Oh how different the experience is when you are looking back on it approximately 24 hours (this time yesterday I was swimming in lake michigan with about 4000 of my closest friends.. okay there were probably only about 300 at a time... all of which were passing me!) after the fact than it is when you are at mile 5 of the run. I distinctly remember thinking "I am NEVER EVER doing anything LONGER than this... EVER!!" Now I'm thinking.. well... Maybe I could do the 70.3 (half ironman) MAYBE! I was also thinking ... I want to stop... I want to sit down... I want this to be OVER! TODAY I am thinking about other races of the same distance that I might be able to do next year. Oh how just 24 hours can change things!
I was surprised that I wasn't more nervous. When I would start to get nervous I would just check myself and think, "hey, you aren't trying to win this thing! Just have fun." and that would usually do it. I did feel like I was well trained and KNEW in my heart that barring any strange events - like, say, drowning or a bike crash - I was going to finish for sure. I did have a number in my mind - which I can now reveal - I wanted to finish close to 3 hours total. I am VERY pleased with my time. I only wish that I had felt better on the run, but from what I could tell most people were hurting on the run. It was HOT!
So here's the drill.
3:30am wake up, coffee, oatmeal.
4:00am Meet the team (TNT) in the lobby with all gear in tow and walk to the transition area.
4:15-5:30am set up transition area.
okay... now you wait until 9:05am for your wave (for me and 1/3 of the 30-34 year old females) I would say this was tough. You're all jazzed getting your stuff ready... then you get to spend the next 4 hours w/ your nerves and to realize that you are actually kind of tired from sleeping little and getting up at 3:30am.
I went back to the room to relax and snooze a bit. At around 6:30am Tom and I headed out. We got a coffee and went over to the swim start to check everything out and to cheer on the rest of the TNTrs from Wisconsin. The nerves started to get to me a bit here, but I checked myself and just relaxed and watched the Sprint Tri people go by on their run and watched the wave after wave of International Distance triathelets start their swims. I worked on visualizing myself swimming (not dog paddle either), biking and running.
Around 8:30am it was time to slip into my full body neoprene. (Did I mention it was hot) I got in line around 8:50am and stood w/ my group waiting for my turn to jump in the water. I was surprisingly calm. I couldn't believe that May, June, July and most of August were over and here I was standing in line to jump in the water in the triathlon. Like I said I felt ready. I didn't once question my training. I did question how LLOONNGG it would take me to swim a mile - it had been a week since I got in the water, but I felt confident that I could finish it! Then BAM here we were... first in line ... it was are turn to plunge ourselves into Lake Michigan. DAMN that water was cold.
The gun went off.. the speedy gonzales swimmers TOOK OFF while those of us in the back of the pack waited for their flailing kicking feet to get out of our way so we could swim. :)
The swim was LONG! We did an out and back, passed the start and finished about 1/2 mile down from there. It felt like it took forever to get from the start and out and back passed the start again. I didn't mind swimming in a group of people. I didn't mind when they touched me or kicked me - except when some chick kicked me so hard it knocked my goggles off. my only battle wound:
And people doing the back stroke in the middle of the pack REALLY pissed me off. Someone hitting you in the head while doing freestyle isn't so bad. Someone repeatedly smacking you in the head while they are swinging their arm up and around is a totally different story. There was a woman doing the back stroke pretty early on and I was trying - TRYING - to get in a groove... THWACK comes her arm... THWACK THWACH. It took me a while to figure out what the hell was going on. And the saddest part. I couldn't pass her. I tried. I passed her a bit once, but she caught me.. while doing the back stroke. That's how slow I was. I'm not sure if she flipped over or if she and I moved apart, but it went away for a bit. Then close to passing the start and moving on to the last leg. THWACK! I had had it. I popped my head up and said, "HEY!" Whoever it was apologized (it was a different lady this time) and flipped over. Okay, I TOTALLY get being a weak swimmer, being tired and needing a break, but there is a time and place. If you're tired - try the breast stroke (of course then you risk kicking someone) or the every popular side stroke (as my friend Gena pointed out - actually quite effective). It's just too crowded for the back stroke. Try that when the field opens up a bit and your not going to pummel your neighbor. Moving on. So the finish is getting close - THANK GOD! - and so far I haven't been taken over by too many men. (They were starting behind me and they are bit more rough - read if you get in their way they WILL run you over and they WILL not apologize) As I was rounding the last buoy getting ready to go sharp left to get drug out of the water this big dude totally body checked me out of his way so he could get in front. SERIOUSLY! I was GLAD to be done w/ the swim and proud of myself for making it AND for doing freestyle the whole way even though I was slow!
Now the fun can begin. I get to ride my bike... oh wait first I have to take my wetsuit down around my waist and run about a quarter mile to my bike in my bare feet on the concrete! :) Okay, it really wasn't too bad when I was actually doing it.. maybe I was just SO happy to be out of the water. I do remember thinking I would do the whole rest of the race bare foot if I could just get out of that lake. ha ha
The bike was AWESOME! It was only the 4th time I had ridden my tri bike. (Yes, Karen P. I was ONE OF THOSE! ha ha It went really well and I felt very confident on the bike. I got out of the aero position to hydrate and do the turns... :D ) I loved loved the bike, but I forgot my second water bottle that I was supposed to put in my back pocket - eh hem Tom, there needs to be a second cage - and I was a little worried about my hydration/nutrition. I felt pretty good until the end where I could feel my lack of hydration. I don't do a very good job of saving anything when I ride the bike b/c I like to go fast - as fast as I can. I tried to listen to my legs and save some for the run, but passing people is so fun! :) It was pretty flat w/ some rollers. I ended up averaging 20.9 mph... that's what I had in my mind when I was thinking about how fast I wanted to go, but looking at my computer I was trying to average closer to 22mph... oh well. I probably wasn't looking at the computer as much on the rollers. It was fun passing the cars at 25 mph. At the end of the bike I was ready to move on to the run... well, at least I was ready to be done w/ the ride. I was spent and hungry (not good). OOPS.
I wracked my bike, took off my shoes and helmet. Put on one running shoe, took a swig of gatorade, put on my other shoe then noticed I hadn't tied my other one.. eek. I grabbed a Lara bar took a bike and took off (after tying my other shoe). About gagged on the Lara bar. Swallowed what I could and threw the rest away. I felt okay on the run getting started... through the shoot... then ugh! I felt like I was going to barf. Not sure if it was the Lara bar or my lack of hydration. There was a water stop right outside of transition. I had some Gatorade and water. Gatorade makes me feel sick when it's that hot. Bummer. I walked some in the run.. maybe twice and through the water stops. UGH! I wonder what my time would have been had I not done that??? I don't think I could have felt worse at the end??? ha As I drank a lot of water before the race and had to PEE REALLY bad ... so bad it kinda hurt. I'm not usually one to stop when I'm racing, but there was a porta-potty at mile 3, no line and it was empty so I peed. Wonder what my time would have been if I hadn't peed? I probably wouldn't have made it! ha At the last turn around of the run (approx 2.5 miles to go) another woman and I started pacing and keeping each other going... until my shoe came untied w/ 1/2 mile to go. DAMN IT!!! Are you kidding? I thought about not tying it but was worried I would trip. Bathroom, shoe tying, walking... ugh! So shoe tied off I went. For those of you that have done TNT before you know that you get a lot of "GO TEAM!" cheers from both side liners and participants. During the beginning of the race I would respond w/a a yell on the bike and at the beginning of the run I was doing devil horns w/ the yell, that then became just devil horns and during the end of the run it became an inaudible grunt! Did I mention that that run kicked my ass!!!??? I was very surprised. I'm not sure why? I should have known. I knew it would be hard, but I didn't expect it to be end of a marathon hard.
THANKFULLY my mental state was decent through the whole race. If it hadn't been I think I might have laid down in the grass and called it during the run. My only negative thought was that IRONMAN completers are CRAZIES! and that I would never do a longer distance than this... and possibly not this distance.
So things I learned:
1. EAT MORE - both pre race and during
2. If I learned how to swim I might actually have something w/ this tri thing. I placed in the 3000's on the swim. UGH!
3. Tri is HARD, but challenging yourself is good!
4. I'm not keen on the waiting to race thing!
5. I am strong
6. I am brave
7. I CAN do things I set my mind to
8. Preparation is everything
Thanks to everyone that donated and supported me through my training. Thanks to my wonderful husband and pit crew for allowing me to spend so much time training, for supporting me and cheering me on... and for my fantastic equipment. Side note on that.. i was putting my race number on my bike and he stopped me b/c I was about to cover the name of the bike. I said, "wouldn't want to piss off my sponsor!" Thanks for "sponsoring" me! ha ha
I'm already trying to figure out my 'schedule' for next year.... better find a group to train w/!