I finally completed the big kahuna, and it surely was a doosey! I drove down from NY super early Saturday morning to make sure I arrived at athlete check-in with enough time to get situated. Check-in was at Sailwinds Park in Cambridge and was a process in and of itself. First you had to show ID to get the small green card with your number on it. Then we were directed toward the waiver pick up area where we had to listen to a schpeal about how to sign our life away. After I read and signed the waiver I then had to go to another area to drop the waiver off. It almost felt like I was a human ping pong going back and forth between tables. The waiver drop off volunteer reviewed both sides of the waiver, made sure it was signed, then directed me toward the number pick up area….another table. Here they checked our USAT card (which they should have done at the first table) gave me the athlete envelope and went into another schpeal about what was in the envelope. I felt bad for these volunteers because it was blazing hot in this hanger type warehouse and they were sweating bullets in cotton volunteer shirts. After getting the athlete envelope and swim cap (mine was lavender) I was then directed to another table to get my timing chip. This was an interesting process that I’ve never seen before. They typed my race number into the computer, I verified my name, the volunteer then held the timing chip over a sensor and it was programmed. It is very easy to make a mistake here as the volunteer did with mine. He typed my number in incorrectly, and the girl scanning the chip scanned in someone else’s info. They had to retype my number in and scan a new chip. Then I was off to the next table to get “swag” and I use this term loosely because I really wouldn’t consider a
standard race t-shirt swag. The women were given blue shirts, and the men red…go figure! Since it was burning hot, and from what I understand it usually is every year I sort of wish they would have given a tank, but any race shirt given is much appreciate. At this point I was sweating my britches off and was looking for water because It was just excruciatingly hot. The only liquid offering was warm red bull which didn’t help the cause. I did see some pro’s checking in. Looks like all of their items were at one table and they didn’t have to do the cupid shuffle like the regular folks! Since this was my first half I’m not sure if this is the normal check in process, or if it varies from race to race. I think it could have been consolidated to 2 tables, 3 at most…this was definitely a bit excessive.
On to the Ironman village. I wish I could have taken a pic of the full setup because it was very cool. There was merch everywhere! You really could have spent up all of your money in there and had to hitch a ride home! I took it pretty easy though…the damage wasn’t too bad, I think I spent $110.
This is the one item I really wanted. I can now retire my cute red Kipling backpack from holding my workout gear.
I didn’t plan on buying any caps, but it’s in my favorite colors so what the heck.
This is a portion of the towel opened up. It is so cool because if you look really closely you can see my name.
Bought this sticker for my car
And I ended up not needing it because my team founders gifted me with this awesome IM 70.3 emblem. Thanks Lisa and Meagan! And yes its on my car already, and yes I love red!
Right outside of the store is what I guess runners would call an expo. There wasn’t much there in terms of buying, but the fancy Dimond bikes were there…they sure are pretty in person. I got to test one there that they had on the trainer. The shifters were amazing! Wish I had 10G’s (or more) lying around to buy one.
The infamous carbon wheel rental tent I always read about
I want to say there were maybe 10 vendors there. There definitely wasn’t a lot, and 10 maybe even on the high side.
Next it was off to transition at Great Marsh park to drop off my bike. We were there pretty early so transition was virtually empty. This was a good thing though because I got to place my bike and scope out my area with not a lot of people around.
Rack view in transition
Quite a few people had these tent thingys on their bike. I’ve never seen them before and thought wow those are interesting. It certainly is a better looking alternative to plastic bags of which the Ironman officials were taking off of bikes anyway. Plastic bags covering bikes at this event was a big no no. After a quick google search I discovered the rack jacket is from Endurafit. They also have quite a few other cover products that could be useful.
So I racked Ruby for the night and we were off to get some grub.
We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Easton. This was about a 15-20 min drive from Cambridge. The hotel had a ton of Gatorade and water out so I snagged a few of each. The room was nice and big and roomy. As soon as I was in my room I got my gear together for the next morning. There were no transition bags given to us. When we were checking in they said they were not giving them out this year. I snagged some extra plastic bags from the Ironman store and used those to separate my gear for each leg. I also mixed my Gatorade endurance formula and put it in the fridge, and a bottle in the freeze so it would be nice and cold when I needed it the next day. I was in bed by 7 because I had to be up bright and early at 4am…yes 4am!
Once the alarm goes off, I right up, no snoozing since I had plenty of sleep throughout the night. I felt wonderful and refreshed and ready to start the day. We were out the door by 4:45 and on our way to the race site to find parking. Our original plan was to park at the local school and take the shuttle bus over to transition, but we checked with a teammate who got there early and told us there was still space to park. We found a great spot like 3 blocks from transition.
First stop body marking. I don’t know why I thought we’d have those fancy tattoo numbers like they have at Kona….not the case. It was magic marker numbers just like the races at home.
Right arm marking
left leg marking
I let the marker dry, but by the time I put sunblock on the writing was gone…..guess those weren’t sharpies! Next was setting up the transition area. Now this time around it was packed. There were athletes everywhere! I think the race had under 3000 people. It was the biggest tri I’ve ever participated in, so at this point it was getting a bit overwhelming.
My transition setup
Ran into Gerald a fellow Black Triathletes Association member in transition.
I did end up putting my helmet up on my aeros because as I was walking out of transition everyone had there helmets up there so I though while in Rome! At the few sprint tri’s I’ve done the helmets were always down on the transition mat, but I like this setup better. My transition mat is a T Mat Pro Transition Mat. I got it on amazon a couple years ago and it comes in a ton of colors. I like the fact that it is the perfect size and rolls up nicely. You can also use a plain ole towel if you don’t want to spend the money.
Obligatory pre-race usie with Allison.
I am in a group on facebook called Black Triathletes Association. It has grown to 1600+ black triathletes, which seems like a lot but it really isn’t if you look at all the triathletes in the world. So when we see another member at a race, or a black triathlete period it is really exciting because there is just not a lot of us out there participating in races…so hey Gerald!
My teammates from left to right – Allison, Lisa, Dionne, and Me.
Allison and I, last check-in before the start.
The pros started their swim at 6:45am. My start time was 8:15am so I had a lot of waiting around to do. The swim waves are grouped by age and my age group 30-34 is basically last to start. The last wave were the people who opted to wear wetsuits and have no placement in their age group; they went off at 8:20 so I started virtually last. All we could do to relax and stay calm was to sit on this grass and chill. Lisa started at 7:15 and Allison and Dionne started together at 7:52 I believe so I was able to give them hugs, and luck and they were off! I had another 28 minute wait so I just sat back on the grass and waited it out.
When 8:08 rolled around we were called to the start. There was a little bit of a swim out until we got to the buoys where the actual start was. The sand/mud/muck what ever it was there was disgusting! If I could imagine what it would feel like to walk through dog poop that is what it would be. It was really gross. So instead of walking I figured I would swim up. When I started my stroke and turned my head to the side I couldn’t breathe. I think I had a mini panic attack but I’m not completely sure since I’ve never had one before. I tried again and the same thing happened. At this point I got really nervous. I instead did the breast stroke out to try and calm myself. I got to the start and thought why the heck is this river water salty? That coupled with the sting rays….yes sting rays I saw in there the day before I knew it would be an interesting swim.
So the gun goes off and the lavender caps are swimming. I stayed on the outside and started off slow because I couldn’t breathe 5 minutes ago and didn’t want to get out there and drown myself. Now the funny thing about this swim, the first 200 meters you could stand up, this was about the first and second buoys. It was the strangest thing ever. As I watched the waves before me go, many people simply walked or ran those first 2 buoys which I know probably exhausted them. I swam some that first buoy, stood up and composed my self by walking for like 10 seconds. After that I was good. I was swimming like I normally do, but still taking it easy as I warmed myself up. There was a bit of a current that was dragging me to the right when I should have been swimming straight and slightly left. So I had to sight a lot to correct myself. Maybe 2-3 minutes after I started the guys 30-34 started. Now I have no idea why Ironman starts the women first and then the men. This is such a stupid idea. The men proceeded to swim right over me, and the majority of the women my age. They had on red caps and all I remember was seeing a swarm of red coming at me, then flying by me. I think the women should really go 2nd to avoid this.
I only had one OWS (open water swim) prior to this and it was in a lake, and there was only a small current so I’ve had virtually no OWS experience, so I was essentially learning on the fly. I think I counted six yellow buoys and then saw the red one at which time we had to make a right turn. At this point I thought I had a straight swim to the run out of the water, but I was wrong! Guess I should have been paying attention during the athlete briefing! I swam maybe 100 more meters and noticed I was alone. I turn to my right and see another red buoy! There was another turn! So I made the 2nd turn and then everyone appeared. There was a ton of people so I just though in my head yes I’m not last. At this point I was nice and loose and warm and open up and sped up a bit. I think I made up some time that I lost swimming out. As I’m swimming I see lime and purple, and think to myself it can’t be. I swam up to my teammie and made sure she was OK because there was no way I should have caught up to her. I knew there would definitely be a story about that when we finished and there was! She swam way off course which I am sure a lot of people did on the way out. If you were not constantly correcting yourself, it was very easy to swim in the wrong direction. I saw some people swimming sideways. So after I got the OK from her I kept swimming. I swim 200 more meters and notice people are standing up again. I turn to the guy on my right and say were you standing? He says for a bit I was but it got deep again. I just keep swimming. Another couple meters and everyone is walking in the water! I stood up and walked a bit and pooped my self out, so I started swimming again to conserve energy. It came to a point that the water was so shallow my hands were scrapping the sand, so I finally stood up and walked with everyone else. Once I got to the beach I walked up the little dune, and jogged to transition. I finished my swim in 56.40. Definitely my worse 1.2 to date, but it was under an hour and I’ll take it!
My T1 (Transition swim-bike) time wasn’t bad at 04:08. I had all my gear laid out nicely so I was able to dry my feet, get my socks, shoes helmet, and gloves on. I also ate a few energy chews, and took a sip of the frozen Gatorade that I had laying on my mat and I was off. The bike course was nice and flat how I like it! I averaged 14.3mph on the bike which I am fine with. Yes I probably could have gone faster, but I didn’t want to poop myself out for the run that I knew would be super hot. I stuck with the plan and drank every 10 minutes. I have a torhan front hydration system, so that is what I used the entire bike. I stopped somewhere around mile 25 for some water from the volunteers. I think I guzzled down half a bottle of water and took a salt tab. At this point the temperature was starting to rise so I knew I needed to stay hydrated. I kept cycling and stopped again somewhere around the 45 miles mark. At this point I had to pee really badly and there was no way I was peeing on the bike like many people told me to do. So I took my time and used the port a potty. Lets face facts I wasn’t winning any awards so I may as well take my time and enjoy myself. I used the bathroom, refilled my empty bottle out front with more Gatorade, drank another half bottle of water and was on my way. At this time I started counting down the miles. Every time I ticked of 1 mile I would say in my head 20 to go, 19 to go, 18 to go…….I had to do something to get me to the finish because at this point I was bored out of my mind! There was basically no spectators out on the bike route so it was quiet the whole time unless you were at an aid station, or had to make a turn and you got to see a cop and say hi to them.
I think when I got to about 4 miles to go I saw runners. This is so discouraging because I just thought to myself I am so far behind, they are already running and I’m still on my bike, but I kept pressing on. There were a lot of spectators out during this point, and it was encouraging to hear them cheering. My overall bike time was 03:54:59 which I am happy with. I wanted to finish in under 4hrs. I got back to transition as fast as I could, took off my helmet, swapped out my cycle shoes for running shoes, took off my gloves, put my visor on, and I was off. My T2 (Transition bike to run) was 03:55. The one thing I forgot to do was put my own sunblock on. I use SPF 80 because I burn very easily. I saw a table with sunblock and I grabbed some and put it on my shoulders and face. Needless to say it didn’t work because I am very burned!
I grabbed some ice water, and jog out of the transitions area, as soon as I hit the street I could not breathe. I stopped to walk a bit to catch my breathe and thought to myself you cannot start walking this early. I tried to run again and after a few steps it was the same thing. I just thought to myself this is not good. I was feeling OK and I should be running! I have to say it was very discouraging and I really wanted to quit. I could not walk 13.1 miles…that is nuts right??? Well that is exactly what I did! I just could not will my body to run. Ever time I took a few steps I just had to stop to catch my breathe. Human beings are just not meant to exert that much energy under such conditions. It felt like it was 95 degrees out there and there was no shade anywhere! When I got to about the 5 mile marker, everyone on the other side of the road who had already completed 8 miles was walking, and I mean everyone!! Even the fittest looking guys were walking. I’ve been in super hot weather before. I live in New York, we always have heat waves in the summer, but I’ve never run in it. So I did what I could to survive and I walked the whole 13.1. It was crazy! My
This man got me to the finish line
feet were on fire and I bet you could literally fry an egg on the cement it was that hot. Once I got to the turn around at like mile 6.5 or 7 I see Allison on the other side of the road. We hugged and I don’t know what she said to me about running and I told her just walk…everyone is walking. At this point I she was only about a mile or so behind me. I really thought she was going to catch up because I was walking so slow.
At about 5 miles to go I found a walking partner and we finished out the race together. I’m glad he was there because his legs were long and he made me walk faster. It was nice to have some company and someone to talk to. It made the time go faster and made my race not end on a miserable note. I thought I could finish the run in 2.5hrs, but that went way out the window. My run time was 3:27 and I use the term run very loosely because I walked the whole darn thing! Coming around the last corner I see Lisa Laws! I couldn’t believe it, I look at my partner and say there’s the captain, lets run, and we took off. We rounded another corner and the finish line was in my sights. At this point I was working on pure adrenaline and kept going. I saw my teammates on my right cheering me on…I threw up my deuces and kept going. I heard my name being called and new I was home free. I did it….I completed a half Ironman and the feeling was amazing! I got my medal that I worked so hard for, and a cute finisher hat, so I now have 2 Eagleman hats in my collection…I will be wearing them everywhere!!
Final Race Thoughts
I have to say I really enjoyed this race. Although the run (walk) was brutal it is still an amazing race. I barely made the cutoff at 08:27:19 but barely is still making it!! I would have never thought after having a baby 10 months ago I would be here right now. It was amazing and I will never forget this day for the rest of my life! Would I do it again? The answer to that is yes, but not this course. Eagleman you will always be my first, but you are one fiery hot bird! I am already plotting my next race, but it will have to be in the early fall, hopefully I can find one that won’t cost me my first born! My tri-life continues!
I made it!
All Womens/Brands Tri Team…we did it!
With my partner in crime Allison
My awful sun burn
How cool is this, so I don’t need that fancy bike cover now because when I got back to my bike this was on it…thank you race directors!
See you at the next race!