I ain't gonna lie. I was going for the win in my age group. But that's ONLY because I felt like this could happen. My training was solid and I had done well in my recent duathlon. Albeit the duathlon is a much shorter distance, nonetheless, my brain was in-it-to-win-it. I felt the "eye of the tiger" and focus thing going on. It felt really good to be in this place in training.
Mary picked me up at 4:45. I had already downed my fruit and plant based protein smoothie. I had a new fuel pack of "e-gel and e-fuel". Have you tried it? It worked very well for me. NO STOMACH ISSUES and less sugar.
We got to the race in a calm, ready state. We realized early on that our van was parked at least a quarter mile to the transition and registration area. We decided we'd better go get "marked", register, then come back and get all of our thig-a-ma-jigs for transition. After fiddling around at the car for miscellaneous task (Mary's break needed adjusting) we then realized we only had 30 minutes left to rack bikes, set up transition, put on wet suit, and get to the start. No warm-up today! Drat!
On our way to transition we soon realized in a flash that neither of us had a chip but all of the other athletes (who had already racked their bikes) had chips on the ankles. Drat again! Where were our chips? Oh - in the building next door to where we picked up our numbers. Nobody told me that! Panic started to seep through my veins just a bit. I tried to remain calm knowing I still had several tasks that needed to be done. In mere minutes we quickly racked our bikes transition, donned our wet-suits, picked up the chips, watched organizers help Mary who had an issue with her wet suit zipper, then finally we were off to the start. I was a little rattled but managed to stay in control.
Standing at the start with my wave I was, once again, not really paying attention. Rather odd that I had one of my best races ever but yet could not bring myself to pay attention to the starting line. I hadn't even put my googles on and all I heard was "GO".. then another "GO".. MEANING, YES YOU, GO.. and GOOGLES, GOOGLES. I was the first person in my wave to go off. I was that psyched to get going but forgot to put on my googles.
I had several mantras for the swim... swim fast! No seriously.. I'm not used to swimming fast. It's a learned skill and takes a ton of practice. Use your abs, don't pull to soon, rotate, spot often, don't slow down, pull hard underwater. These are the things my coach Ange and I worked on for the past few months. It worked. I popped out of the water in a time that was 2 minutes fast than last year. Success! I think I could have gone under 38 minutes had I not been stricken with a HUMONGOUS CRAMP only 50-75 yards from shore. It took me at least 20-30 seconds longer to get to the shore. I had a huge bruise in that spot for the 3 days after the race. Wierd!
Miraculously, as soon as I started to jog to T1 my cramp dissipated. I tried to calm my breathing while moving steadily. It went smoothly.. I didn't fall or anything.. but it wasn't fast.
On the bike - I gave myself 10 minutes or so to calm down from the swim and pump things back up. Everything was working and I had everything I needed. I settled in. I kept my eyes on my average watts and hit my lap button 10 minutes in. Then, I hit it every 30 minutes. My bike was broken down into 30 minute segments. It had been raining hard all morning until race time which caused the roads to be wet while racing. I saw one guy slide and go down in front of me and I felt bad. I asked if he was OK but he didn't answer. He did however pop right up and look at this bleeding hand. There was a fuel table about 50 yards ahead so I figured I needn't stop.
I carried all of my own fuel on the bike so I didn't have to drink Gatorade on the course. This trade-off probably made my bike slightly heavier than necessary but I did not care. Having my own fuel is really key to me because of stomach issues. At one point I was filling my torpedo bottle with my back bottle and BAM! I dropped a bottle which is penalty worthy. I took a quick look back to see if any race sheriffs were around but alas. No one saw me. Phew. I kept working the bike. Every time I saw my watts dip I focused on bringing it back up. Unfortunately - in all of the rushing for the start - the one thing I didn't get to do was calibrate my watts. In the end my watts were lower than last year but my speed was faster! I was 4 minutes faster on the bike this year with less watts! Success!
T2 was an attempt to jog but was more like a shuffle. My legs were pretty stiff. By now I have an idea how this works. If you keep moving even when you hurt, you will soon feel better! Looser! and well, just plain better. It's amazing really.
The run. Oh the run. How I love thee. I gave myself 3 miles to find a pace I could work off of. I settled at a 7:51 pace. The 2nd 3 miles were right around that pace give or take a few seconds. The 2nd half of this run is hillier than the first half so my pace did slow a bit but not a lot. I knew that if I could keep my pace and the cadence I had going on, my run would be better than last year. I managed to catch the women who were in front of me on the bike. There were at least five I think.
In mile 13 of the run a young man that I had just passed was running just behind me. There was about a half mile left in the race. He must have had a surge of adrenaline that he wanted to pass on. Suddenly I heard him yell to me "OK no one is behind you. You are going to take this in", like a drill sergeant. I had just passed another woman in my age group so when he said this I bit right into it and said.. OK! His pep talk helped me to go faster. I finished strong and happy but also hurting. As Ange would say "it's supposed to hurt"..
Starting out in triathlon for several years I would cried hard at every finish line of the half iron. Like a baby. It hurt so bad. I did get choked up while on the podium but this feeling I had was a deep down feeling of accomplishment and pure joy. I had worked really hard and I finally got my day. It's as simple as that.