There’s been a bit of a fever sweeping some of the fitness-minded folks at Garmin. One person tris, shares encouragement and training tips with coworkers, and then another will try a tri. Next, they’re stepping up to half or full Ironman triathlon distances and even qualifying for world championship races. Along the way, they rely on Garmin’s multisport training devices, like the Forerunner 910XT, to track every stroke, pedal and second of their training. Today’s race report comes from Sunita, Garmin aviation engineer.
Sunita’s thoughts on the 910XT: During long swims in the pool, I relied on my watch to count my laps. That way when my mind wandered, I didn’t have to try to guess how far I’d gone. It was also useful when swimming outside. I used the quick release mount to use my watch on the bike. It’s really fast to move the watch from my wrist to my bike and back, so I can use it during the race too! I liked being able to see current and average speed next to cadence and heart rate. On the run, I mainly used the watch to track my mile splits. I love that the 910XT will wirelessly send my data to Garmin Connect so I can see and share my race data afterward.
Sunita’s race recap: Racine 70.3 was my first half Ironman. I’d been training for several months, but several important family and friend commitments derailed my training in the middle. Needless to say, 7 weeks before the race, I was really nervous about whether or not I could complete the race. With help from my friends, I revamped my training plan, and made a very determined effort to get ready. By race week, I was feeling confident that although I would be slow, I’d be able to finish.
We got to Racine on Friday night, got our race packets and had some delicious Wells thin crust Pizza (#6 in the nation) and fried cheese curds (Wisconsin specialty). On Saturday, we went for a short bike and swim and checked in our bikes. North Beach was amazing! It had soft sand, no rocks and the water was so clear! The water was 70 degrees and felt cold until you started moving. I went to the athlete briefing and then we had our pre-race pasta meal.
Race morning I got up at 3:40am, and was at transition by 5am. We had to walk a mile to the swim start, where I met my mom and other fans from Kansas City. It was really great to have friends and family present, and it made the morning a lot of fun. Before I started, I told myself that things might go wrong today, and I just needed to keep moving forward. At 7:44am, it was officially time for me to start the race. When I initially got my face in the water, all of a sudden, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. This had never happened before, but I knew that I could do the swim — I just had to get past this feeling. I didn’t want to tread water because I wanted to keep moving forward, but I was really having trouble catching my breath. So I let a little water go in my mouth then spit it out. That seemed to help calm me down, and the rest of the swim was great. In fact, I clocked my best swim time!
The wetsuit strippers and the transition volunteers slathering sunblock on athletes made T1 fly by. Prepping for the bike leg, I really had no idea what speed I should/could go. I knew my #1 goal was not to miss the bike time cut-off, so I settled on what I knew was a horrible race strategy. Biking is my weakest sport, so I knew I would slow down near the end of the ride. My plan was to get a high average speed during the first half of the ride, so that when I slowed down my average would be fast enough to avoid being swept off the course. The word “smooth” does not come up when describing Racine roads, and we got an authentic experience. My bike was getting jostled so much that I was afraid I’d have mechanical issues. Luckily, no bike issues cropped up.
I’d been worried about the bike aid stations, so some friends had helped me practice. When I came up to the first one, I did exactly what I had practiced. I took a drink, threw away my water bottle and reached for a full one. I got it from the volunteer, but then dropped it as I was putting it in my bike cage. “No problem,” I thought, “I’ll get another one from the next volunteer.” I grabbed it, and put it in the cage, and it fell out. I didn’t want to be without water, so I stopped, ran back to the bottle, put it in my cage and within 0.1 miles, it fell out again! I couldn’t spend the entire course chasing water bottles if I wanted to make the bike cut-off, so I forged ahead. I kept up my nutrition and just accepted the fact that I might have a tough time on the run.
Halfway through the bike course, I realized that I’d been biking faster than I’d ever biked before. I just thought, “no way I can keep this up, I’ll probably drag the average speed way down on the second half.” Then when I got to 40 miles, then 50 miles, I realized that this was going to be my fastest bike ever! I was really excited, until I remembered that I still had to run a half marathon. But then I thought of what Ironman and fellow Garmin associate Laura Olson said, “More than half done now. All that’s left is the run and even if you have to walk, you are going to make it.”
I got off my bike at transition, and started my favorite part of the tri — the run. I had a HUGE smile on my face, and that got even bigger when I saw my mom and some other friends cheering me on! My plan was to let my legs set the pace for the run, and walk through each aid station and the 2 big hills on the 2-loop course. It wasn’t until my 3rd mile that I finally looked down at my Forerunner. I was going a decent pace. I decided to keep that pace until mile 10, when I’d reassess. At 95 degrees, it was definitely hot outside, and I was really thankful for the cups of ice and the Racine residents standing on their lawns with hoses. At mile 10, I tried to pick it up, but my legs weren’t having it. By the last mile, I realized that I was going to finish the race. I was pretty emotional thinking about how far I’d come from just 7 weeks ago when I didn’t know if I could finish.