After sharing my pre-race experiences and lessons learned on the run, today I am sharing my full race report and I’m super excited! It’s been 4 days since the race and I am already ready to relive it, so here we go!
Our alarms went off at 3:30am. I rolled out of bed and into my kit, snapped this selfie and headed down for breakfast. Knowing it was a long way to my 8:14am race start I packed a second snack and at 4:15am we were out the door.
We dropped off our T2 bags and ran into a fellow DC Tri Clubber and chatted for a few minutes. The shuttle ride was quiet, although we briefly chatted with the guy behind us, who is also Louisville-bound (I swear we’ve become hypersensitive to the word Louisville).
His mom was so cute! About 15 minutes into the ride she started saying “I can’t believe you are going to be biking all of this!” And didn’t stop repeating it until we got there saying “I really can’t believe it, I just can’t.” Yep, I couldn’t believe it either!
As we arrived at T1 the sun was rising over Jordan Lake and it was quite breathtaking. We stopped at body marking, a volunteer pumped air into my tires, I filled my water bottles, set-up my nutrition and put out my cycling gear. Before we knew it, it was 7am and we were listening to the national anthem.
After watching the pros start, we headed down to the water and right before Pablo jumped in we ran into Lauren and, best surprise ever, our friend (who introduced us) Gilda. I can’t believe she woke up at the crack of dawn to come see us race! It was so amazing to have her there!
Pablo went off to start. He looked so strong and I felt an immense amount of pride to call that man my husband!
Lauren and I jumped in for our warm-up and before we knew it they were setting up wave 20 (our wave!) I ran into another DC Tri Clubber as we were entering the water and the nerves finally hit. I was about to become a half ironman!
I dipped my head under water to remember the limited visibility and excitedly awaited the horn. I am seriously impressed by how low I kept my heart rate and how quickly I settled into a consistent swim. It was definitely a contact sport the first ~200 meters, but I quickly moved to the inside and just focused on my strokes. I realized I was in my pool routine breathing every 3rd stroke, so I switched to 2 and fell into a rhythm.
I looked at my watch once at the 2nd turnaround hoping it would say 30 minutes. It read 30:15 and I knew I was going to make my 45-minute goal.
I was out of the water and over the mat in 44:10. YES!
Gilda was there cheering me on and the adrenaline hit me, so I slowed down and jogged over to my bike taking a second to recompose. My T1 definitely has room for improvement with a 5:42 time.
I started the ride with one last cheer from Gilda. The start was a long but minimal climb and I went out slow and steady. I was passed by a few people and passed a few, but it didn’t bother me, because this was MY race.
At mile 5, we were over the lake and I took a moment to just take in: I was doing a half ironman!
Instead of looking at the miles in a negative way, I looked at it on the bright side continuously telling myself “only X miles left!” By mile 25 mile I knew I was going to make the bike cutoff with time to spare. My right foot was cramping and I recognized I hadn’t been drinking enough, so I stopped and refilled my aero bottle.
The volunteers at the aid stations were super friendly and helpful, the police officers were amazing (I think I thanked every single one of them), the crowd was out at all the right spots and I just kept thinking “I am so lucky to be here today!”
I knew our friends Nikie and Jesse would be out on the course, so I kept looking for them and found them around mile 38. I saw them for only a second, but their signs were just the boost I needed!
I stopped one more time to refill my bottle, not feeling comfortable enough to refill on the move and knowing I was hitting my goal of staying above 15mph, so I had time.
Those last 18 miles had some good rollers and I was super happy I had driven the course and visualized the hills (Thanks again Happify!)
I arrived at T2 feeling amazing, but also overwhelmed with the task at hand: 13.1 miles! I exchanged a few words with the girl across from me, who was also overwhelmed and then I wished her a great race and ran off to the sunblock volunteers. Four and a half slow minutes later (def improving there next time), I headed out on the run!
The run was tough, but also had some great highlights!
I saw Pablo when he was on his last mile or so. He looked sooo good as he ran the fastest split at 6:45 min/mile (yep, that’s my man, flying through the air!)
I also saw the DC Tri Clubber, we had met in T2, a couple of times and the second time he ran out of his way to high five me and give me some encouraging words. I don’t know his name, but THANK YOU! That high five and those kind words was just what I needed!
I knew Lauren was out there too, so I kept scanning the crowd of runners and was super excited when we passed each other. She was looking great!
The very best highlight came at the start of my second lap. The IM Raleigh people torture you a little by letting you see the finish right before you start your second lap. Lucky for me, Pablo and 6 of our friends (how lucky am I!) were standing there calling my name and yelling my mantra “You got this!” If I had had the tears to cry, I would have (I sure felt the emotions, but the tears just wouldn’t flow, not like they are flowing now as I write this!)
I felt slow throughout the run, because I definitely did more walking than my 4:1 plan, walking almost all hills and aid stations, but kept telling myself that slow didn’t matter, I was DOING IT!
I knew when I started the run I probably wouldn’t make 7hrs, so I settled with 7:15. I really had no idea how close I actually was to 7 hours until I saw the finish clock!! [Official finish: 7:04:15].
I tried to create some space between myself and the 2 guys ahead of me, but it felt like they were slowing down and I was so excited to finish, I couldn’t slow myself down enough!
There’s no good picture of me crossing the finish line, but Gilda’s pictures are pretty awesome and capture all the emotions I felt at the finish!
That’s it! I am a half iron(wo)man! I conquered 70.3 miles and it was amazing and I totally want to do it again!
Thank you Gilda for supporting us all day and getting these amazing pictures! Thank you Raleigh and surrounding towns for hosting this amazing event. Thank you law enforcement, you guys rocked. Super super thank you to all the amazing volunteers. You cheered us on, ran to get us whatever food/drink we needed and really made the event amazing. THANK YOU!!