So I was one of the 50+ "finishers" that missed the swim cut-off. I knew I had missed the cut-off when I got out of the water and I gave one of the volunteers a palms-up...mostly because I was so exhausted from the swim I couldn't even talk yet! He just shrugged so I went on ahead to my bike. The woman a couple spots away who was in my age group and finished the swim the same time I did asked if I thought we'd get DQ'd. I said probably, but I was going to go ahead and finish anyway. It turns out I had a piece of grey duct tape over my name when I came back from the bike saying "DQ'd DO NOT RUN" which I almost didn't see. Needless to say, I ignored it and ran anyway. I sat (for exactly 5 minutes and 31 seconds) having an internal war with myself about whether or not I should just go ahead and run. I went down a list of who I could be "hurting" by running and couldn't come up with anyone, so I just decided to go for it. I certainly wasn't doing someone an injustice by stealing away a podium spot after missing the swim cut-off and I wasn't so far behind that I was going to be holding up the volunteers out on the run course, so I figured why not just finish. This was my first HIM. I had come to do 70.3 and I was going to do 70.3, despite the fact that my time wouldn't count. I'm really only in this to accomplish my own personal goals, so official times don't mean much to me anyway. I'll just go ahead and apologize in advance to everyone I've offended by ignoring the DQ note. And for anyone who is curious, yes, my bike and run times have been removed from the overall results page, so it does reflect that I was officially DQ'd.
Swim: 1:11:54 (OUCH!)
Man, the announcement that the water was 79.1 and it was going to be a non-wetsuit swim was quite a shocker at 5am! YIKES!! I was totally unprepared for this possibility. I just wasn't even on my radar. I didn't even have a shirt to swim in. My plan was to just swim in my tri-shorts and sports bra, but NOT without my wetsuit. I know, that's ridiculous, but after having 4 babies, NO ONE should be subjected to looking at the ravaged landscape that used to be my stomach! LOL! I usually carry lots of extra clothes in my car (my friends jokingly refer to my car as my locker room!), but my dear friend Sherry had driven me down that morning and I didn't bring anything extra. BTW, Sherry was one of the cheerful volunteers in the tent that day! She's been an awesome friend and very supportive. Huge thank you to all the volunteers that day. Man, you guys worked your butts off! You all ROCK!! Thankfully Stacie saved me as she had an extra shirt that I could borrow. Obviously I would have tremendously benefited from the use of my wetsuit. My swim training this year has been almost nil. Just one of those things that fell off the bottom of the priority list as my life became more chaotic than expected this past winter/spring. I figured I could "get through it", so I just accepted that I wasn't going to be able to do much swim training. Of course hind sight is 20/20, right. Had I ever imagined that the swim could turn out to be non-wetsuit, I might have done a little reprioritizing. Oh well....you can bet I won't let that happen again! Another major mistake that morning was forgetting to put on bodyglide!! OUCH!! I started feeling the chaffing after the first turn bouy! I was just hoping I wouldn't leave blood stains all over Stacie's shirt!
T1 3:38 - Not too bad...mostly trying to catch my breath after that awful swim.
I was pretty pleased with my time on the bike leg. I was hoping to be under 3:30 and I was. I even saw a Balded Eagle out on the course!!! That was pretty fantastic and definitely the highlight of my ride. I started to get some cramps in my left hamstring and calf after the halfway point. I've never had that problem on the bike before. I had a hamstring pull in the late fall that still bothers me on the run sometimes, so mentally this was wreaking havoc on me! I kept thinking how the heck am I gonna run a half marathon when my hamstring is already killing me??? Then, right around the 50 mile marker my left foot started cramping. It was excruciating. Again, I've never had this happen! I usually only get cramps in my foot during swim training with the fins on. I think this was all the result of having to kick so much harder on the swim then I've ever had to before. I was really losing the mental game at this point. I really wanted to complete this distance, but I started thinking, "well, I'm probably DQ'd anyway, that will be a great excuse to just be done." When I got back to transition, I found out I'm really pretty hard-headed.
I hobbled back to my spot in transition (I had a primo spot on an end row with NO ONE behind me!) and, since it was pretty empty, I put my bike on the rack from the opposite side and ducked under to start changing my shoes. That's when I noticed the grey duct tape on a bunch of spots. I looked up at my spot and I had one too. That's when I read it the infamous, "DQ'd DO NOT RUN". Ok, I should be relieved at this point,right? My foot is hurting, my leg is cramping, I'm exhausted, and I just spent the last 3rd of the bike wishing I could just be done. NOPE! Apparently I'm fine with justifying giving up in my own head, but I'm not fine with someone else telling I can't do something. At that point I was mad! That's when the internal debate started. Again, I just couldn't see how I was hurting anyone by just finishing. I knew my time wouldn't count, but I would prove to myself that I could really finish this distance! So, away I went!
After all the pain on the bike, I was expecting the run to be brutal. Running has always been my nemesis. I've had lots of problems with plantar fasciitis in both feet (right foot last year, left foot this year), plus the hamstring pull in the late fall, and my longest run prior to the race was the BWI loop, which is not quite 11 miles. With all that I expect my time on the run to be closer to 3 hours. My plan was to do a run 2 miles/ walk 1 mile pattern to try to get through the run. Given the heat, I was definitely planning to walk through every water stop and pour lots of water over my head to try to stay cool. After about a half a mile, pretty much all the pain I'd been having was gone! I couldn't believe it! I decided to just run as long as I could, then I'd switch to the run/walk strategy when I couldn't run anymore. I did walk through every water stop. Grabbed water from each person, dumped water and ice on my head, drank some Gatorade, and discovered what a great cooler my sports bra made!!! Yep, I had the maracas thing going on too! Definitely got some strange looks from other runners as I went past. I would walk about 100 yards after each water stop to finish drinking, then start running again. Ok, it probably looked more like shuffling, but it was definitely more than walking and pretty darn good for me! Man, the last 3 miles was absolute torture!! I really wanted to just switch to walking versus this run to the next water stop thing I'd been doing, but I was SO close! Just a lousy little 5K left! It was brutal, but I kept going. Then turning that last corner where you can finally see the finish line and it SO FAR AWAY was almost enough to break me. But finally some redemption...this was the point where I won the mental game!! I was so close, I knew I could do it! I was singing “just keep running, just keep running”, to the tune in Finding Nemo. Man, what a great feeling to finally cross the finish line. And to have finished the run almost 15 minutes faster than I expected was awesome! Major shout out to the folks at the tent!! Both the volunteers and other racers that were still there! You guys are awesome! It was really something special to come down the chute hearing my MMTC peeps cheering me on!! Thank you, thank you thank!!
All-in-all a great day for me! I learned so much about myself and what areas I need to work on. And thanks to all my fellow MMTCers! What a fantastic club! Everyone is so encouraging and I've learned so much from reading all the posts and from the couple of meetings I've managed make. I'm looking forward to officially finishing next year!!