Name shirt. Mine is in the 0.
Anyway, my teammates had a great house less than a five minute walk from the race start/finish. This made for an awesome stay. We could make our own food and walk to the start, making for a nice race day morning. I wished I brought more vegetarian food, but I survived, using my "eat meat if its the safest option" theory. I figured I needed extra calories and fat and protein the day before the race, so without quinoa, it was a meaty subway day for me. And pasta. Can't remember when I last had pasta with sauce,but my eyes got big and I ate a whole lot the night before.
We showed up bright and early on race day... Or should I say foggy and early! I could barely see the buoys in the fog. I set up my transition area. Now the night before, I experimented with packing my bag in a different way. Remember all those pre race anxiety dreams, most of which involved me forgetting something in transition? Remember those!
Jitters made it really hard to eat anything substantial, so I chocked down a Picky Bar and made about 17 trips to the bathroom. By race time, I was in line #18 when I saw my wave lining up, so I ran off to join the wave. I gave my cochlear to my #1 cheerleader, aka official special needs guy (he had a special bracelet and everything!), and in we went!
I'm kinda disappointed in my 50 minute swim. I think it just takes me a really long time to warm up in water, so for the first half mile, I just couldn't crawl stroke. I back stroked until I felt warm and comfortable. I need to learn how to get warmed up more quickly or better. On the bright side, by buoy #8, I told myself I was being ridiculous and I did not work so hard on my swim just to back stroke the whole damn swim. So I forced myself to turn over and then I was off like a shot! I bet I swam the last half mile in 20 minutes, flat. Thanks, coach Judy!
I am really glad we drove the bike course the day before. It is technical, meaning the terrain is aLittle tricky, so you need to know when to hit the speed and when to gear down for a climb to really get the most out of the ride. I went out way too hard (but was having fun!) and torched my legs in this ride, but I really think I left it all on the course. So I'm glad for that. I hit a bit of a wall around the second half of the ride, when the climbs really started hurting. I still hit a bunch of the rollers really well, so I am proud of my rolling and climbing, but I could tell I wasn't getting as much power. I think it was a combo of a tough course plus wonky nutrition. I was right on the edge of being nauseous all race day- so I have some work to do on my nutrition. The powerbar perform worked amazingly well for me- some people complained it was salty, but I loved it. I tried the trick of taping my gels to my top tube, which also worked great... I just need to force myself to eat more of them.
I still feel likea strong cyclist. I dropped a few tri bikes early on and played catch and go with another one for most of the ride. It's always fun to blow by a tri bike!
Overall, this was the grossest bike ride I've ever had! Let's just say that my gloves and arm warmers are now in the wash. Also, the aid stations didnt give us open powerbar stuff. One guy unscrewed the cap entirely, so when I tried to take a drink the cap fell off and drink sloshed all over me. The second bottle was screwed on tightly, and opening it while it was in the bottle cage of a moving bike was... Interesting. In the end, drink was sloshed all over me and the bike. Your knees are right near the bottle cages, so my knees were really sticky, which bugged me for a long time! I kept wondering how to rinse off my knees.
There is one notorious climb at mile 40- it was the one place where I doubted that I would make it up the rest of the ride. I didn't see anyone walking but there was a lot of high fiving and "good jobs" with competitors when we all topped out. That was really tough! Thankfully, I knew it was a short hill- it was just punchy.
Easily the toughest part of the race. I am not a runner! I grabbed most of my stuff and headed out... Where to my horror, I discovered I had left T2 without my race number! That was where I really started crying because I was afraid I would get disqualified. (It's a penalty- 4 minutes!) I stopped at the first aid station to ask an official and she said I was ok. I could only hope that I could run back to transition when the race looped around.
Barely into the run, I started feeling a hot spot in the heel of my shoe...which had NEVER bothered me before! Soon, it was a large blister. I stopped to adjust things, but it was no good- the blister just keep building until around mile three as I approached the loop that went near transition. It burst and I felt a warm wet feeling filling my shoe.
I actually thought, "oh good, maybe the blood will lubricate things!"
By this point I was crying from pain as well as from forgetting my number. Thankfully, I saw M my #1 cheerleader and screamed out about my number. He yelled back something about keep running and he'd go do something about it. As I was on the out and back, he yelled at me to look at the ground and there was my number! I scooped it up and happily pinned it on! I had been so upset, berating myself for f**king up my race like this and how I was going to get so disqualified, and here it was! Yay for my race number fairy! (Side note- it is both a penalty to get help and to not wear a race number, so I'm very lucky that I didn't get caught. If I had been in contention for a podium or championship spot, I would have not accepted the spot. As it was, I am so far back in my age group and doing my first of these ironman tris, so I am chalking this up to a rookie mistake.)
The pain in my foot was worse and worse. It felt like getting a knife through my tendon! And did I mention the blister burst at mile 3? Now my other foot was working on a hot spot at the same spot. I slowed down to a walk/run combo, and just battled through the pain. Just kept ticking off numbers- 7 miles, 8 miles, 9 miles, four to go, 10 miles, just one 5k, 12 miles... Just run like it was the only mile I had to run that day!
As I approached the finish chute, M had told my name to these super cheerleader bystanders so everyone was screaming my name like I was the winner! (That was cool!) As you go through the chute, they say stuff about you- wish I could remember what I heard! Something about where I was from and "for the first time..." But I was running literally through a fog of pain. You hear that all the time, but really, my whole world was nothing but getting through that chute so I could stop running and take off my shoe! I got through! Some volunteers grabbed me- from watching others, I think they were the ones who took off your timing chip and gave you your medal and a hat. The photo man took my picture, and someone gave me a water bottle which I immediately stuffed down my front. You would too.
By this point I was crying for real, and this one lady near me was just all "awwwww". Then I took off my shoe which was soggy with blood and made a very satisfying SQUELCH sound. Then the people around me a sound like "wow" with more than a few sympathy pain faces. Nothing is so good in suffering as validation!
It was so good to get the shoe off. You know what was not so good? When I went for my race massage and the therapist and I thought I should clean the blood off first. We tried hand sanitizer. Yeah, not going to try that again!
After watching the last of my team come in, it was off to well earned burgers and beer!
People are already asking if I was going to do another. Some people decide within 10 minutes of racing! I want a week or so...