Maybe it was fate. Maybe it was confidence. Maybe it was relaxing on a beach the night before, clearing my mind with a glass of wine and the laughter of my family. Whatever it was, it helped me achieve something I never thought possible: a 28 minute half Ironman PR in just my second race at the 70.3 distance, and only two months removed from my first race in Boise. I am still a little speechless and am feeling so incredibly proud of my accomplishment in Lake Stevens. This race will forever hold a special place in my heart. It was just what I needed.
I slept pretty well the night before the race, all things considered, and awoke minutes before the alarm was to go off at 4:15am. I was immediately alert and on a mission for coffee. It only took about 30 minutes for Justin and I to get dressed, pack up, and take off for the 30-minute drive to Lake Stevens. The sky was dark and the moon was shining bright, indicating that this was going to be a good, rain-free day. Score!
When we arrived at Lake Stevens, we quickly evaluated the parking situation, which was pretty limited. Most of the lots and parking areas were permit only (you could buy a permit for $20, which we did for Justin’s mom and sister but were too cheap to do for ourselves), but we were able to find a great spot along the road, less than 1/4 mile from the start. We walked all of my gear to the transition area where I was greeted by a sea of athletes hustling about. It was pretty chaotic to tell you the truth, and there were A LOT of bikes and gear crammed into a small area. And since T-1 and T-2 were in the same area (Boise was a point-to-point race so T-1 and T-2 were separated by 10+ miles), it was even more crowded. Both of the women next to me in the transition were laughing about how little space we were given, as our bikes were practically kissing and our gear strategically placed in the small areas beneath them. It is what it is in transition, and it’s the same for every racer so all 1,200 of us had to endure the same close quarters.
After my gear was set up and ready to go, Justin and I bolted to the bathroom line so I could go one last time before my 6:47am swim wave start. I was cutting it close and waiting until after I used the porta potty to put on my wetsuit. After I was finished and ready to suit up, we realized that my wave was already down near the water. Justin quickly zipped me up, handed me my cap and goggles, and with a good luck kiss, I was running down to the water to catch my wave. No standing around for me… it was go time!
I eased my way into the water from the dock for the floating start. The water was warm and there was a faint fog hovering above. I exchanged a few words of encouragement with the girls around me, and then the horn blew and it was time to see if all my hard work in the pool and open water would pay off. The first minute or so was pretty chaotic as there were arms, legs, fingers, and toes all around me. And then, all of a sudden, IT appeared. A beautiful white line five or six feet below me. Is this Heaven? Have I drowned?
I had completely forgotten about the submerged white rope that connects the swim course buoys at Lake Stevens, which would guide me effortlessly through the swim course. Once I found it I settled into a groove and didn’t have to sight as often as I would otherwise. At one point I even collided with one of the buoys because I was in the zone and focusing my attention on the white line. This is honestly the perfect swim for someone who a) has a hard time swimming, b) does not sight well, and c) likes to fixate on the black line on the bottom of the pool. I fit into all three of these categories, so it was pretty much an epic swim for me.
I never once struggled, and remained calm throughout the entire out and back, which is essentially what the swim course is. As soon as I reached the “swim out” I looked down at my Garmin and saw a big fat 42 staring at me. I literally did a happy dance all the way through the transition area to my bike. A 7+ (yes, SEVEN) minute improvement from Boise. This was going to be a good race.
Unfortunately, there are no wetsuit strippers at Lake Stevens (apparently, it’s not “that” kind of town) so I had to stomp my way out before putting on my socks, shoes, and helmet. I was smiling and still in disbelief about my swim time. All I could think about was “Beast Mode” on the bike…
I loved the swim course, for obvious reasons. Great water temperature, out and back course with minimal turns, sighting rope, wave start, clean water, the list goes on and on.
Swim Time: 42:22
T1 Time: 2:29
The bike and run are up next… click here. Check out the chaos at the “Bike Out”!