It’s funny how an incident can change what ends up on your bucket list. For years, I was a runner. I ran 4-5 days a week. Sometimes I pulled on my rollerblades (yes, I still own rollerblades) or took a yoga class but the majority of the time I was lacing up my running shoes.

Then, after the twins were born, I likely made the mistake of jumping back in too quickly (ha), and injured myself. Like, I was limping around just walking, panicked I had broken or torn something and I’d have to give up running. When the chiropractor suggested I started biking (ok….), and then swimming (omg) I initially laughed. Biking was ok – Bryan had gotten me a hybrid for my birthday and I enjoyed the occasional ride, but swimming? I can’t swim! I could dog paddle to the end of the pool, but any considerable distance? No way. Still, I wanted to be able to keep running, so I reluctantly tried it.

Today, I started looking at half ironman training plans.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I wanted a bigger challenge than the sprints this year, but wasn’t sure about the swimming or training time commitment with two toddlers for a half ironman, so I met in the middle and chose an Olympic Distance. Interestingly, Olympic distance races can still vary some in the specific lengths of each sport (which makes no sense to me), and Kiawah was a .7 mile (1125 meter) swim, 25 mile bike ride and an almost 10k (6.1 miles).

Race day began early…..really early. My alarm went off at 4am. Luckily, even though the majority of the group was training for the Augusta Half Ironman the next weekend, there was another person racing Kiawah, and he so graciously allowed me to ride along. I was at his house by 4:30 am and we were on our way by 4:45.

I didn’t even know what 4:45 looked like before Sunday.

It’s dark.

Anyway, the first stop was packet pickup and number marking.

310 is my lucky number?
310 is my lucky number?

Then setting up the transition area.

Ready to Roll
Ready to Roll

And of course take a pre race picture.

Ready as I'll ever be
Ready as I’ll ever be

The walk to the race start was about 10 minutes or so – across a road, down a boardwalk and  .7 miles down the beach, since the swim was a straight shot end to end. As luck would have it, we were walking towards the beach just as the sun was coming up.

Seriously, you couldn't beat this
Seriously, you couldn’t beat this

The swim start was in waves. The first group started at 7:30 and each subsequent group in 3 minute increments. I was in the 3rd group slated to start at 7:36. By the time the groups started going I was just ready to go.

The Swim

Distance: .7 miles (or 1125 meters)

Goal time: under 30 minutes

This race was unlike the sprints in that the swim didn’t start in the water. Not only that but you had to “run” to a point where the water was deep enough to actually start swimming….. with 62 of your closest friends all trying to do the same. I settled myself near the end because I knew I’d be slower and wanted to be kicked as little as possible. Luckily, once that horn went off my competitive mode set in and killed any and all nerves I had at the start. I was SO glad I had done that one ocean practice swim, because the conditions of the water then made this seem like a breeze, relatively speaking. I ran into probably 3 people and ran directly into one buoy (oops), but other than that the swim went pretty smoothly. I concentrated on getting form buoy to buoy and tried not to worry about anything else. There was a bit of a current too so that helped. I actually finished swimming in 27 minutes and some change, but getting out of the water was another challenge, and the transition mat was actually up the beach by the boardwalk, which added another couple minutes.

Actual time: 30:06

Transition 1

Goal time: just don’t fall

Typically people in triathlons are selfless, but the dude in the transition area next to me was not. By the time I got to my transition, my bike was on top of (instead of next to) my stuff. Luckily, the guy on my left had already gone, so I just used his space. Also, it was the LONGEST.RUN.EVER from the transition mat to the actual transition area. Socks on, shoes on, helmet on, applesauce (yes I fuel with squeeze applesauce) in pockets, sunglasses on, inhaler at the ready and I was off.

Actual time: 2:11


The Bike

Distance: 25 miles

Goal time: under 1 hour 20 minutes

For a 1 hour 20 minute finish time, I needed to maintain a 19 mph average. I’d tried to do this at the last few group rides by going off on my own more and had been mostly successful, but tired. Race day can be a different environment for sure, but I didn’t expect any drastic difference. Boy was I wrong, and in a good way. A fellow triathlete and friend told me once during my last sprint that I was “mashing”. Basically, that means I was pedaling too hard and likely wearing my legs out more than I needed to. The problem always was I wasn’t sure how to spin enough on a lower gear and keep my speed up. Well, something clicked and I figured it out. The race course itself was nice – though I could have done without the traffic that just wasn’t sure how to handle the fact that there were bikers on the road. I finished the first 15 miles at a great pace, and was starting to tire a little when a group caught up to me. My competitive side kicked in and I wanted to keep up with them, and so that gave me the boost I needed.

Actual time: 1 hour, 13 minutes, 9 seconds (!!!)

Transition 2

Goal time: I really didn’t have one.  I had no idea what to expect.

So, remember the mystery dude who stuck my bike on top of my stuff in transition 1? Well, this time he stuck HIS bike on top of my stuff, leaving no room for my bike. Bad form, mystery dude (or dudette I suppose). So, I had to MOVE his bike in order to make room for mine, and I just stood there for probably 15 seconds feeling like I had forgotten something before I actually moved.

Actual time: 2:01

The Run

Goal time: under 50 minutes

Charleston isn’t Charleston without its oppressive heat and humidity, which has FINALLY started breaking the week before. Unluckily, the temperature decided to creep back up over the weekend with a high of 90. So, by the time the run started, it was warm. The first few miles weren’t so bad because it was shaded. Around mile 4 the run took us down the beach. It was BEAUTIFUL, but WARM, and it slowed my pace down significantly. In the end my run time was a little over what I’d hoped for but all in all I couldn’t complain.

Actual time: 50:44

And just like that, it was over. Amazing how something you train so hard for for so long is over in just a few hours. I stopped my watch, glanced down, and realized I had beat my goal time by 7 minutes!



Goal time: 2 hours 45 minutes

Actual time: 2 hours 38 minutes 8 seconds

Overall Female: 24/120

Age Group: 6/22

Swim: 82/120

Bike: 20/120 (!)

Run: 25/120

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Is it time for next season yet?