So we went to bed and tossed and turned a bit and woke up at 3:30. I did my usual "NOOOO groan," but that is just bc I know its TIME and while 99% of me is READY TO GO and ready to get this thing done, 1% of me wants to crawl back under the covers. Of course i dont really mean that but all the sudden that game day "pit" in my stomach is....there for a legitimate reason, its GAME DAY!
I do my best to choke down some breakfast, the usual oatmeal, banana and tea. I decide to add a peanut butter and honey sandwich too. Good thing i did, bc I was so fueled that i could hardly take my pre swim gel. It's always hard to eat BF race day and at 3:30 am it wasnt any easier.
Usually race morning i pop out of bed and check my tires. I inflate them the night before and then if there were to be any valve issues ( ie a slow leak) I *hope* that i will know. Oh yea I dont have my bike. so much for that control issue. We get loaded in the car and off we go at 4:10 am. I forget my HR strap and almost think about going totally naked, but we have enough time and we are about 1/4 mile from the house so Renee pulls back i go flying in the door and up the stairs and get it and out the door back to the car. Phew. When we get to the park there is a long line of cars but not too bad, and we head into the designated athlete parking lot. We walk to a bus and we are driven to the start. Now all fine and dandy but at 4:30 am your rental car ( what kind was it?) looks very different when you are trying to find it at 1pm in which lot was that and how far did that bus take us?
So we are dropped at T2 ( i called this Upstairs T) and we set up our stuff for the run portion. As soon as we walked into T1 the guy said "WETSUITS ARE LEGAL." Water was 77.5 degrees. Good thing i brought it. I thought NO WAY would that water be legal. I sure think that was a fudge but more on that later. So I get set up, luckily remembered another pair of shoes to walk Downstairs in, and had to really think about this....I nearly wore my visor down to T1, and would have been so sorry had i not had that during the run. I also nearly forgot to lay out my gels. But off we went down the hill to T1.
In T1 I found Gretta all ready. I put some more air in the disk wheel, left the front 303, bc it was fine and then kinda hung around. I kinda tried to talk to a few gals who were racked by me but they werent super friendly ( IMO, they had their own little cliques) and so I just kept to myself and tried to breathe and not get anxious. We were in an early wave so i just got out of T1 and walked to the coral where there were tons of family and non athletes hanging around as well. Another gal and i zipped each other up, and we waited. And we waited. and we waited. For what seemed like forever, but actually only about 15 minutes bc the medical staff was not there yet. The poor pro's were out there warming up and without wetsuits many finally came back to stand since they were treading water. I guess someone who was medical showed up, bc all the sudden the gun was off and the men were swimming. Wave 1 is off. Wave 2 as women pros, wave 3 was challenged athletes, wave 4 Pink caps and wave 5 red caps then us, 40-44 women GREEN CAPS! Woohoo. But i was getting HOT. And trust me I am not usually hot even in a wetsuit.
The Swim: course was simple. Swim counter clockwise out 800 Y, turn left, swim 200, swim back in 800 or so. I dont know for sure, but whatever makes 1.2 miles. When our wave was ushered into the water ( water start) I was towards the front and i saw a woman swim out with no wetsuit on and she was attacking the water. I thought " hmm, looks like Cheryl or Ange or Jen." I knew she was a swimmer! So I thought, GO with her if you can! Plus it was easy to see her since she had bare arms. The Gun goes off and I hit the gas and off i go. I really had less trouble this race compared to Texas 70.3 at getting some open water. I had no gals clawing on me at all and the start was really quite tame. I could see REAL Swimmer gal just ahead of me, and she had a gap of about 5 feet, not alot but i was not getting any draft. I just said STAY with her as long as you can. I did have a few seconds of "OMG I AM HOT and i cannot breathe" But i just refocused my breathing, did NOT think about it again, but it was hot. I was hot.
And with the sun behind us it was super easy to sight and so i moved into the line of the buoys and also kept RS gal near me. I just hung on and actually she came back to me. At one point i had a draft from another gal in our wave but she wasdoing some weird zig zag stuff so i ditched that popsicle stand and headed back to chasing RS gal. I swear the turn around came SO fast. I wish i had looked at my watcht to see but it sure felt like under 15 minutes. I was still right on RS gals feet, but we also had started to swim into and thru the red ( 45-49 W) and the Pink ( MEn 60+ HUGE WAVE had to have been 150people) caps. So this was where i know it got slower. Turning for the 200 across before heading back i got clobbered a few times by Big Armed men who, no offense, just have a more lurching stroke. The kind that just hurl their arms over their head and power thru. Ouch. I luckily was able to keep the punches to my torso or below and am pretty good at wiggling thru tight spaces and not connecting with anyone but the water. I did swim into the buoy though, and that was sorta funny.
As we headed back into shore the sun was right there. Sighting was hard. I could not see the buoy until i was nearly on top of it, but i just kept soldiering on. As much as i knew it wasnt good to sight off of a person RS gal was right to my right so i knew i was ok. And all the sudden i could see the line of buoys on my left and all i needed to do was keep dodging pink caps and big arms. The last 500 was uneventful. I could start to hear the crowd and I actually think i passed RS gal, or we got out pretty close. Since she had no wetsuit she scurried out of the matted area a bit faster but we ran to our bikes together and laughed at the traffic we had to get thru in the water. I said "nice swim," so i didnt get to properly thank her for keeping me up there!
Wetsuit off, stuff it in a bag so you can have it brought back up to T1, stuff all your crap in there and off i went on the bike.
Bike: ( or a Cross race at mile 40!) I decided not to put my shoes in the pedals since the start is suddenly an uphill and a false flat. I just decided i knew i could do it but you never know who is going to run into you while you are strapping your shoes. So i got out of T1 and stopped to the right to get on the bike, and some lady in my AG( who i saw come out of the swim pretty close to me) comes right up behind me and says " ON YOUR LEFT." I am thinking..."um ok but there is like 20 feet to my left, you could move over like 6 inches." Anyways it may have just felt like she was in my space, but then she proceeded to win the race out of the park. Great, you win the first 5miles surging up and down the park hills. I really just let it go, bc I knew i could not worry about the first 5 miles, I needed to get my head together, get some fluids going and when i turned out to the main road outside the park where the real bike race was to start I went down that first hill by the damn and never saw her again....( well, that isnt true but you will see what i am talking about in a minute)
I had few goals on the bike. Really simply I needed to take some chances. I needed to push and to really work hard, harder than i have ever in a 56 mile race. You see i can push hard in the shorter stuff but the head games of pushing hard for 56 miles is still a challenge for me. I can race a shorter TT, 11miles, and suffer like a dog. HR thru the roof ( well not really, my Max Hr on the bike is like 174, so I am not one of those 200 bpm people) but this is the first 70.3 that i have felt like i was really really working the entire time. I kept thinking about lighting a match under my seat and that helped alot, I thought about all the people who were cheering for me at home and i could feel them and their suspense wondering when i would come back thru that timing mat.
As for the ride, it was hard. It wasnt unbearable. I didnt think "OMG you have to be kidding me!" and that isnt bc the course wasnt challenging, but i just knew i had to take each incline as it came and micromanage it. Some of them I spun up in the small ring, others i stood up and powered up. I am not sure if i should have powered up more of them than i did, but my goal was to really get some speed on the downside( when there was a down, some were just up, and then more up!) but I got some 38-39mph's on that and was able to really get some good speed on the downhills and the false flat returns. The miles seemed to be ticking along and i saw Chrissie go by me and she was hurting. She was NOT all smiley like in the run. So just know she hurts too!
A few women started passing me around mile 25-30, and some were super fit looking 25-29 yo's. Leslie went by me on a climb and i barely could see her after that. I knew she would rock the bike turns out she was 33rd out of the water and 1st on the bike Whoa, pretty amazing rider. On the way out we had had to slow down bc of an oil spill, sadly, I am not kidding. Not BPs fault, cut them some slack. But on the way back we had to dismount and actually roll or carry our bikes thru the road for at least 15-20 feet. I erred on further since i had no interest in anything that could cause a flat. All the sudden the woman who won the warm up was there. CRAP.
I got back on ( my left calf did NOT like that getting off the bike) and again never saw her again. for good. Phew.
The rest of the bike was uneventful. There was some wind, I cant tell you how much, but i guess i just decided not to worry with it since we all had it.
Flew back into the park and was trying to be conservative coming in the 4 miles or so into the park and *thought* i was going to be below 2:45 by my computer, but darn it i guess i was off a few minutes. Oh well. That made me bummed bc i SO wanted to get closer to 2:40 for the ride, but...I did get a huge cheer for my flying dismount and got that bike racked and was off to the run.
Run: Or how to not start off to fast. I dont run with a pace monitor, just my HR monitor. I am thinking next race i may not use it, but it does help me on the bike to push harder. But for the run i just used my watch to monitor my splits roughly.
It was hot and i have to say I was starting to feel a bit of some GI stuff going down.
Mile 1 7.02 (crap, too fast)
Mile 2 14. ( slow down you are going too fast) but you know how your legs just start moving and its hard to slow them down. And i knew when i got to a hill i was going to slow down for sure. I did keep my HR in check so just went with it.
It was time to take a gel but I had this odd tummy feeling so i had grabbed some powerbar gummy things and had one of those, and just decided i had to keep on with the water and the ice. I had 3 gels on the bike and 2 bottles of infinit so i was ok. I know i have issues with forcing down too much liquid on the bike so i was going to just find out if that was enough or not.
Mile 3 22, ok up the hill from the downstairs T1, you go run around this parking lot area that is right on the water and it was really pretty. and it looked cold. and nice. ahh, wish icould get in that hot water now. :) oh yea it wasnt that refreshing. Just keep running.
I did fine going up that hill and then from there it was along the campground road where there were tons of people cheering and tons of people just really trying to help you out.
I dont really recall all the splits after that, but i just would pass a mile marker and do some math, always trying to say to myself "GREAT you are below an 8 min pace," not necessarily bc i thought i was going to be at an 8 min pace but the math is that much easier than figuring a 7:30-7:45 pace.
Around mile 5 I had this " come on! " moment, not in a cheering tone but in a John McEnroe tone " You CANNOT be serious?!" ( ok if you dont get that, your loss) but i got my period. Yup. Mother nature was kind to hold off till the run, and not present herself earlier, but from mile 5 to the finish i was not a happy camper. I wont go into all the details but I will just say that day 1 for me isnt usually a good day. Race or not. I did my best to focus on controlling my tummy, and yes I mean my GI, and took in a gel, washed in some water, and spit it out. This was going to be a long 2nd half of the run.
Mile 6 44 minutes. I do remember that. And i just was putting one foot in front of the other, and trying to just run. I seriously had my head down and really saw noone, I was so focused on just getting thru this. I could see Leslie ( in 1st ) in the out and back course so at first i was cherring for her then on the 2nd half she was cheering for me and all i could do was give a thumbs up. By mile 8 I dont know if i even did that.
Mile 8 the 2nd place woman went by me. Dang it. I had her in my sight and at the start of the last loop thru the camp site ( no more hills, woohoo!) I could see her, and actually passed her at the water stop. I was thinking i may need something, but i was not going near a gel, and my abdominal cramps were not going away. I took some gatorade, one sip and all the sudden i spit that out too, too acidic. That was close, It was bad. I am glad i didnt swallow any of it.
Alas lady in yellow came roaring past me again and i could see her till about mile 12. I really have never thought about walking but i did think about it mile 9-13, I thought about it bc i knew that if i stopped to walk all would seize up, and actually the entire time i thought about walking I would suddenly see mile 10 and think, you can do this. you can do this. you can do this. At mile 11 I was so happy, i thought "You have less than 16 minutes to go" I had looked at my watch and knew it was 11:50. I could be done by noon.!!! OMG just keep running.
Mile 12. YES. Keep going, lift your feet, lift your knees, more ice chips down your top, ice on your head, GO!!!
Mile 13 was the longest mile i have ever run. ( or at least today it is!) and i kept saying "around the next corner." and finally I got to turn into the finishing chute and run down that yellow brick road. ( which was only about 10 feet of yellow) I dont even remember it but the Oz characters were there and i was so out of it, I didnt smile, i actually started hyperventilating, and then when i saw Leslie's parents about 1 minute later and saw Leslie's Vemma cap from behind, I started crying. I just sobbed for about 30 seconds. And then I stood there dazed and confused.
Leslie and her parents got me into the ice bath ( ok seriously I think i would have needed to get ice bags all over me if this pool werent there, next to the med tent, so good placement) and i just sat there with my knees hugged into my body, Leslie made me extend my legs and some guy gave me a bottle to start pouring ice water onto my head. I seriously think this made me ok. I finally got out, still out of it, and went to get more water, and wandered. It was so hot. I forgot I had to meet Renee. I wanted to get my sunscreen from my bag, and a shirt to cover my arms and neck but i couldnt get into T2 until 1pm and it was 12:20. I just went up to some lady who was watching and said " do you have any sunsrcreen??" another guy was there and he wanted some too, so he took a tiny dab, and i said " I can put that on you..." and he said he only wanted some for one spot. I was like "dumb," (melanoma police i know) and when she gave me the tube i totally covered my neck and arms and shoulders. Said "thanks" and moved on. But that stuff scares me, I do NOT like being fried like that. As much as i love the heat, having had one "little mole removed " that was melanoma makes me just remember how I had no clue how quickly my life could change. Tangent, sorry.
So i wandered back. I also knew that i had to check on my womanly status ( ok whatever, if you are offended by this, dont read it!) and was again glad i had put the blue /white outfit away in favor of the navy/tourquoise outfit. I did a check with a few ladies and i was fine, phew. And whatever, people throw up all the time, what is a little blood to people.
Got that taken care of but still felt totally crampy and crappy. Got some gatorade from the BLUE food group, ( funny i cannot drink the citrus one on the course, but the BLUE one i can) and started drinking that right away and that helped. They had given me a red ticket for the bbq but i have no idea where it was, and there was no way i could eat that anyways. I had some Ultragen in my bag so when i could get into T2 i would get that.
Ok this is getting way too long but the real epic-ness of this was that I finally found Renne, and we were like "oh good a bus will take us back to our car, right?" oh yea, we have bikes! oops.
We got our bikes and our T1 bags, and headed back out of the park on foot to WALK ourselves 2 miles to our car. In the sun, on the pavement. Renee's computer said it was 105. Likely coming from the pavement, but who cares. The only time i lost my cool ( ha!) was then, a car or truck would drive by and i would say "COME ON, give us a ride!" of course there were other athletes walking, and when Uli Bromme walked by in her cool Jelly Belly outfit I figured if the pros are walking I can walk. My left peroneals ( outside of your shin) started to seize up tho and at that point i told Renne, too bad I am riding. So i put my feet ( in my running shoes) on top of my bike shoes that were clipped in and off i went. Until i got to the hill. where i could not pedal bc I was not in my shoes and nor did my legs want to go uphill! ha but i got a good uphill flying dismount and my fears of falling over didnt happen.
I was able to find our car at the lot ( that again looked quite different than it did at 4:30 am) and RR and i got our bikes in and both said we were going to pass out. Our idea to get McDonalds shakes was brilliant, till we realized we had no money.
I had no idea how i had done. Results were posted in a really confusing way so i texted jen and she told me i was 3rd OA. I had hoped for top 5 and i got it!
When i signed up for this race in October of 2009 I cant even tell you why i signed up so early. I just did. And when i made my goals for this season that i wrote down and posted, one of those was " 5hours at Lonestar or Kansas, but Lonestar ( Tx 70.3) is early, so 5 hrs at KS 70.3"
I did not make that goal. I am sorta sad about that, ( blame it on the oil slick, ha!) but I also know that i am getting closer and that it was a hard course. I took about 3-4 minutes off my HIM PR and for that i am proud. I have a few "Coulda woulda shoulda" but that really isnt being self deprecating, it is more things i think i could continue to work on. Like train in the heat more ( and not do long runs on Lake superior where its 50 degrees! ha!) And continue to work on the bike power.
There is on regret i do have, and lets hope i get a chance to remedy that. I left to drive home instead of going to the awards. It was my first podium and i really should have stayed to get a photo op with Leslie and the yellow girl. But I think for how i felt ( crappy, still out of it) and the drive i had again I will surely take an extra day to celebrate and stay for awards if i win one again.
Monday was still a bit rough getting real food down, but as of monday night my hydration seems to be back and i am looking forward to some birthday cupcakes with my dad tommorrow!!!
Thanks so much to Leslie C, Renee, Mary B, and especially Leslie's parents ( Barb and Dick) for housing us and being so gracious. Sorry we kept leaving the garage door open:) oops. I hope to come back next year!
AMEN. Sorry so long.