Date: Sunday, June 14, 2010
Location: Cambridge, MD
Race Type: Triathlon - Half Ironman Distance
My race morning began with a 4:15 AM wakeup call. I grabbed a small cup of coffee (6 oz) and drank my breakfast smoothie with milk, protein powder, blueberries & banana. I wasn't sure if this would get me through the day but it actually did. I drank a small bottle of Heed to make sure I got some electrolytes in my system before the race and I believe that helped as well. Of course, two days of drinking electrolytes and water prior to race day was key, too.
Before leaving the hotel I lathered myself in SPF 50 sunscreen because I knew it was going to be a hot day. Little did I know the heat index was going to rise to 101 today!
After arriving at the race venue I allowed myself some time just to soak in the atmosphere. This was going to be a great day and I wanted to be sure to remember even the smallest details of what was happening around me. Here is a picture I took prior to the race start. The river is the Choptank River in Cambridge, MD and it was where we did the swim portion of the race. Just absolutely gorgeous!
Port-a-potty lines were crazy. I thought it was cute they had "portajane" potties - "Port a Jane - because John Can't Aim" was their motto! Too funny!
Anyway, as I was waiting in line for the bathroom, my friend said "Hey, is that Michael Phelps mom?" I turned around to look and the lady sure did look like her. Finally I got up the nerve to go ask and, sure enough - it was her and Michael's aunt! Crazy who you meet in a port-a-potty line! She was just the sweetest lady! I was really glad I went to say "hi" to her. Anyway, they were there to cheer on Michael's sister Hilary who was racing. I'm told she is a pretty amazing triathlete and she actually started in the same swim wave as me since the Athena's started with the 30-34 year olds.
Swim (1.2 miles...well...1.5 miles from what I'm hearing): 1:01:16
Now, some people got their first "freak out" moment of the day when we were told this race was officially wetsuit ILLEGAL! WHAT? Just yesterday the water temps were 74-76 degrees and now it's 79 degrees and 78 degrees makes it illegal. Hey, fine by me! I mean, a wetsuit makes me buoyant and may help me shave off a second or two from my time but to not have the neck of the suit choking me throughout the entire swim was a GREAT relief! I was also thankful that Sea Nettles (similar to jellyfish) were not an issue this year either because that would have been another reason to wear a suit.
As is typical with any open water swim (OWS) you're going to get punched, kicked, swam on top of, etc. This is one of my all-time favorite videos describing what triathletes experience in a race setting.
This race was a little worse than others I had been in and I think I was to blame for most of it! Obviously at the start people are all over each other but because my swimming had improved over the winter I wasn't swimming out there all by myself anymore but was surrounded by people! During the first turn around I felt myself swimming on top of someone only to look up and realize it was my friend Jennifer! YIKES! Sorry girl! However, toward the end of the swim this one girl and I were stroke for stroke to the end and with each stroke we took we were right on top of each other - either she was on top of me or I was on top of her. Finally I just let her get a stroke ahead of me because it was annoying the crud out of me!
I felt pretty good about my swim. I was comfortable with my stroke and I sited the buoy's much better this time than previous OWS but there were still a few times I got off course by just a tad and had to make minor corrections. I freaked out a little when I got out of the water and saw my time, though. I was expecting to finish the swim around 45 minutes and seeing over 1 hour was a little shocking. What I came to find out later is the swim was longer for everyone - apparently by about 0.3 miles. Adding the 0.3 miles to the little corrections I had to make from my personal length adjustments made sense that I would have finished around an hour.
I felt GREAT physically when I came out of the water. Nothing like my Rumpass in Bumpass experience of nearly passing out. I ran out of the water, ran to my bike, sat down and put on my cycling shoes, sprayed more sunscreen on me, put on my gear, drank a sip of electrolytes and I was on my way.
Bike (56 mi): 3:13:00 @ 17.4 mph
As I was heading out on my bike I saw that a van had just run into a PARKED car (probably an athlete's car) and torn the bumper off of it! I hope that athlete had a good race, otherwise this day may have just turned very horrible for someone from Massachusetts!
I felt great getting on the bike. The first 20 miles I did in one hour. I was like YEAH!!! I'm going to finish the bike in record time...then the winds came! It wasn't as bad as I heard it COULD be but with this super flat pancake course I needed something for a change of pace. Just about the only thing that slowed me down were the winds, slowing to pick up water bottles, slowing to eat my food, and slowing because I got stuck behind someone and the speedsters were flying by me on the left and I just couldn't get over and around people at times.
I was so thankful for practicing nutrition during my training. Every half hour I switched between having either a gel or 1/4 peanut butter and honey sandwich. I wasn't sure how I'd hold up with the sandwich on a hot day and, I really would have liked to have packed another gel on the bike instead of eating that last 1/4 sandwich but, it did what it was supposed to do for me and I was pleasantly surprised how I felt (nutritionally) coming off the bike.
There were several times on last part of the bike where I "shook out" my legs. Once or twice I even unclipped so I could really stretch them out and prepare for the run. My quads were really hurting and trying to stand and pedal was nearly out of the question.
The scenery on the bike was gorgeous. I'm going to have to take my camera back there someday soon and shoot pictures there. We rode through a nature preserve and some of the scenes were just too beautiful to have not photographed.
I can't believe I was so slow in T2. That is usually my faster transition! I did put on socks for this race but that should have only taken me a few seconds more! Oh well, I sprayed myself down with sunscreen for a third time, did what I was supposed to do and headed out for the run. OH....the run....
Run (13.1 miles): 3:11:06
I'm so glad I have practiced a lot of bricks (bike workout immediately followed by a run workout) during my training because it really helped on this day. Getting off the bike my legs were screaming at me! I continued on because I knew that pain would subside eventually...and it did. In the past, it's taken me about 3 miles for my legs to recover from the bike but I'd say it only took me about 1-2 miles this time.
More than the pain in my legs, the heat and air quality was killing me! I had taken my cell phone and clipped it to my fuel belt for the run just in case I felt like calling my friends who were waiting for me at the finish line to give them an approximate finish time. But, I was right on course with where I wanted to be so far. However, 1/2 mile into the run I was ready to stop! I called Christina (my training partner) who was waiting at the finish line but she didn't answer her phone. It was a good thing she didn't. I was ready to ditch it all and was going to tell her so. But, not being able to reach her made me reach down inside myself - what I had left - and go to that place I had known before. I began praying. I knew this was the only way I would get to the finish line. I had promised myself before the race that I wouldn't stop in the run. Henry (Christina's husband) had told me that pain comes and goes in waves so I tried to remember that. But, unfortunately it wasn't the pain that was bothering me (although my legs were still screaming from the bike for sure) - it was the air quality and heat and I knew I needed to be smart on this day and not push myself through these conditions.
The first water stop couldn't have come any faster! I drank water, ate ice, and had a bite of a chocolate chip cookie and a bite of a saltine cracker. Yeah, food isn't a great idea for me on the run portion! I put some ice up in my hat to keep me cool and kept running. After the first water stop I started catching on to what I needed to do pretty quickly so at all the following water stops I grabbed a cup of ice for my hat, a cup of ice to chew on between water stops, a cup of ice water to drink, and a cup of iced Pepsi to drink. I felt AMAZING after drinking the Pepsi! It has been so long since I had drank a full-blown calorie-laden, high fructose corn syrup-laden soda that the sugar felt like it immediately went into my bloodstream and "perked me up!" The soda really made me feel great but the carbonation was kinda upsetting my stomach. Thankfully I didn't get sick on the run course...although I seriously thought I would.
The run was pretty horrible for me but I plodded along doing the Ironman shuffle to reach the finish line about 1/2 hour over my goal time of "under 7 hours."
It felt AMAZING!!!! I just completed a 70.3 (um...70.6) mile race! Are you kidding me??? Best part was that I actually came in 2nd place in the Master Athena division and my new friend, Jennifer came in 3rd place! Whoo hoo! Thank you Jesus!!!
Jennifer & I with the race director getting our awards
My 2nd place trophy!
Summary and lessons learned
Practice more OWS so I don't get off course in the swim as much.
Practice more in the heat of the day to prepare for days like this!
Continue playing around with nutrition. I think my nutrition worked out really well on this race but I want to have more options the next time.
Find sunscreen that WORKS! Even after three "during race" applications and one post-race application my shoulders are almost to the point of blistering!
Special Thanks (aka my Victory Speech that I didn't prepare with my list of items for race day! LOL)
Fist of all, I thank God for allowing me to get my body in the physical shape it needed to be in to complete this race, for giving me the opportunity to share my experience with so many people and for allowing me to actually do well in the race.
I thank my family for putting up with all the long training hours I had to go through and the time I had to spend away from them while doing so. Thanks for sticking in there and encouraging me to reach my goals.
I want to thank my AMAZING coach, Laurie for pushing me through the winter, for helping me do the hard things when I really didn't want to, for encouraging me, for laughing and crying with me through the past 6-8 months. Thank you for helping me find the right nutrition for my body and helping me get some of this extra weight off - can't wait to continue that...after I have a few days of eating everything in sight! I can't tell you what a key role you played in getting me where I am.
To my fabulous training partners at Amaiza Fitness - you girls have encouraged me, supported me and loved on me through a long winter and you have been some of my best cheerleaders ever! Special thanks to Kristen for the awesome note the night before my race and to Christina for being there at the race cheering for me, encouraging me and taking pictures!!!
Thanks to my compu-trainer friends for leaving me in your virtual dust all winter long. It helped me to get so much stronger on the bike which has been my biggest improvement throughout my training. Thank you Jeff, Sarah, Kirsten & Lori!
To Molly - my amazing roommate and photography bud! Thank you for allowing me to stay with you in a stress-free environment this weekend. You were amazing - I couldn't have done as well in the race without you! Now, let's move on to our next goal...CPP Certification!!!
To my virtual friend (up until this weekend) Jennifer who has unknowingly pushed me to go faster and longer just so I could have a podium finish with you! You're awesome! Thank you for letting me have such a relaxing dinner with you guys the night before the race!
A big thank you to Jan for coming out to the race and for bringing me my post-race milk...and it was still cold! I will forever be grateful for that!
Thanks to Jen at ATP Endurance Systems for the awesome bike fit!
Thank you to all my friends and family who have said words of encouragement to me over the past several months as I've trained for this race. Each and every word was heard and taken to heart.