I did my very first triathlon, a sprint, on July 8, 2006. When I finished the race I thought I was going to vomit, have an asthma attack, and die on the spot. So naturally the most logical thing for me to do 2 weeks later was sign up for Ironman CdA. So I hired a coach, and she made me pick an early season half. I am convinced that this is so I could realize how utterly stupid it was for me to sign up for an Ironman with enough time before the event to have the pain and suffering fade into a distant memory. Kind of like childbirth. Give it 3 months and that woman that was screaming and threatening Dad’s life is already planning #2. So, we settled on the Cali 70.3, which is a great match because I have family in San Diego and a really good friend in LA, so lodging would be free.
Fast forward to March 2007. I’m coming off Smartasscamp and have a coach who is really concerned that I’ve just done a 39 hour training camp WAY too close to my half, so I’m being handled with kid gloves. My training volume got cut by about 80% in one week and I’m cranky as hell. I’m freaking out because I sent my bike to San Diego with borrowed race wheels that I have never even put on my bike, which are tubulars. So I get to SD, and put my bike together, which I have never done by myself. This required 2 frantic calls to Paulo asking how to do such complicated tasks as pumping up the tires. So at this point I spent at least an hour and half assembling my bike and now I need to take it on a test ride. I have also managed to drop my camera onto the cement and it is now just kinda working. Here is ordinary pic number 1- the test drive and my bike, fully assembled.
Now, I live in Cleveland. Traffic to me is when it takes me 17 minutes instead of 14 minutes to get home at night. My test drive was at 5pm on Thursday night on the 101 in Del Mar. Yeah, smart move, idiot. So I’m driving along in my nice bike lane next to about 8 miles of solid 4 lane traffic. I have just done an hour and 15 minutes of horrendous hills on my :45 minute zone 2 “test ride”, so I’m taking it nice and easy and kind of hoping I didn’t just blow my taper. When all of a sudden a car appears out of nowhere RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!. Apparently traffic going in my direction parted just enough to let a lady in an SUV turn left. She didn’t do me the courtesy of checking the bike lane before pulling out. It wasn’t that I was worried I was going to hit her, I was absolutely 100% positive in that moment that my race was done. I was just wondering how badly this was going to hurt, and how much I would have to pay Danny to replace the wheel that I just introduced to the passenger door of a Ford Explorer. But somehow, I have no idea how, I managed to miss her by the margin of about a millimeter. I felt a huge rush of air as we just narrowly avoided one another. I didn’t stop shaking until I got back to my Aunt’s house, and I had just blown every store of adrenaline that my body had so patiently been saving for race day.
That night was carb loading night. I made homemade spaghetti sauce and we had a bread and spaghetti extravaganza… here is pic #2 from the carb frenzy:
I wake up Friday and I hurt, pretty badly. Apparently when I was narrowly avoiding disaster I locked up the right half of my body and now have pain all through my right leg and butt. This is not good. But, I realized that there are some great perks to having extended family that lives well. My aunt had a personal yoga instructor come to the house on Friday to help me stretch out my battered body. Pic #3- My very first yoga class… ever.
Then it was time to head to O-side for an open water swim, an ST Meet and Greet, and to meet blogger Rachel. It was a very busy day, but it was a blast to meet people that I’ve only read about. If I have learned one lesson in my few races, it’s that familiar faces during a race make all the difference. The last thing you want to do is look like total cramping, nauseous hell when there are people you KNOW watching you! I also ran into Matt, who was having a worse pre-race than me. His bike was destroyed in shipping and he was stung by a stingray in the heal. Holy hell! I now felt like I was having a pretty great week.
Pre-race dinner- Captain Crunch Cereal. That’s all I have to say about that.
Race Day- it’s go time
I went to sleep at 8:45pm and was up and at em by 2:45. My alarm was set for 4am, but there was no stopping me. I finally gave up the sleep battle at 3:57 and got up. I went right to my breakfast- Bagel with strawberry Jam and a bowl of captain crunch (oh yeah, peanut butter flavor of course). I don’t care how nervous I am, NOTHING will keep me from my breakfast. I ate like a rock star. And being the obsessive compulsively early person that I am, we headed off to transition at 4:55 even though my wave did not leave until 7:29.
Got there early and tried to make it look like I was actually busy doing things and therefore could justify my 4:00 wake-up call to my Dad and Brienne. These two were the entourage of champions. Putting up with my crabby stressed out butt all week is NOT easy. They took some nice pics:
Then I made some small talk with the group of extraordinary women in my age group who were all totally pumped, and extremely friendly. I took a Power Gel somewhere around 6:30 as well… Oh, yeah, did I mention it was freaking COLD? When I thought I could finally start the 15 minute long process that is putting on my wetsuit, I began my final prep and the long walk to the corrals. During the walk my stomach did a somersault and vurped some serious bile into my mouth. Pardon the graphic nature of that comment, but it was NASTY. I thought- great- the race hasn’t started and I’ve already FUBARed my nutrition. It’s gonna be a LONG day.
I met a great girl, Margaret (Rambo on ST) who is doing CdA while we were waiting for our heat. I also met up with Mariana and Andrea from camp. More friendly faces!We were all aiming for about the same swim time, as were several of the girls around me, so I figured we had a decently solid swimming heat. Which was good.
Boom goes the cannon
And we were off. I was amazed at how aggressive the beginning of the swim was. I was fine with most of it, but on the way out there was a girl to my right who insisted on swimming on top of me for 500 yards. She had open water to her right, I had a mob of swimmers to my left, but she kept swimming over me. I finally gave up, let her by and swam to the right and finally passed her. This was probably the worst point in my race. And there is a LOT to be said for that. At the turnaround, which is always farther than expected, we hit some slow rolling ocean swells. I was sure I was going to finally lose that pesky Powergel as I started to get seriously queasy. But as soon as we got back into the breakwall things got better and I tried to pick up the pace. We were swimming directly into the sun… when we hit… the bobbers and floaters. See, the one really shitty thing about wave starts is if you are a fast swimmer you will have to swim around slow swimmers from 2-6 waves in front of you (yes, I realize that this prospect must be way worse for those that have to be trampled by the waves behind…). It becomes a mass of differently colored caps, people taking breaks, people panicking, and mass chaos. This race didn’t disappoint, as the last .4 miles or so were a blender of swimmers. I finally got out just a tad under 34 minutes and was eager to get on the bike.
Why do some people train their asses off all year to shave seconds off their times, then meander through transition like it’s the line at the Golden Corral? It was go time, and I wasn’t going to shuffle my way down the 3 block transition area, so I ran over to the uncarpeted cement and past about 10 people. I fumbled around in T1 and was off 4 minutes later. It had warmed up significantly and I took off in my shorts and a tri tank. Perfect conditions! The run into and out of T1 was crazy long- my rack number- 74, should give you some idea of the size.
When I got to my bike my HR was flying! My first glance at the Garmin showed 192 bpm. Yikes, I need to settle down. You know what isn’t the best thing to get the ole HR settled? A 12% grade to climb out of the beach area. There was a lot of huffing and puffing all around. My HR remained >170 for about 4 miles before it finally settled down into a manageable rhythm. I held to my original plan of racing with ONLY heart rate and miles, so I never knew my speed or the time… well except for the fact that I had my Garmin beep every 15 minutes to remind me to drink (all beeps), and eat (every other beep). The first 30 miles were fairly unremarkable. It was beautiful scenery, but the terrain was rolling at its worst. There were some people clearly working too hard. I hoped that they knew that this race had hills…
Mile 28- I’m cruising along, starting to dial back to give the legs a break and the heart a rest when I look forward in the distance.
I see the biggest damn hill I’ve ever laid eyes on. And you couldn’t even see where the climb ended. It was like a big green monster eating cyclists. And the remarkable thing was that you could see a huge line of bikes, but they didn’t seem to be going anywhere. It was time for…
Granny Gear! That was a mile that I was wishing I had my triple chainring. It was every bit as steep as it appeared, and twice as long. People….were….SUFFERING. We small women have the advantage of weight. Most of the women were moving up the hill like it was a nice morning stroll. And then there were big guys who were falling over, cramping, and cussing. It was quite the sight. I don’t think I have ever been so happy to crest a hill in my life. And we were well rewarded. The descent was VERY fun. But there were more hills where that one came from, none as imposing as the first, but each one swallowed an equal number of racers who went out too fast.
The last 10 miles or so were relatively flat and fast. What was normally a huge headwind, was a wonderful, fast, albeit crowded ride back to transition. It was hammer time for me because I had saved up plenty of energy just for this section. I had a lot of fun passing people as we headed home to start the run. I do distinctly remember telling Marilyn, a woman I had stayed with practically the entire race: “I have no idea what I’m in such a damn hurry for- I hate the run!”
Average Heart Rate 161- exactly on my race plan
Average Speed- 18.5
Climbing- 2700 feet
Time: 3 hours 2 minutes
Nutrition- 2 power bars, 1 Power Gel, 30 ounces of Gatorade, 20 ounces of water (give or take)
T2- They let us bike the length of transitions which was AWESOME. I was not looking forward to running in my cycling shoes and hadn’t taken them off. This cut the T2 time down tremendously- 2 minutes
I ran out of transition feeling like a million bucks. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that fresh starting a run before. Of course, I am that weird mutant who would rather run off the bike than on fresh legs. My bike ROCKS. I had the biggest smile on my face of my life! I quickly wiped the smile off my face before I got to the cameraman because Paulo told me if I could smile that I wasn’t running hard enough. Then the smile came back, and stayed for the rest of the day.
The run was a total blast! I had my first name on my bib number and I was cheered on by spectators and volunteers for the next 13 miles. I can’t even begin to tell you how awesome that was. I thanked every single one of them, which usually resulted in more cheering. Every time someone called my name my smile got bigger. I just couldn’t believe how great I felt. When I was coming back into transition to make the turn for the second loop I saw my Dad and Brienne for the second time. My dad said- wow you are looking strong! I smiled and said that I felt great!
Then I saw Matt coming in for his finish and that made me SOOO happy. He had been through hell and back and was looking strong ready to finish a race despite having a huge hole in his foot and racing on a dented bike. What a champion!
The second loop was WAY hillier than the first. I’m not quite sure how they managed a terrain change between the first and second loop, but I’m sure of it. They stretched the hills. They were steeper and longer. No doubt about it. Then when I got to mile 11 I decided that the race could end and I would be perfectly content with that. I was having a bit of a butt problem. There was some muscle in my deep right butt (yes this is the terminology that makes my med-school proud) and just about every muscle in my right leg (think back to the near accident on Thursday) were starting to ache and seize up. But there were only 2 miles left! My pace slowed a little bit, but when we made the last turn for the finish line the smile came back on my face. Then I saw the time- 6:25. I knew that my wave started 49 minutes after the pros. I almost cried from happiness. In my mind I thought it would be lucky for me to come in at 6 hours. I absolutely couldn’t believe it. I don’t know what they said at the finish, I didn’t do anything unique or fun at the finish line- I was too happy to think straight.
HR average- 167 bpm… right on plan
Nutrition- Gatorade or water at every aid station, 3 power gels with mucho caffeine and salt
Average heart rate: 163
Total calories consumed- 1400
Very Special Thanks to my family, especially my Dad and Brienne who were the best wingmen I could have ever asked for. Seeing them through the race was AWESOME. And a huge thanks to all the Sters who cheered me on, all the volunteers on the course- they were awesome, all the bloggers for the amazing support, everyone who sent me emails before the race which helped more than you can imagine. And of course, Coach Angela who prepared me like a champ and gave me a spot-on race plan. And coach Paulo, who worked my butt into the ground at camp and taught me that I can accomplish more than I ever thought possible.
A Few Good Swims
2 days ago