Oceanside was hands down the most FUN race I have ever done. And incredibly out of my comfort zone but sometimes that is what makes things most fun. Right? You can read about my training and life after my full Ironman HERE to play catch up.
I spent 3 days before the race at Disney with my boys. We were walking around and on our feet about 12-14 hours a day. By the third night I was absolutely exhausted and on such a magical Disney high! It was their first time and my first time also. I wouldn’t recommend 3 full days at Disney leading up to a Half Ironman BUT for me and my family the timing worked out so perfectly so I jumped on the opportunity and knew that Oceanside would be a FUN race anyways so even if I was tired, I had a week of memories with my babies to think about for 70.3 miles.
The Day Before:
I woke up SO sore. My feet hurt and my legs were super tight despite all the stretching and yoga I had done leading up. I knew I needed to stay off my feet as much as possible this day but that really isn’t possible TOO much the day before a race! Ha! I picked up my mom at the airport and headed down to Oceanside to get checked in and make sure my bike and gear bag made it safely. I always get really anxious about this part even though they are awesome at keeping me posted. I use Tri Bike Transport for away races and I highly recommend them for the ease and communication.
I got all checked in but still was on my Disney “high”. I couldn’t think straight when they asked me questions but somehow managed to get my gear, bike checked in, and race packet picked up!
I saw so many friends out and about and a lot of Social Media friends who are basically “real life friends” anyways.I am SO thankful for Instagram especially for bringing me some of the best friends a girl could ask for into my life.
My priority after gear check was to get into the demo Normatec boots because I was throbbing by this point. Mom and I sat in the boots and then asked them if I could sit a longer! They let me and I was eternally grateful because when I was done I honestly felt like I was walking on air. I LOVE those boots!!! I don’t own them but try to use them at the Expo’s the day before races.
After all the hugs good-bye to friends I finally got back to our condo and was completely wiped out. I knew I needed to eat but was at the point I was so tired NOTHING sounded good. So I ended up eating food we had with us and made a big peanut butter and banana sandwich, coconut water, beet juice and some green juice. I tend to eat a bigger lunch and a very “calm” dinner before races with food that is pretty simple. It has worked for me all these years so I stick with it.
I finally got into bed around 6:30 and was just an emotional wreck.
I was missing my boys. Fiercely.
They were flying out the morning of the race so I had to say good-bye to them that afternoon. I was just holding Ty and started crying but stopped because I didn’t want him to see me cry and get upset. He was hugging me and telling me to “have a good race” and “I hope you finish Mommy”. That evening I was feeling a strong attachment to them because the past few days had truly been magical at Disney. I have been away from my kids before, it is always hard and part of life as a single parent…But for some reason after making SO many memories together this time hurt my heart. BUT the Dr. Seuss quote came to mind…
“Don’t cry because it’s over, SMILE because it happened”
The first time I ever heard this quote was when I was leaving the Ashram in Hawaii after doing my intensive Yoga/Meditation month long training. It has always stayed with me and I think of it after magical memories have been made with the ones I love most.
Mom and I whipped out the nail polish at this point and got my toes and nails to match my kit! THIS is one of the most essential steps in racing in my opinion. Matching nails to kit. The brighter the better! It gives you something to smile at when you stare at your fingers in aero on the bike for 56 miles! Haha!
I got to bed and fell asleep by 7:30 and slept solid until 3. I woke up and finally realized I was RACING in a few hours and then the excited and nervous butterflies hit my tummy and I lay in bed and meditated until 4:45 when my alarm went off.
The Morning Of:
I was a ball of nervous energy to start the day. I choked down some green juice, bread and a banana. I started reading the sweetest messages from all the ones I love and my nerves were calmed. My boys had sent me a video I must have watch 1,000 times too. I got another inspirational video from a dear friend that brightened my entire mood and took all the nerves away. Mom and I started blaring music and getting my lipstick on!
We headed out and I got my transition all set up. I was able to meet some more social media friends and get lots of hugs from my friends spectating. I don’t know if words can ever express what it means to have family or friends or both at a race. The hugs for me are my life-vest. I am a VERY physical and touchy person so I feed off of hugs and other people’s energy. It is very calming to me.
I got all lined up for the swim start and ran into some girlfriends. I stayed near them as much as I could until the start. I wasn’t nervous at this point. I was READY. And mostly excited.
I got ready to make my way down the ramp and got my goggles on. I always spit in the lenses and that is my “de-fogger” or whatever you want to call it. (I know that sounds gross but it is a tip I was given a long time ago and it FREAKING WORKS!…don’t waste money on de-fogger stuff when spit is freeeeeee!) And PS…I never claimed to be glamorous and eloquent when I race. Triathletes are gross. We pee everywhere and usually within a minute or two of getting into the water, spit, are snotty, sweaty, chaffed disgusting creatures that are ohhhhhhh such sexy badasses! But it isn’t pretty! I just try to make spiting and peeing and snotting pretty with lipstick and jewelry…
Anyways…I diverged. I got my goggles on and walked down the water. I got my toes in and said, “Wow! This isn’t as cold as I thought it would be!!!”. I believe it was in the low 60’s, which is my jam when it comes to racing. As soon as I said that the people behind me said its because its shallow and all pee right now which caused us all to laugh and shake our heads that yes…pretty much we were standing in a puddle of piss! The volunteer SOMEHOW recognized me from social media and started talking to me for the minute before the start. I WISH I knew who it was because I want to give him the biggest thank you in the world! He totally calmed my last nerves and sent me off feeling on top of the world. It is amazing how ONE person can make such a difference.
We had to swim out to the buoy before the start. I felt completely fine and actually started my breathing pattern immediately…I am a bilateral breather although when I first start races sometimes I panic and just breathe to BREATH and don’t care what it looks like until I settle in. But I felt very calm so started out great with my breathing. I got to the buoy and the cannon went off so off we went.
The harbor was completely calm which was nice. I did get kicked and beat up a bit but that stuff doesn’t bother me. It’s almost refreshing to me knowing people are close and if Jaws really decided to come into the harbor there was a greater chance he wouldn’t head straight for my feet…Yes…this crossed my mind!
I felt amazing the first bit and was excited to be having my FIRST ocean swim!!! I was singing songs in my head to my breathing and having a good time! I have been to the ocean but not to swim like this before! The salt water took a bit to get used to but then it was fun because I felt so buoyant. All was good until the middle 1/3 of the swim.
About this point you get out of the harbor and get hit with some swells from the ocean. It became more crowded because I am slow and groups were catching up. It was OK…I just started to not be able to sight well. I didn’t feel motion sickness at all which I was happy about but what I did start to feel was extremely DISORIENTED.
I couldn’t really tell where I was and I felt like I was going in circles. There are a lot of turns during the course and even though I knew they were coming it is different from water level. I was trying to use people to sight off of since I couldn’t see the buoys too well. I finally stopped and popped my head up and tried to get my bearings. I truly had a moment where I thought I was going round and around and would have to swim to a kayak to get my shit together. Disorienting is the ONLY word I can think to describe this.
Finally I put my head down and decided I was going in the right direction and I was going to get into a pack of people and follow them. So I did. I somehow came through out of that 1/3 of the swim and made my way back into the harbor. I got beat up some more and my goggles got kicked so I had to stop and readjust them and get the water out but one again that doesn’t bother me much. It is part of triathlon!
I saw the swim exit and was SOOOOOOOOO excited to just be done with the swim. It was FUN to do something new and swim in the ocean. It was challenging for me. Very challenging. But I came out in 52 mins which isn’t my best and it isn’t my worst swim so I will take it and the amazing first timer experience! But man I was REALLY glad it was done…HA!
I got to hug and see SO many friends running to my bike!!!!! My energy was SO high and spirits were up!
I got my wetsuit off and was getting ready to go. I lathered on my shimmery sunscreen (yes sparkly sunscreen….I wanted to look good for those Marines…ha!) and headed out. On my way out I asked a volunteer to help me make sure it was all rubbed in on my face because nobody needs pictures with white splotches of sunscreen all over their face! Yes…I think about these things. Yes…I fiercely love this sport but knew it was about finishing and FUN this day!
I headed out on the bike and was feeling good. I immediately started eating and drinking and especially washing that nasty ass salt water taste out of my mouth! I love the ocean but I wanted something sweet to counteract it ASAP!
I was having a BLAST the first 25ish miles of the bike! Let me clarify something here…This was the third time I had been on my bike since Arizona outside. I don’t have hills at ALL where I live in the cornfields. But I love rollers! I am fearless at downhills so can get enough speed to carry me up the ups. And it is FUN! I thought about my friend who told me he just pictured Ironman Wisconsin as a big roller coaster and decided to view it the same!
I was having a good old time and then I turned a corner and saw the first hill. Literally the words out of my mouth were “sweet baby Jesus”…we are climbing THAT! I thought…well I guess there is no turning back now. I thought of my boys a lot. How they would get so scared before the rides and how I would talk to them about finding “their BRAVE”. How FUN it would be and they just had to be strong and brave and do what scares them.
So the hill….I started up and my speed went down. And down. And down. I started to see people walking their bikes. I knew I didn’t want to walk my bike, not because of pride because I don’t care how I look, I just knew it would be harder for me to keep momentum if I was walking and riding. So I got into my meditative state and started singing “Fight Song”…but that was too hard. I couldn’t get the words out or think that much. So I got stuck on the line:
“I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me”
So I basically chanted that phrase over and over and over again. If my mind looked to another rider or to my Garmin I would start to lose focus and slow down more than my 5 mph. So I stared at the road and chanted that phrase and pictured my boys.
“I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me” carried me up all three of the beastly hills! I had NEVER rode anything like them on my tri bike before. I knew I wouldn’t quit. I knew I would make it up if I just kept it slow and steady. I am really good at slow and steady. I was breathing SO hard and realized everyone around me could probably hear me and for one second decided I needed to get myself under control or else people will think I was dying! And then it would make me lose focus and I had the quote run through my mind:
“I don’t care what this looks like to anyone else, I am doing THIS!”
So I decided probably nobody really cared about my breathing and I needed to keep with my mantra and just get up the hills. So I did.
And then those downhills….ohhhhhhhh the downhills. Everyone that passed me going up I passed going down. I pretty much screamed to your left the whole way and bombed down them! I have zero fear going fast downhill so made up a lot of time there and had the TIME OF MY LIFE speeding through the Camp Pendleton hills!
Seeing the ocean in the background up in those hills was simply breathtaking and a high of the race for me. Speeding downhill was a high for me. And even though it was incredibly challenging to this flatland Midwest girl…climbing those hills were a high for me. It showed me my inner strength and tenacity. It also taught me that even though I have a lot of work I can do…I REALLY love hilly courses. A lot. Hills are a weakness of mine but knowing that and knowing I enjoy them only means I have a lot of room to improve and grow over the years in this sport that I love SO much! Weaknesses are NOT a bad thing! We ALL have them. They usually are what teach us more about life and ourselves as they get us out of our comfort zones and can show us new areas to grow and explore.
It was my worst bike split yet BUT it was the most FUN I’ve ever had biking and taught me the most. I will be back to take on those hills again…I loved them too much not to! I have unfinished business on this course!
When I got to T2 I actually felt really good! My legs felt a little like jello running my bike in but it wasn’t horrible. I also knew without a shadow of a doubt I wasn’t PRing the day so decided to take a little time. I thought of my Scottish Sister, Ali, telling me about her transitions in triathlon and how she sat down and fanned off her toes and dried off and cleaned every crevasse before moving on. So I sat on the ground and applied more shimmery sunscreen and decided to put socks on. I normally don’t do socks in a Tri but always have them “just in case”. So I put them on and just decided comfort trumps all today. I made my out of of T2 and off to the run!
I felt great! I didn’t want to look at my watch at all just run by feel. I have a system that I run the whole time except I walk every.single.aid station. I do this every race and it works well for me.
I started seeing familiar faces. Ohhhhhh how I love my friends. They truly MADE this race for me! They gave me the biggest hugs, ass slaps, took pictures, screamed my name but what I remember most is THEIR smile when they would see me. I have been on the spectating side and SEEING YOUR athlete is the most intense adrenaline rush you could get. It is PURE energy and I think it may be more fun for the spectators to see their athlete than the athlete seeing their spectators. THAT is why I love to hug them all and stop and give them my love because NOTHING beats that when I am spectating. Those few seconds of interactions truly MAKE the race. For EVERYone. They boost your spirit. They give you something else to think about for a few minutes. The smiles. The love. It’s simply the ENERGY! I was SO gross and sweaty and smelly and salty and snotty but each one of them let me hug them and it meant the WORLD to me. I love my tribe of athletes and friends. L.O.V.E. them.
I ran into one of my social media girlfriends and she ran with me for just a bit and it completely set the tone of FUN for my race.
I fed off the energy of the crowd and the music. There is NO better RUN than at Oceanside. It is just lined with people and there is so much support. And you are running by the freaking ocean so it just can’t suck. Period.
There was one point that I started to FEEL the run and I started talking to myself and giving myself a little pep talk. I started saying “You GOT This”! Apparently my pep talk was a little louder than I thought and some cute boy ran up beside me and said you DO got this and flashed a smile and kept running past me. I think I actually blushed a little, haha! I shouted out…hey we all need some positive reinforcement out here at times right? He looked back and smiled again and said you GOT this girl and laughed! I started laughing and realized that maybe we should talk out loud more because it breaks the ice and maybe it is what someone else needs to hear to! Haha!
There were a few bitchy hills to get up and down but I just walked the ups and jogged down them. Nothing to complain about. But enough of a “hill” to note!
I shoved ice into my sports bra every time I could in the front and back. My goal was to keep cool. It was snowing in Chicago last week so I wasn’t totally used to the heat yet but I kept hydrated and my nutrition was on point so I felt ok!
Coming into that Finisher Shoot was just as incredible as they all are. Everyone is calling your name and cheering for you. You hear Mike Reilly announce your name and you leap over the finish line with the BIGGEST smile on your face
The volunteers immediately started commenting on my lipstick as always and I hugged them too! I ran out to see my mom and all my friends! Pure SMILES and JOY. Pure FUN. I couldn’t wait to write Bob too and tell him that I had done it and had the time of my life and enjoyed the scenery and smiled the WHOLE.damn.time. just like he told me to do.
I love the spirit of Triathlon. I sat looking around at the all the friends I have made through the years that were either spectating or had just finished.
We were ALL ages.
We were ALL genders.
We were ALL races.
We ALL had different political beliefs and religious beliefs.
We ALL came from every walk of life.
We ALL came together over a sport…
And whether it was our first or 100th…No matter if we PR’d or were “racing” or just “finishing”…
It didn’t matter.
We ALL had the same medal and same accomplishment.
We ALL were intensely proud of each other for grinding through the highs and lows that are inevitable on race day.
For that time…nothing else matters except we are a tribe of athletes that ALL want each other to make it. Period. That is all that matters.
And it is pretty damn beautiful.
People wonder why I do triathlon…
THAT moment. When I am sitting and staring into the eyes of friends. Who each had battles to get to the point we were at RIGHT in that moment. But there we are. In THAT moment. Living our lives to the fullest and enjoying the journey. Learning to ride the highs and endure the lows. Knowing as one we can accomplish a lot but TOGETHER we can change the world.
That was my WHY of this race.
The race of
In the end Ironman Bob Scott, 86, is right…
That is what it is all about.