IronGirl Sandy Hook Sprint Triathlon Recap

Yesterday, I completed my 6th triathlon – the women’s only IronGirl Sandy Hook.

Say Yes

Just say yes to races.

On Saturday morning, my mom and I drove down to Sandy Hook. She’s lived in NJ her entire life, and I’ve lived in this area 24 out of my 31 years, yet neither of us had ever been to the Sandy Hook area. ADORABLE. And just 1:15 from my parents’ house or a 40-minute ferry ride from the city. AND you can see the city from there, which makes it the perfect beach, really.

Iron Girl Packet Pickup

We cruised into packet pickup, and I gave Meghann a big hug.

Since I’d decided so late in the game (like two weeks ago) that I was doing the race, the official hotels were full. Instead, we stayed at the super-cute Blue Bay Inn in Atlantic Highlands, which I’d totally recommend.

Sandy Hook

We went to the beach…for a hot 5 seconds before it started pouring.

The dinner situation was a hot mess, and I ended up getting sick to my stomach, too. Awesome.

My bike was supposed to be racked by 6am, and transition closed at 6:30, so I set my alarm for 4:45 with a goal to be out the door by 5:15. We were….but then traffic was backed up once we got on to the island. Awesome. This made me really glad to live in NYC and not have to drive to races most of the time. I watched the minutes tick away as we still weren’t parked and it was getting closer and closer to 6. I tried not to stress because I figured they wouldn’t not let us rack our bikes if there were still this many cars waiting to get in.

We finally parked, and then walked probably close to a mile to transition. As we walked, I saw women of all shapes and sizes and with all kinds of bikes, from beach cruisers with mirrors to fancy tri bikes.  I laid out my stuff and then found my mom again and walked down to the swim start with her. Transition closed at 6:30, but my wave didn’t start till 7:45, so I had a looooong time to wait.


The swim was a point-to-point course, so she walked down to the end a little bit before I started so she could see me come out of the water. I’d decided not to do a wetsuit because it was such a short race, and I’m happy with that decision. I got into the water about 5 minutes before the start to pee, and the water was warmer than the air temperature!

As we waited to run into the water, I stood there shaking. I’d made buddies with a girl near me, and she asked if I was cold or nervous. A little bit of both, I told her. Just as we were about to run in, they started playing T-Swift’s new song, which was a weird good luck sign for me. For the Franklin Lakes Triathlon last year, I sang T-Swift’s Trouble in my head the entire time, and it kept me calm.

I hung back a tiny but, but then just ran in. After swimming in the Hudson, I felt like I could handle anything. Well, the water was kinda choppy, and we were swimming straight into the current. It was a little frustrating and difficult, but I still had fun and maybe halfway through thought to myself how happy I was that the open water no longer scared the crap out of me.

I got out, and my watch said I’d swum 2/3 of a mile; the course was supposed to be 1/3 of a mile.

Swim Transition

As I ran to transition, my mom snapped this pic and apparently started crying immediately afterwards. The swim terrifies her, and she’s always really happy when I’m out of the water.

1/3 mile / 17:40 / 3:18 / 100m pace

T1 / 2:51

I’m getting a little better at transitions. I also didn’t have a wetsuit, which helped


Ah, the bike. So we meet again. The bike course was 15 miles, and two big loops. It was also completely flat. WOO HOO! Going out, it was lovely, and we had a nice view of the water. I started getting a little bored, but told myself I had a ways to go and changed to a more positive mindset. Coming back, we were riding straight into the wind. I rode as hard as I could and started passing people in the age groups above me who’d started before me, which was a nice little ego boost. I usually ride on the hoods of my bike, but tried dropping into the drops in the wind to be a little more aerodynamic. The drops terrify me, but I did not die, so, success?

I tried really hard to not obsess over my watch since I know I’m slow on the bike, and I didn’t want to get all up into my own head.

So I was pleasantly surprised to look at the results and see that I rode at a 14.5mph average pace. Which is still slow as crap to lots of you, but flying for me.

15 miles / 1:02:08 / 14.5 mph

T2 2:23

I’d totally forgotten a race belt and so had to pin on my bib here, and remind myself multiple times to grab my phone so I could find my mom after.


They save the best for last.

It should also be said here that I didn’t take this race seriously at all, and so on top of forgetting my race belt, I also didn’t bring any Gu or any water for the bike. It was short and fairly easy, but I still could have used some fuel and water. Once I started running, I was DYING for some water. I took off running, and looked down at my watch to see a 7:40 pace. I didn’t think I’d be able to hold that the entire time, but figured it was just 3 miles, so I’d hold on as long as I could. There were lots of women walking, and I felt awesome passing them.

On the website, it said there’d be water at miles 1 and 2, but it was only at mile 1.5, which felt a long way into it to wait for a water stop. I don’t usually Gatorade, but I definitely needed some calories and electrolytes by now, especially since it had definitely warmed up, and the sun was blazing down on us. At this point, my watch told me I was doing right around an 8:00 pace, which was fine by me. Mentally, I wanted to stop to walk since it was getting hot, but I told that voice to shut up and keep running. There was one woman in my age group (yay calf marking?) who I saw ahead of me and decided I needed to pass. At one point, I saw her out of the corner of my eye. NOPE, SORRY LADY. NOT HAPPENING. I ran my little heart out, and started grinning as I was coming into the finisher’s chute, and a few spectators even commented on how happy I looked.


3 miles / 22:59 / 7:40 pace

Overall Time: 1:48:01. I think my overall time was about 1:24/25 going into the run, and my goal became to finish under 1:50. Done.

Ironman Pink Tri Kit

So endorphin wasted.

(I love this tri kit that the Ironman PR people sent me, but yes, I do have mixed feelings about wearing it when I haven’t done and will likely never do an Ironman. Also, bittersweetly, it came in the mail the day I dropped out of Princeton.)

I basically did this tri to restore some of the tri confidence that training for and dropping out of Princeton had eroded, and it worked. I feel really good about how I did, especially that I picked up some speed on the bike.

I finished 20th in my AG of 78 people, 237/833 overall, and AND AND 39/833 for the run. From this former fat kid who used to hate running. I felt so freaking awesome when I realized that.

Confidence, restored.

Thank you to IronGirl for providing me with a free bib for this race. 

21 comments on “IronGirl Sandy Hook Sprint Triathlon Recap

  1. Katie

    Nice work! Also, jealous you got a freebie race. I also am afraid of dropping down on the bike, but am hoping to get a trainer this winter so I can practice. What’s interesting to me is how great your run time is, while my bike time is my strongest. i love the variety triathlons provide!

  2. misszippy

    Congrats! You rocked it, especially the run, which is never easy in a tri after the other two events. I love IronGirl events–we have one here in my town (Columbia, MD) that I’ve done several times. They put on a quality show, for sure.

  3. Gianna @ Run, Lift, Repeat

    I’ve been doing more bike rides this summer up to 20 miles or so (on my single speed cruiser FTW – managing 12mph haha it is what it is) and really have no idea how you bang out an awesome run like that after – congrats on an amazing race!

    I get off and my legs are like…no just no. Walking is wobbly! I am a former swimmer and well love running so I think I need to get a real bike and venture into tri’s next year.

  4. Lauren @ Beautiful Plant-Based Life

    You saying “just say yes to races” hit me hard! I haven’t participated in a race for over a year. First, I gave up racing because I was trying to get pregnant, then because I WAS pregnant, and more recently, because I experienced a miscarriage and have a hard time planning for the future. I’m tired of putting my life on hold and find myself wishing that I had a race to prepare for! I mean, fall running in NYC is amazing. Thanks for giving me this push (or superstitious “sign”) I needed. I am looking up races tonight!!!

  5. Victoria

    Congrats! Sounds like you had a great time.

    (I’m pretty sure you resigned yourself to doing an IM someday because you wore the kit, but you have decades for that.)

  6. Kim

    Maybe as a former fat girl who used to hate running you shouldn’t gloat so much about feeling awesome passing women who were walking. Maybe they are just getting into shape. Maybe they just lost weight. Maybe they smoked you on the bike and were tired. Its just a ridiculous statement to make. Its not like you are setting any records out there so you might want to be supportive of others for a change.

    1. Theodora Blanchfield Post author

      You know what? After going back and rereading, I can see how that sentence sounded kind of dick – but I was just happy to be doing so well/feeling so great. They probably did smoke me on the bike! I’m *not* setting any records, so I’m excited for these small victories. With the swim and bike not being my strong suits, I’m just excited to get to the run and pass…anyone.

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