I finished my first Half Ironman and ordered my 70.3 bumper sticker..I really wasn’t sure I would make it.
When I woke up the morning of the race, the water looked a little like this:
Well, not exactly…the race was held at this park, however I took this picture in November. In this picture, there was a strong west wind. During the race, there was a strong north wind which meant that the waves would start pounding us at the end of the pier. Then if we could make it past the pier, we had to swim against the waves to the first buoy. If we could make it to the first buoy, we could let the waves rock us back to shore.
Due to a small craft warning, upon arrival I received the news that the swim would be shortened due to treacherous conditions. The swim went from 1.2 miles to 0.25 miles. I cried tears of joy and cancelled the mental list of loved ones whom I would give
all of my running medals my prized earthly possessions to. Nevertheless, even with the shortened swim, about 5% of competitors got pulled.
Here is my wave waiting in the calmer waters on the left of the pier. I tried not to watch the waves before us getting hit by huge wave surges after the pier. Lifeguards on jet skis were pulling people out of the water. I think the lady next to me was about ready to have a panic attack. She was muttering anxiously to herself. I felt like we were cattle waiting for the slaughter house truck.
The horn sounded. We swam together in a clump towards the end of the pier. People kicked and clawed their way through only to be hit by a huge wave surge at the end of the pier. There was a collective roller coaster ride scream as we were hit by a giant wave. I gulped down several mouthfuls of water and choked.
My husband’s words right before the race became my mantra…water is my friend…I love water..
I reached out to the lifeguard in the water that had a flotation device. She said calming words. I stayed until I stopped choking. The lady next to me had a full blown panic attack and had to be pulled out of the water.
I felt like I was in a wave pool except I couldn’t quite see where I was and I couldn’t touch the ground.
Thankfully I made it past the first race buoy and let the 4 foot waves push me back to shore. It was rather nauseating being raised to great heights then dropped.
I was so happy to make it through the swim alive.
I was still shaking as I was riding my bike 15 miles later. I could’ve drowned kept splashing through my mind. I was finally able to calm down a little but still felt shaken. I decided to make one stop halfway through the bike route to hydrate. I didn’t feel like I could keep my balance if I grabbed water while biking.
The bike route was very scenic and pleasant despite the rolling hills at the end. We went through small towns along the bay of Lake Michigan. I saw deer in fields and sailboats in marinas.
It wasn’t until the last 10 miles that things got to be grueling. The end of the route was uphill against the strong north winds. I tried to say comforting words as I saw a My Team Triumph team struggle up a big hill. I felt like quitting then.
Plus I never biked over 45 miles before. There’s that.
I passed the last water stop, regretfully not stopping. With a few miles left, I got a bad side cramp and my knee started to hurt. I felt a little lightheaded, but kept going.
How was I going to run 13.1 miles? Maybe I should stop, but I pressed on.
Near the end, I prematurely unclipped my bike shoes. I was told to keep going until I was ready to pass the race mat. I accidentally clipped my shoe back in when I was supposed to dismount and almost fell.
Thankfully, somehow, I managed to avoid drowning and a bike crash all in one day.
The first few miles of the run I focused on hydrating myself. Thankfully the cramps were gone, but I started feeling a little sick… I found myself having to run several times to the bathroom. That really motivated me to get running! I didn’t take any Gu because I felt like I was going to throw up. I spent the rest of the run doing a walk/run combo.
There was an area of the race where there were runners on both sides of the road running in opposite directions. The road wasn’t closed to traffic, so it was very busy. Most of the motorists honked, waved, or cheered out the windows to racers.
Every single volunteer was eager to please with a smile on their face. No one looked bored or like they were waiting for it to be over so they could go home. They asked if I was okay and if I needed something every single time. Did they recruit Walmart greeters??
This was the best run race I have ever been in.
As I was reaching the end, my friend Cori was waiting for me. She hugged and kissed me through her falling tears. Then she told me how proud of me she was and how much she loved me.
I didn’t know how emotional this race could be. I found my friends, my husband, and myself in tears unexpectedly. People who rarely cried were struck with emotion. I felt like it was one of the biggest accomplishments in my life. I overcame my obstacles. I struggled and prevailed.
I crossed the finish line!