Friday, July 30, 2010


So here's what I've been doing this week: Getting up at 6:30, sitting down at my desk, and working until 11, with occasional breaks for meals and iced tea.

I thought I was going to be super sore from the half—I couldn't walk for four days after my marathon last year—and not really mind not getting to the gym, but it turns out I was feeling great on Tuesday, downright peppy on Wednesday, and dying to run on Thursday. Ah, well, sometimes the work marathon comes first.

But today I have a moment to breathe, so I'm going to try to get to the gym later and post a few pictures from the race right now.

On the shores of Lake Stinky.

Heading out on the bike.

Daring to run to the end,
with an ironic arm raise.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A few scenes from the race

It turns out I'm now far too busy working to spend any time on a race report, but let me just say a few more things.

The high point of the race was definitely making it to the peak of the mountain on the bike leg. It was slow going, but I followed two pieces of advice from fellow triathletes ("point the bike straight ahead and pedal" and "stay in the saddle") and despite my totally inadequate gearing, I made it! Even as I trudged up the endless hills, I took the time to look around, because the pass was absolutely beautiful. I'm talking snow-capped peaks, meadows full of wildflowers, bubbling brooks, the whole package. Plus it was nice and cool and smelled like pine and clover the whole way. The way back to the peak going the other way had some steeper sections that I had to walk, but when I reached the aid station at that point the first time, I had conquered the mountain and was grinning ear to ear. I told the volunteer there, "This is a happy place."

The low point of the race was at about mile 8 of the run. I had been jogging a little bit on and off, and my legs had felt pretty decent, all things considered, so once I got into the second lap, I thought I'd try to jog more and walk less. That went on for about a mile, when suddenly I just knew I was done. My stomach started hurting, whatever energy had been in my legs evaporated, it started getting seriously hot, and I couldn't see a living soul anywhere around me. (Those in front of me were pretty much done, and those behind me were way behind. Plus the aid stations were no longer manned.) The most worrisome thing was that it was really hard to stomach anything at all, even plain water, and I knew that my choice was to (a) slow down enough to force down some fluids or (b) collapse from heat exhaustion, possibly not be found for hours, and die. I had hoped to avoid having this thing become a death march, but really, death march was all I had left in me.

Oh, dear. That wasn't exactly uplifting. I guess the good news is I'm really not that sore today because I didn't actually do a lot of running?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The short version

Too exhausted to post a race report today, but people are asking about it, so here are the Cliff's Notes:

I finished! I survived! But it took an embarrassingly long time (9:42). On the other hand, many people dropped out, and I was not last. :)

Swim: The smelly pond water grossed me out, but M.H. said I was the only one in the field (of only about 40) who could swim in a straight line, so that's something.

Bike: I saw 40 mph on my bike computer, and I also saw 4 mph. The course was so beautiful, but absolutely brutal. I had to get off and walk twice.

Run: I started off slow but hopeful that I'd have legs for the second lap, but it turned into a death march. It was 95 degrees, I was all alone on the course, and I was afraid that if I collapsed from heat exhaustion it would take them hours to find me. So with all hopes of a happy run utterly vanquished, I was very conservative and didn't even try to run in the last 5 miles.

Everyone keeps asking me how I feel about the Ironman after doing this race, but I'm not in the mood to discuss it.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Day before the race

Saturday: Some sort of short ride later on…

My laptop is about the only thing in the house that's not coming with me to the race, so I'm posting kind of early.

I slept well and feel kind of serene today. I was at my parents' house last night, talking to my parents and sister about the bike course, and I heard myself telling them, "If I have to get off and walk, I'll get off and walk. It's no big deal if I was only going to be going 5 mph anyway" and I realized that's true. The steepest section is only about a mile long, maybe a mile and a half, and having to walk it would not be the end of the world, or the end of my race. I had been trying not to think that way, because I wanted to stay positive, but honestly it's just realistic, and it might be the smartest thing I could do, as opposed to destroying my legs in the first 20 miles. Anyway, it makes me feel better to have a plan other than "I'm (probably) dooooooomed!"

My only remaining fear is that if it gets too steep and I do decide I need to walk, I won't be able to get out of the pedal clips in time and will topple over, but maybe I'll practice that maneuver a few times today.

We're going to drop off the kids with my parents this morning, then drive up to Bozeman with plenty of time to drive the bike course and see just what I'm up against.

Friday, July 23, 2010


Friday: Rest

I am insanely full of nervous energy. I thought being well-trained and totally prepared would take care of most of the pre-race jitters, but — oooops! Finding out that the bike course is going to be substantially more challenging than I was expecting means I am totally not prepared, and the jitters are back, with their little friends, the butterflies.

All day I've been thinking of random things I'm going to need to bring — for example, Pam to spray on my legs before putting on my wetsuit, an ice cube tray to make Gatorade ice cubes at the hotel to put in my Camelbak, and slippers and fuzzy socks to wear after the race when my feet are shot. I decided that rather than make a list, I'd just start throwing all these things in a pile on the floor of my bedroom as they occur to me.

Note for next time: Chaos is not conducive to calmness.

P.S. The friends I was worried about losing touch with have found me and each other via Facebook and Twitter, so I'm relieved to know I'll get awesome advice here as well.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Test ride

Wednesday: Bike 3 miles
Thursday: Rest

I had my biked tuned up earlier this week and hadn't yet tried it out, so I went for a short ride yesterday. I included some hills, because I wanted to test myself out as well. Bad news on both counts.

First, when I shifted into my easiest gear, the chain was rubbing somewhere, so the gear wasn't even usable. Um, I'm going to need that one in the race! And second, I'm really, really awkward and inefficient at standing up on the pedals. I think I'm going to need that in the race, too.

So today I went back to the bike shop and got problem one fixed. When I told the guy that I was going to ride up Bridger Pass on Sunday, he dryly commented, "Yeah, you're going to need that gear." (Of course, I already knew that, but it was so much worse when he said it.) I didn't even tell him about problem two.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

We now rejoin Julie's Ironman journey, already in progress

The triathlon bug first bit me in 2002, and the blogging bug, too. I'm not sure if I blogged to keep myself honest in my training, or if I trained to give myself something to blog about, but the two seemed to go well together. I finished two sprints, an Olympic distance, and a half-ironman in those first few years, keeping an enthusiastic chronicle of all my challenges and questions and lessons and mistakes and triumphs.

Unfortunately, the website where I was blogging,, has been through some ups and downs of its own, and most of that blog is a goner. Actually, the site ate my blog twice. ("Eat my blog once, shame on you…") Whatever. It doesn't matter. The whole point has always been to someday finish an ironman, and as of a couple of weeks ago, I'm signed up for one. So this thing is waaaay serious now, and I think it was time for a better blog anyway. I need more than two commenters, for one thing, and when race day comes, you know I am going to need pictures!

But I am sorry about the thing, because they didn't mean to eat my blog, and there were some great people there who have helped me tremendously to get to this point.

So okay, that's all the backstory you're going to get. If you just started reading, you're going to have to start in the middle. Tomorrow we resume the tale from where I am right now, which is tapering for my second half-ironman on Sunday (gulp!).