I've experienced my first Ironman, I've done the Ironman World Championships and I've done the Boston Marathon.....Nothing compares to the Iron Girl experience and I will remember this race for the rest of my life.
Katrine and I left Jacksonville around 10am on Friday. We started the day with a good 3000 swim at 6am and then it was time to finish up the packing and hit the road. We hit traffic outside Atlanta and nearly pulled our hair out but we made it to our hotel all in one piece.
After unloading out stuff we headed to Ruby Tuesdays for dinner. I couldn't wait to see Wes (http://www.codegeekstail.com) and catch up from the past year. We met last year (with his awesome wife Dee Dee) when Kate Weaver and I were in Lake Lanier for IG Atlanta '08 but because of blogging, it was like we had just talked the other day.
The salad bar was delicious and it was off to bed around 9:30pm.
Katrine and I headed out around 7:15am for a little race warm-up. We weren't familiar with the area so we picked a road with a bike lane to do an out-and-back 10 mile warm-up, followed by a parking lot 15 min run. We welcomed ourselves to GA quickly by warming up on non-flat roads....definitely not flat Florida!
After we cleaned up it was time for breakfast. With no coffee maker or microwave in our room (even though the hotel website promised me both) we went to Einsteins bagels for a healthy egg white bagel sandwich. Yum!
Because we had a fridge in the room, we made PB&J sandwiches for lunch with baggies full of veggies, fruit and nuts. We had a cooler full of yummy snacks for the car ride and lots of yummy snacks for the weekend.
After breakfast we headed to the race venue at Lake Lanier Islands Resort. I couldn't wait to see Judy (IG President) and give her a BIG hug (haven't seen her since my wedding) as well as seeing all of the other IG's.
Katrine and I may as well been first timers because we totally enjoyed our IG experience. After picking up our packets we attended the course talks. For some reason, I never get tired of attending course talks and hearing questions from newbies. I actually look forward to the pre-race talks because it takes me back to my first few tri's.
After the course talk we got our awesome goodies at the expo and then we got our first-row seats for the Pro meet and great.
Wow! I got to meet the Pros and take pics with them!!
And not just any pros....Kate Major, Sam McGlone, Pip Taylor, Helen Libby, Michellie Jones and Mirinda Carfrae.
The pros answered questions from the audience and their responses were so inspiring. I just can't explain how down to earth they were and how nice they were to all of us. It wasn't like Judy was paying them to be there. They actually wanted to be there, they weren't pressed for time and they wanted to hang out with us. It was so memorable!
We were laughing, smiling and nodding our heads as they talk...it was crazy listening to them tell their stories of how they got started in tri's. They all started the same way the "average" triathlete started. Borrowed gear, hated to run, wanted to lose weight, saw kona ironman and wanted a challenge....the stories were so inspiring and I didn't want the moment to end.
Well, the moment ended and it was time to eat lunch. I had 30 minutes until my 1:30 nutrition talk so Katrine and I headed out to the hotel pool at the resort to relax and eat.
My talk went well. I was nervous but as usual, nerves calm down once I am introduced. The crowd was small but as Judy (my #1 mentor) always tells me, it only takes 1 person to make a difference. Absolutely!
After the talk I could finally relax and think about the race. We spent a bit of time in the expo and Katrine finally got her first pair of compression socks. I've been bugging her for the past few weeks that she HAS to get some so I was super excited that she had the opportunity to try a pair on...what a great bargain as well!
I usually don't spend money at races but I saw a blue environmental friendly/organic shirt with a bike on it so I just had to get it for Karel. At least it wasn't Pink..like everything else in the expo (I was in heaven!).
After our day at the race site it was time to check-in our bikes. We made the drive to the transition area, parked and rode our bikes up to the transition parking lot. Up the big hill, we racked our bikes, took a few pics and headed out.
We relaxed at the room for about an hour and then it was time for dinner. The day went by so fast and at 5:30 it was time to eat!
Where else would a vegetarian go for dinner than a steakhouse?? Lonestar or Outback are my fav places for pre-race meals when I travel to a race so I was super ready for my sweet potato, salad (w/ pecans), bread and peanuts. Yum!
We were both nervous for the race so it was hard to relax for the 2-3 hours that we were sitting in our room. Luckily, the 40-year old virgin was playing on HBO. Nothing like a good laugh before bedtime. Lights were out at 10pm and before I knew it, it was race day!
4:15am and the alarm went off. I was worried how I would do without my no-fail oatmeal breakfast and coffee but without a microwave or coffee maker, I settled for 1/2 bagel w/ PB and banana slices. At 5am we headed to McD's (the only place open) for much needed coffee and finally, Katrine and I could relax.
We made our 9 mile drive to the race site, parked, walked .62 miles to transition and got body marked.
I set up my transition area, made a few stops to the port-o-potties (gotta love all-women events...tons of potties, no guys waiting in line!!) and helped a few newbies set up their area.
Transition closed at 6:30 and the 20-29 wave was at 7:20. We were in the last wave (of 5) but we were anxious to see the pro's start.
We made our way down the steep hill that we have to climb out of the water and walked 10 min to the swim start. The swim start is beautiful, right near a water park with sand everywhere. The water was warm and calm. I swam a bit before the pro start at 6:58am.
After waiting 20 min. for my wave (5 min. intervals), it was time to gather at the starting line.
I got to the front and with 1 min. to go, my heart couldn't beat any faster. I wasn't nervous, just excited and anxious to give it everything. I wasn't looking forward to being in the last wave but it wasn't worth complaining about. We all reach the same finish line.
3...2...1...AFLAC!!!! We were off.
My swim was great. I have been working on my stroke so I was happy that I had a good swim. I had two other girls in my wave with me but once we caught up with the wave in front of us, I just spotted my way to the swim finish. As far as I knew, I was first out of the water for my wave and I ran up the steep hill to transition as if I was being chased.
I put on my bike gear and headed out on the bike course.
There is nothing easy about this bike course. Lots of rollers and 3-4 really big climbs. There were tons of athletes on the course so there was a lot of "on your left". Of course, for an all-women race, I heard a lot of "go get 'em" "Great job" from the athletes as I was passing them. I cheered for the athletes as well. It was a lot of fun out there but I was 100% focused on the course. Some of the descents were scary but I stayed calm and pushed hard. I was riding like I wanted to catch the first wave of 35-39 women so I pushed as hard as I could.
The worst part of the ride was a false flat around mile 12. It went on forever!!! It didn't matter what gear I was in or what chain ring, I just couldn't go faster than 16-17mph!!! I toughed it up and finally it was time to head back to the resort. There were a few climbs back to transition and without being passed on the bike by any women, I thought I could run fast for a top 10 finish.
I heard an amateur women finishing when I got into transition area and when I saw only a handful of bikes in the transition area, I thought I might be able to pull this off.
I sprinted out of transition area and ran steady. Once again, I tried for 7 min or less miles for the 3 mile run. The run course is hilly. You head out for 1.5 miles going up and up and up (with a few downhills) and then you head back 1.5 miles (mostly downhill) with a few ups and downs. Let's just say it is rolling the whole way.
I was holding a great pace but after the turn around I saw a girl chasing me down. I tried to keep my lead but I was passed. I looked at her calf and when it said 17, I knew she had to be a XC runner. Too fast for me so I cheered her on. I had .5 miles to go and I ran my way to the finish line.
Splits for the run:
Mile 1: 7:00
Mile 2: 7:11
Mile 3: 6:58
So close to 20 min...yet so far away. I still don't have those sprinting legs but I'm trying really really hard.
After waiting just a few quick minutes for Katrine to finish we headed out for an easy 2 mile run to loosen the legs. I was running really slow but I really enjoy an easy jog after a race to prevent the legs from tightening. I had nothing left in my legs so we used our jog as an opportunity to talk about our awesome race experience. It was a slow 2 miles but it was fun cheering for the other athletes.
1/3 mile Swim: 9:14
18 mile Bike (most of us had 19 miles on our computers): 53:38 (average 20.1)
3 mile run: 21:09 (7:03 pace)
1st age group 25-29 (1st on all 3 disciplines)
5th overall amateur
11th overall female (with pros)
3rd fastest amateur bike!!!! Still in shock by that one.
Here are the results if you want to check out the Pros:
I couldn't be more proud of my race. I had such a great time and after the race, we even hung out with Michellie and Mirinda. How cool is that???!!!
I never take an age group win for granted so I have to say I gave it my all out there. And a BIG congrats for Katrine taking 2nd in our age group!! WAHOO!!
I even met another blogger Chloe on the course but she got 2 flats :( You are still an IG Chloe!!!
Enjoy the pics!