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Discussion: Newbie First HIM RR--Oceanside

Subject: Newbie First HIM RR--Oceanside

By: Heather N.

Written on: Friday April 06, 2012

Message: The alarm went off at 4-ish, and I started feeling nervous. I am the type of person who gets sick on the first snowboarding trip of the season, even though Iâve been snowboarding for 15 years, so you can imagine the type of sick this race was eliciting. Luckily, I had packed Immodium. Unfortunately, it takes a while to kick in. Eventually, we packed up and headed out.

This race had two separate transition areas, and we were allowed to drop our running gear at T2 on Friday afternoon, which I opted to do. After dropping my stuff, we went to IM Village and our kids and the BPW(Best People in the World, B and R)âs kiddo raced in the Ironkidsâ 1 mile run. Very fun! The suggestion for race morning was to get dropped off at T2 to set up your gear, and then ride with your bike gear plastic bag, wetsuit, and morning clothes plastic bag to T1. 1.25 miles. At 5am. I didnât think this sounded safe; Will and I decided instead that he would get as close as he could to T2 and I would walk my bike and gear to T1. We were not alone. SO many triathletes! Some riding, some walking. It was crazy. I learned later some woman had been seriously injured riding from T2 to T1 when her wetsuit got caught in her front wheel and she endoed onto the pavement.

Got to T1 safely and learned that I was on a rack with all the other 40-44 women. Everyone was very nice, very helpful, zipping, answering questions, etc. It was a nice distraction, and I was feeling a little better. Will made it over, and I actually felt like I was readyâ¦for a few minutes. I did overhear a very large woman say, âIâm expecting to finish the swim in 50 minutesâ¦so embarrassing.â I felt like I would be excited to finish in 50 minutes, but whatever.

Swim:
Wave start! Prior to queuing up with our wave, I watched the pros start and saw something black in the water. I should mention at this point that I saw Jaws when I was 7 years old. For years, I had troubles with open water, including fresh water, for fear that something would bite me. So, to see something black in the water I would soon be swimming in was a little unnerving. It turns out it was a seal! How cool is that? I did not see any seals while swimming, but Will said they were there with us! I lined up just in time to see Andy Potts and the other pros run by us out of the swim. We made our way to the boat ramp, and I felt the waterâ¦58 degrees was chilly! And I had left my neoprene cap and booties in the hotel roomâ¦boo! They announced our wave and we all got in. My breath was promptly knocked out of me. I tried to put my face under, let the cold water into my wetsuit, put my face under again, but I started to feel that same sort of shallow, tight breathing and panicky feeling I had experienced at Lake Powell in October. I laid on my back, tried to relax. I was on the outside and toward the back, FREAKING OUT! How am I going to make 1.2 miles of this?!?!?! The saltwater was another obstacleâ¦yuck. Gun goes off, women swimming. There was some water commotion, but I was at the very back, so it wasnât too bad. I just could not get my face under water without difficulties breathing. I swam breast stroke with my head above water for probably 5-10 minutes. I know a couple of other age groups passed me. At one point, I looked behind me and saw a few other women with pink caps struggling too. Finally, I could put my face under, but try as I might, freestyle wasnât happening. Is that water in my goggles? Am I taking in too much saltwater? Why canât I just swim straight? Why canât I breathe? More age groupers passed me while I continued to breaststroke. Breathing was labored. A man grabbed my leg. I kicked someone in the face. I stopped at a paddleboard. The lifeguard was sooooo nice. âGrab on, you can hang out as long as you like.â I hung out about a minute and forced myself to press on. Another buoy, another buoy. Stop and rest. Another buoy, another buoy. Little by little, I made it to where the breakers ended and the swells began. Wow. I thought I would be more scared, but really I was just worried about being taken off course, swept away. Iâm pretty sure the swells were 4-6 feet. There was a storm surge moving in, expected to crest on Sunday afternoon. The interesting thing was, the swells came from various directions, as they moved in off of the ocean and hit the breakers all around us. Rounded the corner marked by red buoys, then on to the orange buoys marking the second half. My neck and shoulders began to hurt, and once I was out of the swells, I decided to try freestyle again. It felt pretty relaxed and easy, but I zigzagged a little, so I mixed it up with breaststroke. Eventually, I heard someone yelling my name and looked up to see my beloved and my beautiful kids. It was exactly what I needed. I got out of the water in 1:14, totally disappointed, as I had expected to finish in 55 or so. 20 minutes behindâ¦ugh. All the bikes on my rack gone. Ugh. I am going to be last, again. Ugh. Wait a minute, my goal was to finish, right? And I finished the swim, right? And I made it with minutes and minutes to spare, right? Pull your head out of your butt and get moving!!!

Iâd like to take this opportunity to comment on how amazing the volunteers were. Helping with my wetsuit, fixing my sleeve, packing my stuff up, offering encouragement. I am so appreciative!

Bike:
I got on the bike, encouraged by the cheering of Will and the kids and the BPW, and Iâm thinking, âI might actually pull this off.â A few miles in, I remembered my bike computer and my watch, realizing that at the end of the swim, I had stopped my watch, rather than lapping it. I fixed the watch and pulled my bike computer out, and it flew out of my hands and into the weeds! Oh, well, I guess Iâll have to wing it. Will and the BPW had warned me the roads were slick, and I had brand new tires, so I took it easy on the corners. I passed some people, and some people passed me, and the first 20 miles were pretty uneventful for me, though not for the other 5 people with flats that I passed. Before the 30-mile mark, there was this HILL to end all HILLS. I saw about 15-20 people ahead of me walking their bikes, but I really wanted to ride it, so I tried. About 1/3 of the way up, I got off and walked, passed by a very large lady still pedaling. Humbling. As I got closer to the summit, I started to be able to make out some of what the 2 âcheerleadersâ at the top were saying, and it was not exactly positive, but I think it was meant to be encouraging. Iâm pretty sure they were Marine drill sergeants. The female made some comment about my skirt and how itâs important to look good, and I laughed heartily and got back onâ¦fun downhill, though I have no idea how fast I was going. There were more hills after that, and I was riding uphill with a 54-year old at mile 39 when we decided that we were probably on the last hill, judging by the elevation map we had studied online. WRONG!!! After the first hill, the rest seemed easy, and because I was at sea level, my breathing was good, so I rode them all, even though others didnât. 1600 feet of elevation gain! And I ate sooooo much hammer gel on that ride, a little bit every 20-30 minutes, which I think paid off on the hills and probably during the run, as well. I started getting tired at about the 50-mile mark, and about 2 miles out, we rode behind a strip mall where I could smell hamburgers cooking, so I started craving a burger. And it was raining. I have never been as happy to see a transition area as I was to see T2. I had hoped to make the ride in 3:45, but alas, it was a 4:06 ride. Simultaneously relieved and disappointed, I dismounted and started running into T2. Again, helpful volunteers pointed me in the right direction, retrieved my bag, and racked my bike, and I was off and running!

Run:
Amazingly, I never felt wobbly coming off of the bikeâ¦I had tried to be conservative on the ride, having heard horror stories about people who overdo it on the bike and explode on the run. And I was so energized by my family and friends being there, cheering me on, that I felt like I was floating for the first few miles. Best feeling in the world. By then, Will and the kids and the BPW had been joined by the LA transplants, hooray! On the ride, I kept thinking about all of them being there, waiting for me. About setting a good example for my kids. About being tough as nails, strong as an ox, fast as aâ¦?

The beginning of the course was flat and lined with spectators. Most of the onlookers were great! Little kids yelling, âYou can do it!â âGo Ironwoman!â and adults cheering, âGo 1648!â âYouâve got this!â Goâ¦[pause while said person looks for my name on my race number]â¦Heather!â There were some weirdos out there, too: âJust remember you CHOSE to be out here. You SIGNED UP for this! You PAID for this experience! ENJOY it!â or âStep it up! You gottaâ dig deep! Itâs all mentalâ¦mind over matter!â I just tried to smile and cheer and cheer other runners on. It was both energizing and demoralizing to run a loop course, as I knew a lot of the people I ran by on the first loop were about to finish. Those who stood out: 2 amputees just ripping it up with their cool cheetah-inspired leg, a 69-year old woman who had calves like rocks, a dude in a wheelchair. They all SMOKED me, along with MANY othersâ¦old people, fat people, walking people. Very humbling. I know this is my first year in triathlon, I know I am 43 years old, and I know this was my first 70.3, but I think I expected to be more competitive. The good news is there is nowhere to go from here but up. And I am motivated to do better next time. And I had to remind myself at this point in the race that my goal was to finish under the cutoff time. So I plodded along. The second part of the loop was hilly, and I had to walk some hills in order not to trigger my IT band issues too early in the run. Onlookers saw this as a sign that I was slacking or tiring and tried to motivate me. But, truth be told, I felt pretty darn good during the entire run. No blisters, no troubles breathing. The temperature was cool and cloudy until mile 12. It was nice. Will ran with me from miles 6-8, which was very encouraging and took my mind off of the run for a while. I made the 3:08pm cutoff at mile 8 with many minutes to spare and knew I could finish! And the woman who was embarrassed by her 50-minute swim did not make the 8-mile cutoff. She was pulled from the race and had a DNF for the day. My own doubts were triggered again at mile 12, when a very well-meaning volunteer yelled, âYou have 15 minutes to make your age-group cutoffâ¦STEP IT UP!!!!â Crap! I thought we had until 4:18pm! It was 3:38pm. My official 8:30 cutoff time would have been 3:51pm. I didnât think I could run 1.2 miles, at the END OF AN HALF-IRONMAN, fast enough to make it to the finish by 3:51pm, but I thought I would try, and I stepped it up. When I could see the finish line, some man yelled, âWay to step that shit up! You could pass 3 people before you finish! Go! Go! Go!â And pass 3 people before the finish line I did. And I finished. And I heard the announcer say, âHere comes Heather N from Flagstaff, Arizona. You did it, Heather! Way to go!â I did it. Finished that race in 8:34:37. I was last to finish in my age group, but not last overall. I watched the last person cross. Her name was Heather. She was escorted across the finish line by 30 cheering volunteers and an arch of balloons. It was a beautiful sight.

Subject: RE: Newbie First HIM RR--Oceanside

By: Jim K.

Written on: Friday April 06, 2012

Message: Awesome....congrats!!!!!! Very well done. Extremely impressed that you did a 70.3 in your first year. Conquering our fears is among the most sublime of the human experiences. Great job!!!

Subject: RE: Newbie First HIM RR--Oceanside

By: Suzanne C.

Written on: Friday April 06, 2012

Message: WOW - you seriously made me get all choked up. That is so awesome. I am so proud of you. Amazing work.

Oh, BTW - seals are mean - I think you should be more afraid of them than anything else.

Can't wait for your next race! When is it??

Subject: RE: Newbie First HIM RR--Oceanside

By: Scott M.

Written on: Friday April 06, 2012

Message: Wow Heather, way to go! Thanks for sharing your race.

Subject: RE: Newbie First HIM RR--Oceanside

By: Stacia J.

Written on: Friday April 06, 2012

Message: That was awesome to read. Great job out there!

Subject: RE: Newbie First HIM RR--Oceanside

By: john m.

Written on: Friday April 06, 2012

Message: Heather - congrats you did it! Now sign up for another.

Subject: RE: Newbie First HIM RR--Oceanside

By: Teri d.

Written on: Friday April 06, 2012

Message: Awesome, Heather! Yipee, you did it! I loved reading that race report especially because Oceanside was one of my first HIM races. I remember how the cold, salty water kicked my butt (it was 56 degrees the year we did it) and how overwhelming that T1 can be. Yes, the bike course... That big hill is known as MMF by the Marines (Mount Mother F... you can fill in the rest.) and I remember so many people walking their bikes up it, only to face the remainder of those hills. You did well. Rest, recover, and then follow John's advice.

Subject: RE: Newbie First HIM RR--Oceanside

By: Laura M.

Written on: Saturday April 07, 2012

Message: Wow Heather! Way to hang in there, My heart rate went up just reading about your swim. You described what I go through on most swims exactly!!! You are not alone in the anxiety issues department ;-) Excellent job and you should be really proud of your accomplishment. When is the next one?

Subject: RE: Newbie First HIM RR--Oceanside

By: barbara g.

Written on: Monday April 09, 2012

Message: Way to go Heather! Your first year into Tris and you go for a tough distance on a tough course. I stand in awe. Great race report - I could feel that water on my face as I read.

Subject: RE: Newbie First HIM RR--Oceanside

By: Rich L.

Written on: Monday April 09, 2012

Message: Wow! Super motivated hearing your RR. Great job!

Subject: RE: Newbie First HIM RR--Oceanside

By: Heather N.

Written on: Tuesday April 10, 2012

Message: Thanks for all the encouragement, everyone! It is helpful to know that other people are feeling anxiety about the swim b/c everyone else looks so composed to me...I feel like an outlier. I do plan on doing at least 2 sprints and an olympic this summer, maybe another half in the fall...excited about the shorter distance, actually. I can try to push a little harder without fears of exploding or burning out. Keep those RR coming!

Subject: RE: Newbie First HIM RR--Oceanside

By: Michael S.

Written on: Tuesday April 10, 2012

Message: thanks for your words, they havecalmed my nerves a bit for my 1st HIM coming soon. great job and well done...and seals or friendly and cuddly, dont believe suzane, they are nicer than bull sharks...I think?!

Subject: RE: Newbie First HIM RR--Oceanside

By: Dustyn S.

Written on: Tuesday April 10, 2012

Message: nice report, good job on doing a HIM on your inaugural year out!

Subject: RE: Newbie First HIM RR--Oceanside

By: Ronald F.

Written on: Tuesday April 10, 2012

Message: Thanks, for posting your RR. There is something to be learned from every one.

Poor Michael, you suckered him into being calm, I guess reality will hit him soon enough ;-)

Subject: RE: Newbie First HIM RR--Oceanside

By: pam t.

Written on: Thursday April 12, 2012

Message: Way to go Heather! Awesome race report! I am copying your report and sending to a friend who is doing her first race of any length, a duathlon in June.... great job!

Subject: RE: Newbie First HIM RR--Oceanside

By: Carol R.

Written on: Friday April 13, 2012

Message: Congrats! I loved reading this. So inspiring!

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