I needed a mental confidence boost in a race setting. I decided to do the whole entire half at my full Ironman pace. This meant taking it super easy during the swim, and keeping my heart rate and effort low on the bike and the run. This also meant putting my competitive side away for the day and letting people pass me. This meant knowing that I could go faster but choosing to go slower. For me, this was not a race against the clock, but a race that would give me the confidence I need that I can execute my own race with our worrying about what everyone else is doing.
I ate my Ironman breakfast as practice. Two packets of Carnation instant breakfast and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. This gives me about 750 calories without making me bloated or full.
I was getting set up in transition when someone (hi, Gina!) approached me and told me they read my blog and recognized me and my bike. I smiled from ear to ear for the rest of the morning!
The swim was wetsuit legal at a brisk 64 degrees. Phil and I decided to rent long sleeved suits to keep us warm. The race was small so there was only three waves: all men, all women, and then relays. When the horn blew I started off on the first loop at an easy pace. I was sighting well and going in a straight line. In fact, I was sighting so well that I managed to strangle myself on the buoy at the first turn. There was also a whole aquatic forest underneath the surface of the water in which you had to swim through. Every time my hand went into the water for my next stroke I was grabbing onto seaweed. I had to pause twice to take seaweed off of my goggles. I kept the pace super easy and finished the swim feeling strong in 39 minutes.
I made my way into transition and threw on all of my bike gear. I felt like I was forgetting something but I had my helmet, water bottles, sunglasses and shoes so I left T1 and mounted my bike. I do a flying mount (but with my shoes on my feet) and Katie’s hubby Thom screamed “now THAT is how you mount a bike!”. It made me smile.
Less than a mile into the bike I realized what I forgot in transition. ALL OF MY NUTRITION. All of it! I slightly panicked because I couldn’t turn around and go back into transition or else it would mess up my timing chip. I knew my friend Nick was behind me and was going to be passing me any second. As soon as I saw him I screamed “oh my god, Nick, I left all of my nutrition in transition! Can I borrow 2 Gus?!” He handed me two Gus and I thanked him for saving my life.
Still slightly panicked that all I had to eat for a 3+ hour bike ride were 2 gels and a stale granola bar I found in my bento box, I decided to evenly divide when I would eat while on the bike. Good thing I had almost 1000 calories for breakfast!!
I took the bike ride super easy. I stayed in zone 2 for all of the ride except for some of the big climbs. I began to get frustrated because I KNEW I could ride the course faster. My competitive side wanted to come out and play. So what did I do? Turned off my bike computer so I couldn’t see my speed and turned my Garmin screen to only show me my heart rate.
When someone would fly past me and my reaction would be to speed up I had to keep saying to myself “Lauren, this is your race. You are doing this race at Ironman pace. You are doing this to prove to yourself you can execute a plan. You are staying in Zone 2. That person is not. Let them pass you. Enjoy your bike ride.” I repeated that chant about 56 times during the 56 mile bike ride.
I finished the bike in 3:33 feeling great…but hungry! I came into T2 excited to chow down on all the nutrition I had left there before the bike ride.
The run was the hardest to keep my heart rate under control and my mental game together. I had to walk up the steep hills to keep my heart rate down and then I would let the downhills just take me at whatever pace they may. On the first loop I saw several of my teammates miles ahead of me which made me feel super slow. I then had to remind myself several more times that I am carrying out a plan and this is not about speed. It was really hard holding myself back from running faster but I was determined to keep my heart rate in check.
When I finished the first loop I was cheered by Phil, Steph, and Emily. They asked me how I was feeling. I replied with “I feel so strong! and great!” And truth is- I actually did. I was 63 miles into a 70.3 and my legs were not sore and I was not tired. And apparently I looked really happy.
I kept with my plan until mile 11 of the run and then decided to just book it the last 2 miles and finish this race.
I ran into the finish feeling like a million bucks. I crossed the line a few minutes behind my good friend Katie and gave her a huge hug.
I knew this race gave me the exact confidence I needed when Phil said “How do you feel?” and my response was “Like I could go do it all again right now!!”
Could have done this race faster? Absolutely. Did I want to? Hell yes. But this year isn’t about half Ironmans…It’s about the full Ironman in 48 days. I made a plan…I stuck to it…I kept my mental focus as people passed me…and I finished that half feeling like I could have kept right on going. Oh, and I still PR’ed Eagleman by 20 minutes.
This is exactly what I needed leading into Cozumel.