Thursday, August 23, 2012

Iron Girl Triathlon: Race Recap!

Warning: This may be a long post!! I apologize ahead of time, so if you just look at the pictures, I understand! But if you want to hear all about Iron Girl, keep reading! I wanted to post about the day before the race separately but that didn't work out, so you will just have a recap of everything! =)
 Iron girl was on Sunday in Columbia, MD, which is about an hour away from home. For anyone who doesn't know, Iron girl consists of a .62 mile swim, 17.5 mile bike, and a 3.4 mile run. Saturday is packet pickup and when you have to rack your bike. (This was new to me until last year, but it's where you take your bike and set it up in the transition area the night before so there isn't a rush to do it the morning of the race) Note: I would not want the job of guarding all of those bikes at night!! Anyway, since we would have to go up Saturday anyway, Shannon (she's been the training partner I usually run with!) and I decided to get a hotel and stay the night Saturday night. Another friend came up with us to to cheer us on, so awesome!!

We got to the expo, got our super cool wristbands on and picked up our packets. This is always the most exciting part of a race for me because it's where everything really becomes real! After we explored the expo, and made a few purchases, we headed over to the park to rack our bikes. As you can see in the picture we were some of the last to do so!

We walked around the park to check out swim buoys, which looked awfully close to shore and the lilly pads, but still needed a before picture =) This might have been the last one of us smiling!

The lake we will swim in!

After crossing all of this off our list we headed to dinner, with everyone else! We ended up up eating around 8:00ish and got back to the hotel around 9:45, which was way past the time I thought we'd be asleep! The regular ritual of setting everything out and checking it off my list was the first thing I did!
 It didn't really matter how late we got back though because this was one night I didn't sleep last year and nothing was different this year. I woke up every hour thinking we were going to oversleep and wondering what I had forgotten.

Once the alarm sounded we were up and ready to roll! We headed to the park and once inside thought we were going to park right away, we didn't realize they were going to send us a 1/2 mile into the park just to then have to walk back. Either way, we needed to set up our transition items and get our body's marked.
I frantically began pumping my tires (which I do not care for) but hoped that it was good enough and I wouldn't get a flat on the route. I also tried to tape gu on my bike for easy access. The bike was wet from sitting out all night so it wasn't working as planned, and I ended up putting way too much tape. Transition closed at 6:50 so it was off to body marking and then over to the swim start!

Shannon's swim wave wasn't until 7:28 and mine wasn't until 8:04, so we still had plenty of time to watch other swimmers start and continue to freak ourselves out! It wasn't so much the distance we were swimming, we've done it a hundred times, it was the open water! We both knew we could do it and had done it before, so it was just a matter of keeping calm.

 Before the swim!!
My husband and parents showed up right after Shannon's swim took off. I cannot explain the wonderful feeling of having your family at an event to support you, there is just nothing like it! My parents did an excellent job of capturing pictures of my swim wave entering the water, I just kept telling myself to breathe and "be one with the water" - as gross as that was!
 The 3-4 minutes of sitting in the water went SO fast and we were off before we knew it. Kayakers were all around keeping us together and swimmers were on top of each other and I was already taking in water, which I did not need to! I kept counting my breaths and every tenth stroke I would look up to check to make sure I was swimming in the right direction. I stayed off to the side to stay away from the other swimmers, so I'm sure I swam more than necessary, but it was totally worth not feeling like I was going to drown the entire time.
 The swim was going really well until I approached the final 100meters where everyone is funneled in to get out of the water. It became really crowded and again I couldn't take a breath without getting splashed in the face. I told myself to just suck it up and keep going. Before I knew it I was out of the water, and still with swim caps from my wave! (We were color coded - each wave had a different color) I was so excited and couldn't wait to get to the watch at my bike and see the time!
 When I reached my bike transition and saw that my watch said 8:34 I knew that I had beaten my swim time from last year and I couldn't have been happier! My transition onto the bike last year was almost 7 minutes so I knew I didn't want to waste time again like last year, haha! I jumped on the bike and started running out of the transition area! I did this so quickly I forgot to put up my kickstand! (see below!) Yes - I do have a kick stand on my bike and completed the route with a hybrid. My lesson and has been learned and I know I need a road bike, they are MUCH faster!!
I started my garmin as soon as I was on the bike and took a gu and drank some water. My goal was to get refueled on the bike and to stay hydrated. I'm not an expert at drinking while moving, so this was a challenge, but went of well! The bike route has few killer hills in it, you can see this on the elevation chart from my garmin! I kept telling myself to just push through it, and it worked! The frustrating part was that on 2 of the major down hills cars somehow got onto the road so I had to ride my breaks the entire way down. I was really disappointed because I was hoping to make up some time there. When I looked at my speed I couldn't believe I reached 30mph 2 times! The route is an out and back and my watch is pretty accurate but when we made the turn to head back towards the park a volunteer said 1.7 miles to go, I immediately looked at my watch and saw I was only at mile 15. Since she distinctively said 1.7 miles (who makes up fractions of miles?!) I trusted her and thought for some reason I was riding the tangents and cut the course short. This was not the case! It was still the full 2.5 miles back, and I actually rode 17.7 miles, no shortage there! The time on my watch was 1:18 and I was SO happy! I had beaten my time from least year by over 10 minutes without even changing bikes! Seeing this immediately had me thinking about which road bike I would get as I was trying to get ready for the run, haha! There was a back up getting into the transition area so I knew this was just adding time onto my bike. Everyone is so nice and supportive in this race that it is hard to get frustrated, but I just wanted to run and be done!

I have an obsession with Team Sparkle skirts and didn't have time to put it on for the bike, so I did waste the few seconds putting it on for the run. Which my husband later informed me that him and my parents laughed at while they were watching my transition :). Gotta love them! I feel so much more confident in these skirts and love the sparkle!
 I was off fast on the run and knew there were hills coming up so I just needed to pace myself. I had already beaten my time from last year, so it's a win, right?! A lot of people walk the entire run because they have already exerted their energy on the swim and bike, but I knew the run was my strongest leg and I needed to pick up time here. I felt really strong and just kept pushing! The downhills were great, but the uphills sure were a struggle on exhausted legs! The run is a circle around the park and from the time you start running until you finish you hear the announcer saying "Congratulations NAME you are an IRON GIRL!" This was so motivating to hurry and get to the finish!

As I mentioned earlier, Shannon started well before me so I was so excited to see her right before the finish line! A lady also yelled "you're smiling too much, you must have energy left so SPRINT!" It only took me a second to realize what she said and I was off to the finish! I passed my husband and parents yelling for me right before the finish and it make the ending even more perfect! I crossed the finish line with a huge smile and so much better than I felt last year after the race. 

The photographers immediately stop you for pictures (will post as soon as they are online!) and then you are allowed to go find you family. Having their support meant the world and it's something you always cherish. Once hugging and congratulations were done, recovery began! Mission: Muscle Milk! =) & signature finisher picture!

Iron Girl has become one of my favorite races that I will continue to do as long as I can! It is extremely organized and the support from spectators and the WONDERFUL volunteers is unlike any other race I have done. If you have any Iron Girl event near you, I strongly encourage you to sign up! 

What's next?! Olympic distance? 70.3? Stay tuned....

If you're still reading my final times were:

Coming next.....recovery dinner!!! Fajitas's & guacamole!

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