Monticelloman Half Ironman Triathlon: Rate the Date
The Monticelloman Half Iron Man Triathlon was the third endurance event that Nazari and I have trained for and participated in together. But it was hands down the most challenging endeavor, mentally and physically, that we have ever done. It consisted of a 1.2 mile open water swim, 56 mile bike ride, and 13.1 mile run. When asked how the Triathlon was, Naz replied, "During the swim, I thought I was going to die. During the bike ride, I thought I was going to die. And during the run, I thought I was going to die." And truthfully, that sums race day up pretty accurately.
We had been unable to practice the open water swim - due to the long and harsh Pittsburgh winter. So we already knew we were in for a brutal awakening - we just had no idea how brutal. We found out the day before that we would be starting in separate heats and not swimming together, which for me (with deep water being one of my greatest fears), this was sobering news.
After starting and finishing the swim seperately, we met back up at the biking transition, and both relayed the panic that ensued as soon as we entered the water. Separately, we had BOTH forgotten EVERYTHING about how to swim the minute our bodies were submerged in the lake. We faced many varying degrees of terror as we coughed and panicked and flailed about in the massive body of water, both wondering how we could possibly make it through the mile ahead. It took some acquainting, but thankfully we both were eventually able to calm down and conquer the swim!
Days prior to the triathlon, we had read that the swim and bike could be lonely, which partially helped us mentally prepare. But based on our past event experiences, where there had been MANY participants and even MORE spectators, we could have never imagined the desolate ride that awaited us. The bike ride consisted of two 28 mile bike loops on open roads. With only 66 participants for our event, we were quite literally on our own. And it was BRUTAL. As demanding and challenging as it was physically, it was the mental game that proved to be the greatest obstacle.
We heard that once you had made it to the run - things got better. We imagined we would finally pass by some spectators that would help boost our morale. But that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Aside from a volunteer every few miles, there was literally nobody. To make matters worse, the course was HILLY. The finish line quite literally was up a giant hill. Had our friends not arrived to surprise us at the end, there's a chance we wouldn't have finished; at least not in a "run".
However, with as grueling as the event day was, we still had an overwhelmingly positive experience together.
Quality Time: The training gave us three months of workout dates 4-5 times each week. While training in a gym isn’t ideal for an event of this caliber, it was actually beneficial to us because we could train at our own pace, but still be side by side on stationary bikes and treadmills. We also had car rides a plenty to and from each workout, so the quality time game was strong!
Health Benefits: Three months of rigorous training got us into pretty incredible physical shape - perhaps the best shape of our lives. I’m sure we don’t need to spell out the plethora of benefits of this perk of training. ;)
Greater Purpose: We decided to utilize our training and the race to raise support and awareness for an orphanage in Ukraine, a town near where Nazari was born. When our motivation waned, when we wanted to quit the actual race, this helped keep us going - knowing that the insanity of it all had a greater purpose than simply checking something off of my bucket list.
Shared Accomplishment: We did not actually complete the triathlon together (again - we had very different mentalities and goals surrounding the whole thing). But the sense of accomplishment at the end, and rehashing the whole thing together for the past weeks, and the shared training, have been an amazing way to connect and a beautiful thing to share.
Weekend Getaway: We picked an out of town event, so decided to make a weekend getaway of the whole thing. Which gave us something to look forward to both during training, and during the actual race.
Community: We talked about the triathlon a lot, because it essentially dominated our lives for several months there. This got our friends and family involved. Their support, prayers, and encouragement were so uplifting and made such a monumental difference. Without that, we truly don’t know if we could have completed this event. And that parallels so much to marriage and the importance of support and community around you.
Conflict: The training was not without its conflicts. While we both agreed to be all in for this thing, the term “all in” needs some clarification as it means two very different things to each of us. For me, that meant following a rigorous training plan five-six days each week starting as soon as possible. For Nazari, that meant doing as little as humanly possible, starting as late as possible, while still being able to survive the actual event. Having such different goals and work ethics surrounding the event, we had more than our fair share of arguments. There were days I actually threatened to sell his ticket because he wasn't taking it seriously (and albeit embarrassing - I really didn't want him to die from lack of preparation!)
Cost: We quickly discovered that the triathlon is quite the expensive sport! We were fortunate that friends were generous enough to let us borrow their bikes, but that didn't completely negate the hefty pricetag:
Individual Entry: 185.00
Gym Membership: $56.99/month for two people for four months
Wetsuits: $129 per person
Hotel: $240 for the weekend. This was an out of town event, so we booked a hotel ahead of time and made a weekend getaway out of the endeavor.
Overall date verdict:
Naz: 5 (Race day was a -5,000,000 because it was so painfully difficult. But, I loved everything else, so that averages to a 5)
We don’t necessarily recommend a half ironman per se, but we HIGHLY recommend training for, and completing a race event of some caliber together. The three endurance events Nazari and I have trained for have truly been some of my absolute favorite memories in our relationship!