On July 8th, 2018 I finished my first Ironman 70.3 Duathlon in Huntsville, Ontario.
I signed up at the last minute, around 3 weeks before the race started. I had been thinking of participating in this race for a while. During the winter months I got the pool schedule for the closest pool to us, which is an hour and thirty minutes away. But I couldn’t manage to motivate myself to drive three hours to swim– perhaps next year.
I hadn’t been training for such a race. I usually ride my mountain bike to Crossfit (1 hour each way) several days a week. I screwed up my left ankle running in April, so I didn’t start running again until June and I only ran a couple of miles a day, and a 10 miler once a week. Needless to say, I wasn’t in tip-top condition to embark on such a race. Additionally, I don’t even own a road bike!
Two weeks before the race I decided I should probably try a 50 mile bike ride. I went out on my mountain bike through the back trails up to the Fort Stewart hills (these are some steep hills on the road). At the 3 hour mark I felt the lactic acid build up in my legs. It took me 5 hours to ride 50 miles and my legs were like jelly!
Around a week before the race I rented a Specialized Alias Sport women’s tri bike from a shop in Peterborough. When I got home I realized I didn’t even know how to operate the gears! Greg helped me figure out how to shift the gears. After figuring out how to shift, I took the bike out on the road for a 44 mile ride in 94F/34C degree weather up the Fort Stewart hills. This bike was MUCH faster than my mountain bike and my legs didn’t feel like jelly. The hills were still challenging.
Five days before the race I headed out to Huntsville to ride the bike course. It was another hot day. I was feeling very nervous because I was expecting Fort Stewart type hills– but these hills weren’t that bad. It took me 3:48 to ride the bike course. Doing this ride drastically increased my confidence that I’d be able to finish the Duathlon in the 8:30 time limit. My estimated finish time was between 7:10 and 7:30. I thought I’d do the first run in 30 minutes, the bike in 3:45, and the run in 2:45.
Greg, my super hero, drove me out to Huntsville on Sat. July 7th. I checked in and dropped off my bike and was feeling very nervous. He drove home to take care of the dogs.
I didn’t sleep very well the night before the race and woke up every hour– so I finally got up at 4:00am. I made it to race headquarters by 5:45am, got body marked and dropped off my transition gear. I bike and run with a hydration pack– which is not common in these types of races.
The duathlon began at 7:20am and we were off for the first 5K (3 mile) run. I’m not a fast runner and like to gain momentum running down the hills, and I must have tweaked my ankle– the same one I hurt several months ago. I finished the run in 25:55.
I quickly put on my bike gear and was off for the 90K (56 mile) bike ride. Due to my practice ride, I had certain landmarks to look for to help me with the ride. My bike chain fell off once but was easy to put back on. I didn’t stop at the aid stations because I had my own water in a hydration pack, a bottle of gatoraid on the bike, and gummy bears easily accessible. Lots of people passed me. Lots of people were climbing the hills quite quickly.
On the way back, a 62 year old woman passed me and I was very impressed! I hope I’m in that kind of shape when I’m 62.
I finished the bike ride in 3:24:21 — which was faster than my practice ride, put on my running gear and was off. As soon as I stepped on my left ankle I knew it was going to be a slow run. My achilles tendon was hurting. I said to myself I can always walk if needed. It was a slow run indeed, but I managed to run and not walk. It was super hot during the run– over 80F/26.6C. I had my hydration pack with me, but drank less and less as the run went on. I ran through most of the aid stations and grabbed some ice to chew and put on my neck. I didn’t eat much– just a couple of pretzels. Another 58+ woman passed me and I was super impressed.
Toward the end of the run at around 18Kish I drank a watered down gatoraid from an aid station. When I got to Main street I saw Greg!!!!!!! I was so happy to see him. The last 1K was endless, but I finally made the 21K (31.1 miles) in 2:23:08.
Right after the run I found shade and sat down, which could be one of the reasons why my right foot cramped up. I couldn’t walk on it for around 45 minutes! Greg found me and had brought me a smoothie– which was so delicious. My left foot is still painful and I probably won’t be able to do the 20 mile run I’m supposed to do this weekend.
I’m super happy with my time, considering I finished an hour earlier than estimated. Out of 22 women who ran the Duathlon, I came in 6th and I finished 1st in my age class.