Posted by: forgingahead | August 2, 2010

Barb’s Race Report

Doing this distance (half IM) has given me a whole new level of appreciation for what my IM peeps do all the time. Wow 70.3 miles is a long way to go.

Bert drove me to the swim start and hung out with me on the beach while we watched the Vineman IM folks hit the water. The first guys started coming out of the water and I spotted Kiet and started cheering. Wow, that guy is fast.

Watching the other competitors helped relax my nerves a bit and apparently I got so laid back that I lost track of time. I was in my wetsuit and down at the waters edge about 30 seconds before the start. Oh well, no time to freak myself out!

I’m still struggling with my wetsuit which doesn’t fit and provides so many negative things for me to focus on during the swim. I need to fix that. What I did do for the first time was actually find someone to draft! Following her bubbles gave me something to take my mind off the negative stuff. And the Russian River is such a pretty tree-lined place.

It must have been the current because the turnaround point seemed to get further away, not closer. I swear it took me 40 minutes to swim upstream and only 10 to come back down. Swimming downstream I felt like superwoman. No more drafting for me. I had places to go!

Bert was cheering me out of the water and the wetsuit strippers were awesome! I’ve never had that particular service before and I highly recommend it!

My transition was a little slow – 9 minutes – but I swear I spent 3 of those wrestling my arm warmers on. I so didn’t want to be cold on the foggy bike start. I handed my transition bag off to Bert and posed for a quick pick (Charisa reminded me to smile!) and headed out onto the bike.

I do SO much better when I’ve ridden the course in advance and felt completely confident on the entire ride. It was awesome. Downside is I hadn’t done that distance in my tri-shorts and it turns out there are evil seams that hit my bike seat in just the wrong spot for a 56 mile ride. Ouch. And today? Still ouch.

Since dehydration and sunstroke are real dangers for me I made myself stop at each of the three aid stations. Refilled my water bottles, added Heed, ate bananas, butt buttered up and even added sunscreen (don’t confuse the two) at one stop. The volunteers were great!

Bert surprised me in Geyeserville and I stopped to chat with him for a minute. Seeing him definitely brightened my day!

Someone shouted my name from behind and I was all “whoa, who could that be?” and then I saw Kiet’s awesome smile as he blew by me. I tried to explain that I’d seen him come out of the water but that boy was going so fast he couldn’t hear me 🙂

Chalk Hill is a baby hill compared to Tunitas Creek and other hills I usually ride so I just put it in my granny gear and spun along. I felt like I was home free after that.

At one point a volunteer said “only 3 miles left” and I knew those 3 were pretty flat so I stepped up my pace. And then it felt like the upstream swim all over. Where the heck was the finish? They kept turning us here and there so I got all turned around. Can I just saw I was so relieved to finally reach T2.

Another girl who came in right after me just one row over said, “Damn, where did all these bikes come from?” True that.

As I headed out on the run I couldn’t find Bert, my Mom or Tony and I was bummed. My left calf hurt for the first mile and I was feeling the effects of the heat. I kind of doubted I had a 13 mile run in me having only done one before and never in a tri.

Turns out self-doubt is just another thing to conquer on the course. Thanks to Maggs’ suggestion I started filling my jogbra with ice and I swear that helped keep my core body temp down.

I drank up at every aid station (each mile) and soaked my head repeatedly. I’m not a fan of Gatorade but I started drinking it about halfway through because my mouth was so dry.

There was a guy at the top of one of the big hills (this course had serious hills) who had set up misters on a couple of ladders so we could walk through them. How awesome is that?! He let me use his spray hose to really soak my hair and I drenched my shoes in the process. Squishy running is not as much fun.

Around mile 7 my knees started hurting. Same thing happened in my half-marathon in June. Eager to keep my knees in working order for my next 45 years I started walking. Up hills, down hills and when the pain was too much. Maybe 30 percent of the time? It’s kind of a blur.

I’m not a fan of courses that have multiple loops. Coming through the chute only to have to go back out on the course again is a drag. I did see Bert, Mom and Tony this time and that cheered me up immensely. Kelly said she cheered me on too but I guess I’d switched off my brain again by then.

The final 4 miles was a head game.

Just get to this aid station. No problem. Ok, now the the next. Oh wait, isn’t it around that corner? No? Darn. Oh, there it is! Drink more gatorade. Eat some fig newtons. Wow, that pretzel is dry. Oh wait, that means my mouth is dry which means dehydration. Drink more. Hey! There’s Kiet! High five. That was fun. Ok, only 2 more miles. I can do 2 miles. Maybe I’ll just walk a bit. That’s nice. Hey, this is the final stretch. I can run the final stretch! Ouch, well maybe not. It would be a drag to walk into the finish maybe I’ll walk now so I can run then. Yep, that sounds like a good plan.

And that’s how I got to the end of my race! I have a video courtesy of Mom that I’ll figure out how to post. Then you can see that I was in fact the only person on the course wearing a long sleeved shirt and a big sun hat. No laughing people. I mean it. I’m watching you 🙂


  1. Awesome job out there! Way to conquer demons and push through while keeping yourself cool and hydrated. Being a fellow red head I know the concern. It was 100+ on the run course last year when I did Vineman 70.3 and ice, ice, ice was what I did the whole time. Great job!!

  2. Congratulations on winning the mind games. Sometimes that’s the hardest part of the race.

  3. Incredible. And a wetsuit stripper. What a concept:)

  4. My dear Kathleen, I hurt just reading about your race!!!! Can’t even tell you how proud and impressed we are by you!!!

  5. Kathleen:
    You amaze me! I knew you could do it but reading what you went through gives me such respect for your endurance and what heart you must have to hang in there. What a wonderful birthday gift to give yourself.

  6. Love it!

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