As I climbed into bed, I surprisingly fell asleep. I am not normally a good sleeper before most races but I think my brain was still in a state of shock from seeing that lake that it was exhausted. My cell phone rang to wake me up what seemed like five minutes later. I don't even remember what time it was but I know it had a 4 in front of it. I got up and peeked in the other room to see if Amy was moving. She was. I hopped in the shower (I always have to shower or I don't wake up before races). Put Vaseline everywhere I could as well as sunscreen and tried to shovel down some food. We turned on the TV to watch water polo (which I love) so it was great timing. Soon, our friends, Marcia and Marty arrived and we started making our way down to the car to load everything up. Once we arrived at the park, all I could think of was that the temp was borderline to being wetsuit legal. We found out after being body marked it was. I could not have been more happy. We set up our stuff and Amy and I were able to rack our bikes next to each other as we were both in the Athena category (I've been over 145lbs since I was about 4 years old I think...). I took a peek to see how many others were Athenas and recognized a girl from Rochester I met while doing the Rochester Tri. I was praying she would show up but I never saw her. Amy and I then wandered down to get in the water. I wasn't terribly nervous at this point. Then, we had to line up. That is when the nerves kicked in. I kept looking at Amy as we stood in line. I was terrified. Terrified. What. Was. I. Doing. Seriously? I am not supposed to be here I thought. I've only done one long triathlon in my life...what am I thinking? As I kept arguing with myself, I was getting closer and closer to the lake. The line was shrinking and the water was now a sea of black wetsuits, swimcaps and arms. Go! They shouted! I ran into the water and prayed. The first part of the swim went okay. I kept turning around to see how Amy was. She was doing great. I stopped paying attention at some point though and ended up of course (One of many times for the swim). I was a little bummed but it wasn't as far off as some other swimmers. Soon, I was near the beach again. It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. Course, I was passed by 5,000 swimmers but hey, that's okay. I teetered back and forth as I scrambled to get out of my wetsuit and out of the water. I ran/walked up the hill into transition. I put on more sunscreen as I pulled off the wetsuit. Soon, I was on the bike going out of the park. As I got a few miles out of the park, this is what I saw:
I felt great the entire bike ride. The hills WERE not that bad. I had imagined them much worse in my brain and I think what helped me the most was I trained on the biggest hill I have ever seen the entire summer so I was expecting all the hills to be like that. I kept biking. At the half way point, this is what I saw:
I started to feel my shoulders burning a bit but just kept concentrating on drinking fluids every 15 minutes.
Mile 40. This is what I saw:
I ran into our friends, Marty and Marcia numerous times along the way. They were a great help. Just to know you had someone to look forward to seeing along the way was a huge, huge help.
Before I knew it, I was trying to pedal the last few miles up the hills back into the park. I saw runners already coming back from the half marathon. Now, I actually passed people on the bike this time so I was real happy with my bike. So, I kept telling myself, these people must have been from the earlier waves or they were elites. I knew I was kidding myself but it worked for the time being!
I finally got back into transition, hopped off the bike and got on the running gear. Smeared on more sunscreen and talked to Marcia for a few minutes and then took a potty break. As I was trying to get my shorts off, the clips on my racebelt flew off. Panic set in. Please god tell me they didn't fall down the craphole. I immediately scoured the floor. Phew. They had fallen right by my shoe. I pretended the floor was spiffy clean and put them back on to hold my number on the belt. Finished and I was out running. My first few miles of the run, I was able to maintain between a 9-10 minute mile. Then I died as I got out in the full sun running up a hill out of the park. I couldn't run anymore. I wasn't tired or sore. I was just so damn hot. My arms and shoulders were burning even though I had on SPF 50. I was overheating. I took some enduralites which helped a little but was getting worried about overheating. It was hot. Iowa, as we all know, looks like this:
so they had NO SHADE. The entire run. I was cooking. I had a visor and shades on but was just on fire. I dumped water on me at every water stop I could and shoved ice down my back. Marcia and Marty were saints and pulled down the road a ways and had water, ice and gels. I walked almost the entire half. Not good. But, I kept telling myself I just wanted to finish. I ran into Amy and we exchanged non-touching air hugs as we were both covered in salt and sweat. I ran a while, walked a while. Looking at this the entire time:
I finally was back in the park. I asked one of the volunteers if he'd trade spots with me but he laughed and just gave me some ice. Damn. I eventually could see the line and sprinted the last half mile in and crossed the line just as the announcers were talking about my big feet (no joke). I felt great physically as far as my legs weren't tired, my stomach was a little upset but no more than it is after most races. I just felt so hot and burnt. I cooked. I went to get something to drink and ran into Marty. We started packing up the gear and bikes for Amy and I. Soon, it became too much and I had to sit in the shade to cool off. Amy came in and I yelled from afar. We both finished. It was a great feeling. I swore I was never doing one of these again and that they were way worse than a marathon. Two weeks later, Amy and I decided we were going to do one again next year. How quickly one forgets.
On a side note, thanks to all of you who helped with tips and suggestions as well as those of you who helped along the way. Sorry for the delay in getting this post up. Life has been beyond busy these days. Next post: Sunburn photos from the half iron...I know you all can't wait!