Monday, July 29, 2013

Lake Stevens: 70.3 Amazing Miles

The last couple weeks have been a complete whirlwind, hence the delay in this post...

Let's rewind a little...2 summers ago I signed up for and was training for my first half Ironman, Kansas 70.3; which I was planning on doing with my friends Heather and Heidi.  3 weeks before the race I was in a cycling accident, which resulted in a broken collar bone, which resulted in me having surgery 5 days before the triathlon. So, needless to say, no triathlon for me.  However, I did board a plane 2 days following surgery to cheer on Heather and Heidi! Sidenote...I was super bummed when the plate in my collar bone didn't set off the metal detector at the I was thinking I was bionic woman.  

The last two years I have focused on running, with little to no swimming or biking. Ok, I did a 50 mile winery bike tour...but that doesn't really count. I knew someday I would do another triathlon, and do my first half, but I wasn't exactly sure when. I don't think I realized how much the accident effected me and placed a little fear in me; it took me a while to get back out there.  One day I decided I wanted to celebrate my 30th birthday by overcoming fear and doubt, and accomplish a huge goal of I signed up for Ironman Lake Stevens.  I came out of retirement with a bang, took on my first triathlon in 3 years,  and conquered 70.3 miles. 


My emotions and nerves were all over the minute I was so excited & feeling confident, the next I was freaking out, questioning what I was about to get myself into! Mandy and I headed to the expo Saturday afternoon to check-in, set-up our transitions, oh, and do a lil creeping! There is nothing like an expo to get the excitement up. 

All checked-in, all smiles


On the drive to Seattle, I was chatting with my friend , and she saw that her all time favorite triathlete, "Crowie,"  {he's a close second for me} was racing Lake Stevens and would be at a Pro meeting at 2pm. She proceeded to tell me how much she loves him and that she even  "fist bumped" him at the finish in Kona {big deal, right!?}.  I knew I not only needed to meet him {such an inspiration, not to mention quite good looking} but have him sign something for my friend...I love a good challenge. Heather and Mandy were so gracious, and put up with my borderline obnoxious creeping.  When we checked-in I asked the volunteers at the "Pro Check-in" what time and where the Pro meeting was {3pm at the Library; and I might of asked a couple other people too, just to confirm}.  Well, there is a library at the school AND a library down by the race. We went and checked our bikes in, scoped out the swim and transition area, and walked by the library, which was clearly not where the Pro meeting was, so back to the high school we went. I felt like a teenager at a Justin Bieber concert...peaking around the corner into the library, running outside when the meeting was over and attempting to act all cool, and  totally twitterpated when he walked out.  Ok, I'm a DORK!!! As he comes out with his entourage, and I'm like a giddy, nervous teenager, heart racing,  I basically charge him and ask if he'd sign two water bottles for me {I'm hoping I appeared a little smoother than I felt}. He was more than happy to...always so nice to meet such a humble, genuine, extremely talented athlete. 

In no time, we were BFFs! Thanks Crowie, you are an inspiration to many!

Ok, time to get back to the race..


My alarm went off at 4:15am, and I was overflowing with excitement!! We headed to Lake Stevens, and the first stop was body markings!  

It was so great to run into Megan, who was also doing her half Ironman.


I'm so thankful Heather was able to come out and be the ultimate supporter, cheerleader, and photographer. 

THE SWIM: 1.2 miles, 33.23, 10th in age group
*one of the highlights of the race

I'm a swimmer, aka I swam competitively for 11 years, and it come naturally to me. My time for training for this triathlon was VERY limited {relatively speaking}, and I knew that I was going in to it under trained {that's another post}so I didn't focus a LOT of time on swimming. I swam on average of once a week, getting a couple 3000yd workouts in, but probably averaging around 2200yd per swim; and did 2 OWS. At first I had ambitious goals for the swim {30 min} but changed my game plan, and went into the swim wanting to swim between a comfortable and a challenging pace {goal was sub 34} feeling strong but not completely exhausted going into T1. Mission accomplished.  The swim felt great and was the best swim I had had in a while...I felt like I could go forever, but was keeping a pretty decent pace. The competitive swimmer in me loved catching and passing the orange and purple caps {men 30-39}!

SHE DID IT!!! I knew Mandy was most nervous about the swim, but I also had NO doubt that she would do it! The highlight of the swim was on the way back to the transition {it's an out and back, U-shaped swim with a buoy line..amazing...but note to self, the buoy line is attached to the buoys, so if you follow it exactly you WILL hit a buoy!}, about a quarter of the way, I saw Mandy, and checked to make sure she was doing OK! 

BIKE: 56 miles of a beautiful mess! And Holy Hills Batman 

I came out of the swim feeling great, and right as I was riding out of T1 my bike computer went flying...I had mere seconds to decide if I wanted to stop, pull over and attempt to grab it {assuming it wasn't completely shattered from the fall & that I could even get it} OR just continue on and not worry about it.  Well, I decided to continue on, which probably wasn't the best idea, as I didn't wear a watch or heart rate monitor ...I had no idea how fast I was going, what my average pace was. With so many hills, it was hard for me to know my average pace, but I had a feeling I was going slow, but didn't want to push it too much early on. On top of dealing with that, I was completely uncomfortable on my bike..not sure why!? I felt like I had a pinched nerve or something, and shooting pains down my legs {at one point I wanted to pull over and pop my lower back...that would of been quite the scene}.  From mile 30 on, I kept having to stand up to alleviate the pressure.  I was constantly readjusting how I was sitting on the bike, which resulted in me carrying a lot of tension in my shoulders and my right shoulder totally cramping up. .  I didn't and haven't focused on the negatives of the biking portion, but it was part of the experience so wanted to share. But with all of that being said, I absolutely enjoyed every minute and mile on the bike {well with the exception of maybe the last 6, which were the longest 6 miles ever!} I was so thankful to be out there, that I didn't care {a mindset I don't normally have when things don't go as planned}.  I ended up averaging 15 MPH {3:46} and was hoping for 16MPH, knowing it was a challenging bike course...I started off closer to 17 MPH, and NOT to my surprise, went downhill {not literally though} from there.  I knew going into T2 that I took it too conservatively on the bike, and my splits were slower than I had hoped for. Live and learn! 

RUN: 13.1 miles, ALL SMILES

There were pros and cons to the run.  Pro...the crowd support coming out of the transition, which was also the middle portion of the run loop, was phenomenal, with the streets lined with people cheering us on by name! Cons...while I am not a huge fan of 2 loops, the bigger struggle for me was there was an out & back incorporated into the loop, so it was like a double whammy.  But, the "back" portion went by much quicker than the "out" both times! What I did like about running 2 loops is I met up with everyone...the people coming in to the finish, when I still had another lap to go. And the people who had another lap to go, as I was coming into the finish.  As I approached the last couple miles, I started cheering on and encouraging others on the course...and while I was tired and ready to be done, the energy of encouraging others, gave me a boost of energy to finish strong!!  

So happy to be completing my first half marathon {this was around mile 11}

She did it, not only her first half Ironman, but her first triathlon EVER!!!

Thanks to Dutch Bros coffee for the best looking kits on the course! 

6:45 and my goal was 6:30.  Given my training, the terrain, and a few mishaps, I was HAPPY! 

The smile says it all...a day of overcoming, second attempts, a huge accomplishment, and celebrating others' victories.

A HUGE thank you to Heather who planted the seed that I could do a half Ironman, flew out to the PNW for the BIG 30th celebration, and was our biggest supporter and cheerleader from start to finish! 

It was so fun to celebrate our 70.3 and Lauren's ULTRA Ragnar Relay with a #NUUNKOTB dinner in Seattle.  

30 is off to a great start and this is only the beginning of many more triathlon adventures to come...


  1. rock!! You may or may not be inspiring me to try a tri sometime in the future ;). the #nuunkotb pic...stealing it!

  2. Awesome Job Holly!! This is a major feat!! Loved reading all about it

  3. SO awesome, Holly! You are such an inspiration! I never knew you were a competitive swimmer. I need to pick your brain! ;-)

    Congratulations on a fantastic race!

  4. Congratulations!!! This was a really inspiring race report; I'm so glad you went out there and got it done! I'm hoping to tackle my first 70.3 in the relatively near future also. Now, how did you get yourselves those kits to wear???

  5. It's all about who you know! :) DB started here and I know one of the franchisees.

  6. Okay Holly, I am not sure how this happened, but your blog isn't showing up in my feed anymore. I feel so behind on everything exciting in your life! :-(

    I am so beyond proud of you for accomplishing a 70.3. You are amazing and looked amazing while doing it! Loved the Dutch Bro tri suit, it was very fitting for you and your love of the sport and coffee. :-)


  7. I must say that this athletic clothing has really impressed me a lot.