Let me tell you the (only mildly) disappointing news first: no PR. Everything else about the day was awesome, though, and I’m super, super happy with the race and the results. Here’s the whole story, complete with pictures and video, thanks to my 11-year old cameraman.
Honestly, I spent most of Friday so wrapped up in work stuff, mom stuff, and everyday life stuff that I almost completely forgot I even had a race in the morning! I was mindful enough to drink water, eat a good dinner and set my alarm, but that was about it. Every time I thought about the race, I felt like I wasn’t going to do very well because of my lack of training and mostly absent mojo, but then I reminded myself that whether I think I can do something or think I can’t, I’m probably right (I love that quote!), so I tried to think positive thoughts.
I slept like a freakin’ log, which is bizarre for the night before a race, but I was still up an hour before my alarm was set to go off. I’m not a girl in danger of over-sleeping. Just in time to get ready for the day, race nerves hit HARD. Suddenly, I was a jittery, snapping-at-IronHubs mess. I would feel bad about that, but since he acts the same way before a race, I know he understands it. We’re good.
I spent a lot of the morning feeling like I was forgetting something. I’m pretty sure it was because I had decided to race naked – well, almost naked. I chose not to wear my Garmin for the two run portions, but I put it on my bike so I could keep track of my cadence (I’ve been doing a lot of cadence training this summer, and it has totally helped me speed up). I have mixed feelings about going Garmin-less. On the one hand, I felt fine while running without it, but on the other hand, I sure missed analyzing my splits after the fact!
We got to the race site in plenty of time, got checked in with only a minor hiccup (they apparently lost my registration. I’m not sure how, since I registered for the whole series and they had my info for the last two races! No biggie, though, they gave me a bib and I was on my way in less than five minutes), I got body-marked and set up my transition area.
I ended up with just an okay spot. It was pretty much right in the middle of everything, making it tough to find. It’s not like I’m speedy in transition anyway, so I didn’t think this would make much of a difference in my day! I stood in a surprisingly long line for the bathroom, made three new friends while we were waiting, and then it was time to get my butt to the starting line.
Yes, I’m treating you to a movie AND a picture of the start, but here’s who I want you to notice from the photo because I’m going to talk about them: the girl in the light blue/grey shirt (far left), the girl in the bright blue 2XU trisuit (right behind me), the girl in green (mostly hidden behind the dude in the headband), and the flying girl with the hat in all black (on the right).
The field was about the same size as it has been the last two races – maybe 50 people. I recognized quite a few faces from the other races in this series, but there were new people racing, too. Specifically, the girl in the light grey/blue shirt who was my age. *cue ominous music*
The run started off well enough, I went out way too fast like always and just tried to hang on for as long as I could. Since I started way in the front, I was expecting to be passed, particularly by the girl in all black. She’s been first place female at the other two races, and she is faaaaaaaast, so I wasn’t even thinking about staying with her. Then the girl in green passed me. Okay, I could handle third female, and neither one of them was my age, so I was still feeling good. But then around Mile 1 the girl in the light blue/grey shirt who was my age passed me and I was NOT okay with that! I know I said I wouldn’t get all cocky about my two previous AG wins, but yeah, I was sort of thinking I might go for a three-peat and being passed at Mile 1 sucked! I stayed on her back pocket for the next two miles but I just couldn’t pick it up enough to pass her. At the turnaround, I saw that the girl in the bright blue 2XU suit was pretty close behind me. Wow, this was already a good race with some serious competition!
I finished the first run leg in something just under 24 minutes – not as fast as last month, but still a really nice pace. The real problem was that it hurt! OMG, I came into the finishing chute wishing that I could be done with the whole race. That, my friends, was not a good feeling to have with so much of the race still in front of me!
I ran all the way to my bike, swapped out my shoes, buckled on my helmet and… well, I wish I could say that I bolted out of transition and onto my bike, but the fact is, I can’t run in bike shoes AT ALL. It would be far more accurate to say that I mincey-stepped out of transition and then gingerly climbed onto Mr. Bike. Okay, but then I bolted out!
As soon as I got on the bike, something magical happened and I felt AMAZING. I spun sort of easy for the first minute or two so I could get something to drink and get settled and then it was on like Donkey Kong. It helps, of course, that the first few miles are downhill – that’s always my favorite part of the course, even though it means that the last few cruel miles are all uphill. My legs felt terrific, like they hadn’t just been lead weights on the run. There was a slight tailwind on the out portion and I kept telling myself to enjoy it and make the most of it, so I did everything I could to bank time on the first half. I cranked it out on the uphills and absolutely hammered the downhills. Since I had the Garmin mounted on my bike, I could see my average speed and it just kept going up, up, up.
As I was passing people, it occurred to me that I wasn’t seeing light blue/grey shirt girl. Where was she? I didn’t see green shirt girl, either. In fact, I was barely a quarter-mile from the turnaround at Mile 8 when I saw the girl in first place. Holy moly, I was only two minutes off the lead girl! After I made the turnaround, I finally saw light blue/grey shirt girl – she was a full mile behind me! – and I saw bright blue trisuit girl just off her rear wheel. I never did see green shirt girl again until after the race, I have no idea what happened to her. Apparently I was faster in transition than I thought, since I was now second place female!
After the turnaround, I really expected to feel the full disappointment of a headwind, but it wasn’t all that bad, so I just kept chugging away. My overall speed dropped a little, but my legs still felt great. I kept passing people, and by “people” I mean men. The triathlon part of the race was large enough that there were quite a few swim waves, so not even the fastest women were out of the water yet when I was done with my first run. As far as anyone could tell on the bike course, I was the second female of the whole darn day! Goodness knows, I’ll never get to feel that way ever again, so I relished it in all its undeserved glory.
When I got to the final miles and started climbing the long, steady hill, I couldn’t believe I was almost done. Even the last hill didn’t feel too tough, though it was by far the slowest miles of my ride. When I came screaming back into transition, the average speed on my Garmin said 19 mph – a HUGE improvement over my other two races. I was thrilled!
I got off my bike and could not remember where my rack was. The transition area isn’t big, so it shouldn’t have been a problem, but I didn’t really feel like blowing a lot of time on T2. I came off my bike at the same time as a guy who was looking around like I was, so I commented, “Where did I park?” He laughed. It’s good to have an appreciative audience for jokes like that. Eventually, I found my spot, changed out my shoes, grabbed my hat and headed out for run number two.
The Final Run
Let’s get something clear right from the get-go: objectively, it was not a hot day. Maybe low to mid-70s at this point. I, however, have frequently documented that I am the world’s biggest heat weanie, and this race did not prove me wrong. These were three of the hardest miles I have ever run. No, they were two of the hardest miles, because I walked a whole bunch of the first one. I had barely cleared T2 before I was bargaining with myself for a walk break. I tried to keep them short – if you run for a minute, you can walk for ten seconds – but they were painfully frequent. That first mile was a huge battle of will for me. I had to keep moving, since I desperately wanted to be done, but my head, my legs and worst of all, my stomach, just wanted to quit. I felt pretty barf-tastic and finally took off my race belt to alleviate some of the pressure on my gut. Yeah, I know, race belts are super stretchy elastic, but mine felt horribly binding and taking it off helped a little.
I had just passed Mile 1 when I saw the first place girl coming toward me, looking like death. She was still moving fast, though, so I gave her a high-five and told her she was a rock star. Watching her helped me pick it up a little. I could do this.
I made it to the turnaround, and saw bright blue trisuit girl less than a tenth of a mile behind me. Out loud I said something like, “Great job, looking good!” but in my head I was thinking, “Aww, crap!” I could NOT let her pass me. I wanted second place female. I wanted first place AG. And if I was going to get those things I had to keep. running.
So I did. Well, it wasn’t really fast enough to call running, but I kept moving forward, one foot in front of the other. Every time I wanted to slow down, I pictured her at my shoulder and kept going instead. More than a few people did pass me, but not her.
Final time – 1:44:44! It’s true, I missed my PR by a minute and a half, but I’m incredibly happy with my overall placement in a tougher field.
In third place was one of the girls I made friends with while waiting in line for the bathroom. Blue trisuit girl was in first place for a different AG. When I got off the podium, I went over to her and thanked her for pushing me to a strong finish. She told me she was happy when she saw that I wasn’t in her AG – ha, ha!
What an incredible day. What an incredible season! And – spoiler alert! – my weekend got nothing but better from there. IronHubs and Little Boy raced today and let’s just say…I was not the only one bringing home the hardware this weekend!