When I signed up for Ironman 70.3 Ohio it was due to pure FOMO knowing that a lot of Coeur teammates were going to be there. I wanted to go out there, have fun, meet some awesome ladies and finish my thirteenth 70.3. I did all of those things.
On my way to Ohio, I stopped in Rockford, IL to pick up my travel buddy Jodi who I met randomly through the triathlon community a couple years ago. We’ve seen each other a few times at various events, and we trusted each other to not be batshit-crazy psychopaths to travel and share an Airbnb with. It worked out. Jodi was a fabulous travel partner! She was prepared, great at navigating, entertaining to talk with, had fruit packed, read the racer guide, and was familiar with the venue space in Delaware, Ohio.
Though I wasn’t a batshit-crazy psychopath, I did end up a phlegmy, drowsy hot mess by Saturday. When the symptoms began I thought it might be allergies. I’ve never been diagnosed, I usually just try Claritin and hope for the best. I was so tired I fell asleep around 7:30pm on Saturday.
Race day morning I woke up at 3:50am feeling the same, but with more rasp to my voice. Fabulous. I took in extra calories and some Diet Coke on our drive to the race site hoping any extra energy or caffeine would help. I did my best to not be a downer and stayed quiet.
Before the swim start I held it together as I tried to mingle with Jodi and her Smashfest crew. When I meandered towards some of my Coeur crew, Kecia and Michelle asked me how I was feeling. My response was a mouthful of tears. It lasted only a few short seconds as Kecia and Michelle said the right things and had me giggling moments later.
Maybe laughter is the cure, because from that moment I wasn’t focused on my symptoms anymore. I had 70.3 miles on this perfectly, beautiful day in Ohio to focus on. The conditions were ideal. Mid-seventies for the temperature, no wind, and partly cloudy.
Swim – 42:45, 2:01/100, *not a wetsuit legal swim
Fuel – 4:15am slice cold pizza & Diet Coke(easy, extra calories because I was sick, I wouldn’t normally do this), 5:00am granola and almond milk, Bai coconut water
I love the self-seeding rolling start! I was able to start with both Jodi and Kecia behind the 37-40 minute group. We enjoyed each other’s company as we were herded towards the lake, and then it was go time! My swim felt normal to me, not blazing fast, but not slow either. I swam smoothly and kept my heart rate in check since I was sick. It didn’t make sense to burn all my matches in the first mile of this day! I got boxed in by other swimmers a few times but had a lot of free space too. When I got out of the water I was surprised to see my Garmin read 42 minutes as it was a little slower than I expected.
T1 – 3:18
Bike – 2:57:59, 18.9mph
Fuel – Welches gummi snacks, 1 Blackberry Gu, 1 Payday candy bar
This was a fast course! I didn’t feel like I was putting up much effort and maintaining 20 mph for the first bit. Kecia passed me around mile 10 and I hung on to her for a few minutes but remembered that I need to keep my efforts comfortable and conserve energy for the rest of the race. I pulled back, settling into 17-18 mph instead. There were moments of fatigue and doubt from my head congestion and phlegm-filled throat, and then other moments of gratitude because it was such a great day to be out on a bike! With 15 miles to go, I did some math and decided to try to finish the bike under three hours. In the last couple of miles I spotted Kecia ahead! Motivated, I caught up and entered T2 with her!
T2 – 2:22
Run – 2:10:29, 9:58 minute mile
Fuel – Salt Watermelon Gu, on course Gatorade, on course chips/pretzel
I was so excited to start my run with Kecia. She had big goals for this day, team #sub6orbust! I knew she’d be a great start to my run. As we exited the stadium I told her I wasn’t sure how long I would be able to keep up with her. She was so steady, consistent and strong, dedicated to her race plan and heart rate. Every now and then she’d say she needed to back off a little per her heart rate monitor and I followed suit. We powered through aid stations, stuffing ice in our bras, and returned to running. As she cheered and encouraged others I stayed quiet with my raspy sore throat voice, chiming in when I could. I had doubts, thought about slipping behind, but she pulled me without even knowing.
There is no way I would have run this strong without her. I wish I could have her at my side for every future race!
In the last two miles I could feel a shift in her energy, it was time for me to pull my shit together and make sure we got to the finish under six hours. Her amazing strong, steady pacing left me feeling like a warrior for those last couple of miles. I kept a close eye on my Garmin, reading down the number of minutes we had left to get there. It was beginning to get close so I did my best to deliver a sense of urgency without causing panic or stress.
“We have time, we will get there, you’re crushing it!”
“Kecia, you can’t cry right now. It’s too hard to run and cry at the same time”
“We can slow down, but we can’t walk anymore”
“We have a half a mile left. You can do anything for five minutes”
As we got closer to the stadium and spectator crowds the smiles grew wider, the pace had more pep, we were on our way to her sub six finish and PR! I pulled back on the track leading towards the finish and asked if she wanted to go ahead and have her finish line moment. She said I was a part of it and should be there. So we smiled down the chute together and ended in a triumphant hug.
She’ll tell you that she couldn’t have done it without me, but that’s not true. She had it in her the whole time. I was just fortunate enough to follow her for 13.1 miles! Plus, her husband Tim was biking around the run course, checking in and making sure she was on her way. What an honor to share those miles of fun, encouragement, doubt, pain, and strength with her. I’m forever grateful for Kecia and this finish line!
• Two minute bike PR for half iron distance
• Four minute run PR for half iron distance
• Twenty-nine seconds off my half iron PR from two weeks ago, 5:55:44 at Door County & 5:56:13 in Ohio.
The women behind Coeur Sports, ALL of them. The headquarters staff, the team, the community they have built, and all the heart and courage in the world. I have never felt like I belonged to the triathlon community until I found Coeur Sports.
John for greasing my bike chain before I left Wisconsin! What a guy!
Jodi for being the best travel buddy and putting up with my getting sick.
Kecia and Tim for those last 13.1 miles, obviously!