Ironman Gulf Coast 70.3 Race Recap! 🏊🏻♀️🚴🏼♀️🏃🏼♀️ Pre race : Starting the recap here, because I have never traveled to a race this far away and flown with my bike before so this felt like a 4th leg of the triathlon in itself. 😉 It was such a huge learning experience for me in a good way. I was nervous and scared to put so much money and time into a race (they all are) but to be going farther away then before and without my husband by my side was new and a little scary. However I knew the course was beautiful and that I would be racing it with 3 of my best friends so it was fun and exciting at the same time! . . Thursday was a full travel day, flying 2 flights and driving 5 hours to Florida late that night with Tam. Friday was unpacking the bikes (which had some issues so it was a full morning of stressing over that!) and checking in, race prep, shake out swim, bike and run, preparing nutrition etc... it really can be quite a process checking in! Especially with some added bike stress. . . We got back to the condo, which was literally the race venue so that was perfect, ate dinner (a sweet potato, and a bagel and ice cream 😉 so random but worked) chatted about the race and laid out all of our gear, hugged and said a prayer and went to bed. It was almost here! I slept fine and Race morning came! We were up at 4am, dressed and ate breakfast (a bagel with peanut butter and a banana). Went down to drop our gear off and then came back to get our wetsuits on. (Again, dreamy race venue and lodging!) We were all so excited it was time!! Time to let all of the training and the taper out on the course!! 🏊🏻♀️🚴🏼♀️🏃🏼♀️ The Swim : 32:05 - 70.3 Swim PR 🎉 An early alarm and a quick walk down to the beach for race day! We check our gear one last time and suited up our wet suits. It was time! Kindal and Tam and I started between the 30 and 32 minuet mark and we hugged ash and all wished eachother luck! .
It was a rolling start which I LOVE! We waited anxiously in line excited to start. It was finally my turn, I ran down the beach and dove into the water. It felt amazing! What beautiful water to be able to swim in! The salt water didn’t bother too much and I found my rhythm with my breath and my stroke and stayed in line with the group as we sighted the buoys down the first stretch. I felt really good and was happy to be turning the first right at 13 ish mins in, and then 16:30 ish in the last turn to finish home. Things were going good and just when I thought it was smooth sailing in, I hit a huge patch of Jelly Fish! I felt like Dory and Marlin dodging the jelly’s for dear life! They were everywhere!! Maybe that sounds a little dramatic (and kind of is haha 😂 but swimming through jellies, even these little tame ones that didn’t hurt too bad, still sting and it was nerve wracking!) Every stroke I would feel them on my fingertips and my arms! I borrowed Kindal’s wet suit that was sleeveless and I loved how it felt until that moment! 😂 if anything it made me swim faster to the finish! I kicked it into high gear at the end and knew I would be close to 31-32 mins, right on my goal time. I finally was close enough in to the beach and knew my feet could touch now, so I stood up and ran through the swim out shoot. I was checking my watch to see and knew I had a great swim. My watch read 31:53 and 2180 yards (1:28 average). Official time - 32:05. A swim PR for a 70.3 Race! So happy! Transition 1 : I ran up the dock and under the showers quickly, and into transition. I found my bike in the AWA section and it was easy to see thank goodness! A great perk! Another goal was to have fast transitions today! I was hoping for 2-3 mins, and then the wet suit wouldn’t come off my ankles 😂 I just laughed and sat down and peeled it off. Oh well whatcha gonna do! I still PRd my T1 with a 4 min transition. More to work on. Now onto the bike!
Bike : 2:43:52 (20.5 mph average) - 70.3 Bike PR 🎉 Now it was time to bike! Coach Ash @ahappypace told me that morning, “don’t hold anything back in the bike. You have strong legs and you’re in such great shape right now, go for it!”. The bike is always my weakest of the 3 but I have worked so hard to get stronger. I was so excited because I have been feeling the best I’ve ever felt on my bike and I had brought my beloved Liv bike all the way here to help me ride strong! @livcycling 💜 I felt really strong starting out and held my pace around 21 Miles per average even in a head wind. Not too bad but enough to feel it! 30 mins in ate 2 shot blocks with sodium because I grabbed the wrong baggie with no salt. 🤦🏼♀️ Oops. I knew that the double sodium @clifbar shot blocks would work though because I have used them before. So I hoped I felt good! I continued to feel good and just kept pushing and grinding it out. The course was pretty flat which was such a welcome change from St George that I usually race ever year. It was still a lot of work though to hold a high speed in the head wind. At each aid station I grabbed a water and a Gatorade because I lost one of my water bottles worth my @idealfit BCAAs 🤦🏼♀️ oops again. I tried to just stay positive and keep going even though my nutrition plan was now forced to change slightly. . We reached the turn around and I was really hoping the headwind would ease up. It did and I was happy to have a slight tail wind and make up some time where my pace dropped up the small hill and headwind. I kept eating my shot blocks and @g2g bars at 30- 45 mins in and then again 30 mins guessing from the finish of the bike, and added a @guenergylabs caffeinated GU. I was closing in on the finish and I knew my goal time of 2:45 was going to happen! I was so excited! I just smiled so big the whole way in! It was still a strong bike effort (my @garminfitness Watch said My HR ❤️ was in zone 4 most of the bike) and I came in at 2:43:52! Under goal pace! 🙌🏻 so happy! . T2 : I found my spot and racked my bike and wanted to change shoes quick and get right out. Hoping around 2 mins. Came out at 2:49 and happy with that! Now we run!..... The Run 🏃🏼♀️ 1:56:59 - 70.3 Run PR 🎉
I was on track to match or beat my time goals today in all distances and I wanted it to stay that way! I was so happy coming off the bike I wanted to keep that positive energy! In Transition I grabbed my right baggie and took my salt and finished off my Gatorade as I started running. In a 70.3 run it’s always slower obviously then my PR half (1:36) and it’s easy to tell myself I should run it faster with my run times when that’s not the case. My dream goal today was 1:45-1:50 but I knew the humidity real feel would be a factor today. Worst case scenario I come in under 2 (previous 70.3 best run was a hilly STG 2:06) I felt really strong the first mile (7:44) and then the heat and humidity came on strong as I knew it would. . The run was a 4.4 mile loop, 3 times. It was pretty boring as far as scenery goes (literally running passed shops and through neighborhoods and the worst part by a water park where people were relaxing and swimming and the strong smell of burgers! 😂 mental strength to keep going!) What it lacked in scenery it made up in volunteers. They were amazing! Miles 4 and 8 (end of first and second loop) took another caffeinated GU at both. At every aid station I drank water, shoved ice down my kit and drank coke. I kept moving. It was hot and I wanted to be done but I didn’t want to stop. It was really hard. I reminded myself of how bad I wanted this big PR today and that this 70.3 PR that I had been waiting so long for was going to happen in a big way if I stayed strong! . By the 3rd loop I knew my time goal was slipping away and adjusted 5 or so mins in my head. “It will still be a great run and overall time, just keep going”. As I neared mile 11 and 12 I tried to push the pace again. “One mile left!” The finish line seemed to not come, my watch was at 13.46 Miles 8:42 average. Long run course today. My heart rate was in zone 5 most of the run so I’m happy with my effort. I gave it all I had. I ran as hard as I could and spotted our hotel and knew it was close. This was it!.... finish chute next...
The Finish 🏅 5:20:21 - 1 hour 6 min PR 🎉 Swim 32 🏊🏻♀️ Bike 2:43 🚴🏼♀️ Run 1:56 🏃🏼♀️ . As I rounded the finish, I knew the course would be really long on the run (13.46 on my watch and everyone’s was long too) and it would add a couple of minutes but I didn’t care! Today was happening! All of the hard work and waiting so patiently many years for the “perfect” 70.3 PR race had come. This was the moment. I wanted to cry but couldn’t because I was just so happy! I was smiling and almost laughing as I crossed the finish line! I threw up my arms, I pumped my fists, I grinned like an idiot! Just so happy!! Normally I would say I couldn’t believe it, but I believed it today! I believed in my self and worked my tail off for this PR and will always remember that feeling! . . I got my medal and just stood smiling there and stopped my watch. 5:20! Ah! So happy! Previous PR was 6:26. On a much harder course but today was still hard too and earned! The course doesn’t make the athlete it reveals it. I placed 12 in my age group, highest placing in an IM race. (Note* I just ages up to the 35-39 age group which is where I belong and am fine with it, but I would have been in the podium in 5th if I was still 34. My age group was tough but my time was in the top 34 Women. Very proud of that!) .
Running down that Ironman red carpet at a 70.3 or a 140.6 is such a huge moment. It shows, patience, perseverance, hard work, grit, dedication, pride and humility. I love working so hard for this every time I do it. It was worth everything I put into it! . . Seeing my friends at the finish and experiencing this with them too was the cherry on top. This whole experience was amazing and I wanted to write it out in detail to remember it. It wasn’t perfect and there are still a few things I can do to shave some more time off but wow! If I never get faster, I’m still so happy! Thank you for all of the love and support and hope it inspires you in some way to go for any goal you want to go for!