Muncie, Indiana is about 4.5 hours away from Cleveland. The hubs and I left on Thursday night after work because the race was Saturday and mandatory athlete check-in was on Friday. (PS I am a big fan of Saturday races.)
The drive was pretty uneventful and we ended up checking into our hotel around midnight. The Courtyard Marriott was the main hotel for the race (about 15 minutes from the race venue) and it was buzzing with athletes even that late at night when we arrived. I felt like I was among friends seeing so many Ironman shirts and apparel!
We slept in on Friday morning and then got up and walked around as we tried to find a coffee place. It was going to be brutally hot all weekend and by 9AM it was already nearing 80 degrees. I had gathered most of my stuff the night before so we headed to athlete check-in and optional bike check-in — which I opted for because why wouldn’t you? One less thing to remember on race day! Muncie was my third Half Ironman distance, but the only race so far to have one transition, which made things A LOT easier and quicker in terms of packing and check-in.
We attended the athlete briefing and they said that wet suits were probably going to be banned during the race because of high water temps. Sounds good to me, I thought. I was SO calm and chill about everything. We were in and out within an hour of entering athlete village and bike drop off. (Flash back to my first Half Ironman distance where I practically lost my damn mind because wet suits were going to be illegal and I was so stressed I couldn’t sleep and probably packed and repacked like 87 times.) Big difference once you get used to a distance!
We left athlete village around noon and had the entire day to spare. My husband’s college fraternity’s national headquarters were located about an hour away in Indianapolis, so we drove there for a mini day trip. It was SUPER hot and we were sweating walking around the city, but we had such a fun time exploring together. We both had never been to Indianapolis before!
We got back to the hotel around 6PM that night and things starting setting in for me. I wasn’t really nervous so to say…maybe a little anxious I guess. The distance just started to get real as the starting line got closer. I laid everything out for the morning and we went down to the restaurant at our hotel for dinner. I had a big old salad with water, while the hubs enjoyed wings and beer. That night I fell asleep easily around 10PM and woke up a little before my alarm at 3:30AM. It was race day!!
The hotel was buzzing as we walked out to our car that morning. We were not staying that night so it was a little difficult to pack up the hotel room and be out the door by 4:30AM! We had heard that traffic could get pretty backed up heading into the race venue (there is one main road leading in), but we had no issue and parked pretty close. It was now 5:15AM and we had a lot of time to spare until the 7AM start time.
I set up my transition and there was excitement in the air. I made small talk with a few of the girls around me and I felt happy and grateful to be there in that moment. Slowly the hubs and I made our way down to the beach (sans wet suit, although a few people opted to be in the “party wave” at the back and wear one.)
I warmed up a little in the water and the announcers started calling for people to line up for the swim start. I guess this was the first year that Muncie opted for a rolling start — meaning swimmers seed themselves with their estimated finish times. It was really packed when I started to get in line and I pushed through the crowds to try to get to the 40-45 minute coral, but I wasn’t really successful. Somehow I was back at the 60 minute time and I seriously could not make my way any further in without looking like a real A-hole and pushing people.
So Lake Placid 2017 was also a self seeded start (I feel like most larger races are starting to go this route), and there were probably 3,000 racers there and I was in the water 7 or 8 minutes after the gun went off. No BS and no messing around. I loved it. However with Muncie…the gun went off at 7AM and I didn’t hit the water until 7:38. I was pretty annoyed by the time I got up to the start. They had gated the start off to only allow 5 swimmers to enter the water every 10 seconds. It took FOREVER and all the swimmers were sandwiched into this this tiny fenced in area. Everyone was practically naked, wet and hot…it was not good you guys.
FINALLY I started my race. The past couple bigger races I’ve done I’ve LOVED the swim and Muncie was the same! This is just a strange concept for me because I hate swimming LOL, but when I hit the open water, everything is great. I always feel so lucky and blessed to be out there. I feel like I always spend the majority of my swim talking to God because it’s just me and my thoughts and it’s vaguely quiet.
[Transition 1: 6:21]
Believe it or not this was one of my faster T1’s haha!
I was still slightly concerned over getting a flat tire when I started the bike, but that’s because I had a bad experience the week before during my last training ride. The bike was exciting for the first 10 miles or so, but when I settled in on the two loop main course I started to get a little bored. I have one word to describe the bike course — corn fields. It was HOT and there was no shade (which was expected, but still). I saw quite a few people with mechanical issues, but saw 5 or 6 different SAGs and felt rest assured. I also saw a few wheel chair athletes and at one point a tandem with a blind athlete, which was really awesome and I cheered.
I thought I was pushing it pretty good with my pace, but was disappointed with my bike time. I was glad it was over though. It’s funny how I loved the bike at Lake Placid, but couldn’t wait to be done with the bike at Muncie.
[Transition 2: 4:23]
I saw the husband when I got off the bike and when I started the run. I felt bad knowing he was walking around by himself for 6+ hours in 95 degrees (and he HATES the heat). He is incredible and I know how lucky I am to have him.
The first few miles of the run started off good. The elites were just finishing up as I was starting and I cheered them in. The first two miles of any brick are always my fastest and at mile 3 I stopped to get water and fuel. I slightly had to pee, but my strategy was to make up good time on the run and finish around 2 hours… WRONG lol. It ended up being my worst Half Ironman run. It.was.so.damn.hot!!
The run had no shade, was basically in the middle of corn fields, had very little crowd support and was all on black concrete where I could see the heat waves rising up before me. People were pouring water on their heads and running with cold towels and sponges tucked into their shirts. I knew it was crucial to get liquids at every aid station if I wanted to finish strong. I didn’t even end up peeing during the run which tells me just how dehydrated I already was going in. I took my typical walk/run strategy. I picked out a landmark and told myself to run to it and then sometimes I’d pick another point to walk until or I’d count down from 5 to start running again. I was really missing music during this portion of the race because I was bored and honestly kept asking myself “Why am I doing this again??” But Ironman has a funny way of making you forget all about the pain when you reach that last mile…
The last part of the run before you hit the finish line area is a big ‘ole hill. It was lined with screaming people when I approached it and I knew that I was going to run it, but I also knew it was going to hurt. The crowd was going wild, which took my mind off my burning quads and tired body. People were on both sides yelling and high-fiving the runners. Different groups blasted music as the runners danced by. I could hear the finish line announcer and I felt that old familiar flame of PURE JOY set in.
The finish line of any long course race is always bitter sweet. You body is aching…your heart is exploding as for just a minute you are a rock star…you are scanning the crowd for your loved ones and your heart is swelling by the sheer fact that you are lucky enough to be there in this moment…you are blessed and able when some can’t and you feel so grateful to experience this…and then you hear your name and a medal is placed around your neck and you are whisked away and suddenly it’s all over. A searing moment burned into your memory more potent than the pain that you felt all day…
And THAT’S how Ironman hooks ya to keep coming back for more…
[Run Time: 2:22]
[Total Finishing Time: 6:30]
After the finish line I found my trooper husband and we got some post-race food (read: I got the food, but he ate it because I had ZERO appetite.) Then we decided to take a dip in the lake since we had both been sweating and in the sun all day. After our swim we showered and changed in the beach bathrooms and slowly made our way out of athlete village. We packed up and by 3PM we were on our way back to Cleveland. I thought I was going to nap a little in the car, but I never did. We arrived home around 8PM and stopped to get food because I was STARVING. But I could only manage a few bites and half a beer. Basically I needed to sleep ASAP. We got home and I fell into bed and slept for 12 hours 🙂 What a fun little weekend!
POST RACE THOUGHTS
Overall I had a blast traveling to a new race in a different state. The swim was a blast. The bike was decent but pretty boring. And the run was not tough in terms of the course, but tough in terms of the heat and how boring it was. It wasn’t the time I had hoped for, but every day is different and I was happy to have pushed through for a finish.I probably wouldn’t recommend this race because multiple times I thought the race kind of felt like a local tri instead of an Ironman 70.3 experience. I am happy to have experienced it, but also kind of happy it’s over!