Sorry, my reports are always long . . .
What an emotional and poignant race. I helped organize volunteers for the 2010 Inaugural Half Full. It was so much fun (a lot of work) and for such a great cause. As much as I loved volunteering, watching the racers finish made me want to race this race too. I knew I wouldn't be able to train for another half this year, so I was so psyched when they announced an Olympic distance for 2011. I signed up the day registration opened!
The week leading up to the race, I was pretty excited. With Nation's being turned into just a bike and run, Half Full was my last chance at a good tri for the season. I had done Columbia as a relay and had a pretty rough time with Diamond in the Rough, so I wanted a good race to finish the season. I'd been nursing a sore Achilles tendon for a couple weeks, so laid off running the week before the race. I volunteered at packet pick up Friday night, and had a lot of fun. Bike racking on Saturday was pretty ominous with spitting rain, wind, and cool temperatures. Sunday was looking to be not much better.
When I woke up at 4:15 Sunday, it was 45 degrees and still spitting rain. Just getting out of bed it was cold. I piled on the layers and headed for the park. Got to Centennial about 5am. Walking to transition, I was questioning what I was thinking. It was cold! Even with my thick hiking socks, swimming parka, and knit cap, I was cold. Oh well, I was never going to quit, so into transition I went to set up. I had a hard time deciding what to wear on the bike. I had stopped by Performance Bike after racking my bike yesterday to pick up some toe covers. Back in the winter, my son was playing with my other ones and hid one of them somewhere in the house. I still haven't found it. I also had my wool biking socks, full fingered gloves, and arm warmers, plus a scarf to wear on my head under my helmet. The debate I was having with myself was what else to wear. I had brought a long sleeve biking jersey and my gortex jacket, but I tend to get hot once I get moving. With the conditions being what they were, I didn't want to be sweating under too many layers. Tim (CB) Delss solved that dilemma for me by loaning me an Under Armor base layer to wear under my singlet. Thanks Tim (it's already washed and ready to return)!
Once transition was set up, there was nothing left to do but wait and try to stay warm. Did I mention it was cold? When the time came, I got my sleeveless wetsuit on and headed over to the swim start with Mike Peterson and Heather Jacobsen. Mike was going to take my parka for me, so I could wear it right up till we had to go into the corral. Even then, I so did not want to take off the parka. Sigh. Finally, it was time to get going.
Heather and I started together. I loved the time trial start. No battling for position, just smooth sailing, err . . . swimming, to the first buoy. Throughout the swim, I just tried to maintain a long reach and good rotation of the hips. I passed A LOT of people and only a couple passed me. I'm not used to doing that swim clockwise, so I ended up a little wide after the first turn and slowly angled my way towards the buoys so I cut right next to the 2nd turn buoy. Took the 3rd one wide again, but that was okay since I needed to head toward the left to get to shore anyway. Swam right up the boat ramp until I could feel the ground under my hand. I ended up the 2nd pink cap out of the water! Not my fastest swim for that distance, but give how cold I was starting out, I'll take it.
I jogged slowly into transition, took of the wetsuit, and started putting the layers on. The woman from my wave who finished before me came over all apologetic and asked if I could help here with her wetsuit. She had somehow gotten the zipper from her wetsuit caught on her bra strap. I tried to help her get unhooked, but had to admit defeat. I felt really bad about not being able to help her. She must have extricated herself eventually, because by the time I had grabbed my bike and was heading for the transition exit, she was out of her suit.
Bike: 1:44:52, 18.3 mph
The bike was cold! With the extra base layer, my core was actually pretty good (thanks again Tim!), but my hands and feet were completely numb, even with the gloves, socks, and toe covers. At one point, my hands were so numb I was having trouble shift gears. Still, I pushed hard and worked the hills, but was conservative on the downhills given how wet the roads were. I didn't want to risk an accident during my last race of the season. I passed a lot of folks. It's always fun to pass guys on the hills as they try to muscle their way up without downshifting. I just dropped to my small chain ring and spun my way up. I was actually feeling pretty strong the whole time, but was definitely glad when I got to the Folly Quarter Circle and got to go straight onto Homewood to make my way back toward the park instead turning left to repeat the loop. Dismounting and running the bike through transition was hard since I could barely feel my feet. During the bike, I drank one and a half bottles of weak Cytomax and ate most of my PB and Craisins. Getting food out of the Bento box was hard with my full gloves on. Next time, I should cut the plastic bag so that it is smaller.
T2 was uneventful. Parked the bike, ditched the bike shoes, put on the running shoes, grabbed my visor, race number, and race belt, and off I went.
Run: 53:29, 8:21 min/mile
The run was interesting. It took a while before I could feel my feet again. My legs were also kind of wobbly and crampy from the cold. I kept waiting to take a step and have my legs give out, but thankfully they never did. At one of the intersections, a volunteer said I was the fourth woman through, so I was determined not to let any other women pass me. I just kept going, one foot in front of the other, trying to keep my pace steady. I could feel some pain in my Achilles, but it didn't seem to be getting any worse, so I ignored it. Several men passed me, but no women. I munched on some Sport Beans and sipped my bottles of Cytomax. I saw Aldona in the neighborhood and Chip as I was reentering the park. It was great to see those MMTC faces! The hills on Centennial were long and therefore tough since my legs wanted to give out, but not as steep as the hills on the Columbia course, so I just kept at it. Once I entered the park, I knew it was the home stretch. I picked up the pace as much as I could so I could finish strong. It felt great to cross that finish line and know I had put it all out there.
About 10 minutes after I finished, the cold started hitting me big time. I was shivering so hard I could hardly change into dry clothes. After layering about 5 layers on my core and 2 pairs of socks on my feet, I finally started feeling warmer. Did I mention it was cold? Once the adrenaline wore off, my Achilles started hurting big time. Guess it's time to lay off the running for a while.
I never saw any of the women in front of me or any behind me, so I figured I had a good chance at an age group place. Not knowing what AG the ladies in front of me were and with the time trial start, there was no telling at that point. To my surprise, I ended up 3rd over all! Ironically, I was also technically 3rd in my age group - the top 3 overall were all in the 30-34 age group. It was a great race, and I am so glad I was able to be a part of it this year as a participant. It was a great end to the season! Thanks to all the tent and race volunteers! Y'all are the best!