Race day started like every other race day: getting up at some ungodly hour (4:00 a.m.) and making it a priority to poop. The pooping did not happen as my body isn’t used to evacuating at 4:00 a.m. I am more of a 6:30 a.m. type of girl.
We got out the door by 4:30 a.m. and I felt like crying. Sometimes when my nerves are really off the charts, the only thing I can think of to do is cry (I’m such a girl). Or throw up. I didn’t do either. We got to the reservoir in darkness, pumped up tires and I carried my bike to transition (yes, I am that nervous about some errant goat-head or piece of glass messing up my day).
Transition was nuts. I set up my spot.
I was happy and comforted to see Nora right behind me in the transition area. I managed to clean my colon in the port potty and then the volunteers got very bossy yelling at everyone to get the hell out of the transition area (about 6:30 a.m.). I ran into Stacia from Twist Yoga Wear, good to finally meet her (and she kicked some Twist Yoga wear ass by finishing in 5:17!). Also saw my friend, Dana, and blogger friend Julie.
We walked to the beach and the buoys were so far out we could barely see them. This was a one loop, 1.2 mile swim and it looked freaking far. Somehow seeing it laid out in one big lump made it look too far for me to swim even though I had done the distance in a pool countless times since April.
We watched the pros set out, then got into the water for a 6:45 a.m. start. I put myself towards the back and side wanting to avoid dying as much as possible. I had no clue what to expect as this was my first open water tri. There were about 250 of us starting together.
I found the swim to be annoying. All of the grabbing and splashing and kicking. I would have none of people grabbing my feet and would violently shake them off. I tried to stay even with the buoys and did pretty well. I took it very easy on the swim, using it as a warm up for the day. I kept my kicking at a minimal to save my legs. Hell, I had at least 5-6 hours to go after the swim was over, so no need to go balls out.
Swim: 1.2 mile in 41:07
I peeled off my wetsuit and tried my best to dry off while getting ready to hop on the bike. I popped 3 Hammer endurolyte tabs and put on more sunscreen. It was going to be a scorcher with projected temps up to 96 degrees.
The first 5-6 miles of the bike were relatively uphill, so it is kind of a grind. I kept a decent pace, but let my heart rate settle down. I knew I’d be out there a long time and that pacing was crucial. After about 20 minutes I started eating. I had packed my Bento Box full of Fig Newtons, Stinger gels and Stinger waffles with peanut butter (broken into pieces). I was determined to eat it all (I didn't quite succeed, but close), which would give me about 330 cals/hour and 40-50g carbs/hour. I had scotch-taped six endurolyte tabs to my bike as well. Need to get dehydrated out there.
The bike was fast. I was passed by 6 million of those intense dudes on tri bikes who have the really noisy wheels. I never felt tired on the bike, never stopped pedaling. I stayed in my aerobars 98% of the time. I was able to get comfortable and just do my thing. I was having a great time. The scenery was amazing and I felt good. At every aid station I took a new bottle of water. I knew the bike was my chance to hydrate and fuel.
On the second loop at about mile 30 I saw I sign that said, “Don’t burn up your legs, save some for the run.” This was my main concern. There are some pretty big hills on this course and I worried my legs would be burned out for the run. I tried to keep some in reserve.
About 30 minutes before the end of the bike,I stopped eating to let my stomach settle. I started mentally preparing big time for the run, remembering my strategy to go at an even pace and one that I could sustain in the heat for 13.1 miles. By this time it was really warming up into the 90s.
Bike: 56 miles in 2:53 (19.34 avg pace)
I started running and my stomach was so cramped up. Like that kind of cramping that proceeds a major explosion. Shit, I thought. SHIT! I know it was from all that food on the bike, the exertion and being bent over for so long in aero position.
I didn’ t know if I would crap myself, throw up, need to walk, cry or all of the above simultaneously. I was terrified to eat anything. The waves of intense cramping continued for about five miles. The last episode nearly brought me to my knees, but I kept running. I was scouring the landscape for somewhere to squat if need be. This was my low point of the race. Because you have to have at least one, right?
The thing about stomach cramping is that running makes it worse and we all know that. Yet, I would not give in. I pretty much surrendered to the pain and decided I would have the rest of the day to spend on the toilet, but I needed to keep moving forward.
Then, guess what? The pain went away. Just like that. I never ate a thing during the run for fear it would return. I took a gamble by not eating, but it’s what I had to do.
I made it through loop one of the run and was feeling great. My friend, Joie, was waiting with more endurolyte tabs, cold water, sunscreen and her smiling face, which helped my mood so much.
Mile 6.5 of the run
Here I go for loop two, then I’m done!
Loop two was a war zone. People were grunting, moaning, walking. It was hot. As in, the kind of hot where you’d prefer to not walk to your mailbox let alone run a half marathon. I stopped each mile at the aid stations to pour ice water on my head and stuff my bra with ice. I took sponges and cooled my whole body. I drank small sips of flat coke and water. I pushed on. I passed lots of people at this point. At mile 11, I could not believe I felt as good as I did and I only had 2.1 miles to go. I did not have on a Garmin, so I had no clue about pace. I just kept moving.
As I got within a mile of the finish, I started to cry. Not an all out ugly sobbing cry (that would be stupid), just some soft tears. I had almost done it. I would do it. 15 hard weeks of dedicated training. Lots of uncertainly about my abilities.
Run: 13.1 miles in 2:00 (9:12 avg pace)
Yes, my slowest half marathon ever, but I usually don’t do those after swimming 1.2 miles and biking 56 miles. I also don’t do them when it’s freaking 95 degrees!
I crossed the finish line in 5:43. I hoped to be under 6:30 and dreamed of getting close to 6:00. I had smashed my goal. Now I need to take a class in how to not underestimate myself.
I was 18/74 in my division (40-44), 198/449 for women and 565/1327 overall.
Best part of the finish besides finishing was getting a Boulder 70.3 hat soaked in ice water. Oh, and a medal.
Joie was waiting for me at the finish, looking like a tourist. Love her!:
Then my mom, dad and the kids got there. Sam might get beat up for wearing those glasses:
Surprise of surprises, my friend Clair showed up, the one who wrote me the amazing email the other day. She lives in Virginia and I knew she was out here on a family vacation. No clue she would be at the finish or that I would see her before next week. Incredible, uplifting surprise!
I got to watch Ken finish in 6:32.
Many of you know Ken and I have done most our training together and that this was a first half ironman for us both. So, obviously the dude in this video was not meant to represent Ken! It meant so much to see him finish so strong! I mean, we used to sit on the couch, drink Budweiser and watch Beverly Hills 90210 back in the 90s, so we've come a long way. (Although still do those things, I just train early in the morning and sit on the couch at night).
Whew! That was a long ass report. Almost as long as my race. And, probably kind of boring, but it’s my story and I’m proud of it. It’s one more example of how we have to set our sites HIGH and never stop believing. In the end, we are so much stronger than we think we are.
discipline + passion + no excuses = success
PS: And huge thanks to the volunteers like Laura and Becka. You were AWESOME!