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Patriot Half Ironman- The Swim!

Patriot Half Ironman June 14, 2014

East Freetown, MA

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Let me start off by saying, the Patriot Half Ironman was such a fun, well organized race!  It was put on my Sun Mulisport Events (a very well known multisport event company in the New England Region).  I had been hearing about this race for YEARS and about how great it was… now I know why!  I can honestly say, I will be back next year.

The day started early on Saturday… really early. My alarm went off at 3:30 AM since we had to drive about an an hour and five minutes down to the race venue.  I had been freaking out about the weather forecast, so I immediately checked the radar on my phone upon waking.  I got so excited to see no rain on the radar and I was ready to get the day started. The ‘potential’ rain missed us and it was going to be a cloudy (rain free) day on the course!

I ate my breakfast at 4:15 AM, three hours before race start (which is what I was instructed to do by my nutritionist).  Breakfast consisted of 1.25 cups of apple sauce, 1 banana and 1 scoop of whey protein powder.  I also had 24 oz bottle of sports drink (Power Bar Perform, 3 scoops) in the car.  I ate the same pre-race breakfast before the Boston Marathon and will do the same for my Ironman.  The only bad thing is, I have trouble getting the whey down (I hate the taste with water).  I think I will try combining with the apple sauce next time.

At around 4:45 AM we got into the car with Oliver and were on our way!  Luckily I packed everything the night before, so it was seamless in the AM.

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The venue was located at Cathedral Camp in East Freetown, MA (close to the ocean). Parking at the race was really easy when we got there around 5:45 AM, and race packet pick up was seamless.  Once I grabbed my race packet, put my stickers on my bike and helmet, I was off to get body marked and then to over transition.

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My transition station (#203) was on the end of transition, which meant after getting out of the water, I would have to run a little further, oh well, I like running I thought:)   Also, I find that I’m always next to the person who brings a billion things to transition, including a giant towel that is overflowing into my ‘station.’  It’s a pet peeve of mine in triathlons (and in life) when people take over your space. Stay in your bubble people:)

Once I got my transition set up, I put on my wet suit and used the porta potties one last time, I was off to the swim start to warm up. Before getting in the water I took one Power Bar gel with caffeine to get something in my system before the start.  The swim course was a pond swim in Long Pond (the largest fresh water pond in Massachusetts).  According to my training plan, I needed to warm up for 12 minutes in the water with some fast and slow stroke movements.  I got into the water with plenty of time to get this accomplished and I was happy about that!  I hate being rushed. At lot of people were warming up and we were all saying how great the water felt. The water was honestly the perfect temperature.  Around 65 degrees and really calm.

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For the first time in my life, I was looking forward to a swim start.  This year, the Patriot Half tried something new with a time trial start.   They sent athletes in the water 3 at a time every 10 seconds, according to their start wave.  I was in wave 4, which included females 30-39 and males 30-34 and I was amazed at how quickly the lines were moving… before I knew it, it was my turn.  They had a counter that counted down for 10 seconds and then make a loud beep.  When it was my turn, I watched the countdown and then ran into the water to start my swim… talk about an adrenaline rush! It was so fun!  It was great not having to start the swim in a giant cluster of swimmers.  Loved the time trial start!

The course was a large rectangle shape, and it was pretty easy to sight the buoys.  I started off strong from the beginning and was very proud of myself for not getting anxious in the water.  I‘m amazed at how far I’ve come with this!  I played my go-to song Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’ in my head to help get me in a groove.  Stroke by stroke, I felt strong and fast.  There were only a couple of times where I felt like I could get kicked by another swimmer, but I was able to move out of the way.  There were also clusters around the buoys (per usual) where people were doing back stroke, side stroke, etc… it was fun trying to maneuver around those people (not).

As I was swimming, it felt like it was taking longer than it should have.  At a few points I thought to myself ‘I feel like I should be finished by now.’  I tried not to think about it too much and just focused on getting back to the beach.  In the distance I could see the ‘swim finish’ sign and the beach… almost there I thought!  I surged at the end of the swim, passing people left and right.  I always swim until I am basically on top of the sand, it makes a HUGE difference when you have to run out of the water.  It’s less tiring to run out of shallow water versus deep water.. something to keep in mind if you have not done a tri before.  Always swim in as far as you can!

(That’s me in the white swim cap below!)

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I got out of the water and looked at my watch… I saw 36 minutes and was really confused/annoyed. I could have sworn I was going faster than that!  My PR is 34 minutes and I had planned on breaking that time.  I also felt fast in the water and did not expect my watch to say anything over 34 minutes.  I tried not to think about it as I stripped off my wet suit and headed to transition.

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When I got to transition, I took one salt tab at T1 (it was so humid, I needed it), threw on my helmet and bike shoes and was on my way.  My T1 time, from swim-to-bike was 2:00:1, almost under two minutes, not bad!

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As a side note, after the race, I heard A LOT of people talking about how the swim course seemed long.  Come to find out, a new person apparently laid out the buoys this year and overshot the course… by about .2 miles (at least this is what I’ve heard). The course was probably closer to 1.4 miles, not 1.2 miles.  No wonder my miles seemed ‘off’ on my Garmin when I finished the entire race!  This being said, I like to think that I DID in fact PR on the swim course!

Official Swim time: 35 minutes 57 seconds 

 

…. Bike and Run recaps coming up next.. stay tuned!

 

 

 

race reports

I will never forget this race: the 118th Boston Marathon

What a day it was.

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Here I am, four days after the Boston Marathon and I still have goose bumps from that day. There are no words to describe what running on that course was like on Monday. The feeling along the entire course was ELECTRIC. As my body heals this week, I cannot help but reflect back on what was probably one of the best days of my life. My quads and hamstrings are still a little sore, but my pride is absolutely still glowing! I grew up just outside of Boston and I ran last year, it was my very first marathon. I did not get to celebrate last year, all of that excitement was taken away from me (and everyone else that day). This year I got to celebrate with my family and actually enjoy my accomplishment. There is nothing like it and nothing as sweet as crossing that finish line!

My Official time was 3:24:30!

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For those of you who have been reading my blog, you know I was battling some injuries this winter. I had a feeling all along that I WOULD run, but I was nervous (and didn’t want to be in pain or cause permanent injury). I had people tell me that it wasn’t a good idea, but I wasn’t willing to let that stop me. If I was to run Boston, this WAS the year and I had to do it. The good thing is, as it got closer I started to feel a lot better (thanks to my chiropractor, massage therapist and acupuncturist) and running the race was becoming more of a reality. I What’s amazing is, I took five whole weeks off from running this winter and still took four minutes off from last year! It goes to show that you don’t have to over train to run a marathon:).To be honest, I wanted to break 3:20 (my time from Chicago in October), but given the course and all that went on with my foot injury, I was overjoyed knowing that I ran a Boston PR and qualified again for next year!  I realize that not every race can be a PR and I am happy with my strong finish.

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Heading down the hill at Newton-Wellesley Hospital after seeing my hubby and family

The course was TOUGH for me this year, especially after mile 16! The consensus I’ve received from a lot of lot of runners is that their quads were cramping up big time around mile 16, and continued to throughout the race. Yup, this was me!

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Going up heartbreak hill! It was the down hills that got me (not heart break)

I think I was just so excited in the beginning, that I went out too fast on the down hills and that came back to bite me. I had a great run until around 16 and things started to get cramped up. Luckily, as a last minute decision I packed headphones in my Fuel Belt pouch (I NEVER run with music). My quads were burning so badly that I threw on my headphones and it forced me to zone in. While the crowds were AMAZING and so loud, I needed to listen to music to get me through miles 16-20. Once I got closer to the city, the crowds got even bigger and that helped me through to the finish line.

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If you have ever run the Boston Marathon, you know that the best sign in the world is seeing Hereford Street, knowing all you have to do is take a right and then a left onto Boylston Street, and you’re home free! As I took that turn on Monday and ran down Boylston, all I could do was run as fast as I could, just thinking about what happened last year… it gave me the fuel I needed! With tears of joy in my eyes, I crossed that finish and it was the best feeling in the WORLD. The best part is that I also did not further injure myself by running this race!

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Here are some of my favorite photos and moments from the Boston Marathon and the Marathon Expo! These are moments I will cherish forever. 

Meeting Kara Goucher and Lauren Fleshman, who were representing Oiselle at the Boston Marathon Expo on Saturday. They are so down to earth and just plain awesome! I felt start struck!

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My Marathon day outfit.  Thanks Oiselle for being so perfect. I loved my Strappy bra, Flyte Tank, Distance Shorts and Lux arm warmers… totally comfortable, no chaffing and super cute.  Plus I stood out in the crowd, even better!

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The sunrise in the Boston common at the buses and bag drop. The sunrise was beautiful and my eyes welled up with tears as I the buses drove down Tremont Street, runners waving and smiling out the windows… we were all so excited!

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The excitement continued in Athlete’s Village, where I sat around for about 1.5 hours before heading to my start corral. I met a lot of nice people that morning and there was just so much JOY all around the village, we all could not wait to start the race!

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Seeing my husband and family at mile 16.5!

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All of the volunteers (and spectators) thanking ME as a runner for running this year! I thought that was amazing… The volunteers and spectators at the Boston Marathon are truly the best!

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Meeting up with my husband and family in the Boston Common, just after finishing, feeling such pride.

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I can’t WAIT for next year! #BostonStrong