Below is Allison Whiteman Taylor’s race report for her first full Ironman…and what a race it was. The 2.4-mile swim was cancelled so you might think, “wow, so much easier.” But that still leaves a 112-mile bike ride and a marathon in torrential rain through flooded streets, not to mention the mental challenge of adjusting on the fly the expectations you’d been planning on & training for a year or more. But that is the nature of triathlon, certainly of Ironman, and really, of LIFE — as you’ll see, Allison is incredibly tough and will be more than ready to deal with whatever life dishes out.
I’ve wanted to do an Ironman for about 5 years, and once Ironman Maryland was established about an hour’s drive from my house, I jumped on the opportunity to take part.
The race began at 6:45, but since I was staying a ways away and had to take a shuttle there, I got up at 3:45. My husband Gavin drove me to the shuttle and came with me to the race site. The first thing we noticed upon arrival was that much of the transition area was flooded, and that the water was very choppy.
At about 6:40, the race director announced that the water was too rough for swimming, the race would be delayed 30 minutes to see whether the water would calm down so we could do the swim.
At 7:15 it was determined that it still wasn’t safe to swim and the race would proceed as a time-trial start on the bike. As all the athletes proceeded to the changing tent, many were complaining about how this was no longer a “real Ironman” because the swim had been eliminated. I chose not to think of it in those terms – I was prepared to swim, I could have completed the swim had I been permitted, and part of triathlon is rolling with whatever the day provides to you.
My number was finally up for the start around 8:15, more or less the time I thought I’d be beginning the bike start anyway. The flat course meanders through the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, which is totally beautiful. The bike section was characterized by high winds and heavy rain in parts (it is possible to have a headwind the whole time?!). Since I’d been standing in the cold for an hour and a half before the start, my hips had become tight, and it took about four hours of cycling before they loosened up. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the scenery and had plenty of food and drinks to grab from the aid stations when I needed them.
I finished the bike portion in 6 hours, 50 minutes. After the transition (13:15!) I was surprised at how loose I felt and how easy the running was. I had been dreading the bike-to-run transition as it’s usually the most difficult part for me, so this was a pleasant surprise.
The run course was three loops through town, so the crowds definitely helped keep my spirits high throughout the run. I almost didn’t even notice the fact that large portions of the run course had been flooded, and we were wading through 6-8 inches of water in some portions.
The some of the highlights of the day were the times that I saw my support crew – parents, husband, sister-in-law, and niece – out on the course. The other major highlight came at the Run Special Needs point – I had stashed some notes of support from family and friends in my bag, which I carried with me the rest of the run. So, the support of family and friends was definitely a huge help in finishing the race. I ran the marathon in 5:34, for a total finishing time of 12:37.
In the days since the Ironman was completed, I’ve enjoyed reliving the event, but I’m also excited about all the free time that has opened up in my schedule to try some different things. I’m not sure what my next athletic feat will be, but since fitness is an important part of my life, I’m excited thinking about all the possibilities.
Thanks Andrea for the opportunity to post this race report!