A half ironman in 100 degree heat, limited shade on the run, rolling hills on the bike, and 86 degree bath water to start you off. . . just how I wanted to stage my comeback to the half distance for sure! Not really. I love this race b/c its never an easy day and it’s a great tester for just how far you can take your fitness, but I think this particular day was a little much for me. The day before the race Jeff and I took the bikes out for a little spin on the run course and you could literally feel the heat coming off the road. This is Macon, GA though, and you have to know going into this race that you are signing up for a tough day. The night before the race I didn’t get a ton of sleep, I swear Addison had a night terror b/c he woke up from a dead sleep screaming like he was near death. Thankfully Jeff’s understanding, Sarah didn’t need sleep (j/k!!!), and it didn’t last long, but it takes a toll traveling w/a little one and racing.
I was nervous race morning, I had high expectations and a little trepidation going into this race since it’d been two years since I’d gone this distance. Oh, and don’t forget the heat. I mean, I like the heat, but this was a little extreme for even me. Sarah was trying to keep me positive, and I knew I’d get the day done regardless of what happened, but I wanted to do well. I have a PR for the half distance (5:27) at this race. I line up to enter the swim, find a friendly face (thx Amy!!), and we’re both pretty anxious to get this started. First time I’ve done this race (out of 5) that wetsuits aren’t allowed, I’ve always gotten lucky w/a rain the night before. I tell myself to get it done and just take this swim strong and steady, but not hard. The swim doesn’t feel too bad, I’m focusing on my stroke and just making it buoy to buoy. I’m a little disappointed that I can’t seem to get a good draft, so I just try to find my own groove and make it work. The shoulder/arm is holding up well, but by the last turn buoy I can feel the legs tightening and wanting to cramp. The waters just too warm. When I finally reach the beach, I’m just relieved. I’m right at my slowest time (41:18) for the swim at this race, but I’ll take it b/c I’ve always worn a wetsuit and I haven’t been focusing on swimming as much.
I get in and out of transition, and am excited to start the bike. Forrest warned me to take this bike easier than normal since the heat was going to be so extreme so I just kept telling myself to push but not push too hard. I really thought I could be conservative and still be under 3 hours, but reminded myself that it wasn’t going to payoff to hammer this bike. Halfway through I’m still on pace to be under 3 hours, but this course doesn’t get any easier on the 2nd half and my time showed it. I rolled into transition @ 3:04, but feeling great. I really felt like I’d done exactly the right thing on the bike to have a good run.
Sarah, Addison, and Scottie are all out there spectating and cheering so that gave me an added boost of energy. I run out of transition knowing that this is going to be all HTFU. I’d forgotten to turn my garmin on in transition so the satellites won’t locate. Very frustrating, but I told myself it didn’t matter and just turned it off. Miles 1-5 literally didn’t feel so bad. They weren’t great, but i was making it from aid station to aid station w/o stopping in b/w and that was my goal. Aid stations were stops to gel, ice water, ice towels, and alternate water w/salt tabs and then coke. Around mile 5.5 it just got to me, the heat, it was just starting to seem that a mile was too far for an aid station to be. Let the walking begin. I limited myself for sure, but the air was so thick and the heat so hot that running consistently wasn’t working. I cheered other people on, tried to jog when I could, and poured lots of water over myself while drinking what I swear seemed like a 2 liter of coke in all. One girl passed me and she hit the nail on the head, it felt like I was doing an Ironman, not a half. I manage to get to mile 11 still in one piece, and all I want is to be done. I know this course and know that I can jog the last 2 miles. I make it to the last aide station, and I know I’m almost there. I walked through it doing the usual, and then told myself its on. About a half a mile left you have a hill then long stretch to the finish, I literally sprinted the last half mile. I couldn’t feel my legs so it didn’t really matter, and I really just wanted to be done. The time I finished in was only 1 minute faster than my first half ever (which was this race) 6 hours 8 minutes.
Absolutely not the time I’d hoped for, nowhere near it. Truth be told, I was happy though. This race wasn’t the toughest thing I’ve ever done, but it was a day of survival not of racing. I managed each obstacle as it came up as best I could. Some people had some great times out there. Some people didn’t. 25% of the womens field didn’t finish, the mens was more like 15%. I managed to still get 2nd in my age group 21st overall female and earn another guitar. Better yet, I had the best thing that’s ever happened to me at a race happen. A woman came up to me at awards and said I was such an inspiration. I didn’t know what she was talking about at first, but she said that it was just amazing that I had just done this race and here I am taking care of Addison feeding him and acting like I’ve done nothing all day. She told me I was proof, proof that you can be a mom and still succeed in this sport while not forgetting about your family. You can, you can, you can! Like anything else in life that’s great, it doesn’t come easy but you can do anything you put your mind to. It’s been a hard road over the last year, and this race didn’t have the outcome I wanted but I’m ready to embrace my next goal and work even harder at keeping balance but still achieve my goals.
Sarah and Scottie, big props to you girls for standing out in the heat for 8+ hours specatating and babysitting. You guys are awesome! Jeff, I KNOW you lied when you said you’d never do this race again! Are you ready for next year?!! Thanks tons to the support that each of my sponsors gives, I couldn’t do it w/o you guys. Heath, thanks for dealing w/not just my race schedule but also AddisonsJ, I know you miss him when we’re away.