Prep for this race started when I signed up for the Half Full, and decided that if I’m going to get ready for a half-iron distance race, I’d better do something different about my training plan. Translation: I’d better get one! So a friend developed a base training program for me for the winter, and I stuck to it pretty well (but never did figure out how to fit in enough sleep). Two months before Columbia, that plan changed to focus on less volume and greater intensity of workouts. All throughout both phases, I managed to get several injuries that I worked through methodically as my body got used to greater demands on it. Two weeks before race day, my injuries were all healed so of course I developed a wicked upper respiratory infection that required antibiotics. I typically don’t get sick enough to need meds, so my body was experimenting with several of the side effects of that. Oh well, so be it. I ended up with a full 2 weeks of tapering, with half of those days completely without any workout at all.
And then the storms on race day! When the bolt of lightning and thunder rolls woke me up in the wee hours, I wondered if bikes attract lightning, and deciding that I’d do the race no matter how hard it rained, but not if there was going to be lightning. Back to sleep until 4:45, then a big bowl of my favorite Kashi GoLean with soy milk. After sitting in the line of traffic to get into the park by 5:30, I read Mark Yost’s email about staying in his car until 6:30 am, so I then decided to do the same. Megan came to find my car in the parking lot, and together we watched cars get stuck in the mudpit of the parking log until 6:30. When we finally got out of the car to go to body marking, the rain stopped. Wonderful!
I enjoyed catching up with folks at the tent, though never did see everyone. I watched the pros start, as well as their T1, then finally did my warm up jog and dynamic stretches. I lubed my neck and lower arms & legs with Sport Shield (better than Body Glide, hands-down, no competition) got my wetsuit on, downed my pre-race AccelGel and water, and joined my wave in the water.
I swam out to a spot about half-way between the start buoys and decided to stay in the front of the pack there, as I was tired of starting further back in previous races and getting stuck in the washing machine. This strategy worked out well, as the faster folks took off right away, I never had to slow up or navigate around slower folks. Interestingly, I was actually able to get to the first turn with very little sighting just by watching the girl on my right as she religiously sighted every 6 strokes. Since I still only breathe on the right, and she was swimming at my pace on my left, this was a no-brainer. Once in a while I checked on the buoy, and we were dead on each time I looked. By far, this was the straightest part of my swim. I lost her around the first buoy, and just enjoyed the rest of my swim mostly by myself.
Swim: 30:55, 30/87 AG, about what I expected, having put little to no effort into swim training for the past two months (one of the previously-mentioned injuries was left shoulder pain)
T1: 3:31, 19/87 AG
I had a really strong start on the bike, as I do in every race (somehow I can never start that hard in training). I passed lots of folks in prior waves, but not the folks in my wave. I loved hearing all the cheering from club members scattered along the course – thanks so much! I had only one “oops” moment due to the wet roads, and I must apologize to someone in the club (not sure who you are – I only noticed you were sporting MMTC colors). I was in the process of passing on the left when suddenly we were in Ten Oaks circle and I found myself on the inside of the circle going too fast for the curve on wet roads. Pumping the brakes, trying to turn tightly on the inside of the circle and not to get too close to who I was passing, my front tire hit the section where the asphalt met the concrete on the inside of the circle and jumped a bit to the right with the back tire sliding along behind – I was very worried as I knew if I went down, I’d take down the club member next to me, and we’d both probably slide right into Linda and Aldona cheering for us all! Somehow the bike stayed up, and I kept going. Great big apologies if I scared the heck out of whoever I was passing right there! The rest of the ride was uneventful, though my pace dropped and my hip flexors tired out about halfway through the ride. Then I did get passed by a two girls in my wave. I’m not sure why that happened, having never experienced that before, but I knew I was doing the best I could – again, so be it. I had about one half bottle of Accelerade on the bike.
Bike: 1:30:10, 16.9 pace, 21/87 AG
T2: 1:16, 5/87 AG
Loved hearing and seeing about a half-dozen MMTC folks cheering me out onto the run! The run was just a slow steady start, and it took a couple miles to get my run legs on. Somewhere between mile 1 and 2, someone with 43 on her leg passed me, then stopped to tie her shoe so I passed her, then she passed me and I decided to stick with her. We ran the whole rest of the course together – her name is Mary Ure from Baltimore – and I am so grateful because I would have never kept that pace without her. I took Gatorade at every water stop except the new ones this year at the top of Carillon Rd. I finally had to drop off Mary’s pace at the very last little hill before the finish line, but having pulled me along for so many miles, she certainly earned being a couple steps ahead of me as we came through the finish line. She’s 2 seconds ahead of me in the race results – so if anyone knows her, give her a high-five for me.
Run: 55:00, 17/87 AG
I had to lean over for a minute just over the finish line and let my lungs spasm, as they do after fighting the urge to wheeze when exercising hard, assuring the volunteers that no, I wouldn’t move and no, I didn’t need the medical tent – just please give me a minute. Then I got my big hug from Susie, cheers with Mary Ure, hug from Sadj, and…thanks again to the tent crew…FOOD! and celebrations with everyone still there at the tent.