I’ve only done one Half Ironman in my life, and that was Ironman 70.3 Miami in October 2012. When I finished it I thought I’d never do a long distance triathlon again and that I’d only focus on running, until 2014 when I changed my mind.
Last year I signed up for another Half Ironman distance triathlon (70.3 miles) and half way through the training I decided I was not going to do it. I always encourage everyone around here to never give up but, when my head was focused on the NYC Marathon, the time spent swimming and biking felt more like a task.
The fact that I didn’t finish what I started got me thinking and thinking so I decided to sign up for another Half Ironman early this year in order to take those thoughts of “I quit and didn’t finish something I started” out of my head. It all came at a perfect time since I had some IT band problems at the end of last year so I was not running much. I knew that the swimming and biking would only help my leg issues while letting me stay in my same level of fitness.
I started training in December and realized that I don’t dislike swimming as much as I thought and that I really enjoy biking (even though there’re not great places to do it here in town). These two disciplines definitely improved my running leading me to a PR on my half marathon distance!
I trained for 19 weeks and I have to say that with life getting in the way and with me not being 100% committed, I completed about 70% of the plan and had great results. Now I’m wondering… What if I would have put 100% into my training?
A month before the race I learned that Bobby was going to be out of town for work so I asked my mom if she wanted to join me. She has never been to any of my big races (a.k.a. marathons) so when she accepted I was over the moon!!! Those last 4 weeks I was very motivated because of this news so I trained really hard until it was time to taper.
My mom came Thursday night and we drove down to Florida the next day. Even though I got lost 1000 times we had tons of fun catching up! That night we had a light dinner and then woke up the next day ready to hit Ironman Village.
That morning I went for a 15-minute ride to test my bike and a 15-minute easy jog with my mom. Here I realized that the course was going to be everything but flat. Then, we listened to the athlete briefing, checked in the bike and, of course, did some shopping!
Then we stopped by a local church (I always do this before a big race. I’m sure it helped when I ran the Boston Marathon in 2013) and that night we ate at a sports bar near the hotel.
Race day is here!!! I can’t believe time went by so fast! After all these months of ups and downs during my training the day finally arrived. I had my traditional slice of bread with peanut butter, banana and coffee for breakfast.
When we arrived to Lake Eva, the atmosphere was great and full of positive vibes. I set up my transition, hit the restroom and headed to the swim start where I kissed my mom good-bye!
The water temperature was like 81F so no wetsuit for me (thank God because I didn’t bring it). The swim course was shaped as an M, which I thought was going to be awful, and it actually helped me break down the distances in my head without the need of checking out my watch every second. Surprisingly I could also see my arms under the water so, although it was brown, it was clear enough to check my pace here and there. The goal for this leg of the race was to not panic and guess what? I succeeded! I finished in 46:12, 4 minutes faster than my previous Half Ironman swim.
Then we went to the bike portion of the race and the fun started! I thought I hated hills until a week ago. The course was in super good shape and full of rolling hills. Going uphill I could go anywhere between 8-13 mph but then going downhill I averaged anywhere between 21-29 mph! Crazy, right? This kind of balanced out and I finished in 3:14:21 (same time that my previous Half Ironman bike leg!)
Now that we moved on to the run I thought I was going to PR and that I was definitely going to break 6 hours. I’m in one of the best running shapes I’ve ever been so the goal was to be around 1:45. When I hit mile 1 I knew this was not happening. The running course was full of crazy hills too!!! It was extremely hot (remember that by this time is already noon in hot Florida) and 50% of the roads where under construction so they were dirt.
I walked almost all the hills and all the water stations. This 3-loop course was no joke so half way I decided that I just needed to be under 2 hours to be happy with my time. I pushed myself and finished in 1:59:51, 10 minutes slower than my previous Half Ironman running leg.
My finishing time was 6:05:54, very close to my last half (6:01:51). For not training as much as I knew I should have and the tougher conditions I’m completely satisfied with my results!
This is a great race that I definitely recommend but my only advice is to train hills on the run and do plenty of bricks!!!
So what’s next? I have a few sprint/olympic tris for the summer and still deciding on marathon #6 🙂