Ironman Maryland 140.6 Triathlon 2015 – Race Report

Tuesday, October 20, 2015 • Silver Spring, MD 20910

My first Ironman race was about to commence, in Cambridge, Maryland on October 3rd, 2015, when Hurricane Joaquin was on its way to the East of the US. In addition, a powerful Nor'easter was also about to pound the East coast at the same time.

Race organizers could not risk holding the race and cancelled it, to the dismay of the 2,500 registered athletes. Many participants had already arrived from around the world and were not able to race due to the dangerous weather conditions. The race director, Gerry Boyle, made it possible for Ironman to reschedule the race only 2 weeks later. A first in Ironman history!

The new date, Saturday, October 17th, allowed 1,400 remaining racers to return and the training continued. What does that mean? One basically repeats the last 2 weeks of the training cycle again to stay in top physical form.

The full Ironman distance, a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile marathon. The swim was to be held in the famous Choptank river, the bike ride through the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, and the run through the lovely town of Cambridge. It was going to be a very cold and windy weekend.


Friday, October 16th, 2015

My crew (my husband and son) and I arrived on Friday in Cambridge, MD, to pick up my race package, attend the pre-race meeting, rack my bike for the race, drop off my race bags and head out on a practice swim. We once again had the pleasure of sharing a group house with Team Z members.

In an Ironman race you get 5 bags for your race needs. Confusing?

The athlete must not receive ANY outside help during the race. That means, my Sherpas can only cheer for me, and help prepare prior to the race. They are not allowed to give me any food, clothes, or any other help during the race. Only the volunteers and race organizers are able to do so. If you receive outside help, you may be DQ'ed (disqualified).


Here is a list of the bags and what you do with them:

1 morning bag: Clothes before and after the race

1 T1 (transition 1) bag: Bike needs (helmet, gloves, change of clothes, shoes etc)

1 T2 (transition 2) bag: Running needs (shoes, clothes, hat, gloves etc)

1 Bike special needs bag: This bag you can access during the bike ride and refill on nutrition, bike tubes, or anything related to the bike ride ahead.

1 Running special needs bag: This bag could be accessed during the run for the same reason as on the bike.

The transition bags are dropped off near the bike the night before the race.


I was asked, what do you eat and drink during such a long hard race?

Athletes work on there nutrition plan during their training period. Here is where you find out what works for you, your stomach, and energy needs while training, and what does not.

Some of the more popular nutrition choices are: Gu Energy Gel, Gatorade, Nuun, Stinger waffles, Shot bloks, Kind bars, Scratch lab nutrition. So you see, there are a lot of choices out there.

As for my needs, I used a product called: Infinit nutrition. They mixed a specific bike and run powder for you, that is geared towards my individuals needs. For instance, how much I sweat, protein needs, electrolytes, how long the distance is I train for, whether or not I want to take in additional food during your race of just drink their formula. All I do is, mix it with water and I am good to go.

I wanted to keep it as simple as possible and stuck to just the drink and then additional Rice cakes (these are little packages of sticky rice, with chicken, seasoning, and red pepper) on the bike.


Saturday, October 17th, 2015

We woke up at 4:15am, had a little breakfast and went to the race start. There I dropped off the additional two bags for special needs. I headed over to get body marked with my race number on arms and legs, as well as my age. Race start was planned for 6:50 – 7:00am that morning.


The Swim Start

We gathered at the swim start, waiting for the sun to rise, and the race to begin. The race announcer let us know that the 13 miles an hour wind might make the swim impossible. Seeing the waves, the wind, thinking about the water temperature at 63 degrees, with the air temperature at around 40 degrees, made me feel uneasy and afraid. I was not sure if I would be able to attempt the swim! My son and husband were there to ease my fears and gave me more clothing to keep me warm. After a few more announcements it was decided to hold the swim, but shorten it to 3,000 meters (1.9 miles) instead of the 2.4 planned, as the wind had died down some.

My fears disappeared and I headed for my swim with determination.

I thought that I would never say this, but the swim was the easy part. I had a little trouble with a leaking goggle but I was able to fixed it during the first part of the race. The water felt great, I did not get hit or punched, I did not mind the other swimmers next to me. I heard the voices of my coaches, Debbie Kraut Gilgore and Greg Nelson, in my head telling me what to do and how strong I am.

I finished my swim in 1 hour and 10 minutes.


The Bike Start

Coming out of the swim, you pass the “wetsuit strippers”. My husband and son were part of this volunteer team. What is their job? They help you out of your wetsuit and they do so with such gusto, it is truly fun and helps prevent cramping of muscles for the athlete.

Next stop, changing tent! Heaters were set up inside the changing tent and it was recommend to completely change your clothes due to the winds expected during the bike ride. So I did, even if it took a bit longer in transition.

1158_047910The bike ride was brutal! 15 miles an hour winds through the entire 112 miles, never letting up, no matter what direction we took. Staying in Aero bar was more important then ever to escape some of the wind and getting ahead. The air temperature “rose” to about 55 degrees, with winds more ferocious as the day continued.

I finished my ride in 6 hours and 53 minutes, and was glad to be done!


The Run Start

As I walked my bike to its location, I felt tired and exhausted by the bike ride. I took my time in the changing tent to get ready for the run ahead. The run course was a 3 loop course in and around Cambridge.

Many of my friends from Team Z were out cheering or volunteering at several of the aid stations, and so were my husband and son. Now it was getting late, the temperatures dropped, the wind picked up again, and the sun went down slowly. It was beautiful to see, but I had a long task ahead of me, a full 26.2 miles marathon.

I decided to walk the windy part of the course and run the rest, which worked out well for me. The 3 loop course takes you by the finish line 3 times and yes, everyone thinks it's your LAST loop and they cheer for you. My son mentioned that I looked very grim and determined on my run. It's true, at some point you just want to be done and exhaustion takes over.

I finished my run in 4 hours and 57 minutes.

I ran the last mile toward the finish, a slight uphill into town with people right and left giving you high fives and this time I was able to tell them: “This is my LAST lap and I will be an Ironman in a few minutes”. Then a straight down hill into the finisher chute. I can't describe the feeling of joy running those last few yards, with people lining the streets cheering for you.

Then the final announcement: “Heike Yates, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”!

It is beyond words and anything pales in comparison.


Volunteers catch you once you arrive and help you along, making sure you are ok. A friend of mine volunteering at the finish line, put my medal around my neck followed by many hugs and kisses from friends.

I finally hugged and kissed my husband and son, not believing that I now am an Ironman.

My overall time was: 13 hours 28 minutes and 30 seconds.

I placed 15th in my age group, out of 88 women.


I want to thank my husband, aka Super Sherpa, for all he has done for me. He made it possible for me to dedicate myself to my training and to become an Ironman. I could have not done it without his support and love.

My son, who was there to support me, and to my daughter who always believed that I could do it. I love you two so very much.

Thank you, to Team Z for all the support, training guidance, and all the new friendships I made. We all stuck this out together and got it done!


The first thing I said after finishing? “I will never do that again”! But you know one believes what you say in the first 48 hours after a race :)