Back Pain, Biking, Goals, Iron Girl, Race, Recap, Review, Running, Triathlon

Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon 2016 Recap

Thank you Olympics for being so distracting while I tried to write this post. It’s hard to tear your eyes off of Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky and the #FinalFive when they’re just being so awesome!

How is it that a year has flown by and a second Iron Girl completed? Sunday’s race was a very different race for me than my race from 2015. More often than not, things aren’t quite as exciting the second time around but this is something I was anticipating. I went into the race weekend disappointed that the swim was cancelled and I talked about my feelings in Monday’s post, but even more disappointed as my body spent the weekend rebelling against me.

The thing that pushed me through the race and kept me going, was finishing my first race that I got to do with my sister! Things aligned perfectly because it was actually National Sisters Day on Sunday! I think she’s happy I pushed her to do it with me especially since she said she’d probably do it again next year! (WINNING!)

My back was really struggling after coming back from Michigan the weekend before. It was a struggle to get comfortable on Saturday night as I was lying in bed, unable to sleep from the pain. I was struggling mentally knowing that I had the endurance for the race but feeling unsure whether or not to do it because I was afraid of seriously hurting myself. I barely slept that night and I woke up feeling nauseated from the pain and struggled to eat any food. What I was able to get down was basically force fed because I knew I couldn’t race on an empty stomach.

We arrived at the park about 5:50 am on Sunday morning feeling excited, nauseous and a bit anxious. I got to my bike and  immediately noticed there was an extra bike on the already overcrowded rack. I was supposed to be the last bike but I guess someone else had come along and racked in the wrong place. I talked to a ref and after an announcement was made, someone eventually came and moved to where it was supposed to be all along. Without a swim, I only had my helmet and sunglasses for the bike and my bib and visor for the run so transition was a quick set up. I did have a mini panic attack when I saw Hanna putting her chip on and I hadn’t seen mine yet. I ran back my stuff and quickly found it to put it on. Crisis averted.

We went to the start line for the beginning of the race and the waiting began. To replace the missing swim, they added a quarter mile run up the hill towards transition. We were supposed to go by 7:49 but didn’t go out until 8:01 and I think the first finisher crossed the line less than 15 minutes after we took off. I was still feeling really nauseous before starting but I forced down some electrolytes about 30 minutes before and a few gels 15 minute before going out so I didn’t crash too soon. We passed the time by being cute and taking photos.





There were less than 40 people in our wave and less than 30 in the wave behind us so it was going to be an interesting time being with the last group of people on the course. Hanna and I gave each other one last big hug before starting the run. The quarter mile run was mostly up a long hill and we stayed together til just before the end when Hanna pulled away a bit. It looked like Hanna went into transition a ways ahead but I guess it was only a 4 second difference according to our times.

0.25 mile Run: 2:22.2 (9:28 min/mi)

Iron Girl Columbia Start Line
T1: 1:36.5

I was all the way on the edge of transition and Hanna was towards the middle so she got out of transition about 30 seconds ahead of me onto the bike which was a good thing for her because I got stuck behind a crowd of people on the way out. Even after I passed the dismount line, someone swerved in front of me and cut me off. I didn’t see Hanna at all on the entire bike course but I think I glimpsed her from a distance a few times.

Iron Girl Bike Course

Iron Girl Bike Course
The bike course is rolling hills the entire way, you’re either going up or going down with no real straightaway at any point. I kept getting stuck behind crowds of people and playing games of see-saw by getting passed when I slowly climbed the hills and then passing them when I raced down the other side. There were a few times where I wasn’t able to move at my preferred speed because of people taking too long to pass or riding all over the shoulder.

Around 5 miles in, I really started to struggle with nerve pain down my right side and it only grew worse the farther I went. I distracted myself by cheering and trying to be supportive of anyone I was passing or being passed by. I struck up a rolling conversation with someone in the age group ahead of me because we kept going by each other for our entire time on the bike. Eventually we were like, at this rate we’re going to be crossing the finish line together. (We actually did!)

The hill I hated the most last year was still the worst and I think I could rate the worst hills in order now that I’ve done it a couple of times.

The road bike that I borrowed for the event had flat handlebars and my plastic wristband for the race was loose enough that it kept sliding onto my hand and cutting into me because of the angle my wrists were at. It was cutting in really bad and I kept slowing down to try and slide it back up my arm. By the end of the ride, my hips/back/nerve pain was pretty much unbearable I was really pushing it to make it to the finish line as quick as possible. I kept myself going by reminding myself that there are probably people out there that wish they could do something like this but they feel like they never could or they actually couldn’t. I’m blessed to be able to move even if it causes me pain.

I was really trying to push for at least a 14 mph average but I was in so much pain that I really struggled the last half of the course. I did manage to hit over 35 mph TWICE on the course so I was pretty happy about that 🙂

16 mile Bike: 1:13:53.9 (13 mph)
T2: 1:46.3

Slight improvement on my bike time from last year, so that’s cool.

I got off the bike and my pain erupted. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to walk down the steep hill into transition because I felt so bad. I tried to run out but moving faster sent insane pain down my right leg. Brady was standing along the fence as I came out of transition. Seeing him sent a wave of emotions through me and I started to cry. Partly because I was in so much pain and partly because I was so disappointed that this was happening.

There was a water station just past the run out and when one of the ladies offering water saw me crying she was like, “Oh my goodness, what’s wrong?!” I told her that I was in a lot of pain and she said something like “oh sweetie, can I walk with you?” She handed off the water she was holding and starting walking with me part-way around the lake. She kept encouraging me and told me how strong I was and that I was going to be able to finish. I was so nice to have someone help me get my spirits back up and guide me through the heightened anxiety I was feeling in the moment.

I felt so tight and sore so I kept doing a run/walk pattern with more walk than run but after I had warmed up some, I tried to keep a fast pace walk whenever I felt like I couldn’t run. As I was headed up Gatorade hill about 1.5 miles in, I knew that it was going to probably be my only chance to see my sister since that’s the only part of the course that has people running both ways. As I came to the top of the hill where the water station was, I saw her just coming up the back side. She didn’t see me at first but when she did we ran towards each other with our arms outstretched and jumped into a large embrace. All the nearby volunteers probably thought we were crazy haha. Seeing her gave me extra motivation to push through the last half of the course and stick it out through the pain. I knew going in that I wouldn’t improve my time from the year before but I knew I had to push through the back half to even try and make it close.

The race had laid out bags of ice along the course which was so nice in that heat. I stuffed a handful of ice in my bra every time I passed one and on the way back past the water station on Gatorade hill, I dumped a couple cups of water on myself to keep extra cool for the last mile. I came through the chute at the end with a happy cheer and a little hop at the end to celebrate. I started to get overly emotional after finishing and was still feeling really sick and in lots of pain. I went and laid in the grass for about 10 minutes to try and relax my spasming back.

3.4 mile Run: 48:58.8 (15:45 min/mi)
Overall: 2:08:37.9




I went to grab my free food but the smell made me feel even worse so Brady ended up eating my quinoa salad. A shame really because it looked pretty good. Hanna went to grab some as well and jumped in the line to wait. Turns out she had jumped in the line for the beer and the ladies around her noticed her “underage” wrist band so they were like, “Heyyy you’re a little young to be in this line!” I guess they thought she was trying her luck hah! Kind of funny to us since no one in our family drinks anyways.

Once I had started to feel a little better, we all grabbed some snowcones and watched the awards ceremony. I think the final finisher came in as they were finishing the awards and it was pretty cool to cheer the final lady across the line.

We took a bunch of the typical cliche medal photos together before Dad left and of course Hanna looked perfect because she had put on makeup before the race. Who does that?! Mascara and all. Way to make me look bad, sis.






In the end, I’m happy that I pushed through and finished. I also hydrated well this time around which is an improvement because I didn’t last year. While the race was difficult for me and I struggled a lot, I’m really glad I got to do this race with my sister. I also know that most likely, if we had gotten to swim, I probably would have improved my time from last year by around 10-15 minutes even with my bike and run struggles. Hanna had an awesome race and exceeded her expectation for how she’d do. She finished with a time of 1:54:10.6.

The biggest difference for me this year, other than the pain, was that it was hard starting last because at that point, volunteers and spectators had been cheering for over an hour for people going by and once you come through, they’re tired and have much less enthusiasm. It was still a very supportive race and I love this community but it didn’t quite live up to the same encouraging atmosphere that I experienced last year.

We had an amazing post race meal at Cheeburger Cheeburger. Complete with yummy veggie burgers and milkshakes.


I’ve been struggling with back pain since the race but I’m doing better today after seeing the chiropractor yesterday and getting realigned. Hopefully it continues to improve and I don’t have a major fall out like I did last year a couple weeks after the race.

I wish I could afford to do more events. I wish I could afford my own bike. I wish a lot of things, but better times are coming and I feel like I can be sure of that. Hopefully next year I’ll be able to try another event and come back even stronger for this one.

Congratulations for making it this far and thanks for reading! 🙂

Have you ever done a triathlon?

What’s your favorite type of race event?

Do you have any races coming up?

Share your recent race recaps with me because I’d love to read them!


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  • Reply Lisa @ TechChick Adventures August 10, 2016 at 11:06 pm

    I hope your back is still feeling better. Back pain is scary! I just saw that your husband is a PT. Dang, that would really come in handy for me!!
    Good job on your race! I have never done a triathlon and I think the swimming part would be a challenge for me. It does sound like a lot of fun though. One of these days!!
    Lisa @ TechChick Adventures recently posted…Mexico Barcelo – final days!My Profile

    • Reply meaganleanne August 10, 2016 at 11:20 pm

      It is handy but at the same time it’s not because he’s always tired from being at work and doesn’t want to see me as a patient as well. Lol. You should definitely try one sometime! My sister struggled with swimming but she came a long way in training for a few months and probably would have done pretty well if she had had the chance 🙂

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