The race was almost over before it had barely began. I took that first turn on the swim and ended up in what I could only describe as a washing machine of legs, arms, and feet. I swam to the side and had a mini break down. "What am I doing? Why am I here? This swim will never end..and I haven't even gotten started" At that point it would have been so easy to just swim over to a paddle boarder and called it.
---24 Hours Eariler----
Bags upon bags upon bags.. where does this go? when will we get this?
Trying to decipher all the gear we would need and what time of the day we would need it was quite a challenge. My husband and I bunked with 2 other Rincon Triathlon club members and we tore that hotel room apart (picture seen above). I made sure to lay everything double and triple checking all of my gear went into its proper bag.
Later when I gave a volunteer my run bag, I felt extremely nervous, yelling "bye shoes!" I hoped everything that I needed was in there.
On the shuttle at 4:15, got to the lake / Bike Transition/ T1 at 5:15. I've been warned that the first thing out of the bike transition was a hill. I purposely shifted my chain to my smaller gear and oiled it as well. It had been setting in 95 degree temps the day before, the last thing I wanted was for it to be dry and possibly crack/break during the race. I also waited until that morning to drop off my bike bag, instead of the morning before with my bike. Again with the temps being so high during the day beforehand I wanted my water bottles and bars to be as fresh as possible. I was thankful as I heard overnight a few foxes ravaged some granola bars and tore into multiple bags.
Race morning was here. I put on my wet suit and found my triathlon group. It was so nice having such a big group of racers and supporters at the race. Usually it's just my husband and I.
We walked down to the water, heard the cannon and the race had started. So many people around me were jumping, laughing, and talking. I closed my eyes and began to calm myself down.
SWIM: TT= 1:46:00
The swim is my worst event. I did multiple ocean swims and twice a week pool swims with my triathlon club. Any time I can get my head in the water is an improvement from where I started a little over a year ago. I knew this was going to be a challenge. The course was straight out then after a right turn, became a big rectangle. I made the first turn and was surrounded with people I swam with my arms close to my head to avoid being punched in the face. This is when I panicked. I swam off to the side, head up just treading water as my breathing quickened. I couldn't calm down. I had been doing my swim pattern : 4 strokes 1 breath. This was a huge achievement. Usually I couldn't calm my breath down enough during any ocean swim to maintain any sort of pattern other than breathing every stroke. The negative thoughts soon came in
"I don't want to do this, can I stop? Why am I here?"
I looked up at the bike transition and knew how mad at myself I would be if I gave up. I've trained
so long and put so much into this race.
I told myself "calm down, breath in and get your head back in that water".
I did a couple of single strokes and finally calmed myself down to maintain my 4 stroke pattern. I focused on breathing as well as giving myself cues that Brittany Oliver, my swim coach, had given me over the last few weeks. Elbows high and bent, breath back, head down, kick light, and hips up. I finished my 2nd loop even more confident knowing I had done this once, I was going to finish the swim. When I approached the last turn it was an all out battle with people in the water. I protected my face as much as I could while swimming and dealt with multiple people zigzagging and falling over the gravel to boat ramp transition. I found ground and was ecstatic. The worst part was over, I came out of the water 35 minutes from the cutoff. I high fived a few amazing friends who were cheering from my club on and jogged up the crazy 1/4 mile boat ramp up to transition.
T1/BIKE TRANSITION: TT 9:04
With the extra climb up the ramp I knew this was going to be a slower transition so I took my time. Changed into extra cushioned bike shorts, glasses, helmet, socks, arm sleeves, shoes, and gloves. Took in some water and a bite of a clif bar and found my bike.
BIKE: TT 6:50:43
Again, not my best event but was super excited to be out of the water and onto the bike. I climbed over the bridge and looked down on all the people still swimming smiling. All the spectators were like YOU LOOK AWESOME! I said I"M HAPPY I"M NOT SWIMMING!!! It made a lot of them laugh. I got a lot of compliments on my bike shoes and settled in for the next couple of hours. It's funny, to sum this ride up it was easier mentally than some of my training rides. I had done most of my riding solo where this felt like a large group ride. I looked at people's bikes, shoes, kits, and encouraged every women I passed to have a good ride. I sang a few songs to myself but mostly just was taking it all in. They don't allow us to have any electronics or music on the ride so I always must provide my own entertainment. I said a prayer of thanks to God every time I passed a mile marker sign that went safely. Sadly I climbed a hill only to see a paramedic giving CPR to a biker in the race. I started crying, I couldn't do anything for him and it instantly made me extremely humble, sure I had started complaining about aches and pains but I can survive that. I Hope that biker would survive. The hills were endless, always climbing. Finally we would crest and get a relief with a downhill but it always seemed to come with a sharp turn so we were on the breaks not being able to use the momentum we just worked for. I knew by mile 62 we would head back into town and start the 2 loops. I was trying to pass a girl when all of a sudden I heard "hey good looking" I thought to myself "WHO THE HECK are....Oh..it's Josh" lol my husband was on his 2nd loop of the bike and just happened to spot me. Good thing, I was about to beat down on someone lol.
The loops were difficult. Being later in the day we acquired a bit of head wind. I tried to drop down into my aero position but the roads on that section were just awful. I had no control over my bike there so I had to situp. My mile 75-80 I started developing cramps I'd never experience on the bike before. I tried to drink more, eat more nutrition, and focus on relaxing my legs in the clips. I passed the bike finish 1 more time on my 2nd loop and was super excited to see my friend Kimmy. She cheered and I knew I'd see here again soon.
I couldn't tell you how happy I was to hand my bike off to my volunteer and head towards the run tent..of course all I could think ...I have to run a marathon? ....yowza.
T2/Transition 2: 10:34
I had some stomach issues happening. I realized halfway into the bike my stomach was not having any more gatorade, so I needed to make a bathroom stop. I've never stopped during a race to use facilities but now everything I did was geared towards finishing.
RUN: 4:28:15 , 3 loop course on ultra mode.
I started off WAY TO FAST but was so happy to be off the bike. I wanted to find a slow pace I could just maintain . The path was under freeways then turned into a dirt path. I was super nervous. The first mile marker I saw said "mile 10" I instantly thought I had taken a wrong turn. I started asking everyone what lap they were on. Some didn't answer and some said "i just started". I finally felt at ease when I saw the 3 mile marker and knew I was on the right path. I began to slow down and find a pace I could maintain. By the end of the first loop I hit the wall mentally. I thought, this ...is..going to be a long race. But I knew that to be successful I needed to find a new mindset. I channeled my inner Chrissie Wellington (4 time Ironman World Champion) and asked myself why do I run? I run to fly, to feel strong, and to feel fast.
So many people were just walking and I didn't want that to be me. I then began thinking
" go into Ultra Mode"
Not a faster speed but realizing the aid stations were a little over a mile apart. With ultra marathons you can't think "Only 2787987987 miles left to go" you make it by cutting it into miles until the next aid station. So, that's what I did. I had to think positively and find a pace that would get me through "the wall". After that I never hit the wall again. I walked through every aid station, got water, ice, coke, and a pretzel, then began what I ended up calling the strawberry shuffle. No, I didn't run my true marathon pace but I was passing walkers left and right, never stopping to walk . Unfortunately I got some not so nice remarks. I always made sure to tell people they were almost an Ironman, they got it. However more than once I would go to pass a guy, I'd hear them mutter a cuss word and start jogging. I eventually would outpace them and keep going as they would stop to walk. I even got a few negative comments from spectators when I passed guys " don't worry bro, she's probably on her 1st lap" when I was actually still running on my 3rd lap. I just kept my head up and did what I could to avoid walking and leg cramps.
The Finish: Mike Riley said my name!
I clapped and cheered as I came up on the finish turn and sprinted past 2 guys. I wanted my time in the spot light crossing, not wanting anyone in front or close behind. The photographers missed me finishing at Boston, it wasn't going to happen again. The shoot felt like forever. We made a big square and then 2 more turns then it was there, the finish.
I heard my name and looked over to see my husband yelling for me. I went over and was like "i'm going to be an IRONMAN!"
Then I heard it..
"From Oxnard California, she'd never thought she'd be an athlete, but today you are
Lori Sharp YOU, ARE, AN, IRONMAN!"
Thanks Mike Riley (Ironman Announcer)
It was a heck of a roller coaster. I had some down moments but pushed through. I always say God didn't make me an athlete, but he sure made me stubborn. There was A lot of self talk and praying throughout the race. There were times I questioned myself but then would yell "you're so strong, you're going to be an Ironman,you've got this". Anytime it got hard I talked to myself and broke things down into easier chunks" Get to the next aid station,1 more loop, instead of mileage or hours it helped.
The best thing about this weekend was probably getting to share it with members from my Rincon Tri Club, they inspire me. Those that were spectators had just as long as a day we did. They cheered me on and helped more than they would ever know. Those that raced were my rabbits. Being one of the slowest of the group I didn't get to see them too much on the course. However the occasional high five or cheer was phenomenal. I knew I wasn't alone on this course or my journey.
Total Time = 13:26:14
Since finishing I've have had a multitude of comments and compliments. When I turned my phone on after the race it didn't stop buzzing until about 20 minutes afterwards. I'm so overwhelmed by the support and couldn't feel more blessed.
To those that helped with training, Brittany Oliver, Shigy, Josh Spiker, Morgan Shepherd , thank you for everything. Thank you for your advice, care, and wisdom.
I've quickly realized triathlon isn't an individual sport, it takes a whole village.
I'm also so proud of my husband. He had a phenomenal race and has been my biggest cheerleader when others poked at my speed or put me down, including myself. He always thought I had what it took to be an Ironman. He has inspired me from the start and has helped me become the athlete I never thought I could be.
Thank you Nuun and Honeystinger for the awesome sponsorship as well as Luis Herrera and Kimi Oyama for putting us up at the hotel last minute. You guys are amazing!
As for what's next? I have 2 sprint triathlons, a half marathon, and a solo 50K. As far as a future Ironman? Not certain, I enjoy the 70.3's much more :)
Thanks for reading
I'm passionate about running, fitness, nutrition and all things that make me and everyone else a better version of ourselves.