My First Half Ironman!
I am sitting here typing this and still CANNOT believe yesterday happened. Crossing the finish line of the Racine 70.3 Ironman race was everything that I had envisioned and more.
It was without a doubt one of the best moments of my life. I know I’ve said in my Fitness Friday posts my reason for racing is that unreal surge of positive energy I get crossing finish lines, but I had forgotten how strong it can be. Thinking about that moment yesterday is bringing tears to my eyes. I was totally ugly crying…sobbing to the point that I couldn’t catch my breath, as I approached the finish line, heard the announcer say “and here comes Teresa Eigel from Ohio,” and spotted my amazing group of friends and my dad waving their signs wildly.
Overall the race was amazing. My goal was to finish, and although I wasn’t very speedy, I did it! Ironically the part I was most nervous about went the best, and the part I was most confident about was my worst.
Before the race I tested out the water and was incredibly nervous about the frigid Lake Michigan temperature. It took my breath away when I dove in to swim around. My 1.2 mile swim ended up being 45 minutes. My goal was 50 minutes, which was a stretch for me. Every time I got into my groove, another wave’s fast swimmers would come flying past me, kicking me or cutting me off. I turned the 2nd corner and for some reason thought the T2 on the buoy meant Time2 and I was done…but then I realized I had 2 more buoys until the finish…I couldn’t feel my feet the entire time because it was so cold. There were 2 times during the swim where I thought to myself “What am I doing here?!??” and wanted to give up and swim to shore, but I quickly pushed those thoughts aside and I made it!
My 56 mile bike went as planned. Luckily no accidents or flat tires. I wanted to stay above 16 mph and my average was 16.6 mph. I could feel my legs getting fatigued the further I got into the bike ride. The course was mostly small rolling hills, but not large enough to ever get a chance to take a break from pedaling. I did pretty well with nutrition. I had 2 large water bottles, one with coconut water and another with 2 Nuun tablets for sodium. To eat, I tried to keep it consistent, having a least one full snack for each hour I was on the bike. I had 1 Lara bar, 1 Stinger chocolate pb protein bar, and a packet of stinger chews. I ended up grabbing a water bottle at the last aid station, very close to the end of the bike ride, because I was SO thirsty and was out of the beverages I brought with me. I shoved another half lara bar into my mouth during transition between the bike and run.
My 13.1 mile run was the weakest part of the race. My time was as bad as my first half marathon ever, >10 minute mile average pace. Endurance sports are such a mental game and for whatever reason, my mind wasn’t in it during my run. I absolutely could have pushed myself to run the entirety of the 13.1 miles, but I ended up run/walking. I recognized that my legs weren’t as tired as they were during the last few miles of my marathon last year, but I just couldn’t get myself to keep running. I stopped at every aid station for additional hydration and ice. Ultimately I finished the race running and could not have been happier about my accomplishment.
Race day weather ended up being perfect. The water was calm, no rain, and sun. Because of the different race waves, it was difficult for me to adjust getting passed so much the entire duration of the race by all the fast people in the waves that started after mine, but I adjusted and pulled through.
I can’t stop thinking about the amazing support system I am surrounded by. My massive group of cheer leaders at the race consisted of 2 friends from Indianapolis, a large group from Chicago, my running partner Jen from home, and my dad. I have received an overwhelming amount of congratulations and love from everyone in my life. I am on cloud nine. I laid in bed last night at around 1AM, when I finally got home and got into bed, with a huge smile across my face and tears of joy trickling down my face. Complete contentment. Now time to start training for my next marathon in October…:)
To anyone considering a race or some type of goal that seems unattainable, I encourage you to go after it! There will always be naysayers, but if you stick with what you believe in, it will pay off. I was SO scared, nervous, and anxious leading up to this race, but my hard work over the past 6 months was so worth it. During the race I saw a man carrying his paraplegic son, on a raft with a string connected to his ankle during the swim and pushing a wheelchair during the run, and another pair of which one of the men was blind and the other man was his guide. In both instances, they were cheering me on. I thought to myself, if they can do this, I can…and you can too. 🙂
What is your next goal?