A Stop on My Journey to Ironman Florida: The Gulf Coast Triathlon

Crystal wasn’t joking when she said that Papercut is an active bunch. This past weekend, I competed in the 32nd Annual Gulf Coast Triathlon. This is a 70.3 distance triathlon, otherwise known as a half Ironman-distance race. I actually competed in this race last year and didn’t think I would do it again since I was dealing with a hip injury. However, in November, I impulsively registered for Ironman Florida 2014.  So, I quickly knew the Gulf Coast Triathlon would be back on my race calendar for 2014. It’s on the same course as Ironman Florida, and it’s a great opportunity to experience the course and gauge your fitness.

Race Day

Leading up to race day, everything seemed to be going according to plan. I had completed all of my assigned workouts from my coach.  Everything seemed great—until Saturday morning. We were lining up for the swim start (the order of a triathlon is swim-bike-run), and at the last second, the race director cancelled the swim portion due to a strong rip current. This deflated my entire hopes for the day, as the swim is my strongest discipline by far. It also meant that we had to run up the beach and hop on our bikes for 56 miles. I typically use the swim as my warm-up, and I was not ready for this.

However, the race had to go on.

During the bike, I kept my spirits up even through strong winds. Winds are unavoidable on beach racecourses, so this was to be expected. I even hopped off the bike ready for the run portion (13.1 miles) feeling optimistic. I kept feeling that way until about mile 6.5. That’s when my hips started hurting, which definitely slowed me down and deflated my spirits. After a long 13.1 miles, I crossed the finish line.

The Wrap-up

It was nice to get this race done and gauge my fitness. I think I’m where I expected to be at this point in my Ironman training. I will continue to do races as a nice distraction from long training weekends.

Next up? The 2014 USMS 2.5 Mile Open Water National Championship here in Chattanooga this Saturday! This is a very spectator-friendly course, and the event is only in Chattanooga for this year. I’d love to see lots of locals out on the bridges supporting us swimmers!

Other events on my race calendar include:

And of course, don’t forget to come out in September for Ironman Chattanooga!  Even though I won’t be racing, I’ll be there supporting friends, and of course, my co-worker, Crystal Henry.