No really, what is next?

Leunert / Pixabay

I feel like this year, all of my energy has been focused towards late September.  For work, I had a huge project milestone in the middle of the month and a week and a half later, I had Augusta 70.3.

I’m delighted to say that both went better than expected.

But because all of my energy was focused towards these dates, that means that I haven’t done a lot of thinking about what comes next.

When it comes to work, well, that’s pretty easy.  There’s always plenty to do.

But when it comes to training, that’s a bit tougher.  I do have a few upcoming races on my schedule:

Army Ten Miler on October 9 (yes, next weekend)
Space Coast Half Marathon on November 27
And then in 2017, the Donna Half in February

So it’s not like I’ll be spending much time on the couch now that my 70.3 is done.  But it’s time to start thinking about triathlon season for 2017.  I actually do have one race already on my schedule – Rev3 Williamsburg in July.  I’m just not sure what else I want to do.

Escape the Cape has always been a bucket list race.  You jump off a ferry to start.  It sounds INSANE and terrifying, and also amazing.  I like doing things that make people think I’m a bit nuts, I think.

I’m definitely considering another 70.3.  I didn’t hate this one.  There were times that the training was grinding, but what isn’t?  And I’d like to see what a year of training can do.  I really liked Augusta, but I also like the idea of trying a different race.  I really like Rev3 races, so I’m thinking about Rev3 Cedar Point.  Still driving distance (and a bit closer than Augusta) and it’s in September, so the timing’s about the same.

I would like to do the Farm to Fork Fondo in PA again in 2017.  It was so hard but that made it feel like such an accomplishment.

Looking at my race, it’s clear that I have the most room for improvement on my bike.  Clearly, my run could have been better, but given the heat, I’m satisfied.  I just need to keep up with the run training.  But on the bike, I would love to speed up, even by 1 mph.  So I think that will be the goal again this winter.  I feel like I’ve improved by leaps and bounds over the past year, so I’ll be pushing that again this year.  Plus I weirdly like trainer workouts that make my legs feel like they’re going to fall off.

 

 

Race Report: IRONMAN Augusta 70.3

I did it!  I finished IRONMAN Augusta 70.3!

Happy finisher!  All photos courtesy of my dad.

Happy finisher! All photos courtesy of my dad.

This report is going to be long, so settle in.

I was really well trained for this race.  Really well trained.  But I just didn’t know what was going to happen on the race.  I wasn’t worried about any of the individual legs, just how my body would handle that much working out all on one day.

First off, the people of Augusta are awesome.  Everyone was so friendly.  The local tri club was even inviting people to a practice swim on Friday night.  It was only semi-organized, but it was nice to know that around 5pm, there would be a bunch of people in the water.

Liz and I drove in on Thursday so that Friday, we could sleep in and hit the expo.  At the expo, I managed to hold back from buying too much.  After all, if I didn’t finish, would I want a bunch of Augusta 70.3 merchandise?  So I got a t-shirt, a pint glass, and a water bottle.  We sat through the athlete briefing and felt pretty darn prepared for the race.  I definitely recommend going to the athlete briefings.  Even though I knew most of the info already, it felt great to have that reassurance.

We went to the practice swim at the river.  Wetsuit on, I jumped in and swam the whole course.  It wasn’t easy, with a giant cheeseburger still in my stomach, but the current felt fabulous.  When I finally hauled myself out of the water (with the grace of a walrus), my watch read 29 minutes and change.  1.2 miles in 29 minutes.  AMAZING.  So I knew that come race day, I could easily do it in under 35 minutes (giving myself some extra padding for crowds, etc).

Saturday, we drove the bike course.  Definitely a good idea.  It was great to get an idea of what we had ahead of us.  And it wasn’t bad at all.  I was expecting worse hills. So I was feeling pretty darn confident.

Race morning dawned bright and early.  We opted to park at the garage near the convention center and take the shuttle (school bus) to transition.  While on the bus, we started hearing rumblings that the race was no longer wetsuit legal.  People were panicking.  I didn’t really care either way, but waited to hear the word from the officials.  As I started to setup, there it was.  The water temp was 77, so there would be a wetsuit wave.

I figured this would slow me down, but I wasn’t too worried.  I was certainly not waiting for a wetsuit wave.  My wave started at 8:20. The wetsuit wave was an hour later.  My biggest concern was the heat on the run, so I wanted to get off that course as early as possible.  There were definitely a few people around panicking though.  A lot of people choose Augusta because the swim is easy with the current.  This was the first time in 8 years of the race that the water was this warm.

We found Anne and then headed back towards the start line and stood on the hill to watch the race start.  Those pro women are fast!  Finally, it was time for Anne and I to head down to the swim start.  When it was our wave’s turn to get into the water, I jumped in and treaded water.  It would have been nice to hold onto the dock, but it was just too crowded.  The current wasn’t as strong as I thought it might be, so I wondered how slow this swim was going to be.

Finally, the horn blew.  And my hours and hours of exercise began.  The swim was really nice.  A bit crowded, but I started to pick off men from the wave before.  What surprised me was the amount of plant material.  There hadn’t been quite this much the evening before.  At one point, I ran into a stick that was at least three feet long.  I popped up to tread and move the stick out of the way.  Swim swim swim and there was the ramp to exit.  I got out of the water and glanced down at my watch.  So much faster than I anticipated.

Swim: 33:13

So happy to be out of the water

So happy to be out of the water

The run from the swim exit to transition was SO LONG.  When I got to T1, I made sure my feet were somewhat cleaned off before I got my socks on.  No need to have a rock in my sock for the next 56 miles.  I also took the time to put on my cooling wings, which I kept on the entire race.

T1: 6:17

Onto the bike.  I had decided that for the first ten miles, I was just going to ride comfortably.  Push, but not too hard.  I’m not used to flats, so I wasn’t sure how this was going to go.  Ultimately, I was riding way faster than I anticipated.  My first 5 miles were 15.5mph and the second 5 were 16.4mph.  Yes, that was a good clip.  But it was also a bit of good padding for the upcoming hills.  I ended up stopping at the first water stop to refill my water bottles and then at the second stop to grab some more water and use the bathroom.  It was hot out there and I was working hard to stay hydrated.

Even with the detour on the route, the hills weren’t bad.  Certainly no worse than the hills I had trained on.  In fact, I think they were a bit easier.  So I felt like I was flying through the course.  Of course, I have a lot of room for improvement on the bike, but I was really pleased with how I was doing.

Bike: 3:48:01

T2 wasn’t anything exciting.  Put my bike away, watched some poor girl completely unable to find her rack.  She just couldn’t figure out how to match up her number with the numbers on the rack.  That’s what stress does to you.

T2: 5:16

By this point, I knew I was going to finish under 8:30.  And I was delighted about that fact.  I also knew I would see my friends and family on the run, and that was awesome too.  This course is awesome for spectators.  There are so many options for them to see you.

This was somewhere on the first loop, I think.

This was somewhere on the first loop, I think.

The run was definitely hot.  The first mile or so was brutal.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through, but once I got some ice and cold water, I felt a million times better.  There were water stops a little more than a mile apart, and they were incredible.  Water, Gatorade, Coke, Red Bull, Clif Bars, Clif Shots, pretzels, chips, bananas, and oranges.  Most stops had ice, though some ran low, which made for some disappointed runners.

ironman-20160925-0061-2

By this point, I knew that if I kept my wits about me, I could get a sub-8 finish time, which would mean meeting every single goal I set for the race.  So I pushed the run, but not too hard.  I wanted to run around 14 minute miles.  But the heat made that easier said than done.  I stayed close to it until around mile 10 when the sun really started to beat down.  I realized that my run pace was slowing significantly, so I opted to power walk, which wasn’t terribly slower and felt a million times better.

Check out these awesome cheerleaders!

Check out these awesome cheerleaders!

I also had an amazing fan club.  My parents and my sister flew in to watch me race, and Nikki and Jenny came in to cheer as well.  It was so fun to see them out there.  There were so many awesome fans out there, but mine were the best.

Finally, the finish line was close.  It was amazing to turn that last corner and see the finish line straight ahead.

I can see the finish!

I can see the finish!

finish2 ironman-20160925-0045

Run: 3:16:38

Total time: 7:49:25.  All goals reached!

This race was so incredibly worth all the work.  It was hard, but it felt so great to cross that finish line.  I’m really proud of everything I accomplished and not giving up when things got hard.  And a huge thank you to everyone who supported me along the way.

Now, what’s next?

Finishers

Happy finishers who really need showers.

DONNA Discount Code! Run this awesome race!

Use code dsquad17megan to save $5!While I’m getting ready for my last triathlon of the season, I’ve got some great races on my calendar for this winter, including one of my favorites, the DONNA Half Marathon.  This year, I’m on their social media team, and I’m happy to share with you my DONNA discount code – DSQUAD17MEGAN

You can read my race recaps for this race here:

Race Report : 2016 Donna Half Marathon

Race Report: Donna 5K and Half

Clearly, I love this race.  The atmosphere is so much fun.  It’s just a generally friendly race. Don’t get me wrong, there are some fast runners here.  But if you’re a slow runner, this race is very welcoming.  It’s a great first half marathon – because the half and the full run together, you have 7 whole hours to finish the half!  Trust me, you won’t need it. But for runners who are worried about making a 16 minute mile, it’s nice to have that sort of padding.

The course is fun, the spectators are awesome, and the post-race area is phenomenal.  And it’s Florida in February.  Sure, it might not be super warm, but it’s not snowing, and for me, that’s a win.  So join me!  And use code DSQUAD17MEGAN to save $5 on your entry!

 

Augusta 70.3 Preview

Race bib number 1810It’s here.  The race I’ve been training for all summer is this weekend.

I’m as ready as I can be in terms of training.  Now it’s just figuring out what my race plan is.  This is my first 70.3, so my only real goal is to finish in the time limit.  IM 70.3 races give you 8:30 from when you start, not from when the last wave starts.  If I want to be an official finisher, I have to finish in under 8:30.  Otherwise, I’m officially a DNF.

I typically set 3 goals for a race.  A, B, and C.  My C goal, I suppose, is just to finish the race, even if I’m not an official finisher.  But I will still be pretty upset if this happens.  My B goal is 8:29:59.  Official finisher.  My A goal is anything faster than that.

If you want to track me on race day, just go to the IRONMAN website on Sunday.  There should be a live events link at the top where you can click to hunt me down.  Just remember, I’m planning for this race to take me a while.  My wave starts at 8:20.

I’m trying to set my goals for each segment.

For the swim, I have no idea how long it will take.  It’s a wetsuit legal swim with a crazy current.  I’ve heard estimates that indicate I could be as fast as 35 minutes, but I’m making my goal 45.

I initially estimated each transition being 5 minutes, but based on what I’ve seen from previous year’s results, I think that might be a bit fast (likely a distance thing).  So my transition goals are FAST, but I won’t worry if I’m closer to 7 or 8 minutes.  That said, each minute I lose is a minute I have to pick up elsewhere.

On the bike, my minimum pace goal is 14mph.  Hoping for faster.  I’m also planning to stop at one of the water stops to refill bottles (because we all know I can’t do it on the fly) and take a bathroom break.  I have issues with letting myself get too dehydrated, so I need to make sure I take in enough water on the bike.  My coach says I will know I’m properly hydrated if I have to stop for a bathroom break, so that’s the goal.

Ultimately, I want to leave 3:30 for the run so that no matter what happens, I can finish.  I’d like to at least run at least sub 15’s (note that my PR is around a 2:50, so I’m not a fast runner).  That will put me in at around 3:17 for the run.

Given my training, I should be fine.  I should have no issue making that 8:29:59, but anything can happen, and I want to be ready.

I think I’m the most nervous for the bike leg, not because I’m not able to cover the distance, not because I’m worried about the hills, but because I’m worried about properly pacing myself.  I need to push hard enough, but not so hard that I can’t handle the run, or worse, that I struggle through the last hills on the course.

I’ve been training on hills all summer, and for that, I’m glad.  There was rumor that the course would be changed, turning the initial 17 miles of flat into 10 miles of flat and 7 more miles of hills.  I’m actually happy for this.  Because I bike so much on hills, it’s flat where I don’t know what to do.  For hills, I can just focus on getting up the hill in the strongest way possible, but I’ll have to figure out how best to pace myself for that first ten miles.

It’s going to be a long day.  With an 8:20 wave start, I should be done before 5pm.  That is a long, long day.  But it means so much to me to have my family and friends cheering for me, both in person and from afar.  It’s been awesome to have all this support through my training and I hope to make you proud on Sunday!