Swim (44:36)

Morning of the race was filled more with nervous questions of what to wear on the bike, or what not to wear than nerves about the actual race itself. Maybe because the whole atmosphere felt much more laid back then the usual Ironman or Rev3 brand race, I didn’t feel like I was about to race for 70.3 miles. I set up my transition area quickly and headed out to the swim start yanking on my wetsuit while I walked. I wasn’t able to get in a pre-race swim since I had been stuck in the line for the 5 port-a-potties that were available for us for quite a while. Luckily Corey and I did get in a swim in the lake the day before so I knew what to expect temp wise.

The race director gave out all the super confusing turn by turn details of the bike and the run while I stood in the water calf deep and splashed water on my head and face. I found my fellow team mates huddled together and wished them a great race. The men were off and soon enough I was in the water ready to go. I ended up in the middle of the pack at the start, not something I normally do. I tend to seed myself on the outside more towards the back as I like to start off slow and build into my race pace to avoid panic attacks that I get 80% of all swim starts. Well I should have stuck with my usual game plan because sure enough, 200/300 yards in with being stuck in the middle of flailing arms and legs and not being able to get into my own rhythm, I started feeling like I couldn’t catch my breath and that my heart was going to explode. I tried slowing down but it didn’t seem to do much. I flipped over and swam backstroke for 8-10 strokes and that calmed me down enough to get back into my groove. I felt sluggish in the water and kept trying to speed up my stroke rate but something just wasn’t working. By the end of the first loop I felt like I was getting into a better groove and started accelerating a bit more. The second loop I held my middle of the pack pace and by the end of the the last loop I had even caught up to some other swimmers.

I came out of the water still trying to decide what I was going to wear on the bike. I got to my bike and decided that I needed to dry off- something I’ve never done- in order to not freeze on the bike. I also decided to put on socks- again, not something I’ve ever done, and I put on a long sleeve jersey over my tri top. I struggled with putting on my helmet and glasses (wrong order) and I finally exited T1. I didn’t look at my time as I knew it wasn’t pretty at this point.

Bike (3:08:32)

As soon as I got on my bike and tucked into my aero bars I started passing quite a few people. I was feeling good and luckily not too cold. I was glad I ended up putting on the long sleeve jersey or I would have been cold and miserable. A strange clicking noise that developed the day before reared it’s annoying head again (I was hoping it would just go away since I couldn’t figure out what it was) and had me feeling like the Captain in Peter Pan and my bike- the alligator with the ticking clock that drove the Captain crazy. At the top of every pedal stroke my crank made a horrible clicking noise. The higher my cadence, the more annoying the clicking. Ok, it’s something I just had to try to block out. Fine.

This was my first flat race of considerable length and I didn’t realize how hard it would end up being for me. I realized I enjoy climbing and then being able to recover on the downhills. The constant effort was something I didn’t feel I was entirely prepared for mentally. 20 miles in to the bike my in-between my shoulder blades and my neck lit up with horrendous pain. I tried to stay in my bars but I had to sit up and try to stretch out my neck and upper back. Nothing ever alleviated the pain, I just had to deal with it. I was feeling really annoyed with how my race was going and I started feeling people starting to pass me on the last loop of the bike. All of the sudden Demetra, my teammate (and general badass), passed me and shouted “You’re fitter than you think”. As I watched the “YFTYT” emblazoned on the back of her try shorts get smaller and smaller as she pulled away I realized I had to do something to get my head back into the race. I decided since the constant effort was getting to me I would break out into intervals where I would get out of the saddle and attack (even though there was no one around). I started having fun again and started catching up and passing people again. Game on. Soon enough I was in T2 and out on the run course.

 

Run (2:07:15– Not the best time, but a negative split!)

The run with its numerous turns and different surfaces (one part road, two parts trail, one part deep sand) kept me from getting bored. Most people found it annoying, but since I didn’t miss any turns and was able to keep myself from getting lost I found it kind of fun especially because there was zero spectators except for the occasional camper who was semi supportive and semi confused by all the people running around in spandex. The way the course was designed, you saw the runners who were ahead and behind you often. It was great to get a chance to see so many of my teammates during the run. Every time we passed each other we shouted encouragements. What I did not enjoy however was the lack of volunteers on the course. There were only three aid stations that were manned. Most were abandoned and without cups for water. I had to pick up discarded cups off the ground and fill the cups up myself. Not acceptable for a half ironman distance race.  Half way through the run two girls who had passed me later in the race came into view. I put targets on their backs and got to work. Six miles in I started picking up the pace. My legs felt good and my hamstring was a non issue (I’m thinking mostly due to pose running I was attempting keep up throughout the run). As I passed the first girl my legs started chomping at the distance to the next one. As I caught up to her we exchanged good job/nice work pleasantries and then I found another gear. With four miles left there was plenty of room for her to catch up, but she never did. I started catching up to other runners who at this point were fading, as I felt stronger and stronger. I realized I had two miles left and I was picking up the pace. I was so close to being done and according to my watch, I was close to breaking the under 6 hour mark, something I haven’t done since 2012. I left everything I had on the course and just focused on getting to the finish line. Final time was 6:02:11 and 2nd place in my age group. My body felt wrecked but I was elated that I was able to turn what started out as a rough race for me into one I could be proud of.