Once off my bike, I headed into transition. Since this race is a point to point race, you don't see T2 before the race. Last year, I tried to go completely the wrong way out of transition.
This race, I was more prepared with the set up. The volunteers were also super helpful, making sure I got my bike to the right place. There was no room for my bike on the rack, so when I asked if I could move one of the other bikes over, one volunteer completely took care of racking my bike for me while the other dumped out my bag so I could get ready.
Change shoes, helmet off, hat on, grab a gel. I already had 2 gels in my spibelt number belt, along with my inhaler. There are gels on course, but I don't like relying on them.
I turned to go out of transition, and then turned around to go back. I'd forgotten to take off my jacket! I was really glad to have had it on the bike, but there was NO way I'd want it on the run, even if the day was cool, and it was warming up anyways.
Once I got rid of my jacket I was out of transition and ready to run.
It was time to run, the part of the race that I was both afraid of and excited about. Of course, those two feelings can be almost synonymous, since fear is exciting.
Right after transition, my family was there to cheer me on, so I did a very wide turn in order to catch a couple high fives.
Then it was time to run. After talking to Angie (my coach) about it, I'd settled on a strategy of running 5 minutes and walking 1. I wasn't thrilled with the necessity, but it was the reality of doing this race so soon after being cleared to run. Since I was doing the intervals anyways, I decided to make them work for me. Rather then dwelling on the fact that I had ahead of me the longest run I'd done in three months, I was only going to think about the interval I was on. I wasn't running 21 km. I was just running 5 minutes at a time, until I crossed the finish line.
I quickly settled into my standard post bike run pace, at about 5:30/km. TOO FAST! I felt great, but I know very well that I can't actually hold that pace in a race of this distance (yet). I moderated my pace. It actually felt easy, but I knew it wouldn't stay that way.
The run of this race is an out and back. One of the very cool parts about that is the fact that you get to see some of the fast finishers. I saw a teammate, Sharon (also one of the other team trilife coaches) coming in when I was on one of my early walk breaks, so I used my extra lung energy to cheer her on. Damn she's fast! In my age group too. Hmm, I only have to cut a couple hours off my half ironman time to catch her...
There's about a 4 km loop before going down into the weaselhead. If you don't have supporters there, it can be painful, because it means you pass really close to the finish line an extra 2 times before crossing it. If you have supporters though, it's awesome, because it means they see you on the course an extra time.
|My family was great support on the course. See the leaves in Sweepea's hands? Those are her pompoms.|
For the most part, the run was just feeling good. If I'm 100% honest, I don't feel like I "raced" this race. I was doing it to complete it, which is exactly what I needed to, but the it didn't start feeling really hard until very late in the race. My foot felt fine, although, I can't say I really trust my ability to feel pain when I'm in race mode anymore.
Up a really steep hill, and then not long after that was the Team Trilife aid station. Which was AWESOME! The cheers that I got were a fabulous extra boost. Angie asked how I was doing, and I told her I was golden. I was. I felt really good.
Not long after that, my tummy started to rumble. Damn. I remembered it doing this just a little further along in the race last year. At that time, a porta potty magically appeared, so I pretty much had forgotten about it. This time, I was going to have to go a little further to get there.
After stopping off, I carried on. I was almost at the turn around point, and while I won't say it was still easy, it was only mildly uncomfortable. The main reason I don't like run/walk intervals is because I find myself looking at my watch to see how far off the walk is. I don't do it because I need to walk though. If I was just running I wouldn't do it. I tried to limit the watch glances. It does beep/vibrate when it's time.
To the turn around and then back. My legs were feeling it at this point, and the way back is more up then down. Carry on.
It was starting to get uncomfortable. My garmin was the boss. When the garmin said to run, I ran. When it beeped after 5 minutes, I walked for a minute. I made exceptions for the two steep hills on course, and for a few seconds at the aid stations, while drinking from the little cups.
I was walking when I reached the Team Trilife aid station again. I wanted to run, since the support there is amazing, but I had decided I was sticking to what the garmin said, and there were still about 8 km to go. Too early to start deviating from the plan.
The really steep hill down after that aid station, I did walk. I just haven't done enough (any) fast running with high turnover lately, and I've done no downhill running in my training. I decided not to push it on this one.
When I got to the hill back up, I also walked that one. The garmin beeped for my walk break while I was on it, and beeped to start running when I got off of it. This is the point in the race where my legs were really feeling cooked. My legs would have loved to stop at this point. I could see the finish line, but instead, I ran past it to finish the last 4K.
Last year, this final stretch was really really tough. This year, it was hard. Just hard. I will admit I wanted to walk. And I did walk, but only 1 minute out of 6 when my garmin said it was time. At this point, I shut off the connection between my legs and my brain and carried on.
I saw Trish, a teammate that I've swam with for the last few years. We'd finished the swim within seconds of each other and played leapfrog on the bike until she left me in the dust as I braked down the hill. Now, I was reeling her in. And to distract myself from the fact it was hard, I focused on that for a bit.
I caught Trish when we were just over 1 km away. One of the spectators encouraged us by telling us "the hard part is over!"
Really? It felt pretty hard at this point. Just saying.
Then I picked up the pace. I was going to finish this race strong. There was nothing left to hold back for. Sure it was hard. It even hurt, but damn it, I was crossing that finish line. It was the first finish line of a full triathlon this season and the first post injury triathlon. That finish line meant so much to me.
The medal is awesome. It's huge. I did this race last year, and I thought that was a good medal. The one was a workout to wear.
Bike: 3:36:13 (Including both transitions, about 6 minutes for both.)
Total time: 7:01:07
Final chapter to come: Post race thoughts