The short story: 7:59:47. (As Tarwater says in his weekly obligatory Cake-related comment...I went for distance, not for speed...and I'm a-ok with that.)
Yes. My time begins with the number 7. You have no idea how thrilled
this makes me. After the race I had, I'm quite frankly shocked I didn't have the letters DNF next to it...or an 8 with some ridiculous minute amount following it. So I am completely and totally satisfied with my time. My performance...on the other hand...not so much. Sometimes when your body fails on you, your mind has to take over to get you to your ultimate destination. But you'll have to divert your attention to the long story for that.
The long story...Go ahead and get yourself a cup of coffee...perhaps slip into something comfortable and get cozy...it's okay...I'll wait to tell you about my race...it's going to take a while, so your comfort is of utmost important to me...go ahead and get settled...I'm not going anywhere......okay...you good? Good! Let's get this thing started...
Much to my surprise, I slept relatively well the night before. I got to bed a bit before 10 and woke up to an obscene clap of thunder around 1:20. I laid in bed in listened to the rain pouring down. This was the last thing I wanted on race day. But I reminded myself that just because the elements were against me, didn't mean I wasn't going to go out there and make a valiant effort. I quickly dozed off again for what seemed like 5 minutes before my fanfare of alarm clocks started blaring at 3am.
God that is an early hour. I'm starting my day at a time that drunk yuppies are eyeing around the bar to see who they're going home with after last call.
The excited "IT'S RACE DAY!!!!!" text message from Leah was all I needed to snap out of my 'oh my god, it's too early to function' funk. Clothes on, shit together, and I was out the door.
The ride up to Racine in the dark flew by. The rain finally cleared. We listened to Modest Mouse. It was like somehow, the tall kids knew that I needed a little Float On and The World At Large. It soothed the nerves. I'd later find myself singing these tunes on the bike.
We pulled up to the race site. It was 5am and transition was already buzzing.
Unloaded my crap, got settled in...and waited.
The beach was ridiculously foggy. You could barely see more than 15 meters out. The turn buoys were barely visible. I dipped my toes in the water and concluded that this was going to be an interesting swim.
Official race day water temperature? A balmy 55 degrees.
Awesome. So when my body turns into a popsicle and drifts off into the mysterious depths of Lake Michigan, nobody will be able to find me through the dense fog.
I suited up in my wetsuit and we walked up the shoreline to the swim start. My goal for the swim was to break 50. I knew I had a sub-50 swim in me...most likely in the 45-48 range. Little did I know I'd be in for a surprise.
The waiting game was ridiculous. First...a 15 minute delay. And then another 15. And another. And you guessed it...yet another. I dipped in and out of the water to keep my core temperature down avoiding that "take your breath away" shock to the system when dealing with such frigid temps. Events kicked off an hour behind schedule by order of the "coast guard" since you couldn't see more than 20 meters in front you. When the pros went off, you still couldn't see very far in front of you, but at least things had gotten started.
Before I knew it, the white swim caps were lining up. I scurried to the start and found Jen, a fellow Well-Fit friend. We bid each other well and went charging into the water. What a freakin' slow start. Too many bodies. Not enough space. Complete standstill at the first turn buoy.
When I rounded the first turn, I started to panic. It was cold. Ridiculously, stinging, 'oh my god this is the stupidest thing ever' cold. Water was leaking into my goggles and getting in my eyes and I couldn't find open water. I took a moment to adjust my goggles and I heard Jen call out that she was right behind me and I better keep moving or elese she'd beat my time.
It took me a good 5-10 minutes to find my groove. Perhaps that's all the time my body needed for the exposed areas of skin to go completely numb? Sighting was ridiculous. You couldn't see the upcoming buoy until it was right in front of you, so essentially you'd just look up and make sure there were still neoprene-plastered bodies in your general vacinity.
Much to my surprise, there was a current. And a relatively strong one at that (which worked to our benefit, mostly). It kept pulling you closer to the shoreline, so you had to focus on swimming out more. At one point when I adjusted my goggles there were literally folks that were swimming 20 feet from the shoreline.
I remember getting extremely irritated when the lead pack of one of waves behind me came charging through and pretty much dunked me underwater for a few seconds. It startled me, and when I came up to adjust my goggles once again, I noticed that people were headed toward the shore.What the hell? I've barely been in the water...that can't be the finish...can it?
I looked at my watch. I was at 33 minutes and some change. And sure enough...out of the white mist, the coveted triangle turn buoy was emerging.Holy shit...
And I took off swimming like I was Phelps in the medal-winning round of the Olympics. Or at least my best imitation of him.
Running onto the short I saw 37 minutes on my watch. And with the run up the beach, I hit the transition mat and peeled my wetsuit off.Swim Time (including the run up the beach): 38:46
In case you're calculating...that's a nice fat 1:50/100yds. And ten billion shades of fan-freakin-tastic in my book! There's question as to whether the swim was short by 100-200meters, but I'm calling it 1.2 miles in my book.
T1 was rough. I was a bit woozy from the swim. Freezing cold. And my wetsuit got stuck on my foot. I think I may have given Leah the bird, too (sorry hun!). I was out the T1 door in 4:04
and made my way to the mount line.
Now. I had heard conflicting reports about just how hilly the Spirit of Racine half course really is. Having survived the Iron Cross in Kansas...this thing felt flat as a pancake. However, there were a handful of deceiving flats and enough rollers to annoy you. None of them brought enough of an incline where you could really pick up speed on the other side. But I welcomed the thought of not
doing 3,000 ft of climbing. Total climbing was around 800 ft in Racine I believe.
Right out of the gate, you're greeted with a hill where you get absolutely no momentum. I completely forgot to change my gears ahead of time, so I had to hammer my way up. A friend from BT warned me that the bike course here is uber competitive and that I will get passed. A lot. And to ignore it and race within my own limits.
She was right. Everyone
whizzed right by me. But I was feeling great. Cadence was up. RPE was easy. I had a fabulous swim and continued to ride that high.
The first 30 miles of the bike were brilliant for my abilities (the bike is my weakest discipline and has the most room for improvement, obviously). I was averaging just over 15 mph by the time I hit mile 25. For me, that average over that distance was ridiculous. I had been eating regularly, consuming endurolytes on cue, and taking in plenty of fluids--potentially too much fluid. Fellow blogger Alili passed by me at one point and asked if I was Jayhawk. I didn't realize it was her at the time, so the next few miles were spent trying to figure out just who my mystery reader was. Good times.
Just after 30 miles, the sun had come out and was really doing a number on my body since shade was few and far between. So I focused on keeping hydrated and tried to ignore the fact that the sun was quickly turning me into a lobster. I hit my "dark place" on the bike at mile 36. This usually doesn't happen until around 42-45 miles. It worried me a bit and I was regretting going hard so early, despite the fact it felt easy.
My stomach started churning, I was getting a headache, and for about 2 minutes I was having some vision issues (like seeing the aftereffects of a camera flash). I began to feel insanely miserable. A little over 40 miles I stopped, pulled over, and let everything out of my stomach. The riders that passed me were so nice and offered a lot of positive encouragement. I allowed myself to feel sorry for myself for all of 10 seconds, then I pulled myself together and got back to work.
At water station around mile 45, I switched out my HEED for water thinking I'd have better luck keeping that down. Not even 10 minutes later I was back in vomitville. But this time I pretty much just turned my head and let it fly since it was just fluid and I was probably the last person out on the course.
Those last 12 miles I really struggled with everything mentally and physically. My right foot/second toe was throbbing, I couldn't keep anything down, I was way overheated and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get my cadence back up and over 85. It got really ugly. I was hating life. I wanted this race over with. The last thing I wanted to do was run a half marathon, so I tried not to focus on the fact I wasn't anywhere near done yet.
As I got closer to the transition area, I spotted Leah who went berzerk and snapped a bunch of pictures. I think I yelled something at her about not being able to keep anything down. I was starting to get worried about my body and how it was going to react to 13.1 miles on foot. So I more or less gave her the warning in the event my body crashed on the run, they'd know to go looking for me in the med tent or the nearest hospital.
By the time I was riding down the hill back into transition, I wanted nothing more than to just bypass the turn into T2, ride straight into the water and leave my bike at the bottom of Lake Michigan. That freezing cold water was calling my name.Bike Time: 4:02:28, 13.86mph
(not bad considering I was expecting a 4:15 ride on a "good day")
When I pulled back into T2, some dude had parked his bike where mine should've been racked. So I had to do some creative shifting in order to get one of my handlebars over the bar. Since I still wasn't feeling well I sat there for a few minutes and just collected my thoughts. I knew I needed to get something in body if I was going to cover a half marathon, but I feared my body rejecting whatever I put into it. I took my time changing into my shoes, grabbed my uncrustable sammich and took off in an attempt to run.T2: 4:51
Running? I wish I could say there was a lot of running. My game plan was to run around a 2:35-2:40 half. Something I felt was feasible for me after 56 miles on the bike. But given my digestive pyrotechnics on the bike, I decided to back off and aim for a 2:50 half. However when I pulled out of transition and made my first attempt to run, it became very evident that my body wanted NOTHING to do with running and immediately went into survival mode. It gave me three options...walk...crawl...or go lay down in the sand.
At the first aid station I promptly grabbed a cup of water for my head and one for my mouth. I cooled myself off, opened my uncrustable and was able to suffer down about 2 bites of it before tossing the thing.
At aid station #2, it came back up. A volunteer pulled me over to rest for a minute but I was able to assure her I could carry on. My number was reported to the folks in the medical car riding the course and they kept a close eye on me. I took it slow and easy to make sure I remained vertical. Not finishing was not an option.
Most of lap 1 was spent walking with a few intermittent spurts of a slow jog every half mile or so. I wasn't happy about it, but I kept my focus on just crossing the finish line. I encouraged other athletes on the course to finish strong in an attempt to keep my spirits up.
The second lap went significantly better than the first (read as, negative split...which given the time of the first loop, really wasn't that hard). I was starting to feel a little bit better and hadn't "tossed my cookies" in a while so I figured now was as good a time as any to try and eat again. Two orange slices went down with ease and I chased it with some water. Turns out that was just what I needed to break the spell.
The next aid station came water with a small handful of pretzels.
And then the next one I kept down a Roctane. Before I knew it...I was at the last turn around to head back in.
I had decided ahead of time that the last 5k of my race was going to be dedicated to fellow BTer Lucy. Lucy is a member of the BT community and within the past week and a half, had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and passed away. She was one of the most helpful and genuinely nice people on there, and the world lost one truly great triathlete. Most of the folks on the site decided that over the weekend, they'd be running a 5k in her memory. I knew she'd be able to help pull me into the finish.
My pace was slowly picking up and I picked off about 5 people during the those last 3.1 miles.
At the top of the hill past the zoo, my friend J was waiting for me. I looked at him and promptly told him two things...one, you have to make me run to the finish (which at this point was maybe 1/3 mile away)...and two, I need you to tell me a story to keep my mind off the pain. Together we ran and he talked about the new car they just bought (apparently the Prius gets incredible mileage in case you're wondering). Before I knew it, I passed the Donk's tent who went crazy for me as I came trucking through, crested the last small incline and ran as fast as I could to cross the finish line.
I could hear Leah and Jason screaming at me...and everyone in the finish line area started screaming with them. The announcer said something about my fabulous fanfare.
I threw my arms up in victory.
I crossed the finish line and fought back the tears. I thought of how I came up short at the 70.3 at the Ironman Kansas. I thought of Lucy. I thought about how even though my husband and family couldn't be there to witness this incredible accomplishment, I was surrounded by friends. I thought about everyone cheering for me at home. And I thought about how I achieved something I never thought possible.
I never thought I'd feel so incredible after the most excruciatingly painful run of my life. I couldn't remember the last time I felt this proud of myself.
Leah ran up and told me I finished in under 8 hours. My time started with a 7. I didn't believe her, even though the announcer read my finish time out loud.
I owe that sub-8 to J. Without him, there is no way in hell I would've run the rest of the way in. I was in too much pain to do it on my own. I may have gotten myself to 70 miles...but he got me that .3 with 13 seconds to spare. Thank you for the bottom of my heart, J. His wife Henna captured it all on video. Maybe one of these days we can figure out how to post the video proof of my victorious moment.Run Time: 3:09:38
...how insanely, painfully awful is that!? If my body would've allowed me to run, I certainly would have. I just can't believe I ended up with THAT for a half marathon time. Regardless, I'll take it.
A med tent volunteer greeted me at the finish line as I came hobbling in and at that point I wanted more than anything, ice for my foot. I was starting to worry that the pain in my foot was a stress fracture. I got some ice, aspirin and a chair. Then they brought me a freezing cold Coke and Leah came and sat with me. I was as happy as a pig rolling in mud.
They had run out of medals, but I didn't care. I don't need a medal to know that I covered the half iron distance. (Even though I'll be beyond elated the day I receive it in the mail.)
After packing up shop, and eating pretty much everything in sight, I was more than relieved to get home and relax.
The emotion of the day finally hit me in the shower. For close to an hour I sat in the bathtub with the water pouring over me and sobbed. Finally...the release from 7+ months of mind-numbing training. All the anger and frustration I had for the Kansas 70.3 race was washed down the drain with the grains of sand from Racine.
That release was just what I needed.
I went to sleep with a smile Sunday night. Knowing that my 7:59:47 was something that nobody could take away from me.
I'd like to send a massive thank you out to the masses of people who sent text messages, ecards, emails, blog comments and left voicemails. Your support sincerely means a lot to me. Without Mike and my folks there, I was so afraid of going at this "alone"...and as it turns out, I had an over-abundance of positive energy and well wishes for a day that will never be forgotten. Even when I was out there swimming, pedaling and running all by myself...I carried each of you with me.
Thanks to Henna and J for their support on site (and beforehand of course, too!). You two are fabulous people and I'm determined to get you involved in this brilliant sport if it's the last thing I do!!!!
A shout out to Katie, Maggie, Missy and Kara for my inspiration book. I brought it with me to the race and read it before getting my day started. You gals always believed in me even when I didn't believe in myself. And of course, Lauren who is a master problem solver and essentially forcing me to take her car to make sure I could get to the race.
A huge thank you to Leah and Jason, who never cease to amaze me. They went way above and beyond the call of friendship duty. I owe you a big fat dinner...and a round or two or ten at the forthcoming booze-a-palooza.
Thanks to my folks down in Kansas, even though you don't understand the insanity that comes with triathlon...for at least pretending to care. :) You guys seriously are the best. I promise I won't be signing up for any races of a massive distance for a while (after the marathon, of course). But don't you go reading into that or anything...got it?
And of course, a thank you novella wouldn't be complete without a shout out to my husband Mike who has listened to me cry, whine, complain and stress over this 70.3 for who knows how long. Thank you for all the notes you left me and for being my rock even when I was intolerable. I love you more than you'll ever know.
Labels: Race Report, Spirit of Racine HIM