Ironman Chattanooga Race Recap

Where to start?

The good news is that internet results are now and forever and therefore my internet results showing that I finished Ironman Chattanooga in 14 hours and 20 minutes and photographic evidence shows that I was upright and smiling at the finish line.

So I guess I’ll start at the beginning. I decided to head down to Chattanooga on Thursday and I am so, so glad that I did.  I had originally planned to work on Thursday and head down early Friday morning but changed my mind after the training camp weekend when I found out all of my friends were headed down on Thursday.  So when I got home, I got on the Ironman travel website and was able to extend my stay to Thursday night. This turned out to be a really good idea for several reasons:
1) I so could not focus at work at all that week. Why did I think I could get any work done Thursday? I didn’t get anything done Monday-Wednesday.
2) The traffic situation heading into Chattanooga that weekend was a nightmare. There were some really big accidents on pretty much every major interstate headed into town on all 3 days leading up to the race – Friday was especially bad with a jack-knifed truck on 75 N. This all appeared to be unrelated to race day but any day you have to travel through Atlanta…well, it’s not a pleasant situation. A lot of people traveling into town on Friday were not able to make it to packet pick-up and I am so glad that I didn’t have to deal with that stress.
3) It was nice to have an extra day to just RELAX. I watched hours of America’s Next Top Model and it was awesome. My sherpas/spectators didn’t come into town until Saturday evening and it was just nice to have some time by myself.


So anyways, Thursday I went for a short run and had a chat with my coach before I left and got into Chattanooga around 2. I checked into my hotel (I stayed at the Staybridge Suites near the Convention Center, good value!) before heading downtown to packet pick-up. I walked through but there wasn’t a whole lot to see, then I got my wrist-band and gear – including a really nice backpack! Much nicer than the ones I saw last year. I did stop by the Ironman store for a few…souvenirs. I mean, it was my first Ironman and all! I picked up some groceries at a fancy Publix on the other side of the river while I was out. After that, I finished unloading the ridiculous amount of junk I brought with me into my room and had dinner with some of my teammates later at Terminal Brewhouse. Definitely would recommend that place, though the parking situation was kind of a mess. There’s a free shuttle stop near it, so I would have used that had I known.

Friday was “organization day”. I slept in a bit before meeting a few friends for a shake out swim in the river. It was raining a lot so we figured a swim would be better than a bike ride and it was really nice to feel out the water.  We swam for 15 minutes or so and then I packed it back to my hotel for breakfast. I spent the next several hours sorting out my gear into piles: morning of stuff, bike/run gear bags, special needs, nutrition, etc. I was definitely glad to have plenty of time to deal with this because I had stuff everywhere. I also made sure to mark my gear bags in several places and decorated them with some colorful tape to (hopefully) make sure they didn’t get lost on race day. Since it was raining, I also double bagged my gear in big ziplocs (especially my clothes and shoes) so they would stay dry over Saturday night. Once I had some decent organization, I lounged around and watched TV until dinner – Friday we ate at the Blue Fish Grille which was not bad. Not my first pick but it was a teammate’s birthday and that’s where he wanted to go.


Saturday morning I slept in again (I could get used to this!). I had planned to meet some friends for a quick bike ride but it was still raining and none of us really wanted to do a test ride the day before the race in the rain. We finally decided to meet down near transition to pedal around for a bit and then turn in gear and go to the athlete briefing. Once that was done I was able to head back to my hotel and not worry about doing anything for the rest of the day! I had planned to eat in Saturday night with my friends and parents and had pre-cooked everything at home so all I had to do was throw it together in the microwave for dinner when everyone got in.

Watching for the first time

Watching for the first time

The biggest surprise of the evening was the video. OH this video. My friends spent a ridiculous amount of time making this video for me and all I can say is that I have the greatest friends in the world. It’s so amazing and I can’t believe I had friends who would do this sort of thing for me. Apparently the goal was to make me cry (I’m not really a very emotional person) and I did cry a little (though not as much as Kristin would like, sorry!). It was still one of the best parts of the whole weekend.

I also finally got to look through all the notes people wrote for me at our IMTN send-off party that we had a few weeks before (again, best friends ever. It’s like an Ironman shower. I love them so much). I wanted to make sure I got some sleep, so I made everybody get ready for bed at 9 and took a sleep aid to help knock me out (so much excited energy!).

Now that I’m 1000 words in…RACE DAY!!

I was not interested in getting up at some absurd hour to go stand in line at the swim start for hours so we got up at 5 with the plan to be in transition at 5:30. All I needed to do was drop my SN bags, put my nutrition on my bike and get body marked.

And find track buddy Nicole!

And find track buddy Nicole!

Kristin went with me to play sherpa for the morning. There were plenty of buses to take everyone to the swim start – I didn’t check my phone but I think we were over there by a little after 6.

OK the swim start line. It looks REALLY LONG but it really moved quickly once things started going (and the wetsuit people and spectators got out of line). We walked down until I found two of my friends that were near the end of the line so I didn’t feel bad joining them (they had a blanket to sit on). No one seemed bothered at least. One problem I did note at the swim start was that there were definitely not enough port-a-potties there. I stood in line for 20 minutes and the line had not moved an inch and I finally had to sneak away into some trees – I moved way away from everyone so I wouldn’t get caught and made sure it wasn’t someone’s yard. It was just along the highway back into some trees. I felt bad but I really, really had to go.


When I got back, the line had moved a lot because the pros had just started and everyone was getting ready and OMG I didn’t have my swimskin or chip on! The next 15 mintues were just kind of crazy because I was trying to get dressed and eat my pre-race gel and then my parents showed up at the swim start (which was super exciting!!) and everyone was moving because the wetsuit folks had to step out of line and I was SO SO NERVOUS! I handed off all my other stuff to Kristin and all of a sudden we were under the arches and headed for the dock! I got a quick hug with my two friends and training buddies as we got down there and then off we went!

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SWIM (2.4 miles):
I hopped in and took off. I love starting every race with my best sport (even though it bites me later).  It’s so nice to start off strong and confident because if I can do nothing else, I can definitely swim. At first, I was confused because it wasn’t clear which side of the sight buoys we were supposed to be on and I was pretty far to the left (near the bank). But the paddleboarders near me kind of steered me over so I assumed we were supposed to be to the right of the buoys so I corrected my course and got on track.  After that, things were pretty smooth. The water temperature felt very nice and I could definitely tell by the way the buoys were flying by that there was at least some current.  It was not too crowded, but it seemed like people were in clusters where I would have trouble getting by them, then would have clear water for some time.  The swim went so fast and once I hit the first bridge I knew I was almost done! I hit the one and only turn buoy and headed for the stairs.


Time: 53:40 (3/43 AG, 56/831 Overall) <- Yes 3rd in my age group! Wish I could hang on to that for the rest of the race :) Also, swim outfit was my two-piece Athleta suit with the swimskin over top.

T1: 7:38
The run from the water to the tent was pretty long and I didn’t run the whole way and made sure to slow down and wave at my friends :)  I also slowed down through the gear bag area since there were a lot of overzealous AG men running around and causing problems (eyeroll). It was cool to be there with so many bags still in transition (especially since it was a totally different scene in T2).  In the tent, a volunteer helped unload my bag while I got undressed. I changed everything except for my swim top <- that I left on the entire race. Once I got my shoes on I started moving since I wanted to get going as soon as possible. I stopped at the sunscreen station and was able to adjust my jersey and put my gloves on while they were doing that. Then I went and grabbed my bike and headed out!

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BIKE (116 miles):
Yes, you read that right. If you’re not familiar with this race, we are lucky enough to get 116 miles of biking instead of the usual 112. I can’t complain though; it’s a really great course and I think they should keep it.

I spent the whole bike leg getting passed. Like really, I’m sure I did not pass one person. So you can just imagine me the whole time; men and women whipping by me at top speed and there’s Steph, just pedaling away.  I spent the first 15 miles settling in and getting started on nutrition.  It’s the easiest part of the course, especially once you get out of town and out on the highway which is flat and fast.  I had to really focus on making sure my heart rate was staying down because I was NOT going to overdo the bike. NOPE.

For nutrition, I started with those Powergel yogurt chews and alternated with Infinit and water. I wanted to make sure I stayed on it early so when my stomach got queasy later in the day I would still be OK. The hardest rollers on the course are in the first section of the loop, then there’s an easier section leading up the the “climb” at Hog Jowl.  I used quotes since it’s not really a climb but it’s the most notable hill on the course.  After that, there’s a fast rolling section but is net downhill, then a flattish section on the way into Chickamauga. The first time around went by really fast. (I also got lapped by the Pro men during this section :/)

Special Needs was at about mile 52 in the town and that was the first time I stopped – I had my new bottles of Infinit and some swedish fish in there that I needed (also vaseline). I had some Bonk Breakers in there too, but I really didn’t want them so I left those. I had to pee pretty bad at this point but there were no port-a-potties at special needs so I had to keep going.  There were so many spectators cheering during this first loop in the downtown area and my parents were there to cheer for me :)

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There’s a long uphill section coming out of town, followed by a fun descent and then FINALLY an aid station where I could pee. I cruised to the end of the aid station where a volunteer grabbed my bike and refilled my water bottle while I used the bathroom and re-applied some vaseline. Then I was onto loop 2! I was definitely starting to feel some fatigue in my legs by this point but I was still doing a good job keeping my heart rate in check and my cadence high. The rate of people passing me had also slowed significantly at this point which was nice but I was stuck around 2 guys – one who couldn’t climb and one who couldn’t descend. I was probably only with them for about 30 minutes but it felt like an eternity since I was trying to stay out of their draft but they kept slowing down/speeding up.  I finally broke away from both of them when we got to the Hog Jowl climb for the second time. I definitely coasted a lot more on the way back into Chickamauga – more than I should have but I was definitely a little tired and VERY much ready to get off the bike. My nutrition was still good though; I went through another bottle and a half of Infinit and all of the swedish fish I had with me (which was half the bag)

When I got back into town, there were a lot less people around but I was glad to see a few still out cheering. I remember seeing a guy dressed like the pope at the edge of town which was pretty amusing. When I reached the last aid station on the loop, I stopped even though I didn’t have to pee. My arms and shoulders were hurting pretty badly at this point and my ass hurt and I just wanted to get off my bike for a minute before heading back into Chattanooga. I only stopped for a minute and a half but it was an excellent 90 seconds.  Then I was back on the highway into town.

I smiled during this whole section. I was just so happy – I was almost done with 116 miles of biking and OMG I was doing an Ironman! I saw some of my friends on the corner as I made the turn onto the Riverfront Pky – I was definitely happy to see them because it meant I was almost done!


One lady passed me and joked that she wished she could still ride in aero and then we were both at the dismount. I gladly handed my bike off to a volunteer and grabbed a bottle off my bike to sip on while I got ready for the run.


Time: 7:20:18, 15.8 mph (27/43 AG, 442/831 Overall)
I know it’s stupid to say you’re disappointed at your first IM, but I really thought I had more speed in me after all of the hard workouts I did this summer. I spent a couple days just being really bummed out but I do recognize that this is pretty silly. But I KNOW I can be faster than this.

T2: 7:03
Once I handed my bike off, I hustled over to the gear bags. My parents were standing on the other side of the barriers and I told them I had never so happy to see someone take my bike. I grabbed my gear bag and headed to the changing tent and 3 of my wonder women were there waiting for me! I gave them all big hugs and then we went in so I could get changed.  I got on my outfit…


RUN (26.2 miles):
At this point, a thought crossed through my head: I have to run a marathon now. Holy crap! It was was a little toasty as I started the run (maybe 80-81?) and the first bit was kind of all uphill. So I walked…and walked some more, then realized if I was going to walk this much I needed to walk fast. So I picked up the pace, a lot. Then I jogged a bit until I didn’t want to jog anymore, then walked fast.  I figured as long as I kept moving forward quickly, even though I wasn’t running, I was going to be just fine. The miles just flew by.  The first 4.5 miles were out on the highway which wasn’t very scenic but each aid station came quickly even though I was averaging 12-13 minute miles. I was chatting with people around me, including one guy who spent the first 3 miles trying to catch up to me to tell me he liked my skirt and another girl who was out on her second loop. Then we were at the turn around heading back on the riverfront path. I ran much more on that side since it was shadier and cool. There were tons of people out on the first loop and lots of people complimented my outfit. Lots of “go wonder woman!”. Loved it.


I took in four gels in those first 8 miles which I had in my gel flask.  My parents were at the beginning of the Veteran’s bridge and I handed that and my HRM off to them since it was suffocating me! Ug. It wasn’t really helping me at that point anyways so I was glad to be rid of it. (Sidenote: Someone on a facebook group seemed mortified I did this because it’s against the rules? I’ve never heard this – I know you can’t take anything from a spectator but never anything about handing stuff off for good and I’ve done this several times. If anyone knows for sure let me know! I don’t intentionally want to break rules).


Across the bridge is where the hills are. I made sure to keep my fast walking pace up the hills and run down them, especially since I was still feeling pretty good on this first loop. My stomach was starting to hurt a little, but I managed to choke down two more gels over this section.  There were lots of spectators on this side of the river which made that harder section of the course really enjoyable.  The pedestrian bridge came really quickly and all of a sudden I was on my second lap! 13 miles to go!

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I came up to special needs and a volunteer brought my bag over to me and walked with my while I grabbed my reflective vest and light, plus cookies and tums. She helped hold my stuff while I was getting my gear on too. Great volunteers all over this day! I didn’t really need the reflective vest since they would have given me a glow stick, but it was nice to have the gear I usually run with and it made it easy for my spectators to find me after dark. I was expecting them to be at the pedestrian bridge and was kind of bummed that they weren’t there…


But they had bummed a ride out to the first aid station on the highway.  They were getting loud at this point (beer induced) and had silly string and cowbells and were cheering for everybody (but of course were extra loud when I came by). I got lots of high fives and kept moving forward. It started getting dark probably around mile 16 or so? There were plenty of lights though. They had set up big lights along the road and all the aid stations were very well lit along this stretch.

My stomach was hurting really bad at this point, but I kept trying to take in calories – a couple of the cookies and coke and oranges. I took some tums but they only helped for a little while. I just kept running ask much as I could and walking fast since my legs still felt strong.

When I got out to the turnaround, I realized that I really had to poop…and also that I had just passed an aid station and was going to have to wait. I walk/runned my way along until I saw a REAL bathroom on the trail. I checked the door and it was open yea!! So I hustled inside and took care of business and it was so nice not to have to use a port-a-potty. I went back out onto the course (where I had left it, yes!) and told the people around me that the bathroom was open but they were kind of like zombies. Not really responsive.  My walking pace was faster than some of these people’s running pace at this point.

The riverwalk stretch seemed a lot longer the second time around. A lot of the spectators had left (though they left their posters out at least!) and there were a lot of places where it was just very quiet. Kind of peaceful, I guess. My stomach wasn’t getting any better so I started trying the chicken broth at some of the aid stations along the path. I’m not sure it helped but it didn’t make it worse so I kept getting it at the aid stations that had it and took coke at the other ones.


Then I was at mile 20! WHAT? How did I get so far so fast? Ok it really took a while but it didn’t feel like 4.5 hours.  All my people were on a big hill right around mile 20 leading from the path to the bridge and I almost cried because I was so happy to be there. When I got to the other side of the bridge, I found my coach there waiting for me to come by! She was at the bottom of the big hill over there so I was obviously walking. She came over to chat with me for a bit to see how I was doing (pretty good for mile 21). I told her I was tired, generally ok, but my stomach hurt really bad. She recommended I get some pretzels at the next aid station to help. Once I reached the top of the hill, I started running again and she disappeared.

The spectators in these last few miles were they best. They were super encouraging and were making sure to give everyone high fives. It was so great. They all told me I was going to be an Ironman! Yes! These miles were pretty tough and I walked most of them but I didn’t let up on the fast walking pace. Coming back up that big hill towards the end was really tough. I was definitely ready to be done and I could hear the finish line announcements from there.  I reached the pedestrian bridge (and mile 25) and wanted to run the rest of the way…but there was no way. I ran down the far side of the bridge (the downhill side) then walked a little bit until I reached the last corner – the finish line was still a bit down the road but it was all downhill from there! I started running and ran down what has the be the longest finish line chute ever.

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Time: 5:51:28 (24/43, 436/831)

Total Finish: 14:20:07

My friends and family were all right there at the finish line but I still had the wade through all the finish chute nonsense: getting my shirt, picture taken, chip off. Finally I got to go out of the chute and my mom was there for a hug. There were definitely tears there.

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Even though my stomach still hurt pretty bad, I decided I was hungry so I got some pizza and found a chair to sit in for a bit.  We took some pictures and talked for a bit while I ate. It was just an awesome moment where I was with all my people and we were all so happy! :)


Getting back to the hotel was a challenge (for me at least). Luckily, my crew had already picked up all my gear and loaded it into my car which was parked nearby but I couldn’t really walk very well. My legs hurt bad. Getting in and out of the car was especially painful. I pretty much could have gone to bed immediately but instead took a quick shower and ate a cupcake. Kristin also made me let her massage my legs for a few minutes which was pure torture. We all went to bed around 11 but I think I was in too much pain to sleep! Who knew that was a thing? Ouch. Luckily one of my friends had offered to drive me and my car back on Monday :)

Before we left, I met my parents for breakfast at Maple Street Biscuit which was really, really good. We got there just in time because right after we ordered, a horde of people ironman shirts showed up. Hah! That’s what they get for sleeping in, lazy bums.

Ok, so that’s my Ironman story. Not a short thing for sure, and I’m sure I missed a lot of important moments but I think it’s impossible to capture everything that happens in a 14+ hour race.  It was the both the longest and fastest day ever but every moment was awesome! I know I need a break from Ironman, but I’m definitely not one-and-done. I’m going to have to do another one :)

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August IM Training

Hold on, because August was a full month and I’m going to get it all down before I forget everything. Is Ironman brain a thing? It should be. I’m definitely to the point where I’m tired of being tired and I can’t seem to remember things I should remember (you know, like my watch to workouts or my sports bra). Get excited because it’s race month!

(OK, so I know it’s October and the race is done but I wrote this post at the beginning of September and never got around to posting it. So just pretend)

Not that anyone cares, but I’m going to organize this training recap a little different because it was one busy month. I feel like so much of it was a tired blur and I want to remember this month before I consider signing up for another Ironman. I don’t want that race-day happy haze to cover up the more painful parts of training!

Aug 1-7: “Taper” for Lake Logan Half
Sat: 53.5 mile bike
Sun: 8 mile run
Mon: 3200 yd OWS
Tues: Yoga/Rest
Wed: 3000 yd swim/24 mile ride
Thu: 4 mile run
Fri: 1500 yd shake-out swim

Training notes:  Goal for this week was to get recovered from a pretty killer week before.  Long bike was 50 miles, long run was 8.  One open water swim with drafting practice and a fun little scavenger hunt just to get us swimming without being totally boring.  The rest of the week was shorter workouts with some race-pace intervals to be ready to race.  My hip was really bothering me towards the end of the week so instead of doing a 3 mile run as planned on Friday, I hit the pool for a short swim with a few sprints to shake-out.

Aug 8-14: Race and Recovery for Training Camp
Sat: Lake Logan Half
Sun: Spectating at Lake Logan Oly/Sprint, 30 min trainer ride, yoga
Mon: 2000 yd recovery swim, yoga
Tues: 24 mile easy ride
Wed: Yoga/Rest
Thu: 3 mile easy run/Yoga
Fri: Rest, travel to Chattanooga

Training notes: Very, very easy week this week.  Coach wanted to make sure all of us that raced at Lake Logan would be recovered enough to have a good weekend at training camp a week later so a few easy workouts and lots of yoga.  It was really nice to get some extra sleep.

Aug 15-21: Chattanooga Camp
Sat: 120+ mile ride
Sun: 14 mile run
Mon: 3000 yd OWS
Tues: 3000 yd swim
Wed: Rest/Yoga
Thu: 7 mile run
Fri: 3800 yd swim

Training Notes: Training camp weekend! Cliff notes from that post: lots went wrong but we survived and I was tired (duh)!

We had team OWS on Monday and all of us that went to camp were pretty pitiful but it felt good to shake things out in the water after such a hard weekend.

You can see I didn’t do any more riding the rest of that week.  The reason is I had some terrible saddle sores (sorry, TMI but it’s a reality of IM training for sure) after the ride in Chattanooga and my coach advised me to just stay off the bike for the week. So I took advantage of that time to go swim and also actually do something social which was awesome!

I’ve actually been having a lot of trouble with my bike seat all year which has been frustrating since it was fine last summer.  After a string of emails with my coach and a new saddle ordered, I finally figured out that my saddle had somehow “collapsed” (either the foam or the rails) and the saddle height was not where it was supposed to be. It was less than a cm difference but that height matters!  Months of suffering for…7 mm.  Luckily, now I know so when I run into this again, the first thing I will check will be the saddle height.

I took a rest day on Wednesday because when I tried to leave for swim practice in the morning, my car wouldn’t start -_-.  I was 99% sure it was a dead battery (it was 6 years old so I was definitely due), but when we tried to jump it, it wouldn’t go. Apparently very dead.  So I ended up having to call a tow truck which didn’t come for several hours and by the time I got home from work that day I was just done. =)

Aug 22-28: Build week
Sat: Flight of the Dove 100K
Sun: 12 mile run
Mon: 3000 yd swim
Tues: 5 mile run
Wed: 30 mile ride
Thu: 6 mile run (track)
Fri: Rest/Yoga

Training notes:  I did the Flight of the Dove again this year with some friends and it was far, far less hot than last year.  I also had to travel to Nova Scotia for work for part of this week but was able to get a run in while I was there. Low key week because of travel but it *almost* felt like fall on Thursday during my track workout.  At least it wasn’t 80+/100% humidity which was excellent.

Friday night we headed up to Lake Jocassee to camp out for the Upstate Splash.  We stayed up a little too late, ate a little too much, totally didn’t have any drinks (yea right) and generally set myself up for a rough training day.

Aug 29-31: 2nd to last big weekend
Sat: Upstate Splash/60 mile ride
Sun: 16 mile run
Mon: 4000 yd OWS

Training notes: Oh this weekend was absolutely brutal.  It’s also very fresh in my mind which is probably why it seems worse than some of the other weekends.  I started out Saturday not feeling the greatest because of the drinking that I totally did not do (also, who actually sleeps well when camping?) – just tired.  But it was Upstate Splash weekend, yay!

Afterwards, I had a 90 mile ride on the plan – which didn’t happen as you can see. I made a solid attempt.  Since the area around Jocassee is really not a great place to ride, I packed up my stuff as quickly as possible and headed back home to meet a friend at 12:30 for the ride. She was planning to do 60 with me and then I would finish the last 30 on my own. I was so, so tired (which was clearly my fault but still).  The first 30 miles were ok but about halfway through the 2nd 30, I felt like I could lay down right there on the pavement and take a nap. I was feeling like maybe I could go home and finish the last 2 hours on the trainer. Then…bad thing.  My riding buddy hit a set of train track wrong and went down. THANKFULLY THANKFULLY she was not injured seriously but there was definitely a moment of absolute panic where I wasn’t sure.  Some nice people stopped for us and called EMS while I was moving our bikes off the road and seeing if she was OK.  I could not thank those people enough because they helped her up so she wasn’t laying in the road, directed traffic around us and helped call her husband once we realized she was not seriously hurt.  Just some road rash and a broken helmet (WEAR YOUR HELMETS!).  But after all that, I was definitely mentally done too so I packed up once I got back to my car and went home.  By this point it was almost 6 and I just ate dinner and went to bed. Fail, but can you blame me?  The run on Sunday was particularly ugly after such a long day Saturday but I did get it done.  Then we had team OWS where we basically did 3×1000 (one of them pulling a kayak) and yea I’m basically dead on my feet. I feel like I could sleep for daaayysss. I know taper is coming but it feels like an eternity!

The good news is that I feel physically able.  The fitness is there and any long workouts I have left are just bonus.  Remember that race day is the reward and it will be great.  24 days…

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Upstate Splash Swim

How to write a triathlon blog:
1) Do a race
2) Wait at least a month to write a blog post about it.
3) ???
4) Profit?

That doesn’t seem to be working out for me.

The Upstate Splash was a first-time event put on by my master’s team (Greenville Splash!) to raise money for scholarships to provide kids with swim lessons. It looks like it will continue to be an even based on the huge success it was this year! We had a 1.2 and 2.4 mile swim which definitely attracted a lot of swimmer and triathletes from the area.

The event was out at Lake Jocassee which is a little over an hour from Greenville – really out in the middle of nowhere, actually. But it’s a beautiful lake in the mountains and is a great venue.  There’s not really anywhere to stay out there, but there is a campground on site and we had the opportunity to take over a teammate’s campsite who couldn’t use her’s. Yay camping!


We enjoyed some weenies, s’mores, and..uh…beverages (those are not allowed at SC state parks but the key here is to not be an obnoxious asshole!).  We also enjoyed the convenient beach at the campground and goofed off a lot before going to bed way too late in our tents. Note to self: not a good plan for Ironman training.

Saturday morning came way to stinking early and we walked over to the race start and a great sunrise.


See that nice water. It’s normally smooth and glassy. It was so not on this morning.  Apparently it was pretty windy and there was some pretty good chop on the water (I mean, for a lake. It’s not an ocean).

We had wave starts and I was in the second wave. The first 500 m or so I felt the chop but thought it was because of the other swimmers around me. Then we kept swimming and the chop just kept getting worse the further we got from the beach (it’s in a cove, kind of). While it doesn’t really bother me that much, I was thinking about my IM training buddy Danette who was also swimming the 2.4 mile who doesn’t love swimming as much as I do. (She ended up doing just fine but was super worried about Chattanooga. I told her it would be much, much easier!!).

Once I reached the turn around, I hit the lap button on my watch and headed back to the start (obviously). The chop was definitely coming from the north because the return leg was much easier than the outbound leg! I just kept swimming until I reached the finish which was a boat with some people writing numbers down. High-tech, I know, but they weren’t anticipating how big it would be this year! They already have a timing sponsor for 2016 which is awesome.

I looked down at my watch and saw 2.64 and said ??!?!. No wonder that seemed so long.  I didn’t think I swam off course and when I checked my garmin file later I found that I stayed pretty well on course so the swim was definitely long. Whew. My final time was 1:11:30, which is not very meaningful for 2.6 miles but my pace per 100 was 1:31, which I think is a nice, comfortable pace for an IM swim.


After I finished I grabbed some food (there was SO MUCH), and packed up my car quickly because I had a 90 mile ride on the schedule for the afternoon. There wasn’t really any good place out near the lake so I had to drive back to Greenville.   I ended up not getting started until 12:30…we’ll just say I didn’t finish 90 miles but I tried.

Anyways, that’s the Upstate Splash!

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Training Camp Weekend

What a weekend it was. I’m very glad that I went because I learned a lot: about the course, about IM training, and certainly a few things about myself.

I drove down to Chattanooga Friday afternoon after working a half day since I didn’t want to get in super late. My GPS definitely took me on the….scenic route instead of through Atlanta (traffic) so I was definitely a little aggravated getting in. Trucks and windy mountain roads don’t mix.  We stayed in a hotel near downtown so we were able to walk into town for dinner. We ended up at Mellow Mushroom since several of the restaurants we had tried to go to didn’t take reservations and the ‘Shroom had plenty of room for a big group. But everybody likes Mellow Mushroom.


The plan for Saturday morning was to get up and be ready to roll at 7 to ride the entire course – all 116 miles of it.  My friend Justine and I had decided beforehand to stick together since we are a similar speed so we wouldn’t be alone in case we ran into any trouble (there was plenty).

The first few miles out of town we picked up some other riders that weren’t a part of our group and they were riding really erratically – like all over the road.  I know it was early, but COME ON people.  People like that are what give all cyclists a bad name so don’t act like that.  Unfortunately for  me, less than 10 miles in, I got a flat on my rear wheel! I was right near a gas station so I could pull over and change it and a couple of people who were out for a run stopped to make sure I had everything I needed (like they had bike tubes?? but still nice). I checked over the tire for a puncture but never found anything, so I fixed it and took off again.

But…we were back a ways from the main group after that first flat which then caused us to miss a right turn to stay on the course. We rode up a giant hill that was much harder than anything on the actual course, back down the other side and found ourselves on Hog Jowl rd. That road is on the course….but we weren’t in the right place. There was a SAG for another team there and she told us that we definitely missed a turn. DANG IT.  We called our coach who was driving our SAG vehicle around and she told us to ride back to where we missed our turn and keep going.  This gave us almost 5 extra miles – and how I ended up at 120 miles instead of 116.  Oops.


See that middle bit? Don’t go there

Finally, we got back on the course only to encounter a crazy aggressive dog! He was gunnin’ for a piece of Steph and there was a lot of panic before I was finally able to out pace him. We hit the other side of the loop and think that things are finally going to settle down when BAM! Flat #2.  It was also a rear wheel and ripped a solid hole in my tire.  I pulled my wheel off while waiting for my coach to arrive since I didn’t have anything to patch up a tire with and when I set my bike down, the chain somehow managed to get completely and disastrously tangled.  By the time we fixed the tire, installed the new tube, untangled the chain and got my bike put back together, the stop was almost 40 minutes.  We were now hopelessly far behind the rest of our group (this made for a really, really long day).  Most of the rest of the ride was pretty uneventful, thankfully  (we did see a HUGE snake in the middle of the road), but our time out on the road including all stops was 9.5 hours. Like I said, a long day.  Hopefully this training ride means a perfect day on race day!!

On Sunday, we went for a 3 hour run on part of the course (the riverfront path and the residential loop). I’ve spent the last year listening to horror stories about how hard this run course was…like what are these people even on? I guess I can understand it from our poor flatlander friends in Florida but I feel like my Greenville friends should know better. It was not that bad.  There are some hills in the residential loop but it’s really only about 3 miles of the total loop (so 6 miles of the full? not really that bad). None of them were horribly steep and there are several nice downhills. What are people so worried about??

Anyways, I was pretty damn slow from being so tired but my coach was very pleased how I looked and I ran with my coach’s husband who gave me a lot of good advice on pacing and when to walk and things like that.

We all headed home Sunday and it was pretty much all I could do to unpack everything before crashing for the night.  Chores? Who even does that? Haha. So, it was definitely a productive weekend and I’m definitely glad I took the time to go.

PS: Yes I’m posting this now…after the race. Go with it.

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Lake Logan Half Race Report

Lake Logan was my 3rd 70.3 race.  Two years ago I was training for my first 70.3. Two years ago, Ironman announced a race in Chattanooga and I decided that I was definitely going to do that. How am I now only 40 days away from that race??

Lake Logan was supposed to be a “gut-check” race for me – can I nail my nutrition, can I stay strong when I’m tired, am I going to keel over mid-Ironman (answer: probably not)? Even still, I had a few moments of panic the week before – OMG I’m going to be last, I’m not going to finish, WHAT AM I EVEN DOING??  I had to stop myself several times to remind myself that Lake Logan is not my goal race, I would not be last, and I do this FOR FUN. No panicking!

20150809_063041I had a ton of friends and teammates going to the race this year and several of us stayed in a hotel/golf resort in Waynesville. The place was straight out of the 80’s – box TV and all – but it was clean and quiet so money well spent. Not having to drive home 2 hours post-race in my salty state was excellent. So I was also able to pick up my packet on Friday night and we had dinner in Waynesville.  It’s actually kind of a neat little town with a nice downtown area that I didn’t take any pictures of.

We rolled out of the hotel a little after 5 AM Saturday morning and they were super accommodating with breakfast and had basics out for those of us going to the race. One thing to know about Lake Logan: getting to the race site is kind of a pain and the parking situation is a mess. It was better this year with the half having its own day but still. Get there early. 11895165_898728970192943_8488688011720387520_oI set up all my junk and then wandered off to chat with friends until it was time to squeeze my sorry self into my wetsuit.  I almost didn’t wear it; the water temp was 72 (!!) which is much warmer than it usually is. I decided to go ahead and wear it since the cold stream water would cool me off towards the end of the swim. On that note…

SWIM (1.2 miles):

The swim is a big rectangle aaaannnddd it was short again.  It was apparently short last year so I don’t know why they didn’t fix it but I came out with 1.1 miles and so did everyone else. AS USUAL, my wave was one of the last ones and I had to spend the majority of the time swimming through all the other waves – thankfully there’s a big difference between ~500 and ~2500 people so it’s not so bad at this race. Annoying all the same. I just kept it long and strong the whole time until we hit the bridge…then some idiot dude decided that was a good time to stop and stand up and I smashed right into him. >:(  The creek was shallower than usual (a symptom of our lack of rain this year) but still, dude. Don’t stop in the middle of the swim. We were still at least 75 yds or so from the exit dock and he kept sprinting off and stopping and generally being obnoxious.

11834756_898729733526200_3323692340987257658_oWhen I hit the dock, I took my wetsuit off before I got out but I went ahead and hit the lap button on my watch so I’d have a swim time minus the wetsuit strip. My watch time was 28:12, so it apparently took me about a minute to wrangle myself out of my wetsuit. I hate it.
Time: 29:06 (19/235 Overall, 4/20 AG) I got totally smoked by two girls who are crazy good swimmers, one just beat me while I was fooling around with my wetsuit.

T1: 4:42 My coach asked me what I was doing…I told her some questions have no good answers. I wasn’t trying to be fast, I was trying to make sure my socks were on straight.

BIKE (56 miles):

Last year the bike course at Lake Logan was 4 miles short….they found the extra 4 miles for 2015 and they were painful. I train on hills so it’s not like I’m not used to them but this was one hard bike course. You start out on that fun fast bike course that made the Olympic race so popular….and then proceed to get demolished by some big rollers and substantial climb at mile 44. There were also some moderately technical descents. It was fun and definitely scenic but ouch.

The course was pretty crowded for the first 20 miles. I was stuck in a pack that I couldn’t seem to ditch and spent a lot of time slowing down to try to keep from drafting.  But every time we got to a big hill (which was all the time) we’d bunch up again. But I tried very hard to not draft and the officials didn’t issue very many drafting penalties so apparently they were being pretty forgiving because I saw a ton of drafting. There were also a few issues with traffic in the towns – one when there was some event going on at a school and there were cars stopped in the road and we all had to stop! I guess you never know quite what you’re going to get.

So, my coach told me before the race that there was a big hill around mile 40. There was, in fact, a pretty good hill at mile 40: short, but definitely steep.  But…that’s not the one she was talking about. No, it’s definitely at mile 44 and it is quite a climb. It’s paired with a fun descent but my quads were definitely hurting at the end.

Time: 3:21:48 (100/235 Overall, 13/20 AG)
I’m really pretty pleased with this bike leg. It was very challenging and if I did it again, I think I could have been faster on my road bike since it’s pretty technical and I didn’t ride in aero as much as I’d like.  I feel like I nailed my nutrition which is extremely important and a big boost for next month.

T2: 3:24

RUN (13.1):

Most of the time, the run is very frustrating for me. I’m not fast. I am quite slow, actually. I spend the entire time getting passed by people I out-swam and out-biked only to get demolished by people who can run up mountains at an 8:30 pace like it’s nothing. It makes me feel like I’m doing all this hard work for nothing – even though that’s not at all true. So a big part of the run for me is the mental aspect – don’t worry about them because you’re not where they are right now. 2 out of 3 ain’t bad, right?

The run course at Lake Logan is the same as the Olympic course. Times two. 3 miles up; 3 miles down…and again. I started out running the first mile at a steady pace to shake everything out, then switched to 4:1’s to help myself mentally. I can run for 4 minutes. I was tired but still feeling pretty good. My coach was just past Mile 1 (“swing your arms, steph!!” :P) and the Wonder Women were at the first aid station cheering up a storm.  It’s always a good boost to have friends out there since you can’t walk while they’re watching!

You can't really tell but I am in this picture

You can’t really tell but I am in this picture

Once at the bottom of the first loop, you have to take a lap around a field, then back up you go.  It started getting pretty warm (85-ish) by this point and the shade was all but gone. I never felt like I was way overheated but I could definitely tell the difference between the 1st and 2nd loops. The 2nd loop felt rough, but my coach said I really looked strong the whole time, so I guess feeling isn’t everything.  My 4:1’s went to…whatever I could manage until the top, then I was able to switch back to the intervals for the down-trip to the finish. I never faded hard or bonked. I was very thirsty though, and definitely could have used more water during the run, but on the second lap I was feeling a bit sick to my stomach and struggled to get my fuel down. Blech, but it was enough!

Time: 2:33:13 (143/235 Overall, 16/20 AG)
Am I still slow? Well yea, but of the 3 HIM’s I’ve done this was definitely the most challenging run and it was substantially better than what I did in Muncie. I did everything right and stayed strong right up through the end of the run. I’m still very optimistic that my running is headed in the right direction and my coach is as well.

Total Time: 6:32:11 (102/235 Overall, 15/20 AG)
I hate that I was so low in my AG but I just can’t compete with those 1:5x half marathon runners (10 of them were under 2 hours!! HOW). But I really did have a good race and I’m very pleased with my time, even though it wasn’t a PR. I wasn’t expecting to since I was sure I couldn’t match my bike performance at Muncie, though I always wish that I would/could run faster. It was a good race.

I hung around and cheered for the rest of my teammates (one of whom set a 70.3 PR of like 40 minutes!) then went down to the creek to soak my legs for a bit. This feels amazing and if you do this race I highly recommend doing this before you leave.

Sunday, I spectated/cheered for my friends doing the sprint/olympic races and they all did AWESOME.  This is  great venue for spectators as it is…well gorgeous (also not hot).

One of my friends joked that Ironman Chattanooga will only be 2/3’s as hard as Lake Logan! I can only hope he’s right ;)  But this weekend we’re headed to the Choo for “camp” so I’ll get to experience the course and I am definitely looking forward to that.

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July IM Training (8 Weeks OMG)

Not that anyone is counting or anything but 56 days…

Another shocking statistic  – it’s hot in July. I recognized early on that there was zero point in whining about it because I intentionally chose a fall Ironman knowing that it will (probably) be much cooler on race day than it has been for training and I will be in better shape because of this. But there were quite a few days (early mornings) where I walked outside and just said “UG!”. It’s not always pleasant but sometimes (most of the times) you just gotta suck it up. I also lost 5 days of training due to travel to China so there was no slacking for the rest of the month. So here’s July:

pie chart


Swim: 22,075 yds (12.5 ish miles)
Thanks to the China trip, I went almost 2 weeks without swimming (gasp), though this is nothing to panic over since I know that I can tackle the swim without any issues. But I get to missing my master’s swim people =) Outside of that, I’ve only been swimming 2x a week this month so I can have (much needed) rest days on Fridays. Two of those were open water swims at the coach’s lake house.

lake picture

Bike: 480 miles
Again, I lost 1-2 opportunities for biking since I didn’t do any of that during my week of travel but coach made up for it by destroying me on the weekends before and after.  The weekend before (July 4th), I participated in the Fabulous 4th bike ride which was 65 miles of a whole lot of hills (>5000 ft of elevation). Of course it rained which totally ruined the final descent into Tryon – it’s a bit of a technical descent and I didn’t want to end up as a blood splat on the pavement so I had to take it slow. But overall it was a nice event.



I also had not one, but 2 century rides in July. First one was the day after I returned from China – I was exhausted and it was brutally hot but I finished! I wanted to get away from my usual riding places so when a friend offered to show us a route to Anderson (and back) I decided to go for it. So after a loop of the normal route, we joined up with him to ride to his house and back and he made us lattes.  I had to do 10 miles solo at the end of that and they were hella slow but I survived. The best part was when I got home, my parents (who came to visit) made me lunch AND even carried my bike up the stairs to my apartment. Can’t usually get good service like that!

No Bust!

No Bust!

2nd century was last weekend and was far less painful (but hillier??). I think it was less hot which I’m sure helped quite a bit.  I also had a 70 miler in the middle and met up with a group for our annual Grits and Groceries ride and enjoyed some post-ride praline bacon.

gng food

Run: 88.5 miles
This is like a lot for me. The weekday runs are way longer (and harder) than I ever would have done on my own.  I hate it but the coach has convinced me that I am getting better, stronger, and faster and even though I don’t feel like it, I do trust her judgement. I am working hard, so here’s to hoping that pays off! I had one treadmill run (in China) and 1 brick (was supposed to be 2 but I ditched on. Bad Steph). Most interesting run was a trail adventure at Dupont:


Most painful was the 8.5 mile track workout I had last week:

Go out too hard and you will not be happy with your life choices

Go out too hard and you will not be happy with your life choices

And best was my long run last weekend (after century #2), where I was actually able to do the workout and felt good at the end!  It was a flat run on the SRT but I needed the confidence boost and this definitely helped.

Crosstrain: 3 hours (give or take)
Just some yoga and core workouts because there is no time for anything else. Also too tired to move.

No events this month. The first half of the month was “survive the jet lag because you went to China for 3 days” and the second half of the month was “OMG coach is def trying to kill me”.

What’s coming in August:
-This weekend I get a “recovery” weekend (only 50 miles instead  of lots!!)
-Next weekend is the Lake Logan Half! Since when is a 70.3 a training event? Oh yea since I decided an Ironman would be a good idea. I love the venue at Lake Logan and this is my favorite Olympic distance race….but I have to do the half. From what I hear from last year’s participants, this is a pretty tough half so I don’t plan to set any records but I hope I have a strong race. It will be fun – I’m going with friends and spending the whole weekend up there to spectate the Olympic and Sprint on Sunday.
-Weekend after that is Chattanooga training camp!  This is with my coach and I’m very glad I decided to go since this will take a lot of the guesswork and ??? I’m feeling about the race. It will be good to have a better feel for what I’m getting into.
-Possibly doing Flight of the Dove bike ride again in August. I really enjoyed this ride last year (though it was hotter than hell). But it’s for a good cause so if it fits the plan I will ride.
-August 29th is the Upstate Splash event!  Our Greenville Splash coach has always wanted to organize an open water event and her dream is coming to reality this year – so anyone in the area should definitely come and participate!!  Options are 1.2 or 2.4 mile swim in Lake Jocassee (which is an AWESOME place) so please come if you are able! The event is supporting an organization that provides swim lessons to children who would not be able to afford them.

Well that’s pretty much everything for July.


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June IM Training

Less than 13 weeks to go! I’m actually pretty relieved that June is over; it was a rough month for me. I started out the week after Raleigh with a nasty sinus infection which led to two weeks of insomnia for no reason. This led to some pretty ugly workouts but only one missed one (a swim, not a huge deal for me). But I made it through and got my sleep track back on schedule for the most part – definitely feeling better!

Also, it was hotter than blue blazes for the latter half of the month, much hotter than it normally would be in mid-June! Temps jumped up from the mid-80s to high 90s starting the week of June 15 and it was definitely a bit of a shock. Throw in that 90+% humidity and you got some fun running weather right there. This normally destroys my running but I was actually able to maintain (and maybe even improve?) through the last 2 weeks.

Here’s the monthly stats

SWIM: 28,500 yds
Just hanging tight here.  Coach has asked me to cut back in the pool over the last few weeks to focus on biking and running and I have not complained because when the weather got hot, the pool got nasty hot.  The Y has the capability to manage the pool temperature during the summer but they were unprepared and let it get up to 90 degrees before the lifeguards insisted that they get it together. Pool water that hot is just downright nasty. I also got in 3 open water swims (including a race) and one attempted OWS that got stormed out so we had pizza instead.

BIKE: 373 Miles
Starting to build here! Long rides of 60, 70, and 80 miles this month with one weekend off for the race.  80 miles is now my longest ride ever to date and it was a solid speed (17.2 mph) on a flat-for-Greenville route.  Lots of speed work, even in the long rides. Also no indoor rides, yay!  The weekday afternoon rides over the past two weeks have been pretty miserable because of the heat and much Gatorade has been consumed by all parties involved.  There still lots of focus on nutrition during all rides as well – practice during the 30 milers during the week helps get the long weekend rides right!

RUN: 82.5 Miles
This is a big running month for me! Drills are gone, replaced by monster 7 mile track workouts and evil long runs. Longest run was 11, but those weekday runs are definitely driving my total mileage up.  And I never just get a “go for an 8 mile run”; it’s 8 miles with a bunch of 1 min/30 second sprint sections. It keeps things interesting but OUCH. Also hill repeats and other horrible things. It all hurts but my coach seems pleased because instead of getting worse during the heat wave…I actually got better??? This has never happened so I am confident that I will improve if I keep at it.

RACES: Greenwood Tri – first tri of the year!

Other stuff:
-Going to China for a week in July for work. This is highly inconvenient and the coach and I are pretty much calling this a total recovery week because there’s not much I can do while I’m there and the trip is so short I’m going to be jet-lagged as all get out. But work is work, and I managed to wiggle my way out of a few days so I only lose 1 weekend day (and get to pick one up by taking July 3rd off). So it’s 5 days lost but this is one of those times where I’m very, very glad to have a coach because she will worry about training and I will just do as told rather than panic about it!
-No July races! I just need to train. Must. Not. Panic.
-My poor Garmin 305 finally died. I have no idea how old it is, but I’ve had it for almost 2 years and I feel like I got my money’s worth out of it.  Sad to see it die, though – it was a great device! I had to get a new one in a hurry though because my FR110 can’t do bike stuff really. After much consultation of DCRainmaker’s blog and amazon, I found a sweet deal on a new FR910xt with a new HRM. It came just in time for me to use it at Greenwood and I’m kind of loving the upgrade. I’m attached to my older Garmins but this new one is pretty sweet.
-I finally made time to see Pitch Perfect 2. It was everything I could have hoped for and more. The Green Bay Packers doing Bootylicious will be forever ingrained in my memory.

PS – Don’t forget about the discount code for the Asheville Marathon! STEPHANIE2016AMAROCKS good until the end of July!  Best rate you’ll get for the race.

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