hard way earlier this summer.
The Swim – 40:06
My goal for the swim was to finish and not freak out, however I also hoped to do it in under an hour. Like really hoped and prayed that I would.
I did a pretty horrible job of swimming somewhat straight. I was literally all over the place for this swim. I thought i was swimming straight and would look over and I would be 10 feet off course and swimming away from the buoys. I put my calm down, you can do this music in my head, “U Boj U Boj” and tried to stay in the zone and just get to the turn around.
When I finally got to the turnaround, I looked to my left and my runner/triathlete friend was right there! He started in a wave after mine but caught up to me. It made me feel good to have someone I know close by. I kept telling myself that I could do this and as I said that the finish line kept getting closer and before I knew it I was getting out of the water. I was pretty sure I was the last person out of the water but I think there were a few after me.
I ended up swimming well under my goal of 1 hour and did it in 40 mins!
T1 – 3:01
It was pretty easy to get out of transition. A lot of bikes had cleared out so I knew which one was mine and I am pretty fast at changing and getting ready for the next event. No dilly dallying for me!
The Bike – 3:52
I had heard that the bike was a 2 loop and somewhat challenging. The elevation was actually worse than Louisville so I knew if I could do this course I would be prepared for Louisville too.
Now I don’t claim to be an awesome cyclist, I know it is something that will click eventually but I am pretty slow on the bike. I have a huge fear of crashing and I hate downhills. If I could use these downhills to my advantage I could gain a lot of speed. Instead, I end up breaking down most of the downhill. Naturally, this course was very hilly.
The roads were a little wet from the rain but it wasn’t slowing me or anyone else down. Still I went slower than expected, just in case the road was click. This cost me a lot of time on the first loop. After the 1st loop, I knew I wasn’t going to make my goal of 3:30 for the bike.
As challenging as the course was, I never felt like I wanted to quit or like I couldn’t do it. It was challenging and tough but doable. I didn’t do a lot of passing on the bike….actually I don’t think I did any passing on the bike. But I my goal was to finish and that I was on pace for….even if it was really slow.
I never practice transitions so I was pretty happy with how fast mine were. I was all business. Change shoes,drink water, grab gel and go!
The Run – 2:13
I knew this race was going to be hot and with the run being last, I knew the run would be hot. I hydrated well on the bike but was still nervous about the heat. Especially since I didn’t notice it on the bike.
I was so excited to run that my first couple miles were 8 min miles and everyone was cheering me on. I felt good. Hot but good. However, by about mile 5 I decided I needed to start doing a run/walk due to the heat. Most people around me were walking by this time too so I wasn’t the only one.
At every aid station, I grabbed water or ice if they had it and poured it over my head and shoulders to stay cool. The only downfall of that was that it was washing off the sunblock I had put on.
The run course was a double loop so it was such a tease when I got so close to the finish line just to take a look and head back out on the course for another loop. I just kept telling myself, only 6 more miles though.
As I passed by the police officers directing traffic they cheered me on and told me I was almost done. It was nice that they were out there in the heat with us and still cheering for us. By this time at the aid stations, I had started to grab coke to drink. Not exactly hydrating but kept my stomach happy.
After the last turn, I knew all I had to do was run 3 miles back to the finish. As I ran past the police officers, they cheered for me again and I told them I was almost done and thanked them. They told me “no, you have to come back and run this next year too!” Very nice to hear that the triathletes were welcome in this area.
I ran most of the last 2 miles and couldn’t wait to cross that finish line and get out of the sun. I was chafing and burning in so many places by this point.
I ended up missing my goal of a sub 2 hour half but ended up with a 2:13. Not bad considering I did a lot of walking.
I ended up finishing my first ever HALF IRONMAN in 6:51. I had hoped for a 6:30 but it was my first one so who cares! I did it!