…Continued from Pre-Race and Swim.
The Bike: As soon as I got on my bike and made the first long descent down from the reservoir, I knew I was going to be in for a tough ride. I had hoped to use the bike to gain back some of the minutes I expected to lose to others on the swim, but it ended up being the most disappointing leg of the day for me. I had worked hard to make improvements on the bike, and had high expectations for what I knew I was capable of turning in for a bike time. When I did my simulation a few weeks back, I had finished 56 miles in 2:50 on a more difficult course than Boise. My goal was to finish the bike leg around 2:45/2:50 but unfortunately the combination of queasiness, leg cramps, and wind resulted in a less than optimal ride based on what I was aiming for.
A few of the blogs I had read about the course made note of the windy conditions that often occur in the afternoon. We were all prepared for the wind as the forecast had called for winds gradually increasing to 15mph later in the day. The headwind was strong and relentless. It never seemed to let up and only grew worse as the ride progressed. I pushed through the best I could and knew it was pointless to go all out. I wanted to finish with enough juice left for a good run, which is exactly what I did by resigning myself to a slower bike ride in favor of a strong finish.
On paper, the bike course looks like a lot of hills and climbs, but I did not find it to be challenging at all (with the exception of the unyielding wind). There were a few small climbs that were noticeable, but for the most part it was a fairly flat course. The scenery wasn’t the greatest, as most of the course strings along the dry countryside behind the airport, but you get to ride past other athletes due to the out and back nature of the course. By the time I got to mile 40 I was ready to be off the bike. I stayed positive and continued to pass other riders until I made my way into T2.
Lessons learned on the bike:
Definitely be respectful of other riders on the course. I came across a lot of instances of slower people riding on the left, when they should have been staying to the right, making it difficult for those approaching to pass. Also, there were a few times when athletes would be riding three across talking to one another like they were on a Saturday group ride, almost forgetting that they are in a race and people are actually racing around them. These little things became frustrating for me. Because I was in one of the last swim waves, I was doing a lot of passing on the bike which meant I was very attentive a majority of the time to what was going on in front of me.
I have my bike nutrition down! I drank every 15-20 minutes and had GUs and Bloks every 30 minutes. I would have done nothing different.
My bike times are only going to improve. Though I didn’t meet my goal time, I did manage a strong ride given the conditions and am optimistic about what I’ll be able to achieve as I get more experience under my belt.
Every cloud truly does have a silver lining. I exited the swim in 1012th place overall, 297th among women, and 55th in my age group. Following the bike, my overall position had improved to 616th overall, 137th among women, and 24th in my age group, and those positions continued to improve on the run. So despite my disappointment with my performance on the bike, I still fared better than others.
Bike Time: 3:01
T2 Time: 1:43
I felt like I was in and out of T2 in no time! I almost ran off with my alien helmet on, but remembered to remove it at the last minute when I realized my head felt extra heavy. I’m sure it would have been quite the scene to see an amateur newbie triathlete running around in an aero helmet!
The Run: I was ecstatic to start the run, even though the first mile took some time to adjusting to. My wheezing and lung inflammation were hindering me a bit and I started coughing up some pretty thick lung goop. At one point I told myself I shouldn’t have done the race with bronchitis, but those thoughts quickly disappeared, as I knew there was no quitting. I could never quit.
And then it clicked. I realized that I was running. The last of the three legs, my favorite of the three legs, and the leg that would guide me to the finish line. And so I ran, passing people left and right, looking forward to ice water and cold sponges at each aid station, thanking volunteers, and setting mini goals along the way. The clouds rolled in and created a nice shade for all the runners. It was perfect, and the run saw my position further improve from 616th to 419th overall, 137th to 94th among women, and 24th to 23rd in my age group.
I’m pretty sure I smiled for 80% of the run and was always amped up by the crowd noise when passing through areas where people were gathered to cheer. It kept me going. The run course in Boise is probably one of the best that I can imagine. It is flat and beautiful along the river, and well shaded by all the trees. If you are looking for a flat course, this is a winner.
At mile 12 I started to get choked up and excited. I picked up the pace down the finishing stretch, made a hard right into the last straightaway which was lined with people cheering all around me, and could see the large blue finish line arch in the distance. I took it all in. This is my first. I did it.
I sprinted ahead and threw my hands in the air celebrating one of the most memorable moments of my life. Tears filled my eyes as the medal was placed around my neck and timing chip removed from my ankle.
I saw my husband, coach (pictured below), family, and friends waiting for me with expressions of joy on their faces and I could not hold back the emotion.
Run Time: 1:49
Total Finish Time: 5:45:51
And then, as quickly as it had started, it was over. I got a bite to eat, even though food was the last thing I wanted to stomach, and sat on the grass for a few moments to rest and reflect. We headed back to the hotel so I could shower while Justin went back to T2 to pick up my bike and drop bags, and then headed out to dinner where we were surrounded by hundreds of other hungry triathletes.
And now, the much-deserved rest and celebration begins. I have yet to remove my Ironman 70.3 wristband and the numbers on my arms are faint but visible. I am wearing my race medal with pride, even though someone made a huge error and had the wrong dates engraved. I will be receiving a second medal in the mail with the correct date in the coming weeks. That’s gotta be worth an extra something, right?
Do I want to do another? Absolutely! But first, I need to take a few weeks off to let my body and lungs heal. What’s next? Pacific Crest. Lake Stevens. And maybe, just maybe, an Ironman.
A special thank you to my husband, Justin, for taking such wonderful pictures and capturing every moment!