This past weekend I did my first ever Half Ironman: 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run.

Afterwards, I learned that most triathletes write a race report, so here is mine: 

I saw a T-shirt that sums up my experience: 6 Stages of a Triathlon: 

Stage 1 – Let’s do this!

Stage 2 – Why am I doing this? 

Stage 3 – Am I dead?

Stage 4 – I wish I was dead. 

Stage 5 – I’m dead.

Stage 6 – I can’t wait to race again!

Stage 1 – Let’s do this!

I have run 6 full marathons, 1 olympic distance triathlon, and 3 sprint tris.  So, naturally the next thing on my bucket list was a half ironman.  But truthfully, I have always been terrified of the open water swim portion.  I was slowly working up the nerve to register for a half ironman, but then I got injured and swimming wasn’t the only thing holding me back.  I couldn’t fully extend my leg to get the pedal in a 360 degree motion and I certainly couldn’t put that kind of pounding on a torn ACL, MCL, medial & lateral meniscus.  

Fast forward a few years and now I can cycle and run without pain!  So with a little help from my hubby and two good friends (Michelle and Billy), I pulled the proverbial trigger and registered for my first Half Ironman! I was excited….I bought a book, printed the training plan, and we started a group chat to keep us motivated. Let’s do this!

Stage 2 – Why am I doing this? 

I enter the dirty Atlantic City back bay at 7:30am with high anxiety, but somehow manage to get to the halfway buoy by switching from freestyle, to breaststroke, to side stroke, to backstroke in a somewhat calm manner.  But then when I turned around and saw (through foggy goggles how far the swim exit was, I asked myself why the hell I signed up for this? 

Slowly but surely I made my way to the last 200 meters, but I needed a quick break.  So I grabbed onto the paddle board to catch my breath and the guy sitting on top yelled “you can’t stop now the finish line is right there, and you’re almost at the time cap!” — I thought, no shit Sherlock I can see it, but I just can’t freakin breathe.  But I am happy to say that I made it with 5 minutes to spare! 

Stage 3 – Am I dead?

The first loop on the bike route wasn’t too bad.  There were some rolling hills and 20 mph winds, but I was hopeful that the wind direction would change at some point. Well, I was wrong.  The second loop was just as windy, but I knew what to expect, so I just kept pedaling.  But then when I came around to that third loop and my quads were on fire from pedaling uphill and against the wind, I thought: Am I dead yet? I cannot feel my legs.  

Stage 4 – I wish I was dead. 

After 56 miles on the bike I could not fathom how I was possibly going to run a half marathon.  I took my time in the transition area and made sure I had plenty of fluids, fuel, sunscreen, and vaseline.  I started out at a slow pace but surprisingly felt pretty good.  Yeah, my legs were shaky, but I didn’t have any muscle cramping.  The entire run was on the boardwalk with spectacular views of the ocean and the weather was hot but not excruciating.  

And then as I approached mile 9 I saw the finish line…but I still had 4 miles to go.  I kept trekking right along the boardwalk thinking ok, there has to be a turn around soon so I can head back to that finish line and take these shoes off because my feet were starting to ache.  

But to no avail. I felt like Forrest Gump.  I just kept running….and running….and running.  And I thought lord Jesus kill me now! 

Stage 5 – I’m dead.

The boardwalk was never ending that day.  My mind AND body were dead. 

But I finally got to the turnaround point at mile 10.8.  I remember this number because the friendly fellow at the water station said “what’s 2.3 more when you’ve already done 68 MILES?”  ….and there it was.  The motivation I needed to get me to the finish line.  

I perked up a bit and then just like that my right calf started cramping.  This was coupled with blisters, numb toes, and two screaming quads.  So I walked a little ways, which was very disappointing so close to the end.  

But then my husband, who had been there every stroke, pedal, and step of the way that day  reminded me of my own mantra: Let the mind run the body.  So I did, and together we crossed the finish line in what was the hardest thing I have ever done.  

Stage 6 – I can’t wait to race again!

Our friends were waiting for us at the finish line and when they asked how it was, I replied “one and done.” But as the days pass, stories are shared, and pictures are published, I think to myself,…..when is the next one? 

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