IronMan race #3 is under my belt. Obviously the main question I get is “how do you feel?” … well I feel really good. Surprisingly good.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not doing back flips or anything, but it is the best I have felt out of the three races. That right there is one of the biggest take aways for me. Clearly I my training was effective and I was prepared.
Okay, let’s get into the thick of this recap. Here is what I have for you. First, I’m going to share an overview of race weekend. It’s broad, but I’m highlighting some key points. Then, I’m going to get very specific on race details (some of which may be a little much for some people). And I will wrap this all up with a review of my goals.
So if there is something specific you want to know most … scroll to that section!
RACE WEEK – IronMan Recap as a New Mom and Fitness Professional
We left for Muncie on Thursday morning around 9 am. Nothing special about the drive. I felt the pull on my heart strings leaving my son, but he seemed to care less 😂
We got to check-in and everything was peachy-keen. Timing chip, bib, swag, IronMan village stop … check, check, check, check. All that was left to do was get to our housing and get back to eating.
Highlight moment 🌟 we were heading in the direction of our VRBO, which was selected because we wanted to be able to cook all of our meals, it’s saved a good chunk of change and gave us a common area to hang. We have 5 people staying. The home owner called and cancelled our reservation stating the house was “uninhabitable”. It’s 4:30 PM the Thursday before the race. Every hotel is sold out and we have nowhere to stay.
Thanks to our friends and family who hopped on their phones/computers we were able to find one hotel that literally just had a cancellation. We were lucky to find a hotel and grateful to have somewhere to stay. But our entire plan had changed.
Thursday night we ate at Olive Garden and tried to rework our plans. Unfortunately, Olive Garden didn’t sit well with ANY of us. So we immediately realized we needed to make different food choices.
Mike hadn’t left yet so I asked him to bring our Instant Pot so we could eat in. Best decision. And Kaite’s idea – I can’t take credit for it.
Friday was low key, we checked our gear and bikes in. Then got lunch. Then went back for an athlete briefing. Except we went to the wrong place 😂
RACE DAY OVERVIEW – IRONMAN RECAP
Saturday was race day so we spent Friday night stretching, foam rolling, using the theragun, hydrating, eating and further memorizing our race plans.
Saturday we woke at 4:30 am and off the day went. We hit the water around 7:55 am. I finished around 8:20 am. We didn’t get back to the hotel until a little after 11 pm. Shower, organize, eat a little and to bed.
Sunday was quick to get out of Muncie, but slow moving for me. Tight quads, fatigue and an odd feeling of hunger and fullness filled the day.
The drive home was a cakewalk (for Mike). I was beyond excited to see Freddy, but he was more confused that we were home. All the change was rough on him. Which means with my wild emotions we (Freddy and I) both cried when he went to bed 😂
MY IRONMAN RECAP OF RACE SPECIFICS
For those of you who came here for the play by play of race day, let’s get after it. Check out this time breakdown. (These are rough estimates.)
- 3:30 am I wake up and try to sleep more.
- 4:25 am alarm goes off.
- 4:30 am banana and PB sandwich down, working on 32 ounces of Gatorade.
- 5:00 am dressed, working mobility and reviewing race plan
- 5:30 am drive to race site
- 6:00 am adding fuel to our bikes and double checking gear bags.
- 6:30 am eat half a PB sandwich, run race plan through head
- 7:30 am take salt tabs finish Gatorade
- 7:55 am in the water
- 9:20 am out of the water and in transition
- 9:30 am on bike course
- 4:00 pm in transition
- 4:10 pm on the run course
- 8:30 pm finishing race
As you can see there is A LOT of time in there for thoughts, feelings and surprises.
I would say the race went as hoped with a surprise or two on every leg. And, now a few days later, I can say I am 99% happy with how things went.
IRONMAN RACE DAY SURPRISES
The lake water was 65.3°. Thats cold. Like real cold. I had never swam in water that cold. And boy was it shocking. I had to swim more than 100 meters before I could put my head in the water. I kept trying time after time and it literally felt like I was choking.
Mike, who somehow seems to know everything told me right before the race “the cold will take your breath away, don’t go out fast. That will make it worse. Stay calm and get comfortable slowly.” THANK GOODNESS he said that to me. Those words are what kept me moving forward the first 5 minutes.
I never got warm. Literally getting out of the water after swimming 2.4 miles and I had not adjusted to the water temp. I had goosebumps and shivers on the bike.
I was also surprised by how badly I needed to pee while I was swimming. Luckily, this race had a very short beach run. Where you got out before getting back in to swim lap 2. Wadding back in gave me the perfect opportunity to pee. That was awesome.
The start of my second lap I spent thinking … wow you have already peed once in the race. You have hydrated well, today is going to be better than the other two races.
If you don’t know I was crippled by digestive issues and dehydration on the first two races. It was a huge goal of mine to NOT experience those symptoms again.
And the next surprise came when I had to pee again after the second lap. I was a peeing machine! This had to be a good sign for my hydration levels going into the bike.
Transition was fast and smooth. Best it has ever felt. Usually my hands are shaking and I feel flustered. This was just another day. I got out of there so smoothly. I was thrilled.
SURPRISES ON THE BIKE – IRONMAN RECAP
The bike course was exhilarating. It started with rolling hills which is my absolute favorite. I knew it wasn’t going to last. That most of the course was flat, but I was determined to enjoy those hills! So I attacked them.
I had so much incredible energy, excitement and happiness. Cloud 9 would be an understatement.
After those rolling hills we turned into more of a headwind and flat course. I physically and mentally settled into a more appropriate pace and headspace.
Unfortunately I was so amped up that I had been chugging Gatorade without regard. 32 ounces were already gone.
I felt a burp coming on and let her rip. And out came Gatorade, peanut butter sandwich and salt. Woof. The good news was I felt fine and it was a rookie mistake that can be easily corrected.
Eventually I came to one section of the course that was not well paved. It was as if the last step of paving hadn’t be done. Like those rumble patches on the side of highways to let you know you are out of your lane… not as bad, but constant vibrations. I had heard the course was beautiful and perfectly paved … clearly I have a different definition.
Survived that section and I am working my way back up this long straight portion and I thought I felt a rain drop. I checked the time it was only 12:40. That can’t be rain. It wasn’t suppose to start until after 2 pm.
It was rain.
You can’t do a damn thing about it. I knew it was coming. I had just hoped to have more of the bike done before the rain hit.
My emotions to this point had been pretty steady. I had a lot of self belief and a lot of focus on the finish line.
It all came crashing down. I started to feel a desire to cry. Nothing hurt. I wasn’t behind on time. Everything was good. But I couldn’t shake this desire to cry.
And then, like a bag of bricks, I realized two things.
- This was my last race for a very long time. Not ever. But we want more kids and this was one of the hardest things I’ve done. Preparing for an IronMan right after giving birth and finding balance between my family, my marriage, my career and my training.
- I immensely missed my son. The mom guilt had worked it’s way into my head and rooted itself.
On top of all of this I had to pee. So badly I was convinced I should be able to stand up out of the saddle and pee. No such luck. I pulled my tears back. Calmed myself down so I wouldn’t look as hysterical and found the next Port-a-Jon.
This peeing surprise was a good thing, but costly on time. I peed a second time later on. My bike computer said I averaged 17.2 MPH, that doesn’t account for stops. The IronMan tracker had me at 16.32. WTF. That’s just depressing. Why does it take so long to pee?!
Back to my realizations.
I knew it would be harder than usual to train for an IronMan post baby, but I had no way of knowing just how hard. Because I hadn’t done it before.
On the bike I knew that I didn’t want to do this again. Too work so incredibly hard and get myself race ready, race and then be done. The next time I race (any length) I want to be able to race multiple times. I want to continue to train myself to be better.
And for those of you that don’t know. I did my last IronMan in 2019. 3 weeks after that I was pregnant (intentionally). Physically the transformation from 2019-2021 has been wild and amazing in every way.
Mentally it was a beast.
So I have this itch that I can’t scratch. That I need more time and a different season of life for. And so the tears flowed off and on during the bike.
Mix in the fact that I’m a new mom and I missed my son. That I felt selfish. That he didn’t understand what I was doing. After all, many adults don’t understand what I was doing. There was a cloud of guilt following me – it may as well have been the rain.
I just cried. Tears of thankfulness for a beautiful baby boy. Tears of anguish knowing how hard it was to get where I am. And, of course, tears of fear. The run was still ahead and it held my primary goal for the day.
A combination of I don’t want to do this anymore and this was your goal – to run the whole marathon – had a boxing match in my head. As I finished the bike I was no closer to finding ground to stand on.
IRONMAN RECAP – SURPRISES ON THE RUN COURSE
On the outside I was dancing around in transition. Tossing goldfish and catching them in my mouth. Singing to the music. Thinking maybe Kaite would get here soon and I could run with her. After 10 minutes of wasting time (this is coming back in the goals section) I headed out on the run.
I spent 13 miles convincing myself to keep running. Trying to frame every step, aid station and landmark as positive progress. Unfortunately I also spent those 13 miles peeing myself. Why? I have no idea.
I had already peed 5 times during the race. Most recently, I peed at transition from bike to run. It didn’t make any sense. And it took 13 miles and 2 more bathroom visits for it to finally stop.
Was it being a new mom and pelvic floor weakness? Maybe it’s my nutrition? Could it be the warning sign of something major?
Naturally, when you have nothing else to think about you go down some dark roads in your head. When I finally saw Mike I told him I couldn’t stop peeing myself. He said “just keep running”. And for some reason (as always) Mike’s calm, no frills demeanor did it’s job. If he wasn’t worried, I wouldn’t be worried.
But I’ll be honest. After 13 miles of wondering the worst possible scenarios (insert thoughts of kidney complications) I was shocked at just how laid back he was.
On I ran. Reminding myself that is never have to run these hills again. And that there was the biggest surprise of the day. And it was no one’s fault but my own.
Unknowingly, I had picked a hilly run course to make my goal of running the entire marathon. Whoops. This is where I mentally lectured myself for not doing better research and not understanding the course better.
Nothing was going to make the hills go away. So I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. Starring at the ground. Not engaging other racers and just trying to believe in myself.
Eventually, around mile 15-17 I became aware of how good I felt compared to past races. How strong I felt. How I had just ran all 17 miles without walking for more than 15 steps to sip some liquid.
I didn’t feel hope or confirmation. But affirmation. My training was a success. The long hours, the grueling workouts, the compromises … it was all paying off.
I was in single digits! Only 9 miles to go. The next 4 miles passed so quickly I would have sworn I was sprinting.
The last five miles felt longer than the first 21 miles. As my quads tightened, I reminded myself to live in the moment. I tried to take in my surroundings. It was pitch black. All I could do was focus on the center line in the road.
As I got within one mile of the finish line I couldn’t find a pep in my step. All I had was maintaining my slow and consistent pace. I was passed by 7 people. They finished minutes before me, but spent almost the entire marathon behind me.
I can’t lie. That burned me a little. Again, I reminded myself to run my race. No one else’s.
I saw that finishers shoot and the tears started to come back. I stared at the ground to try and keep my composure. I heard Mike, Bridget, Chad and Julia screaming my name. I looked up and saw nothing but joy on their faces. It was magical. Their emotions were absolutely beautiful.
I crossed that finish line gave a solid breakfast club fist into the air and needed to find space. The volunteers were kind and worried. They could read my face. A woman fighting exhaustion and heavy emotions.
Quickly I got my finisher medal, hat and t-shirt. I set out to find Mike. The minute I hugged him the flood gates opened and I couldn’t do a thing about it. He kept saying those better be happy tears. And I couldn’t explain. I couldn’t explain until the next day.
IRONMAN RECAP GOALS
I went in with one clear and simple goal run the marathon. That’s it. My run experience on my first two races was so awful I knew that was the key to a better race for me.
Then there was the goal of avoiding any GI issues.
And of course, because everyone should set big goals, I wanted to beat my 2016 time. I really didn’t want to tell many people this goal. So I didn’t.
Why didn’t I? Fear had some to do with it, but when I set my goals I didn’t even think it was realistic. I was so far away from any resemblance of “in-IronMan-shape” post baby that I couldn’t even entertain the idea … at least not out loud.
It wasn’t until September that I actually thought it might be possible. I was having incredible training days. My running felt as strong as it ever has in my life. I was running times I had NEVER ran before.
I now believed it was possible. But I still didn’t want to say it out loud. Running the entire marathon without GI issues would be so monumental I put my focus there. It grounded me mentally and emotionally as I prepared for race day.
Then outside of goals… I had my own concerns. I barely swam in preparation for this race. I strength trained a ton and got in 10-12 open water swims. I never swam in a pool. I never did swim intervals. I didn’t have access or time.
I knew weather would be a factor. We trained in some brutal wind this summer so I felt like I had done what I needed to be prepared. BUT, I just never risk riding in rain. So, how would it go?
And I had recently found out the run course was hilly 😂 yes, I’m serious. The week before the race I finally figured that out.
So now all my goals and concerns are out in the open. I’m 99% happy. I’m sure you can guess my 1% unhappiness. But, maybe it is different than what you think.
I crushed the swim. It was < 3 minutes slower than my best time. And that year I swam 3 days a week, an hour each time. Not to mention, the water was freezing and it took a long time for me to put my head in the water. Clearly that’s a huge win to start the day off.
The bike was positive because I was peeing. I was staying hydrated and I felt good. And as much as the wind and rain had impacted my performance they hadn’t ruined it. I had no GI issues and I was feeling strong physically going into the run.
As I started the run I had a candle lit for a faster time. It was all coming together through the sweat, rain and tears.
But as you know I didn’t hit my time. I couldn’t find it within myself to run faster. Every part of my body knew I could run this slow pace for the entire marathon and accomplish that goal. That main, priority goal. And I was worried about running too hard and giving into walking.
So that 1% I’m not happy about isn’t that my time wasn’t faster. Yes, that’s the measurable outcome. But not my race regret.
It’s that I lost the mental battle. My self-belief wavered enough that I am left with a “what if”.
What if I did push my pace?
My sore muscles and fatigue have passed. Only indications of an IronMan that remains are tan lines and chaffing 🙃