Ironman 70.3 Racine - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Racine, Wisconsin
United States
HFP Racing
66F / 19C
Total Time = 9h 14m 27s
Overall Rank = /
Age Group = W 35-39
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

Got in bed by 11pm, got up at 3:30am. One mistake I made was changing my plans to go in accordance with another person.. not that person's fault, but i'll never make that mistake again. I wanted to be in transition by 5 am, and because of changing plans and then things not going according to that plan, didn't get to my spot till 5:50, with 40 min to spare.. wouldn't be a problem, but I had to find a pump to use (one thing I forgot!), put contacts in (and you know how those things go nuts if you rush), stand in line for potty, and set up. Being it was my first HIM, nervous doesn't begin to describe it, so I felt very rushed and all over the place. I also wanted to take plenty of pics with my phone before transition got locked up. Had time for none. Again, my mistake, will never do that again.
Event warmup:

not much... pace the beach lol
  • 51m 59s
  • 2112 yards
  • 02m 28s / 100 yards


After transition closed, we walked on the beach a mile to the swim start. Part of me wanted to gripe about walking, but then I thought about how gorgeous a beach walk was and decided we were all lucky to be able to enjoy that. Decided to save griping for later (choice came in handy). Lake was 66 degrees and calm. I was in the 4th to last wave, which I didn't like, but what can you do? I brought my neoprene cap with me, and didn't think I'd need it, and also didn't see anyone with one, so I decided to make sure it was legal with water temps being pretty warm (for Racine, anyhow). Asked an official and he said I'd probably be too warm in it, with which I agreed, but I didn't have anyone to leave the cap with (and I wasn't about to throw away $25; I'd suffer instead). He offered to drop it off in transition for me, whohoo!!! Thank you, nice race person!

Finally, our wave lined up in the water. The race started at 7 am and my wave was starting at 8:16. They had the waves by gender and ages, so my wave was W35-39. We all made jokes and wished each other not to drown, then the gun went off and the day officially started.... The swim was C-shaped 1.2 miles and for a good part of the way, I could see every sand ripple on the bottom of the lake.. The water was just perfect, and with my full wetsuit, the whole swim felt refreshing. I can honestly say it was the most enjoyable open water swim I have ever done. I decided to start at the end of my wave and just take it easy. Didn't want to push it (and certainly didn't), since I had a long day ahead of me, and I didn't want to be wiped out after a swim. Was expecting the first 15-20 min to be hard (based on previous racers' stories), but right from the first stroke, I found a nice rhythm and was completely comfortable the whole way. Could see other swimmers in the water - nice change from the usual training swims in mirky lakes. Got kicked a few times and a couple of times people swam over me, but really, not bad. Now I know I could have pushed it much more, but it's ok. In the last third, we did swim into a current, though it wasn't too bad. Came out of the water to a nice wavy run on the sand. They had a couple of volunteers helping athletes strip the wetsuits off, so I took advantage of their help.
What would you do differently?:

push harder
Transition 1
  • 07m

Long transition, but I knew it would be. I put on compression sox, and those alone probably took good 4 minutes (totally worth it!).
What would you do differently?:

hurry up :)
  • 5h 07m 46s
  • 56 miles
  • 10.92 mile/hr

Got out of transition and got on the bike. The bike started uphill immediately, and I heard many a story about people biting it on that hill. The whole day seemed big and scary, so I decided it wasn't worth it to try to ride uphill (and knowing me, fall) and just walked the bike up. One of the volunteers said, “It's all downhill from here! Have a great race”.. boy, little did she know.

The roads on Racine course are pretty terrible. They paved a particularly bad 5 mile stretch (bad enough that I was prepared to ride it standing up) the day before. I'm pretty sure there were 1840 people that day who were very thankful for a small piece of riding heaven. They marked potholes and dangerous spots in orange paint, and that helped. A lot of rolling hills and a few long hills. As it holds true in every challenging race, headwind no matter what direction I was riding. Figures.

I made it to mile 24 and was going through a particularly bad spot on the road. The road was marked, “CAUTION BUMPS AHEAD”, followed by a fairly large square marked up in orange paint. I knew things were bad once I was riding on it. Potholes maybe an inch apart for the duration of the little stretch, like a washboard. Then came the second patch, which I managed to avoid, but evidently, it was too late. Heard a very loud POP! (very much like a car tire blow out) and knew I was done. Things slowed down to a crystalline vision, as if I had all the time to think I should break and unclip, though I will probably go flying regardless, but at the same time everything was happening so fast... I saw volunteers ahead and felt the sharp jab of panic - my race was over. I managed to stop uneventfully and got off the bike.. looked at the tire to confirm what I feared in my head - it was shredded. It looked like someone took a shotgun, put it against the tire and pulled the trigger. Too bad Ironman doesn't allow cell phones, it would've been worth a picture. I stood there and stared at my bike and felt tears coming. I couldn't go home. Not like this. I had to finish this race. I walked to the intersection and told the volunteers and the Sheriff what happened and asked them, “Am I done?” Beth (the volunteer) said that there was a lady riding around on a moped with tires and tubes and bike parts, and she had already been paged for the other guy who went down. She motioned to the side of the road and I saw the other biker. His spoke broke and completely warped the wheel, so he was definitely not going anywhere.

So there we were, on the corner of roads V and G somewhere in Wisconsin countryside, blazing sun (the temps got to 101, not sure of the heat index), no shade, almost no water (Beth gave me her water, bless her heart!), no tire. The Sheriff clearly wanted out of there and wouldn't call the Moped Lady when we asked him 20 minutes later because “she'd been paged already, and they'll shoot me if I call again.” Right. Once the last biker went through, the police car following him made a cut throat motion to the Sheriff and he was all too glad to leave, giving us the “I don't know when she (the Moped Lady) will be here” as a parting remark.

I told Beth that if there was a chance for a new tire, I wasn't leaving until either I passed out from the heat or the tire came. By then, the other racer decided to call it a day and left with his friends. Beth and her daughter Laura really had no business staying, so when I saw them packing up their cooler, I asked them what was going to happen if they left and the Moped Lady never came. I'd be stuck in 100+ degree heat with no phone and no way to get anywhere, and all course support would be gone by then. Beth said she wasn't leaving me until something got resolved. I appreciated that more than she will ever know. ….So there we were, melting and waiting. The Moped Lady got paged 6 or 7 times, and 6 or 7 times we were told she was on her way. One time we were told she came and didn't see anyone and left. Huh? It seemed that the more time went by, the smaller my hope of ever finishing got. Ironman had one person patrolling the 56 mile bike course...and the key fact was that most of those 56 miles were ridden with potholes. That was not an encouraging bit of information.

I looked at the long road ahead stretching up that hill and thought of having to bike it, probably all on my own, without any course support, volunteers, water, possibly getting lost (if all volunteers left, that was a high probability), and I felt my will power fading. But then I would consider the alternative - throwing in the towel, accepting defeat and going home, and that made my eyes sting with tears, and I knew that would hurt 100 times more. So, I was staying until the tire came, and it was going to be a very long day. I realize even as I type this that in the grand scheme of things, there are much worse things to endure. That hour doesn't begin to compare to the harshness of some experiences in life... but in the context of that day, and all the planning and training leading up to that day, it was hard stretch of time.

…..An hour after the road ate my tire, the Moped Lady came. I wish I had gotten her name. She was great. She was like a Tire Ninja. 2 minutes after she arrived, I had a brand new tire and tube (she wouldn't even take my spare tube), and I was off. Now I just had to hope I would know where to turn and not get lost, and that my warm water I already had was going to be enough to get to T2.

While we waited, one of the race officials came by to pick up road signs and cones and seemed sympathetic to my situation. He said he'd go back and forth in his truck until he knew I was ok. Either he or smb else made it happen, but I ended up with police escort! One officer on the motorcycle was always behind me and another one would come up on the side, tell me where to turn at the upcoming intersection and then pull ahead to block intersection (lights and sounds included) so I can bike through. He was very serious and didn't talk much. At one intersection, a car pulled to the stop (the officer and the Sheriffs already blocked the intersection) and I was coming up behind it to turn right, only the car stopped a little too close to the curb for me to pass it, and I was going to slow down to go around it and all of a sudden I hear all the cops yell at the car, “MOVE! MOVE! MOVE!” All for little ol' moi. It was kind of cool.

The volunteers all stayed! I couldn't believe it! Every time I rounded up on a turn in the course, either volunteers or sheriff would be there, cheering me on, and every aid station had boy scouts and their moms cheering me on. They all stayed for me. They also all knew who I was and the moms were too cute, trying to feed me. “We heard you are a finisher! Do you want a banana? Eat it, girl, you need it”.

As I was closing on the last 10 miles or so, Officer Serious pulled up to me and said, “First name.”
“Excuse me?”
“What's your first name?”
“Lena, step it up! We can keep up!” Officer Serious was getting into the race spirit!
“Yes, sir!”

  • ..and then, about 2-3 miles from the finish, after I've been absolutely certain for 30 miles that I'm the last person on the face of the earth still cycling, I see a guy - with a race bib - on a bike! He was pedaling pretty hard but going pretty slow, so I just blew right past him. The good Lord must have seen fit to give me ONE person to pass in order to preserve at least some emotional sanity. I said a quick mental “Thank you!!” as I passed the guy, and I heard him mumble, “I thought I was the last biker..” and I thought, “You bet you are, dude!” I just floored it. No way was he passing me now! The last few miles I was riding past people running – people who were having a normal Half-Ironman experience – and a lot of them clapped, and cheered me on, and said awfully nice things as I rode past. Volunteers were all so supportive and somehow all knew who I was.. That was a huge pick me up.

  • What would you do differently?:

    hurry up and try to avoid tire-eating roads harder. This race gave me a very good idea of just how much harder I need to train for bike :)
    Transition 2
    • 06m 30s

    As I came down that hill into T2, I had so many people cheering me and I was SO relieved I made it, I yelled out a “whohooo!!” and the volunteers were just going nuts! I definitely felt like I was the news of the hour. As I dismounted and walked up to transition entrance, two things were happening simultaneously: volunteers were clapping and cheering me and one of them was saying for all to hear, “You are my Hero! You MADE it!!!” …...and an Ironman official, “Actually, you didn't make it. You missed the bike cut off. You do know that, right? I'll need your timing chip.” Here is the thing - I totally didn't think of it. I knew the swim, bike and total time cut offs, but for some reason, when I was out there, playing Woman vs. Wild, I knew I'd miss the 8:30 cut off and I was prepared for that, but never once thought of the bike cut off. Looking back, I think God knew I could only take so much and decided in favor of preserving what was left of my mental ability to hold on. When I heard that I was officially out, it knocked the metaphysical air out of me. I asked him if that meant I couldn't run. He said, “not officially.” I replied, “Well, I'm running.” I gave him my chip and went into T2 to change.

    Being in one of the last swim waves, being fairly slow on the bike and having wasted an hour waiting for the tire put me so far behind, some people were done with the race when I entered T2! The official caught up with me after a few minutes and said there was another guy who got hurt and missed the bike cut off as well, but still wanted to run, so we could run together. Mikas (I think that was his name) and I set off together and he relayed his story to me. I think he got hit by somebody crashing on the bike and hurt his ankle. He was taped up and wanted to run, but after about 4 minutes, he knew he couldn't go on. He was really upset about the DNF, but knew he was done and told me to go on ahead. I felt bad leaving him behind, but knew I had to finish...
    What would you do differently?:

    read comments
    • 2h 59m 30s
    • 13.1 miles
    • 13m 42s  min/mile

    I saw my friend Janet and told her what happened to me and that I was running anyway. Everybody was on their second loop by the time I started, so left and right, I kept hearing, “You are doing so good!”....”You are almost there!”...”Finish strong!”....”You are almost done!” and all I could think was, “if only you knew..” That was rough to hear, and I just kept telling myself I could fall apart later, but now, I needed to run. The course was out and back, out and back, so I knew I would at least have people with me the first loop and would know where to run the second time around. Had it been out and back, I would have worried about not knowing where to go had the volunteers left already.

    I was coming back from my first run loop and was heading for the turnaround to start the second 6.6 miles when I realized that they converted the turnaround into the finish chute and the Ironman Finish Arch. I was actually in the chute heading for the Arch. I wanted to go through it so badly, but I couldn't. I stopped. All these thoughts were racing through my head... Should I just go through it? But I can't, I won't be finished, and then all of this heartache and struggle will be for nothing. I'm at the official Ironman Event, and I won't get to go through the finish line and have my name announced. Never cared about a finish line this much... but this was an Ironman event, my first one, and I wouldn't experience the real finish. I can't begin to imagine what people thought when they saw me enter the finish chute, stop, think for a few seconds, turn around and leave. Who does that? But honestly, I wasn't hearing anything at that point. I turned around and left the chute to go run. It was absolutely gut-wrenching. I saw my friend Janet and tried to hold it together. I asked her to go get my bike and my stuff out of transition, since I wouldn't make it back before they closed everything... and then I just broke down. I said, “Janet, this sucks so much!” and just cried. She hugged me and then told me to just go finish it, and I left. I ran and cried. Thank goodness for sunglasses. But I couldn't not finish this thing now.

    My contacts held up the whole race! I was fully expecting to have to take them out after the swim, or shortly into the bike leg. I had my glasses in the bike caddy all ready to go. Well, the contacts lasted the whole race! I did use Visine quite a bit, but whether it was Visine or tears that was a good lubricant is still to be determined... I will need to try a tear-free race to figure it out, I guess.

    I had about 4 miles left to go when one of the Ironman officials with a clipboard caught up with me. He was so sorry, but they had to open the course to traffic. I said I knew that and wasn't expecting any course support at this point, and it was fine. He was really nice and said he needed me to sign the release but he'd jog with me while he was filling it out. He gave me whatever water he had and I went on. He went to pull the last runner off course– this 70+ year old gentleman, who had 3 miles left and 10 min to the cut off. In another mile I saw two young guys in a car picking up cones and they were super nice, as well. I told them what happened and they were shocked I was still going in this heat. One of them was wearing a 70.3 Kansas shirt, so I knew they understood what I was going through. They both gave me their Powerade and water and off I went.

    When I finished, the crews were putting everything away.. The Finish Arch was down to a metal carcass. Janet said I should run through it anyway. So I did. It was a sight..them, dismantling things and rolling up mats. Me, running through what was left of the finish. One guy looked at me with total surprise on his face. “Did you just finish???” “Yeah.” He scrambled and came up with a finisher's hat (all dirty by then) and started looking for leftover medals. The medals had been all packed up by then, so he asked for my bib number and said he'd mail me the medal.

    As we were leaving, we saw a guy on a stretcher being loaded into the ambulance. A moment ago, I felt defeated and was having a one-way Why Me? conversation in my head , but when I saw that guy, I had enough grace to realize just how much worse my day could have ended. I think the only thing that saved me from passing out was extreme hydration. Since that mile 24 mark, I literally did not know if I would see another volunteer. When I saw people at the next aid station or intersection, there was no guarantee the next spot wouldn't be empty... so, knowing how hot it was and exactly what lack of water would do to my already cramping stomach, I swiped water off of Sheriffs, volunteers and anyone who would give it to me.. and I drank...and drank...and drank. I knew I was hydrated very well, I never once got the chills and always welcomed another little blue house in sight.

  • ..So, here you have it - my first 70.3 race. I didn't get an official time, and as far as Ironman is concerned, it's like I was never there. But I finished, and time or no time, I covered the distance. I am also going with the theory of lightning not striking in the same place twice, and hope I'm safe for the next few years from tire-shredding. I look forward to going back to Racine and getting even with the roads, getting an awesome time, an official finish, and a medal that didn't come in the mail.

  • Post race
    What limited your ability to perform faster:

    blown tire

    Event comments:

    Love this race! look forward to redeeming myself on this course :)

    P.S.: Thank you, Jeremy (jhag) for letting me borrow some of your race days pics!

    Profile Album

    Last updated: 2010-10-20 12:00 AM
    00:51:59 | 2112 yards | 02m 28s / 100yards
    Age Group: 0/
    Overall: 0/
    Performance: Average
    Start type: Wade Plus:
    Water temp: 0F / 0C Current:
    200M Perf. Good Remainder: Average
    Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
    Waves: Good Navigation: Good
    Rounding: Good
    Time: 07:00
    Performance: Below average
    Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
    Suit off:
    Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
    Jump on bike: No
    Getting up to speed: Below average
    05:07:46 | 56 miles | 10.92 mile/hr
    Age Group: 0/
    Overall: 0/
    Performance: Bad
    total time includes the hour I sat on the side of the road..
    Wind: Headwind with gusts
    Course: Bah! Rough roads, see comments..
    Road: Potholes Dry Cadence:
    Turns: Below average Cornering: Average
    Gear changes: Average Hills: Below average
    Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Too much
    Time: 06:30
    Overall: Average
    Riding w/ feet on shoes Bad
    Jumping off bike Bad
    Running with bike Average
    Racking bike Good
    Shoe and helmet removal Good
    02:59:30 | 13.1 miles | 13m 42s  min/mile
    Age Group: 0/
    Overall: 0/
    Performance: Below average
    Course: out and back X2
    Keeping cool Below average Drinking Just right
    Post race
    Weight change: %
    Mental exertion [1-5]
    Physical exertion [1-5]
    Good race?
    Course challenge Just right
    Organized? Yes
    Events on-time? Yes
    Lots of volunteers? Yes
    Plenty of drinks? Yes
    Post race activities:
    Race evaluation [1-5] 4