I'm sitting in a quiet house. I can hear the cats walking around. I can hear the wind outside. I can hear, my thoughts!!!
I just dropped my 3 little boys off for their first day of school. The summer ended too early. The forecast is predicting temps in the high 80s and 90s next week. While we should definately be at the lake or the beach on those days, I admit, today is quite nice. I have missed the quiet.
These few hours of solitude are allowing me to sit to write about my big race last weekend. My 'A' race of 2010. I say that with a smirk. Honestly, I go into every race as if it was the biggest of the season.
Timberman 2010. It's hard for me to believe it's only been 4 seasons since I toed the line for my first Half Ironman on the same race course. My bff Mary and I raced our first 70.3 together in 2007. I just wrote a whole paragraph about how much has happened since that year. I went off on a big fat tangent. Nobody wants to hear about that now....back to the race report.
Mark and I spent the weekend in NH alone this time. The race requires a 4:00 a.m. start and as well seasoned at races as my kids are, that is too dang early for them. Thanks Mom and Dad....the kids had a lot more fun playign with you guys!!
Ok. Race day came along and I felt fine. I was up early doing my typical pre-race routine. I drank my coffee, at oatmeal, choked down a tiny piece of bagel ( I need to change this...I can never swallow it..) and I am honestly not sure what else. I had enough, I know that.
We arrived by 5 a.m. and got our parking spot in the park.
Before too long, I was body marked, my transition was set up and I was trotting around the site doing a little pre-race run warm up. Everything was going smoothly.
I was in the lake warming up with plenty of time. I often miss my swim warm up. This time, I was ready. I was wiggling around in the wetsuit nice and early,making sure I would be ready to GO from the gun.
Mary and I found each other at the start, as we always do, and lined up at the front of the 40-44 y.o. pack. The pros had left the beach 20 minutes before us. THis year, the swim started on the beach instead of in deep water. I am not sure if they adjusted the buoys for this distance or not...I assume they did.
It was finally our turn. I shoudn't say that. We were wave 6 / 18!! In the big picture, we didn't wait long at all!
I felt good. I was ready to work hard for the next 5 hours, give or take. The weather was cooperating beautifully. After a summer of high heat and humidity, we were blessed with clouds, cool temps and possible rain! Perfect for racing.
I looked around at my competition. Before I could think about things any longer, the gun Blasted.
This shallow lake required us to dolphin dive over and over and over. Seriously, I think I did at least 10-15 dives before I gave up. I maximized my history as a butterflier during those dives and added in a few kicks under ther water before exploding off the lake bottom for the next dive. I could see with my peripheral vision that I had gained a lead. I even heard someone yell to me while out of the air, "GO ANGE!" That was a cool boost. The lake was so shallow that people waiting for their waves were lined up along the swim start watching and cheering. As I said, after at least >10 dives, I was sick of it and decided to swim. I am not sure this was the best (aka-fastest) decision but it felt right at the time.
My stroke was fine but per usual, I felt a little....light and spacey when I firt started swimming hard. This is a hard feeling to explain but I think it is basically caused by swimming hard with a minimal warm up. I would typically swim 1000-1500 yards before truly feeling ready for a fast effort.
SInce I am used to this, I didn't panic that my day was "off" and I just swam on. I had my own water for a while. Before nearing the turn buoy, I began hitting the men 50-55 wave that left 4 min before us. I was able to maneuver around them without much ado and made turn #1.
I knew I was in the lead.....I just sensed it. I hadnt' seen any purple caps near me nor felt any hands on my feet.
The water was warm but my legs weren't hot like they were in CT at my first Half of the season. What Did surprise me were the Waves!!! On the 2nd section of this swim, while we were parrallel to the beach, the swells were huge! I was getting pushed way way up and then slammed back down. I was fine, it was actually rather fun, and I reminded myself that while it was most definately slowing my pace, it was also slowing down everyone else. I savored my comfort in the water and continued to swim hard. I focused on my lats and pulling the water with force. I stopped kicking. Yup...I did. My legs float up and down in the wetsuit so I just allowed that slight movement to be the kick and decided to save my legs for later. Mile 64 for example. I knew I'd need those legs at that mile!!
Alright, enough on the swim. It was uneventful for me. My lines were fine. I stayed rigth along with the yellow buoys. I headed into shore and felt pscyhed that my goggles weren't leaking, I wasnt' being clobbered by people I was passing. However, I must say that there were a few instances of arms on heads and kicks on other people. I am SORRY!!! I never really know how it happens, and who knows whose fault it is!But in this situation, I know that I am passing folks who started 4, 8 or maybe more minutes ahead of me and therefore chances are I am happier at that tiem than they are. So, I hate to have crashes for everyone's sake at that time.
Finally, the arches were in sight and I swam all the way in. I swam until I only had to stand up and take 2 steps out of the water. I heard Mark and I heard someone else yell my name. I knew I had the lead so I had to hustle. I was being hunted.
swim: 28:54. A bit slower than other 70.3 swims but you can never compare. The chop, the course, the crowds. Who knows. I was sub 29 and that was my goal.
I was stripped nicely by a big guy ( I purposely ran to a Man rather than some of the kids they had there and said, "Big guy!" I've been bamboozled by young kids Trying so hard but unable to yank my suit off....not this time.)
In and out of T1 in 1:55
I headed out to ride and immediately had...Negative thoughts. NO!!!!!!!!!!! I'm going to spare you with all the details of What those thoughts were. They are for another post. But, they reared their ugly head.
I 'banished the bugaboos' and hammered on. (Anyone else know about the bugaboos as kids? I digress...)
within a few minutes, I was back in the game. No problem.
My legs felt heavy though. Why is that? There was a lot of climbing to start the ride. I remembered this. The first 15 miles actually.
One of my goals for this race was to Stay FUELED! I practiced my nutrition all summer long. I had a plan.
So...10 minutes into the ride, my HR had mellowed what I thought was enough, and I began the plan. I took a few big sips of bottle #1.
Almost instantly: pain.
Backing up a few days..... the Wednesday before the race, I went for a relatively mellow 40 min run. No big deal. However, I could barely finish because of Intense stomach pain. It radiated into my shoulder and neck. It HURT! It wasn't a typical cramp. IT was pain. I blamed it on the delicious and yet less then idea pre-run meal my Mom had made us a few hours before. Yummy pasta, lobster, scallops, shrimp and a salad on the side. Who can resist that while sitting at the ocean!? Not me! So, I blamed my odd stomach pain on the ..scallops. I moved on and forgot about it.
Until, mile 3 or 4 of my Half Ironman ride when a pain very reminiscent of that Wednesayd, began to surface. NO!!! Not now! Please!
I tried to push it to the back of my brain and rode on. I climbed, descended, swirved around nervous cars, hammered the flats, and then repeated. I watched my clock and forced my electroylte & carb filled drink into my belly.
double damn. I NEED my calories!
Stop drinking. Sip a bit of water. And wait. Wait it out. Give yourself 25 minutes to let it settle and start again.
I went through this cycle over and over again for atleast 30 miles. During that time, I had moments of strength. I was able to tuck into aero and hammer through some flat sections. I was complimented by a man in a neon yellow vest that flapped in the wind. I smiled and thought about that odd wardrobe choice for a race. I came upon a woman flying along wearing a Tri Kit from one of our local coach's team. At first, I didn't recognize who it was. And then, I saw the gorgous hibiscus painted on the white cervelo! Mary Lou!!! My buddy Mary Lou, who is 59 I might add, is a rockstart cyclist! I am not exaggerating. This woman is Fast!! I rode past her and said a big hi! Moments later, she returned the favor and said, "I'll be your rabbit for a bit!" We had fun out there for a few miles and then said our goodbyes after the turn around.
My stomach was iffy. I had a few periods during which I had to come out of aero, sit up straight and stretch, adn pray for the pain to subside. Then, it would clear and I'd ride hard. Only to have the pain return again. I was frustrated. I was discouraged.But, I tried to keep my head in the game. I hadn't seen any other women my age so I knew I was still the hunted.
And then...at mile 44.... "Go Ange!" A friendly and yet serious voice went by. Mary!!! You GO GIRL!!! Ok, nobody Likes to be passed. But...it was Mary. And Mary is my bff. We've been friends since Elementary school so if I'm happy to see anyone out there, it would be Mary. She has worked SO hard on her biking this season. And clearly, it's working! I was psyched for her.
And yet, this was a race.
And I am a competitor.
When you are passed, you have two choices. Succomb to the faster woman at that moment. Throw your arms in the air and say, "ok. She got me. More power to her."
You can fight.
It was time for me to make a decision.
I watched her climb the hills with ease. She seemed to be breathing so calmly. Her HR wasn't high at all!? (not sure how I could tell this but it was my perception.)
I wished I was her size and could traverse those little mountains with such apparent ease.
Back to that decision.
I sure was tired. It definately would be easy to let her go. To let her have this one.
Nah...that' not why I'm here!
I passed her back.
And, we chuckled together.
We continued this game until we reached Ellacoya park. (Meanwhile, a girl in blue had passed us. We finally determined that she was in fact in our age group and now we both had more work to do....)
Mary and I dismounted our bikes in T2 Simultaneously!!! Pretty fun really. Hey girl, we've come a long way haven't we! Think back to 8/07.....look at us now. :0)
Ok. Into T2. Game on. I threw my bike At the rack. Sorry bike. I ripped off my helmet (which I now know was Crooked when I ran into T2! dork!), glasses, yanked on the running shoes, and grabbed the rest of my stuff. I was outta there!!
in 1:37. and I really MUST add here...my T2 time BEAT Chrissie Wellington!!!!!!!!!! Ha!!! That's most likely I've ever utter those words.
Mary looked at me when I left like, "um... HOW are you done?" Later we laughed at that too. She had dropped her garmin and really needed to get it. So..that's how.
I was really excited to be running. I do not love the bike. It is no secret. But, it's an issue as a triathlete. So, I had racked that mechanical liability and was now back on my own two feet that I can control a lot more reliably. My first 20 steps caused me concern as my stomach HURT again and I felt as if I was buckled over.
Oh oh...what would these 13.1 miles bring?
I carried my 4 gels prepared for proper fueling. However, I knew I had to adopt plan B again. Hold off on calories. Let the stomach settle.
I felt decent once I hit the road. I was being hunted again only this time I liked it. THis run course is fun. It's 4 x 5K..more or less. The out and back x 2 allows you to break the run into manageable segments and like it or not, see your competition coming at you. I was ready.
I hit the first mat and smiled as it beeped. 7:16 pace. Ok. That's fine. Now, hold it. The 2nd half of loop 1 seems to be more up hill...But as I do on these courses, I reminded my tired self that it was like that for Everyone! I ran on. No water. No gels. No sponges. It had rained for the first 3 miles and I felt cool and comfortable. My stomach didnt' hurt but I felt no desire to put anything in it. That was ok...I was not the least bit bonkish. I felt fine. I say that but, my legs were burning. They were heavy. My feet were on fire. Hot burning coals. That must be what the road was made of. My right calf was cramping. I wanted to crawl under a bush. I secretely hoped my left achillis that was sending sharp pains would rupture so I HAD to stop running...but...I felt fine. I will NOT DNF just because of a little pain and suffering! that's the name of the game out there after all! WE have to push until we can move no more. And, dont' we all have those thoughts at times? Those thoughts of being FOrced to stop because it hurts so so badly? Is it just me? I dont' think so... Yes, I was suffering. I was counting the miles.
I got to mile 7 and thought Yay!! only 5 to go!!!!!! It's a Long run with a 5 mile tempo at the end! I can do it! Yes! My pace isn't falling off Too badly. (2nd segment 7:30 pace..)
Then, I hit mile 8. Oh. shoot. NOW it's 5 miles to go. My Math stinks when I'm racing. Ok. that's ok! I can Still do 5 miles!
Focus Ange. Focus. run. Run harder. RUn harder!
I had finally started fueling myself. At 6, I took a gel. It went down fine. I was grabbing gatorade adn water at eveyr stop. Gatorade to drink, water to clear my mouth of that sweetness after. At this point, I knew I had regained the lead. I was doing all I could to hold on to the pace. I knew I took out the first part a bit too fast, but I meant to do that...
4 mles to go. 4 miles to go. I looked at my watch. 3:58. What?? I was going to be sub 4:35!!!!!!!!!!! I ROCK!
Oops. That doesnt' include the swim. Darn. THere's that racing math again. I can't believe I used to do Calculus problems in my head during long runs for XC in High School. Did I pass that class?
Alright, so I was fighting to break 5 hrs. Why did I think a 4:45 was a reasonable goal? Oh yea...the bike. oh well.
Fight girl Fight.
It was all in my head at this point.
And then, with just over 3 miles to go, blue girl!!!??
Where had she been? I was confused. I thought she entered T2 Before us?!? Huh?
Anyway, she was FLYING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There was no chance in me staying with her. I was running as hard as I could.
She ran on and so did I.
I fought my way back up the hills into town.
I was giddy when I angled Left to the FINISH instead of the 2nd loop. I ran hard to the line and made it.
4:59. 24. Close one
run: 1:39:02. I made that too...sub 1:40.
Mark was behind the fence at the finish within moments. I hovered there with him for a while and tried to breath. After multiple puffs on my inhaler, I was ready to stand alone and cheer Mary in.
It was a great day. Mary had a huge breakthrough, my friend Bob made a dramatic full blown huge effort finish with a full body slide across the finish line, my dear childhood friend Lexi finished her first 70.3 with an awesome 6:03, a few of my athlets had Great days out there fighting through their own challenges on the course, Mary's husband Andy absolutey Rocked his first Half with an impressive 4:52, my friend Mary Lou faced demons from a serious bike crash at the Rev3 and attacked this course just a few months later, and many more friends had great days out there as well.
As for me, I am pleased. It was not a PR but it was a good time for me. I had ups and downs yet I was able to push aside the problem spots and fight for a solid finish. I was 2nd in my age group and the 14th age group woman to finish. With 869 women racing, I'll take it!
heading out of T2:
a post-race smile with friends Mary and Bob
My concerned and supportive husband looking after me moments after I crossed the line