CHALLENGE ROTH: RACING MY FIRST IRON TRIATHLON

I won’t repeat the travel woes and course setup info from Roger’s Spectator Report but here’s the Racer Report highlights.

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My Gear

  • ZOCA Trisuit one-piece
  • XTERRA Wetsuits Vendetta Fullsuit
  • XTERRA Wetsuits Racebelt
  • ZOGGS Predator Lite goggles
  • Garmin Forerunner 310XT multi-sport watch
  • FELT B16 Triathlon bicycle
  • GIRO aero helmet with DIY built-in glasses
  • Shimano bicycle clipless shoes
  • Profile Design aero bar bottle & frame bottle cage
  • Bento Box & Seat post flat kit baglet
  • Sunglasses (for run)
  • ECCO BIOM Train sneakers
  • SPF 70 sunscreen
  • Chamois Butter

My Nutrition

  • Pre-Race Night: 1 huge pretzel, 2 large salads, 2 100% Angus beef burger patties
  • Granola/Milk breakfast 4am
  • ZIPfizz pre-swim, and at mile 40 on bike
  • Salt tablet in front bottle on bike
  • CLIFF bar ever 20 miles on bike
  • Cliff Shot on run
  • PowerGel pre-swim, mile 100 on bike and on run

Health

One weekend before race-day, I came down with flu symptoms and no appetite due to poor recovery from training too hard on a reverse 70.3 the previous day. I made it through work on Monday just to pass out 12 hours when I got home. Tuesday’s flight was 1pm so I pushed myself to run 6 painful miles in the morning since we’d be sitting for essentially the next 2 days on planes. Those flights  were miserable with a fever, cough, congestion, weakness, fatigue; the more I sleep on planes the more exhausted I feel. Arriving in Germany on Wednesday 6pm, we setup camp and although exhausted I kept waking up to check on the status of my bike case that was lost in airport baggage connecting delayed flights.  How could I rest with that anxiety. All week the jetlag made us wake up at 1am, and try to force ourselves to sleep again until sunrise at 5am.

DCIM100MEDIAThursday morning, first thing, we went to airport hoping the bike case had arrived which it did, then went to packet pickup. Documentary followed me through that, and through Mingle with the Pros dinner where I geeked out and took pics with my favorites. Then went back to camp to build my bike.  I was only getting 2-3 hours of light sleep a night & popping DayQuil tablets during the day.

On Friday the documentary team invited me to join Luke McKenzie on a swim course preview at 6am.  This was the first workout since the painful run on Tuesday. I still felt weak, congested, but some coffee helped wake me up. I swam 1k and had some weird electric current feelings in the water that cramped my legs so I quickly got out. I told the officials to investigate, even if it was delirium. The water was so clean and smooth that the preview swim calmed me down about the 2.4 mile swim in this water.

After I really needed to preview the bike course, so we drove the key hill climbs and switchback descends to be prepared. I kept falling asleep during the drive, it was so irritating.  Then we got a coffee because in one hour the documentary wanted to interview me to go over my goals for the race & my bike case ordeal anxiety on top of race and sickness anxiety.   The great weather and 2nd coffee of the day, energized me enough to test ride my bike for 15 miles to see if we put it together according to my proper bike fit! Thankfully it felt great. I haven’t been that fatigued and unable to sleep before for that many days, and I kept crying that night. All I wanted to do was sleep, and my body couldn’t and I knew that if I didn’t sleep there was no chance to feel 100% by Sunday morning. It was the whole reason I came all this way, and I was going to be sick and fatigued. What a waste.

Saturday morning when Roger woke up with the sun, he got his blankets and built a fort around me and covered me so I wouldn’t see the sunlight and get up. He said, “Stay in bed, you don’t need to be anywhere right now. Only get up when you’re rested.” I slept and slept and slept! I’d wake up, eat an apple and sleep more.  When I finally got up, my head was clear, my body felt strong and I didn’t have a fever anymore.

Last 3 things to do: Trisuit trial, drop off bike, Course talk.

DCIM100MEDIAMy ZOCA trisuit was prepared last minute, so I took it for a 10k trial run as a test. It was so refreshing to feel good and strong again.

The ZOCA trisuit was a perfect fit, the material was so soft and light. Now I was getting excited just in time for the mandatory course talk.

DCIM100MEDIAOur TCSD friend, Bevin, who’s stationed in Stuttgart came over to visit and spectate the weekend.  Bike drop off was painless, all bikes are racked by consecutive number, very easy to find.

RACE DAY: SWIM 1:40

DCIM100MEDIA20x30-CRFB1459 20x30-CRFC3693In-water start meant that each wave had to be in the designated cages 10 minutes before the gun. 500 women waiting in a cage with nothing but a wetsuit & heart.

  • Suspenseful thriller music was blasting during the whole morning making me even more nervous than I already was; Until 5 minutes warning to make your way to the in-water ropes. The DJ started playing “Girls just wanna have fun” and “It’s raining men” announcing, “This wave and music is for the ladies”. Made me grin between the pale fear look plastered on my face for past 30 minutes.
  • Many women, like me, had the idea to stay along the edge of the canal to avoid getting mowed by stronger women and the male waves that continued every few minutes after us. With the slanted cement edge, many were standing on it, and I saw some occasionally stop and rest during the swim.  One lady got kicked and a bloody nose just getting from the cages to the rope. Gun. Go.
  • There were hot air balloons in the sky as we swam which was awesome
  • Documentary was with me from preparing T1, through the cage and again in T1 until I left on the bike.

RACE DAY:  BIKE – Garmin Connect Results

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  • Mile 40 I look down and I see 10+ swashed flies per shoulder like if I were a windshield. It was so gross haha
  • 2 of the aid stations are DURING a hill climb. Not sure who planned that but it was challenging for sure
  • The documentary cameras found me right before Solar Hill, which is the Tour de France-esque trip up a steep hill with spectators on each side. The best part was their enthusiastic faces just to be there. Each rider was getting a proper down & up “wave” and very energized cheering. It was incredible, you really wanted to go back on the 2nd loop.
  • Your race bib has your Country and Name, so you can scout the people you’ve been trying to catch up to or keep getting passed by. I got some funny looks from French and Italian cyclists when I’d be keeping up with them for miles. They would look back at me insulted like, “Who does this USA girl think she is?” and I’d just smile.

RACE DAY: RUN – Garmin Connect Results

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  • The documentary followed me to T2 and on first 5k on the run via motorcycle. It was incredible to see “Rinny” on her last 5k back for the win, the sequence of pro’s after her and Yvonne Van Vlarken on the run course. I started geeking out, smiling and feeling pumped, looking around to see if any other participants were feeling cool with seeing Pros and I was getting strange looks. Turns out, the motorcycle videographer following me distracted athletes and spectators since I was going one way, and the Pros were going the other. These looks were like, “If the Pros are going that way, and cameras are going the other way, who’s THIS girl?? Are they after the wrong person?” It was funny to me.
  • I did have to stop for #2 at PortaPotty on mile 10, I think the Cliff Bars were too heavy. My simulation day I used Perfect Food Bars which digested better.
  • Watermelon at each aid station. Amazing. I had to stop a few times when drinking water at the aid station on 2nd half since I was overheating.
  • It started raining at last 5k, which really tripped me up. It was supposed to start only at 8pm and I had no idea what time it was, my goal was under 12 hours.  Kept shaking off quitting voices thinking I was super late on my goal. Since it was raining already, most of the beer drinkers at the “Beer Mile” on wet cobblestone village at last 2 miles were hiding from rain but it was still cool to see.
  • The finish line was a red carpet run around a stadium, and your name is announced. As soon as I found Roger, I hugged him and started balling my eyes out & my legs finally stopping almost collapsed.

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I found out later that Roger had been running around all the Hot Spots on the course all day catching pictures of me.  I hadn’t seen him all day except for a brief moment on the swim. I was overwhelmed when I saw my Facebook Page after the race, so much support & suspense for my race.

Unlike my first marathon where I swore off marathons for a year afterwards, the next day I decided I needed to do another one.  Challenge Roth’s experience, like the Boston Marathon, isn’t one I’d repeat because it was epic and race day was incredible.  It also took a lot of effort and expense to attend, so I’m thrilled I made it worthwhile. Next time I’ll train more than 8 weeks for it, travel less and try out a 70.3 distance beforehand.

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