Yay! Mama's home!
I was super happy to see Scott at the airport this afternoon... and equally as happy that Moana was just waking up from her nap as I walked in the door here at home. I missed them both so much this weekend while I was gone. The first thing I noticed was that Moana's hair grew! It seems so much longer and thicker now. One of these days I'm going to have to start tying it up in some way to keep it out of her eyes. She looks like a ragged mess most of the time now with that unruly hair.
Anyway, onto the Race Report! I'll spoil it be saying right off the bat that I had a good day, and that I'm guessing that when I see the finish line photo, it will show the happiness on my face. :)
So here are the key points of the day:
It was freezing. Freakin' freezing frickin' COLD. For me anyway. I've become such the cold weather wimp. Having lived in Phoenix/Scottsdale for about 10 years and then Hawaii for 5, my body is just not used to 55 degrees and clouds. I called Jen the day before the race because my motivation to race had gone down to about zero as I had just spent 2 days shivering in my fleece jacket and I needed her to talk me back into wanting to race. I did NOT bring appropriate clothes to keep me comfortable when I'm wet from the swim and riding in 55 degrees down a big hill with no sun in sight. I threw out the idea of putting newspaper under my tri-top in T1 and asked her what she thought. Those of you who know Jen will have an idea of her response. Let's just say it included a bit of laughter and something like, "I can't believe I'm having this conversation!" Basically she told me to harden up because guess what? A cold day means a fast day and all those local girls were going to be salivating at how fast they were going to be able to go so I better just get over my bad self and toughen up. Just what I needed to hear.
Actually, she told me to wear more clothes on the bike if I needed to, and I thought I brought an appropriate shirt for that, but apparently I did not. So I just suffered and shivered. But back to the race start...
They lined our waves up like cattle (MOOOOO) being led to slaughter. I heard one gal say, between shivers, that this was like a bad reality TV show, which kind of cracked me up. Mostly because I agreed.
I didn't get in the water at all to 'warm up', because I knew that even though the water was near 70 and I wouldn't be too cold in there, getting back out to line up would be worse if I was wet. So I just waited until the gun went off to take my first swim stroke for the day.
I lined up right at the front, took off at the horn, and cruised for a short while as I looked around me... waiting to see if any of the gals were fast swimmers trying to sprint off the front. Less than a minute in I could see that there was no one, so I set off on my own. That swim course was quite possibly the easiest swim course on the 70.3 circuit. Not that I've done that many 70.3's around the country, but I swear, it just couldn't get any easier. The water was calmer/flatter than the pool water I swim in, and there was this white cable about 2 feet under the water that ran along the whole course- so you didn't even have to look up and sight. Seriously, this was as easy as it gets. The only slight problem I ran into was that our wave started behind a bunch of other waves and I had to pass probably 400 people in the water. BUT, since that cable was there, it seemed just about everyone lined up on a straight lined path so I just swam a couple feet to the inside of the line and passed people without much hassle.
I was a bit surprised that I didn't come out in something like 27 minutes given how uncomplicated it was, but the time was actually like 29:30ish which makes me wonder if the course may have been just a hair long? That was over a minute slower than Honu, even though the swim was easier and I was wearing a wetsuit. Whatever. I was first out of my wave.
I haven't done a race in a wetsuit in forever and totally forgot how hard it can be to get one of those things off in transition. Where were those strippers when you needed them anyway?? Both my hip flexors were cramping as I struggled to jam my knee up while pulling down on the legs. That darn wetsuit just wouldn't come off my ankles! I had to sit down and work it slowly so my hips didn't seize up any more than they already were.
Off on the bike. OH OH OH OH OH MY GOSH I'M SO COLD. OH OH OH IT'S SO FREAKING COLD. OH MY GOSH THIS IS COLD. HOLY MOLY ITS COLD. OH OH OH OH IT'S SO FREAKING COLD.... On it went like this for about 2 hours. Up and down* a whole bunch of hills. Trying to get my legs to GO. SO HAPPY to be climbing because at least then I was going slower so the air wasn't moving as fast around my cold wet torso with just that darn wet tri-suit on. Down the hills... OH OH OH OH OH MY GOSH IT'S SO COLD... My fingers hardly worked to shift my gears and I struggled to get my frozen lips around my water bottle straw so I could drink anything. WHERE'S THE FREAKING SUN???
Somewhere in the middle of the second loop it warmed up a few degrees and the sun started to make it's appearance so it just became COLD, instead of OH OH OH OH OH MY GOSH IT'S SO FREAKIN COLD. At that point my legs and fingers and lips started functioning almost properly so I picked up the pace on the drinking (finally finishing my second bottle) and managed to eat a GU without feeling like I was going to drop the little packet on the ground due to the inability of my mind to control my fingers.
I knew I felt fine and that I'd ridden ok because no women passed me, though I was pretty frustrated when I saw my split on my watch. 2:48? Are you kidding me? I was shocked I hadn't been passed by 10 women with a split like that. But apparently everyone else in my age group had a harder time than I did with the hills and the elements because (shockingly) I found out after the race that I had the fastest split in my age group. Not a fast day out there, that's for sure.
I had to pee in transition, which also surprised me. I only drank 2 bottles on the bike which is WAY less than I normally would, but being cold I just didn't have any desire to drink. I guess I was just shocked that I was actually hydrated enough to pee. In the port-a-potty... come on... hurry up... peeeeeee.... hurry up.... peeeeee... finally I got done and then went to rack my bike and get my running shoes on.
You know what? For once, I was so happy to be off that bike and on the run. Seriously, I'm never happy to be off the bike and running, but in weather like this, running was a way better deal than biking. And since my legs were actually functioning rather than cramping and seizing up on me, I was even happier to be running. :)
Before the race, I gave my goals to Jen, and told her that I wanted to get under 1:50 on the run. Truth be told, I thought that was a pipe dream. Figured 1:52ish was more realistic, but didn't want to appear to be setting my sights too low, so I said 1:50. But I gotta say, at mile 3 I checked my split and decided that 1:50 was indeed very possible today. I wasn't running smoking fast, but I thought about Marit's mantra of strong and steady, and that's exactly what I did. The cool thing about racing a 70.3 when you're training for an Ironman is that these distances, for once, seem so completely doable. With 10 miles left to go, I was sure I had this. I was going to be able to run this pace for 10 more miles. That's a great feeling.
I also tried to imagine that I was Angela... she's such a stud runner and I was totally pretending to be her... in my neon green Trakkers visor and Lunalite shoes. I think that got me through a couple of miles.
I didn't think I was going to win my age group or anything though. I kept waiting for girls to come running by me like gazelles... where were the fast girls in my age group? Finally, around mile 10 or 11, a 37 year old ran by. I kept my pace but wasn't able to match hers. I was ok with that. I kept running and hoped that maybe only one more would pass me so I could get third. Last couple miles, I felt like I was able to push it a little more. Legs were getting tired but I wasn't melting. I was afraid to look at my watch because I didn't want to see how quickly that 1:50 was creeping up on me. Hurry up... go go go...
Cross the finish line. 1:49:49 run! Holy Smokes!!!! I did it! I couldn't believe it. BIG SMILE for the camera.
I know 1:49 is not so fast for some of you awesome runners, but for me, it's awesome. For once, I didn't melt on the run in a 70.3 (in fact, my second loop was only 1 minute slower than my first loop- I'm calling that even split!), and I hung on for second in my age group with a 5:11. Sweet sweet sweet.
Right away I went to go change out of my wet clothes because I was starting to shiver again. Back on with the fleece. And then something kinda cool happened... I was approached by another athlete in the transition area who told me that she reads my blog and she recognized me! At first it sort of tripped me out, but I was really happy to meet Endurance Girl. She did the swim/bike on a relay yesterday and is doing IM Canada in 2 weeks. Good luck, Endurance Girl!
Anyway, I'll be back later this week with details about the weekend... and the flights... holy moly the flights. The drama with me and airplanes apparently hasn't ended quite yet. Stay tuned because it's a pretty crazy story.
*I had the opportunity to test out a Trakkers GPS unit during the race... so my mom was following me online (live!) at her home in Ohio... apparently the unit was giving my current mph and avg pace on the bike/run. Mom thought it was malfunctioning because she said my current pace was all over the place on the bike... 41 mph, 26 mph, 9 mph... clearly this stupid GPS thing isn't working. HA! I assured her afterward that the hills on this course made all those numbers quite correct.