Well well... I have so much to say but in the interest of finishing this post sometime today I'm going to have to leave some of it out. In fact, bullet points may be best here.
~Scott and I met up with some of the Trakkers folks on Friday at thee expo... we got to talk with the head guy from First Endurance nutrition... I love their stuff and they have been a sponsor of Trakkers all year. It was great to throw a bunch of questions at Robert and I feel like I understand their products even better now. Good stuff.
~Then we hit the rides. We had a BLAST at Cedar Point! How often does it happen that you have an amusement park like this to yourselves with NO LINES on any of the rollercoasters? I haven't been on a rollercoaster since senior prom and let me tell you... it was THRILLING! Nutso. Crazy. Jaw dropping. Stomach turning. Fast. FUN. I felt dizzy and lightheaded and all out of whack for several hours after those rides.
~The day before the race was, well, a mess. I felt completely pulled in 100 directions because family members came from all over to see us and play in the park and my athlete/friend Scott drove up from Louisville and I just felt like I was taking care of everyone's needs but my own. And true story... my pre-race dinner was at Perkins. I know. Food options at an amusement park are not even in the ballpark of what I would have preferred to eat, but since I didn't pack my own food and I was trying to keep a group of 10+ happy and together, well, Perkins it was.
~Race morning I was cold and it was windy and I was not happy. It didn't feel as cold and windy as Saturday morning, but it was still too cold and windy for my liking. I felt nauseous and like I needed to find a port-a-potty but I already had my wetsuit on and there was not anywhere to go nearby so I just crossed my fingers that the need would pass. My desire to get into Lake Erie was ZERO.
~I did not warm up at all. Some people got in the water pre-race, but I didn't even stick a toe in before the horn went off. Not ideal I know, but I was shivering and being wet while standing on the beach was just not a position I wanted to be in. I did jump up and down a bit on the beach to get my HR up, but that's it.
~The horn went off and we had to dolphin dive for like 50 meters before the water got deep enough to swim in. For the record, I prefer swimming over dolphin diving. I watched a gal dolphin dive her heart out and she got a huge lead on me in the first 10 seconds and then was gone. I spent the first few minutes of the swim trying to warm up so I just did my thing and wondered if I would see her later? I don't feel like I had a stellar swim but it was fine. By about half way I started feeling strong and smooth, even though the water got choppy. I remember thinking, "I bet other people think this is really choppy..." But I felt completely at home. I was catching lots of men from the waves ahead of us so had to do a bit of dodging so I wouldn't get kicked in the head but all in all it was fine. More dolphin diving at the end and again not fun. I swam as far as I could in before starting the diving part.
~There were no official wetsuit strippers but I totally ran up to the volunteers in the women's change tent and asked them to pull my wetsuit off. My family members watching my transition were like, "Why is she laying on the ground??" but it was all part of my plan. I hate trying to yank my own wetsuit off. My hip flexors always cramp.
~I felt like I fumbled around a lot in T1. My fingers were cold so they didn't work and I tried having my shoes clipped in to my pedals already and while I got my feet in my shoes eventually, I'm not sure that way is actually faster for me?
~I was really cold starting the bike and the pavement was crappy and I was not feeling great. About 15 minutes into the bike, Beth rode by me. That was just what I needed to get my head back in the game. I tied an imaginary 7 meter rope around her and went along for the ride.
~I felt like most of the ride I was completely legal behind Beth. On the little rolling hills I was riding a bit more aggressively than she was so I would end up in her space, but then would back off and get back in my space. I guess technically once I was in her space I should have passed her, and I did that once, but for the most part I liked her pace on the flats and downhills so I didn't bother. While I definitely had a mental advantage of not having to think about pace/effort (Beth is stellar at that, as I knew she would be) I don't feel like I had a physical drafting advantage. The official disagreed though. I didn't know it until the end of the race because they didn't tell me at the time, but apparently the official gave me a drafting penalty. My first one. Ever. I'm still not sure how I feel about that? I don't think it was a fair call, but it is what it is.
~I had to pee SO BAD by the end of the bike. I'd only had 2 bottles of fluids (not even 1/3 of what I would have had on a hot course) but clearly it was enough if I had to pee that bad. Unfortunately there were no downhills to coast on to let it go... I stopped pedaling some and peed a little bit, but I didn't want to come to a complete stop to finish the job. Peeing while riding on a flat road is a challenge indeed. I didn't get it all out.
~I started the run as 3rd OA female... Beth was still in my sight, though she did pick up some time on me at the end of the bike while I was not pedaling and trying to pee. About 1/2 mile into the run I was still dying to pee but didn't want to waste a lot of time doing it. Then, the best sight all day... a nice grassy hill about 1/2 mile into the run. I sat down on the hill, pretended to stretch, and watered the grass with my urine at the same time. Ahhhh. Relief!
~I still got to mile 1 in 8:20, even with my pee stop. Sweet. I wanted to hang onto 8's as long as I could, though realistically I figured 8:10's would be more like it. The first 3 miles were very steady and right on pace.
~As is typical for me, I was on the verge of cramping from the start of the run. I brought some magic micro-algae pills with me and swallowed 2 early on. A few minutes later the crampy twinges were GONE. Perfect. By mile 4 I was feeling really quite solid. 7:45! Nice. I felt really good. I'd been passed by 2 women already so figured I was in 5th pace OA, and I knew that at least 3 of the gals aheadof me were 30-34 (that is such a faaaast age group!). Wasn't sure about the other one b/c she'd been ahead all day and I hadn't seen her.
~At mile 5 I saw a gal up ahead of me. She wasn't running very fast. I actually figured she was just out for a training run or on the course to cheer someone on... but as I neared her, I saw a faded 35 written on her calf. Really? This must have been the gal who led the swim and the bike. And now, I was passing her. I kind of felt bad because I know exactly how she must have felt... I have been there... winning going onto the run only to have a bunch of gals pass you early on... She went from 1st to 5th in 5 miles on the run. But now, I was in 4th! I felt like a runner. And popped off a 7:48 next mile.
~More twinges of cramps around mile 6... more Recovery e21 pills... twinges gone again. I love that stuff.
~I did start to hurt a lot in the last few miles. I was still hanging on to 4th OA... I was timing myself so I knew I was going to break 5 hours, even if I did 10 min miles the last few miles I would still break 5... so I kind of felt like it was goal accomplished... but I still had a few miles to go. And it was straight. into. the. wind. Really stiff hard blowing wind. I felt like I was running straight uphill. I walked. I was hurting. My mantra had gone from "I'm a rockstar!" to "You're faster than you think!" to "Everyone hurts at mile 9 of a half ironman marathon" to "Hold it together" to "Oh please oh please just put one foot in front of the other and get to that darn finish line..."
~I crossed the finish line without any other women passing me... 4th OA! And my watch said 4:56:00! That is a major PR for me. I had my arms in the air and a HUGE smile on my face as I finished. Scott and Moana and my mom were all there at the finish, as was my athlete Scott. I just wanted to sit down. Moana just wanted my medal.
~Later I saw my results online. I don't know how they came up with 5:01? Even with a 4 min penalty I should have been 5:00 flat. I started my watch when the gun went off, got my splits accurately, and stopped it when I crossed the line. So I'm claiming my 4:56:00. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. :)
~For the record, I am a swimmer. But somehow I came out of the water 3rd in my age group, moved up a place on the bike, and then moved up another place on the run. That is just so weird to me I don't even know how to wrap my head around it.
~I should be really sore today. I mean, really sore. Like, hit by a mack truck sore. I thrashed myself yesterday during that race. But I really don't feel that bad. That has been my story for the past 2 weeks since I've started taking that e21 stuff. I know I'm kind of harping on this stuff but I swear it's the most black and white difference between taking it and not taking it and how I feel while training/racing and then afterward as well. I'll tell you that I have been in contact with the maker of the product (great guys out of Australia) and have scored myself a working relationship with them. This is good for you guys because if you want to order it online you can use promo code 'mamasimmons' and get 20% off. For the record, I contacted them about this (they didn't contact me) because I was so incredibly amazed at how well the product worked. It's a new product I wanted to help them promote it.
~I am going to pack my bike in its bike box to fly home tomorrow and then it is gonig to stay there until Christmas. 12 weeks until the Honolulu Marathon!