Ironman Vineman swim start - The 2.4 mile swim started Saturday in the Russian River and was a rolling start based on our projected swim times. I swim 2.4 miles very often and knew my time would be around 1:05 (to 1:10 at the slowest) so I lined up with that group. Mostly guys and a few girls started out towards the front. We walked into the water and then we were off! The water felt amazing! A little hot for me in a wet suit at 71 degrees. I like to swim without one better but decided to wear it anyways. I quickly got into my groove as we started and love the feel of the water. The swim I always treat as a "warm up" (and I mean that lightly because we are still swimming at a fairly quick pace for a 2.4 mile swim) There were 9 markers on the left side of the course and I sighted each one on the way down and felt very comfortable. I loved the rolling start because I didn't feel like I was getting kicked in the head or face or body nearly as much as I do when we have an age group start. The only negative was there were a few spots in the river where it got very shallow! So shallow that people were walking. I get if you are tall or have long arms, you probably had to walk that stretch, but it was hard to get around the people that were walking. Lost some valuable minutes on the way there and back because of it. As we turned around I was in my groove. I try to let my legs relax and use my arms as much as possible. I was swimming fairly straight but my Garmin was reading a little more yardage. I could see the Roka finish coming up. I pushed the pace a little and checked my watch. I knew I was going to miss my 1:05 mark but could still come in under 1:10. I saw the exit and felt the gravel underneath my feet. I was done in 1:09. The swim was the highlight of the day for me.❤️ to T1 and onto the bike! 🏊🏻
After a good swim (1:09) and heading into T1, I was feeling excited that today was actually happening and I felt great coming out of the swim. Bike gear on, and off to ride 112 miles. A long way on a bike! The weakest of the 3 disciplines for me (and unfortunately the longest of the 3 😆) but I have worked really hard to get my biking strong the last few years and especially this year. The first part of the ride (except at mile 12 when my chain fell off! Never has done that before! Stopped to fix it and was off again) 50 miles went by very smooth and I was averaging 17-18 mph and was so happy! I was really enjoying myself and smiling! I'm not a fast cyclist but can bike up to 100 miles just fine. It was a 2 loop 50+ miles each and the first loop felt amazing! It's a fairly technical course and you have to pay attention. Lots of turns and rolling hills. And another big hill, Chalkhill at around 50 you bike up twice at difficult parts of the bike leg. The 2nd loop started to get pretty hot and there was so much wind 😅☀️🌬! Strength wise I felt good but the heat and wind made it hard. At around 70-80 miles I decided to stop and use the bathroom, only to come into the aid station and find my chain came off again! 😬 as I was trying to unclip and stop safely, 2 bikes on either side came up quick and there was no where to go as I was trying to stop off to the right. The cyclist on the right (that shouldn't have pulled up there) said sorry but it was too late. Down I went! 👎🏻 Thankfully I was almost stopped but I fell hard on my right side and the bike jammed into my calf and just above my knee. It hurt! I was bleeding but ok. I got cleaned up with help from a volunteer, band aid, bathroom, and fixed my chain. Some good time lost but back on my way. This course was hilly! Back to chalk hill 1 more time and finish out the last 12 miles strong. My feet started hurting and I was ready to get off that bike but feeling pretty good still. Finally it had been 112 miles, the farthest I have ever rode in 1 stretch, and I was done! 💃🏼 I like biking but that was plentyFor me. I wanted to run so bad! I actually couldn't wait to run the marathon portion. My time was pretty bad. 7:27 and an average of 15 mph. I'm pretty disappointed with that time for how hard I worked but the good news is I finished and it could have been worse. I know on a less hilly course and without 4 stops and a small accident, that time could have been much faster. Was hoping for a 6:45 on that course. So much learned and a lot of improvements that can be made for next time. (Oh yes, I said next time... Not sure when that will be but I want to do another ironman already.) 💪🏻 I saw my amazing husband on the bike course about 3 or 4 times and it made me so happy when things got a little "dark". Also seeing my face/head that @ahappypace made for Trevor to Fan at me on the way made me so happy! Into T2 and onto the run....
Off the long hot bike and onto the long run! 26.2 miles is a still a MARATHON. Even after 112 miles on the bike and a 2.4 mile swim I was actually pretty excited for the daunting task of running a marathon to finish off the day. In T2 they couldn't find my bag for little while which made me nervous! Sunscreen, hat, running shoes and a quick potty stop and I was off! My feet legs and body actually felt pretty good still so that tells me my training was on par. It was really hot so I had a chilly Towell I kept on my neck that helped so much! Shoved ice up my hat and down my kit to keep cool. 😅 I quickly found a girl who's pace matched with mine and we ran the first 15 miles together. Her name was Cristina and it was so nice to have a friend! We grabbed our nutrition at the aid stations and chatted and it went by fast mentally. At mile 15 I HAD to stop and use the potty. Ugh! I told Cristina to go ahead and I'd catch her. (TMI, sorry, I ended up in the porto for 6 minutes!) #keepinitrealbut I felt so much better after! A necessary stop. "Ok 9 miles left! Let's do this thing! I'm going to be an IRONMAN today!" I was in good spirits. I know I can run even if it's slower then I wanted with tired legs. I told myself all sorts of things to get through it. Saw Trevor on the course a lot and needed his cheering. It was hot and hilly! Such a hilly 3 looped course! ☀️ But looping meant always seeing other runners, my hubby, and the town supporters. So that was awesome. With one last loop to go, I was tired but ready for that finishers shoot! The sun started setting and I was getting chilly. 3 miles to go! I was a little dizzy and knew my nutrition was a little off the last 9 miles of the run. With one mile left to go, the adrenaline and training kicked in. I pushed the pace a little and heard cheering and the announcers as I came into town... This was it. I was going to make it and finally become an IRONMAN! I turned the corner and could see the high school. So much excitement as the end is in sight
As I turned the corner coming into the last stretch of Ironman Vineman, I could hear the announcers, spectators, cow bells and everyone cheering. My heart was racing. Not just because I was almost finished with 140.6 miles, but because my dream of running down that finishers shoot and becoming an IRONMAN was seconds away..... It was finally my time. All of the work. All of the sacrifices. Every minute of training had led me here, to this moment. The ironman finish line is like no other. I had seen it many times before and have run through the 70.3 finishers shoot 4 times but this was different. Completing 140.6 miles is a celebration like no other, and I was ready for it! A group of 4 or 5 of us was coming in fairly tight together and I tried to spread out a little and so did everyone else it seemed. We all wanted our special, hard earned moment. We turned the last corner and there was the red ironman carpet laid out for the sports biggest finish line. The lights were bright and illuminated every athlete as we ran the final steps towards victory. We all heard our names in our group and heard the 4 words every triathlete wants to hear.... "You are an IRONMAN!" Music to my ears! I stepped across the finish line and expected to break down in tears. All I could do was smile though! Pure happiness. I was surprised when I saw my husband standing at the finish line with my medal 🏅He looked and me and said "Heather, you are an IRONMAN!" And hung the medal around my neck. I hugged him and he pulled me close. I started crying in his arms. This medal felt as much his as mine in many ways. All of the support and love enveloped in his arms as we hugged out the finish of a long journey. Ashley @ahappypace was waiting to see me finish and was the best cheerleader next to Trevor all day. She hugged me, and I cried again. It was one of the most special moments of my life at that finish line. Working hard to set a goal and achieving it. It was so hard but worth every step. I know in my heart that I am capable of anything after that day. I proved to myself the motto of Ironman "anything is possible". You can do anything you set your mind to! I am proof of that.
by Heather Jenson
Faith. Family. Fun. Fitness