The race happened last weekend, but better late than never…
I really really wanted to break 6 hours for this race. I was watching the weather carefully leading up to it, hoping it would not be 90 degrees for the run. I think it ended up being closer to 80 than 90, so definitely could have been worse.. Ok starting from the beginning-
Race morning was uneventful. I was running late as usual, got on my bike, realized I forgot my helmet, went back in the garage. Then realized I forgot my aerodrink, went in the house it got it… Got about 3 blocks away and freaked out that maybe I had forgotten my socks. I checked, they were there, and I was on my way… A bridge was out on the bike path so I had to take a detour. I prayed a special prayer, Please god do not let me get lost today. I did not get lost. If you are wondering how it is possible to get lost 3 miles from your house, I am here to tell you, I don’t know how I make it look so easy but I do it like a pro. I got to the race and realized that during my pre-race bike washing ritual I had failed to put my Bento box back on the bike:( Luckily my pocket was sufficient to hold my gazillion gels and salt tabs.
Swim (1.2 miles): The swim went along fine except I was swallowing a lot of water and air. I really wanted to belch but I couldn’t do it while swimming. I was managing ok till someone nearly punched me in the face and I inhaled a gallon of reservoir water. I did the doggy paddle while I tried to avoid aspirating, which was lovely. I got a little off course right toward the end but as usual I came out in 46:xx which is what I was expecting.
I had to pee really bad so I peed in the transition area while changing shoes! This was huge for me. In the ninth grade my youth group went to New York City. There was a huge line in the bathroom of some restaurant before we were about to board the bus for the 3.5 hour trip home. It was my last chance to use the restroom and I couldn’t for the life of me make myself pee in that crowded ladies room. That bus ride was the longest 3.5 hours of my life. I felt very proud of how far I had come in just 16 short years.
Bike (56 mi): The bike was great. I did what Coach Liz said and took it easy for the first 20-30 minutes, letting my heart rate settle down. That is the harder part of the course anyway so I just kept my chain in the little ring and spun easy. After the first half hour I started pushing it but not too hard. Per Liz’s instructions, my heart rate stayed within zones 2-3 for the duration of the ride. I didn’t wear my HRM but I am pretty aware of how my heart rate corresponds with my perceived exertion so this worked out well. I stuck to my schedule of eating gels and taking salt tabs, and drank much more than usual. For most of the second two thirds of the bike course you can really move, it is a very fast course. The second loop was more of the same except I was passing a lot more people. My legs felt strong throughout. When I was in a headwind or on an incline I would think “Strong legs, big mountain lungs.” This was a good little mantra. I finished the bike in just under 2:55, which was my goal. I felt ready to conquer the hot, shadeless run.
Run (13.1 mi): I started the run and remembered what Liz had said, that I should go easy for the first three miles and then pick it up. It was hard to hold back, but my breathing was really out of control so it was probably good that I made myself slow down some. At the third mile I picked up my pace a hair, to where I felt like it was more of a run than a warm up jog. Other than the really fast guys who were on their second loop, I was passing a lot of runners and that felt good. In general I was just feeling good except for the fact that I was still burpy from the swim and I was not interested in eating any more gels but was forcing one down every 30 or so minutes regardless. I was taking advantage of the ice and the cold wet sponges at every aid station, and these were great for cooling me off. I also dumped water on my head at each aid station. At mile 10, with just 3.1 miles to go I picked up my pace a little more, to the fastest I thought I could manage from here to the finish. For the first time at a half ironman, I was not just surviving, I was really running! I felt tired but strong and ready to finish. I didn’t know what time it was but I felt sure I would break six hours and I was excited to let this all be over. I wanted my burpiness to be over, my minor stomach ache to be over, and I wanted to feel the feeling of running through the finish chute because I just wanted to be done. I kept thinking how close I was and that I didn’t have much more to go, just keep it steady and don’t let up. Finally I came through the finish chute, happy and relieved, and then suddenly miserable the second I stopped moving. I thought I was maybe going to puke and I was really confused about my time. The big sign said 6:40 when I ran under it… I started 40 minutes back from the first wave… so did that mean I finished in six hours? Which would be ok except I thought for sure I had ran faster than that… so really it wasn’t ok, I thought for sure I had gone well under 6 hours, but math was never my strong point, and I wasn’t sure if I saw the sign right, I never had a watch the whole day so I didn’t know if my wave went on time or what and then I saw Dan and he said it was 1:09 pm which meant… I wasn’t sure what it meant so I did the natural thing, which was have a meltdown in the middle of the race expo area. I cried on Dan’s chest and hoped no one would notice me totally losing my sh*t. I was tired, bloated, sunburnt, my feet hurt, and I was just overwhelmed.
We walked around a little and then we went back to the tent where my parents and Dan’s parents were hanging out. I ate a few chips and a cookie my mother-in-law made and I felt much better. Then I saw the preliminary results and all was right with the world. I had finished the run in 2:00:53 (sub 2 hour run, I am coming for you next time!!!).
Total time- 5:47:14!!! Yeah!! I was 25th of 80 in my age group, which was super exciting, considering I am normally around the 50th percentile or lower for a race of this distance. A great race and a great way to end the season. Other than being about five minutes slower than I had projected for the run, I had totally executed my plan and had a 17 minute PR. What else can you ask for?