My brother, Tom, and I completed our first half iron man last Sunday. Let me tell you, it was an experience we will both never forget.
We arrived a day early to explore Duluth, Minnesota & get use to our surroundings. It is a beautiful town! The picture shows the general area where the swim took place, in Lake Superior…. Yes, it was a little bit cold! (;
All Saturday, I was pretty anxious and open about it. Tom, on the other hand seemed to be indifferent. He also kept teasing me because I was so nervous…BRAT!
My nerves settled when we arrived for our packet pickup. I was then filled with excitement because the atmosphere was awesome! The arena was filled with athletes all setting up for the big day we had ahead of us.
Tom looks so happy to take a pic with me!
My alarm went off at 4:15 a.m. We had to be at the arena at 5:30 a.m. Surprisingly, I did not feel as nervous as I did the day before. Tom was up shortly after and we made our way to the race!! One of the top funniest moments of the day started off early. Its ten minutes until we board the boat and so we start putting on our wet suits. I get mine on and look over at Tom. Something about it just did not look right to me… It was backwards. Now if anyone has ever worn a wetsuit you know how big of a pain it is to put on. Tom proceeds to take it off and then puts it on INSIDE OUT! I was dying (thanks for the comic relief, Tom). A triathlete walking past, noticed Tom struggling and helped him out. I, on the other hand, was trying to capture the moment on video hehehe
^Click here for a good laugh !
Wetsuits on and ready to board the boat!
We docked near a barge, jumped off the boat 1.2 miles out and swam to shore. We went single file down the stairs (we were on the top deck) and waited ever so patiently until we were given a little “love push” by the volunteers into the water. The lady in front of me, around 40, turns to me and goes, “Have you ever done this before?” I respond “Noo have you?!” What happens after is priceless. She replies, “No I haven’t and I am starting to think I don’t want to, what if I can’t make it, what if the water is just too cold, what if…” as her “what if’s” start to get the best of her, the volunteer gives her a slight push and off she goes into Lake Superior!
And so our 7 hour endeavor begins…
I jumped into the water and the cold shocked my entire body. It took a few moments to adjust (now I know why a wetsuit was required!) What I will say is that the swim was the easiest of all three. The hardest part was maneuvering your way around everyone in the water. I definitely got kicked and kicked a few people…oopsies!
After coming to the end of the swim I ran, completely scatter brained, into the arena to do my transition for the biking. I did my transition in about 5 minutes which is good because I was in for a long 56 mile bike ride! This part is what I was most nervous about. I am not a strong biker. Everyone and their mom has said to me “Oh but that would be the easiest part for me” …well not for me! I was about mile 38 in when I really started to hurt. Not in my legs but in my lower back from being slouched for so long and (sorry if this is TMI) but my lady parts KILLED! I stopped once to go through the bathroom and it was there that I had to give myself a pep talk. Quitting was never an option. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted a few times to ride riiiiight into a car on “accident”. Just kidding, kinda (;
Tom at mile 56- Ahead of me and happy as a clam, biking being one of his strengths! (Jealous)
I was so happy to be done biking that the thought of running 13.1 miles sounded like a treat. I knew Tom would beat me in the biking so I had ground to make up in the running. I started off and felt pretty good! I kept my eyes open for Tom and found him around mile 6. How it worked was that the course went in a big loop and we did the loop twice. So Tom and I went right past each other in opposing directions, him being a mile and a half ahead of me. Once I saw him I yelled “I’M COMING FOR YA TOM!” Runners around me probably thought I was losing my mind hahaha but hey whats wrong with a little friendly competition?! Tom just laughed and kept running. Few miles later, I was passed by Tom. This time he glanced at me but then focused his gaze straight ahead, focused, determined to not let his little sister beat him.
Mile 13 and I was running the last straight away to the finish line. Turns out, Tom has beat me. I go to look for him and this is what I find…
Tom was severely dehydrated and over heated. He was being tended to by the medical team. When they asked if he knew where he was at and if he had ever done this race before he replies “Yes I have. I’m in Colorado” – Tom ran a race 4 years ago in Colorado called the Leadville 50 (a 50 mile race). So he was also fairly delusional!
We decided that although he beat me by 6 minutes, it was pretty much a tie since he ended up in the med tent (; Can you tell we are competitive yet?
okay okayyy he still beat me..so congrats Tom! I’m gunning for you at the next race though!
The past week I have received a lot of emails and messages asking different questions about the half iron man. I decided to compile them all here so everyone could see them!
1.) How did you decide what to eat before the race? What did you eat? How much time before the race?
I did my research just like anyone else and searched the web! You never want to eat food high in fiber before a big race because then you are making constant trips to the bathroom or right during it…and that is just no fun! Especially if it’s when you are swimming in a big body of water! I decided on a whole wheat bagel and peanut butter. I actually set my bagel and PB in a bag right next to my bed, when I woke up at 4:15 a.m. the first thing I did was eat it.
2.) How long did you train for your half iron man?
Tom and I did not sign up for the race until July. We had been talking about doing one for quite awhile and kept going back and forth between where we wanted to race at. This ate up a lot of training time. We are both pretty active but we knew this was pushing it. If I could redo this, I would have seriously trained for at least 4-5 months.
3.) How did you set up your training schedule?
Again, first time with the race so I read up on it! Some people will write a detailed plan out of what they will do every single day leading up to the race. Others made sure that they did at least two of the three physical activities everyday (so swim and bike one day, bike and run the other and so on). I went with the second route and Tom did as well.
4.) “I want to do a triathlon, but I really am not a strong swimmer…at all…”
Well, what I can tell you is that most of the people doing triathlons are very strong in at least one of the three events. The other events, they might have to train a lot harder for. If you want to get better at swimming, the answer is pretty simple, work at it. If you want it bad enough you have to put the work in. If you do, it will pay off. You are as strong as your weakest link so strengthening areas you are weaker in is a must! I recommend doing a few sprint triathlons before jumping right into a half iron man.
5.) What event did you struggle in the most? What did Tom struggle in?
Without a doubt my weakness is BIKING! Oh my goodness, it is clear as day to me that for my next tri I need to train a lot more. I biked a fair amount to work for part of my training. However, I should have gone on more long bike rides to get myself ready. Tom is a very strong biker. He actually had a flat tire during the race, changed it, and still beat me haha…if that says anything about my biking (; As far as what Tom’s biggest struggle, I think he would agree with me that it was the running. He is a strong runner, but he did not put a ton of focus into training for the running.
6.) “I am training for a half iron man now- for next summer!- and I am so nervous! How did you overcome your nerves??”
I’m not going to lie, I always felt a little bit nervous all the way up to race day…some days really nervous! What made me feel better was training. The more prepared you are the better! Embrace what you feel because being nervous (and even a little bit scared) shows that you care. It also means that you are putting yourself outside your comfort zone and that is remarkable. You are growing as a person, and trust me, when race day comes and you accomplish what you set out to do, you will feel amazing!!!
7.) “I would love to do a serious triathlon but a nice bike is pricey as well as a wetsuit…”
I do not own the best bike either, that is why I rented a Trek bike from Bushwacker for the weekend- $65! That’s a steal. Tom and I both rented out wetsuits as well. The race sent us a link to order them ahead of time and then we picked them up packet day!
If you guys have any more questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org-Thanks for the read!(: