WOW! What an amazing day completing my first half ironman was… Ohio 70.3 was truly awesome and I cannot summarize as best I can but no promises that I won’t be super wordy for this recap!
If you read my goals post you already know that I did not fulfill my training to the fullest for Ohio 70.3 (and if you read between the lines you know I was really nervous!!) I don’t typically get too stressed out or worked up about races but this was the longest and furthest race (and the most expensive!!!) So I was a bit of a mess leading up to race day. My bike still wasn’t 100% after it was fixed, and I took it back and still felt things weren’t completely perfect but I decided to roll with it. What really helped matters (not!) was that in taking it back and forth to the shop twice I lost my GPS. I figured I would find so I ended up not replacing it before race weekend…. I’ll talk more about this fun predicament later. I took it easy race week exercise wise but ended up not sleeping as well I usually do L By Saturday morning the hubs and I hit the road for Columbus.
Once we arrived we briefly checked into our Air BnB (which was along the run course), checked in the Ironman Village, attended the pre-race meeting, dropped off my run gear (oh the joy of a two transition race), checked my bike in, and finally drove the bike course before heading to an early dinner. After dinner we headed to Walmart to remedy my GPS situation. I didn’t want to buy an expensive one last minute so I figured as long as I had some sort of time tracking device I would be fine. Luckily the hubs found a cheap sensor GPS for the bike so I bought that and hoped it would work. Spoiler: it didn’t. We were pretty exhausted and went to bed early so I ended up getting a decent amount of sleep heading into race day.
I slept in until 5am which is late by Ironman race day standards but if you know anything about me you know that I’m rarely on time for anything and typically show up to races at the last possible minute. Obviously with triathlons you need to set up transition so you need a little more time but I tend to give myself the shortest amount of time possible and was scrambling to make sure I set my new GPS up correctly before being kicked out of transition. The race day morning logistics did go mostly smoothly besides hitting some traffic heading into the park and slightly limiting my set up time. My wave was the last one and went off an hour and half later than the race start at 7am. The nervousness was starting to slightly subside race morning so I felt slightly more confident heading into the race.
1.2 Mile Swim: 43:28
Age Group Rank: 28 (out of 78) Gender Rank: 242 (out of 607)
Luckily the swim was wetsuit legal which I think also gave me a mental advantage of more confidence so I had only swam that distance once in open water. The first quarter of the swim went fine… per usual everyone takes off flying but I’m always good at pacing myself to start slow so I just let a ton of people pass me (I would pass a bunch of them later). The first turn went smooth but unfortunately the next part of the swim (about half of it) was facing sun and dealing with terrible sun glare. Everyone was spread out well but sighting very poorly. I did wear my tinted googles and while you can do nothing about the sun, my biggest complaint is the buoys being so far apart- I would have to stop swimming to find the next one and make sure I was swimming in the correct direction. Once I made the last turn there were plenty of buoys and no sun shining directly at my face so I started to make up some time. Until my swim cap started to come off… letting some water into my right google. Since sighting wasn’t an issue here it only stopped me a couple times so I could pull the cap back on my head… why does this happen to me!? Am I putting my cap on wrong?? It only happens in open water, never in the pool. So annoying. But all in all I met my goal of being <45 minutes so I was happy when I got out of the water and Pat told me my time. Next year I would hope to shave a few minutes off that time with hopefully an improved back course.
Transition was anticlimactic- I ate a PBJ and took my time getting ready for 3+ hours on the bike. Just going to have a nice leisurely triathlon- no need to rush.
56 Mile Bike: 3:10:50
Pace: 17.6 mph average
Age Group Rank: 30 (out of 78) Gender Rank: 332 (out of 607)
I took off on the bike feeling good! The first 4-5 miles were on test pavement with speed bumps so it was a little less than ideal but not a big problem. I started passing people right away which had me pumped! I looked down on the bike GPS and realized it wasn’t working. AT ALL. I tinkered with it for a couple minutes and then gave up- I would be racing my first half ironman bike course completely blind (Not to mention it was also the furthest I’ve biked before). Oh well. I would go off of how I felt. I actually paced pretty good I think. I started out slower (16.4mph for the first 22 miles per the racing mat) which was boring but mostly flat farmland. I was passing a TON of people which never happens to me on the bike course, usually I have to catch up to everyone on the run. But I was cruising and definitely didn’t feel like I was flying or working too hard. The next part of the course is a flat on the way back down…. More farmland. It was by no means an exciting course but it was an easy one (the next 20 miles I clocked in at a 19mph average pace!) I always called my passes and everyone seemed to be doing fine. The last 10 or so miles has a bunch of turns a couple of hills, but besides a 180 degree turn that I came to almost a complete stop for it was easy and fun. At this point it was nearing noon and starting to get hot and realized I was starting to burn kinda badly on the tops of my thighs. I definitely missed those sun screen sprayers coming out of T1 (apparently I wasn’t the only one). The last few miles of the bike I did slow down (to a 17.6mph speed) but I think that was mostly because of all those turns and the course started getting a little more crowded. Pat tried to catch me a couple times on the bike but the first time he missed me (partly because of tracking/partly because I was going a little faster than we had thought). But the second time- around mile 45-50 he got a good one of me and all the cornfields. I wasn’t sure if I would see him on the bike and it was definitely a pick me up.
I finished my bike, docked at T2 on the stadium and set out on the run.
13.1 Mile Run: 2:12:42
Age Group Rank: 24 (out of 78) Gender Rank: 162 (out of 607)
I saw Pat again right before mile 1 and tossed him a LaraBar that I was carrying in my SPIbelt. My fueling on the bike was great (I wasn’t hungry at all and felt ready to go run a half marathon). I was starting to feel the heat (and my shoulder were starting to burn- I did get sunscreen leaving T2 though) so I made the mental decision to stop and WALK at every station. I typically don’t even stop for tris but a race of this distance and heat demanded appropriate hydrating so I did so. It actually made the running more fun- you basically ran to the next aid station rewarded yourself with water, ice, etc. and a nice short walk. The run course was voted one of the best in the country and I can see why- you run a mile out- do a 5.5 mile loop, do the loop again, and then run the mile back to finish on the track of the stadium. Some rolling hills, some shade, and mostly through a residential area. The spectators were awesome- playing music, cheering, and having SPRINKLERS! Running through the sprinklers was by far the most fun. The aid stations are stocked with water, ice, sponges, Gatorade, coke, red bull, gus, chews, cookies, chips, pretzels, orange slices, bananas, etc. It was a smorgasbord. I stuck to water, ice, Gatorade, and used my own gels for fueling. I took in 4 gels and tried to time them before aid stations- the ones I didn’t eat a gel before I always took Gatorade. I seriously nailed the nutrition for this race and felt great the entire time, absolutely no crashing here. The first loop I ran solo but as I was taking a second loop I made a friend! All I was looking for on the whole run course was someone to run and chat with… I had no headphones so another distraction was my best option to make the time fly. I met Junko- a Japanese American woman who was 55 and not slowing down at all! She was on her first loop and had great energy. She definitely kept me running while we chatted during my second loop. Thank you Junko you are awesome!!!! That second loop flew and before I knew I was headed back to the stadium to finish. My run average was about 10min/mile which I was overall pleased with. I ran into the stadium past cheering crowds, around the track, and finished feeling great!
Overall time: 6:16:26
Age Group Rank: 25 out of 78
Gender Rank: 217 out of 647
Overall rank: 880 out of 1895
I am so proud of myself for accomplishing this goal that I’ve had on my list for a few years now. When I injured my foot last year I was sad I wouldn’t be able to complete a Half… then this year with my job and move I debated backing out, but I’m so glad I didn’t I had the best time race and I’m still riding that post race high. I can’t wait to race again next year (hopefully completely the proper amount of training this time around) and knocking some time off. I’d love to see a sub 6:00 but I’ve got a lot of work to do to get there. I wanted to give a quick shoutout to everyone that helped me: my friends and family, biking buddies (thank you Lia!), and most of all Pat who did all the driving, supporting, and spectating to be with me on race day and ensure I had a good day. He is the best husband anyone could ask for and he deserves to get a mushy shout out on the internet. (Doubtful he will read this since I gave him my even more detailed play by play during the car ride home).
Definitely the best race ever! I think it’s the most fun I’ve had racing in a long time- can’t wait to do Ohio 70.3 next year!!