Reply To: Atlantic City 70.3

BJ Shannon

<span style=”color: #000000; font-family: Calibri;”>I know we had a big crew at IMAC this weekend – sharing transition space with you and cheering each other on when we saw our DC Tri kits on the course were among my joys of the event – so I’ll try not to ramble on, but here are a few highlights of my third triathlon ever and first 70.3 distance:</span>

<span style=”color: #000000; font-family: Calibri;”>I give the event staff props for running check-in so smoothly, but otherwise, Saturday was my day for “everything that could go wrong…” (1) I stepped out of the car at Bader Field and thought, “Oh no, it’s so humid and sunny; I was so excited for fall racing weather after the trail half marathon last weekend (Lisa Vasquez, I don’t know you, but I loved your oops-I-raced-before-the-race post!). I’m going to melt on the run.” (2) The one thing no one told the newbie triathlete (ok, fine, because it’s not triathlon information; it’s basic 7<sup><span style=”font-size: small;”>th</span></sup> grade science) was “don’t leave your bike in the hot sun with full tires.” Thus, I got a call from a volunteer Saturday afternoon to alert me that my tire had exploded. (3) By the time my tire was fixed, and my bike checked into transition for a second time, I’d wasted a lot of time and had quite a sunburn, before I even set out on race day.</span>

<span style=”color: #000000; font-family: Calibri;”>So I just told myself that, if bad things come in 3s, I’d used up all my bad luck and everything had to go perfectly on Sunday.</span>

<span style=”color: #000000; font-family: Calibri;”>It mostly did. I was most anxious about the swim, since I have little open water experience and had none in the ocean. It took me about 300 yards to get control of my breathing and be able to put my face in the water without feeling like I was suffocating, but the swim was as protected as promised, I was eventually able actually to swim, and the wet suit and current were a boon, so my total time was consistent with similar distances in the pool, and I was thrilled.</span>

<span style=”color: #000000; font-family: Calibri;”>Unfortunately, in all my anxiety, I also failed to start my watch when I jumped in the water, so for the rest of the day, I knew I was close to my goal time, but I was never sure exactly how far ahead or behind I was.</span>

<span style=”color: #000000; font-family: Calibri;”>The bike course was as flat and fast as advertised, even if maybe a little monotonous by the end of 2.5 loops. My pace dropped a little on the last loop, but I managed my fastest 56 miles ever, kept my average cadence at 86 with a few long stretches where I averaged over 90 (a big challenge for me), and I even got a water and a Clif bar at an aid station while still moving on my bike. </span>

<span style=”color: #000000; font-family: Calibri;”>At Mile 40, I thought, “Yay, 40 down and just 16 to go…Let’s see, plus the half marathon means just 29 more…cake!…But wait, that means I’ve done barely 40 and have almost 30 more and time-wise I’m 3 hours in and have 3 to go…oh boy, it’s going to be a long afternoon…” But I drank lots of Propel to get in enough sodium and ate the Clif bar from the aid station because I realized early in the ride that, after the 2 hour pre-race wait and 1.2 mile swim, I was hungrier than I’d ever been on my training rides. All in all, I hit T2 feeling nourished, hydrated, and ready to run.</span>

<span style=”color: #000000; font-family: Calibri;”>By now all the morning haze had burned off and the run around the parking lot and along the boardwalk was sunny and hot. The first two miles felt great but I knew couldn’t sustain that pace in the sun for 13 miles, so I slowed by about 12 seconds a mile. I walked through every aid station and took water and cold sponges. The out and back where the board walk goes over the ocean was breezy and cool and, in the finisher pictures, it looks like I’m midway through a charity walk, not the half marathon of a 70.3, but by mile 9 and the first run out/around the pier, I was really starting to feel just plain old worn out. I’d been eating Gu and drinking water, but started to worry I hadn’t had enough salt, so at the last three aid stations, I drank Gatorade. I never drink anything but water when I’m running, but I admit it helped, and I finished at my starting pace and with a huge, huge smile on my face. </span>

<span style=”color: #000000; font-family: Calibri;”>I was glad I’d followed my training plan, even when it felt like a hassle, and I felt like I was fully prepared for this effort and did the best I could have done. </span>

<span style=”color: #000000; font-family: Calibri;”>I still had no idea about my total time, so eating a soft pretzel with ketchup and bacon (ps, I’m generally vegan and don’t eat bread) and seeing in the DelMo app that I beat my goal with just 101 seconds to spare was a glorious moment and one that made me sure this won’t be my last 70.3 attempt.</span>

<span style=”color: #000000; font-family: Calibri;”>Hope everyone else had great experiences too, and I can’t wait to hear about them!</span>