Race Recap: AC 70.3

Monday, September 18, 2017

For the past 8 months my Atlantic City half Ironman journey motto was "How bad do you want it."

On days when I wanted to cut a run short or jump off the bike early or skip the pool because the pool is cold, I would say that to myself to remind me that this journey would NOT be easy.

Racing 70.3 miles is NOT a walk in the park, it takes training, early morning and REALLY late nights pounding pavement or on the bike trainer. I started a new job in March, have been planning a wedding and help Ainsley's Angels full time. I could have made EVERY excuse in the book leading up to yesterday, but I wasn't going to do that because I wanted yesterday. I wanted it BAD and I wanted to cross that finish line. I'm blessed to have the ability to do this and there is not one day where I take it for granted.

I'm not the skinniest, lightest or fastest athlete, but I'm STRONG, physically and more importantly, MENTALLY. I was without a doubt one of the heaviest females out on the course yesterday representing the Athena's, and proud to show all of the spectators watching on the Boardwalk yesterday that weight is a NUMBER, it doesn't define who you are or your availability to compete at this caliber of a race. It all comes down to how bad do you want it!

Race Expo

I won't write much about this but the expo was great. I got to meet other Athena ladies who I'm friends with on a Facebook page in person, as well as the Women for Tri ladies which is a Facebook page I LOVE. I got to see the IronVillage and FINALLY bought some Ironman branded gear. I have refused to wear it until I did an Ironman race. Happy the wait is over.

Day Race

Yesterday was a long, hard, yet amazing day. I knew it was not going to be easy, but for some crazy reason, I feed off this shit. I live for race day and the nerves and the pukey feeling leading up to it. Taylor deals with my crazy emotions and is always telling me "I know you're going to kill it, you always do!" He's usually always right. He's the best.

It was an early start on race morning. Up at 4:30 a.m. and got to the site around 530. I had an hour in transition to get all of my gear laid out and ready to go. I filled up on bike water bottle with my nutrition, placed my fig newtons on my bike and placed my sneakers, hat, sunglasses and running bib together for the run portion. Janice and I were about 10 bikes away from each other in transition so we chatted as we set up. We both left transition and tried to choke down a bagel before the start. I can NEVER eat on race day because my nerves are so high but I was able to eat half as Taylor stood there
as my food monitor. (Again, he's amazing and wants the best for me.)

Anxiously, 2500 of us waited at the swim start. This course was a rolling start so you put your self in line with what time you think you will finish. With a goal of 45 minutes, Janice and I set ourselves in the middle. We chatted with our friend Kelly and met a nice woman from State College in line. Chatting together settled the nerves...at this point, I was ready to get the day started.

The swim is my favorite part, it always is because for some reason I'm good at it. With the rolling start, 6 of us started every 10 seconds. I got to the dock with Janice and 4 dudes...beep, beep. beep...GO! Off the dock, no turning back. For me, the swim is all about keeping rhythm with my stroke and breathing. I passed lots of green caps (guys!) and found my rhythm after about 200 yards in. For a while there was no one around me..just the water and the casino skyline I saw with every breath. It was an out and back swim and I was so happy to hit the turn around. Coming back we were swimming into the current so I had to put a little extra pull into the swim. Around 1300 yards my neck started to burn. I realized my suit and sports bra were chafing the back of my neck. I've never had this before and it was so painful. I knew that would NOT be pretty at the end of in the shower later that night. People were getting tired and lots were converting to breath stroke to catch their breath. I knew I had to keep fighting and did. I could hear the announcer and knew I was getting close. Through the two buoys and I was finished! Goal time: 45 minutes Actual Time: 47 minutes

Into transition I went and was in and out in under 3 minutes. I racked my bike, dried my feet, put my shoes and helmet on. Lets ride -- my least favorite discipline in triathlon. The bike was looooong. It was a 2.5 loop which took you on the AC Expressway and off exit 5 through a community there. That loop at exit 5 we had to do 3x and it was terrible for me. The road wasn't very smooth and just enough small hills to kill your legs. I kept telling myself get through those 5 miles and hammer it on the straight away on the Expressway -- so that's what I did. At the other turn around I saw Taylor camped out on his chair cheering EVERYONE one. By mile 45 my ass hurt so bad I had no idea how I was gonna get done. When I sat up it hurt, when I went down into aero it hurt. Only 10 miles and you're off this damn thing I repeated over and over. The bike is my weakest and I really prayed to be fast enough to give myself enough time on the run to make the cut off. Goal Time: 4 hours Actual Time: 3:44

I finally got off the bike and had to change up for the run. I racked my bike, grabbed my run gear and onto the LAST leg. Another fast transition. (I dont know how so people take SO LONG in there, boggles my mind!) As I was running out of transition there were two volunteers there to spray you down with sun screen. The entire bike ride was cloudy but for the run the sun was out. I knew I'd regret not putting it on so I decided to lube up. I had terrible chafing on my neck from the swim and it burned soooo bad when the ladies sprayed. I actually yelled and the one lady said "I know sweetie, I'm sorry but itll be worth it. Now go become an Ironman."

So off to the run...I took about 15 steps and said to myself ohhhh boy, this is gonna be a long 13.1 miles. My legs felt like jello and it took me the first mile to find them. I saw Taylor waiting for me and I finally saw Janice. It was great to see her face. I was cruising for a bit and Janice caught up to me around mile 4.5 She was feeling it and I told her go sister, crush this!! I was feeling good through mile 8 and that is when the struggle bus hit. I knew the last 5 were going to be more than moving my legs but mentally getting through it.

I didn't train this way but sometimes you need to make a race day decision...during the run I did a run/walk method. I really wanted to run each mile, walk each aid station, but it wasn't happening and I wasn't going to let it ruin me. I was still smiling and loving this day. So on the boardwalk there were flags hanging on the pools...I ran 5 flags and walked a flag. I did this over and over and over again. It made the miles go by quicker and kept me moving forward. I had the same routine at each aid station, two cups of water (drink one and one on me), orange slice, and cup of ice that went into my tri kit.

I ended up running into my friend Howard from the Lansdale Run Club and we ran alot of the run together. We didn't say much, but knowing he was there gave me some comfort. I saw Janice at mile 11 when I was at 10.5. We knew this stretch was doing to be hard and hurt. We hugged each other and I told her how proud of her I was. I wish I could have seen her cross the finish line. I tried so hard to catch her on the turn around but I just couldn't. With two miles left I looked at my watch and started crunching numbers. I knew I was going to make it happen, today was happening. Hello water works. Spectators kept saying to me "you're there, hang in there." I think they all thought I was hurt and I'd ugly cry saying to them "I did this, I'm really doing this". Them all smiles would say Yes you are, keep going.

Howard and I ran the last mile together and I told him to go ahead of me because I wanted MY moment running down the chute alone to the finish. That red carpet and the fans and seeing Taylor was just as I expected. I soaked in every. single. step of that red carpet and that is the moment I've replayed in my head for 8 months straight saying "how bad do you want it." Hands in the air, playing off the crowd and finally a big huge yell...I did it. I fucking did it!!! "And here is Amanda Piccccccirilli from Lansdaleeeeee, Pennsylvania" the announcer said for the crowd to hear. I walked through, got a water towel and my finisher pint glass. And there waiting for me was my IronBestie Janice. I hugged her so tight and cried like a baby, then she cried. She did it. I did it. WE did it. TOGETHER, from start to finish. Run Goal Time: 2:45 Actual Time: 3:12

Yesterday was definitely the hardest thing I've ever done in my entire life. Way harder than a marathon.But i loved it, every single minute and mile. I literally smiled the whole race and enjoyed it and the people. Yesterday's main goal was to have FUN and enjoy every moment. I did just that and was happy with my time based on what I was hoping to get. Overall Goal Time: 7:45 Actual Time: 7:52
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