I can’t believe the big race – my first ever 70.3 Half Ironman – is just a few short weeks away. Thanks to DelMoSports, I will be racing on September 18th in Atlantic City a flat fast course that is known for its challenging wind and beautiful scenery. I also have been working with the DelMoSports and their athletes all season and have the honor of being the Official Health Coach for the race. As the race creeps up everything is beginning to seem real. I have trained for so long and have dealt with so many defeating injuries that getting to the start line in one piece is an accomplishment in itself. Triathlon has allowed me to be competitive in sports without hurting myself. For a long distance runner with way too many injuries at the young age of 22, triathlon was my answer.
Lets talk about this training cycle. It’s funny how you make all these plans and things never seems to go the intended way. I signed up for AC as soon as it went live last November. I wanted a race the following September because then I could train in the summer. And I also wanted a relatively local race that offered a beginner friendly course. I knew I would be back and forth to Boulder, CO during the year and I figured I had the perfect setup – I would train with the best of the best, get the benefits of the altitude, and then head home in March to work on my speed and endurance up until the race. I would be so FIT!
Then it happened. One injury after another. I couldn’t win. Each time I recovered from one injury something else started to hurt. But the beauty of triathlon is that if you train smart, you can keep it up through your injuries without worrying about making things worse. Needless to say my swimming skills improved tremendously. From the moment I signed up for this race it was all I could think about every time I got in the pool, clipped into my bike or laced up my sneakers. I thought about that finish line day in and day out and it kept me going through the toughest times.
When you talk to non-athletes it’s hard to explain why you wake up at 4:30 am when it’s still dark out and your covers are warm and there is snow on the ground, all to swim some yardage. Or why you spend 4 plus hours on the bike or why running 10 miles on a Sunday morning before brunch is just normal. But for most athletes who have that kind of discipline, its about more than just the time or distance. It’s usually for something greater. For me, I want to inspire. I want to inspire women to go after what they want and take challenges head on. And especially when things get hard, that is when it counts the most . I always looked at triathlon as a mens sport that was too “scary” for me. I couldn’t swim, I didn’t know how to clip into my bike…. Yup, that was me one year ago – making up all the excuses in the book about why I couldn’t do it. But then I started to change my way of thinking and to focus on the term “unlimited” after attending Kara Gouchers Retreat in all aspects of my life. I started to really believe that I could do whatever I put my mind to. And that is when I knew I could complete a 70.3. And that the only person standing in my way was me.Fear is what holds a lot of us back. Fear of the unknown, fear of too many variables, fear of things that are totally out of our control – all realities of race day. But you can either allow yourself to get caught up in the fear or you can focus on what is not fearful. And that’s exactly what I did. I spoke with my coach – Coach Jonathan Cane of City Coach – and we discussed my goals for the race, what my training would look like, and how to get me to the start line healthy. Because truly, my number one goal was to get to the start line healthy and finish the race healthy.
Jonathan has me riding 3-4x a week, running 2x a week (only on the alter-g so as to avoid injury but still get my legs moving without the impact) and swimming 3-4x a week. He and I and my PT, Jason at Finish Line, all agreed my fitness/cardio would come from the bike and swim. Doing any type of running mileage on the ground would be too risky. And the risk certainly outweighed the reward. Run days are usually accompanied by a swim or ride. It is so important that you find a coach that listens to you and respects you and your goals. I am so thankful for Jonathan!
I am looking at race day as a celebration of all my hard work thus far. I know it will be hard and I am ready to embrace the pain and accept it. I even plan on having little notes of inspiration in transition because sometimes when things are really going bad, it does you good to have a reminder of why you need to push through. This will be the first time I will head into a race and not be sure of what will be. For all my other races I had the confidence of knowing that I had done this before and could do it again. I am now literally training my brain to give me that confidence because as most of you know, triathlon can be more of a mental game than a physical one.
Now let’s talk gear. It’s important to train in what you will be racing in. I am so lucky to be able to work with such amazing companies who have incredible products. So here’s what I’ll be wearing:
- Custom Betty Design Tri Suit- one piece suit.
- Hoka Clifton 3– one of my favorite shoes for triathlon
- Roka Maverick Pro Wetsuit (most likely it will be a wetsuit legal swim) – I absolutely love this suit. It doesn’t feel restrictive at all and allows me to have full arm rotation and bounce in the water. I am so lucky to live near the beach so I always get in at least one OW swim a week and I like to wear the wetsuit when I do, just so I can get used to swimming in it so I will be more than comfortable on race day.
- Roka R1 Goggles– the best goggles on the market especially for open water swimming. You can see everything – crystal clear perfect for sighting.
- Cannondale Slice 105– Can’t say enough good things about this bike. You literally feel like you are slicing down the road when you are on it. Made for speed, I feel like I am flying when I’m on this bike.
- Garmin Forerunner 920–for the swim and run
- Garmin 820– this will tell me my cadence, power outage, average speed etc.
- Hair=Braids a must!
As much as I wish this was a cookie cutter answer, it is not. Race day fuel is a matter of preference and unique to each person. But I can say for sure is that you MUST train with whatever you plan to eat on race day. Not every time but try it once or twice. I like experimenting on two-hour rides because they aren’t too long and if the fuel isn’t working, it won’t totally derail you. But they are still long enough to test out some products. Although everyone is different here is what works for me: And I am still experimenting but below are some of my favorite snacks on the ride.
- Breakfast – Pre-Workout overnight oats —easy to travel with and what I have been fueling with pre race/workout
- My bottles- Nuun (energy)
- Dried Banana
- Cliff Shots
Note: Gatorade and Cliff gu and bars will be given out on the course so if your stomach can tolerate either of those products it is a good idea to train with them and use it for fuel that day.
Have you done Ironman or Half Ironman? What gets you through the race? What is the best advice someone ever gave you? And lastly, why do you Tri? Tell me below as I gear up and get ready for my first Half Ironman!