Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga
Two days before my 24th birthday, I completed the Chattanooga 70.3. This was my first half distance race and I had been training specifically for this race for about 4 months.
Going into this race I had three goals: to finish the race, not feel like I was dying, and to enjoy the race. I’m so happy to say that I accomplished all three of those! Before the race, I was not as nervous as I expected. I kept myself in the mindset that this was just a really long training day and I think that helped calm my nerves. It also helped working with an awesome coach like Lana Burl (LB Endurance), so I knew I was as prepared as I could’ve been.
Jumping right off the dock and into the water was a new experience for me at the swim start. I’ve only raced with a beach start before. I felt a little restricted by my wetsuit at first, but I settled into my pace and felt great as it loosened up. I was chafed by my wetsuit, but didn’t realize it until I felt the stinging during the run. I was wondering where that nice downstream current was, but I didn’t feel too crowded during the swim and felt that I swam a consistent pace. My average swim pace of 1:47/100 was right on track with what I have been swimming to finish with a swim time of 34:28.
The bike course was fairly easy on climbing and the views were stunning. The bike is still my weakest area and I knew this going into the race. I would say this race taught me a lot about the areas I can improve. I felt good overall on the bike and ended up averaging 16.09 mph. I started out stronger than I finished on the bike. Starting at about mile 40, the outside of my feet were in a lot of pain. My bike shoes are either too small or I had them too tight. It made it difficult to push through those last miles on the bike, so I was looking forward to the run. I am still not as comfortable eating and drinking on the bike as I hope to be, so wearing a camelbak was essential in making sure I stayed hydrated. I ended up drinking all 70 oz. of water in the camelbak during the bike. I think that played a huge part in how good I felt on the run. I finished the bike in 3:28:51 and was ready to get the run started.
Going into the run, my armpit was killing me from wetsuit chafing but my legs felt great. Two weeks before Chatt, at the Hammer Olympic Tri, I had tripped (correction…face planted) running out of T2 when I got my foot caught on a timing mat. I’m sure it was an amusing sight to anyone near transition, but my hip and knee had been bothering me off and on since then. I’ve had ACL surgery on both knees, so I’m always hyper aware of any knee pain. The Monday before the race, I couldn’t even run all 3 miles of my workout. I had to stop and walk for the last mile. After that workout I was extremely worried about the run. It is my favorite leg of the race and I wanted to enjoy it and do well. I hadn’t ran the rest of the week leading up to the race, so I had no idea how my knee would feel. Running out of transition, I had no pain (thank you Lord!) and was ready to start the run. The run was extremely hot and hilly, but I felt strong during the run. It felt good to be able to keep running up the hills and I was able to keep my stops to the aid stations. Thanks to sponges and ice, the heat was more manageable. I was thrilled to get 4th in my age group for the run with a time of 2:15.
Throughout the race, one of my favorites parts was seeing teammates, friends, and family. I got to see my family (including fellow teammate and dad – Mike Wyrosdick) during T1, T2, and the run. I also got to see Ryan Hargis and family, Derek and Amanda Tingle, Lloyd Jones, and Renee Black throughout the run. It really gave me that extra encouragement to keep smiling and keep pushing forward.
Overall, I finished the race with a time of 6:30:19 and finished 10th in my AG. I was so excited when I finally crossed that finish line! Months of hard work had all paid off and I loved -- almost ;) -- every minute of it. As an extremely competitive person, I knew it would be a challenge to keep from placing unrealistic goals on myself for the race. To help combat those unrealistic thoughts from creeping in, I focused as much as possible on taking it all in during the race. I wanted to enjoy it and I think everyone that saw me said I smiled the whole time.
This was all around such an amazing experience. Being around so many other athletes throughout the race, having friends and family cheering me on, having strangers cheer you on, enjoying an absolutely beautiful course, and the countless volunteers made this race one of my favorite race experiences.
Huge thank you to coach Lana Burl for getting me ready for this race and helping me meet and exceed my goals! Huge thank you to Katie Dotson as well! Katie helped me with nutrition and I was able to find what works for me before and during races and it has made a world of difference for GI distress.
Looking forward to the rest of the race season!