What an amazing weekend!!! Where to start? There is so much to say so I will try to get something down while it is fresh and circle back with more details later! Yes and it is a long day so also a long report!
The prequel will be forthcoming of Friday and Saturday festivities!
Race morning I woke up at 4:15. I had made the decision to take some Tylenol PM Friday, Saturday and Sunday night to ensure I slept well. I don't regularly use the stuff, but have on occasions and it works well for me. I had some of the best nights sleeps around the race which was awesome.
I dragged my butt out of bed and went straight to the shower to try to wake up while everyone else in the room tried to get moving at this silly hour! I had also brought my coffee maker and toaster so it was awesome that after my shower I had my coffee, bagel with PBJ, banana and 2 hard boiled eggs. The morning was pretty leisurely and we drove over to the start at about 5:45 to get my body marking, weigh in, drop my transition bags off and make last minute drops to the bike. I was back all the room by 6:25 and just chilling out. I drank some EFS Sports Drink and EFS Prerace in the room but did not drink it all as I did not want to have too much of a jolt between that and my coffee.
We checked to room and dashed to Emily's car. Sorry to parking attendants that she totally disregarded as she drove like mad. I did not even know if I would be allowed in as it was supposed to close at 6:30. I am shaking. Can't believe I did this...AGAIN! I check my transition bags and don't see it. I find special needs bike bag...not there. Run special needs is MIA. I am trying to find someone who can issue me another chip....can't find. I know the sand in the hour glass is running out. I run back over to the transition bags for a second look. My timing chip emerges from my bike shoes. ????? I have no idea how I managed to put it in there. However no time to think, run to car, emily drives like mad, and I take to the beach with about two minutes to spare.
Now I am trying to find a way to relax. SO NOT RELAXED! I saw my friend CS who I know to be a better swimmer than me. She had suggested we start to the far left to avoid some contact. I followed her over there as the less contact, the better in my book. This is by far the most people I have ever started with and the swim is always my weak suit. The swim was to be 2 rectangles coming into the beach in the middle. With the countdown we were off. It started off slow as the beach was shallow. I saw lots of people trying to dolphin dive and get going early but I was slowly wading in at the same pace as most of them working much harder. When I finally started swimming, I just felt like there was no clear water, the water was cold and a body shock and I was getting pummeled. My chest was starting to get tight and I was starting to panic. I was on the far left, kayaks on the far right. I started to breast stroke over across the field toward the kayak, so very distraught. I saw the lifeguard on the kayak go in for someone else. I got about 15 yards from the kayak and started to tread water. Breathe, breathe. I did not think I could do this right now. Yet, I just could not bare the thought of failure here. This is when I am thankful I feel accountable to so many people. I started to breast stroke forward. OMIGOD, this is going to be the longest swim ever and I hope I can make the cut off! Then I started to freestyle and calmed down. I was getting some clearer water. Yellow buoy to yellow buoy. At the red buoy I turned. Then my sighting got off. I think one of the kayaks was similar in color and I ended up way out to Canada. Then I came back in and I was finally in a rhythm although the chop was definitely rougher on the way back in to the beach. As my feet hit the sand after the first loop I took a look at my watching expecting to see an hour given my struggles but it was around 42 and I was blown away. I can even still hit my 1:30 goal!
With renewed spirit, I took my time getting out of the water and back in for lap 2. I even saw Tiffany in my vicinity and a friendly face there helped to relax me. Back out on for the second lap I was trying to focus on conserving energy. I did feel like my form was starting to get a little sloppy by the end but I also think the chop was a little more. As I started to come in to the beach I was trying to keep my heart rate down. I did something I never did which was I took off my wetsuit in the water. Seemed to work well and I walked up to transition trying to change gears for the bike. Then I smiled knowing one of my biggest concerns was now over and now I could try to enjoy my day.
Split 1 - 43:33
Split 2 - 44.33
Total Swim 1:28.06 2:17 min/hm
Out onto the bike. My plan was 5:45 which was a 19.4 mph average. I knew it should be doable and save enough for a run, or at least I thought! I had a plan of attack for the race and was using the Garmin. If HR hit 160, back off. Try to stay low zone 2 around 150 and that was what I did to a tee! Average HR 150 for 112!
As I pedaled down Cedar Point Road I was trying to start easy and get my heart rate in check. Only water for first 20 minutes to make sure everything in my muscles could settle from the upper body. I was thankful to the many spectators out on Cedar Point Road and I was waving and smiling to all as I thanked the police directing traffic. On the bike, I was running water up front in my aerobottle and two 20 oz bottles of EFS Sports Drink in my bottle cages. In addition to the water and EFS Sports Drink, I also had 2- 5oz EFS liquid shot gel flasks for the bike (and another 2 EFS Sports Drink Bottles and 2 more flasks of Liquid Shot in special needs). The goal was water every other 10 minutes with EFS Liquid Shot and the other 10 minutes was a couple sips of EFS sports drink (Fruit Punch, my favorite flavor!) I did a pretty good job getting in fluids and nutrition throughout the bike. I could tell from the amount I had left that I was a little shy but probably not too bad!
So back to the actual bike. I was very familiar with the course. What a comfort it was to have ridden it on the course preview days! As I was settling in and a few people I knew passed me, but I decided I would exercise some self restraint and stick with Operation Daisy's Race Plan! I was getting excited to get to mile 22 or so where I knew the best IRONFAN CREW would be in the whole world. As I came into town, the CTC entourage was no disappointment! I could hear them long before they came into view and what a lift they gave me!
I headed out on 113 and was happy to see my friend CS out on the bike! She looked very comfortable and chatted for a moment before I pulled away. I enjoyed the smooth long stretch on 113 with the wind at my back, just as it had been every training day. Then we started to wind down many of the chip and sealed roads that I just wanted to get through without dropping the pace too much on some of the uphill grades. With Berlin Heights quickly approaching I stopped for a bit while I waited for someone to find my bike special needs and was off again. Again I started to look forward to mile 59 or so when I would see my IRONFAN crew again. Miles were ticking off effortlessly and although the wind and chip and seal were slowing me down, I was feeling quite comfy and just executing the miles and watching the heart rate and was thinking about intake.
Hit Milan again and was stoked to see my the crew again and with some smiles and waves, back out 113 I went. Ughh, there was the realization that I did not expect to see the ironfan crowd until the run and I knew that those next 62 miles would be long. Yet, I was enjoying the smooth road and saw a CTC jersey up ahead of me which was fellow CTC board member, KB. He was looking strong and had a smile of course as he encouraged me on. JUST LOVE THE SUPPORT OF OTHER ATHLETES OUT THERE!
It was around mile 70, I started feeling like I had to go to the bathroom and not #1. I thought about stopping then but thought it might go away and kept on. Again back to the chip and sealed sections with the grade that always bogged down the pace a bit. As I came around to bike special needs again, I passed it. Every time I passed an aid station with a POP, I debated if I should stop. I decided I would pass until I could not wait. As I headed though Berlin Heights and started to really battle the wind and the chip seal was everywhere. I thought about my friend BH and thought "FU wind", "FU chip and seal" which made me laugh to myself. Then I was climbing some uphill grade around mile 95, I got just the pick me up that I needed! THERE WAS THE CTC IRONFAN CREW AGAIN! YEAHHHHH!!
Bike 5:47, 19.3 mph
I hit the dismount line and started to walk. OUCH OUCH screamed the hamstrings. My feet were killing me and I need to go to the bathroom pronto. Seriously I could barely walk at this point. I hobbled to the POP and was able to pee for the first time of the day but could not do the duty I was hoping for. I complained a bit to another one of the terrific volunteers about my feet, perhaps they had just went numb with the constant pushing. I was not sure how the run was about to go but I just headed out anyway. T2- 5:42
The first burst of energy came when I saw Mama Bear, Trakkers Carole right out of transition cheering my name!! As I started to run, my legs were tired but it was actually working out the funk in my feet. I was feeling pretty good and took a glance over the the garmin to see I was running around the goal 150 HR with about 8 min mile pace. Mile 1 -7:59, Mile 2 - 8:04. Oh but I still needed to go to the bathroom which was now very evident!
I stopped at mile 2.5 or so and finally took care of business. Then I was ready to go! I was running comfortably but my pace was slowing a bit. I was inclined to just run what pace was comfortable and after mile 5, the pace started to drift above my goal pace of 9 min miles. Yet, I knew my goal of sub 12 was well within reach as I had built in some flex time so I just wanted to stay steady and I knew I could do it.
2. Carrying my own handheld water bottle. I feel like I don't get fluids down quickly and love to be able to drink whenever I want
3. Carrying my EFS Liquid Shot- so nice to use what I know will work for me and it has all the electrolytes and nutrition to carry me through.
4. LOVE LOVE LOVE my Saucony Grid Tangents which were perfect and how crazy is it that after all that, I did not so much as even have a blister!
5. PAIN RELIEVER-about miles 12&13, the day started to wear on me. I hurt. My breathing felt more labored even while my HR seemed in check. As I hit special needs and grabbed another liquid shot, it was time for some proactive steps. I hit my asthma inhaler, took some pain reliever and some water and got going again! After my fade, I started to come around and caught up to BAFF teamie, JZ. We ran together for a mile or 2 and I started to feel much better and took off on my own. I saw Tiffany again and was glad to see that she looked steady and I knew she would get to the line!
6. The volunteers were awesome. I would give a heads up asking if someone could refill my bottle and next thing I knew they were all helping to keep me going quickly! Thanks especially to the very efficient SSSMT aid station for your help!
7. Seeing so many friendly faces on the course. HUGE PROPS TO training partner ES for a dominant 10:10 finish. Also the many Cleveland team racers and CTC people all over on the course. Huge props to my Trakkers teammates and especially Kathleen who took 3rd overall female pro and even gave me a thumbs up when she passed (how cool!)
So the first 13, I had not walked any aid stations but I started to walk them and take in coke too which seemed to help. I kept thinking that I was not really feeling too bad (had many worse days like the Summer 50K that I melted) so I trudged on and was enjoying myself. But now I was starting to look forward to hitting the finish line and getting done.
Every time I saw the cheering crowd, I got so excited and I knew long before I saw them where they were! Thank you to all of you! A very special thanks to my husband for all the support and driving the party crowd around!
I knew I would be close to my goal but I just could not figure out how close and I soooo wanted to break 12. At about mile 25, I saw Bike Authority super mechanic (who had an IRON weekend on his own with all the work him and Doug did for days supporting the REV3 athletes), SG. SG ran beside me in his sandels for a minute and checked his watch and confirmed I had it for sure! It made me SOOO HAPPY!
RUN: 4:15, 9:44 pac, avg HR 149
Over the day here are how the ranking changed-
SWIM 44/83 women, 12/19 AG division
BIKE 19/83 women, 4/19
RUN 15/83 women, 4/19
There are so many things that I am leaving out but suffice it to say, it was a truly awesome experience and thanks to everyone for your support along the way!