(The Utah Half) Half IronMan Triathlon Race Recap

Hey you guys!

How are you doing?

Thanks for all your kind words!!! Half Ironman COMPLETED, baby.

And thank you for being patient while waiting for the recap– I wanted to get it allllll out, on paper-what exactly went down. I have lots to say, so sit back & be prepared to gasp, cry, laugh, and smile. πŸ˜‰ Because honestly, I did all those things during the race.

{This is long, of course, but I wanted to write it all out—-but there are pictures too! So enjoy :) }

(The Utah Half) Half IronMan Triathlon Race Recap


On Friday after work, my husband and I gathered all the stuff that had been piling up around us (when we’d think of something we needed we threw it in a corner. It worked great!). He had surprised me by renting a realllllyyy nice bike (my bike is a piece of junk), so he loaded up our bikes, I gathered the nutrition up, and we headed out about 7 p.m. for the 1 hour drive south.

We stayed at a friend’s house (they lived about 7 miles from the race start) that evening. I set all my stuff out, set my alarm for 4:16 and 4:18 a.m., settled down into bed, and…..yah. Could. NOT. fall.asleep.

Finally, after using the bathroom like 4 times (smallest bladder in the world + ball of nerves), I fell asleep probably around 10:30 p.m.

Race Morning

After waking to the blaring alarms (I was SO not ready for that wake up call. Ugh!), we grabbed our stuff & headed downstairs for breakfast.

FitMixer Aminos + half an oatmeal packet and some almonds. I was not hungry at all, but I knew I wouldn’t actually be racing for another 2+ hours, so had to choke something down!

{Side note: My stomach is sensitive so I have to be careful what I consume before & during races. This is an important piece of info.}

We drove to the parking lot area, unloaded our crap, and walked about .25 miles to the transition area. It was still dark and the place was full of people who looked excited, nervous, and very, ummm male.

I swear I did not see a female until 20 minutes into setting up my transition site!

This race was 3/4ths male, so it was a tad intimidating to say the least! (This was a smaller race–only like 360 people, by the way. I guess there aren’t that many crazies out there?! hah).

I took my time setting up my stuff, using the bathroom, slathering myself in Vaseline (awesome & highly recommended to avoid chafing!), getting body marked, and meeting up with my friend, Cristina and her brother Jeremy. (She is a college roomie whom I adore–and she was in my age group! Whhheeeeee! Her brother is 19.)

I choked down some Gatorade prime chews-orange flavored (loved those), and went to listen to the race director.

He reminded us of all the safety precautions, showed us where they were setting up the swim buoys, talked us through where to go in & out of transitions, and then pumped us up for race time! He was funny, and he got all of us to laugh. He stole parts of speeches from movies such as Lord of the Rings, Gladiator, Star Wars, etc. to get us stoked to race. It was awesome.

The race started late (boo!), so the elites didn’t start the swim until probably 7:30-ish a.m. (the race was supposed to start at 7).

After they got in the water, we had to wait for the 5 different male heats (by age group), and the relay+Athena/Clydesdale heat, before it was our (Cristina and my) heat.

During this time we started freaking out, jumping around, laughing, and checking our time chips.I had mine on the wrong leg…whooops. Switched it, and then it was time to say goodbye to my husband and get in the water!


We all waded out into the water (around 7:45 a.m.), and then swam a few yards to the race start. After a few instructions, the horn would be blown.

This is crucial: my time chip on my ankle felt like it was loose!! Gahhhhh! Just as they were giving final instructions, I reached down to fix my time chip (I was near the front of the group, by the way), and tried to tighten/straighten it. <— I think it was loose because I had switched it right before getting in the water.

I thought I had fixed it, but just as they were finishing the last words, it felt like it was slipping off! NO NO! I was freaking out in my head….

I quickly grabbed it, yanked the piece across to velcro it on, and just then, the horn was blown.

OFF we went. Well, I had no choice but to swim forward!

The first few minutes were horrible for me because I had to keep moving forward (I was near the front), but I was so worried my time chip would fall off! I choked on some water, had horrendous strokes, and really thought it was all over.

Then, I decided to stop focusing on the stupid time chip and just swim the best I could.

After that I had an amazing swim! It was really super fun! My strokes were strong, the water was warm, and I kept passing people. I definitely lost time there at the beginning, so it was no PR, but I did catch people from the wave before us & got to/had to swim past them. (When swimming, try not to ever just STOP. You will be hit from behind. Yes, sir, that means you! Hah).

Final Swim Time: 43:46

(4th for my age group)

Transition #1

I had such an awesome swim, I was riding on a high! I ran up the ramp, but felt slightly disoriented….where was my stuff?? Pink towel where were YOU?! Then I remembered, there was a purple balloon near my stuff, so I started looking for that (I thought I had passed my stuff so I was kind of worried). But I guess there were more people on this end of the transition site than I thought?!

I toweled off fast, grabbed some powerade chomps, threw on my socks & shoes….but WAIT! I forgot to pull on my bike shorts! GAH.

Pulled off my shoes, pulled on the bike shorts-over my swim/short shorts- (my husband found me a pair of his old ones that were too small. SCORE! They were perfect.), pulled on my shirt with the race bib already attached to it, put on the helmet, grabbed the gloves & sunglasses, tied my shoes, & ran with my bike out of the transition area.

{Still can’t believe I didn’t remember to pull the shorts on before the shoes. GAH!}

T1 Time: 4:41


The first 25 or so miles were GREAT! I felt good, my legs were fine, I was cruising along about 17 mph, I was drying off in the ever-rising sun, the road was flat, I wasn’t being passed by too many people (yet). It was pretty great.


My husband rode the bike part with me (I wanted him there & no one cared –several people were on the course who weren’t racing, actually). And he came in handy……Cristina crashed at about mile 17! She had passed us around mile 9, & we came upon her on the ground & bleeding. SO sad. My husband yelled for me to keep biking (he knew I needed all the time I could get), & he stopped & helped her out. HERO.

{I realize that he wasn’t technically racing, but I appreciated his support in that way, and am so grateful he was there to help her & check her bike out for her. He is a cyclist, so he knows his stuff.}

They caught up to me around mile 21 (I had just taken some GU), and we all rode up a slight incline of a mountain to the turnaround point at mile 28.

At the turnaround point I was given my drop bag full of water, aminos, and another (Vega) gel. I drank a bunch of water, some aminos, and stuffed the gel in my bra for later.

I started to feel some tightness in my chest/ribs around mile 32, but I kept moving. At this point I realized I was going slower…..& the pain was worsening.

At around mile 41, the pain was SO intense (my right side in my ribs-right below my chest/bra line), that I couldn’t breathe. It was really scary. I started hyperventilating, and almost crashed because I became dizzy. My husband helped me off my bike, had me walk around with my hands on my head, and talked to me. He.was.awesome. HERO again.

To describe this pain: think about knives. Now think about your ribs & organs near your chest…..now imagine those knives stabbing those organs & then twisting them all around. All while cutting off your air supply. Hi, that was me.


I cried (of course), & almost quit. Not joking. But a part of me knew deep down that that was NOT an option. Hah.

I sucked it up, took deep breaths, & got back on my bike. I drank more water, tried to sit up (getting more air in), and breathed through the pain. We rode slower (about 15 mph), but we inched our way back to the transition site.

Those last 10 miles were BRUTAL. I just wanted to be off my bike. My butt hurt, my mojo was hurting, and I took a serious beating in that pain. But, I was excited to run!

Final Bike Time: 3:40:34

{3rd slowest of my age group. Hah}

Transition #2

I ran my bike in, hung it up, took off my helmet, gloves, and sunglasses.

Then I stuffed Powerade chomps into my mouth, threw on a headband, tied my shoes tighter, slathered myself in more Vaseline, covered my knees & legs with muscle rub,Β & was off!

T2 Time: 2:55


Right after I began the run everything felt funky (it always did during brick training workouts too though); I knew this would happen. I started out slow to get my legs shaken out.

Here’s the thing though: I HAD to use the bathroom. BUT, there was NO porta-potty, NO bushes that were hidden, and absolutely no way to find something (it was an out & back section for the first part of the run, so everyone would be able to see me). Awesome….NOT.

I tried my best to think happy thoughts & pull my mind off of the idea of my insides imploding….

It worked for like 5 minutes.

Then, at about mile 2.8, the pain that I had felt on the bike, started to travel downward.

Remember those twisting, cutting, punching knives? Yah, they started going at it on my insides–only this time a little lower. Right near my ovaries/intestines/hips.


It was SO painful. I had to stop running, take deep breaths, and walk.

And then the walking was too much. I had to stop. Gahhhhh! I HAD to find a bathroom. And water.

It was hot, I was in pain, & I just wanted to run, danggit!! I said a few prayers in my head, pleaded for help in my head, and tried my best not to cry……

Finally, at about mile 3.3, as I was slowly trucking along (pain with every footfall <–the jarring of running made the pain worse), I saw a beautiful site: WATER station + Porta Potties.

The swearing in my head ended, gratitude washed over me, and I was off to be happy again! πŸ˜‰

After a potty break, water sucked down, & mojo restored, I was on my merry way!

Seriously, after those first few miles, I could do ANYTHING required of me, and I knew it. I was so excited to be able to run without pain!! At about mile 4 was when I started passing people who had passed me on the bike. And I got to see Cristina!! We chatted/ran together for a bit, but I felt like I could speed up (no pressure from either of us to stick together <–she biked ahead of me on the bike section), so I did.

At mile 5 I told her “We’re almost there!”

And a girl politely yelled “No we’re not! We’re not even close!”

Way to shoot positivity down, lady. Hah. It was kind of funny though. I guess I was trying to bring some cheer to all those gloomy faces!

Seriously-have you ever looked at runners during a Half IronMan?!?! They all look angry, sad, downtrodden, & totally, utterly done. You can see this in their eyes: “Why, oh why did I ever sign up for this?!?”

Me on the other hand? I was just grateful I was alive, running, and without pain. Bring.It.On.

I trucked along passing some cheering people (hey husband! and hey sister on the phone with him!), saw the finish line….but alas, had to go do one more 6.something loop again.

That is when it got HOT & hard mentally. I pulled out every single quote in my head, I sang to myself, I told myself stories, I chanted in my head, I said ‘good job’ to tons of people (remember, there were 3 different out & back sections, so you passed people a lot), I pretended my sisters were laughing with me & telling me jokes (like “well, at least you’re getting a tan out of this”!) :)

My knees were starting to hurt a bit, but otherwise, I felt strong.

At about mile 11 though, I was pretty ready to be done. I pulled out a bit of speed magic (I saw people up ahead I wanted to pass), dunked tons more water, HEED, coke, & got sprayed 4 different times with hoses (heavenly)!

Then finally, I heard the words, “less than 1 mile to go”!

OH goody!

Off I ran. I reminded myself why I did this, thought about how far I’d come in my recovery, fitness, strength, and the beauty I had found from within. I thought about the gorgeous scenery I had partaken of that day (it was so pretty!), I thought about God, my family, my awesome husband, my fabulous readers (YOU!), and I smiled my way to the finish line.

{right after crossing & dropping off my time chip}

Crossing it in under 7 hours, baby!

Final RUN Time: 2:25:30

{8th fastest in my age group}

TOTAL TIME: 6:57:24

{11th in my age group}

Final Thoughts about The Utah Half – Half IronMan

Wow. Just WOW.

There were some MAJOR highlights in this race–the beauty of the mountains, the lake, my ability to do all of this, the camraderie with the other triathletes, spending time with a dear friend, riding with my hottie, pushing past the pain, realizing I can do tough things, making a goal & training hard for it, FINISHING it, etc.

But I think the coolest part of this all was that I did something NEW. I stepped outside my comfort zone–I went for it, I trained hard for it, & I did it. I did this for me, ya know. No one made me do this. No one challenged me to do this.

It all came from within.

And I am super proud of the fact that I stuck it out, despite not being in love with a major part of the sport (ummmm cycling).

{choc milk + watermelon. feed me!}

Final thoughts in bullet form:

  • I will never do a Half Ironman again by myself. EVER. However, I am considering doing it as a relay (someone else does the bike part) in the future.
  • I will also not do a FULL Ironman. Ever. (So don’t even ask.)
  • I am very over long distance races for a long while.
  • If you want to be a good triathlete you must invest in a good bike, clip-less pedals (cool shoes, etc.), and actually like biking. Most of the mileage comes from the bike….so yah. Something I am coming to terms with. Hah.
  • I really did enjoy my time on the bike for the first half. Really & truly. I am grateful for that gift!
  • The swim was my all-time favorite. Probably always will be in any triathlon.
  • While running, I considered making a new triathlon: SWIM, DANCE, RUN. Who’s in?!
  • How the h^%$ did I do a half marathon after ALL of that?! I.am.nuts.
  • How are there people that WANT to do double that distance? Goodness. There ARE crazier people than me. That makes me feel a bit better!
  • After finding out that I was in the 2nd half of finishers for my age group I was discouraged…..for about 5 minutes. And then I thought about it & realized that I trained for the time I got. I also had 3 unfortunate events occur that were not planned for, nor could have been avoided (MAYBE more water or salt tablets would’ve helped, but honestly, the pain felt like the beginnings of a heart attack<–but not, since it was in my ribs. SO weird.) So all in all, I should not have thoughts of ‘ugh, I didn’t do that great.’ I seriously needed to snap out of that one quickly! Luckily, I did.
  • I liked competing against myself. It is NO fun to compare & compete against others. It takes all the fun & excitement out of life.
  • My husband is the best man on this earth.
  • My butt, hamstrings, and feet were super sore after this race, but otherwise, I felt pretty good after.
  • Also, I didn’t really ever hit ‘fatigue’ in my muscles, per say, during any of it. Physically I seriously could’ve kept swimming, biking, running (for medical/pain reasons, I slowed down though). My legs/arms/shoulders/knees felt strong, fine, & not really that fatigued. I fully credit this to BodyPUMP, strength training, and lots & lots of training.
  • I truly think that my getting my period the day before the race (seriously mother nature?!?!), + slight dehydration + using a new gel on the ride might’ve played a part in the rib/organ crampingness…..
  • Life does not always go as planned, and neither do races. You MUST choose what you will do about that. You can either quit or try your best & move forward. Luckily, I chose the latter. πŸ˜‰
  • If anyone wants to do a Half IronMan, I applaud you. And will support you. But I will not join in unless it’s in relay form. :)

What an incredible experience! I can honestly say I am SO glad I did it & am grateful I finished it in one piece!

{checking to make sure I really earned that…hah}

{with my friend’s little bro. there were only 3 in his age group!}

{all together now}


Thank YOU for being awesome & supportive in this endeavor.

And a HUGE thank you to my amazing husband, awesome sisters, & incredible friends.

70.3 is IN THE BAG.

{I pretended I got 1st place….b/c technically, in my head, I did. :) }


Have an AWESOME day! <–and kudos for reading/skimming all of that!

What is a race YOU want to do in the future?? What do YOU think happened to my ribs?? <–I want to hear different opinions on this. What is something YOU have overcome recently?? If YOU replaced 1 event in the triathlon, what would it be-and what would YOU replace it with?!?!?

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  1. Congrats Annette, that’s an amazing finish! Did you figure out what the pain was?

    • thank you, Claire!

      I haven’t yet, no. I think it had something to do with dehydration (for the bike/rib pain), and my period/cramps for the run pain. But I still don’t have a complete answer yet–just because it was WAY more than just a simple stitch in my side…SO freaking painful.

  2. You are SO inspiring!! This is seriously amazing – I am in awe though not at all shocked!! You are a BEAST (in a completely feminine, sexy way!) and I honestly cannot be more proud!! Congrats, Annette!! Much love to you!! xoxo

  3. Ashley says:

    I am in awe! Your amazing, and the way you kept this post so real is just another reason that you are a true fitness inspiration to so many people out there! Thank you for sharing your story with us and allowing me to part of your journey! All the best….

  4. Awesome race, and great job pushing through that pain! You are very luck to have such an awesome husband there to support you! Haha I and would TOTALLY do swim/dance/run! I only like riding beach cruisers, I had leaning over on other bikes, it’s uncomfortable! Awesome job, Annette, you deserve that medal!!!!!!

  5. Gosh girl….you look great in that final pose…too bad you didn’t grab some flowers or something to reenact a little Olympian moment on the pedestal. πŸ˜‰ You deserved it.

    OK…your stomach crampy/pains totally sound like its related to the Good ol’ Monthly that we, as women, are so lucky to endure. (ha!) I get those pains some times…its weird…they ARE painful…and a potty is a girl’s best friend at that moment…TMI? too late right?!

    Anyway, Awesome job on finishing!

    • Haha. good point. Where WERE my flowers?!?! :)

      I think you’re right–I think some of the pain during the run was the monthly friend + having to pee…but the bike pain, not so sure what it was yet?!

      thanks again!!!

  6. Maria says:

    You are amazing Annette!! Loved reading this! Way to go girl!

  7. I loved reading this! You rock lady! Congratulations again! :)

  8. Oh my goodness, that you for sharing your amazing race report. First off, congrats! You did awesome and should be so proud of yourself. I am doing my first Half Ironman next week and your report has me a little worried but excited at the same time. Ahhh!!! Congrats again! I am gonna now have a look at the rest of your blog. :)

  9. Danielle says:

    CONGRATULATIONS!!!! I want to say that to you a bajillions times and infinite plus one more, lol. You are such a super star. For real. I”m so inspired by you and your courage and your zest for life. You are such a great example for everyone. Love it!

  10. YOU GO GIRL!! congratulations!!! seriously, don’t know how you did it through that pain but you seriously rock!

  11. congrats!!! what an amazing accomplishment!! Our bodies are so strange sometimes…maybe the pain was actually a blessing because then it made you feel so great on the run.

  12. I am SO proud of you – great work!!! I’d replace the swim with….napping. Yep! I’m a great napper – and there’s nothing like a pre-race nap!

    So weird about your rib pain – on Saturday, as SOON as I started my 20 miler, I had the exact same pain. My body felt strong, but I was doubled over in pain. I thought it was just a pesky side stitch and tried to run through it, drinking water, taking salt tabs, etc…..it stayed with me for 20 miles. 20 of the WORST miles ever….I don’t know if it was dehydration – but I drank days before my run and that morning. I did eat more oatmeal than normal, but that was because usually I am STARVING during my log runs so I tried eating a bit more. I’m not on my period…..not sure what happened, but it was awful. I feel you. And am so proud you kept going!

    • Thanks Megan!!!

      I talked to several people-doctors/nurse/surgeon….and it might’ve been an issue with the muscle (strain), it MIGHT’ve been because of dehydration, and it might’ve been because of a weak liver cap. OR, (which is most unlikely), the depletion of glycgoen…but because it was only around mile 30, I highly doubt that, but anything is possible!!

  13. I loved reading this post. Every. Single. Word.
    First of all – WOW is right!! And congrats!!! I really don’t know if I could ever do something like this- it just takes SO much strength (so much of it mental of course) and determination. But you did it!!
    The photo of you flexing is hot! Oww!
    When I was reading it, I was guessing that you had your period. What a bummer- that pretty much always seems to happen to me when I do a race or some kind of other athletic activity that doesn’t lend itself to being able to just use the bathroom when you need it (like when we did the 14er hike in Colorado!), but you find a way to get through.
    You’re so inspiring!! Enjoy basking in the glow of your big HUGE accomplishment for a while. :)

  14. Oh my gosh you’re AMAZING! (I just found your blog through twitter, I love it!)

    I just signed up for my first half marathon, so I’ve been a little nervous about that, haha but you’re so inspiring!!

  15. Rosie Vogt says:

    You Go Girl, Congratulations!!!!! You are amazing and awesome in so many ways.

  16. This was awesome! I loved reading your re-cap so much! And I loved that you were so honest about how much it hurt. I have heard a lot of re-caps where people seem to pretend the pain doesn’t happen. :p

    • Thanks girl! Well, gotta stay true to what happened! hah. It was def mostly an amazing experience, but there was definite PAIN there too. Hah. xoxo

  17. Heather Baedke says:

    Congratulations!! What a fabulous and awesome achievement!! You should be really proud of yourself!!

  18. wow this is insanely amazing! congrats and kudos to you! i am so proud of you and in complete awe!! :) you go girl!

  19. Congrats Annette, you did such an amazing job!

    I’d do a triathlon if I could replace the swim with something – I can run and I like biking, but as for swimming I can barely dog paddle.

  20. Katie says:

    You. Are. Incredible!!!

    I know I’ve told you this many times before but your attitude is just fantastic! Your outlook on life, health and physical activity is just amazing.

    Congratulations on this HUGE achievement!

    Ps that husband of yours really is a rock star.

  21. caroline says:

    you are amazing! You got first place in my book for not giving up even when it got tough!

  22. You are an absolute inspiration! To even finish it is amazing. You should be very proud of yourself.

  23. Tammy says:

    Congrats on your HIM finish,, you are truly amazing as that distance is quite an experience. I think I felt all the same things you did,, and that you do now LOL.. but so glad I completed a HIM,,, so I never have to do it again. Good Job My Friend :-)


    • I love that you did it too! CONGRATS to you, Tammy!

      And thank you. Oh, and yes, never again will I do that (by myself<---in relay form, MAYbe). πŸ˜‰

  24. Annette!!! sooooo proud of you!This brought some tears =) I’m so so proud of you!!!! Congratulations and thank you fir your inspirational example!!! love you!!

  25. Wow Annette! What an accomplishment! Did you figure out what the internal pain was? Those races can be brutal– I hope all is okay!


  1. […] is an incredible athlete (she even completed a half IronMan!), amazing wife/sister/friend, and an incredibly knowledgable and inspiring fitness professional […]



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