Oh, the learning process. It is certainly testing my patience. Two half-ironman distances races this summer and two miserable runs. And for a person who has seen herself as a runner since 1995 that is a little hard to take.
After a less than stellar performance on the run leg at Liberty 70.3 in June, I had really hoped that I could put together a complete race last Sunday at the Toughman 70.3 in Chisago Lakes, MN. The Waconia Sprint and Minneapolis Lifetime International races went fairly well and amazing, respectively. And I had completed two long bike rides that I felt met my abilities. That is to say, I was proud of my efforts and my training. Besides for a little normal, summer-home-with-three-energetic-boys fatigue, I was ready to race.
It is so great that this race starts early. Since it is at the end of July in Minnesota it will most definitely be hot, so thank you DuTriRun for getting the show on the road. Next time I will get out of the house (or rather my comfortable air conditioned house) earlier! I felt like I was racing every vehicle with a bike attached to it as I drove north on 35W.
Also, pre-race packet pick up means that there are lines to wait in! First, to get the packet, then to be body-marked and lastly to get your timing chip. By the time I got to my pre-assigned spot on the transition racks I was a little panicked. No warm-up bike or run. I barely had time to arrange my gear and deliberate the wet-suit option (the lake water was too warm for a ‘wet-suit legal’ swim). And because there were only 2 biffs down by the water I did have to pull a dirty triathlete while I tested out my goggles in the lake.
This would have been a great race to either: 1) take Kendra up on her Roka swim skin loan offer or 2) to swim in my Roka swim top & Coeur tri shorts. Would have been. Instead I dragged along what felt like 5 gallons of lake water in my tri-top for the 1.2 mile swim. Other than that, the lake was perfect. A little weedy near to shore. Not too terrible. I honestly enjoyed the swim, even with the drag. One weird thing happened: I was literally RIGHT next to the same woman the whole swim. We were basically stroke for stroke tied. It freaked me out a little so I sped up to ditch her at the end.
When I got to the rack and noticed that there were still so many bikes there I got a little over excited. Transition rattles me because I hate to feel rushed and knowing that I HAVE to grab everything I might need for the next 56 miles stresses me out a bit. I rushed too much and didn’t grab the right nutrition from my stash. *Must figure out a better method for carrying food on the bike!!*
Course was great. I was clicking away the miles on the rumored to be ‘flat’ course and loving life. The night before I had purchased a new water bottle system that attached to my aero bars. Sipping Skratch in my water bottle from the cleverly convenient straw was delicious. Then I realized I didn’t pack the uncrustables or a bar of any kind. ONLY Annie’s gummy bunnies. Since I couldn’t really worry about it I decided to focus on hydrating and just cross my fingers that my body could get creative and turn some of the McDonald’s fries that I’m sure I’ve been storing since 1990 into fuel.
After some amazing downhills in miles 27-28, we hit a tough up hill and the WOMAN FROM THE SWIM was back. From miles 33 to 53 she would speed up to pass me and then SLOW down right as she got in front of me. It was incredibly frustrating because she would totally slow down and it threw my rhythm off. Also, I didn’t want to let her dictate my speed so I pushed to pass her back and then wouldn’t see her for 5 miles. But she always came back. Unfortunately this was the hardest part of the bike because we were on a flat stretch headed directly into the wind. I wasted so much energy trying to get away from her. Eventually the lack of calories and the exchange with her broke me on the bike.
The clouds provided some nice cover on the bike. They were gone for the run. Gone. Gone. Gone. After I waited in line for the biff (WHY DO MEN TAKE UP PRECIOUS SPACE IN THE BIFF LINE?!?!?!), I shuffled my way into the bright sunshine of the open road. Oh did I hurt. My legs were toast. I ate a salted carmel gu and tried to find some resolve. During the first two miles I contemplated just stepping right off the course. A hard mental position to be in when beginning a half-marathon.
I can hardly even bring myself to think about that terrible run much less write about it! Very early on I figured that if my race wasn’t going to end up as I had hoped than the least I could do was smile at everyone else and encourage them on. It was a nice distraction from the constant desire to collapse and sleep.
At the turn around I met the nicest 27 yr old from St. Cloud, Alex. She wanted some company so we jog/walked together for the next 5 miles. God bless Alex. All I wanted to do was nap. I couldn’t stop shaking and yawning. I was dizzy and for some reason I couldn’t pop my left ear. Felt like I was scuba diving. Very weird.
I chatted with the very kind race photographer, Mark right after I collapsed at the finish line. He was sitting in a camp chair photographing the finishers and his position gave me a little shade to drink a water bottle in. After a few minutes I pulled myself up and walked down the chute, right into my friend Erin. It was great to see a friendly face! We commiserated on the race, took a photo and then I was off to rush home and prepare for a party we were hosting to celebrate our sons’ birthdays. Literally no rest for the weary!
Thankfully my big family is also very forgiving of my post race fatigue and very helpful. The party was a hit and at about 8pm I ordered and ate an entire Carbonne’s pepperoni pizza on the front yard while we hung out with neighbors.
Summer races in the heat and sun are sure hard. This was my third 70.3 and each race I have finished in 6 hrs 24 minutes. Is that unbelievable or what? Turns out racing half ironman distance is exhausting and exhilarating. I don’t feel satisfied yet. I flew a little too close to the sun and got burned. Next race I’m going to be better prepared. So that some day I’ll get it all together and race well….or maybe I’ll find a cold weather half ironman!
*As always the whole race was more fun because 1) racing triathlons in MN is the greatest – people are so friendly and we encourage each other out there on the course and I live for those moments, especially when it feels like there is so much negative in the world right now 2) I had a bunch of friends on the course racing and cheering – seeing a friendly face gives me such a boost!