Where to start? We will skip right to the race and circle back later with everything else.
Race morning- Woke up at 5AM and started the process. Make coffee, eat banana, bagel, hard boiled eggs. Race mornings go by so quickly. By the time I dropped my bags off, there was not much down time to relax before I made my way down to the swim.
Swim: Upon getting to the beach around 6:45, I had the opportunity to get into the water which was nice and made me feel more relaxed than last year. I was also probably feeling more relaxed as I did not the race chip ordeal from the prior year. The race had a slight delay (about 12 minutes on my watch) as the pro men and pro women got going. I was thankful for that as my goggles were a bit dark and I had been nervous that it would be too dark to sight well. (Mental note: next time bring clear and darker goggles.)
Lake Erie had had pretty rough waters a lot of the week with a lot of storms blowing in which led to a very thick deep sludge which had developed as you entered the water. It was sticky, slimy and muddy but who cared because race day, that lake was calm!!! I lined up probably 2/3 of the field back and far left. I kept saying,"I hate the swim and couldn't wait for it to be over with" to TR between saying sarcastically that "I love the swim".
As the siren went off, I took my time getting going. No panic attack. It still feels very chaotic to start with so many people. I got clobbered pretty good at one point as we made our way out to the far red turn buoy. He knew he got me good because he apologized as I regrouped. Then after the first red buoy turn, another guy was swimming alongside me. He scratched me twice with his finger nails. (Definitely was not surprised to see my hand bleeding when I got out of the water.) As we came around for the first loop, I took advantage of the time to walk a bit and conserve my energy before heading back out for loop two. I would say my swim was so-so. It was steady, but not a great rhythm and there is always plenty of room for improvement. I focused only on staying relaxed. It seemed like I was swimming for an eternity. Finally, I made my way to the beach!
Goal time 1:20. Actual time 1:22:15. Not bad and I was happy with that. (Beat last year's time by 5 minutes) Take that scapula with my subpar swimming efforts this summer.
Transitions: Both were pretty uneventful. No clothing changes. I think I really tried rushing through transitions but did not do that great of a job. I probably should have taken a little more care to wipe the sand from my feet.
Bike: As I went out on the bike course I thought something was making a strange noise and it had me concerned. With no clue what it was, I tried to push it out of my head. It took me a little while to get my heart rate down those first 5 miles or so. Last year on the bike my HR averaged 150 and when I hit 160 you could tell I backed off the effort. This year I focused on letting my HR drift up to 163 but always taking care to try to keep in mid 150's. I watched my HR and speed (trying to stay over 20) like a hawk for pretty much the entire bike. Every 10 minutes I tried to make sure I was getting in nutrition. I would say on the bike I was very focused on the task at hand.
The bike course has a last minute change so I just rolled with it and took comfort that I knew the bulk of the course quite well. As I was totally focused on the task at hand, the miles clicked by on the bike and I felt very good. I really just looked forward to the time when I knew I would see the ironfan crew which would be mile 26, 60 and 90ish. Truly, I looked forward to this more than people may realize. They were so loud and it just gave me extra strength!
The wind was not much of a factor on this day although on the bike you do always notice it as some points. My seat area seemed to fare better than some days and the main issue I was dealing with was that my right ball of my foot felt like there was a hot spot but more than anything my feet were just feeling bruised from pushing down the pedals. I was really thinking that bruised foot feeling was going to make the run hurt!!!
The other point to note was special needs was at approximately mile 50 and then 80 something. At mile 50 I swapped out my two bottles but one FE EFS bottle was almost entirely full so clearly I was not drinking enough. I also had a fair amount left on my bike at the end of the day in one of my bottles too. This would be probably my biggest mistake of the day. I was taking in a lot of water and finished both liquid shot flasks but apparently I was not drinking enough from my bottles. (Perhaps next time, clear bottles that are marked with lines??)
So finally, I made my way back into the park. I was super pleased that I was still on pace to get the sub-11 I was targetting.
And I got off the bike feeling even better than last year! I was sore with some tight hammies but moving better through transition than last year!
The volunteer at the changing tent was great. She put my garmin and race belt on for me and got me moving.
Automatically my little sore legs were turning over sub 8 minute miles and I kept slowing myself down. I knew if I could just hold under 9 minute mile pace, I would get my goal.
First 4.4 miles, 8:38 pace.
I passed another lady who let me know I was in second or third place. I really did not know how that was possible. I said there must be more up ahead. It was good to see to SSSMT out on the bike and run course who also encouraged me as I was mentally trying to prepare myself for all the miles ahead.
I was carrying my handheld and a FE Liquid Shot flask. My handheld somehow had a broken lid which led to me losing a lot of water at some points. It did not take long, I would say just over 4 miles and I could feel twinges in my legs as if they could cramp at any point. My left quad felt particularly on edge, but so did my hanstrings and calves. SOOO NOT GOOD!
I stopped once to take off my shoe and readjust my sock just after 4 miles or so. I figured it was worth a little time now to avoid horrible pain later. It still felt like blisters were coming on my poor little feet which hurt pretty good already. I was just over 4 miles in and already thinking this was going to be a long marathon! Crap!
But, the fan crew was out there cheering me on so I tried to suck it up for them. It felt soooo hot and there was very little shade. I must have repeated, "you are tougher than you think you are and can do more than you think you can" 100 times sandwiched between "one foot in front of the other".
The day before the race I wrote, "Don't drown, don't crash and don't walk" on my twitter page. As I slowly jogged along I would not allow myself to walk and just knew it would hurt regardless and might as well get done faster! There were a couple points when I thought, "oh no the quad is about to seize" but my slow shuffle gate seemed to keep the cramps at bay.
I was totally kicking myself for not taking in more electrolytes on the bike. Yet, I have had more issues with tight cramping legs a lot lately. So maybe it is something more. Oh and in case anyone wondered, I did pee in my wetsuit right at the start but never went again the entire race until well after at the hotel so apparently, I was quite dehydrated.
The one lady who went on to take first place amateur flew by me on the run. I had seen her coming for awhile with all the out and backs and u-turns. She had a good stride and one I could not match on this day. I just tried to find something steady. As we came within a little over 2 miles from the finish I saw another lady walk by me at the aid station. I jogged along ahead of her and then she would run at a good clip and start walking. We leap frogged a couple times. Then I hit the little incline on the bridge with 1.5 miles to go and I kept a running gate moving ever sooo slowly. The quad seized and then the right calf seized. My leap frog lady rushed over to help me as I almost fell down as I let out a little yelp. I have never had this happen so badly ever. I stood up and encouraged her to go on. I turned around and tried to walk backwards. I was also trying to focus on my breathing as I got upset when this happened which triggered my asthma. Thank goodness I was so close to the finish as I just kept telling myself it was only a little bit further. I turned around and started walking forward as things loosened up a bit. Then I started jogging again. Espeed came on me and encouraged me to catch my friend ahead and said I had another female closing in.
I dug deep to keep moving hoping I would not have another terrible cramp. I passed the lady in front of me who was surprised to see me but seemed set to walk it in. Then with 0.5 miles to go, another lady passed me. On this day, I knew I could not ask more of my legs without risking total shutdown so I let her go. I closed in on one other female to see she was a pro. There was no sense having to sprint ahead of her at the finish line since she had started way ahead of me so I just made my way into the finish line.
Run time: 4:16:16 (slower than my 2010- 4:15:03).
Total time: 11:17:27 (clock reflects pro start time)
Overall, I ended up 10th overall female and 3rd overall amateur female. I did not hit the goal of sub 11 due to my run which I know I should be capable of (which I think was due to my poor nutrition intake). Next time! For now, I am very proud to have come back from my bicycle crash 13 weeks ago and to do it with a 140.6 PR of nearly 21 minutes.
This was only my second 140.6 and the training was FAR from perfect. As much as I wonder why I do this for fun (as I dig deep on the race course), I just can't help but finish and think what I can do better for next time.