My morning started off at 4am, woke up, made the coffee and oatmeal and sat down at the computer to check Facebook. It's relaxing and mundane which is good for race morning. I had my bags packed and ready to go. I stretched on the floor with the pups (well, they weren't stretching, they were still sleeping wondering WHY THE HELL we were up so early.) My bike was already racked so I gathered my stuff and left the house at 5:20am, should have plenty of time to get there, drop off my run back and put my nutrition on the bike.
I brought a banana and bagel with me to get extra cals in before the start. Coach told us to eat about 600-800 cals before the start. I had 300 down with my oatmeal, the banana would be an additional 100 and the bagel is over 200. Perfect!
Okay, so this is where it gets 'not the way I planned it' and I sat in traffic for 1hr and 45 min. Reaching the parking lot at 7:05am, transition was supposed to close at 7:15am and I still had to catch a bus to the lake. I ran in my flip flops from my car (which they had us park really far away!!) to the run transition, found my number and dropped off my bag. Then I ate my banana as I got on a bus to the lake and bike transition. Got there at 7:13am to the announcement that the race would start on time and 'Please exit the transition area.' I finally heard that the delay was an accident, and I couldn't believe that they weren't going to delay the race as there were still athletes parking. But, I squeezed into transition, my training friend had put my helmet out for me (thank you!!) and I got my water bottles on. At the last minute I remembered that I hadn't pumped up my tires. I found a pump got one tire done and then went to the other side and it was deflating my tire instead of putting air in. Stressed to the max, I finally got it to at least 90-100psi (My usual is 110psi so I was a little freaked) and left transition.
I was so mad from the morning's events and my adrenaline was pumping, but the good thing was that I didn't have time to stress about the 1.2 mile swim. As we all know, swimming terrifies me and I'm not a great swimmer, not to say that I haven't made great strides within this year. Well, it was too late to eat my bagel, I had never done that before swimming so I didn't want to have cramps and dnf (did not finish) in the water. Got my wetsuit on and saw a lot of my T3 peeps volunteering and already giving us morning cheers.
The swim - I rocked this (for me) and finished in 46:35 (2:27/100), which is better than my normal pool time of 2:30/100!! Very excited! I got my wetsuit down, plopped on the ground for the wetsuit strippers to do their thing (sounds dirty doesn't it? Teeheehee) and off I went. Coach called out, 'She's right in front of you! Go get her!' He was referring to one of my training friends. I tried to run up the hill, but it didn't happen. I got stickers in my feet and decided to take my time, get my heart rate down and relax. Transition 1 - 7:27 (whoops!)
On to the bike. We were told to start eating asap, I waited until 7 min had passed making sure that the blood transferred to my legs. So far so good, got my first bottle down within the hour. Took 2 salt tabs and was enjoying myself. The second hour is where things started to go South. I ate 1/2 my power bar and it didn't sit well at all. I tried drinking water and the stomach cramps came. I kept eating and drinking, but I only got half of it down. I poured water on myself like I was told, but MY GOD the chaffing was terrible. I forget that we don't often practice swimming then biking, need to do this more. The ride started to feel really hard, and in spots where I usually fly. It felt windy, but when I looked around I didn't see the trees moving. In the third hour I started on my second bottle of nutrition. Got 3/4 of it down. Didn't finish my water. Total bike - 3:08:17 (17.85 avg mph)
As I rolled into the transition my back hurt and my shoulders hurt. Very unusual for me after riding. But I took out all of my run gear (we had to keep it in bags, which was different) and put all my bike gear in. I saw T and he was saying 'Go, Go!' and I said, 'I'm trying, not working!' and off I went. Transition 2 - 4:57 (way too long!!)
I started jogging (shuffling) and quickly realized that my quads were toast. And they shouldn't have been. My plan was to run an 11 min mile, as I've been doing 10-10:30 on my longer runs. Well...as I got to mile marker 1 I was at 14 min. I DID stop and use the port-a-john, but that didn't take too much time. I did some calculations in my head and knew to make my goal of 7hrs I would have to do a 13 min mile. Here is where it got really, really hard. The sun was beating down (or so it felt) and by mile 3 nausea had set in. I carry my water with me and it has a pouch for nutrition. I started chomping on these gummy Honey Stingers (tasty) and sipping my water. The really hard part about the run is that it's two loops. So when you're on your first loop the first sign you see is 'Mile 8' and knowing that you haven't even hit mile 2. Big bummer.
Through the park we went, the volunteers were great, thank goodness they were there since no one else was in the park, and 2/3 of the course was away from spectators. I made myself a deal. If I needed to I could walk up the inclines, but had to jog any decline and flat section. It worked for the first loop, kind of. My run coach was at the top of this long ass hill and as soon as I knew he could see me I started jogging (hahaha), but man did it help with him out there. At mile 5 I started feeling really sick. I dry heaved and had to stop, but then kept going. I ran past all the cheering sections and they said 'You're looking great! Almost there!' and bless their hearts I just wanted to bite their heads off b/c I knew that I didn't look great or strong and I just wanted to cry!!
I ran past T at the turnaround for loop 2 and he said, 'Almost there!' and I said, 'WTF would you say that???? I'm just starting my 2nd loop!!!' I was pissed. Which I guess was his intention, except unlike most people I don't get motivated with that kind of thing, I get into self-defeating mode. So onto the second loop. I try to take a Hammer Gel and I have to chew it because it does not want to go down...at all. My clot leg was like a lead weight, it felt like it weighed 5lbs and was getting more and more swollen by the mile. I kept sipping water, had 2 oz of Gatorade and as I reached mile 10 I was sick of eating and drinking. Nothing was making me feel better. I really wanted to stop. But I didn't.
I kept going and ran up the section of the hill where my run coach was. I ran through the park and let the volunteers put ice down my back (THAT was awesome) and walked/ran until I got to the spectator section. I ran it in, finishing with a forced smile on my face (you have to have a good finish photo right???) and seriously was wishing that there was no one there. Run time - 2:48:31 (12:51min mile)
I wanted to cry. The overwhelming emotions of finishing, feeling bad, relief...etc. You get the idea. But my husband, friends, co-workers, teammates....they were all there. I finished in under 7hrs, my goal.
It was a good race and it was a bad day. I finished and I'm proud of myself. There are so many lessons and takeaways from this day. But for today it's just - 'I finished!'