On June 12, I participated in the 2011 Eagleman Ironman70.3, which was my third time competing in this event (2008, 2010, 2011). It was my first race of the season and also my first race in the 25-29 age group, so the thought of qualifying wasn’t even on my mind since I was at the bottom of this new category. The only goal that I had was to set a personal best by beating my time from last year – 5:02. And, I told my coach, Ashley Halsey, that if I was feeling good on the bike, I would try and go after my 2:18 bike split from last year.
For the past two times that I competed in Eagleman, I had bronchitis, so it was a confidence boost just to even start the swim without having to worry about any breathing problems. Even though wetsuits were not allowed in the swim, I was able to get into a nice rhythm early on. I didn’t think the currents were that bad this year going out and I was able to focus on technique and what I was going to do when I made it back to the transition area. At the halfway point, I kept reflecting back to the moments of panic that I had last year when I had nonstop visions of wanting to drop out of the swim due to all the physical complications. And when I was 200 yards away at the finish line, it was refreshing to really pick up the pace and then make it out of the water without severe cramping in my legs.
Moving through the transition area and making my way onto the bike course, I felt a surge of adrenaline as I started out on the 56 miles. The first few miles I was able to get my legs locked in and conditioned to pedal hard for the next two hours. The great thing about this course is how flat it is, but the downfall to this is the wind. I kept my eyes on the road and was focused on keeping my MPH over 25 for as much as I could, and at certain parts of the course I was able to get to 30 on some of the straight sections, which was an awesome feeling. All the hours on the bike for the past few months really paid off when I made it back to the transition area in a time of 2:15.
With all the time spent training on the bike this year, my coach really focused on getting a lot of brick workouts incorporated into my routine as well. As soon as I got off the bike, I found my running legs pretty quick and was able to set a 7:15 mile pace, which I initially thought was a mistake because last year I was lucky to hit 9. With all the running I’ve been doing this past year, both on the road and on the trails, I was so pleased to have made such an improvement in my speed, endurance, and form. At the halfway point, I began to realize that if I kept this pace, I could possibly make it back to the finish with a 1:45 half-marathon split. This became the goal and as I kept that strong pace, without fading our slowing down on the way back (something that has always happened to me in the past), I surprised myself when I crossed the line with a 1:42 run split and an overall time of 4:38:13 – qualifying me for the Ironman70.3 World Championship in Las Vegas this September.
These endurance races like the Ironman triathlons and marathons have personally become more much than challenging athletic events, they have become a lifestyle. What started out as a way to complete my recovery has now become a way to show my appreciation to the people who have been a part of my journey back to life. Crossing the finish line at any event is my way of saying thank you to everyone who has supported me over the years – my parents, family, friends, coach, doctors, surgeons, nurses, physical therapists, rescue workers, blood donors, triathletes, swimmers, cyclists, runners, and the list goes on and on.
This is my fourth season competing in Ironman triathlons and I’m so lucky to have received so much encouragement and support from the multisport and running communities and to have earned a spot to be on the Timex Multisport Team.
Just to even make it to the starting line at these races is a gift, to finish is so meaningful, but to qualify for a world championship is something that I honestly had my doubts about. But then again, when you compete in a sport with a motto that “Anything is Possible”, it’s only right to believe in the impossible.
To everyone who has been a part of my journey back to life, Thank You for always believing in me. We are on this journey together and I’m so grateful for your support.
Swim – 35:35
Bike – 2:15 (24.77 mph)
Run – 1:42 (7:51/mi)
Total – 4:38:13