Ironman 70.3 Wisconsin – Race Report

19 06 2017

Wow, it’s been awhile since I’ve said hello in this space! Well, hello, friends! Long time no see!

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I wanted to take a few minutes to write down a race report for my 2nd 70.3 of this season: Ironman 70.3 Wisconsin (Madison).  Yes, I didn’t write up a report for my April HIM, Florida 70.3, but in short: despite a sloshy tummy on the run, I had a solid day and ended up with a PR!

 

IMG_9183Unfortunately, I can’t say that I walked away from Madison with a shiny new PR. In fact, I walked away with the complete opposite: it was my slowest HIM. If I said I wasn’t disappointed, I’d be lying. Going in to this race, I felt prepared. I felt strong. I felt fit. I was confident because I had been consistent in my training. But, things happen and the day unraveled differently than what I had envisioned in my head. And we learn. That’s all you can do is learn and move on.  🙂

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Pre Race:

My alarm buzzed at 4:30am and I was up and at-em. I prepped my overnight oats and all my bottles the night before, so I could quickly get my self together, eat breakfast, check out and be on my way to the race site. I was staying about 15-20 minutes away and I was out the door just before 5am.

Parking was easy-peasy for this race. (Almost) Directly across the street from Olin Park (the location of transition and the Ironman village) is the Alliant Energy Center, which has a huge parking lot. Cars entered and went left to park and be close to the school bus shuttles to the race site, or went right to park on the other side of the lot and walk to the race site. I went right and quickly found a spot and walked myself over to transition.

I had racked my bike the day before, so getting myself set up in transition was quick! After getting all set up, I mentally ran through T1 and T2. Yup, everything’s here! Today was going to be all about managing the heat, and I was okay with that (though I’ll be honest, I was certainly hoping for a cool-weather 70.3 when I signed up for this!)

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I went over to the Ironman Village and schmoozed with some folks in the Endurance House tent so I could leave my bag there (why oh why are there no bag drops at Triathlons??) and then did a short jog to warm up. They announced there’d be a short warm up swim from 6:30-6:45 so I checked my watch, looked at the Port-o-pot lines and opted to get in line rather than continuing my warm up so that I could make it to the swim warm up. I made it through the line with just enough time to get on my wetsuit; but then they kept pushing back the warm up time and eventually cancelled it because there was no ambulance on site. Whomp whomp.

Oh well, it was close to go time, so I funneled in the chute and awaited the cannon!

Swim: 1.2 Miles

The swim was a rolling start and OMG that was amazing. They grouped us by expected finish times: 27 and under, 27-30, 30-33, and so on, and let us into the water one at a time- a constant flow of athletes into the cool Lake Monona. I lined up at the back end of the 27-30 group; I’d gone 31 and some change at Florida in April, and with my new wetsuit (Xterra Vengence full suit) on, so I was feeling pretty confident that I could hang with this group.

I dove in to the brisk 70ish degree water (hey- it was cool for this Florida girl!), let some water into my wetsuit and then started swimming. My stroke felt pretty good, and I had open water. I cannot tell you how awesome it was to not slam into a wall of slower swimmers and attempt to swim around and/or over them. I think rolling starts are definitely better for both the faster and slower swimmers!

The swim was an out, over, and back, and I was putting in some good effort. I think I was probably pushing a little too hard, since this was the first time where I thought to myself, “Ugh, this swimming thing is SO HARD. I just want to be on the bike!” Being a swimmer, this is an odd statement to cross my mind, and I’m not sure if this speaks to the effort I was putting in (too hard?), my general feeling of being at a plateau in my swimming, or just the confidence I was feeling in my biking ability? Regardless, that thought crossed my mind in the first half, but by the second half of the swim, I  had backed off a little in my effort and was really enjoying the swim. The water was absolutely the perfect temperature and I was experiencing a balance of passing a few people but also maintaining my position. The swim was mostly flat, with the exception of some chop out by the turn buoys, and once you were halfway through the swim, the yellow buoys were now orange, so you knew approximately how much you had left in the swim.

Soon, I could see the shoreline, and eventually my hand hit the ground. I popped up and ran out, lapping my watch and catching a glimpse of my time. When I saw a “29:XX” I was super happy, but didn’t want to get caught up in times. My goal for today was not to worry about times, but to have fun, and race by feel. This course plus the heat would not make for a PR day for anyone!

Official time: 30:00.

T1: I got out and ran to the wetsuit peelers- they were awesome! And then kept running. and running. Around the long side of the transition area, into transition, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 rows and then finally down to my bike. Thankfully there was carpet and grass the entire way and my feet didn’t get torn up! Helmet, sunglasses, shoes, and off I went!

Official time: 3:47

Bike: 56 Miles

There was a bit of a jam at the mount line, but I was able to get on and get going. I spotted a girl in a Coeur kit on a hot pink bike right in front of me and for a split second I thought I might be able to race her. Um, not so much. And, earth to Steph, you don’t start the bike leg of a 70.3 “racing!” (I wish that “earth to Steph” message had actually come in on Sunday morning).

Right after leaving transition, I spotted one of my coworkers and waved hi! It was fun to have people I know out there! That gave me a boost and I was confident I’d have a good day out there.  The first few miles (maybe 2-3? ) of the bike were on a bike path which in theory sounds great. But, it was a bit bumpy and a little narrow. By the time I was nearing the end of the trail part, my legs were feeling blah. I tried not to let it get to me- because it was early on. I told myself to back off,  spin the legs; this is only the first part of the day and there’s a long way to go. At the left turn just before mile 5, I was passed by a man that was probably in his fifties, had a bit of facial hair, and was probably close to meeting the requirements for a Clydesdale. A woman passed me right after and asked me, “Can you believe he’s wearing Teva’s?” Um, what? I did a double take, and sure enough, the guy that blew by me was wearing sandals! Anyhow, I tried not to let the fact that people were passing me bother me. It was inevitable, since I’m a swimmer and started near the front.

My plan was to lap my watch every 20 minutes- to treat each 20 minutes as it’s own section: nothing before it, nothing after it. Be present. The first interval I constantly reminded myself- this is warm up, it’s okay that your legs don’t feel awesome. By the end of that first interval, I was craving a drink of water. It was hot and I was thirsty. I hadn’t planned to stop at any aide stations, except maybe the last one, but at the one at mile 13 I grabbed a bottle, squirted some in my mouth, some on my head and then tossed the bottle.

The hills kept coming. Nothing was too steep, but I definitely found myself out of my saddle quite a bit. Mental note: change to a climbing cassette if I do this race again (Yes, I said that last year too). The course was pretty but the roads left something to be desired. Around mile 20, Erin passed me going up a hill, and she asked how I was doing. I wasn’t feeling as snappy as I would have liked, and my stomach was starting to get grumpy. Where was my power? I couldn’t believe I was only 20 miles in and starting to have GI issues. No, no, no!

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I told myself I could handle this, and if I just backed off and sat up some more, it would help. Yes, it did help some to sit up, but I don’t think I backed off enough. By mile 35 I was seriously considering a DNF. I still had over an hour to go at the pace I was holding, and there were so many more hills. But, I couldn’t stop- there were people out there tracking me from afar who I didn’t want to worry, and I knew I had some coworkers waiting for me on the run. I will not quit!

At the last aide station, around mile 4o I got off my bike. I never get off my bike in a HIM. But, I was hopeful this would be worth the stop and that I’d be able to “save” my race by stopping. I asked them if they had Tums, but unfortunately, they didn’t. I took a bottle of water, and drank some of the cold gatorade they had there. Not gonna lie- that orange endurance Gatorade was like magic elixir. It gave me the boost I needed, and I got back on my bike, gave myself a pep talk, and rode. The good feeling that I had lasted only a few miles, and I wished I had taken that bottle of Gatorade with me. I spotted my friend Emily and her kiddos around mile 45, which was so fun; I just wish I had been feeling better. :-/ For the rest of the bike I just took in water because my stomach did not want to have any Infinit. When I finally got back to transition, I was ready to be off my bike and upright, but I knew that I was going in to the run depleted (I think I had only taken in ~500 calories for the entire ride) and would need to manage that challenge.

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(no, this pic was not from race day, just from riding some of the course the day before!)

Oh- the one thing I don’t want to forget to point out is the spectators! This is probably one of the first HIMs where there were spectators smattered throughout the bike course. Like, a lot of spectators! On big hills there were groups of people with signs and cow bells, the town of Paoli had LOTS of people out to cheer, and there were small handfuls of people at other times on the course. I loved the support we got out there- Thank you!!!

Official time: 03:14:08

T2: Honestly, I don’t remember much about this transition. I took my time getting on my run shoes, race belt and hydration belt, stopped for sunscreen and saw my friend Kathy waiting for her relay.

Official time: 2:54

Run: 13.1 Miles

Oh the run. The half marathon at the end of a HIM has been my nemesis for pretty much the entire time I’ve been doing this distance. And today, I was going in to it with not enough calories. Maybe I could turn my day around, but I was fairly certain the focus of the run would be about taking care of myself.  The run starts on the same bike trail as the bike course- with a short out and back before heading around the lake. I know this route fairly well- I did the race last year, and earlier this spring I ran the first half of the course with my friend Kathy. There are some small hills throughout, but nothing too crazy.

When I started the run, my stomach was still feeling a little off, but it was much better now that I was vertical. But, I took two tums at some point in that first mile and honestly, it was a life saver! However, I then started to get a side stitch! I focused on breathing through my nose to try and get rid of the stitch, and walked a bit with my hands on my head. At the first aide station, I took a coke. Yes, I know that was early, but I figured that would be good for my still trying to settle tummy. Thankfully, it was. I recall feeling the best I had since the swim, and looking down at my watch to see paces I had hoped to hold. I felt confident as I ran up one of the hills and didn’t walk. Wow, this was a tough hill for me last year, and this year I hardly noticed it (Thank you TriMarni training).

Unfortunately, the good didn’t last too long. The heat plus being low on calories plus the mental game caused me to walk much more than I had planned. I knew I was going to walk the aid stations, but I found myself going about half a mile before needing to walk, and then walking for longer than I should have. I grabbed ice and water and coke at pretty much every aid station, and started on some pretzels a little later on. By mile 8 I could feel myself starting to bonk and my tummy was getting agitated again. I took another two tums and just kept putting one foot in front of the other. “Just get to the next aid station” was all I could think about. In the last few miles, I saw two girls in my age group: one, I kept trying to catch up to and the other who would pass me while I was walking and then I would pass her back when I switched back to running. It was those two that kept me going- the desire to catch the one girl in front of me (I didn’t) and to not let the girl behind me pass me (she didn’t). Finally, I was in the final stretch! The last tenth of a mile in this race is downright cruel- it’s up a short hill to the finish. And on top of that, there’s a photographer to capture it all! I dug deep-real deep to get up this hill without puking and without collapsing. My hamstrings started to get tight and oh my goodness all I wanted to do was walk. But, you’re SO CLOSE. Those moments to get to that finish were tough, but to cross that line was such a sweet, sweet feeling. I truly feel like I fought hard and earned that finish today.

Official time: 02:22:03

Final time: 06:12:52

25th AG/106

154th Female

687 OA.

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Reflection:

Yes, this was my slowest HIM time by FAR. (I’ve never been over 6:00.) But, all in all, I can’t really be too disappointed. I still managed to be top 25 in my age group, and I learned a heck of a lot about racing a 70.3. I’ve been talking to my coach a lot about what happened out there, because it was really odd for me to have GI issues so early on. I train with INFINIT and haven’t had any issues on my training rides. I think the issues stemmed from a combination of things: my food choices 24-48 hours before the race and starting out the ride with too high of a heart rate. The heat may have contributed too, but I think I started pushing too early and my heart was pumping blood to my muscles rather than to my stomach to digest! I’ve got several months now until my next and last HIM of this season (but am considering throwing in one more for good fun), so it’s time to file this one away, and gear up for some fun summer training (aka HARD training!).

I’m super thankful for the abilities that I do have- that I can run, bike, and swim and push my body to new limits. I’m thankful for an amazing coach, teammates, family and friends. I wouldn’t be here without their help and support! Thank you!

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Photo courtesy of my SOAS sis Jess!

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2017 Race Plans

23 01 2017

Howdy bloggies! I figured I’d check in with a short post about my upcoming season. I have a jam-packed race schedule and I’m pretty stoked about it.

January:

HITS Naples- Olympic Distance

See my race report for the low down!

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February:

Best Damn Race  Safety Harbor– Half Marathon

Last season I was signed up for this race and hoped to snag a new PR. Unfortunately, (actually a year ago this week!) I sprained my ankle and that goal went out the window. This year, it’s just a training day and I have zero expectations!

March:

Tri Marni Camp & Great Clermont triathlon– Olympic Distance

I’m really excited to be a TriMarni athlete this year, and camp is a great chance for me to meet some more teammates, allow Karel and Marni to see me in action, train my little heart out, and most of all, have fun! Oh, and there’s a little race at the end of the weekend, NBD.

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April:

Ironman 70.3 Florida

Several years ago, a few of my friends did this race, and I recall them complaining about getting sick on the bike because of the nasty water. I vowed I would never do that race. But, here I am, registered for it. Not quite sure what possessed me to do it- I think I wanted an early-ish season 70.3 to get a baseline, but I’m looking forward to getting out there and seeing what I can do.

 

June:

Ironman 70.3 Wisconsin

When they announced that Milkman was becoming an Ironman branded race, I was a little bummed. IM is taking over all the small local races and it is kinda sad. (and yes, I know I’m feeding the machine by registering for all of these darn things!) However, I enjoyed this race last year and since it just so happens that I’ll be up there for work that week, I figured why not have another go? I fully expect this race to be more competitive than last year, but hey, at least the age groups will be “real” age groups this time! This course is definitely not suited to my strengths (hello hills!) but it will be a fun summer time race. Oh, and some of my SOAS sisters will be racing too!

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October:

Ironman 70.3 North Carolina

This race, on the other hand, is more suited to my strengths- hello flat course! I’m pretty excited about this race because there are a bunch of local Tampa triathletes headed up to Wilmington, NC together, so it will be fun to see everyone out on the course. I’m a teeny bit concerned about the weather because this races has seemingly been a little unpredictable in the last few years, but hey, I’ll take what’s thrown at me! I hope this race will wrap up my season on a high note!

 

Tell me, what’s on your schedule this year??





HITS Naples 2017 Race Report

12 01 2017

Why yes, it’s January 12th and I’ve already done my first triathlon of the 2017 season. Pretty crazy, eh? This year is shaping up to be a season chock full of racing and training, and I’m really excited about it. I’ll be doing a post soon with my schedule so you can see for yourself what I’ll be up to, but for now I’ll start you with my first race report of 2017, the HITS Naples Olympic Distance race.

It seems to me that January/February in Florida can sometimes have unpredictable weather. Some days it will be that beautiful cool weather in the morning and then warm up to a comfortable mid to high 70s. Other days, you’ll ask yourself, “Where did winter go?” as you sweat it out in 85 and 90% humidity. And sometimes, we’ll get a cold snap and temperatures will drop into the 30s-40s. Well, the weekend of the  HITS Naples race we had some less than ideal triathlon weather. On Saturday, for the Half and Full distance, though it was in the 70s, it thunderstormed off and on all day. The race still went off as planned, but the athletes dealt with wind and spurts of rain, often coming down in buckets.

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On Saturday night, temperatures dropped dramatically, and when I woke up on Sunday morning, it was 42 out with a real feel of 35 degrees. BRR! I had been watching the weather pretty closely, so I had made sure to stop by the Naples Cyclery on Saturday and stock up on cold weather cycling gear since I don’t really own any. This would prove to be a very, very, good decision.

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Sunday morning I had my typical breakfast of oatmeal, banana and nut butter, and then my parents and I drove to the race site around 6am. Transition for the Olympic distance athletes was open until 7:05, and we were staying about 10 minutes away, so this would gave me enough time to get there, deal with traffic, park, and get set up in transition. We did have to wait in a little bit of a line to get into the parking garage, but I think we were parked by 6:20/6:25.

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I got set up in transition, and then went back to the car for a little to stay as warm as possible for as long as possible. I put on my wetsuit and then made my way to the beach in time for the sprint start. When I got to the beach, I was shocked at how close the buoys were to the beach. And, that they had guards holding them by their lines!  The current was moving swiftly south and it was windy out. Oh, and there was a riptide warning in effect until 7pm that night. NBD. I huddled behind some stacks of beach chairs to stay out of the wind and watched the sprint start. Many of the athletes struggled to get out to the first buoy- they walked back out of the water, moved further north on the beach and then tried again. There wasn’t much swimming to get to that first buoy either. It was a few dolphin dives, and then a lot of people just walked. Once the athletes had made the first turn, there was more walking. I joked that they probably could have just floated to the other buoy faster than they were walking. This was certainly not a typical triathlon swim, and I was soon to experience it myself.

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After the sprint swimmers were done, the RD actually had the guards move the buoys a little further out, but the northern buoy was moved south of where it had been, so it was now south of the starting flag. Smart move! I stayed bundled up as long as I could, did some mobility work to get my joints and muscles a little warm, and then when it was 4 minutes from the start, I quickly disrobed, did some more warm up/mobility work and then it was go time!

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Swim:00:10:08.212

I’m not so certain I would call this a swim. It was more like a surf dash, which I used to do as a guard back in the day. But this was the longest one I’d ever done, and the air was definitely colder than the beautiful summers in Jersey. The water was much warmer than the air, so it actually felt good to get in. However, the current was not fun (and this is coming from someone who loves rough water!).

img_5576I basically dolphin dived my way out to the first buoy, and I could kinda start swimming to get around it. Then, I tried swimming parallel to the beach towards the other buoy, but it was really hard to get into a rhythm. We were right in the break, and the waves were coming in sloppy. The current was moving so fast that you were at the next buoy before you knew it.

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When I approached the south turn buoy, the lovely rising sun was directly in my eyes, but I turned and tried to catch a wave. At that point, I saw another female catching me on the left. On the way in, we were stroke for stroke. The way in was challenging because you were getting pulled hard to the south, and you really just needed to let it take you, rather than to fight it in hopes of a shorter run. It was also the deepest part of the whole swim! Finally my fingers touched and the girl and I got up and high knee-d it out.

img_5610We ran on the beach about 125 yards or so, and OMG was it COLD. My feet!! At this point, my heart rate was spiking, and I knew I needed to chill out a little for my own safety in the rough water. So, I backed off a little, let the other girl go (who, by the way, wasn’t wearing a wetsuit!!), and repeated that same loop. The second loop was much of the same. I had to fight the current to get around the first buoy, and then again, no falling into a groove at all as I went parallel to the beach. It was a matter of just making it through this water part of the triathlon and getting to the bike!

I made it out of the water in second place, and up on the beach I heard someone say I was 40 seconds behind. The competitor in me was like, “go get her!” but I was just here to have fun, so I tried not to worry about it!

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T1:00:04:22.384. Yes, I spent nearly 4 and a half minutes in transition during an Olympic distance race.

img_5637OMG slowest transition ever. But, I totally expected it. I was going to take my sweet time to make sure I was going to be warm for the bike. And, man was it worth it! HITS provides these nice stools to sit on, and in a normal Olympic I would NEVER sit on it. But today was not a normal Olympic. I sat on it, with my wetsuit half off and my towel wrapped around me and I dried off as much as I could. My toes and fingers were SO cold. I had more trouble than usual getting the wetsuit off my legs, and I’ve never had toes that numb before. I seriously was wondering if this is what it felt like to have dead toes. I took my time putting on my base layer, arm warmers, jersey, knee warmers, gloves, socks and shoes. I did not want to be miserable on the bike!

 

Bike: 01:09:16.716

img_5639I started the bike and I wasn’t sure if I was actually warm or if I was just numb. But, I realized that hey, I was actually warm! All the layers, the new knee warmers and the toe covers were doing their job and it was amazing. I’m pretty sure this was the first time ever I was happy to be out of the water and on the bike. I smiled and told myself just to have fun and think about my RPE. Be strong and don’t over do it!

The course was an out and back: we pretty much went due east for 12 miles and then came back. I think the wind was blowing 15-20 mph from the north, which meant that most of the course would have cross winds. There was a short section of the course where we rode on a North/South street so we got the benefit of a tailwind on the way out and a direct headwind on the way back, but the rest of the ride was all cross wind. For the most part, the roads were lined with trees and/or developments which blocked a little bit of the wind, but when we crossed the north/south streets, you really felt it blow. There were several times where I definitely felt my wheel get blown a little by the wind. I was thankful I wasn’t using 808s! I tried to stay around what I perceived to be Z3/4. I was passing people and it was great! The best part of the ride was certainly the short part where we went south. Hello 25mph without really working hard! Unfortunately, it was short lived. I passed several woman on the bike, and I was a little surprised by how many had made it in front of me during transition. I was really, really slow! In the last 5 miles, I passed two women who were looking pretty strong. The three of us traded places a few times, and I tried really hard to stay legal. In the last mile or so, I told myself I was NOT going to let these girls beat me, so I pedaled in HARD to leave them behind. Right before dismount, there was a bit of traffic, and some oblivious drivers. I had to slow way down and sneak past them. It was a little scary, but I still was able to get into transition in front of the two women. I think this put me back in second place.

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T2: 00:01:08.233

I quickly took off my helmet and shoes, and put on my run gear. This was a much faster transition than T1. I saw one woman get out of transition in front of me. I wasn’t sure if it was one of the two ladies I had just passed on the bike or if she had been in there before. Regardless, I was in and out pretty quickly, and I was ready to have a solid run!

Run: 00:53:19.069

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It was a beautiful day for a run, and my plan was to run strong for the first four miles and then really pick it up on the last two. I left transition in 2nd place, and settled in to a comfortably pace pretty quickly. My biggest problem was that my feet were still numb. Every step hurt, but not in an omg I need to stop kinda way- it was like my feet were asleep, but beyond that tingling feeling. I was worried that if I actually did run on a nail or anything crazy like that, I wouldn’t have known! Eventually, my toes moved into that tingling feeling and then I could finally feel them about halfway through the run.

img_5660The run course was an out and back which we did twice. About a mile and a quarter in, you made a right turn, went over a small bridge and then hit the turnaround. Then, of course, you went back over the bridge, made a left onto the straight portion until you turned around and did it again. Out and backs are both good and bad because you can see your competition all along the way! I wasn’t in 2nd for long; the girl who eventually won passed me less than half a mile in. She was speedy! I was running comfortably, focusing on my form and just enjoying this part of the day. I was pleased when the first mile beeped at 8:40- not bad for the effort I felt I was putting out.

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img_5666The rest of the run I tried to stay laser focused on execution. Yes, I was paying attention a little to the girls behind me as I made the turnaround, noticing that they were gaining ground, but I really felt like I was being in the moment during this run. Mile 2 ticked off at 8:40 also. Solid. I picked it up a little too much on mile 3, perhaps because I was close to the small crowd at the finish line, so I slowed a smidge. At around mile 5, at the right turn to go over the little bridge before the turn around, two girls wearing Iowa State kits passed me. “College kids”, I thought to myself. They were moving, and I wasn’t going to try to stay with them. I made my last turn around and was headed over the little bridge, when I noticed two girls behind me, maybe a quarter mile or so, one of which looked like she was running strong, and making up ground. I told myself that now was the time to dig deep and let it all out of the tank. So, I picked it up a notch. My watch had just beeped for 6 miles, when a group of girls yelled “Go Tiffany!” OMG the girl behind me had caught up. Go Steph, Go. Just then, she passed me, and the competitor in me said “Oh no she didn’t!” and then I passed her back. At this point in the course there was a quick left, right, left before the finish chute-  I really pushed hard here. But, whoa, that effort was not sustainable, so I backed off a smidge and she passed me again. We were just about in the chute, and hearing the crowd energized me to give it all I had for the last 50 yards. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough and I ended up .4 behind her. img_5672h_img_2948

img_5672j_img_2950img_5672n_img_2954Gah! Despite being out run, I am still quite pleased with my result. It was a solid was to kick of these season, especially considering I hadn’t done any specific training for this race. I can’t wait to see what 2017 brings!

Big shout out to my mom and dad for being out there all morning to cheer me on and take photos! Thanks!