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  • Writer's pictureAutumn Plourd

Ironman 70.3 Indian Wells La Quinta

Updated: Mar 22, 2019

I’m so thankful for supportive friends, family, volunteers, and Red Bull! Here’s my race debrief for those that have asked:


The night before the Ironman 70.3 Indian Wells/La Quinta, my phone started flooding with text messages from friends wishing me good luck and saying they had the Ironman tracker downloaded and ready to go. I started getting really nervous about all the details I never took the time to research. I trained for 16 weeks, but still didn’t even know how to change a flat tire! Bari said she’d say a prayer that neither of us get a flat, but if one of us did, that it would be her since it was my first 70.3...because she’s a saint! I took an extra hot bath that night while reading the athletes guide cover to cover and got to bed at 10pm.


I slept like a baby until 4:20am and walked the mile to the bus shuttle with a nice family from England racing a relay. Yes I asked them about The Great British Bake-off. Yes they think Americans are obsessed with their peanut butter. Preston saw me in a sea of 1000+ people and we rode together in a warm school bus.

When we got to Lake Cahuilla, omg, it was so cold. I wore a thin track jacket and flip-flops and I couldn’t feel my toes. Got to my wetsuit, it was wet. Got to my bike, it was wet. Bari the saint showed up with hand warmers and an extra jacket. Brandon tried fixing my bike computer, no luck. Guess I wouldn’t know my cadence, a measurement I focused on in training.

Me and Brandon freezing our toes off before the swim start.

SWIM 1.2 miles

We suited up and self-seeded with the 30-35 min swimmers. Despite over 2000 racers all wearing black wetsuits, swim caps and goggles, we instantly spotted Lauren, Justin Lofton, Donnie, Darren and Joel so we all got to freeze together. A few minutes before getting in the 57.1 degree water...I got warm...and we can leave it at that. I entered the water and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be (even though thinking about it now makes me shiver). I got a little off course at first, but when I made it back to the stream of athletes, I noticed I was swimming right next to Lauren! This swim felt like it drug on forever and halfway through I realized I couldn’t feel my fingertips or toes. I tried focusing on that hot bath, but when that didn’t work, I just swam faster because I wanted out! Eventually I was jogging up the ramp and into the warm quiet tent where I sat next to Brandon and Darren. Did I mention there are over 2000 racers?! Yet I kept seeing all my friends!

Why did this transition take me almost 20 minutes?? No clue. I packed my bag poorly, spent my time drying off, struggled to put on arm warmers and a heart rate monitor, joked with Brandon and Darren, ate a honey stinger waffle, took some Advil, blow dried my hair (just kidding)...

BIKE 56 miles

Got on my bike and wasn’t even cold. Toes were numb, but bearable. I felt on fire! And not just because my bib number was 911. I was going 20 mph and three miles in saw Blake, Crosley, Lisa, and Liam cheering. A few miles down and it was my parents, Carly, Brently, Hobie, Ollie, Collett and Bella, a few more miles it was the Hutchinson’s, then it was the Lyons and Smith’s, then Justin Freeman. So much support all over the course! And then around the quarter mark of the ride, my lower back starts to hurt. This always happens on my bike, but it’s usually closer to mile 35. Also I usually don’t swim 1.2 miles before riding... My speed drops to 17 mph and eventually I’m struggling to hold 16 (granted 17 was a fast pace for me during training). The blue mountain view was beautiful and the weather was pretty perfect, but none of that could get my mind off the pain in my lower back. Around mile 45, I told myself I needed to stay strong and positive because I needed to show my girls that we can do hard things! But that made my eyes water, so I had to stop thinking about that. There’s a tricky balance of pushing hard on the bike but not to the point of killing your legs for the run (my favorite part). But everyone was passing me and that’s mentally tricky too. Made it to the transition, stretched out my back, took more Advil and was off! Thank God that transition was faster!

RUN 13.1 miles

At no point of my run did my back hurt. How’s that even possible? I felt amazing and was excited to be running, which didn’t seem to be shared by anyone around me. I was racing by everyone that passed me on the bike, and with a smile on my face. I saw Greg running the opposite direction because he’s about to finish his last lap! Then I see my family cheering and then Brandon finishing his first lap. I start to feel tired at mile 2 but I remembered everyone that said they were tracking me and I told them I’d run the whole 13.1, so that’s what I was going to do. And theeeeen I entered the golf course. You could see all the runners zigzagging around the golf cart trails for miles. Up and down hills. HILLS! I live in the Imperial Valley where a hill is a buckled slab of concrete! This was scary!

The hills, HILLS! of lovely Indian Wells Golf Resort

I saw Lauren, she looked good, but said she left everything out on the bike. She PR’d both her swim and bike, so yay for Lauren!! At mile 4 my heart and lungs said DONE to those hills and I had to slow my pace just to breathe. But I didnt stop. Side note, Ironman Tracker says I ran some ridiculous 7 minute something pace around this time but sorry, actually quite the opposite. I walked through aid stations to get quality sips of water and Red Bull. I forgot how much Red Bull tastes like liquor and gross, but 60 seconds later I felt the energy and my pace and attitude picked back up. I made it to the turnaround point to start the last lap and saw my family again and now Andrew Demler was there, too. Crosley gave me the most motivating high five and I felt really good! I entered the golf course a second time and caught Bari on her first lap who says, “Got that flat tire I prayed for.” Noooooo not cool. Bear got a flat tire at mile 21, and waited 35 minutes until a CHP officer offered to change it. He was cute, so there’s her silver lining.

Crosley keeps talking about watching Mommy run and I've never been so proud!

Eventually my thighs started to feel tight and I was craving aid stations just for the excuse to walk 15 steps. I caught Brent and Justin walking together. Sounds like Brent was having a rougher day with his back than I was, but he didn’t quit, and that was a very cool thing for his daughter to see. With one mile to go I felt like walking. How stupid. I decided to pick up my speed instead so I could finish this half marathon in less than 2 hours. On the red carpet I saw my family and I was all smiles, still feeling energetic. I finished in 6 hours, 21 minutes. 21 minutes slower than I’d hoped but I didn’t anticipate a NINETEEN minute transition and hills on the run, so I’m good with it. My eyes watered up when they put a medal over my head. I was proud Crosley got to be there, proud of my supportive husband who sacrificed dozens of nights so I could train, prepped my bike, booked a hotel, woke up early to wish me luck, and even attempted “Frozen” hair on Crosley. Blake said good job, handed me my phone, and then I got to see all the amazing texts from friends cheering from afar and I’m overwhelmed by love and feeling so very blessed.

I’m not an Ironman yet though. Full Ironman next year: Ironman Arizona, November 24, 2019!

Friends from the race: Joel Lopez, me, Brandon Ashurst, and Justin Lofton

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