Blood, Sweat, Tears, Snot, and Blisters

Friday workout:
Bike – 20 minutes
Run – 15 minutes

Saturday workout: The Kinetic Half Ironman!
Swim – 1.2 miles
Bike – 56 miles
Run – 13.1 miles

Kinetic Half Ironman 2011 Race Report

Well, I’m alive! I survived my first half ironman! It was brutal, grueling, and definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done (although the marathon is a close second). But, of course, the feeling that I had immediately after finishing made it all worthwhile!

My day started at 3:30 am (ouch), and when we pulled into the event parking lot at 5:30 it was still dark out, but the place was already buzzing with hundreds of triathletes.

I picked up my packet, wave swim cap, race t-shirt, and socks! The socks and shirt are both super cute! (Even though at the time it was so dark we couldn’t tell what color the shirt was…black, grey, purple, blue?). Turns out it was navy blue:).

The weather forecast for the day said rain, with a chance of thunderstorms all day, which made me nervous. Luckily, the weather stayed cloudy and while it misted off and on it did not thunderstorm, and with temperatures in the mid-60s to low 70s, it made for pretty ideal triathlon weather.

I set up my transition area as the sun was starting to come up, and before I knew it, it was time to start!

As I stood on the shore looking out on the misty, foggy lake, I could barely make out the yellow buoys that marked the swim turns. The buoys looked SO far away, and I could not believe I was about to swim all the way out there. Then I heard another girl from my wave say to her friend “those buoys are so far away!” and I knew I was not alone in my nerves.

Nine short minutes after the first wave, and we were off!

I tried to relax and settle into a rhythm right away, but for some reason my heart rate was sky-rocketing and I could not seem to get it and my breathing under control. I switched to breast stroke for a minute so I could calm my heart rate, and was finally able to go back to free style and settle into a steady rhythm.

I knew the swim was not going to be short, so I tried to just relax and focus on one buoy at a time. The swim course was shaped like an upside-down pyramid, with yellow buoys marking the points of the triangle (signaling a right-hand turn), and orange buoys marking the sides. As I passed the first yellow buoy after what seemed like 50 orange buoys, I couldn’t help but start anticipating the second and final yellow buoy, which marked the turn to the final stretch of the swim.

I kept telling myself “one more orange buoy, and then you’ll be at yellow,” but every time I would pass another orange buoy I would look up for the next mark, and see another orange buoy. I started cursing the orange buoys. It was like they were purposefully trying to spite me! Stupid orange buoys, what did I ever do to them? But I tried to stay focused, and I told myself “you knew this wasn’t going to be easy, but that’s why you are doing it.” This phrase would become my mantra for the day.

I finally reached my lovely yellow buoy, and made the turn for home. After defeating another four or five of my arch nemesis orange buoys, I was on the shore, and incredibly happy to be there!

Then, I was off for 56 miles of biking!

(The blurriness of this photo is most definitely because of my lightning-fast speed, not the poor quality of my point-and-shoot camera;).

As I started out on the bike, I wished I had kept some tissues in the transition. My nose was so stuffed up and running terribly. I watched the guys in front of me blowing snot rockets, and wished I had paid more attention in high school when the cross country guys tried to teach us how to blow them (instead we just told the guys they were gross!). Oh well, my poor bike gloves would have to do (don’t worry, they went straight in the wash as soon as I got home:).

The first half of the bike ride went by fairly quickly. There were only a couple of moderate climbs, and before I knew it I had hit 30 miles! I celebrated when I saw the 30 mile marker, until I thought “Only 26 more miles to go…whiiiiich is longer than the bike ride in the International distance triathlon…crud.”:(

As I was biking the second loop (of a two-loop course) I started to pass the low mile markers from the first loop. I laughed at mile marker 10–10 miles, that’s nothing! I told mile 20 I had crushed it!

But by mile 45 my body was really starting to hurt. Once again I told myself, “you knew this wasn’t going to be easy!” The last 11 miles were tough, but I was focused on just putting the bike behind me. Other than a quick pit stop in the woods at mile 51, the next few miles were uneventful (I know, I was so close to making it back to the transition area, but I hadn’t used the bathroom since 5:30 that morning, and I had probably drank a good 5 bottles of liquid since then, and I just couldn’t make it!).

The last three or four miles of the bike were down a long, steep hill. I was loving every second of that hill and the chance it gave my legs to relax before I got off to run (at my pit stop I almost fell over when I got off the bike because my legs were jello). My happiness, however, was short lived, because as I came down the last mile of the hill, I saw something that made me want to cry.

The runners, those who were already starting the half marathon, were running UP that huge, steep, long hill that I was so excited to be biking down. I looked at them, many of them already walking, and saw the pain in their faces. And as I remembered it was a three-loop run course and I would be running that hill three times, my soul was crushed into itty bitty pieces.

Nevertheless, I was excited to get off the bike and on to my strongest sport–the run. I was also excited to see my two wonderful spectators/support crew. The bike course was two loops that were over 7 miles away from the transition area, so I had not seen my husband and sister in 3 hours, and I was excited to see their beautiful faces!

(This pictures is actually from Nation’s triathlon, where they also cheered me on…they must love me a lot or something:).

Unfortunately, my bike was a bit faster than I had anticipated, so they weren’t expecting me yet, so we missed each other. But I knew the run was three loops that passed the transition area and finish line each time (frustrating, but at least I got to see more spectators that way), so I would see them soon.

I huffed and puffed up the first horrible, terrible, long, mean hill, and my legs started to loosen up as I enjoyed the nice downhill that was on the other side. But, after that downhill there was another long, awful, terrible uphill. I passed a lot of people that were walking up the hill, but I was determined to keep running, even if it was at 10+ minute pace going up those horrible hills.

That is the elevation chart from my Garmin for the run course. Even though the downhills were wonderful (and I probably would not have survived the run without them), they did not make up for the uphills. The hills on this course just chewed me up and spit me out. So much for the run being my strongest leg! After the first loop, I was already hurting bad.

As I finished the first loop I saw my husband and sister, and I went straight for a hug. It was all I could do to fight back the tears and make myself keep going, but I didn’t come this far to quit now!

(Biting my lip to hold back the tears.)

Things only disintegrated from there. Loop two was worse than loop one, and my pace was slowing tremendously. I kept downing water, Heed, and Gu’s, but I started to feel dizzy and my fingers were tingling. It was not a good sign, but I just had to stay focused and get through this. “You knew this wasn’t going to be easy!!!”

So far I had been lucky enough not to feel any foot pain, but around mile six I started to feel it coming back. I could also feel a bad blister forming on the bottom of my right foot, but I didn’t care about either of those things. No pain was worse than the pain my entire body was feeling at that moment. You probably could have told me you were going to amputate a limb at that point and I would not have cared. Nothing mattered except finishing.


By loop three every cell in my body was screaming at me to just stop, and it took every ounce of mental willpower I had to keep putting one foot in front of the other, but I did not make it 5.5 hours to stop now. I kept telling myself I would “just run to that tree,” “now just run to that sign post.” By loop three I did break down and join the dozens of runners walking sections of the uphills, which greatly hurt my overall pace for the half marathon, but I didn’t care. At that point it was just about finishing.

When I saw the 12 mile marker, I was ecstatic, but that last mile was the longest mile of my life. The amount of pain I was feeling is indescribable. But I just had to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Finally, on my third time seeing the finish line, I could branch off from the other runners only on their first or second loops and head to the finish. I heard someone screaming my name as I came down the chute and in my near-death haze I realized it was one of my new blogger buddies, Lauren:). As I crossed under the finish line I threw my hands up in happiness, hugged my husband and sister, and then collapsed on the ground, hoping I would never have to get up ever, ever again.

But, after some stretching and deep breaths, I did finally get up again…and headed straight for the lake. I couldn’t have an ice bath, but cold lake water would do the trick for the time being! Plus I felt the need to wash off some of the layers of sunscreen, body glide, sweat, rain, mud, dirt, blood, and tears that had formed over the past 6 hours.

My final time was 6:10:13. Not amazing, especially compared to some of the rock star athletes in my age group, but for it being my first half ironman I was fairly happy with it. Could I have done better? Sure. But was I disappointed? Absolutely not.

One of the reasons I love endurance sports of any kinds is the way they push you past every limit you ever thought you had, and make you realize that you are so much stronger, tougher, and more capable than even you realized! This race definitely challenged me more than I have ever been challenged before, and I feel very proud to have completed it!

So, what’s up next after this? Well, that’s a topic for another day:).


About Erin @ untilyoutri

Runner, triathlete, food lover, and happy blogger!
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52 Responses to Blood, Sweat, Tears, Snot, and Blisters

  1. Sandy says:

    Congratulations, Erin! You did an amazing job and your hard work, determination, and tenacity paid off. Well done!

  2. 321delish says:

    YOU ROCK! I’m SO proud of you!!!

  3. lindsay says:

    you survived!!! actually, you rocked it. Minus the last bit of foot pain. Congrats girl. Hope you kick up and relax this week!

  4. Trisha says:

    YOU ARE AMAZING! I loved reading the recap. Way to rock it girl. We CAN do hard things πŸ™‚

  5. Diane says:

    Congrats, Erin!! You did amazing!

  6. feerlessfood says:

    6:10! Are you kidding? Thats awesome! Congratulations on the entire race- thats so awesome. I totally remember that 3 loop course now… that whole downhill in the middle and being like, “crap, I have to go back up that?”

    And just like you said, I totally remember Mile 12! Way to go!

  7. Karen says:

    Congratulations again! You accomplished something incredible by pushing through so much and finishing strong despite it all. You rocked it!

    • Thanks, Kare! I really appreciated all your support and meeting me for workout dates over the past few months and your help talkin me through my foot issues these past few weeks!:)

  8. 321delish says:

    SO PROUD OF YOU! That hill out of transition was KILLER. I cant believe you had to run it 3 times. SO IMPRESSED! How are you feeling today?

    • Aw, thank you! Yeah that run kicked my boo-tay. There were two horrible hills on the course and after the first loop I was counting down hills, not loops, haha. I was like, “just four more hills, just three more hills…” I’m feelin alright…pretty sore, but as much as was expected I suppose. My quads are pretty trashed, and my IT bands are not happy with me. The back of my neck and shoulders/upper back are pretty sore, too. But, is it weird that I kind of like being sore? It’s a reminder of how much I accomplished, haha!

  9. Lauren says:

    Oh my gosh – this sounds insane!! But in an incredible, you should be so proud way. Congratulations!! I am so impressed by your tenacity and the fact that you accomplished this. One day I hope to be this amazing πŸ™‚

    Hope you are resting up and still riding the finisher’s high! Congrats again!!

    • You’re so sweet! But, you ARE that amazing already! I am so impressed by your super speedy marathon times and your crazy relays:). (I still think the blogger relay idea is awesome;). And, oh yeah, lots of resting for me, especially until I get this foot thing completely figured out:/. Thank you!!

  10. Patty says:

    Congratulations on a job well done…so very proud of your accomplishment!!! πŸ˜€

  11. katie says:

    congratulations! and you’re right, that run course was just MEAN. sigh.

  12. Laura says:

    Congratulations again Erin!
    I enjoyed your recap as well! You should treat yourself to a day at the spa. Once you’re healed up, we should go riding.

  13. EXCELLENT! Great re-cap!! Very inspirational – congrats!! My goodness, those hills! Yikes. What are you doing to celebrate??
    Also – I have very vivid memories from high school of the boys XC team also teaching us how to blow snot rockets!! HA! And I 100% attribute my impressive spitting-while-running distance to them as well (TMI?) Thats hsyterical.

    • Hahaha, I love that you have the same high school memories! Sadly, I did not listen as well and my spitting while running sucks, too. I try not to do it because it usually ends up on me, and not on the ground:(. I need some lessons, hah! And I think between fellow runners/triathletes there is no such thing as TMI…all normal social barriers are broken by discussions of body fluids and such, haha:).

  14. Heather says:

    Awesome recap! Nice job on your first half! A great accomplishment!

  15. DiningAndDishing says:

    CONGRATS!! What an amazing accomplishment. You should be very, very proud of yourself – and your time! πŸ™‚

    – Beth @

  16. Eri! Congrats! This sounds grueling and I am in COMPLETE amiration of you triathletes!! Did you know Katie @ Run This Amazing Day also did this race?! I think!

    CONGRATS!!! I hope you are basking your accomplishment!!GO ERIN!!!

    • Thanks, Jess! I did actually find Katie and a few other DC-area bloggers that were doing the race just a few days before it! We’ve been twittering up a storm about it! I’m excited to have made some new tri/blogger friends:).

  17. Emily says:

    Congrats on your race! Awesome way to start your half IM career πŸ™‚

  18. shut up erin you totally ARE a rock star athlete! You did it!!! ahhh girl you are my hero! I would have been cursing those orange buoys too! ohmygosh!

  19. Wow this is SO inspiring! Congratulations!! I’m so so so proud of you! I just kept thinking “whoa” to myself the entire time I was reading your recap. You are really an inspiration πŸ™‚

    • Thank you, Ali! You are impressive too, my dear! I am so impressed by your dedication to your nutrition, and that you did a half marathon! Be careful…I started with what I now consider “smaller” races, too;) Hehe

  20. Jen says:

    awesome job! I am going to try my first Sprint Tri this summer. Going for a 1/2 ironman is just awesome!!!

    • Oh that’s awesome that you’re doing a sprint tri! Which one? I’m excited to hear how it goes! Let me know if you have any questions…I know I was overwhelmed when I did my first tri! But luckily I did it with Team in Training so there were a lot of people there to answer all my questions…including the ones I didn’t even know I should be asking:). Good luck!!

  21. kc says:

    Congrats on conquering your first HIM! You did great! Bummer on the painful foot …go get some ART πŸ™‚
    Love the technical race t-shirt and the socks. You got some nice race goodies.
    I always think the swim looks longer than it should be. But once you break it down into buoys, it is much more manageable …unless of course, the orange one’s start to multiply like yours did.
    Again, great job!

    • Haha, thank you! Yes, I am always excited when I like the race gear (and when the shirt fits, since a lot of times it doesn’t!). Haha, overall, the swim was really not so bad, but yeah at the time those orange buoys seemed like they were going on forever!!

  22. Stephanie says:

    Wow how amazing. You rock and give me the inspiration I need when running! Congrats!

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