Setting the bar and trying new things

It’s been a big week and we’ve only made it to hump day. On Sunday I competed in my 3rd Ironman 70.3 and Tuesday night I participated in my first track meet. Tomorrow I’ll be biking 6 legs of the United Relay through Atlanta. Let’s see where this all gets us.

Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga

This was my 3rd 70.3 event, and second in Chattanooga. Check out my review of Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga at BibRave! You should know, I LOVE racing in Chattanooga. My husband is from there, we get to stay with my awesome sister-in-law right near downtown, and it’s less than 2 hours drive from Atlanta. It’s a beautiful town and makes for a great southeast race destination. My familiarity with the area also makes it a pretty stress-free place to race, and is one of the reasons why I’ve also decided to complete my first Ironman there in September. Ironman, and triathlons in general, can be logistically stressful, so controlling for many of those factors by racing in Chattanooga is a really nice bonus for me.

I had 2 major goals this year: don’t panic in the water/improve swim time, and sub 3-hours on the bike. Last year I wore my wetsuit, which I hate, and had a full blown panic attack within 60 seconds of jumping in the water. I thought my race was over in the first 5 minutes. Somehow I got my shit together and managed to drag myself the entire 1.2 miles to the swim exit. This year I decided to cut my losses and opt for no wetsuit, even if it was a wetsuit legal event (it was wetsuit legal). I felt that any streamlining/buoyancy advantages to the wetsuit were outweighed by the constricted/panicky feeling it gives me.

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Beautiful morning for just a little swim…

The river temperature that morning was 73ish degrees so I was relatively confident that I wouldn’t freeze (the Georgia Tech pool where I train is usually in the mid-70s). Still, it was a bit of a confidence shaker to see nearly everyone, except me, put on their wetsuits a few minutes before the start. I arrived at the swim start that morning around 5:30 so I was pretty close to the front of the age group field (it was a time trial style start). Once the gun went off I was in the water within 10 or 15 minutes. Walked down the dock, jumped in and…BEAUTIFUL! It felt great and I’ve never felt so calm in an open water swim before! It was a magnificent morning and watching the city go by everytime I took a breath was really spectacular. I did shave a few minutes off last year’s swim (not as many as I hoped), but the overall improvement in my mental status was a major win. I went into the bike feeling so much better.

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Beautiful morning for just a little swim…

The bike course was the same as last year and actually very similar to the full course in September (except you have to do 2 loops in the middle). There’s about 12 miles out and back from the transition area with a loop out in the country. Awesome rolling hills with only one big gear grinder. I stayed in the big chain ring for most of it and was damn close to 20mph average for the first hour. My legs felt great and I kept the pace up, rolling through the 3 aid stations without stopping and had the perfect amount of nutrition/hydration between my 2 water bottles and some Honey Stinger Waffles, yum! In the last hour and coming back towards town the headwinds picked up a bit so my pace dropped some. Also, coming back towards town the bikes get a little more crowded so it’s tough to crank the pace without violating passing/drafting rules. I pulled in at 3:03 on the bike which missed my reach goal but was still a 10 minute improvement from last year. I’m calling that a win for section 2/3.

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Heading out with Maccabee

My legs felt great heading out on the run but within a few miles my stomach started to protest. This is an area I’ve been trying to improve in all my long distance events; I start to feel nauseous/lose my appetite after 4+ hours. It’s a common problem to have. Trying to maintain electrolyte balance with sugary sports nutrition tends to wreck the stomach. Luckily, I’m currently testing Generation UCAN as a BibRave Pro and the stuff has been magical so far. Steady energy and no gut bombs. I’m still worried about getting enough electrolytes though because I sweat a ton and get side stiches very easily. I think I may be able to find a good balance with UCAN though and it will be a work in progress over the next 4 months training for the full Ironman. Stay tuned for a UCAN review within the next week.  By the way, you can get 15% off all UCAN products through 6/30 with code ‘BIBRAVE’.

In spite of my stomach issues and resulting slower pace, I still had a great time on the course. My husband, friend T, her husband Ali, and my father-in-law were out on the run course cheering. Seeing them as I came in on the bike and then out on the first mile of the run really gave me the motivation to push through. In addition, the crowd support and aid stations on the run course are numerous and really fun. Even though I felt like I needed to throw up, my spirits were kept high with the combination of beautiful weather and wonderful volunteers. There’s a reason why both the Chattanooga 70.3 and the full are the most highly rated Ironman events.

All the time I made up on the swim and bike were lost in my run but I’m still so excited about the results. I think it gave me the confidence needed to move into the next 4 months of life changing/Ironman training insanity. I will be an IRONMAN!

Atlanta Track Club All Comers Meet

From May to June the Atlanta Track Club holds a series of free, all ages/all levels track meets at Emory University. Considering I’m a slow and steady athlete, track has never been appealing to me. I don’t do sprints. However, the wonderful crew of ATC run leads I’ve met over the last couple years usually head out to the event to take part in the relays and just challenge themselves to new PRs. At the end of the day, it’s just another speed workout, right? Since Emory is right next door to my office at CDC I don’t have any excuses not to show up. It was a beautiful night and I took part in the 4×400 relay and the 800 (part of the grand prix series). My 4×400 team managed a sub 6minute, thanks to my speedy partners, and I didn’t come in last in the 800. Another win for me. Overall it was a really nice night and fun to hang out and cheer with friends. In other news, one of the elites ran a 3:59 mile. WTF?!

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Sexy and speedy (can I just run a marathon now?)

My last big challenge of this busy week will be the United Relay tomorrow night. I’m riding 5 segments (about 50 miles) on the Silver Comet, and then riding another 10-ish mile segment later tomorrow night from midtown to Decatur. There’s still time to join future segments of the relay for the next couple weeks as it heads towards NYC. There’s a great list of charities you can support and you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a trip to NYC and a meet and greet with Alicia Keys. Check it out! For me, I’m sure riding 60 miles a couple days after completing a 70.3 is a great way to recover. Onwards to Ironman Chattanooga I guess.

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3 Responses to Setting the bar and trying new things

  1. adamhaesler says:

    Great re-cap thank you Jessica. Congratulations on the 70.3 finish. How long is a full Ironman?

    Have a wonderful day!

    Like

  2. Jessica says:

    Thanks. The full is 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, marathon.

    Like

  3. Wow. A half Ironman is amazing. Running a half is such a workout, I just cannot imagine swimming and biking before hand. Badass.

    Like

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