What a race! Uggghh. That was another exhale from pushing so hard for every part of the race yesterday.
Pre-race: To start off my morning I rode my trainer for 30 min. with a few race-type intervals. My friend Libby got hit by a car the day before her first big race about a month ago so I didn't want to take a chance riding outside. After my ride I went for a 1 mile run with Campy. Not sure where to begin my race report but our trip started by dropping off Campy at Katrine's house. So sad to leave him but he made himself at home as soon as we dropped him off. Karel and I made our 4 hour trip to Macon Ga and we arrived at our hotel around 3pm. I studied the entire car ride and it was weird to think that we were traveling for one of my races. I guess I wasn't nervous, just excited to put away my books and race. After resting in the hotel room for an hour, we headed over to the race site about 4 miles away. The race was at a lake beach with beautiful (HUGE) houses in the background. Packet pickup was quick and effortless and after racking my bike we attended the course talks. It was 5:30 when we left the race site and Karel and I were ready for dinner. OUTBACK!!!! Not only did we have great food (sweet potato and salad for me) but we had the nicest server. He was awesome! We went through 3 loafs of bread but I think the loafs are smaller than normal. Regardless, the bread was YUMMM!!! After dinner we went back to the hotel and watched GIRO on the computer. I fell asleep before the end and I had a great night of rest.
Race morning: I woke up at 5:05am and started the coffee in the hotel room. At 5:30 I had 1 packet oatmeal w/ raisins, a little banana and 1/2 graham cracker sheet w/ PB. All foods I had in my cooler for the trip. We checked out of the hotel at 5:55 and headed to the race. Parking was smooth and the race was already well organized. As Karel was eating his oatmeal in the car, I got body marked and got my chip. I headed back to the hotel to grab my transition stuff and we made our way to the transition area. The transition area was huge because there were a million races going on during the morning. There was an aquabike, sprint tri, half tri, duathlon and relays. Let's just say there were lots of bikes out there! After setting up my transition area Karel and I headed to the lake. I was really nervous for the swim because I don't have a wetsuit and it was wetsuit legal at 73 degrees. BRRRR. BUT, when I felt the water it was perfect for swimming. I couldn't even imagine wearing a wetsuit. So, my speed suit was just fine for this race. Plus, I don't like wetsuits because they mess with my stroke so I was just fine with my decision to not wear the one I don't have :)
Swim: I was in wave 5 (all of the women) and we started at 7:43. The first wave went off at 7:30. I had a good start and was able to get to the front of the group but for some reason I just wasn't swimming that fast. I checked my time at the first buoy and was a little disappointed. After the first buoy I caught up with all of the previous heats and it was a battle to swim by people to the second buoy. On the way home I swam pretty hard to try to get to my swim goal of 30 min but I was 2 min short. Bummer. I figured I needed to bike and run hard if I wanted to have a strong race and make up time. I didn't have any time goals for this race. I just wanted to race strong and compete with any top girls out there. The run to transition was up a steep hill and a min or so later I was getting on my bike.
Bike: Karel cheered for me as I headed off on the bike and from the moment I started biking, I was feeling good. I was really excited to see how all of my power training paid off on my new bike (second race on it) and it was paying off very nicely. The course was rolling with several big climbs. To a floridian, I was feeling the climbs but I guess most people (who were from SC, TN, NC and GA) just called them gentle rollers. Yay right, nothing gentle about these. But, although I train on flat roads with lots of wind, I felt really good on the rollers and I really enjoyed the downhills after a hard climb. I really liked this bike because, compared to disney with 2000 people, there weren't as many people on the bike course so there were very little chances for people to draft. In some races you can't help it when there are packs of 30-40 people and there is no way to pass all those people but rather than me dropping back because I can't pass big groups, I felt like this race was fair and everyone had their own bike race. I had one boring moment around mile 25-30 where I was ready for the ride to end but then when I started passing more people I was excited for the rest of the bike. How many people can I pass? Can I pass any more women? Will I see Karel? Before I knew it I was at mile 50 and there was Karel (with his bike) taking pics. He cheered, I told him I felt great and after I finished one of my last climbs, I was back in the transition area.
Run: I started running and felt great! Legs were sore but of course, I knew I had biked 56 miles. Karel was on his bike during my entire run and I loved having him out there. He would bike, stop, take pics, cheer and then bike to the next mile. I only saw him for a few sec. every mile but it was just great to have him out there cheering for me. Karel told me I was 6 or 7th on the run so I was really pleased with my place. However, I wasn't sure if they would rank us overall (like top 5) or just top 3 open (there was an open/elite category which was wave 1) and then give everyone else age group awards. I really wanted to place high overall among the amateurs (or all of the females) so I was on a mission to pass as many girls as I could. Once again, the course was not flat. Nothing of the run was flat! You either go up or down and in some places (mile 9) you just keep running up. Even the last mile to the finish was up a hill. I felt strong and steady and I was able to pass a few women around half way on the run. There was one girl who I was on a mission to pass but she was super strong and also steady. I just felt like I would never pass her. However, she had a great downhill stride, whereas I had a strong up hill stride. I was gaining ground on the uphill and then she would run away on the downhill. Finally, at mile 9.5, I passed her on the steady uphill. I was about 15-20 sec. ahead of her (judging by looking behind my shoulder) and I was just pushing and pushing. At one point (mile 12) I just wanted to cry because I was pushing and I didn't want to push any more. It hurt so bad. But, before I knew it, my one competition was running right next to me at mile 12.5! I have never sprinted to the finish at the end of a half ironman but I guess it was time to show our toughness. Well, I think we were both tough because during the race we both passed several girls and after 13 miles we sprinted to the finish. I'm sure you can guess the results. Me sprinting??? I tried. She beat me by 5 seconds. It was a pure give it your all to the finish and I tried. I stepped over the finish line, grabbed the gate in the finish line chute and tried to catch my breath. It took me about 30-60 sec. to get in a full breath because I was just choking on my own air. It was only a minute or so that I just stood there and then I was fine. I hobbled my way to Karel and he gave me a huge hug and told me how proud he was of me. He loves seeing me suffer.
Well, the best part of the race, after waiting 2 hours for the results (which they didn't post) was they surprised everyone with the news that the top 5 female and male half ironman athletes would get money. Karel was certain that I was 5th place but I never get excited until the results are final. After the announcer said that 2nd-5th place of the overall females were within 4 min. of each other and 4th place and 5th place were within 5 sec. I knew it was me! I was in the money (and a nice amount of money for not knowing about it) I was 5th place overall! I also won my age group but I really enjoy racing for overall places. I can honestly say this was the first time that I didn't want the race to end during the run (aside from wanting the pain to stop) because I was really enjoying competing. I looked forward to each mile to try to get closer to another female.
What a great race. I am so happy with my times and I feel like this was great prep for IMKY. Here are my splits. Swim: 33:37 (12th on the swim) T1: 1:52 Bike: 2:46 (5th on the bike) T2: 1:14 Run: 1:48.00 (5th on the run) Total: 5:11:34