Half Ironman – Take 2

Half Ironman – Take 2

by Jill A.

This year was a success at Racine 70.3 Ironman!  What an awesome and grueling day all at the same time.  Silly as it may sound, one of my main motives to complete this distance was to be able to proudly display a 70.3 sticker on my car.  A couple of years ago I met this girl that had one and I didn’t know what it stood for.  Once I found out, I knew I wanted one too!

My goal was in place last year as I trained for Steelhead.  I was dutiful with training for each component of the race and needless to say I was NERVOUS the morning of.  My wonderful sister was my support the morning of the race, last August.  When we arrived it was cold and windy and I thought to myself that the last thing I wanted to do was swim.  Then over the loudspeaker we heard that the swim was cancelled as a result of rip currents and very high winds.  Then I was thinking that after months of training, the only thing I wanted to be able to do was swim!  Of course, the day before at the expo I had purchased that 70.3 sticker for my car.  Now, there was no option for me to even complete the 70.3 without the swim.  Steelhead turned out to be an awesome race, and I felt great the whole time and had ideal conditions.  But as I finished the 69.1 miles I felt somewhat unfulfilled and unable to proudly display the 70.3 sticker on my car.  

I was determined to complete the full distance of the half Ironman and I thought that for Take 2 I would try a different venue with less likelihood of having the swim cancelled.  I chose Racine for that reason and also for the fact that I knew many fellow Experience Triathlon members would be doing the race.  I can’t think of a better way to do a long race than with a team!  This year was a little different with my training.  I was committed, but life seemed busier for some unknown reason.  My training did not feel nearly as strong as it had the year prior and as race day came closer I was feeling under prepared and unsure of myself.  I scheduled an emergency meeting with Coach Joe and he calmed my nerves and gave me the mental tools I needed to feel ready for Racine.  As race day approached I found out that Craig Alexander was going to be interviewed by Coach Joe at Spokes and also competing in Racine 70.3 Ironman.  I went and listened to him speak and found myself inspired by his grace and true love of the sport.  Now, I had wonderful motivation for race day.

Race day came, alarm went off at 4 AM, and of course I sprang out of bed ready to start the adventure!  I arrived and set up my transition area, then walked the long walk down to the swim start.  Surprisingly, at this point I wasn’t nervous, just excited.  Once I was in the swim start, standing next to Stephanie, an ET teammate, I started to feel very excited.  When they started us, that’s when the nerves set in and the reality of the race began.  I just reminded myself to settle in, don’t get excited and try to go fast.  The swim felt great and the best part was running out of the water, jumping through the baby pools to clean my feet and then sitting down so someone could rip my wetsuit off – that was awesome!  Off to the bike, feeling great!  At this point again, I was remembering Coach Joe’s words of wisdom: don’t go too fast, you will regret it in the run.  So, again I settled in to a nice comfy pace.  At mile 52, something hit me right at my hip flexor.  It had to have been a bee or some other insect that bites – oww!    The next four miles I wanted to cry and all I could think was that I had to be able to run, because I was not doing this again next year just to get the 70.3.  Once I was off the bike the sting/ bite felt better, thank goodness!  The run was brutal.  It was hot and my legs were starting to cramp.  What kept me going was looking for other ET members; getting a high five and a smile goes a long way.  The hardest part was passing the finish line for loop 2!  Those last 6 miles, I talked to myself the whole time, telling myself I could do it and thinking the faster I ran, the quicker I would be done.  This helped a lot.  As I crossed the finish line, I had an amazing sense of accomplishment.  Could not have completed this race without my family, friends and the wonderful ET teammates and coaches!

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