We have a guest author today! A big congratulations is in order for this hard working and fierce Mama that just experienced her first Half Ironman event, Half Ironman Chattanooga. Without further adieu, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Tracie. We hope you enjoy her journey to 70.3!
Last Sunday I completed the Half Ironman Chattanooga. And I love reading race reports so I thought I’d give it a go. It pains me a little to write this so be prepared. I’m not a good writer and can be blunt. You have been warned! A little history: this is my second triathlon! I did a Sprint last year (Marshman in PA- so hilly)! My best friend from growing up, Katie, her husband Matt and my husband all decided to sign up for HIMChoo last year after they completed their first HIM (Half IronMan). We picked Chattanooga due to the start of the swim. It was a river and a somewhat flat course (we’re from PA, it’s hilly around here). I trained when I could; long swims, a few 30 mile bike rides, a lot of long hours on the bike trainer and 7-8 mile runs here and there. I have two littles, 7 and 1. My husband was also training and going to school “full-time”. We both work full-time & we are busy with sports and LIFE! A few things that got me to race day: my friends doing the same race and the Woman for Tri (Facebook) group! Many tips, long annoying questions and long runs together got me there!
Traveling to the Race
Katie’s daughter had her very first dance recital the Friday before the race. We cheered her on while she owned the stage then hopped into the car! We drove in a lot of rain to Christiansburg, VA to spend the night. We arrived in VA at 2:30 AM Saturday am and crashed! We woke up and headed to Chattanooga to check in and see the town. We loved the city and can’t wait to go back. The boys left EARLY Friday am to head to Asheville, NC then onto Knoxville, TN for the night. Katie and I met the boys in TN around 3 o’clock Saturday afternoon. We immediately checked in and dropped off our bikes. We went around the village and bought a few t-shirts. NOT many left for us to choose from! Then we looked at the vendors. Man, triathlons are expensive. Next we checked in and headed out to dinner at Tony’s. It took a while to get seated but we chatted and posted all of our photos from the day! I ate a pasta dish with mushroom red sauce and drank a bunch of water. After an uneventful evening, we went back to the hotel to sleeeeeeepppp!
TRAINING TIP: Join a virtual group of experienced triathletes so you have access to a wealth of information while preparing for your big day!
We woke up around 4:30 in the morning. I had to make sure I had a cup of Joe and oatmeal before the race. I also had to make sure I got the GI motion going! YIKES. Around 5 am the four of us headed down to transition to set up or items for the day. My nerves were a mess. I had my wet suit, swim cap, TYR goggles (and thank you to the woman who said about the baby shampoo, I love you for the cheap anti fog), body glide for my neck and shoulder for the swim, my kit, and my morning bag! I wore sweat pants, a hoodie and flip flops to the swim start. After getting body marked and all set at the transition area, I hugged my hubby (who had to stop at the hotel) and headed with Katie to the swim start. We rode the bus which was actually full of very nice people. Once we arrived at the swim we got in line for the potty and waited for the men to arrive. By the time the men got there the line was long and I was nervous as hell…. The wait time went slow and fast all at the same time. I got into the water and immediately freaked the hell out! Thankfully my husband was there to get me to the first buoy and told me to breathe. Minutes later I was off…. okay well off to the next buoy. For the first 800 meters I stopped every buoy! I was in my head saying this is just a swim and dammit you’re a great swimmer! You’ve got this. This is YOUR sport! OWN IT. You will need the time on the bike because that is NOT your sport! Then I was off and really enjoying myself. I took long strides, spotted on my breaths, and counted the bridges like the women suggested from the Facebook group. Next thing I knew I WAS DONE! AND (random thought) WHO ELSE SMELLED GAS ON THE SWIM? I felt good out of the swim and was off to Transition 1 (T1)!
TRAINING TIP: Cheap anti-fog for goggles: baby shampoo.
T1 was long. I ate an Uncrustable, got dried off and spotted Katie! We got our stuff together and went out onto the bike (13 minutes later. WOW, too long). During the first mile, I knew something was wrong with my bike. The front break was rubbing by mile one and I felt like what the hell happened?! (Later I found out my brakes were out of alignment and rubbed the whole race. They provided too much resistance. It even sucked to push it back to the hotel). I was slower than I anticipated but then again, not. I was so confused. Katie quickly passed me and I rode behind her the rest of the course. Around mile 15 I already had been drinking my Beachbody Hydrate and E&E and ate a GU. We decided to stop to pee. That’s when I said, God I hope I see my husband (I was worried about his swim as he is still recovery from shoulder surgery) and boooom there he was coming upon us! I was so damn happy to see him! He was flying! We rode the next few miles together and I wished him luck as he sped off. The miles kept piling on and quickly we caught back up to my husband. He had cramped up because he forgot salt tabs. Thankfully, I over packed and could help him out. He rode with us for a few more miles up that dreaded hill around mile 26!
TRAINING TIP: put sandwich bags on your packing list for things like this (easy hand off)!
Around mile 40, Katie went to look at the yard sale we were passing or at me (we’re not sure) and ended up falling fast onto her face. I dismounted and said “Let me just take the bike off you,” fully anticipating a broken nose and check bone. She went down HARD! She had road rash on her check and elbows/palms. We continued on a few minutes after. Then we met up with my husband again awhile later who was in need of water, We then finished the almost 57 miles of the bike together.
TRAINING TIP: During the bike I ate the cliff blocks, waffles and gu and drank water and Gatorade!
Transition 2 (T2) went fast and I DID NOT WANT TO RUN! Luckily Katie was in a good place. She kept us motivated out of the gate. IT WAS HOTTTT! We walked the first 1.5 miles to get our legs back. Then we were off, run/walking the whole time and having good conversation. We enjoyed the people and the course….. UNTIL we hit mile 7.5 where we were to go to our last loop of the run. We were told we were cut off but we had only been racing 7:12 hours. I guess I read the athlete guide wrong! (See below, I had no idea I had to be at the second loop by 2:45 which we missed by 12 minutes). Katie and I were so confused and the lady was so rude to us and the other athletes who were trying to understand what was happening. We ended up finishing 5 miles too short. I struggled with telling anyone this because I knew I had 5 miles left in me! I was ready to finish this race with a smile and ended up crying on the way to the finish line saying “These aren’t the tears I anticipated.” I still said I finished because I knew it was possible in the 8:30 hour mark. I’m so embarrassed to share but want to share as to warn any other people before they do their first! All in all, we had a great time and already are picking our next race!
Every mile was a blessing.
BLAZE YOUR TRAIL OF AWESOMENESS TODAY!
Page 8 of the guide: “Run Cut-Off The run course will close 8 hours and 30 minutes after the final athlete start. Each individual athlete will have 8 hours and 30 minutes to complete the entire course. Individual athletes that take longer than 8 hours and 30 minutes to complete the entire course will receive a DNF. There is an intermediate cut-off point on the run course. IRONMAN reserves the right to remove an athlete from the course and DNF the athlete if our course staff determines there is no possibility of an athlete finishing the given discipline (swim, bike, run) before the posted cut-off times.”