“How did you go!?”
The question I will receive the most in the week to come. I wanted to give you guys my run down on my experience on the Ironman 70.3 while it’s still fresh in my head. For those of you that have just arrived here, I am a CrossFitter. Which means I like lifting heavy things, in short bursts of time at high intensity. Which is basically the opposite of an Ironman. I recently tackled my fear of swimming and signed up with my training partner Courtney around March this year.
I also thought it may be a good idea to post this online so that if I ever think about doing an Ironman 70.3 again, I can read this and reconsider.
PRE RACE DAY
There is absolutely no way I can describe the nerves, the fear and the anxiety that built up to this event. With CrossFit, you can talk yourself into any WOD. ‘Okay, this is Fran its going to end after 21-15-9’, or ‘you got this, its a 15 minute AMRAP, you can work for 15 minutes.’ With this Ironman I had estimated my race time to be approximately 6 hours and 10 minutes. I had never come close to working for this long. The longest session we had trained up to was about 3.5 hours. So many questions ran through my head, I started feeling queasy with a funny stomach around Thursday (3 days out from the race.) For the first time in any event that I had ever committed to, I questioned my intent to complete this challenge. Had I made the wrong decision and bitten off more than I could chew? I was also frustrated that I wasn’t meant to move with any high intensity over 7 days- something that proved to be difficult as this is my therapy, what I love to do. Checking in our bikes, first in line! I started tapering on the Monday before the race, completing nothing but body weight workouts at 60-70% intensity, going to yoga, light jogs, laps in the pool, etc. I kept my water up and ensured my nutrition was up to scratch. The day before was definitely the worst, I felt so unable to do what was set out for me. Mind game after mind game, I just knew I had to stay positive. There was no backing out now, there was no room for negativity. I had to channel my nerves into a positive attitude or I would have been a wreck. I was able to get 7 hours sleep the night before, I think because I was exhausted from the hype and nerves the days prior.Going through my checklist of equipment.
Heading to transition area and setting up my bike, shoes and gels, I got the shakes. I didn’t want to get on the 90km bike ride and have realised I’d forgotten my gels or extra water bottle. I saw Courtney in transition area and we both looked equally as terrified. I pumped up my tyres, said good luck to the girls setting up next to me and headed off to the starting line to check out the conditions and get warmed up. The surf, wind and sky looked pretty ideal. There was no reason to complain or be worried by the weather. Sweet! There was one thing though, I had never done an ocean swim. This will make people think I am naive, silly and unprepared which I can’t disagree with but I have an irrational fear of sharks, training with Court in the ocean lead to tears and me hyperventilating. So I saved it for the day where I would have no choice but to complete the swim. I work well under pressure. “Everyone’s got a little crazy in them, when you find someone who has the same amount as you, keep’em. They’ll face the crazy shit with you. I will admit 6 or so months ago it was my idea to do an Ironman 70.3. How many of YOUR friends would of said yes? …. That’s my point. @cc_tribabe said “I’m with ya! Let’s do it!!!” Here we are, about to head into the ocean for a warm up before heading to start line. Thanks so much Court. Early mornings, tears, whining, pee stops, sandwich making, family probs, selfies, tyre changing, hill runs, more tears, PR’s, triumphs, more selfies and so many laughs. I wouldn’t have done this alone.”
THE SWIM- 1.9km
We were on the beach with all the athletes getting warmed up, the atmosphere was electric. It was time to say goodbye to my family and friends, which I find difficult to do at the best of times, let alone when I have to face a challenge alone. I hugged Clay about 5 times, there were tears out of fear, out of the unknown, I didn’t want to let go, on the last hug I said “See you at the finish line.” So there we were at the starting line. Staring out into the deep blue. It really made me feel so small and the ocean seemed like this massive monster of a thing. It was stronger than me, bigger than me and I was terrified, heart rate through the roof, butterflies fluttering like crazy in my stomach. I attempted to take in a few deep, long breaths but all that I got was choked up. I just tried to breath normally and that didn’t work either, my lungs felt restrained. So I looked at Court and having her beside me made me feel so much better. I could see the fear in her eyes as well, I realised I wasn’t alone, there were hundreds of women around me who were just as terrified and we were in this together. Can you spot us? The two pinkies without wet suits. #amaturehour #rookiemove Then, boom just like that I heard, “3-2-1- GO!” the sea of black wetsuits ran towards the waves, I held back and let the keen, confident athletes go ahead. There were only little waves to get through, I tried to stay on my feet as long as I could before I had no choice but to get swimming. I just kept thinking “okay 50 minutes of swimming, just 50 minutes of swimming.” I knew I could do that. The swell was a new feeling, I was getting frustrated when I was stroking with all my power and strength and not feeling like I was getting any where. Was this ever going to end, can I finish this? There were three things going through my mind and they were on repeat for the whole 44 minutes I was out there.
DON’T GET HIT IN THE HEAD BY OTHER SWIMMERS.
KEEP UP WITH YOUR PACK. DON’T BE LEFT ALONE, BECAUSE YOU KNOW WHAT… THE THING THAT RHYMES WITH ‘DARK’ AND STARTS WITH S.
LONG, STRONG STROKES. BREATH. AND JUST REMEMBER YOUR SWIMMING FITSPIRATION ONCE SAID, ‘JUST KEEP SWIMMING’ – DORI, FINDING NEMO.
I failed at nearly all three of those things. With point number 1, I was slapped in the face multiple times, pulled at the feet several times and the highlight was being kicked in the boob by a man in his 30’s. Splendid! Did I mention I wasn’t a great swimmer? I was being overtaken by 3-4 heats behind me. Which brings me to point number 2. I lost the sea of purple caps (ladies from 18-30 years old) within the first 500m. I felt SO alone out there, like it was just me in this massive black hole. So I just kept swimming but it wasn’t long before the next colour of caps came barging through. It had its pros and cons. Yay for being alone and Boo for the large men swimming over you. With point 3, I did as best as I could to remember to keep the quality of my strokes up, taking deep breaths and blowing bubbles with my head under. In the pool I swam 2km in 46 minutes, in the ocean I swam 2km in 44 minutes. I really am proud of myself, but boy was it hard, scary and awful. Point is, swimming is a challenge for me but I faced it and finished it! When I got to shore, my body froze, my head was stuck. It took me a minute to get my bearings and realised there was still a huge mountain of work to do. I put one foot in front of the other, I was telling myself to go and I could hear people telling me to go but I was just stuck. I could see other athletes running out of the water in front of me and I tried to follow suit. One step after another I finally connected my head to my feet and I was on my way! I saw my family cheering me on, the look on their faces told me that they were worried about me. I kept running towards transitions. Helmet, shoes, gels, sunnies, bike, switch on woman!
THE RIDE – 90km
Click, Click, I was clipped in and off! The first thing I noticed was holy SHIT it is freezing. Still wet from the ocean, travelling up to 30km an hour I was really feeling the cold. After 5 minutes I had worked up a sweat and ready to pedal. My aim was to finish in 3 hours and 30 minutes. I knew I had to keep my average at 28km/h if I wanted to achieve that. I had a tail wind heading down the high way, average speed was 34km/h- yippee! 25km down I did the u-turn and boom there was the head wind. My average dropped to 28km/h but I kept pushing it. Legs burning, butt muscles screaming I got the 50km loop done and got to see my family and friends, cheer me on. I screamed, gave them a thumbs up and smiled at them which let them know I was doing much better than on the swim leg. Enjoying the ride.. The first 50km went so fast, the next 40km… not so much. The wind had picked up, my legs were starting to fatigue and of course there was the whole ‘you got to get off the bike and do a half marathon’ thing that I wasn’t really looking forward to. Over the 40km I thought of many things, my family, Courtney, my affiliate, being able to CrossFit once this is done. All the things I love kept me pushing on. The more I thought of the positive things in my life, the less I thought of the burn my legs were feeling. I finished the ride in 3 hours on the dot, which I was pleasantly surprised by.
THE RUN – 21km
Getting on the run there were mixed emotions. There were hundreds of feelings but the main two were:
YAY I’M ON THE LAST LEG!
OH F*CK I HAVE TO RUN A HALF MARATHON TO FINISH.
As I said, mixed emotions. Surprisingly, I got off the bike and felt really good considering. I stopped for my one and only wee break during the bike to run transition. I was running around 5:10 km and had a “can do” attitude. I ran up Alexander Headlands where I saw my family and friends. The TriBabes Cheersquad were jumping and screaming and ringing their cowbells. I wanted so, so badly to stop and see them. I saw Brooke my best friend who’s 30th it was and I saw some of my members from CrossFit Babes, I saw Deb and Brett my parents, and I saw Clayton. My heart was so torn, after riding on my own for 3 hours, being in the ocean and facing my deepest fears, my family were just there and I wanted to stop but I knew I had so far to go. I felt my throat close up, I felt my legs get weak, I felt my bottom lip quiver. Shit! I was crying, bloody hell Rev, snap out of it, no time for that! I worked hard to get my breathing back again, blink back the tears/ sweat and get this freaking ironman done. There was a lot to look at over the run, I saw a bunch of cute dogs which makes me happy because I love them and they reminded me of my little furry friends at home. I saw the beautiful beach that made me feel grateful because I didn’t have to go in there again! I saw spectators cheering on their loved ones, people having blow outs and feeling for them. About 5 people yelled out “Hey Revie Jane! I follow you on Insta!” or “HEY CROSSFIT REVIE!” It made me smile and laugh. I saw Courtney about 5km in, she had been ahead of me the whole way until then. I grabbed her hand and said we’re nearly there! Court told me to go ahead and finish strong with nothing left in the tank. I would have liked to finish together but we had agreed we’d both give it everything and running being my strength I was running about 1 minute per km faster. We high fived and said ‘see ya at the finish line!’ I felt great, arms pumping, legs strong, I was running sub 5:30 per kilometre, all the way up until about 17-18km, thats when things started pulling in the back of my legs, my knees started to hurt on every step of the road and I knew I had two options, keep a fast pace and possibly injure myself or slow it down and get over that line injury free. I knew the smart option. So I plodded along for the last 3km, the longest, hardest, most painful 3km of my life. I came into the finishing shoot and here it was. All the hard work, early mornings, tears, sweat, time, sore muscles had come to this moment. I cried down the shoot as I the TriBabes cheer squad screamed for me all the way to that finish line. It was the greatest feeling ever, it made every minute of training worth it. It felt like I had proved to myself and to you guys that anything is possible if you put your mind and body to it. Thanks so much for all your messages and comments of encouragement. I felt I had a great big deal of support behind me, a few thousand people who were wishing me luck towards that finish line. Like I wasn’t alone. I had my Babes voices in my head, so thanks for all the support from my CrossFit Community.
STATS & OFFICIAL TIMES
My official time was 5 hours 47 mins 39 secs. STOKED! I didn’t really care about the time, I just wanted it done but others made me realise that’s pretty alright for my first go. So I am surprised and proud! These amazing photos were taken by Paul McCarty who is also Courtney’s husband. Super talented couple- Thanks so much Paul!
In the last 6 weeks, I have held my Affiliates annual Games Day, released my first ebook and then completed the Ironman 70.3. During this time, I have also ran an affiliate, coached a minimum of 12 classes each week and tried my best to lead a balanced life. For now, I want to get my strength back. Currently my back squat is 15kg so I will be working that back up, (just kidding… well, kind of, I just need time to work on strength. So, I will patiently (I say that word through gritted teeth because I am anything but) get back into being a full time CrossFitter with the occasional sprint/ olympic distance triathlons.
WOULD I EVER DO A HALF IRONMAN AGAIN?
In 2010, I completed a 10km run and stated “I would never do a 21km Run… ever! 2 hours of running? Gross!” In 2011, I completed a half marathon and have done so every year after, because turns out I actually somewhat enjoy it. In 2013, I said I would never do an enticer triathlon which is a 400m Swim, 15km Ride, 4km run, because I couldn’t swim more than 100m without stopping. If that’s anything to go by I won’t say ‘no’ to this question but I can say it’s not in the pipeline… For now. Thank you for following my journey. Thank you for believing in me. I hope this story inspires you to believe in yourself! And… Dream Big Chase Hard. Want to know more about Courtney and Revie’s journey into an Ironman? Read their announcement post here. Become a TriBabe or get in touch with TriBabes here.