This year, we launched our beta program, IronDEBUT, for eleven lucky athletes training for their first Ironman. Recently, Allison Hastey competed in Ironman Boulder June 11, as our first IronDEBUT athlete to hit the races!
The IronDEBUT program provides first-time Ironman athletes with everything they need to finish Ironman happy and healthy (and to their potential) and includes a customized training program, private FaceBook group page with coaches and IronDEBUT athletes, and briefings on training topics, race day tactics, nutrition, and mindset. The program began April 16, 2017 for Allison, and will launch officially this summer for Ironman Texas and Boulder.
Allison killed it out there on the race course, so we caught up with her to learn more about how the IronDEBUT program made a difference for her, and what she thought of her first Ironman! Allison lives and trains in Denver, CO, and grew up dancing ballet and jazz. She didn't run or bike, and her time spent by the pool was doing handstands or making up choreographed water performances. Triathlon is fairly new to Allison, so read on to hear more about her amazing experience at Boulder Ironman.
So, have you raced triathlons before?
I have done 3 prior to IM Boulder. I raced Ironman Boulder 70.3 last June 11 (one year exactly to my full!). Two months prior to that I raced the Rage Olympic Tri. We had 35 MPH winds so it was a rude awakening for my first tri. I returned to race Rage again this year and had a much better experience!
You're our first IronDEBUT athlete to race an Ironman. How did the training prepare you?
I spent the first 4 months of training following a purchased general TrainingPeaks plan. It worked well as far as keeping me on schedule and focused. It wasn’t until RTTC launched IronDEBUT I was able to experience how important it is to have personal coaching. IronDEBUT encouraged me to ask a million questions and push myself harder, and the coaches provided feedback on how I could improve. Their flexibility and focus on the mental and physical aspect of training was awesome. It was also really nice to be a part of a small group of other Ironman newbies who have the same hopes and fears.
What made you want to race an Ironman in the first place?
Until five years ago, I had never heard of Ironman. Initially, I understood it to be some crazy, physical event that was long, hard and out of my realm of possibility. It wasn’t until I went to support my friend in 2014 and saw it was so much more. Still crazy, it’s a life changing experience. It isn’t one event, it’s a journey. I returned to cheer the following 2 years and every time I was moved more and more by the strength and determination of all of the athletes on the course. People of different ages, sizes and backgrounds who put all of their heart and soul into a challenge with an unknown ending. I was inspired.
What made you choose Boulder for your first experience?
I went to college in Boulder so it has a special place in my heart. Plus, it’s breathtaking. It also meant a lot to me to be able to go from Ironman Boulder spectator to athlete after having been at the race the last few years.
Okay, so let's talk about race day! When you woke up the morning of IM Boulder were you nervous?
Absolutely. It’s hard to really know how you will feel before the race until you are in those moments. I'll describe it as being on a rollercoaster about to drop, but you are stuck waiting for that moment with your stomach in your throat. I was a bit of a mess.
Did you have a pre-race routine?
I woke up (really, I never fell asleep) at 3 am and forced myself to eat a banana and a few bites of eggs. That wasn’t my planned breakfast but I ran into hotel kitchen trouble and figured it was better than nothing. Having my clothes and bags laid out the night before helped make the process of getting out the door easier in my state of mind.
We headed to Boulder High School at 3:50 am. Along the way we listened to the Lion King’s Circle of Life which I blasted before my 70.3. I got to the reservoir and set up my nutrition on the bike. I was so lucky to have RTTC Coach Mikki also doing IM Boulder as she listened to my nerves and helped to calm me down. With her own race ahead, this was so gracious. I tried to eat a few bites of a Cliff bar but the stomach wasn’t having it. We went into the water to swim around for a few minutes and then it was off to the start line.
Exciting! What did you think of the swim?
I lined up in the 1:31 - 1:40 something group. As soon as I started talking to the athletes around me, my nerves went away. It was amazing. Sonja said this would happen and sure enough, I went into the water excited and calm. The rolling start wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. There was no mad dash, no big kicks and punches. We all just went in, took our time and started going.
This was my first swim without panic. The biggest downfall on the swim was my sighting. I was all over the place at points. I practiced it but certainly not enough. Overall, swim felt good and I loved being able to see the snow capped mountains when I was breathing. I remember thinking near the end, "This is it, your Ironman swim. Take it in."
As you made it into T1, how were you feeling mentally/physically?
Mentally I was feeling good going into T1 and was happy to be done with the swim. The volunteers were awesome in helping me get dressed and walking through all of the items in my bag to make sure I was set. Physically I was a little out of breath but not too bad. I was ready to rock.
So now it's bike time! What did you think about the course?
I am so glad I knew about the hill and false flat coming out of the swim. I kept hearing Mikki’s words about chilling for the first 20 miles and letting others pass. I took it nice and easy and worked on eating, drinking and catching my breath.
Three loops had both positives and negatives. It did help to break up the ride, it was nice to see my family and friends for a split second in the reservoir, and it helped to know where the tough spots were in advance. With that said, it got a bit monotonous. I stopped at almost every aid station to either fill up my bottles and or put my feet down for a quick second (they often go to sleep when I am riding so this helps). I stuck to my IMHR as best I could based on my training.
As Sonja said, my only job was to eat, drink and move forward. It went by much faster than I expected for the amount of hours I was out there. The course is beautiful and my only negative feedback would be on the safety of riders on 36 (it still felt dicey) and the fact that it ended up being 114 miles.
Well, 114 miles later, how are you feeling going through T2?
I was feeling good in T2 and very thankful to be off the bike! The ¼ mile walk from the dismount to the tent was a bit much but the line of volunteers along the way cheering you on was great. I can’t say enough about how awesome the volunteers were on race day. They helped me get changed and had wet wipes for my face and arms which I loved! I was once again ready to rock.
Tell me about the run!
I started out strong and was mindful to take it easy and watch my HR per Sonja/Mikki. I was running and then walking aid stations to ensure I took in enough hydration. It was great knowing my friends and family would be out on the course.
At about mile 6 I got an alert on my watch the battery was dying. I thought my 24 hour tri watch could handle an IM but alas, no. I started walking to play with my watch and try and turn stuff off to keep it alive, but couldn't figure it out in the moment. I was concerned about not having my watch to go off of but there wasn't anything I could do. It died around mile 12 and while I was bummed, I didn’t panic.
I started run/speed walking around that time. I remember reading if you don't train to walk and then start doing it in a race than there is no going back. I would say this was true for me. Thankfully, I walk fast! I passed by Mikki on the course as she was heading into her final miles and she told me to pace with another RTTC athlete who was right ahead of me, which was a good idea. I had some cramping in my stomach at a few points so I tried out a few different techniques Sonja recommended - not eating for a bit, slowing down, eating what sounded good (only chips and orange slices), etc.
I really did set out to run the marathon but it wasn't in the cards for me this day, and I kept telling myself that was ok. I focused on moving forward, thanking the volunteers and spectators, and cheering for all of the other athletes. Much like the bike, the hours went by fast.
So, even though the marathon didn't go exactly as planned, how did it feel crossing the finish line?
The last part of the run was amazing. I could hear the finish line and much like the swim, tried to remind myself these were the last few minutes of MY FIRST Ironman. All of the work and here it was. I ran down the chute and slowed down enough to high five my family, friends and strangers, and relish every moment of it. I was so happy. Having cheered on this race the last few years, it was surreal to be inside the chute myself.
Awesome - congratulations! So looking back on race day, what was your favorite part?
While the run was the most physically challenging, I would say it was my favorite. The fact I was doing IM Boulder sunk in the most those miles. It's beautiful to run by the creek (I even closed my eyes a few times to focus on the sound of the water) and I loved all the spectators who kept me going with their energy, smiles and signs.
What was your least favorite part?
Tie between the last few miles of the bike and my watch dying.
How did this race compare to other triathlons you've done?
The pre-race nerves were more than any other race, yet I felt mostly calm and present during the race itself. I did better with my nutrition in this race (thanks to RTTC) which was a huge help. I am proud of all of the races I have done but the mental and physical work training for and completing IM Boulder far surpasses all others.
Training for an Ironman takes A LOT of time and commitment. Is there anyone you would like to thank?
The support and encouragement I had from friends and family was amazing. From training alongside me to listening to my excitement and fears, they all helped me reach my goal. A few special thanks: Jon - for being so understanding of the commitment it takes to train and often having to kick my butt out the door to get it done when I didn’t think I could. Frances - for supporting flexibility in our work day to train and talk about the race. Mom - for showing up to support me even when you’re scared to death of what I am doing. Brandon - for showing me a world I didn’t know existed. Sonja/Mikki - for creating IronDEBUT and letting me be a part of it.
And finally, anything else you would like to say?
It was all worth it.
Thank you, Allison, for sharing your debut Ironman story with us. We are so happy to have you part of the Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching family and congratulations again on your enormous accomplishment. We love helping athletes get to the start line healthy, happy and ready.
Interested in training with RTTC for your first Ironman race? We are launching IronDEBUT Texas and IronDEBUT Boulder in the summer of 2017. To be the first to be notified when we open enrollment CLICK HERE. And you can follow us on FaceBook, Instagram, and Twitter for more inspiration and news.