Yes, I know this report is late. Like a month and a half late. But, without further ado, here it is:
I packed the night before (obviously) and was in the middle of laying everything out. My good buddy Joey the cat had to make sure that all of my gear was set. Also, he doesn’t like it when we leave and tries to go with us. Sorry, no kitties at the campsite!
So we got up early the next day (Friday) and packed the truck to the brim and headed out. While it was an early start, its a long trip from Dallas Texas to Lawrence Kansas, so I wanted to make sure we had plenty of time to get our campsite set and check in before meeting my family for dinner. After I accidentally fell asleep a few times on the way up, it was time to be entertaining and get everyone excited about only being halfway there!
Once we finally got to Kansas we parked at the expo and walked around a little. The volunteers were super nice and helpful and it was a quick process as we were branded with our blue wristbands. I checked out the expo and purchased a participant names shirt and another one I thought looked pretty cool. I love wearing my Galveston shirts, so I knew I’d get a TON of use out of more 70.3 gear.
As we walked out of the finish area/packet pickup/expo area we came upon T2. In Galveston there was one transition with all of our stuff. In Kansas, there are two. One outside the swim and then the other one right outside the finish area. A tip for those who want to race this – get T2 done first and make sure you are set, there is a little uphill/downhill combo that’s a fair distance between the transitions and on race morning you DO NOT want to be walking back and forth between them. As we were walking around there was some discussion about water temps – honestly this didn’t enter my mind as not being wetsuit legal (duh.) It was right around that questionable temp and the final decision would be made in the am.
Once we got all of our stuff settled we headed out in search of our campsite. Turns out it wasn’t that far. In fact, you could see the finish line from our campsite. While initially this worried us, ended up being the best spot we could have asked for!
Once we got everything settled in it was time to meet my Aunt for dinner in downtown Lawrence. We ended up eating at this Italian restaurant that was super tasty. Had some good laughs, but no alcohol. Too close to race day for me to drink. One beer would have been okay, but I like to keep it all clean going in for a few days prior. We got back to the campsite around dark and the manly men built a fire. As they were building Brian pointed out the fireflies. FIREFLIES Y’ALL! I had never seen them and that quickly became my favorite thing to watch at dusk every night. It was like my own little good luck charm, sparkling brightly for me and me alone. It felt a little bit magical. Also, I stuffed my face with smores. You don’t get between me and smores – fair warning!
The next day we woke up early to the kids triathlon. So. Much. Fun. That is actually when the pic above was taken. Brian made me coffee with a percolator (reminder: think rough grind, not fine) and we took our chairs to the road to cheer them on. They are so stinking cute and try so hard! It was awesome to watch some of the kids before the race – y’all they have nicer bikes than me! Also, some triathlon parents are worse than pageant mom’s. No joke – the level of yelling and screaming and the words that came out of some of their mouths was ridiculous. Don’t yell at your kids when they are clearly pushing – be encouraging!
We waited around to check our bikes into T1 (score for another sweet T1 spot close to the bike out!) and then headed over to Kansas City to spend some more time with my Aunt, cousin and Grandpa. We ended up walking around a little and tried to stay out of the heat hanging out in Barnes and Noble. It was super fun to get to spend time with them – as it is a truly rare treat! Soon we headed back to Lawrence to buy beer (for the post 70.3 glory, duh) as well as stop and have some dinner. We ended up going to a noodle place and it was a pretty good meal. The whole city was covered in triathletes and it just pumps you up! Once we got back to the campsite, ate a few smores and headed to bed.
One thing I will say is that it was hot – low 90’s during the day and cooled only slightly at night. That made it very difficult to stay cool and hydrated while camping. If I raced here again I’d totally camp again, just know that it is going to take a little bit of a toll – come over prepared with hydration and electrolytes to get you through. Also, a clip on tent fan is actually really helpful at night! I woke up a few times that night – one thing you don’t see is at midnight when the Ironman staff truly put it all together. The finish area was lit up and you could hear the generators powering those and they started working way before we even thought about getting up. It was nice to have porta potties around for the race instead of having to use the scary bathrooms the campsite provided, and I totally had to get up at least twice that night to pee.
When we really woke up for the race that morning the wind was blowing. Not a nice friendly breeze, a I’m going to kick your ass in every way possible kind of blowing. Also known as steady winds of 20 and gusts regularly at 35. We knew that was going to make for a difficult race – but you show up with what you have and give it all you’ve got. We all got dressed, last minute prep and headed to T2. Got T2 set up with a hat, a few gels (I’ve been leaning on powerbar gels lately), my shoes and socks as well as a towel if I wanted to wipe my face and a nathan bottle that belongs in my waist belt but I wanted to carry on its own. I know Ironman is kick ass with their aid stations, so I knew I didn’t need to come with my own liquid to rely on. While we were in there I heard that it was too hot for a wetsuit but I had brought mine just in case. They were allowing the wetsuits for those not competing for prizes or rolldown spots, but they would have to swim with the relays as the last wave. I would lose about 40 minutes on the day waiting for that. That’s 40 minutes I would not be making up on the swim and judging by where the sun already was, I wanted to take my chances and swim without my suit and compete with my age group.
Once we were done with setting up T2, we headed to T1. As we got into T1 they were starting to tell everyone to get out. Um, panic set in. We had deflated our tires a bit given the heat our bikes had to sit in the day before and I had to beg and plead to get a pump. Found one close by but I had someone in front of me using it. It was her first HIM and she didn’t know how to pump her tire… So I went ahead and did it for her, then pumped mine. The guy was really nice I borrowed it from, but clearly agitated he was still in transition. I got everything set up and left T1 to find some familiar faces.
I had about 30 minutes until my age group took off and I was the first out of everyone I knew to go. I had never swum in my Soas Racing kit and was a bit worried, I bought it a little on the bigger side – I mean it was still tight but probably not racing tight. I also wore it without an additional sports bra for fear that it would help keep too much heat in. But I had made my no wetsuit decision and had to stick with it. While waiting for my wave, I ran into Jeneen who is a part of my triathlon group (Triple Threat) and racing her first HIM! She looked a ton better than I did for my first!
(Thanks to Amy who was out there sherpaing for Jeneen for the pic and had some pretty sweet signs for us, too! She’s training for her first Ironman in Arizona, go give her some love!)
Also, the side braid is kick-ass for racing. It keeps my hair out of my face for the swim, bike and when I put my visor on for the run. It makes for one less thing I have to think about during racing.
Before I knew it, it was time for me to take my gel and head down into the water. It was like bathwater, nice and toasty. I waded out to a spot kind of in the middle and before I knew it we were a go! For the first time in a race on the swim portion my goal was to get on someone’s feet and fight. Previously I’ve been a giver, trying to make sure everyone has space and really not hitting anyone. Well, sorry-I’m-not-sorry fellow 25-29ers, I was elbows out that day and I fought for my space and used whatever I had to in order to keep my feet. I was incredibly proud of myself for fighting and racing. I wanted to get close to my Galveston swim! Looking back I realize that probably wasn’t the greatest goal, Galveston was a saltwater and wetsuit swim, which makes a difference in my swim time. The water was really really rough and the wind was a beating. The swim has felt long to me and I think I just need to invest more in the swim rather than rely on my high school swimmer status – I’ve got tons of room for improvement. Once I made the turn to come back (it was a pretty easy out and back) the waves got even uglier. I tried swimming with the wave motion and I swallowed more lake water than I care to remember. I could also feel my tri top dragging because of the water it was letting in (note to self, speedsuit.) I just kept thinking get back and warn Brian, get back and warn Brian how ugly it is out here. When I finally got in and hit the transition on my watch, I saw 47:07 – ugh. 7 minutes slower than Galveston and all waves were out. Well, there goes that idea on the swim. As I ran through transition my focus became getting on my bike and going.
I hit my bike and sprayed myself down with my spray sunscreen (totally worth the few seconds by the way) and got my stuff and headed out. I was happy to see my area was about half empty so at least I wasn’t at the end of the swim! I got past the mount line and hopped on my bike. I was trying to be all fancy and have my shoes clipped in. I practiced a bunch in front of my house but struggled beyond words trying to get my feet in. I lost tons of time pedaling. Note to self – just run to the mount line in your shoes, it will save you time and you won’t look like an idiot for the first half mile.
I got on my bike and tried to feel settled. I had my Garmin 910 with the face on the inside of my wrist because if I got kicked I didn’t want it to break my screen or hit my buttons which in theory worked. Until I hit the bike and my handlebars hit the buttons. So, crap. Had to fiddle with my watch while trying to settle in to get it to read bike and no longer multisport while dealing with my shoes. Also, on the way out there are a few little rollers that are going to get your heart rate up there, be prepared for those. You also have to hit them on the way back into T2, and they don’t show up as blips on the elevation chart… So I get into a rhythm and settle in. Man, its windy, but I keep my head down and keep pushing. I start drinking my fluids – front aero bottle is water and bottom bottle is uber potent Gu Brew Roctane in tropical with an open spot to pick up perform. A little while into the bike I took some gels and just tried to be consistent. One thing that was different on this HIM is that since I started in the middle and not the very front I got to pass people instead of being passed the whole bike! That was super fun! I tried to encourage as many people as possible and use their name when I could read it.
Even though I initially struggled to get into a rhythm on the bike and was worried, once I really did settle in I smiled and I really loved being out there. I also felt a ton stronger on this bike than I did in Galveston. It’s a totally different bike – Galveston is a flat out and back with wind on the way out and Kansas is more of a circle with some out and back spokes and really a pretty hilly course. A few hills I really struggled but I knew I could handle it. Somewhere in the middle my stomach started to get iffy and I didn’t push nutrition to try and get it to settle. There was this 5 mile section from mile 35-40 that tested me mentally like I’ve never been tested before. My legs were feeling a bit tired from the up and down and trying to handle the wind. This section no joke was uphill the whole way into the 20+ steady wind plus gusts. I. Wanted. To. Die. And it just kept going – you would go up, false flat, go up some more, you never saw where the turn around was. I just kept thinking if it didn’t come soon I was out, like give me the sag wagon so I can enjoy some of my ice cold beer sitting at my campsite waiting. I just kept pushing though. I wasn’t even lying – my garmin says I averaged 9 & 10 miles an hour for 5 miles. Once you turned around though it was amazing – all downhill for 5 miles with the wind at your back. You saw all of those poor people still fighting the other way. While you sympathized it was awesome to be going the other way.
The rest of the ride was pretty quiet – until the last big hill. One thing I’ve gotten a ton stronger on is gradual long climbs. I put my head down and really power through and take off. I passed several guys in those areas who looked at me and couldn’t believe I was flying by them – honestly I couldn’t believe it either. Towards the end my heart rate was still kind of high but my stomach was calming. I was trying to get more water and perform in me. I hit those last few hills on the way in, got my feet on top of my pedals and I was in! Official time: 3:33:15!!! (Galveston time was 3:33:05 but I was SO PROUD OF MYSELF with basically tying my time on a much harder course!) Wo hoo! I got into T2 and decided I deserved to sit down and get my shoes on and take a breath. Got my hat on, grabbed my bottled and headed out on the run.
Smartest thing I did during this race is carry my little bottle on my back in my top. With the aid stations about a mile to a mile and a half apart, with no shade and it being really freaking hot, I shoved ice in there every time and kept myself cooler and had something to sip on during the areas where there was nothing. I also knew early on that my blood sugar had dropped and I felt really quite depleted early on the run. Unlike Galveston, coke worked well for me during this race for fueling. I alternated between coke, perform and water at the aid stations. I took no gels because my stomach was iffy. This run course was hard. The course itself you go out one direction and come back the other way and add about a mile, then come back to transition and go around almost a circle then go back around the circle and repeat. The spectating on this course was amazing though – everyone at their campsites with water hoses cheering you on at every turn. The aid stations were awesome, such friendly people who want to help you – some of the best aid stations I’ve EVER been through on this run. Also, its super fun being pointed out during the race by another competitor who recognizes you “Heidi Runs!” Yep, she was more likely shuffling but she does run! Loved seeing Andy out there and finally getting to meet him 🙂
I walked a ton more than I really wanted to, but I’ve been holding back on my HIM runs. I want to make sure I finish but I’m not yet really willing to suffer for time. I really want to get there though. For a lot of the run I was running along 2 other girls in my age group. At first they ran past me and then they blew up and I caught them with my walk/running. We kept motivating each other out there – if I passed one I’d tell her to come with me that she could do it, and if I was walking and she came up on me they would get me moving, too. The tri community is so awesome. Its not just about beating someone else, its about making sure they get there, too. Eventually in the end I was able to jog most of the last lap and I left them behind. I got super excited when I got to turn into the finish instead of heading back out on the course! Pumped it up and finished hard 🙂 Run: 2:40:03. My slowest half ever and 10 minutes slower than Galveston. I’ve got work to do with my run. Total: 7:05:31 while I’m not trilled with my time, I’m proud of my finish and feel really positive about my bike.
After a little bit I caught up with Andrew at our campsite where I dropped a few things and tried to cheer on some runners who were still going. We saw Brian, cheered our faces off and I hobbled back over to the finish to watch him. Once he finished I worked my way to the finisher area and sat my behind in the ART line. I knew I was having some hamstring stiffness and general lower body anger, and heck, I didn’t have anything better to do. Best. Decision. Ever. Pretty sure I would have been a ton more sore the next day if it wasn’t for the awesome guy who stretched me out. Go hug your ART person today, seriously, do it, they are miracle workers.
We got some pics of the three amigos and then we headed back to the campsite to grab our shower stuff.
So, really funny side story, I took off to the showers before the boys because I usually take longer. I hobbled over there and took my shower. I got out of the shower and saw they weren’t waiting for me so I headed back to the campsite. They’ve got to realize I’m done, right? Ha. I get back, put my stuff down and settle into one of the chairs and wait for them. And then I fell asleep. I woke up thinking “where the hell are they?” and finally got up to see if they were actually waiting for me. Turns out they were, and Andrew finally gave up and came to the campsite. Saw him halfway and he waved Brian to follow with him. Funniest thing is that they actually yelled into the shower to ask if “Heidi” was still in there. Some lovely person said yes, so they kept waiting.
It became the running joke at how many more naps I got in than they did on the whole trip. Oopsies – or sorry I’m not sorry? hehe. Okay this post is long enough, I hope you enjoyed reading as it was a great weekend and easily the hardest race mentally and physically I’ve done. It was great to do and come out feeling like I put in a solid effort and finished well.