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Kelly does Ironman Raleigh 70.3!

Why Raleigh 70.3?

My sister called me one day last July and said “I want to do a Half Ironman, but if I do this, I want to do it with you and Kopps (aka my husband).” I laughed hysterically because I had never even done a single triathlon before and never really had interest in triathlon. The swim portion was terrifying for me since I never learned the correct way to swim and I was pretty convinced I could never swim 100 meters let alone 1.2 miles. With that said, a week later my sister, my husband, my brother-in-law, and I were all signed up for Raleigh 70.3….WTF did I just do, was my first thought. Shit, I need to figure out how to swim was my second. We chose Raleigh because the location was accessible for both our families and the timing worked with all our schedules.

Fast forward 10 months.

I conquered pool swimming and successfully completed 3 sprint triathlons although each race I panicked within 100 yards, backstroked half of the swim, and struggled with sighting buoys. None of this helped to ease my fear of the 1.2 mile swim looming in Raleigh and it got into my head that I would not even get out of the water, but off to Raleigh we went!

Pre Race

We assembled our bikes that we shipped via Fedex, checked in, got all our free swag, got our wristband and our bibs with our names on them! We attended the athlete briefing and were told it would most likely not be a wetsuit event. SHITTTTT! I have never swum open water without a wetsuit so now I was really freaking out. We drove out to T1 to rack our bikes and I was hoping the lake would be open to practice swim…but nope. Rode my bike to make sure my husband assembled everything and nothing was broken, all good. We got dinner with our families and tried to get to bed early.

Race Day

Race Morning My alarm went off at 3 am, I was less than impressed and the nerves rolled in like a tidal wave. Got dressed, ate my first breakfast, and headed down to the buses to drive the 40 miles out to T1. My friend Krista had tried to connect me with another She Does Tri athlete prior to the race and out of the 2000+ athletes I figured I would never find her, but boarding the bus in front of me I noticed the pink and black 2xu shorts and overheard the name Mayra and quickly introduced myself…small world! Got my gear together in transition, found Mayra for a quick picture, and then headed off to the bathroom line where I would spend the next hour of my life.

The Swim

I watched my husband start his swim and then got in the water to warm-up and was surprised how good I felt sans wetsuit. Watched my sister start and then realized I forgot to eat breakfast two, crap. Shoved a gel in my face and hoped I had enough to fuel my swim. 8:16 and I finally got to start. The gun went off and I waited, counted to 10 and then slowly waded into the water and began swimming. I was waiting to panic, to flip over onto my back, but that never happened. I felt great and never strayed off course. The people climbing on me and the turbulent waves crashing into me never even bothered me. I COULD BREATHE was all I cared about and I just kept counting buoys. Half way through I got hungry…mistake one of the day, really needed breakfast two. Oh well, I felt great so when I finally returned to land I totally thought I swam it in 37-38 minutes…BAHAHAHAHA my watch read 48:12, ugh. I was momentarily disappointed but then realized I survived the swim, so I consider that success! Goal achieved.

The Bike

My bike was pretty uneventful. The majority of the course was shaded and winded around beautiful lakes with some rolling hills. I was averaging 19.5 or so up until mile 40 when the bigger hills started. I was feeling good but decided to slow down a bit to make sure I had legs for the run. My stomach started to slightly bother me on the bike but I didn’t think much of it. I took in what I thought was enough calories/salt/water/electrolytes but little did I know that my slight stomach discomfort on the bike was a precursor for what was to lie ahead. Came into T2, waved at my parents, and finished the bike leg in 3:02, pretty much exactly where I thought I would finish so I was pleased. Took my time in transition, got some sunscreen put on, took a pee break and headed out to run.

The Run

Within 100 yards of my run start I passed by Mayra and shouted a quick hello! She asked how I felt and at that time I was ok; about a ½ mile later that all changed. My stomach turned, cramped up and I was positive I was going to vomit. I was able to run, slowly for me, until mile 2.5 and then I walked the hill because any extra exertion made the nausea worse. Started running again, found my husband at mile 3 for me, 9.5 for him, which gave me a temporary break from misery and by temporary I mean 2 minutes because then another hill came. This is how most of my run went. I ran the flats and downs, walked the ups, talked to some fellow athletes, saw my sister at mile 9 and my brother-in-law at mile 12. My husband came back out to run me in the last mile but surprisingly I was actually feeling ok at this point so I was able to pick up my pace and had a huge smile on down through the chute.

The Finish

Enjoyed the finish, got my medal and then someone tried to take my timing chip off and I yelled “I NEED A TRASHCAN NOW” and I proceeded to hurl Gatorade, oranges, salt, whatever else my stomach no longer wanted. A sweet lady kept asking for Med help, towels, water, ect and I briefly look up to see that it was Mayra…of course! She Does Tri girls take care of each other ☺ Owe that girl BIG!

I got taken to the med tent. BP was taken 72/60…not good. I drank some nasty Gatorade salt water mix and laid down for a few minutes. Started to feel better and against the advice of the med tent people I left the tent, I had to watch my sister and brother-in-law finish. Grabbed pretzels and a sprite and headed back out to the course.

My sister and was coming down the chute in no time with tears of joy in her eyes and a smile plastered across her face…I have never been more proud of her. Her husband came through shortly after and we were all there to bring him in. They are parents to two boys, work full time, and 2 years ago they could barely run 1 mile…and now they were both half Ironman finishers…amazing!!!

My husband finished in 5:18. I finished in 6:20:54. My long shot goal was to break 6 hours, but the rookie in me did not nutrition plan correctly and was not acclimated to heat/humidity, which ruined my run but that’s ok, I have a lot to learn. My realistic goal was to beat 6:30 so I DID!! My sister finished in 7:59 and her goal was to not be DFL (Dead F*cking Last) and her husband finished in 8:13. We DID IT. What an incredible journey and to experience it with my family was the best part of the whole day. I can’t wait to do it again!

Much thanks and love to those that advised, trained and encouraged me along the way: Andrea Mathias, Klaus Stadler, Krista Schultz, David Glover, Eric Kenny, Mayra Krueger, my sister, my parents, and of course my husband whom inspired us all to try this crazy sport we call triathlon.

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