Sunday September 25, 2011
Two alarms went off at the same exact moment 4:15AM. I had been awake for a while going over my gear and execution plan in my head. I was abnormally calm and focused for a race morning. I got up took a shower and began stretching out to make sure nothing was hurting. I attempted to eat my pre-race meal, a bagel with peanut butter and a banana, but I was only able to take in half of it. I checked my gear bag once again before Matt and I headed out. We stopped at McDonalds so I could get some coffee and then made our way to the transition area. He made sure I got everything out of the truck I needed and told me good luck for I would not see him again till after the race. He went back to the hotel to pack up our stuff and get my parents and aunt and uncle.
I put my ear buds in and turned up my Ipod so I could not hear any conversations around me. I have found for me that listening to all the pre-race conversations on how tough/easy a course is causes me to start thinking I may need to change my plan and this is not the time to do that. I had looked, read, researched, the course and I knew what it was going to be like in my mind at least and I wanted to stick with that. I had to get my age and number placed on me again because the previous days markings had come off in the shower ( I think I called that one). I made my way to row 61 and was relieved to see Koa still chillin on the rack. It had rained during the night so I wiped him off. There was a bike missing to my left and the girl who was 2 spots down asked me if they did not show up. Since we figured they were a no show she stated we should both move our bikes over to give us more room. Fine by me. We shared the space and the extra room was rather nice. I put the desired air in my tires, filled up my aero water bottle with cold EFS and placed a water bottle in the lower cage then began placing all my gear out. Once I was satisfied with my layout I grabbed my morning clothing bag and took off to stand in line at the wonderful Port-O-John. Pee #1 was out of the way so I went back and rechecked my gear. I kept thinking I was missing something but I never could figure it out. I finally got over the “what am I missing” issue and took off to wait in line for the transport bus that would take us down to the swim start.
While standing in line I felt a tap on my shoulder and I turned around while taking my ear buds out and there was a guy standing there. He asked me if I had done the Oly Tri in Greensboro. I told him I had and he said he remembered me from the race (seriously it’s a small world with 3200 other racers around he picks me out…creepy). We talked a little a bit about that race and he told me he had done this race several times. We parted ways once the bus showed up. I made the short bus ride to the swim start and I checked my watch to see how long I had before the start of my wave (8:52) it was only 7:20 so I figured I would go stand in line again to pee since I am so use to having to pee a million times before a race. Pee #2 out of the way so I found a spot and began stretching out and watched the first few waves of men swimmers start their day. They made it look so easy. I knew I had not eaten enough so I started eating on a power bar. I headed down to drop off my morning clothing bag around 8:15ish and ran into Beth (she won this sneak approach). We chatted for a moment before I found another line to take care of pee #3 (seriously peeing this much is annoying – dang you pre race nerves). I found a spot to put on my wet suit and then handed my bag over to the crew. I was sort of sad I had to give up my Ipod it was keeping my mind occupied.
Around 8:30 I stared to make my way up to the swim start since they told us in the pre race meeting we may end up going before our original time. They were running about a 1 min fast so I was able to watch more wave starts. Finally they called for my wave and we all made our way down to the water. It’s funny at this point during my first Tri I was a wreck. Not today.
It was an in water start so we all jumped in and “hung out” till the air horn sounded. Man once that thing went off the water went crazy. It was almost like a whirlpool effect. People were going everywhere. It sort of freaked me out at first but I moved farther over to the left to try and stay away from the crowd which worked out for a little bit. Before I knew it people who can’t swim in a straight line or sight right where swimming straight into me. I stopped a few times to keep from getting swam over, let them pass, and continued on my way.
The water was absolutely nasty. There was seaweed and miscellaneous debris everywhere. A few times when I would go to breath I would have seaweed on my face –that had to look funny. Your fingertips would almost touch the growth as you were swimming. I was feeling good, sighting well, swimming a rather straight line, and making forward progress at a comfortable pace. All of a sudden a foot came out of nowhere and connected with my nose. It caused me to take in a mouth full of water which in turn made me immediately nauseous. The water was nasty! I was not sure what to do at this point because I thought I was going to loose my stomach content so I flipped over on my back and took a few deep breaths. The nauseous feeling went away in seconds I said a few thank yous and flipped back over and started my groove again. I feel right back into my normal pace counting two left arm strokes before taking a breath. The counting helps me focus on something other than swimming. I did not know how long I had been swimming but it did not feel like it had been very long. I decided to look forward and see how close I was to the finish and much to my shock and surprise I was within 200 yards. I checked a couple more times because I just knew I was seeing things there was no way I was almost done. Nope I was almost done. I think I started grinning here while still swimming because I knew I had done much better than I ever thought I would have with this part. I had passed people from previous waves how that happened I have no clue but I will take it. I came out of the water and could hear my family calling my name so I looked to the right and there they were on the hill jumping and clapping. This pumped me up tremendously because they knew how much I was dreading the water. We had to run up the boat ramp which (as I had called before) sucked. The run to the bike transition was somewhat long it seemed to take forever seriously it had to take 1-2 mins just to get to the wet suit strippers.
|I am the one in the middle with my hat already off and a goofy grin!|
I found my suit stripper and she yanked off my suit and tossed it to me as I was taking off to see Koa. There were no more running mats at this point so you were running on grass which was littered with gravel and the rocks were cutting into your feet. I got stuck behind a group of girls who were also trying to dodge the gravel so I slowed down. I would not have felt right running them over just to gain a few seconds. I realized I really needed to pee (yes again) and I was debating what to do while I was getting my gear changed out. I decided I might as well take the time to go here at the port-o-john in hopes that I would not need to pee again while I was on the bike. Yes this cost me time but I am just not the pee on your bike kind of girl… yet.
Swim: 1.2 Miles
Rank at this point: 1671
T1 Time Swim-To-Bike: 5:15
I grabbed Koa and took off running to the bike start line. This was a mess people were crossing the line and stopping right there trying to get on the bike which caused a massive clog. I found a spot I could squeeze through on the left side and moved out of the way before I got on Koa and took off. I had spoken with Jason from Cook Train Eat Race about my nutrition plan for the bike leg and he had told me what works best for him and I had played with the same liquid calories strategy he goes by. As soon as I made it through mile one and the line of riders were not so on top of each other I took out ½ of a honey stinger waffle and ate it. Everyone kept telling me how important it was to take in lots of fluid during the ride so that my body would still function on the run so I stated drinking from my aero bottle of EFS. I had cut up 3 honey stinger waffles into four pieces per waffle and placed them in a zip lock bag which was in my bike bag just in case I felt like I needed to eat something along with the liquid calories. The first 13 miles were really uneventful. I kept drinking the EFS and I had one small piece of waffle every 30/40 mins.
I thought the riders would be more spread out but we all were on top of each other seriously there was no way not to draft. The officials would just ride on by on their motorcycles not penalizing anyone because there was no where for us to go so that we were not in the draft zone. Passing was challenging because we all were so tight. Every once in a while a spot would open up and I took advantage and passed as many people as I could. I was holding a pace, per my bike PC, of 18-20 which made me extremely happy. Then I stated to get worried that if I tired to hold this pace my legs would be done by the time I got off the bike and I would kill my run. I was going over and over in my head what to do but ended up staying at that pace… I realized I also needed to pee again GREAT so much for spending more time in T1 so I would not have to go on the bike course. Anyway mile 15 I reached down to take another drink and my aero bottle was bone dry. I had already consumed my 32 oz of EFS. Okay not going to panic I still have another water bottle. I reached down to my lower cage to grab my bottle and got nothing but air. WTH where did my bottle go? I came out of the aero position and looked down. Gone… empty… no bottle. Why is it when you’re not thirsty but then you realize you’re out of fluid you feel like you have not had anything to drink in day’s? I knew there were two hydration stations along the way so I tucked back in and lucky me I only had to go a couple miles before I saw the first stop.
I perfectly executed my first drive by water bottle grab without incident! I jumped off the bike at the end of the line and stood in line for a second so I could pee again. Got back on the bike and waited what seemed like forever to wait for a spot to enter back into the line of riders. There were so many riders but I could not believe we were not spread out more. I finally found a spot and took off again with my aero bottle and cage full of water again. 17 miles out of the way and I still felt great. I knew this was where the rolling hills would start and last a while before the course would flatten out again. I jockeyed for a better position for a while since I did not care to be passed by so many people due to my having to pee grrrrrr. The hills presented themselves.. yay.. I hate hills. Honestly, though they were not that bad even for a flat land rider such as me. Only a few of the hills where killer but I refused to come out of my saddle and just spun on up. I was actually passing tons of people on the hill climbs. This worried me once again. While my overall pace had slowed tremendously due to the hills I knew if I kept up my over aggressiveness I was going to kill my run. I talked myself down off my desire to pass everyone in front of me and settled in behind – not drafting close- a line of riders to finish up the hills.
The miles just kept on passing with only one interesting event. There was a man standing at the end of his driveway with a card board sign that read something along the lines of “Go Home, Your not Welcome Here”. He was yelling at everyone as they passed about how we were such and inconvenience to the community and not to come back next year. Come on man really ONE day out of the YEAR you may have to drive a different way to the store calls for that type of stupid behavior. I rode up beside a girl right after passing him and said he must think he can’t do this she started laughing and said we should go back and show him he too can do this.
I ran out of water again right before the second stop. I kept going back in forth in my mind if I should get a Ironman Preform or water at the next station since my EFS was long gone and I figured I would try a Ironman Preform to get some calories and hope and pray it did not mess with my stomach. I executed another good on the go 2 bottle grab without incident. I was worried I was not going to be able and do that. I put more water in my aero bottle and placed the Preform in my cage. I tried the Preform and I did not care for the taste at all! I only took a few sips of it along the way because I just knew I would not be able to stomach it. I was so happy I decided to bring as many honey stinger waffles as I had they saved me! I never imagined I would go through so much liquid in such a short time. I was mostly overcast but very humid and the later the day got the hotter it was getting. It started to lightly rain around mile 45ish. It did not last long but it felt good while it was raining! The hills finally died and the course was flat again which made me super happy but I could feel my “stupid” race up the hill efforts in my quads. CRAP I knew this was going to happen. I checked my watch and saw I had been on the bike around 2 hours and 40 mins (approximately). I knew I could easily cover 10 miles in 30mins if I pushed it so I had a decision to make go for it and get the bike done in just over 3 hours or slow down and save it for the run. This was hard for me because I am so freaking competitive and all I wanted to do was pass the next person. But running is my back ground so I felt like I ultimately could make up more time there than I could with an all out effort riding. I don’t know if this was the right thing to do or not to be honest. Looking back I sort of wish I had just gone all out for it but I made my decision and I stuck with it.
The last 15 miles were once again uneventful other than a new PR on bike distance for me. The longest I had ridden before this race was 50 miles so I was super excited once I saw the 50 mile marker. At this point the sun had come out in full force and it was really heating up quick. I kept drinking water and took a Gu gel when I was within 2 miles of the bike finish. I made the turn to go into transition and there was my Mattie James and my dad yelling at me to keep going and I was doing great. I am not sure if the spectators know how much simple words of motivation helps push you along. It does WONDERS!
I made it to the line jumped off the bike and guess who needed to pee – ME AGAIN. I ran to my bike spot and sort of tossed Koa onto the bar (sorry buddy). I pulled my helmet off, placed my running hat on, yanked off my bike shoes, tried to put my socks on but my legs and feet were so sweaty they did not want to go on so I had to sit down and force them before I could get me shoes on, flipped my race bib to the front grabbed 4 Gu gels and took off to the Port-O-John to pee again… As soon as I got into the POJ I realized I had forgotten to take my gloves off DANG IT MAN. I thought about just tossing them but then I was like that is silly I have already taken more time to stop to pee I have time to run them back to my bike since it was not that far from the run start anyway. I was coming out of the POJ and someone let out a loud scream that sounded like they were right on top of me. I stopped dead in my tracks ears perked up still holding the door open as I frantically searched the area for someone being stabbed, shot, having a medical issue whatever I don’t know all I know is my instinct kicked in full force and the world slowed down for a moment. A second later a girl came out from the POJ beside me in tears. I asked her if she was okay and she told me she had just dropped her glasses into the POJ. I laughed because it was nasty and ultimately funny but also I think in sheer relief no one was hurt or in danger. Seriously you CAN’T do that to me I go into Cop mode. Ugh.. I wasted time for glasses ok glove-toss time to run.
Bike: 56 Miles
T2 Bike-To-Run : 4:03
I don’t think I knew how hot I truly was till I was off the bike and the wind from the bike died down. It took me a mile before my legs felt somewhat normal off the bike. I was almost 3 miles in holding an 8:30 pace per my Garmin when all of a sudden I realized I was getting tunnel vision which was turning into blurred vision. The pressure in my eyes was so intense I thought they were going to come out of my head. I felt my head and I was sweating which was a good sign but I knew something was very off. I made it to the mile three and I took a one of the ice cold sponges and held it on top of my head. The water was so cold and my body was so hot it actually sent me into a mini shock that took me a moment to recover from but the pressure in my eyes went away. 3 miles in and I am overheated already how do you come back from that?
There was a water station at every mile so I kept pushing along taking water to sip from and one went over my head face and neck. I made it to mile 5 and my cheering squad was set up and this pumped me up again! My dad began running along beside me and gave me some water. He was telling me how strong I looked and I believed him at this point it’s the only thing I could hold onto I may not feel strong but he said I looked strong so I will take it. I was passing people right and left. Around mile 7 one of the pro men was walking along giving words of encouragement (I only knew he was a pro because of the chatter around me) anyway he started running beside me and said “I love to see someone who looks like they know how to run – looking good girl keep it up and you will be done before you know it) he patted my shoulder and took off the other way before I could utter much more than thanks.
|My dad coming out to cheer me on.|
Mile 8 is about the time I started to fall apart. My socks and shoes had gotten really wet at this point and I could feel 2 water blisters on my right foot forming with a vengeance. I contemplated taking them off and running barefoot but looking at the street I knew that would not be much of a user friendly option. I would stop and walk for a moment and try to wiggle my foot around in my shoe to find a better position but nothing was working and each step was becoming more and more painful. I checked my Garmin and I my pace was in the 10 min mile which just broke my heart. I knew I was not going to be able and finish the run in under 2 hours like I had originally planed. It only took me a second to get over this because I was still super happy about the whole experience and the overall journey that had brought me here. It started to rain which was a welcome because it was so hot. It did however finish soaking my shoes and began forming more blisters. Not much you can do about that. I saw an old high school friend who came out to cheer me on along with my buddy Kevin who I met in my first Tri. He was going to do this race but he got a stress fracture 2 weeks ago during a long run. He was only able to swim which he used as a practice.
I saw my dad again at mile 10. He came up beside me and I told him I was hurting he told me to keep going I only had 3 miles to go. So I did I kept going and I kept saying over and over 3 miles only 3 miles I can do 3 miles in my sleep. 3 miles is nothing. My normal stride was off because of the issues with my feet but I managed to pick up my pace a little. I saw my cheering squad again at mile 12. I was so HAPPY to see them words can’t even express the feeling knowing I only had a mile to go. I knew I had more in me so I took off. I picked off one person at a time. I forgot about the pain and I found my normal pace for the last mile. I rounded the last corner and I could here the crowed cheering the racers on as they entered the final stretch. Man what a feeling it’s hard to describe! I gave it all the energy I had left. Finish Strong. I was so elated with this accomplishment I am not really sure it has fully sunk in yet. I do know one thing as soon as I crossed that line I felt like I was more than a runner I was a triathlete.
Run: 13.1 Miles
Final Rank: 1957
I still have some work to do but I learned so much from this race and I plan on taking it all in so I can come back stronger for the next because there will be a next there will… always be a next.
Overall time: 6:30:46