We had both spent time the night before packing bags and choosing gear. Despite M's teasing and threats, he had already picked out all his food, so we were not going to be in for a repeat of the Half-Marathon Madness.
I even had a food plan. I knew what I was going to eat and when. We found an easy parking spot in a location I will never share so that no one else can park where we parked. (Hey, we were going to get blocked in by the road closures, anyway). The plan was to send our gear bags back to the house with my parents after the race, and M and I would walk/ride to the Metros and metro home with the bikes.
The first snafu happened as we were heading towards the race. My mother, who was my special needs person in charge of handling my cochlear processor, caught a snippet of the verbal announcement and said, "They just said you can't wear your bike cleats." That obviously made no sense so I immediately decided my mother was just insane in the pre-dawn periods, and ignored all the rest. Hey, we make dumb decisions at 5AM, OK?
As we got closer, we could hear the full announcement. The swim was canceled, and we would all start with the bike. (That was the "no bike cleats". You had to run into the bike zone as if you had just done the swim: no bike gear at all. The only difference is you'd be dry, not wet.) It turned out that the hard rain had caused a sewage overflow, and the Potomac was filled with raw sewage. A few kayakers who later posted to Facebook shared that the water was beyond nasty.
Having just spent the last year getting over e.Coli, I was very disappointed to not get to swim, but OK with it in the end. I really do think the Nation's organizers make the right decision. Considering all the novices at this race, you have to err on the super safe side. And the not-gross side.
Well, we all know how happy I am on the bike. There was one spot early on in the bike loop where I hit that magical spot of speed and perfect gearing where the bike just feels it is humming underneath you. It's been a long time since I was strong enough to hit that spot, and I thought, "Oh, hello, happy place. There you are!"
The olympic was a very well marked double loop with an out-and-back section. I was worried because I hadn't had time to go to a course briefing, but I needn't have worried. It was SO CLEAR in the markings.
I actually forgot my bike computer! So I had no idea how fast I was going at any point. I knew I'd have to ride by feel. I went out pretty hard, and stayed in beast mode all through that ride. I still notice just how slow I am on hills (where did my strong hills legs go?!), so I have an area to work on for next year. Arlington hills, you are mine. But on a flat, I'm pretty strong. And in the head wind, I just hunch into my drops and settle in to suffer for a bit. Head winds I can handle.
I spent a fair amount of time passing, and a fair amount battling for space. The one drawback was a few passes in the no-passing zone, and a few passes on my right. There's rules for a reason, and if you were in a bind, and HAVE to pass on the right (I had to a few times, when there was a slow person hanging out in the left lane), but I hate being passed on the right when there's space on the left. In particular was this one Rev3 girl on a tri bike who was NOT happy that I was passing her, and didn't want to give up the spot. So she'd battle back and come up on my right. Really, chickie. You're on a tri bike. I'm on a roadie. I've passed you. So drop back, regain some energy, and come back and pass me on the left like a good girl. Give yourself a few minutes to recoup and you'll put time on me, but just this constant battling is sapping your energy- especially when I'm still in my saddle and you are standing. I finally dropped her on the out and back because I was just a stronger rider. But she came and caught me on the run. Because that's just how it works.
Over all: I had a 1: 21 on the bike (about 18 mph). Not my fastest (which was 20mph on the same course 2 years ago), but not my slowest. I did my best on that bike course though, and at least I didn't slack off for a minute.
I had decided I would go all out on the course, just to see what I could do. That being said, my run legs take forever to come in. And after really going all out on the bike course, my legs were quite whiny. But I battled through the initial pain and (yes), laziness. I decided to cover up my watch and run by feel. I'm debating if that was a good idea or not, because the mile markers were so clear, and I wonder if I had run by the watch, would I have felt that I could pep myself up any more?
My run legs had settled by mile 2 and I settled into what felt like a hard pace. Not as hard as I ran, say, Rolf Prima (on dirt) but harder than I ran this course a few years ago. I was fretting about my shoes a bit. I'd been lacing my ONs all summer, and switched to the speed laces the night before the race. Yes, yes, yes, don't change things right before a race. I know, I know. I did it. And I suffered for it. The ON speed laces just don't give me the support I've come to expect from those shoes. So I'll need to try different speed laces next time.
I finished in 2:30:54. Far from my fastest time (a 2:14 something a few years ago), it was also not my slowest times for those two events. So I'm OK with it. Considering how sick I was with e.Coli and how awful the nutritionist was and what a big set back the beginning of the summer was, I'm content with not-the-greatest, not-the-worst.
My goal for next year: stay healthy, get stronger, and demolish this time for a PR.
Races I'm considering: we both want to do Eagleman (a half Iron) in Maryland, and I am interested in the Quassy Rev3 (why not a CT race where family can watch?), and M wants to do another couple obstacle course runs, which could be fabulous since I could have a goal to work on upper body strength for! I was chatting with his best friend about wrist pain and pushups, so I think I have some ideas and it's high time I stop whining about upper body strength and regain some power.