I went through the usual pre-race rituals and all, but still didn't feel like I was going to do another Iron distance race. Since Coeur d'Alene I hadn't done any 5 and 2's (5 hr ride followed by a 2 hr run), I wasn't as diligent with my diet, I took more days off (consistently 1 day/week), and basically did my best to forget all about this race.
Our friend Sonny "IronNative" Sellars blessed us with his presence that night at our hotel, I got to hear more about "old times" when the boys were all bachelors. I often hear about the "before Amanda" days and Michael's mythical "double side aches" and other such stories of triathlon lore... pretty entertaining and great to ease nerves before a big day.
The morning came around and I eventually made it down to transition to get ready in the very cool and windy conditions. Michael was getting his bike all pumped up and noticed that some Speedy Reedy mechanics were making the rounds. I asked one if he would take a look at my gears and it didn't take him long to realize that it was going to take a bit more finesse than just turning the barrel on the rear derailleur. So, he whisked my machine away to his stand as I finished my prep. The announcer called 10 minutes so I went around the transition area to see how things were coming along with my bike. When I got there the PRO TECH was finishing up redoing the entire cable and housing as well as re taping my bar end! It was too screwed up for simple adjustments so this was the only alternative. He wouldn't accept any kind of payment so I have decided that Speedy Reedy will be receiving all the business I can give them via Internet purchases and the rare occasion I venture to the West Side.
Once I got in the water and felt how incredibly nice it was I felt much better about my day. Things unfolded nicely for me in the swim. I ended up with a huge PR... perhaps it was the buoy line underwater, perhaps it was the lack of bodies all around me, perhaps the course was short (as Michael suggests), whatever reason, I was on my way to an Ironman overall PR.
I didn't know yet that I had a new PR (1:04), all I knew is that I felt good
My bike ride was a breeze thanks to the Speedy Reedy Super Mechanics! There were many hills and I cannot imagine completing this course without the ability to switch gears. I heard tell of a guy who did the course on a fixed gear, though, so it can be done... so they say. As always, around mile 90 I was ready to get off my bike and start running. Unlike many of my competitors, I was blessed with no flats, however, I did slip my chain going up the last climb of the course. Rookie mistake, and for my silliness I received greasy, black fingers. Oh, well, I was almost done so it didn't really matter, I was actually thankful for the time out of the saddle.
Getting ready to start the STEEP section of the hill of death
Once I made it into T2 Michael immediately asked me if I flatted... "No! I set a PR! Why do you think I flatted?" 6:35, not a huge PR, but one nonetheless. I, being one of those girls who reads between lines, thought Michael was calling me slow in some sly way. No, he was just wondering because many people showed up to T2 with tales of goat heads in their tires and double flats. The rest of my detailed conversation with Michael during T2 consisted of how extremely hot it was, warnings on what to do to stay at a good temperature, and how his race went. I was extremely happy to hear that Michael won his race. I felt like I was dragging him away from home on one of his rare work-free weekends just to sit around and wait for me. So it was a great relief that this trip actually made his season a little bit better.
It didn't take long for me to feel the effects of the heat. Even though I took a water bottle with me and filled it up with ice water at each aid station, I never seemed to get enough cooling. I poured it on my head, my face, my neck, my throat, and even though it didn't evaporate immediately, I still felt like I was running in a sauna... those of you who have raced in Hawaii are most likely laughing right now, but it's true. It becomes more and more apparent to me that for me to be successful in Ironman races, I need to get as far north as possible... has Ironman made it's way to Alaska yet? Someone let me know when it does, will 'ya?
I plodded through the first several miles with my eyes lingering at the mile markers for the next time through... what a terrible tease! I didn't think that I was going to make it there... my attitude frankly sucked rocks! Once I made it back to the city park on my way to the second lap, Michael saw that I was struggling and encouraged me to walk for a while. I walked, reluctantly, I was incredibly exhausted physically and emotionally and there was nothing to stop me from showing how I felt about my race at the time. I shed a few tears of disappointment in myself as a girl in black flew by me to take the third place female spot. She was absolutely cruising and ended up with the fastest run split... good job girl in black! It took a bit of walking before I got over myself and realized that this race wasn't going to be about placing, it was going to be about surviving and learning. So, walk/run I did. I was extremely lucky to have Michael, Sonny, and John flanking me on the run course. They drove on the road that paralleled the course and got out to cheer me and the racers that were around me. I would only stop to digest some banana or grapes and then kept running. I didn't decide to run straight to the finish until I got passed by another woman, this time is was a lady with an I-pod... That's why I ran the rest of the way, I was trying to catch I-pod lady because I knew that the race directors typically let slide a great many offenses.
-Side note- One of my biggest pet peeves is not wearing a helmet. This is supposed to be a huge rule, one in which if you're caught riding without a helmet before or after a USAT race you are subject to disqualification... if this were actually enforced rather than "warned" there would be a lot more slow people placing well... if you know what I mean! WEAR YOUR HELMETS!
Long story short, I came to the race thinking that because I did a certain time in Coeur d'Alene I was going to be able to do that or better here (that may have been true for the swim and bike, but no amount of e-caps would have given me the same run time) and left with a time almost an hour slower.
On the lighter side, I felt much better after the race. I stayed around for the laser light show, had some complimentary Mexican food, and even helped carry some of my gear to the car... all of these things I was unable to do earlier this year. The day after was much the same. I was pretty mobile, but actually took the next 4 days off completely... ahh, feels good. I don't really have any parting words of wisdom to share about what I have learned from this race, just things that I needed to learn for myself about give and take, good days and bad, and respecting a race. I do get peace of mind, though, when I reflect on my race and think "hey, it happens... to everyone... at some point... right?"