As part of my training, I always include a Half IronMan distance race. With limited race availability and the new mom schedule I decided to hit the distances on my own. Well with my training partner, but not as part of an event or a sanctioned IM event.
It was a bit unconventional. We would have preferred to have all the events in the same day, but logistically it had proved to be difficult.
First, we needed to find a place to swim in a good location. Second, we needed to be able to swim early enough to get out on the roads early and bike. We both hate biking when traffic starts to pick-up. Especially with this being a holiday weekend our concerns were higher. (Happy Fourth of July!)
Ultimately, we decided to swim late on Friday. Bike at 5:15 am on Saturday and run immediately after. We took time to plan our routes and ask friends and family to put out water/Gatorade/snacks to help us stay hydrated and fueled.
WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN DOING A HALF IRONMAN DISTANCE ON YOUR OWN
You have no built in race support doing a half IM distance on your own. My three main take aways are:
- Over plan your support.
- Keep routes close to said support.
- And don’t be a hero.
Read on for more details.
If you are looking for some more information on training workouts take a look at How To Use Interval Training for A Successful IronMan Run and IronMan Strength Training for the Swim.
HOW TO DO A HALF IRONMAN DISTANCE ON YOUR OWN
The swim went off without a hitch. Calm waters. Easy swimming and no distractions. Which is 100% the opposite of a real race. Generally, you get kicked, slapped, and swam into a few times.
It was a weird feeling to drive home from the swim and think that we have done 1/3 of the events. But welcome at the same time. Very good vibes going to bed as the largest portion still waited ahead.
Saturday’s start was filled with hope. We were concerned about high temps and having access to water when we needed it. But we spent so much time planning we felt confident.
Both of our waters were gone at the first water refill, and we thought – that’s perfect. With confidence we carried on with the rest of the bike.
Slowly I started to feel the fatigue. The heat was playing a factor and my stomach was starting to react. I could feel my intestines doing back flips as we biked.
This was when I made the decision to ignore it. I told myself it was nothing. That it was just my dinner last night and things were going to be fine. And then the truth slapped me in the face.
Every time I tried to eat or drink I was overwhelmed with nausea. All I could think was HOW COULD THIS BE HAPPENING AGAIN? Flashbacks to my last full IM were starting to run through my head. Cue me vomiting on myself at miles 65 and 80.
I tried to focus on finishing the bike. Envision success, not failure.
It took 30 minutes longer than anticipated with bathroom breaks and water stops. That was a hit mentally.
WHERE IT ALL WENT WRONG
I changed my shoes and set out on the pre-planned route for running. It was a route that was new to me, but I had hoped it would help the miles pass quickly.
I decided to add a few miles on to the front end of the route since Kaite would be running from her house to mine. To me this was the best way to ensure I would be able to stay on the right route. Let Kaite run ahead of me and catch up to her.
I was almost 2 miles into my run when I saw her two blocks up at the water stop at my house. I went to finish the last ¼ mile out and back before I grabbed water and ran her down.
That was the beginning of the end. I never saw her again.
I made so many wrong turns I could never find her. I ran 7 miles in the blistering heat without water. Whatever positivity didn’t die on the bike died right there on the run.
Those 7 miles were full of frustration, body chills, exhaustion, nausea, and pure anger. As I approached the water station at my house all I could think about was holy shit there are 4 miles left to run.
The mental debate began. How bad are my symptoms and how necessary are these last 4 miles?
If you are squeamish, I would scroll down to the end.
As I came to a stop at the water station, I got my answer. I peed myself. And it wasn’t something I could stop. Yes, I recognized this was bad, but what I couldn’t decide is how bad is it really.
Thinking to myself, that’s not a good sign, I laid down in the shade and continued the mental debate. I started to feel better. 4 miles didn’t seem impossible.
I would give 1 mile a chance. Run ½ mile down and back. Those first few steps I was renewed with energy. ½ mile later my body chills were renewed too
I got back laid in the shade. Then felt better and what do you know? The same exact thing happened. I threw in the towel.
11 miles done.
BIGGEST TAKE AWAYS FROM DOING A HALF IRONMAN DISTANCE ON YOUR OWN
So should I call that a failure? Were those two miles going to be the difference maker in my performance in October?
Nope. No. Absolutely not.
I know I made the right call. Mike also gave me some affirmation when I was inside talking about going back out. He “subtly” told me that it would be stupid to go back with those symptoms.
A killer headache and a few too many trips to the bathroom also told me I had made the right choice.
So, doing a half IM distance race on your own is hard. I mean it is hard to begin with and then to try and plan all the support you need and the best route just makes it more complicated.
I like to think that I could do this a million times better now. But I would still prefer to sign-up for a race next time.
If you feel the need to do your own half IM distance race/event, then consider these factors –
- Drive all routes beforehand. Don’t leave any second guessing to the event day.
- Plan your support as close to the same interval distances as a normal race.
- Keep your phone with you.
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