Monday, July 18, 2016

Tracey's Syracuse Half Ironman Race Recap

Syracuse Half Ironman
1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run
June 19, 2016

I asked Susan if could write a blog post about my IM 70.3 Syracuse so I can remember all of the details.  I have also had many people interested in what goes into an event like this.  So, here it goes-

I decided to train for IM Syracuse 70.3 after my friend Kelli was talking about wanting to do one this year.  She researched different ones and we finally decided on Syracuse because of the time of year (not having to train through the summer) and the fact that we could drive to it.
So, in January, the training began.  I got back in the pool after two years out of it.  I swam two days a week (anywhere between 2000-2500 yards each time).  I biked at least three times a week on my bike trainer until it was nice enough to get outside.  I ran a lot also, completing a half marathon in April and May.  I also refused to give up Crossfit.  I love Crossfit and I know it makes me a much stronger athlete.  So, I went 2-3 times a week.  It was hard to fit everything in, and a lot of days I did double workouts.  Many of my workouts were at 5:30 am and also at 10:00 pm.  I tried my hardest not to let my workouts take away from my family time.  I think I did a pretty good job even if it came with sacrifices and times I just didn’t want to get up or get on the treadmill after the kids went to bed.

Because the triathlon was on Father’s Day, I also decided to dedicate this race to my Dad and raise money for CCMAC, an organization that raises money to increase awareness and prevention of melanoma.  My dad passed away in August of 2012 from melanoma.

The Race
Kelli and I traveled to Syracuse on Friday.  On Saturday morning, we headed down to Jamesville Beach where the race activities were occurring.  We checked in, signed away our life in waivers and picked up all of our race gear.  We hit the Ironman store, spent lots of money, and then attended the mandatory athlete meeting where it was repeatedly emphasized how hilly this course was.  We got a bit scared!  We then checked in our bikes, checked out the swim course and drove the first 12 miles of the bike course.  We were told miles 2-12 were all uphill, and that was not a lie.  At least now we had an idea of what we were facing.

We headed to meet our families, had a great pre-race dinner at Pastabilities, got our stuff together and headed to bed.

Race Day

The alarm went off at 4 am.  Way too early!  We got up, ate, collected our things and were off.  We got to the race at 5:30, headed to the transition area and got set up.  The forecast for the day was 91 and sunny, so we braced ourselves for a long, hot day.

The swim course was a rectangle with buoys every 100 meters.  That was really nice.  Kelli’s age group was scheduled to start at 7:16, so I said goodbye to her and wished her luck.  My age group went off at 7:56, so I stood around and looked for my mom and her friend Mark.   I finally found them, got in the water and we were off!  The swim was pretty uneventful.  It is my favorite part of the triathlon.  I exited the water, really enjoyed the wetsuit strippers and was off to transition.  My goal for the swim was 40 minutes.
Time:  39:16.

Transition 1
It was a bit of a run to the transition area.  I stopped to use the bathroom, got my bike gear on, applied more sunscreen and was off.

Let me start my saying that the bike is my weakest part of the triathlon.  I also worry a lot while riding that something will happen to my bike that I won’t be able to fix.  That is my biggest fear- not being able to finish because of a mechanical problem, not a physical one.  So, I started out on the bike very nervous.  What a course!  The first 12 miles were grueling to say the least.  There were some more good climbs in there, including one at mile 48 where I saw people pushing their bikes up the hill.  I only stopped once on the bike course at mile 40 to use the bathroom.  Because it was so hot, I was hydrating, hydrating, hydrating, so it was good sign that I had to go to the bathroom again. I also took advantage of the bike time to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a pretty melted granola bar.  The end of the bike course was good, despite my bike mileage being over 56 miles.  My goal for this was 15 mph. 
3:48:20    14.72 mph

Transition 2
I changed shoes, put my visor on, applied more sunscreen and used the bathroom again.

Going into this race, I thought the run would be my strongest part, until I saw the weather forecast.  I decided not even to wear my watch and just listen to my body and run (for those of you who know me, you know this is hard for me to do!).  This course was very difficult.  It was a two loop course, so we had to run the same hills twice.  Add in the 90 degree temperature and a very sunny sky, it was pure torture.  My only goal was to finish at this point.  I ran aid station to aid station (every mile).  I drank so much Gatorade and water I thought I would float away.  I also ate a bunch of salted pretzels and keep putting ice down my top.  I ran through every hose possible.  I saw Kelli three times on this run.  Mentally, it was great to see her.  She looked strong.  The middle of each loop had a hill designed by the devil himself.  I did not see one person running up that hill.  I walked it both times.  I was so scared of cramping or getting light headed from the heat.  I decided that my time was not important.  Seeing my mom and Mark at the turn around helped a lot.  I told them the second loop was going to be slow.  The second loop actually ended up being very close in time to the first loop.  I took it aid station by aid station again.  Until finally I made it.
2:22.51    (1st loop- 1:11:15, 2nd loop- 1:11:36)

Running down to the finish line was the best feeling.  It was such a relief to be done. 

Review of the course

Overall, the Syracuse 70.3 course was very challenging.  There were lots and lots of hills, which I am used to training in Pittsburgh.  I do love challenges.  I would definitely attempt this course again.  The race itself was extremely organized.  I need to give a huge thanks to the volunteers.  They were absolutely incredible!  From the wetsuit strippers to the sunscreen sprayers to the people giving out gatorade, water and ice- they were all amazing.  So supportive and energetic and encouraging.  Hands down the best volunteers I have ever encountered.  I really needed them on such a tough day and they did not disappoint.  I also have to thank my mom and Mark for driving from Long Island to watch me compete.  It really meant a lot to me.

I really want to congratulate Kelli for finishing her first half Ironman on a tough course in not so ideal conditions.  Kelli, you rock and I look forward to completing many more races with you.  You push me to do better and I really enjoyed sharing this experience with you. 

Tracey and Kelli  
This was definitely not the race I had envisioned in my mind.  I had a goal time of 6:30.  I finished in 7:01:35.  On another day, I would have been very disappointed in myself.  But, for once, I was proud of myself.  I trained well, I gave it my all, and I raced smart in the heat.  I know my dad was watching out for me that day, giving me the strength to push through.

I want to thank everyone who donated to CCMAC and everyone who supported me.  I received so many texts and messages wishing me luck and had numerous text messages from friends when I turned on my phone after the race.  I especially want to thank Susan who rode many miles next to me on her bike when she didn’t have to.  She also got me this necklace before I left which was so very thoughtful.  I have so blessed to have all of these amazing people in my life!  

Will I do another one?  Never say never, right?  A full Ironman is on my list to complete by age 50.  I have 7.5 years to train.  Hopefully that is enough!

Thanks for reading!


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