A week ago I used the Mighty man Montauk Half Ironman as a tune up race for the Florida Ironman in November. It is literally crazy how things, most importantly my perception, have changed since I prepared for the Syracuse Half Ironman at the end of June. I did an extensive taper, prepared adequately and was in tiptop condition at the start. This time, I just took a standard recovery week, after a 7-hour bike ride and a 20-mile run the previous week.
I couldn’t have been more relaxed the day before the race, and had the chance to explore Long Island, one of the “must-see” places on my east coast to-do list. It was a beautiful end of September weekend and the atmosphere was great with all the athletic events the island was hosting that weekend. The only turmoil was a mad panic for arm/leg warmers as I suddenly realized it might be a bit nippy getting out of the water this time of year.
The morning of the race I set the alarm for 4:30am and ate breakfast: 3 slices of toast with almond butter and a protein shake. Practiced routinely for a successful race day fuel. After some experimentation switching from half to full ironman training I have developed my own bar that I use on the bike, I have found it to be really easily digestible and gives me very sustained energy. I use that as well as a combination of coconut water and a carbohydrate beverage on the bike. I switch to gels for the run, I use the Vega gel as it also contains electrolytes, kill two birds one stone. Just before the race I get in my X2 PERFORMANCE supplement and I’m raring to go!
As always I arrived on the later side to the transition area, the time pressure really gets the adrenaline going for me. Thankful to have this opportunity as a “dry-run” for the big day, I got everything organized. I seemed to be the “go-to” girl for pumping tires, if only they knew they was a recently acquired skill for me…..
We headed to the lake and I performed my standard warm-up that basically has a massive arrow pointing to my head saying “Runner alert.” A lady looked up at me and mentioned she thought I was Chrissie Wellington (English accent)!! I’ll take that motivation into the Florida, thanks!
The swim was the first one I had done where the start was in the water, I hung to the back as normal allowing the fishes to storm over each other so I could get a nice spot in the back. I was looking forward to this out and back course, as long as I keep the buoys to my side I wouldn’t veer off course, a problem I have really struggled with in the past. I have been swimming with the help of Eric Hodska, focusing primarily on drills. As a child I was deathly afraid of the water and would sit on the edge of the pool during swimming lessons at school. When we moved to California and put a pool in, it had to be shallow enough so I could stand, I was that afraid. I still get goose bumps watching the Titanic.
However, since jumping in the pool back in January I have grown to love swimming and even look forward to my swimming days. It has been so rewarding to become better at something that I do not have a natural aptitude for. I knew from the start this swim would be different than the rest because for the first time I was getting caught up in the stereotypical smashing of limbs in the lake, this was new to me as I was normally so far behind it wasn’t an issue. Strangely enough this motivated me and encouraged me to keep my head down, reach with long and relaxed strokes, and ultimately came out of the water 6 minutes ahead of my time at Syracuse. I smiled at my Mum as she heaved a sigh of relief to see me come out in one piece; this is the point of the race where people question if I will even finish…
Transition #1, my worst and least favorite of the triathlon disciplines. My wetsuit gathered at my ankles and I hopped up and down like a bunny to the laughter of spectators, try and get on my arm/leg warmers, all shivering like I’m dancing at a rave. I was feeling fresh in my new Sherpa wind jersey and Luc’s aero helmet, which he kindly lent to me. Hopped on the bike ready to rip it anddddd the chain came off…Thanks to another amazing Lucas Gubinski, I know have acquired the skill and managed to get it on relatively quickly.
The ride was great, the elevation was much greater than Syracuse, and the total gain was more than double that of Florida, yes and half the distance, so it was great preparation. I have been training staying in my aero bars while climbing as Florida is pancake flat, it has really helped build my strength in the position and also allow me to feel comfortable staying there for hours at a time. During the race, when I came out of my aero bars to climb I felt like a monster, it was a great feeling!
Finished the ride faster than my Syracuse time despite the elevation and noticed that I had caught up with the contenders of my age group. The swim leaves me very behind, the bike catches me up and the run is where I take the lead. My transition #2 is much more rehearsed and I throw off my cleats, put on the running shoes and away I go. It is always such a liberating feeling starting the run.
It was a pretty challenging course but I felt consistently strong. One man yelled “show off!” as he tried to race me up what they call “Murder Hill” he quickly learnt that was not a good idea. At the turnaround I saw my Mum waving a big pink sign which put a kick in my step for the second lap, which ended up being a negative split for me. I finished strong cruising to the finish line at a solid pace, ecstatic to see I had improved my half ironman time by over 20 minutes. Mightman Half Ironman gave me the reassurance I needed that my training was working, and my hard work was paying off. Now for a couple of weeks with a few key workouts and time to taper for the real thing!