Friday, July 26, 2013

Iron Girl 2013 Race Report!

I am an Iron Girl!  Okay, it's kind of corny, but Sunday was my very first triathlon and yes I'm going to brag about it for a while.  Let's go through a quick recap of how I got here...
Last fall I stress fractured my foot, and since I was on the running DL, Coleen somehow convinced me to start swimming.  This required a lot of perseverance on Coleen's part, because I hated all water related activities up to and including swimming.  And when I proved how bad I was at swimming by choking and being unable to get all the way across the pool and back, Coleen kept insisting that it would get easier.  Again, this required a great deal of patience on her part, because it took me about five months to build up the stamina that she promised would come.
After the Boston Marathon, I had to basically stop running because of a severe case of plantar fasciitis.  During this time Marie went and bought herself a fancy road bike and started riding with Coleen, so I jumped on the bandwagon and bought my own!  One thing leads to another and after a little peer pressure I signed up for a triathlon.  Over the last few weeks or so we've done a few brick sessions and open water swims to get ready for race day.  Ironically, running has become my weakest sport due to my plantar fasciitis, but my physical therapist Dave did a special super-awesome tape job!

I was undoubtedly the most bad-ass person on the course, from the calf down.

The race started at 7:00am, and the transition area closed at 6:30am, meaning we had to be up reeeeally early to get there!  The pre-race communication indicated that parking would be limited, so we were responsible race-goers and carpooled.

Once we got to the race site, we got body marked and then headed to the T1 transition area to rack our bikes and set up the transition.  This is something I hadn't practiced specifically but I got a lot of good tips from Scott (including several photos) and I had mentally rehearsed.  After fussing over things a few times and chatting with the girls next to me, I got it all ironed out.  Note: my bike was the only bike that swung freely from the rack, with the tire not reaching the ground.

T1 was a little overwhelming with so many hundreds of bikes, so I spent a lot of time analyzing the exact location of my bike, making sure I spotted landmarks to help me locate it from each direction.  Yes, I'm thorough like that.  Once I was satisfied with everything I headed to the porta-johns and then made my way over to the beach.

When I finally caught up with everyone (we got separated in the bike-racking process), Kristen was saying, "have you seen it yet? The swim? The beach? Have you seen it?"  I couldn't understand why she was so intense about what the water looked like.  Then she pointed out to the water, so I could see for myself.  I still couldn't understand.  She kept talking about how far the swim was, and how far away the buoys were that we have to swim around, but I couldn't even see what buoys she was talking about.  Finally my eyes focused waaaaaaaay out across the water, and realized what she was so anxious about!!  Seeing the buoys way out there, almost all the way across the lake, was very visually intimidating!

We went for a little warm up swim, in water that was almost too warm (77 degrees) due to the 7-day heat wave.  While we were doing our warm up, they started playing the national anthem.  Since we were already in the water we just got close to shore and stood in the water.  About halfway through the song, Marie tapped me on the shoulder.  She pointed down into the water, and alerted me to the school of fish that was surrounding me!  Right as she did, one of the fish bit my finger.  It was so funny and definitely helped to take the edge off!  In hindsight, I think my unusual ability to lure fish may be due to my shiny manicure --->

Iron Girl purple and sparkly!  (Apparently doubles as fish bait)
My wave started at 7:15, as a mass start in the water.  My strategy was to start in the very back of the wave to avoid too much traffic in the water, and I stuck to my strategy (even though there were nearly 100 people in my division, and in retrospect that may not have been a good idea).

Once we started, I realized that I probably didn't do myself any favors by starting in the back.  I was still stuck in a lot of traffic, and quickly had to acclimate to the feel of a lot of bodies fighting for the same piece of water.  After some congestion trying to make the turn around the first buoy, I was able to get into some free water and stayed in my own space for most of the rest of the swim.  I actually passed more people than I expected, which was a nice confidence boost!  Once I made the turn around the final buoy and headed towards the beach, I was initially excited to see the big Iron Girl banner welcoming us to shore.  But then, it seemed like no matter how long I swam, the shore never seemed to get any closer!  Just when I was starting to think that the banner was a mirage, I finally touched down onto sand and trotted out of the water.

Somewhere amongst the purple-heads

Swim: (half mile)
63/97 age group
439/632 overall

I trotted over to T1, and was surprised at how many people were walking.  Aren't we being timed?  I think we are... I dunked my feet in a kiddie pool on the way to T1 (thanks Iron Girl, that was a nice touch!) and found my bike with no issues.  A strip of my kinesio tape was falling off so I had to take a minute to carefully remove it, while keeping the rest in tact.  I put my shoes and socks on, and then realized that I had sand stuffed underneath another piece of tape.  I ripped my shoe and sock off, removed another piece of tape, and started over.  It was frustrating but figured I probably didn't lose too much time.  I finished putting on my helmet, gloves, sunglasses, and running belt, and ran with my bike to the mounting area.  It seemed so far away!

46/97 age group
290/632 overall

My bike segment started off great and I was definitely happy that I had ridden the course a couple times before race day so I knew what to expect.  I felt bad for the people that didn't know about that giant gut-busting series of hills.  I slowed down about a half mile or so before the first hill so that I could give my legs a break and take a good long drink.  As I was drinking from my bottle, going down a  bit of a hill, suddenly there were bikes strewn all over the road and there was a woman face down on the asphalt.  I had to jack on the brakes and do some evasive maneuvering to get around everyone.  I came to nearly a complete stop to get around everyone and see what was going on.  I felt that there were enough people around the injured cyclist and I couldn't really add any value, so I kept going.  It was enough to rattle me and took a while to get back into "the zone".  When I finally got to the hill I encountered a bottleneck of bikes swerving, stopping, crawling, and people walking their bikes.  I had a lot of maneuvering to do to get around everyone, which was then further complicated by the ambulance coming down the hill and squeezing all of us onto half the road.  I was pretty pumped that I made it up the hill so much better than everyone around me, so even though my lungs were falling out, I was pleased.  Once I crested the last hill I knew that the hard part was over and I could just enjoy the rest of the race.  I must say it was a real confidence boost passing so many people!  A few miles later I caught up with Coleen, who had started 5 minutes later than me and passed me in the swim.  I was excited to pass her, because it meant that I would see her again in the run when she passed me again, and that would be motivating for me.  12+ miles later and I came rolling in at high speed to the dismount area.  Scott gave me the following advice which I made sure to follow: "If they don't yell at you to slow down coming into the dismount line, then you aren't going fast enough!"  I made sure to get yelled at!

preparing to dismount!

Bike: (12.3 miles)
17.4 MPH
8/97 age group
48/632 overall

Once I dismounted, I quickly realized that my brick sessions were not nearly enough to prepare me for how totally gassed my legs would be.  I nearly fell over when I got off the bike and attempted to run to T2!  I shuffled back to T2, racked the bike, and headed out to the run.  Since I didn't have to switch shoes I expected this to be an extremely fast transition.  Of course, I expected to have working legs, too.

34/97 age group
241/632 overall

The run was more of a shuffle, since my legs were totally dead.  It seemed like a cruel joke that the run started off on grass with gravel and roots.  I could barely lift my legs!

You know it's a bad sign when you start thinking about taking a walk break, and then look at your watch and realize you've only gone .5 mile.  Seriously, it was like that.  I plodded along, and eventually Kristen, Coleen, and Marie all passed me.  It was great to see them, and I thought about running with Marie the rest of the way back but I was just too gassed and overheated.  At the water stop I grabbed two waters, drank one and poured the other over my head.  That really brought me back to life and I finished the run much stronger.  I felt great crossing the finish line!

Run: (3.1 miles)
38/97 age group

25/97 age group

All the girls were there at the finish line, and Mom got a picture of all of us "Iron Girls"!

Coleen, Marie, Me, and Lynn
Kristen and Luke (our honorary Iron Girl)
Other awesome sights that occurred while I was off doing things...

After we all had a chance to cool off, grab a snack, and get back into transition to grab our things, Kristen, Luke, Marie and I went off in search of lunch and drinks to celebrate our accomplishments.  Due to the early hour, it took three tries to find a restaurant that would serve us beers! But we are Iron Girls, and nothing if not up for a good challenge!

The payoff!
To summarize, it was an awesome day, with great friends, perfect weather, and put on by a great organizer.  Iron Girl & Athleta couldn't have done anything better to make this a more perfect day.  And yes, I'll do it again next year.  And yes, I'm already looking for another triathlon.  And yes, I'm a little bit hooked!


  1. Another great story jill...congrats on finishing in the top 25% of your age group. You and your Friends earned the iron girl status! Xo

  2. Hahahah I didn't even think that your nail polish totally looked like fish bait! Awesome time! Can't wait for our next adventure.