Race Report Blog!

I did my first tri in 2010, my second (...third, and fourth) in 2014, and the rest is history. I may not be the fastest, but at least I tri'd ;)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Jersey Girl Triathlon - August 2, 2015

This was my very first triathlon back in 2010, and so I was really excited to do this as my last triathlon of the season.  My tri club buddy Susan was awesome enough to pick up my Jersey Girl packet earlier that week so I didn’t have to trek down to Eatontown to get it! 
The day before the race was a busy one.  I ended up doing the 50-mile Princeton Freewheelers ride, and spent the rest of the afternoon/evening at nearby wineries with Mike and his mom.  We stopped by Old York Vineyards and did a tasting there before heading to Unionville Vineyards for a lobster bake.  It was a great time, and the hardest part was holding myself back from drinking too much wine and eating too many raw oysters.  I did eat the entire lobster though!  We got home around 10 and I quickly packed my transition bag (my bike stayed in the car from that morning’s ride) before bed. 

I set my alarm for 4:45 since I knew transition closed at 6:30, and I wanted to get to the race site by 6.  I headed towards the main parking area in front of the hotel, but since there was a long line of cars waiting to get in, I drove behind the CVS and found a spot on the street.  It was only a few blocks from the transition area, and I didn’t have to pay or worry about timing.  I biked the few blocks to transition and found the rack that coordinated with my wave (Wave 7).  The racks were roomy, and I found a wide empty spot next to a rainbow pinwheel, which would be helpful in finding my transition spot during the race.  It was cool to see a bib a few bikes over that said “Nikki” since my grad school friend Nikki was the one who actually introduced me to the Jersey Girl Triathlon (and I believe triathlons in general!!). 
After setting up my transition area, I walked over to get body marked.  There were volunteers everywhere, and everyone was so friendly and helpful.  I wasn’t nervous, but there were a lot of newbies who were.  As I was waiting to get body marked, a girl who looked really familiar asked “hey, are you Didi?”  At first I couldn’t place my finger on how I knew her (sorry, Olivia!), but then remembered we had met on the race-day packet pickup line at Iron Girl Sandy hook last September!  After putting my Lava pants on (wetsuit legal swim) I waited on the porta-potty line before heading down to the beach, and was nervous about going in there barefoot, but the portapotties were surprisingly really clean! 

As we were waiting for our swim heat to go off, the waves were crashing along the shore and I was hoping they would calm down when our heat started!  Although it was a wetsuit legal swim, I didn’t want to wear my sleeveless wetsuit since it was such a short swim (300yds).   I did wear my Lava Pants for the buoyancy, and it was a tiny bit cooler than NJ State, so I was happy to have the little bit of warmth.  As the air horn went off, a giant wave crashed into the first group of women heading into the water.  I stayed towards the back of the pack, so was able to avoid it.  Even though I didn’t feel like I hit my groove until halfway through, the swim went by really quickly.  Once I got to the shore, I was helped out of the water by a nice volunteer, and jogged through the sand and back up to the boardwalk.  It would have been awesome if there were a carpet or something to run on, since running through sand is tough!  

Once I got on the boardwalk, a volunteer with a hose sprayed my feet to get the sand off, and I ran over the pavement and grass to T1.  Lava Pants off, socks and bike shoes on, bike gloves on, race belt on, helmet and sunglasses on.  I grabbed my bike off the rack and headed to Bike Out. 

The bike was 11.5 miles, and relatively flat.  I tried to channel my NJ State Sprint bike leg, but wasn’t as fast.  I started my bike computer, but the sensor wasn’t reading and I ended up doing the bike leg without.  My legs were a little tired, but otherwise it was an uneventful ride.

T2 was quick.  Bike on the rack, helmet off, bike gloves off, bike shoes off, sneakers on, hat on.

The run started off a little slow.  For the first time in months, my legs felt like bricks starting the run.  About a mile into the run, my plan to run sub 8:30 miles went out the window, and it became a matter of just pushing to run a sub-9.  The sun was out and it was starting to get hot.  I could feel myself flagging and knew my heart rate was going through the roof.  I struggled to slow my breathing and maintain a steady pace.  I had been getting closer and closer to 8 minute miles during short brick workouts the weeks leading up to this race, with the last one being at an 8:04 pace.  Unfortunately, since the ride the day before was a little harder/faster than I had planned, I think it tired out my legs a little more than I had anticipated.  However, I was able to push it towards the end, and about 200 meters to the finish, my sprinter’s instinct kicked in and I gave it all I had going through the finish chute.  Although my bike leg was the slowest this season, my swim, T1, and run ended up being PRs for the season! 

My favorite part about the Jersey Girl Triathlon was that everyone was SO encouraging and supportive, and you could just FEEL the positivity in the air.  It was like that in 2010 and it’s still like that now.  It’s such a great beginner’s race, and is in a beautiful area.  I didn’t end up sitting on the beach after the race, but met up with a bunch of my tri club buddies and toasted our endeavors with peach bellinis at the Ocean palace beachfront tiki bar.  We followed that up with a refueling lunch at surf taco (my first time there!).  Perfect end to a great race day!  I’ll definitely do this race next year if it works with my schedule.  
Also, check out this video the race organizers made of this year's race!

Princeton Freewheelers 35th Princeton Bicycling Event-Aug 1, 2015

I had originally planned to relax this Saturday, but with enough cajoling, ended up doing the 50-mile (52.5 mile) Princeton Freewheelersride with two of my tri club buddies.  In addition, my earlier excuse of “I have a race the next day” went out the window because the two ladies I rode with were also doing the same race! 

We planned to meet at 8am, which was a nice change from the usual 6am Saturday wakeup calls.  I got to the Mercer County Community College parking lot by 8 and walked over to the race-day registration table.  I paid my $35 (no t-shirt for race-day registration) and got a wristband for the post-ride lunch.  It was around 8:30 by the time we started riding, and it was a gorgeous day. 

Within the first five miles, I lost a bottle full of CarboPro, and since I had replaced my seatpost with the RedShift seatpost the night before, I guess I didn’t fully retighten the rear bottle cage holder.  It must have gotten jarred when I lost my bottle (which i subsequently ran over), and fell down against the back tire.  I didn’t have any tools with me, but we pulled into a parking lot and my friend flagged down a Good Samaritan Biker who let me borrow his.  A few miles after that, I was slowing down at a red light, but didn’t unclip my left foot.  I figured I’d just put my right foot down for a second if the light didn’t change right away.  Unfortunately my bike (and I) was leaning to the left.  I slow-mo fell to the ground and got a little road rash on my left knee, and bruising where the bike pedal slammed into my leg. Ouch. 

The following miles leading up to the first rest stop were pretty uneventful.  We met some new friends during that ride, including a guy from our tri club (Floyd) and a train conductor (What up Uncle Ernie?!).  By the time we got to the first stop, I was STARVING.  I grabbed some food, drank about two bottles of Gatorade, and had my road rash cleaned up.  The volunteers were very friendly, and the rest stop was well stocked.  The second rest stop was at mile 41 (I think), just before a giant hill.  Thankfully we didn’t have to go up that hill, since the course turned back the other way.  Overall the ride was 52.5 miles, and took about 3:30-ish hours.  I was so happy to get off the bike.  I hadn’t ridden over 12 miles since my June 20 half iron race, so I was a little unconditioned for it. 

After loading our bikes back in our cars, we grabbed some of the catered lunch before heading home.  Overall, it was a fun ride and I’m glad I did it.  The course was relatively flat with enough rolling hills to keep it interesting, the roads were pretty well marked (spray-painted colored arrows), and the weather really cooperated with us.  I do wish there had been more rest stops, but then again, it was only $35, so you couldn’t really expect a ton of amenities.  Also, there were a lot of traffic lights in the beginning of the ride, but I guess you can’t totally avoid that!

New Jersey State Triathlon - July 18th 2015

"Swim, Bike, Rain"

Mike and I drove down on Friday late afternoon to pick up my race packet for Saturday’s Sprint race.  Packet pickup was quick and painless, and the vendors had already set up.  I was excited to see that RedShift Sports was there, since I had wanted to try their system.  I had been looking to put aerobars on my road bike anyway, after the Patriot race, and thought this might be a good way to go.  After talking to the Redshift guys and a little Bondi Band browsing (LOVE the headbands), we stopped at the Triumph beer tent for a few beers.  We ran into some friends from my tri club, and did a quick walkthrough of the swim and transition areas before heading out.   Mike and I ended up going to the Triumph in Princeton for dinner and tried to get Halo Pub for dessert, but all of the ice cream places in Princeton had lines going halfway down the block.  Went home, packed my bags and filled my bike bottles (Shaklee electrolyte powder in one, CarboPro powder in the other) guzzled a bottle of water to refill with tap water (for rinsing sand off feet in T1), threw my bike, air pump, and helmet in the car, and fell asleep around 11:30. 

I had set my alarm for 5:15, but hit snooze once.  I really did NOT want to get up.  Finally I rolled out of bed at 5:30, brushed my teeth, threw on my clothes (laid out the night before), filled the two bike bottles with water and realized I had absolutely nothing else to do/get ready, and it was only 5:45.  I figured I’d aim to get there by 6:30, so I still had some time to kill.  I made myself a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast, guzzled some more water, and off I went.  Parking was easy and plentiful, and body marking was quick.  I dropped everything off in transition, racked my bike, chatted with some people in my transition area, and then wandered back to our club tent.  One of the greatest things about CGI events is that they have a portapotty section reserved just for tri clubs.  We had our own club portapotty!  Anyone who has ever stood in one of those lines on race day knows how great of a perk this is.  I ran over to swim start, where we were taking a club picture, then wandered over to a section of the lake where they were allowing practice swims.  I walked in waist deep just to get wet, and then walked over to the start since I was in the 4th wave.  

The water temp was reported at 81 degrees, which meant it was not wetsuit legal.  I thought about wearing my Lava pants, but decided since it was a shorter swim (500yds), I’d just stick to my tri kit.  Once my wave was called, we all waded into the water and hung out for a few minutes.  It was nice to have some time to acclimate to the water.  I started towards the back of the wave so I wouldn’t get elbowed/kicked too much.    This was my first OWS since my first triathlon (Jersey Girl 2010) without a wetsuit, so it felt a little weird.  The swim was uneventful with the exception of my goggles, which I could not seem to get in a good position.  I must have stopped at least five times to empty the water out and readjust them.  I also couldn’t really seem to get a good rhythm going.  Finally I got to the exit and carefully made my way out of the water, since it was really rocky coming out of the lake.  Race mgmt had dumped a bunch of sand at swim exit though, which was helpful. 

T1 was faster than usual since I didn’t have my wetsuit to take off, and I didn’t bother with the water bottle (to wash my feet).  I wiped my feet on my transition towel and put on socks/bike shoes, race belt, sunglasses, helmet, bike gloves, and headed out on the bike. 

The bike course was great.  I felt strong and fast, and my little bike computer was reading speeds in excess of 18mph.  For once, I was the one doing most of the passing.  There were a handful of times I could have passed other bikers but felt the lane was a little narrow, so I dropped back a bit.  However, I would then catch myself coasting, and then speed up again.  I also saw a few friends on the course!  And by "saw" i mean "they passed me really quickly on their bike and shouted encouragement ;)"  The bike leg went by pretty quick, and before I knew it, I was heading back into the park for the last mile or so.  That’s when I noticed the giant wall of dark clouds in the distance.  I joked to a fellow biker that there was no better motivation for the run than not getting hit by lightning.  Little did I know we wouldn’t have a chance to get out on the run course.  When I got to bike dismount, volunteers were telling me to dismount, and one guy was shouting “the race is over!”  I thought he was referring to the bike leg being over, until I started walking my bike to T2.  

Normally I would have jogged my bike to T2, but it was unusually crowded in the chute leading to transition.  I heard people talking to each other, some saying the race was cancelled, and others still wondering if they should go to transition and continue.  Then, we heard the announcer over the PA system saying that the course was closed, since a dangerous storm system was coming through the area.  They urged everyone to find shelter, specifically in their vehicles if possible.  I continued into transition, grabbed all of my stuff, and headed back to the club tent.  Everyone was packing up so I headed back to my car, but not before getting my timing chip cut off by the finish line and getting my medal.  I felt a little weird about getting a finishers medal since I didn’t technically finish, but not by choice! Plus, it still counted as an aquavelo.  I was bummed about the race being cancelled, but happy about the parts I did complete.

I walked over to the field where my car was parked, and at this point, the rain was coming down in sheets.  I had to keep wiping the rain from my eyes since I could barely see in front of me.  Bikers were still coming in from the bike leg, and it was getting a little chaotic.  As I walked over to my car, I heard someone shout “hey, Central Jersey!”  I looked over and this guy I didn’t recognize shouted “Great job today…you looked really strong!!”  Turns out his name is John... I met him again the next day (when I was cheering for my teammates at the Olympic distance race) when he came over to the club tent to say congrats before heading out.  

Later that day the race directors issued a letter to Sprint participants.  While it was a bummer we couldn’t finish the race, it was definitely the right call.  We ended up getting our official results (for the sections we had completed) and I was so excited to see that while my swim felt slow to me, it was actually a PR.  And I went over 18mph average on the bike!  I’m definitely looking forward to doing this race again next year.  Last but not least, our club took 2nd Place in the New Jersey State Triathlon TEAM UP Challenge and 1st Place in the USA Triathlon Mid-Atlantic Division II Championship.  Great job, everyone! :)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Running with the Iron Cowboy-July 4th 2015!

A bunch of us from the Central Jersey Tri Club joined the  IronCowboy on his way into the history books!  We joined him in Sea Bright, NJ, on July 4th, to run a 5K with him (State #29).  He was very humble and gracious.  In case you haven’t heard about the cowboy (and I'm not talking about the naked one in Times Square), he set out to do 50 full-distance triathlon races in 50 states, in 50 consecutive days, to raise awareness for childhood obesity.  Spoiler alert: he completed it!!
No “race report” for this one, but here are some pictures from the event:

Posing for a pre-run pic
Running with the Cowboy!
Success! #CJTC

Friday, June 26, 2015

Patriot 70.3 Race Report - June 20, 2015

Here we go...
My first blog post...fitting for my first ever 70.3!  aka Possibly the longest race report you will ever read :)
Weeks prior:
The several weeks leading up to the race were a little nerve-wracking for me.  Not only was work super busy so I ended up skipping more workout days than I wanted, but I had been having some health concerns, so was a little worried about not being able to do the race.  I'll spare you the details, but long story short it was determined there was nothing life-threatening.  The prior Saturday, I had done the Flat as a Pancake sprint triathlon just to shake out the race cobwebs and to go through race day motions.  I felt so lethargic during the race, and the run felt like I was running through molasses.  My run pace was great, but overall I just *felt* slow.  I didn’t end up working out at all the week leading up to the race, which wasn’t necessarily my plan.  However I knew i needed rest, and my coach told me just to make sure I was feeling as good as possible for race weekend. Since I wasn’t going into the office on Friday, I was able to get about 8 hours of sleep on Thursday night.  I don’t usually get this much sleep, so it was luxurious!
Day before:
Swim Course
Mike had to work on Friday morning and I had to take care of some work things, so we didn’t leave town until after 12:30.  We hit a lot of traffic on the drive, but was to be expected since we were driving towards the Cape on a summer Friday afternoon.  Since we were running a little late, we went straight to packet pickup (got there at 6:30,) and there was practically no line.  I didn’t stay too long at the camp; just long enough to walk over to swim start and check out the swim course.  The buoys were already laid out and the lake was calm. 

Photo credit: Tovah!
Dinner was at a restaurant near the hotel called Lorenzo’s with Tovah and her mom.  No frills but the food and service were great!  I had angel hair pasta with homemade white clam sauce.  Huge portion but it was no match for my tapeworm.  The restaurant even had a sign welcoming Patriot athletes!  After dinner Mike and I stopped by a CVS down the road to pick up a gallon of water (to fill my bottles pre-filled with carbopro and Shaklee electrolyte powder and to make sure I stayed hydrated throughout the evening).  I also picked up some $2.99 flip flops for the swim, since the ones I normally used were left in my gym bag on a NJT train along with my long-sleeved wetsuit (still missing).  We continued to the hotel, which was the Fairfield Inn Middleboro, one of the official race hotels.  Not bad at $119 per night.  The only thing it was missing, sadly, was a whirlpool.  We checked in, where we were given a little “welcome bag” which contained Cape Cod potato chips, a bottle of water, Ocean Spray Craisins, and Ocean Spray cranberry juice.  Cute!  I laid out everything for the next day, did some foam rolling, and we both fell asleep shortly after 10:30.  I thought I wouldn’t able to fall asleep until after midnight, but guess my body was just tired. 
Race morning:
I woke up at 5am and hit snooze once.  The plan was to leave the hotel by 5:30 to get to transition by 6.  The whole time I was getting ready, I kept thinking to myself, “By the time you get back to this hotel room later, you will be a half iron(wo)man.”  That thought was followed by “Holy sh*t; You’re crazy.”  Surprisingly I wasn’t super nervous (yet).  I grabbed a slice of toast and peanut butter at the hotel breakfast area (the hotel began serving breakfast at 4:30 that morning), as well as a hardboiled egg white.  At this point it was almost 6 (oops).  We got to transition about 6:30, and most people were already there, since transition closed at 6:55 and the race was to begin promptly at 7.  My wave was supposed to start at 7:06.  I was racked next to Tovah and Howard, since all tri club members were racked together.  It was so nice to have familiar faces at the start!  There was a little sticker on the rack with my name, bib number, and the motivational mantra mike had jokingly suggested 8 months ago while I was registering for the race: “You got this, Kitten (his nickname for me)!”  Once I had transition set up, I waited in a short line for the portapotty, put on my wetsuit, swim cap, and walked over to the swim start.

The Swim:
I was nervous, but surprisingly less nervous than I have been at other races.  I kept thinking, "Okay, one step at a time.  Get through the swim, and then worry about the other two parts of the race.”  I think what really helped my nerves was that I had done a handful of long swims during practice, and I did the Nav-e-sink race about 4 weeks prior, so I knew I could complete the distance in open water.   I chatted with a few people in my wave (and positioned myself towards the back) and got into one of three chutes.  We ran into the water 3 at a time, about 10 seconds apart. 

The water temperature was reportedly 70 degrees, which was perfect.  I didn’t swim anywhere close to a straight line, so my swim was probably 1.5 miles instead of 1.2, but whatever.  Note to self: work on sighting.  My goggles didn’t really fog up until about halfway through, but I was able to see the buoys pretty well.  The swim was relatively uneventful.  I got passed by lots of faster swimmers, and bumped a handful of times, but nothing bad.    It seemed like it was taking forever to get to each buoy, but I channeled my inner Dory (“Just keep swimming...”) and counted down each buoy.  I tried to keep my strokes long and steady, and ended up pausing every 6 to 10 strokes to look up and make sure I was still going in the right direction.  I could probably cut down my swim time significantly by not doing this, but I wasn’t *too* concerned about time at this point.  About two buoys to the end, I stopped to  tread water and defog my goggles since i couldnt see the beach.  Once I did that I was actually able to see the inflated swim exit arch.  Woohoo!. I started walking when I was about waist high in the water.  I know I could have swum a little more before standing up, but I just wanted to get upright and get my legs back under me.  I walked up the little hill while unzipping my wetsuit and taking my goggles off.  I couldn’t believe how good my body felt as I began running towards transition.  I remember reading a fellow tri club member’s race report last year where she mentioned how her goal for the swim was to get out of the water feeling good/not tired.  At that time I remember thinking to myself “getting out of the water after 50 minutes of continuous swimming and feeling refreshed rather than tired?!? HAH.  That’ll be the day.”  But lo and behold, I got out of the water and felt…great. 

I stepped in the kiddie pool they had set up going into transition to get the sand off my feet, then jogged over to my bike.  I stripped off the wetsuit and neoprene arm sleeves, then tried to put on my tri top (next time I’ll probably wear my tri top for the swim under my wetsuit).  Holy cow.  Do you know how hard it is to put on a tri top while you’re wet?  I put on bike shorts over my underarmor compression shorts (since I had to wear something under my wetsuit) which was also a struggle. At this point Tovah ran in from her swim (she started in a later wave but is a faster swimmer than yours truly!).    I put on socks, my bike shoes, helmet,  bike gloves, sprayed some sunblock on my arms/shoulders,  grabbed my bike, and started running out of transition.  I got 20 feet before I realized I forgot my sunglasses. Sh*t!  I debated for a whole 2 seconds whether or not to go back and get them, when a volunteer saw me and offered to hold my bike while I ran back to get them.  “Thank you!!!”  I ran out of transition and started the bike.

The Bike:
The bike course was described as “rolling hills” which is partially why I decided this would be a good first half-distance race.  Side note: since it’s not an “ironman” branded race, you’re  technically not supposed to call it a “half-ironman”, but the terms are pretty much interchangeable.  Most people just refer to it as a “half” or a “full”.   The course was a 2-loop course along country roads, and not closed to traffic, but there were volunteers and police at every major intersection to stop cars.  I was passed by a lot of fast bikers on the course, and there were many times I was alone on the road.  It felt as if I were just going for a leisurely Saturday morning bike ride.  I knew this would be a long ride, but I kept telling myself to pretend it was just a normal 50-mile Saturday morning ride in NJ with my main tri club biking buddy, Lisa.  With an extra 6 miles tacked on.  And no extended break in the middle for bathroom breaks, gels, etc.  No biggie.  I got this.  As I rode along the course I realized how much of a solitary sport triathlon really is.  I had a lot of time to think.  Hours.  Headphones were not allowed, but I never bike with headphones anyway…too dangerous.  The course was a lot hillier than I had anticipated, and I tried to ignore the burning in my legs every time I pedaled up a hill.  IMO, this was definitely hillier than the NYC Triathlon course, which I didn’t even remember as being that hilly. The road conditions were okay…there were a few really bumpy sections that scared me (no flats, please!) and a lot of these snaky patches.  Also the caterpillars.  I must have seen over 1,000 on the bike course and kept trying not to run over them.  Gross.
I hit the first water stop at mile 18.  I started the bike leg with one bottle of carbopro (with about 250 calories) and one bottle of Shaklee (electrolytes), as well as a speedfil bottle that I had gotten a few days prior to the race (I know….nothing new on race day, but…) full of water.  I wasn’t planning to stop, but when I looked down at my speedfil bottle as I was getting closer to the  water station, I realized I was running low.  I knew I had to keep hydrated on the bike and I had concentrated the fuel so needed to have extra water to dilute it.  A volunteer handed me a bottle of water (with sport cap) and held up my bike while I squirted the water into my speedfil.  “Anything else? Gels? Gatorade?” he asked.  "I could use a tissue!" I said.  “TISSUES!” he yelled to the other volunteers, and one of them ran to her car to grab paper towels, which is definitely what I needed at that point. (you can see it sticking out of my pocket in the pic above)  #glamorous.  I hopped back on the bike and continued on my way.  At mile 27 I skipped the second water stop, but stopped at the portapotty.  No reason to pee off the bike!  Side note: I still havent peed in my wetsuit.  True story.  Anyway, it was a good sign that I had been hydrating well.  I passed the cheering spectators at the halfway mark and started on the second loop.  Okay, you can do this, I told myself.  Just one more loop.  

Around mile 30  I heard “Nice tri kit!” from a guy that passed me.  “Thanks!” I yelled back, trying to figure out if it was someone I knew, since people don’t usually talk to each other on the bike course.  Then about a minute later, another guy from the Saratoga Springs Tri Club biked past me and said “Nice tri kit…that’s the nicest one I’ve seen today!!”  “Awwww thanks!!” I said, feeling all warm and fuzzy.  Around mile 35, I hit the bike wall.  I kept repeating my new motivational mantra under my breath:“You GOT this Kitten…21 more miles…You GOT this, Kitten...20 more miles…” and so on.  I was SO relieved when I finally got back to the bike finish. 
I racked my bike back in transition and switched my shoes and singlet.  I didn’t have to switch tops but I find that if I pin my bib to the running belt, it flaps during the run which annoys me.  Plus I wasn’t worried about a few extra minutes during a 7+ hour race.  I re-sprayed myself with sunblock and got my face too.  Better than having serious sunglass tan lines later.  And skin cancer.  I popped one salt pill, put my hat on, race belt with my inhaler, Gu, and salt pills, and started on my way.  I got about 200 meters out of transition before I realized I was still wearing my bike gloves.  Sh*t.  I took them off and threw them on the ground near some spectators (didnt find the gloves post race but it's ok).  I stopped at the portapotties just before getting back on the main road, and realized that I was still wearing my bike shorts over my compression running shorts.  Shi*t!  Took those off and left them hanging on a fence post (I did get them back later!) before starting my run.
The Run:
“You got this…just a half marathon left,” I told myself.  I thought if I just pretended I hadn’t just done a 1.2 mile swim and 56 mile bike, ride and was running on fresh legs, I could trick myself into thinking I felt good.  I don’t know if it worked, or if it was just the adrenaline, but I actually felt okay starting the run.   It was about noon at this point and the sun was blazing, but there were some decent breezes on the course.  There weren’t that many people running around me, and again I felt like I was doing a leisurely Saturday morning run.  Mile 1 came up pretty quickly, and I saw the wonderful sight of neon orange t-shirt-wearing volunteers at the first aid station.  It was stocked with water, Gatorade, flat soda, and ice.  Some of the stations had Clif gels, shotblocks, oranges, bananas, and even electrolyte tablets.  I poured some ice down my shirt, drank some water and walked for a minute.  I chatted with another half-newbie who was like, I’m just trying to make it one aid station at a time!” “I hear ya!” I replied.  I jogged to the next aid station, where I got some Gatorade.  “You need anything else?” one of the women asked me.  “Nope, I’m good!  Thanks!” To which she replied in her awesome Massachusetts/Boston accent “Yeah, you ahh good….you ahhh good! you can do it!!”  I kept jogging along, stopping at the aid stations, which were placed at every mile.  They were like a Godsend.  Like finding water in the middle of the desert.  At mile 3.6, a bug the size of a ladybug flew into my mouth and as I was trying to spit it out, it bit me and clung on for dear life on the inside of my bottom lip.  #@($*&(#*!  I grabbed it, ripped it out of my mouth, and spat.  YUCK.  And ouch!

The Shuffle Crew- Thanks, Keith, for the encouragement!

At mile 4, I started running with a local guy named Keith who I ended up running with until about mile 10.  We ran between each aid station and walked during them.  It was his first “half” too, and we suffered together, sometimes chatting, sometimes silently.  He kept me motivated because I didn’t want to stop running for fear that it would make him feel like stopping.  Around mile 9 I saw a guy leaning over, sort of stretching, but definitely flagging.  I gave him the thumbs up and “You can do this!” and he looked up and said “You don’t happen to have any salt pills, do you? Just to carry me through the end of the race?”  “Yes!  I do!” I had one left, but there were only 4 miles left, and since several aid stations had salt pills earlier, I figured there would be at least one more station that had them before the end of the run.  This ended up not being true, but I had been drinking a lot more Gatorade than I usually do during a run, so I was okay without that last salt pill.  Plus I think that guy needed it a lot more than I did.  Two of the things that really carried me through the race (aside from the training—thanks Coach!) were the volunteers and my fellow triathletes.  Every volunteer I saw on the course shouted something encouraging to me when I passed (so figure 100+ encounters of uplifting words).  I gave everyone I passed on the run course a “You got this…great job!” or something similar, and all responded in kind.  Even if they hadn’t said anything at all, they wouldn't have had to.  There was an overwhelming feeling of “We’re in this together.”  Mike had gone back to the hotel after I started the bike to run errands, etc, but drove his car to several spots along the run course in the later miles (roads were open to cars) and stopped several times off on the shoulder when it was safe and took pictures/shouted encouragement.   

Mike's view from the air-conditioned car.  Roads were pretty sparse...
i guess most people had finished
already, lol.
It was nice to see him pop up in random places, especially towards the end of the course.  I walked a few of the big hills during the last few miles, but once I saw the entrance to Cathedral Camp, I knew I was almost there.  I picked up my stride and powered through all the way to the finish, picking up every last bit of motivation I could from the cheering spectators.  As I was running down the finish chute, I could hear the announcer yelling my name, and saw the time on the clock which was under 7 hours and 30 minutes.  I knew that meant that my chip time was also well under that since that was based on the start time for the first wave.  My goal was to be somewhere between 7:30 to 8 hours.  I flashed a cheesy grin (which I realized had been plastered on my face for most of the race) for the finish line pictures and pumped my arms in triumph.  I couldn't believe it.  I FINISHED!!!! I F(*&$(*#&#ING FINISHED!!!!  I. Just. Finished. A. Half. F*#(&@ Ironman.  

Me and Tovah at the finish...#idoitforthebling
Central Jersey Tri Club takes Patriot!

Official Splits/Time

Post Race:
After we got back to the hotel, I used some bath salts I had gotten from the Philly half marathon expo last year, courtesy of Westin hotels, and Mike surprised me with a little bottle of champagne (“just in case you wanted to have some while you were soaking in the tub”) Awww!  Best boyfriend ever.  We took a quick nap before heading to Plymouth for dinner on the waterfront, and then called it an early night.  Headed home on Sunday afternoon after a lighthouse tour cruise around Newport (which was great btw).  I also wrote the majority of this race report on the way home while it was still fresh in my mind.  Obviously I had to wait for the race photos to come out before I could post this, because race reports are a lot more fun with pictures!  My legs felt great the next few days, which was completely surprising, because every 10-miler or half marathon I’ve done in the past left me with major soreness for at least a week after.  I guess the difference was that I actually trained for this.  All in all, I had a great experience, and would like to do another one, since I think sub-7 is definitely in the cards for me.  The hardest part about all doing a tri is finding the time for training.  Hopefully we can make it work next year so I can do one more... 
Thanks for reading!