I rode my bike up to the race venue, using ONLY bike paths, which was pretty cool, considering the race is completely all the way on the other side of town. I got there with only about 30 minutes before they closed transition but I hurried and the only thing I forgot was to take off my watch, so I just promised myself I would not look at it (which I didn’t, not even one time). I have been getting used to racing naked, I mean without a watch and I think it works MUCH better for me. It eliminates all the judge-y left brain, I am not going fast enough/I am going too fast/ I will die at this pace/There is no way I will meet my goal at this pace type stuff and all you are left to go on is how your body feels.
The 1500m swim was uneventful. I made every effort to sight often, so I pretty much stayed on course. I got out of the water and there was a big huge black clock that I could not avoid, which read 49:xx and since I got in the water 10 minutes after the first wave, I thought “39:00! That sucks!” but then I told myself to just forget about it and keep moving and sure enough I literally forgot about it. By mile 5 of the bike I was thinking “Was my swim time 38? 28? 41? Hell if I know, I totally forgot.”
Transition was quick except for wrestling with my wetsuit and futzing around with my new/old shoes. I lost my triathlon shoes which I realized the day before the race, and at the last minute I still couldn’t find them BUT I had just 2 days prior found my road shoes which for like 6 months I thought I lost and had totally given up on, but they were actually in with the wrapping paper (????). So when I reorganized the wrapping paper (yes I have better things to do, it just seemed important at the time), I found the road shoes, so really it was the perfect time to totally misplace my tri shoes. With just the new/old/previously buried in wrapping paper road shoes available (other than my crappy really old shoes with SPD cleats which are just for the spin bikes at the gym), all I had to do was remove my Look Pedals (which go with my tri shoes) and replace them with my Speedplay pedals (which go with the road shoes) and voila, I was in business! But the road shoes have a weird tongue so that was annoying in transition.
Bike: Dan cheered for me when I was leaving transition:) I tried to avoid going all out for the beginning because its a false flat which becomes a major hill which turns into a 15% grade lung burner that goes on for at least a mile or so, and I didn’t want to ruin myself too early. When I approached the death part of the climb, I was already in my biggest cog in the back so I double checked to make sure I wasn’t accidentally in my big ring but alas I had no gears left. I mananged while skinny guys with disc wheels blew by me like I was going backward. I have not done this climb in a while, so I had forgotten how hard it was. I think it’s better that way, because you don’t dread it as much. There was some gal next to me breathing like she was going into labor and I am not kidding. One guy was walking his bike up this beast of a hill. Once you crest it, there’s a little downhill, then a little more uphill and then you can basically fly for most of the rest of the course because its a screaming descent, then a lot of flat with a tailwind. I felt really good on the second mini-climb, and then at the very end of the course when there are a few rollers and no more tailwind, I still felt really good and I kept telling myself I was having a great bike, I was strong and to just keep spinning nice and efficient. Bike average speed was 18.4mph for 42K, (is that 25 miles?) which was a significant improvement over my time in 2008. Yeah!
T2 was quick, and my legs felt ready to run. At the first mile marker there was an aid station where I chucked my bottle of Nuun. It was too annoying and and heavy to carry even though I was feeling chilled. I was not thirsty or miserable or any of the other things that usually signify dehydration but I was so cold even though it was in the 80’s and sunny…. This was unsettling but I decided to ignore it and keep moving. My legs felt strong and I was passing a lot of women. I am totally obsessed with the song “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga so that was in my head a lot. Other than “I want your love. Love love love I want your love.” I thought only positive thoughts, like “You are having a great run” and “You love hills, you are good at hills” every time I would approach the base of a hill. At the turnaround I fell which was more embarrassing than painful. I kept thinking positive, knowing that without a watch I had no legitimate reason to think I was running well. However, there was no indication that I was not running well, so I went with that. I typically have no clue what my pace is judging by feel, so it made sense to me to just assume I was having the run of my life. I also had no reason to think I was not within reach of my goal, to break three hours, so I thought of that as I kept running. What if I was within seconds of reaching my goal? I could not afford to loaf… As the run grew more and more uncomfortable, I remembered some of the evil runs Coach Liz has given me and knew for a fact that I was able to suffer and I could keep going like this. Toward the end there is a short downhill stretch where I picked up the pace, and from there its about 1/4 mile to the finish. I tried to maintain my downhill pace as I heard Dan yelling “Go Pammy!” right before I turned the corner for the finish chute. I could barely see I was hurting so bad but I looked up and the clock read 3:07:xx, which meant I had finished within three hours, as I had started ten minutes back. I was willing to accept 2:59:59, so I was stoked. I have been in this sport since 2004 and for the first time I broke three hours! My run time turned out to be 50:16, an 8:08 pace, which was even better than the 8:15 I hoped to hold. Can I just say here that my PR for an open 10k is a 7:36 pace, and that was at sea level? And can I also say this is the first time I have ever had both a solid bike AND a strong run in the same race of this distance? Did I say I was stoked, because I meant I was ECSTATIC. All this time I have been doing these hard workouts from Coach Liz and thinking “Is this enough volume? I paid her, I am doing whatever she says, but seriously, this can’t be enough volume!” it was working. The plan is working! Dan and I watched the pro race and cheered for our roommate (Yes, Dan convinced me to have tenants share our love nest, so far so good!), then we enjoyed hamburgers at Rueben’s which you may note has gluten free buns. I got home and wheeled my bike into the garage. The first thing that caught my eye was my tri shoes which were in a clear Rubbermaid bin with Dan’s climbing rope (?????) It was a good day.