I want to thank everyone along the course – spectators and other athletes – for your support on the run course of last weekend’s Florida 70.3. Although I only finished in 7th place, your encouragement not only helped me finish the race, but it led me to experience something that will be very valuable as I continue to figure out this long distance racing thing.
If there was a comments column in the race results, next to my unimpressive splits it would say Reverse Bonk. My race started with a decent swam. I came out of the water in second behind another Roka wetsuit wearing Laura Bennett. On the bike, I stayed comfortable and rode within the heart rate zone I’ve been practicing. This should have set me up for a good run. But it didn’t. When I got off the bike and started running, I was at a very low point. No energy, everything hurt. I was moving, but felt like I absolutely couldn’t possibly run another step without falling over. I barely made it to the first aid station, which was before mile 1, and then shuffled through the first few (very hilly) miles. Then, for some unknown reason, my shuffle transformed to a stride. My legs stopped aching. I started hearing people telling me I was really moving. By mile 6 or so I was actually running again. From there, I just kept increasing the pace and by the last half mile, I was able to unleash an all out sprint. When I hit the finish line, I was ready for more. My last four miles were the fastest of all the women in the race except the winner.
People talk about recovering from a bad patch during an Ironman, but I never imagined it to be so extreme. How can the body go from feeling that bad to feeling that good? Most of my racing experience has been with shorter races, where the opposite happens. You go all out until you can’t go anymore and then the race is over. But now I know what the body is capable of, if you give it a chance. I’m glad I gave myself that chance on Sunday because it takes experiencing this kind of recovery to really believe that it happens. For my next race, I’ll know to expect it and embrace it and deal with it.
Plenty of ironman competitors are already familiar with this phenomena, but if you are new to this, like me, I hope you can learn from my experience. So remember, if you find yourself out on the race course, in the blazing hot sun, feeling awful, don’t give up. Just keep moving, just keep fueling and your fastest miles might be around the corner.
Up next for me is Rev3 Knoxville. Thanks for reading and congrats to all of the Ironman 70.3 Florida finishers!