This Ironman Santa Rosa race report was delayed by my family vacation. We stayed after the race and had a good old time exploring California as a family. We took the vacation that my friend (and vacation planner) Antonio took last year after he did Ironman Vineman. Unplugging and being with my family is one of the things that makes Ironman training work in my house.
Now back to the race.
As my friend Rachel said: I did a thing in a place.
The cliff notes version. I finished in 14:30. Read on for more details. It’s long.
A little Ironman Santa Rosa race history
Ironman Santa Rosa used to be called Vineman. Two years ago World Triathlon bought the Vineman race and called it Ironman Vineman. This year they totally redid the course and renamed it Ironman Santa Rosa. Vineman has been on my radar screen from the start. In fact, back in 2012 I almost registered for that as my first full race but my husband found out it was hilly and we (my husband and I) decided not to do that as my first. This is hilarious because I then chose Ironman France which is much, much hillier.
Fast forward a few years I selected Ironman Santa Rosa as my 6th Ironman. When I signed up last year I think it was still called Ironman Vineman and for sure the course was the old course starting and stopping in Windsor. I have done one other inaugural Ironman race Ironman Chattanooga in 2014 and I swore I would never do another first time course. The new course begins at the Lake Sonoma boatramp and ends in Old Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa. So I accidentally selected another inaugural race which I swore I would never do. Sigh.
Random factoid Charles Schultz the cartoonist who drew Peanuts is from Santa Rosa. So that’s fun.
Note: the date for this race is changing to May in 2018. So some things about my race review may not be relevant.
How to get to Santa Rosa.
I live in Miami, Florida. Obviously, I needed to get myself and my gear to the race. I flew into San Francisco. You can also fly into Oakland and there is even a Santa Rosa airport. It’s not hard to get here. I used TriBike Transport to ship my bike and a gear bag. In the gear bag goes big heavy stuff like wetsuits and nutrition bottles and all the bike tools and things like CO2 cartridges.
At the airport, I met up with some of my friends from Mack Cycle and Fitness also doing the race. It was kind of funny that all the ladies were all wearing the official Lululemon Travel pants. I’m pretty sure that this is not how Lululemon advertises these pants but they should because travel is in fact what we all use them for. Ha!
Where to stay: My family rented a house on the Russian River in Healdsburg. We did this when the start was still in Windsor and we weren’t able to cancel when the course changed. We were 25 minutes from the swim and 25 minutes from the finish in the other direction. Our house was great –we were right on the Russian River and my kids loved playing in the river the whole weekend. But I spent a ton of time driving around to the various race spots.
If I was doing this again I would stay in Santa Rosa to reduce the amount of driving. I like to be near the finish line and the expo. I do very much prefer to stay in a house versus a hotel for races. I love having a full kitchen and because I travel with my family I love to have different rooms for us.
Day by Day
Before the race: We arrived on Wednesday which I like for a Saturday race. But you could definitely arrive on Thursday or if you are local maybe even early Friday because they did have some race check in on Friday.
The athlete village which is where check in and all the important stuff like TriBike Transport happens is in Old Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa. As long as it’s not raining this is a great set up. Parking was easy all weekend.
I picked up my bike and gear bag from Tri Bike Transport on Wednesday. I took our rental car and swung into town and grabbed my bike. I continue to have good luck with Tri Bike Transport moving my gear around. This year I also grabbed a free TBT trucker hat which seems like a good deal to me. Also, here is a tip. They usually do an end of the year coupon for about $40. As much as I love TBT I would love to pay less for it.
Thursday in Santa Rosa (Race Day -2):
My racing roommates Nicole and (the other) Rachel had arrived late Wednesday night. We headed in for check in and to pick up Rachel’s bike. Check in was simple. If you haven’t done it here’s how it goes. You need a photo ID and a valid USA Triathlon card. They check you in off a list and you go to the next table where you get your waivers. You sign all the wiaver stuff and give your local contact information. They really really want you to give a local address – so if you’re renting a house bring the address. Then you move to the next table and get your wrist band and swim cap for race day. Next you get your swag backpack which includes your five gear bags for race day, a race flag, and some samples of stuff like red bull and Hot Shot. Then you get your ankle chip and voila – you’re registered. The gear bag this year is a smaller backpack and I really like it. I also like the purple and green colors for this race.
On the way out my friend Rachel was interviewed as a first timer and spoiler alert she made it to the race video because she’s such a cutie. She’s the one in the orange sunglasses and then my other roommate Nicole is in there running up the boat ramp. I did not make the video. Sigh. Anyway back to the story.
In the merchandise tent I picked up my traditional Race Water bottle and a shirt with the names on the back in the merchandise tent. The Ironman Santa Rosa gear is very cute. I personally have found I don’t ever wear race kits so I’ve stopped buying them. But the design for this race was cute. Kudos to the design team.
We hung around the expo for a bit and then attended the 11:00 Athlete Briefing. A lot of the information from the Athlete Briefing is repeated from race to race and I’ll be honest I don’t always sit through the full thing. But since this was an inaugural race course I did sit through the whole thing. There were a few bits of important info that came in handy – specifically that after you turn for the finish it is still a solid ½ mile run.
Then my friends and I went for a very short bike ride. We found our way to a section of the course and rode for 30 minutes. This was super de duper important for me. For the first 10-15 minutes I was super agitated. The surface was so bumpy I was nervous to take my hands off the bars, no aero, no getting a water bottle, just shifting was a little scary for me. But by the end of the 30 minutes I was a little more confident and to be honest I spent the next 24 hours doing a lot of self-talk that I could do it.
Also, it was good for me to assess my hydration plan. After 30 minutes the inside of my mouth and nose were all dry from the dry air. I didn’t feel like I was sweating at all but the inside of my helmet was wet from sweat. So this confirmed my plan that I could not and should not rely on my own perception for hydration on the bike.
Friday started with a swim at Lake Sonoma.
There is no official race prep swim but hundreds of people came early Friday to swim. If you search you’ll find photos of people standing by the “no swimming” sign with hundreds of swimmers behind them. Lol. In one of the highlights of the weekend a blog reader recognized me and said hello as I was walking to the swim. Love that!
The water was plenty warm and it was comfortable in the water without a wetsuit. But the air was cool for this tropical triathlete. I did a short swim and hung out with my friends chatting. I reconnected with my Ironman Boulder friend Tracy who validated her Kona legacy spot with this race. Yup. She’s a rockstar!
Rachel and Nicole opted to chill there until bike check in but I headed back to the house to relax. You can check your bike in early in the day but I actually chose to put mine in later. I don’t like to leave my bike out in the heat all day so I went ahead and did the drive twice. There was also an option to have TBT take your bike from the expo to the reservoir so you didn’t have to make the drive.
I opted not to do this because I like to see where my bike is. The other big discovery that I made by taking this trip is that there was almost no parking for anybody. Also there was only one road to the reservoir so if you came for the swim you had to stay until after everyone exited and started the bike (until about 9:30). So my husband and I agreed he would not come to the swim start. He was thrilled to not have to wake up at 3:00 AM.
So, after the practice swim I headed home and relaxed with my mother-in-law. Later in the afternoon my husband drove me in to check my run gear bag and then out to the lake to check my bike bag and my bike. We decided that my husband and family would not come to the swim because there was really no parking and the road leaving the swim was closed until 9:30 so they would be trapped.
Then all that was left was to eat a light dinner and try to sleep for race day. I immediately got nervous that I had put my tri kit into the wrong bag but other than that I was fairly calm.
Ironman Santa Rosa Goals –
Before I chat about the details of race day I want to talk a little about my goals. I’m big on goals. Leading up to this race I had a lot of feelings of ambivalence. I am not going to lie – of course I had a time goal and for the majority of my training I was dreaming about a 12 hour finish which is still something I think that I can do if I put the work into it.
I knew that I had done the bulk of my training but I had avoided some (almost all) of the high-intensity speed work in everything except swimming. I suspected that I was ready for the distance but I was actually very fearful of having another very bad day. I had a bad day in Boulder because even though I was very ready I underestimated the environmental conditions. Not only did I not want a repeat of that I suspect that if I had another day like that my husband would not encourage me to do this again. I love this sport and I wanted to have a fun day.
Over and over during training I was asked what my goal was and I said I want to be able to run the marathon. That was always true. But I also knew during training that I wasn’t doing any of the necessary speed work that I need to run a solid marathon. About 2 months before the race I realized that I was self-sabotaging myself by not doing the high intensity workouts. I had to do some souls searching and admit to myself that I hadn’t actually prepared enough for that speed. While I probably could have been on pace for that finish at least through about half the bike I was not trained for it.
Once I realized that I spent some time reflecting on why I would do that and I was pretty sure I was setting myself up to have an excuse for my run if the day went south. I decided that I would not accept that from myself and while I wouldn’t have a PR in the marathon I committed to give it my all. I realized my personal goal was that I really really wanted to have fun. I have a friend who is slow but smiles and dances her way through every IM run. I channeled my inner Susan and changed my strategy to support my desire to race with a smile. To do this my strategy was very very conservative. Swim smooth, Ride at an all day pace and then smile through the run.
I wrote about this being my goal the night before the race. Sorry if it’s boring to read it again. But changing the goal was key to how my day went.
Saturday – Race Day
This race starts very early it’s a 6:10 start. So we were up and out of the house by 3:45. Ouch.
I eat or attempt to eat a double portion of oatmeal and a little bit of coffee in the morning. I made it through about half my oatmeal and gave up. I also was drinking pedialyte.
At Ironman Santa Rosa you check your special needs bags and catch a bus to the start. I actually didn’t even have any special needs bags this year but my fellow racers did. My friend and housemate Nicole could not use TriBike Transport so she needed to have a car at the finish. This meant that my husband got to sleep in and didn’t need to drive us to the start. He was thrilled. We drove in, found parking, dropped off their special needs bags. I checked my run gear bag and confirmed that I had not put my Coeur Sports tri kit in there. Some very nice volunteers opened a porta potty for Nicole and Rachel and then we got onto the bus and went to the race.
Unfortunately, there was a lot of traffic going up to the swim start. I think these were people who were coming to cheer but there is literally almost no parking so it created a huge traffic jam. As a result we didn’t have a whole lot of time to mess around in transition before the race. A little bit of advice for future racers – get on that first bus.
On the bus I ate my RX Bar – second breakfast and continued to drink my pedialyte drink.
Our first question off the bus was about wetsuits. It was wetsuit legal. Niiice.
Because the ride up to the lake had taken a little extra time I had to hustle to get ready for the race. I went to my bike and checked it out, no tires popped in the heat. That was really good. I thought about it for a second with all the reports of bad pavement and decided to leave my tires on low pressure rather than chase down a pump and add air. I put my bottles in their cages and that was really it. I changed into my wetsuit and went and finalized my gear bag. Then a quick stop at the porta potty when Mike Reilly said – if you’re still in transition you need to get to the start. So I headed over to the start and I was on the top of boat ramp when the start cannon went off.
Ironman Santa Rosa Swim 1:25:06
Holy crap. I was late to the start. I didn’t hear the anthem or any other pre-race normal things. I hustled down the ramp eating my GU super quick. I ran into my friend Nicole who was also scrambling and my friend Rane who still needed to get his wetsuit on. He was running super late.
I found my coral and settled in to work my way to the water. The music was great and we inched our way down to the water. The excitement was building. It was really great. I love the start of an Ironman. I was calmer at the start of this race than any other Ironman. It was nice.
And then it was time to swim. A quick note. I don’t know if you can get in and swim before this race starts. I certainly didn’t have a chance since I was up at the top when the race started.
Since I had no warm up my focus was on keeping my swim at warm up pace to start. I stayed wide of the buoys because it’s a two loop course and I knew that the speedies would be lapping me soon.
The lake water is very clear and the temperature was very nice. I wore my sleeveless wetsuit. Next year this race is earlier and the water will be much colder.
At some point in the swim I noticed that we’d kicked up a mist over the water. The water was warmer than the air. It was really pretty even while swimming. There was a golden hue over the water. Super cool.
As it is with these swims for some reason everybody freaks out at the turns. I’ll be swimming along with plenty of space and then you get to a turn and everybody needs to be in the same 3 square feet of water. What’s up with that? Anyway I’ve learned to just power through the turn. I took about six strokes without breaking my stride or breathing and then I am past the fray. The final turn buoy of each lap is a keep to the left and this seemed to confuse many swimmers. There were several people just bobbing around looking lost before this turn. Just after the turn I almost got a breaststroke kick to the face. Luckily I saw the swimmer set up for the kick and I grabbed his leg and pushed him away. This is the only time I have ever grabbed a swimmer during a swim. He probably didn’t love that but my friend Tiffany got her nose broken last week at Lake Placid and I was not interested in that happening to me. There is literally no place for breaststroke in a group swim. I hate to be a weanie but it’s just not safe for those around you.
This is a two loop swim. This was the most congested point of the swim to be honest. But it was fine. And then I was back in the water for lap two.
There is a rumor that this swim was a touch long. I have no idea. That seems like it’s always the case the swims are long and the bikes are short.
Lap 2 more of the same. The sun is rising during the swim and it was a little challenging to see the buoys on the way back but not bad at all. The buoys are very close together and all in all it was fantastic. I did get one elbow to the eye socket which stung but I didn’t end up with a black eye. Lake Placid is still the roughest highest contact swim I’ve done at an Ironman.
I was very comfortable during the whole swim. I felt like the pace was steady and I was really happy with that.
In other news I’m not buying my finisherpix. If you are curious why here’s who they sent me for the swim out. He looks great but um it’s not me.
Ironman Santa Rosa – Transition 1: 12:43
Transition starts with a .25 mile run or walk up the boat ramp. Ironman puts a carpet or covering all the way up. Many people left shoes on the side. I did not and I was fine. Actually I surprised myself because I felt strong enough to jog up most of the ramp. This made me really happy because it meant that I had swum plenty easy.
There were wet suit strippers. Woohoo. Wetsuit off. And then I grabbed my bag and headed into transition. I swam in just a sports bra and bikini bottom under my wetsuit and so I put on my Coeur Sports race kit. A dry top and dry tri shorts. Transition took forever but that’s just the way it goes. There were no helpers in transition. I never used the helpers anyway but this year as an equalizer they said – no helpers. I’m fine with that but I know lots of people loved the helpers. I’m also not sure if this was just a thing in Santa Rosa because they didn’t have enough volunteers or if it’s everywhere.
I bagged up my stuff and off I went. I got my bike and headed to the mount line. I ran next to my teammate Karyn who is an amputee and in a horrible moment I was so excited to see her that I almost knocked us both over. Thankfully I caught my balance and didn’t do that and hopefully she doesn’t hate me. That would have been ridiculously bad.
Anyway, the mount line is in a really dumb spot at the bottom of a 20 foot hill and I couldn’t get going so I just sort of hobbled up the hill. Two people near me tried to mount and then just tipped over. Just silly. I had one leg in but just hobbled up looking ridiculous. I was laughing at myself as I went. Either move the line back 15 feet so there’s time to get moving or move the line to the top of the hill.
Ironman Santa Rosa – the Bike: 7:04:35
The bike starts with a flat over the bridge that we just swam over, a quick gentle climb and then a rip roaring descent into the valley. Because this descent comes as basically the first start of the climb it’s a little scary. I am also a self-proclaimed chicken when it comes to descending. But I was a little braver than a few others. I passed a woman who was literally crying on the bike. I came up behind her and she was going slowly on the left. I asked her to move over and she did but she also apologized over and over and I could see she was super distressed. I took an extra second to encourage her. I told her – it’s fine, you’re fine go as slow as you need to but try to stay to the right and let the faster riders go by. I hope that helped. It’s no fun to be scared on the bike.
And then we were off into wine country – the first 60 miles of this ride are simply stunning. There is climbing but it was a lot of fun. I actually love the climbing. There was nothing super tough in terms of hills on this course, in my opinion.
My plan for this bike course was to take it easy and then back off. For a year I have been thinking about how I messed up my bike hydration in Boulder and I wanted to do whatever I could to not repeat that this year.
I didn’t use a bike computer just my watch which I don’t really see much while on the bike. I intentionally did not focus on speed just perceived effort. I watched my cadence carefully and at almost every water stop I stopped and drank extra water. That’s correct I came to a complete stop and assessed my hydration and effort. I gave up a lot of time with this but since my ride in Boulder had gone bad so quickly toward the end I wanted to be extra careful this time. I had 3 bottles 1 mixed to drink and 2 mixed for 2 hours each. If I was to redo this I would do 2 bottles mixed for an hour and then 1 5 hour bottle. That way I would cut my stops in half. But I don’t regret it. Honestly since it was so cool I had to stop at the first 3-4 stops to pee anyway.
I met lots of nice volunteers and fellow riders. All racers are given a red wrist band which we are supposed to give to a volunteer. Somehow I completely missed this. Oops.
I did see the course referees but they had no interest in me. I was riding side by side chatting with two other guys for a few miles we weren’t drafting or helping each other but we were carrying on a loose conversation for a few miles. The official went by us at least three times and didn’t say or do anything. But this wasn’t the norm. My friend Mike got a penalty for dropping part of a gel packet.
This course is a lollipop. You go 60 miles in one direction and then you do 2 loops near to Santa Rosa. The loops weren’t as pretty. But it’s all good. The big story is the road surface. I have heard forever that this race even when it was Vineman had crappy roads. I guess if you aren’t from California it’s hard to verbalize how bad they are. I thought our roads in the Florida Redlands were in bad shape but these were a lot worse. The biggest holes were marked by the race director but there were just so many of them it was ridiculous.
The one serious critique that I have for the RD is that there were also a few sections where the road was open to traffic that were not safe. I’m okay with being with traffic in a lot of situations. I ride on the roads in Miami Florida which has the dubious distinction of being one of the most cycling unfriendly spots in the country based on fatal accidents so I feel like if I say this felt unsafe this should count as something. There was one spot where it was on a road with a 50 mph speed limit and the road was clearly heavily trafficked. I had to come to a complete stop behind a car at one point so that’s no good. It was a two lane road and another cyclist next to me almost pulled in front of oncoming traffic which would have been disastrous. There was a minor accident here and the reason that the car was stopped was because the California Highway Patrol was there. So, I know that Ironman knows about this road being dangerous and I’m confident that in future years the route will improve.
As I mentioned the road surface was bad. They use something called “chip seal” to make the roads. We don’t use that in Miami but it’s bumpy even without potholes. And then the roads are patched and holey and just in bad shape. It was a hot mess.
The bigger holes were well marked with bright tape by the race directors – and they were up front about the surface being tough before the race. I put on new tires before the race which I think was a good call. As I mentioned, I also rode a lower pressure than normal and luckily I didn’t get a flat. I did launch a water bottle at one point which I went back to get. There were spots where dozens of bottles had been launched from bikes. I saw entire bottle cages shaken off and there was one street which was like an alley that was so bad that my xlab storage that is bolted to my top tube shook loose. Totally nuts.
Anyway it is what it is. Know before you go. I will say that everybody said that the road surface was bad. The race director was completely upfront about this. I just didn’t have a good frame of reference until I experienced it. So there’s the tip, new tires, low pressure, be ready for being bounced around.
I will say that in France there is one section of tough road and on that spot there is a mechanic stationed. I have no idea if the race puts him there or if he’s a local guy but this is an opportunity for a local bike store to make great goodwill by putting themselves out there in those nutty spots. This is the only race I ever wondered if those Gatorskins would have been a better choice. I also wondered if maybe a road bike would be more comfortable in the rough terrain.
By the end of the ride my entire neck and upper back were exhausted from holding on over the rough surface and I had a headache from my helmet rattling around on my head.
I almost skipped the last rest stop. But I remembered that I did that in Boulder and regretted it. I stopped drank some cold water. Refreshed my water bottle with cool water which makes such a difference and then I poured the remaining water over my shirt and head. It was good that I stopped – it was the right call. I gave up a huge amount of time with all the stopping and I’ll modify that for Florida but for this race I am happy that I was super conservative with the bike speed.
At the final rest stop a woman in pink that I had been leap frogging with for about 100 miles pulled up and said something like – hey lady in red let’s finish strong. I loved that. She and I hit the gas and I felt strong enough to finish those last 12 miles (or so … the course may have been a touch short) at a much faster pace. That felt great. I briefly wondered if it meant I should have gone faster but I shook that off and remembered that I was chasing joy in this race and I had found it.
But then it was over. Time to dismount! Wooohoooooo!
I saw my family as soon as I got off the bike. A year ago this is where my family knew I was in trouble but not today. My bike wasn’t fast but I did a good job of making sure I was hydrated and had my nutrition and I felt fine. Tired, sore but happy and good. Ready to run … okay, maybe not run but jog.
Ironman Santa Rosa – T: 8:13
This is pretty straight forward. I took a little extra time to help the lady next to me who chaffed badly during the swim and was really uncomfortable. If I had been stressed about time I wouldn’t have done this but my goal was to smile and share the joy which I did. So, good deed done – water bottle in hand – it was out to the run.
As I ran out I saw my buddy Mike from Miami for the first time of the day. That was a HUUUGE pick me up.
Ironman Santa Rosa – Run: 5:40:00
The run course is 3 loops on a trail around a creek. My plan was no nothing for one mile no water no gels – nothing. Just let my stomach settle. That was a good plan. I put water in my handheld at mile 1. Then I wanted to go to mile 3 before I added calories into the mix. I really cannot push through nausea so I wanted to go with a less is more plan for calories. At mile 2 I ran past the potties and thought hmmm … should I stop but I kept jogging and of course almost immediately I had to go.
Sigh. Isn’t that always the way?
So at mile three I stopped and waited for a potty. There were only 2 and there was some poor guy puking in one. I cannot imagine puking in a porta potty. Yuck. There were not enough porta potties on this course for either the bike or the run. I waited patiently and then afterwards I felt much better. I was super worried that this was a sign of a tough stomach on the run. So I chewed a tums tablet and a few minutes later a pepto bismol tablet. I think the pepto really helped.
My goal for the run was to run as much as possible and that is what I did. I also wanted to have fun on the run. I was honestly jogging for most of the run. At the end of the first loop I threw away my hand held bottle. Seriously I have an issue holding onto crap for the run. It’s a miracle I don’t finish nekkid.
The second and third loop I passed so many many people it was really a good feeling to still feel strong enough to run.
I didn’t ever lose my smile on this run. I talked to people and made jokes and supported people and plodded along. I walked through the aid stations. It really is hard not to walk them.
This run is very flat. It is shaded. But there’s not much crowd support. This is just because it’s on a trail with nowhere for the crowd to go. So you run on the trail and when you come up to a corner there are people cheering. My first loop was very warm. I put water on my head and my top and I held ice cubes in my hands which is an amazing little trick that I learned from somebody on my Coeur Sports family. It helped a lot.
Loops 2 and 3 were cooler because the sun was not as high. The volunteers were good but this is an inaugural race so the teams are not as experienced as they will be. For example the volunteers were filling cups all the way to the top with everything – water- Gatorade – coke. On my second loop there was an aid station almost tearing down. The volunteer said well we’re out of Gatorade. I said listen – there are hours of runners after me – you need to call your captain and restock you can’t dismantle. Then I ran on. I hope that they stayed open.
Somehow I had lost my final gel packet and so I needed to use what was on the course for the last lap and a half. I tried some Gatorade. It’s gross to me but it was okay. Everybody was out of coke which was a bummer. Finally I came to a station that had coke – glorious coke. That stuff is like magic at the end of a race. If you start too early it’s a stomach bomb but at the very end – magic.
And they were just setting up the chicken broth. I had one small cup but it wasn’t even all the way warmed up yet. Which for a back of the packer like me made me feel super speedy.
I think it must have been pitch black after the sun set. As it got closer to setting that was my driving force to finish. I just kept telling myself get off this trail before it gets dark.
*** this is a note in case anybody like a race director reads this. The lights don’t actually do much on the trail to illuminate the path and runners were having trouble with their footing even in the daylight. I talked to a friend who finished after me who said it was really scary and that people were sticking together in packs for a feeling of security. Instead of necklaces give them flashlights or explain that you MUST have a headlamp if you are possibly after 14 hours. This is a safety issue. ***
In my last two loops when I passed people who looked like they were in distress on the run – walking with slumped shoulders or an unhappy face I would ask how they were doing, I gave away a lot of tums and pepto on those laps. I sure hope it helped. I’m like an Ironman run Grandma with magic stuff in my pockets – hey what do you need … sure I’ve got that. Lol.
There was a live theater group that performed next to the trail. That was very cool. I seriously loved it. I think Santa Rosa is a cool town. I hope it falls in love with this race and it becomes a fabulous destination race.
I did not get a glow band. First race ever. They were pulling them out but the guy said what lap are you and I said last one and he waived me on. WOOHOO.
The most important piece of information shared at the athlete briefing was that the finish line was a good 1/2 mile after you peel off from the laps. Thank goodness I knew this. I let somebody pass me early on because she really turned up the speed. But that was okay because I had the whole finishers chute to myself.
So first you peel off from the laps and I felt a huge rush of happiness and relief that there were no more laps. At this point all I wanted to do was stop. But I kept going down to the right past the bike transition and past the run gear bags. I knew the finish was off to the left and I could hear the buzz. Then the chute turns to the left and I was seriously afraid that I was in the beginning of an out and back section. I did not know if I could hold my jog pace but it wasn’t an out and back it was just another left turn and there it was the red carpet. The crowd was fabulous and loud when I came through banging on the signs and everything. I didn’t actually see my family but I knew they were there – it was super loud.
I was emotional at this finish line. I’m not totally sure why. It was a great finish line though – they did a great job.
I was immediately given a medal and the volunteer said stay here I’ll get your shirt. I wasn’t listening and tried to wander off but they stopped me. Then I got my shirt and hat and somewhere I got a blanket to keep warm which was really a good thing because it was cool out. And then I was on my way. I immediately saw my family which was simply the best. Then I headed to the food while they went to deal with my bike and bags. It is really nice to have a helper at the end of the race.
At first I could only eat a few pieces of watermelon but I got to do the very very best thing. Sit down. And all around me were racers talking about the day. I stayed a while and slowly ate my watermelon and drank my water and then added French fries and Pizza which was great but I couldn’t eat it all. It was fun to talk to other racers. The big topic was the road surface. Everybody had a story. Just crazy. Now with a few weeks of reflection I will say it is not a reason to skip this race. Just do your best to mentally prepare.
My family came and found me and I headed out. I found my good friend Mike who finished after me. I had crossed with him a few times during the race but it was terrific to see him and congratulate him in person.
And there it is. Ironman #6 In the books! 14:30:35
My family gathered me up and I put on my sweats because I had begun to shiver and we waddled to the car. A more dedicated family would stay to cheer on those who we knew coming in later but my family will have nothing to do with that. Once I’m done – they have had enough.
So I had a big group of friends at this race which makes a huge difference to me. Most finished before me (by a lot). Roy, Rane, Nicole, Rachel, Shawn and Rachel were all in for hours before me. Then I finished and just behind me was Mike and Ben also from Miami.
We got back to the rental house and I took a shower where I had amazingly no bad chaffing. But my hair had worked itself into a knot of epic proportions. I attempted to drink a beer. Made it about half way and then – zonk into bed.
What I wore
You can see from the photos I raced in my Coeur Sports team kit. I’ve been lucky enough to be on their Ambassador Team for 2 years. I think they make the best triathlon clothes available. Because this race started cool I actually swam in a sports bra and swim bottom and then got dressed in the Coeur aero top and 5 inch shorts for the rest of the race. I have the 8 inch shorts to match this top on order because I am obsessed with the longer shorts for long races. Thank you Coeur Sports for being so generally awesome I am lucky to have your support.
Oh my goodness this is looong. If you made it this far thank you for reading – let me know what you think and if I forgot anything just ask in the comments.