Columbus, GA Half Iron Distance Triathlon – Relay

The Ironteam was doing the Columbus half iron on April 20 as a part of training for IMCdA. I wanted to do Mountain Madness half on May 5, as did my teammate John. Mary, our mutual coach, suggested we do Columbus, GA as a relay so that way we can still have the race experience with our team. Sounded like a win to both of us, and we were ready to go.

Friday, April 19 we drove down. And it was getting chilly. Tomorrow was going to be a cold ride. I was kind of glad I was doing the swim and run. Pshew!

We were staying at the Marriott downtown which is literally across the street from transition. This is a good plan as I was going to head back to the room between my swim and run.

For me this really was a half marathon event in my mind…even with the swim before. My focus and goal was about 1:45 – a 6 minute PR. I told Carlos and Mary….and that was it. Mary pointed out I was not rested, and that a PR would be great, but to have fun out there. I agreed.

I slept amazingly well considering I was doing the swim. The swim is where I still get the most anxious even though I have not had a spaz out in the water and unable to breath in awhile. I guess it is just that potential.

I woke up early on the 20th, and did an early warm up run since I was doing the swim, and needed to work the junk out so I could swim strong.

Soon teammates were around, and we were waiting to start. It was cold. I put on my wetsuit and was shivering.  The water was warmer than the air temp, so rumor had it, it felt really good in the water!

Cameron and me before the race


There were several wave starts with the relay team last. Soon the number of people on deck was dwindling. Turned out there were 4 relay teams! Beth Rolfson was on a relay team. One thing I have learned – I much prefer to start a race with a friend – or have a friend with me until the start. I listen to them talk and don’t think about the race. It is heaven. Whether they realize it or not, since I have realized this, if I start a race with you for me it is a bonding moment, and that memory is with me forever. And I am deeply grateful for the shared memory. This all started with a 5k in January, 2012 with Lauren Ramsey.  Anyway…Beth….you are forever in my memory and I am forever grateful! You gave me an awesome start.

I know that, once they say “Go” a switch turns and I am in race mode….anything outside that race is forgotten. I just need someone to get me to that start until that switch changes.

The relay wave – all four of us!

There the four of us were, standing on the dock waiting to start. There was some joking about kicking and jabbing, and then “Go!”. And I jumped in and started swimming. Gone was my shivering, and the water felt fantastic. My focus was to swim. I actually started off really easy as I recalled with the Olympic distance the swim portion against the current was very hard. But then I thought….why? You aren’t cycling, and you need to swim hard regardless….so I turned it up. Sighting was easy, although some of the buoys were far off. Soon I was passing people from previous waves. I felt comfortable and easy. My stroke and hip rotation felt great. Hooray! I am learning that I really love the swim, even though I dread the potential of having a small panic attack when starting. Once I am going….I am good to go.

 I was soon coming in to crowds and having to navigate past others. Not a problem. And soon – the turn around. Got it! And headed back up towards the boat ramp. Wait a minute…the current didn’t seem that bad. Stroke harder! And so I did.

Soon I saw the boat ramp and aimed right for it. Keeping a strong pace. I remembered not to stand up until I was at the ramp….so I kept swimming. There is a long run up the ramp, around a road and in to the parking lot where transition is. I knew – run it! I came up and started running saying “On your left” as I passed people heading to transition. I kept thinking…”Why aren’t you running? This is a RACE!” Umm…OK…yes….I have a race brain! Surprised? I think many people are. Total swim time: 30:24 (official time was a little over 31 minutes as the timing mat was up the hill at transition). Not bad for not pushing it hard until I realized I wasn’t!

Running to T1 – no need to strip my wetsuit down! A good thing about a relay

 I ran in to transition and passed the timing chip to John – his turn to go hard while I wait. I had given my sweathshirt and key to Beth Bluestein and started looking for her. But I saw Carlos first. He gave me a room key and I headed to my room. I still had my wetsuit on and walked straight to the hotel, through the lobby and to the elevators. It felt surreal. And not a single person said “I think you are going the wrong way”, or anything else for that matter, to me!

Up I walked to my room, stripped down and took a shower to warm up. I dried my hair and put on my second TNT Ironteam tri kit. One advantage to doing a second Ironteam. I texted Karen, and went to Lauren Pittenger’s room where she and Beth were getting ready to run. I hung with them for a bit and after they left I just sat on the bed in my room and chilled…waiting. My Garmin was T2 and keeping track of time for me.

 At two hours in to the ride I got up, put on more sunscreen and my ubiquitous University of Michigan sweatshirt and went out for another warm up run and headed to transition. Time to run! Mary was waiting for me and wanted me to head to transition – John was going to ride this like a time trial – she wanted me there early. OK.

While waiting I saw Beth Rolfson and thanked her for starting the race with me. As I said to me it means the world, and I am forever grateful for a strong race start.

Soon the first male came in, followed by a few others. And in came the first female – Bethany! Woo hoo! Way to go! Even among the first in I saw little hurry and people catching their breath after the bike. Shanks came in and I guess he wasn’t running. He commented on the constant headwind the last 20 miles.

In came Jeff Lyons and a few others. And then John was coming in….word came to me and I got ready to start (took off my sweatshirt – it was cold!). He passed the timing chip to me. Shanks yelled “Get it girl” and I was off. Apparently John was disappointed with his time. I thought he did well – ahead of most of the crowd when we were among the last 4 to start. He set up up very well for the run.

Jim Alley and I played back and forth a couple of times, and I kept him in my sites. As I passed people, or as people cheered me on I felt almost guilty and wanted to say “It’s OK – I am on a relay!”. From that point of view – doing a whole race is MUCH more gratifying and fun. Oh well…I kept my half marathon mentality. There were several out-and-backs so I saw Bethany a few times, and teammates often. I saw Lauren Ramsey and shouted “Come and catch me!” and thought…I need to keep it up – she’s running great! Jeff was ahead of me and kept telling me I was closing the gap. Soon the first lap was done. I was feeling great.

Within the first mile I was well warmed up and glad I had stuck with my tri top and shorts. The only time I generate heat is when I swim, bike or run. Otherwise, I am almost always cold.

On the first out and back of the second lap Jeff saw me (coming back as I was heading out) and yelled “Catch me” (or something like that). I was feeling good and said “OK!”. And, without thinking accelerated about 10 seconds per mile and kept that pace.

Team in Training had a water stop right out of transition. You pass it four times where it was positioned. This was not planned, but I saw Jim and Jeff ahead of me walking and the TNT water stop was right there. And as I passed Jim and Jeff….I was right at the TNT water stop. Talk about the yelling and encouragement! I grinned like the Cheshire cat as I passed them and ran through. I had this. I know – I didn’t have a 56 mile bike with a headwind under my belt… it was a completely different race for me. But it was fun all the same. Gotta feel the team love!

At about mile 12.5 or so my Garmin went crazy. It just stopped timing. I realized it shortly thereafter and restarted it, but it meant that my Garmin time and distance was off. Crud. Oh well.As I came to the last turn and run downhill I saw Mary, Michael and friends cheering the Ironteam that day. The cheers went up and I grinned and ran in strong.

As I came in he announced me as the second female and I wanted to say “I’m a relay!” but didn’t. He corrected himself later. Bethany had won the race for females overall.


My official run time was 1:45:06. Yes! Half marathon PR! Woo hoo!

 I felt good about my efforts that day. I had felt comfortable, so know I can push harder, but for that day….it was good.

I went to change shirts, chatted at the TNT water stop for a bit, and then went to cheer teammates (and others) finishing the race. Everyone did fantastic…and even took hurdles (flats, being stopped for a cannon to go off, chains broken) in great stride.

 Carlos finished up his water stop duty, and we headed home. Stopping for some late lunch as we were both hungry after a long, but fun, day.  


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