Monday, September 24, 2012

Redman 70.3 --- WOW....

Wow...this weekend was such a culmination of emotions.  This was a goal that I had for myself three years ago - to do a half Ironman.  I had tried and trained but on the bike I could only get to about 40-45 miles and I was toast.  I had decided there was no way that I could ever do one because I couldn't conquer the bike. It was my kryptonite for some reason.  So I gave up.  I was defeated and embarrassed.  Although I don't think I told many people other than my husband that I had really wanted to do one, I did have a silicone bracelet made at Shanrene that had my goal printed on it with two simple words: Half Ironman. I wore that for several months, eventually giving up in defeat and putting my bracelet in my jewelry box just in case, and eventually tossing it into the trash (that was very hard to do for some reason).  Then, as with many things lately, my wonderful group of friends that I have been blessed with over the past year came to the rescue.  All of a sudden, I had at my fingertips a treasure trove of friends that I could get advice from.  I had Erin who helped me figure out my nutrition on the bike and why I was hitting the wall at 40-45, I had tons of friends to ride with including Catherine who did EVERY single one of my long bikes with me...seriously...she rode 50-56 miles multiple times with me and never once complained!  I pink puffy heart her!  I had Greg who taught several of us how to change a flat tire and he also retaped my handlebars in some super cool bar tape and gave me any tips he knew on the bike.  There was Ron (Catherine's husband), who for my birthday in August, cleaned my whole stinkin' bike, chain and all.  It came back sparkly and shiny and wonderful!  I had multiple friends to run, bike, and swim with who all along the way supported me in multiple ways.  Thank you to Fiona for the early morning runs, l had Catherine for long rides, I had DK for all kinds of working out and a couple of tri's this summer which made all the difference in the world come race day.  There was Libby texting me all week with sweet, encouraging thoughts and a pedicure with Elaine and Catherine to get our toenails done in Redman colors.  Going into this race I felt pretty good - I mean how many people are so lucky to have such a network of support like this. It is amazing!

Earlier in the week I was super calm and just ready to go down and do the triathlon.  I was tired of all the anticipation and all the training.  I was ready to do it and be done.  Then I got a text from Michelle who I was going to room with and she mentioned she was getting nervous.  WHAT?  She has done 2 of these and is in the process of training for Ironman Arizona in November!  How can she be nervous and I'm not?  Obviously, I had no idea what was about to happen.
Packing to leave...I took everything but the kitchen sink!
Got to Oklahoma City on Friday afternoon and did the packet pick up and the expo and racked my bike in transition after getting the tires aired up and the seat adjusted.
Not what you want to see on your car thermometer the day before you do 70.3 miles...

Transition set up! 
Lake Hefner where we would swim.  Some of the buoys are in this picture but all that dirt is where water should be.
Amazing how much the drought has affected this area.  We would walk down a boat ramp and then still have that far to
go down to the water!

Oh my gosh...this is for real...

Then left to go to the hotel and wait on Michelle to get there.  We went to dinner and had a good time.  I liked listening to her previous experiences with this distance.  We were in bed by 9:30 with a 5:00 alarm set.  I tossed and turned all night.  She slept like a drum ( get it ;-)

Next morning I got up, threw on my tri-suit, ate a Honey Stinger waffle and a banana and grabbed my transition bag and wetsuit and we were out the door.  Down at the race site before sun up.

No idea what I was about to do...
We met up with Gretchen and John some friends from up here and also got to see Fiona, Greg, Heidi, and Brian who had all come up to spectate! It was awesome. I was fine until I saw Fiona and then I almost started to cry.
Apparently my dreams were big enough, because I was scared to death!

If Fiona had not insisted on a picture right then, I would have been crying...I was so nervous.
Gretchen, Me, and Michelle

Me, Gretchen, Fiona, Michelle, and Heidi

Heading down to the lake.

In the water, so glad to have a wetsuit right about now...
So off we go on the swim, I got in the water and it was pretty chilly. I was so glad that I had a wetsuit.  I had already planned out to take the swim one buoy at a time -- swim, get to the buoy, pause, sight the next and swim to it, repeat.  I also was sighting every 4th stroke.  1, 2, 3,4, sight...repeat.  A few strokes in the water was cold enough to take my breath away and I immediately heard DK in my head saying, "Just breathe." She had repeated that to me several times back in June at our olympic triathlon we did together when my goggles kept fogging up.  So I just kept thinking of DK and what would she say to me right now.  I got my breath eventually and got into a nice easy swim stroke. I had tried practicing that at the pool the last few swims I did.  Not worrying about speed but more about finding a comfortable pace that I could maintain for a long time.  It definitely worked.  I got to the last buoy that I was supposed to turn at and was fully expecting to have to go out to one more buoy before turning back across the lake. I was feeling good.  Finished up the swim, caught up to several guys and passed them and next came the run from the lake all the way up to transition. Remember that long, red dirt beach thing that was really the lake bottom...yeh, we had to run up that and go to the wetsuit strippers and then into transition.  

Let's talk wetsuit strippers...I found out that the wetsuit strippers would be there and I got nervous. I was nervous about wearing a wetsuit anyway since I hadn't trained in one, and to have someone strip it off my body as I lay down with my feet and butt in the air was almost too much.  I was glad that I had you tubed it though to see exactly what I was getting into.  Even though Catherine had me convinced they would pull my tri shorts off with the wetsuit and I was going to be mooning everyone! I decided I was going to try it and I was so glad that I did.  They yanked that thing off so fast, I didn't even have time to grab my tri shorts (which I had every intention of doing just in case!)

Wetsuit Strippers on YouTube

Then it was off on the bike. I changed into my bike jersey so I could use all the pockets on it for my nutrition during the 56 miles.  I was planning on it taking at least 3:30 at the fastest.  I was nervous because I had never ridden this far without taking some kind of break on the bike or by myself.  I always had Catherine on long rides. Who was I going to talk to now? I also had to think of it as 10 miles at a time - not 56 miles.  When I thought of it like that, I got overwhelmed. Luckily, the bike course was a fast one and I did stop at the aid station at Mile 30 a quick stop because of some stomach cramping but I figured out it was because I was drinking too much of my electrolyte drink and I backed off on that and drank more water and I was fine.  I came in at 3:30 exactly. As I was riding I was thinking about what I would do differently for next time (there will be a next time) -- I decided I needed to do one of two things...either practice more in my aerobars or get a tri bike. I have to get more aerodynamic.  Every time I would drop down in my handlebars, I would pick my speed up by at least 2 miles an hour without changing anything other than my positioning.  2 miles an hour faster would have put me off the bike in under 3 hours saving me 30 minutes on total time.  Other than that, I think the training I had done was perfect! 
I have decided triathlon is more mental than anything else I do because I have only me and my thoughts
the whole time. No friends to entertain me or distract from what in the world I am really doing.
Fake smile...I was dying inside...Never let them see you sweat though, right?

Then it was off on the run.  Out on the first 6.5 mile loop and honestly it was HELL.  It was an out and back and the first out was awful.  I think the first mile was truly the only mile I ran the whole time, I did a run/walk the other 12 miles.  I got out to the first turn around and realized that now I knew the course, I would just landmark to landmark, piece by piece eating away at the course. It was noon when I was starting my run and my friends would later tell me it was also 90 degrees. That's not too bad, but when you are running in full sun-NO SHADE at all after biking and swimming 4 hours and 15 minutes, it just plain sucked...I am not going to lie (unless you are my friend and I am trying to get you to do the next one with me).  At first I thought about walking the whole damn thing.  That sounded great, but I knew it would take me forever and also that I really didn't want to do that. So I would run and walk and run and walk....I got back on my first loop and I got to see Elaine and Catherine and Sharon along with Fiona and the morning crew.  Elaine ran with me up to the turnaround and Catherine took pictures...I made her take one of me in my normal race pose for Marci who had requested that picture.  I remember Fiona asking me if I needed anything and I said a new pair of legs would be great, but apparently those are hard to come by and I had to finish on the legs I had...
Poser...acting like I feel good and that this is really fun...

Out I go on my second loop...I just wanted to be done and I didn't think I was ever going to finish. It didn't help that as I was finishing my first loop Michelle was finishing the whole freakin' race!  She is so speedy!  I wanted to act like I had done my second loop too and quit.  I thought that might be too obvious though. So I went out on my second loop to finish what I had started. I ran into Gretchen about mile 8 and she told on her way back in "You know what Mama C would say, right? Eat the elephant one bite at a time.  Take it one mile at a time."  I did just that and I hit mile 10 eventually and I started thinking to myself -- "Holy, moly...I am 3 miles away from doing something that I honestly never expected to be able to do. Three years ago, this was a huge dream, a giant obstacle that I wanted so badly to conquer and I quit and I here I am...3 miles away from going 70.3 freaking miles in one day!" It was at that point that I knew I had this.  I was going to finish and I was going to be fine.  It might not be my best half marathon time, but honestly I wasn't expecting it to be. I had wanted about 3 hours maximum on the run and I came in at 3:03 - I'll take it.  That was hard.

7:29:51 First half Ironman in the books

My goal was between 7:30 and 8 hours.

Goal accomplished
I was done! Mission accomplished.  I came up to the finish line and I saw Elaine and I lost my breath. It was that don't cry, don't cry, be strong feeling and I couldn't breathe.  She started crying and immediately as I crossed the finish line I cried.  I was trying to be cool but I turned into a blubbering idiot for a split second. Dang it! 
Roomies! Michelle and I after I finished.

Ninja and I having fun after the race! Love this guy! He helped me
so much in my bike skills over the last few months. He doesn't even realize
how much he helps people. He just does it because that is the kind of guy he is. 

Cassie, Elaine, Sharon, Catherine, and I post race...So glad to see these girls!

Oh my gosh...I can't believe I just did that...

That was by far the hardest thing I had ever done, and honestly...I loved every single minute of it.  I want to do another one this year.  I know where I could tweak things a little and get a little faster.  I felt great on the bike and the swim so I think more brick workouts are in my future to work on the run portion.  I also now trust my training. I was nervous because I just kind of followed my own training plan for this.  I did what I thought I would need to do and I was still able to train, be mom, wife, teacher, daughter.  It was worth all the "before the sun comes up" runs, and the early morning bike rides before the husband leaves for work and we start school for the day.  It wasn't easy, but it was worth it. Totally worth it.  

And one last note to everyone who came up there to cheer, I love you all.  You were such a sight for sore eyes at so many times.  I was so grateful for you every time I saw you and there were times when I couldn't see you on the course that all I thought was if I can just get back to them.  Thank you Catherine, Elaine, Sharon, Cassie, Fiona, Greg, Heidi, and Brian.  You have no idea how much I appreciate all the kind words.  To Drum for answering any questions and not making me feel like such a newbie to long distance races - I appreciate it.  Gretchen, thank you for making me laugh race morning when I was so nervous and keeping me happy when you saw me on the course.
Results...Just the fact that it says "congratulations on your finish" makes me happy! That is all I finish

Front of medal
Definitely learned this lesson this weekend!
Side note:  Congrats to both Elaine and Catherine who did the Olympic Distance Triathlon at Redman the day after mine.  It was so much fun to cheer both of you on and I am so proud of you guys! I am so pumped that you guys like this crazy stuff as much as I do!  Love you both!


  1. You are an inspiration to all of us. I just can't figure out who your real parents are! Love you, BABE! You are amazing.

  2. You are a warrior! I am so proud of you. Your report made me tear up! I know how hard you worked for this. And no worries about crying at finish line - I did that at my last two races. It's the embodiment of the amazement of what our bodies combined with our drive, can do.

  3. Mama C rule is no crying on the race course - but all bets are off once you cross the mat. CONGRATULATIONS!! I love that you dusted off that goal and went for it and I love that you had such an awesome bubble of love there for you and I wish I could have been there to take pitchurs and yell and see the awesome in person. Love you! and I forgive you for making me cry before 9 am.

  4. This is awesome!! I loved reading this and congratulations!! I would love to do a half iron man someday....totally on my dream list! You have inspired me. :)

  5. I am so proud of you! Sounds like an incredible day and I wish that I could have been there with the gang to cheer you on! I can't wait to see what your next adventure is....looks like someone needs a new bracelet!!

  6. You were nothing short of amazing and I'm so proud of you!! And I love the picture!

  7. I just found your blog. Congrats on your 70.3!!!! I aspire to complete one. soon. :-)