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From Runner to Triathlete: Training for My 1st Half Ironman 70.3

If you would have told me three years ago that I would be training for a Half Ironman I would have first asked,  “What is a Half Ironman?” and then I would have laughed until I cried!  My life changed when I found my athletic self.  I talk about this transformation in Eat Clean and Find Your Athletic Self in the New Year.  I began to make goals to compete in races that I had just learned even existed.  Within a year of learning how far a marathon was, I completed my first.  In just months of learning about triathlons (and that moms actually competed in these things!), I completed two Sprint Triathlons and signed up to race my 1st half Ironman.

triathlon training, half ironman 70.3, tri with skye

So, what is a Half Ironman?

Well, even as I type this I have to look it up because I can’t remember the exact numbers!  Ironman is a triathlon that includes: swim, bike and run.  There is a full and a half ironman, I am training for a half ironman (don’t think I’ll ever be crazy enough to try to compete in a full but maybe I’ll be typing about that in a few years!)  The half ironman is a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and a 13.1 mile (or half marathon) run.  It takes, on average, 6 hours to complete.  I plan on being above average on completion time 😉

I am literally shaking as I type that.  It seems insane.  I really mean plain crazy that I am going to do this.  There are a lot of athletic moms out there that I feel it would make sense that they are training for a half ironman, but me?!?!  I’m going to die out there…  Ok, probably not die.

Why am I so nervous?

Well, anyone would be I’m sure when they are training for their first big race in a new scene of athletes, but I am also injured.  I have not been able to run in 3 months due to a hip injury.  After going to an Orthopedic, Physical Therapy, Chiropractor, getting acupuncture, and months of rest I am now able to add miles back.  During that entire time, I luckily could swim and bike moderately so I kept much of my endurance up, but nothing replicates running and as I add it back in (only up to 3 miles right now) it is hard!  Really hard.

How do I think I can do it?

You’re probably reading this agreeing that I am insane to think I can do this!  Although you are probably right, I have an incredible coach.  As I mentioned in my post Eat Clean and Find Your Athletic Self in the New Year, I joined a workout group that introduced me to running.  I knew I needed a coach if I was going to start training for any triathlon and luckily one of the moms, Skye Johnson, I met through Stroller Strength started Tri with Skye.  She creates a plan for moms new to the sport and even finds bikes and tri outfits for you to borrow so you don’t have to make thousands of dollars in investments just to complete your first sprint triathlon.  What is a Sprint Triathlon?  It does change a bit depending on the race, but for the most part it is a 500 meter swim, 15 mile bike, and 3.1 (or 5K) run.  It takes about an hour and a half, less than just the run portion will take me in the half ironman!  Why did I sign up to do this again???

Skye has competed in two Full Ironman races, along with being a mom of three boys.  When I learned of her triathlon training group I immediately thought, “No way, those girls are crazy!  I can’t swim and biking scares the life out of me!”  Last spring I decided that running didn’t ‘scare’ me anymore but triathlons sounded impossible, so why not make that my new goal?  Ha, ha, ha, that really was my thinking.  So, I signed up for the Tri with Skye spring session of 2013 and my first sprint triathlon.

Tri with Skye

Sprint triathlon, tri with skye

I began swimming on my own last January 2013.  I couldn’t put my face in the water.  I would start hyperventilating and had to stand up in the pool.  Just crossing the pool left me panting at the wall for a few minutes.  How was I going to do 500 meters?!  I spent 2 months in the gym pool getting comfortable.  I would make myself float face down, slow down my swim pace, will myself to change the mindset that I would drown!  By the time Tri with Skye began training I could finally put my face in the water and cross the pool.  During the 6-8 week training she has a swim clinic with a local swim school.  They go over technique and help build your confidence.  I used to be on swim team when I was a kid and I learned at the swim clinic that my stroke was outdated.  Outdated?  Wow, that made me feel old!  But they showed me a more effective stroke and I got stronger and faster with every practice swim.

I borrowed a road bike from my neighbor, thank goodness for her generosity!  I not only had to learn how to ride a road bike, but also how to ride while clipped in.  What does it mean to be clipped in?  Well, your shoes are clipped (attached) to the bike.  So, if you don’t unclip fast enough while stopping, ummmm, you fall.  And fall I did!  I rode her bike up and down our street and I fell, and fell, and finally stopped practicing because from my ankle to my hip was bruised.  Ouch.  I only need to stop once during the race, and that was to get off, so I figured, “I can do that!” Learning how to ride while in a pack of 4-6 people was ideal.  I felt safe wherever we rode because the cars had to see all of us.  I never would have gotten on the road without the Tri with Skye group.  We learned about our gears, how to pass, road etiquette and race rules.  We built up milage going fast and over bridges to get us prepared for the 15 miles of race conditions.

Last year I completed two sprint triathlons, one in a pool and one in a lake.  I still don’t think I’d ever do an ocean swim…  I built confidence in myself and my coach and decided last fall to push myself by signing up for my first Half Ironman in April of this year.  I am training with two other moms that have never done a half ironman before.   I wouldn’t do it without Tri with Skye.  I’ll be posting more updates on my training and my race in the next few months so you can find out if I made my goal!

For information about Tri with Skye:

tri with skye, triathlon training, half ironman

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2 Responses to From Runner to Triathlete: Training for My 1st Half Ironman 70.3

  1. Kat R at #

    I don’t know how you all are so brave to do tris with hardly any experience in riding etc. I can run and bike, not a good freestyle swimmer, but still don’t think I could do well in a tri…Also hard to find a group to train with…I am too much of an introvert.

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