This race was THE most important to me because…it was the first race that I would be doing as a “repeat”. My other races between last year and this year have all be “first timers”, so they were always a PR. I could use that as an excuse if I didn’t do well. So I was INCREDIBLY nervous about doing IG because I knew that I HAD to do better than last year.
Last year, my first Tri was Celebration and then 2 months later, I did IG. My goal for IG was to improve by 15 minutes. Little did I know that that was a “little” unrealistic for a beginner AND only being 2 months apart. Shows how much I knew then! I’ve had my ups and downs over the past several months, including my crash at Rumpass (breaking my 1-month old carbon fiber TT bike, after doing the entire swim using the backstroke), being completely devastated at MD 2XRip and having a melt-down at the finish, and then (2 weeks later) having a BAD swim at Ft. Ritchie (which was only a .4 mile swim, again, only doing the backstroke because of hyperventilation and anxiety). I was even contemplating taking 1-2 Valium along with a "drink" before the Iron Girl race to help me in the swim. But the more that I thought about it, my BEST swim EVER was Columbia. I chalked this up to working SO much for registration (12+ hour days) that I didn’t have time to be nervous/anxious about the swim (race). So I was hoping that I could prove this to be true for IG on Sunday.
Last year, I wanted to do the “Eat a Peach Challenge” but was very fearful because it was the week before IG. This year was no different. However, I felt a little more prepared and with “everyone else doing it”, I signed up too, initially for the 33 miler but then was easily talked into the 66 miler. That was both a good and bad idea. Rachel told me that if I could do this route, then I could do the 70 of Half Full (my goal for October). I rode with Aleah, Jen D. and Lynn M. They were all SO good and patient with me! I FLEW by them on the downhill’s (avg. 39 mph) but they FLEW by me on the uphill’s (I avg. 4.5 – 6.6 mph). Uphill’s are like I hit a wall – every time! After one fateful uphill battle, Lynn and Aleah looked at my bike. “OMG – no wonder you can’t make it up these hills. Look at what you are riding with! You need more gears!” (It was later determined that my crank was a standard 53/39 with an 11/25 rear cassette! At mile 49, my legs were DEAD! I finally had to walk up the 12% hill, rode to the aide area, where I proceeded to have a complete breakdown. I SO wanted to finish but I knew that physically I couldn’t. The girls were SO great in comforting me. I was divested that I had to quit but they kept emphasizing that I wasn’t quitting – I was stopping because I had my most important race, Iron Girl, the following weekend. I was SO glad that I listened to them! My TT bike is currently in the “hospital” having “surgery” to be “bigger and better”. I ended up using my road bike for this race (same one that I used last year so I could compare “apples to apples”).
Race weekend: I love working registration, especially comforting all of the newbies, knowing that I was where they were only 1 year ago. I could really relate! Got home on Saturday night, hastily got my transition bag together (hoping that I had everything, relying on the checklist on the front of the packet), and finally crawled into bed about 9:30, finished a few registration things on the laptop before turning off the light around 11:30. Didn’t sleep well – don’t know why. Got up at 3:15 as I had to be at the park by 4:30 a.m. (to work). I set up my transition, however, forgot to put my race belt/bib and sunglasses there (Thank you Sharon for putting them there for me) and then later found my Honey Stinger Waffle in my bag at the tent that I wanted to try (on the bike) – (Thank you Renee for putting it in my bento box for me). I worked up until 7:15, figuring that having 30 minutes for me would be enough. It was actually a little too much because I started to get a little nervous. I intentionally didn’t see anyone before I got in the water – I didn’t want my nerves to be on edge!
Swim: 30:56 (last year = 33:21)
Jumping to “Swim Out”, I, of course, swam to the left side of the exit ramp as I had to have Bob help me out. Since I forgot to put my watch on for the race, I had to ask “What time is it?” As I was jogging up the chute (last year I was lucky if I could walk), I’m looking from side to side, looking for Brian as he said that he was going to time me. I finally saw him and he had an inquisitive look on his face. I gave him 2 thumbs up – yelling “That was my best swim ever” (he later told me that he was finally able to exhale knowing I was happy with my swim). Now, back in the water…I wanted to start in the back, however, so did everyone else. So I thought, OK, I’ll start in the middle of the pack. The horn blew and I waited a few seconds and then started swimming. And I swam, and I swam some more. I was surprised. I was almost to the first buoy when I thought – I had better slow down otherwise I’m not going to make it. I only turned onto my back 1 time, maybe for 20-30 strokes. I also heard from someone to sing a song in my head to help keep me calm. I tried several times to think of a slow, calming song that I know the words to. I hate to admit it but do you know what I was singing to myself during this time? “Raindrops keep falling on my head…” That song had a good tempo for me to use to keep me calm! Luckily, I only had to sing the chorus of it! It seemed like every time that I began swimming, I either was swimming “faster” now or I was just in a pack of other “newbies” who were more my pace because I kept hitting feet! Of course, that threw me off and I had to stop, do the breast stroke, allow some space between them and me before I would start swimming again. If someone grabbed my feet, I didn’t care – I kept going. GOAL: Work on how to continue swimming, even though I’m hitting the feet of other swimmers.
T1: 3:05 (last year = 4:12)
I thought that I was incredibly slow (which I was) but obviously faster than last year! I was actually able to jog a little, which helped, but I know that taking time to wipe my feet (SO dirty) before putting on socks/shoes surely didn’t help. GOAL: 1) more practice; 2) ride sockless (they will dry while riding, therefore, making it easier before the run, right?)
Bike: 1:10:58, 14.8 mph (last year = 1:20:50, 13 mph)
Still slow as molasses but I’m happy with a 2 mph improvement from last year. I passed a lot of girls, both on the downhills and on the “flats”. I waited for about 15 minutes before I tried to open my stinger waffle, thinking that I just might need a little something extra. I was only able to manage 2 small bites. Maybe it was that or just a coincidence but shortly thereafter, I began to have mild GI issues. I really didn’t want to stop, either in the woods or at the port-a-potty. I quit eating it and just hoped for the best. I passed a lot on the uphills, right Robbie? She and I were playing leap frog a lot on the way back to the park. The frustrating part with this type of race is….all of the new riders who don’t know/follow the rules of the road. Most importantly, riding to the ride side of the lane (unless passing). All I can say is that I felt like I was giving it my all – trying to leave it all out on the course. However, I realized that I wasn’t doing that! Because when I got to Mt. Albert, I was focused on powering up the hill (yes, in my granny gear) when I saw Marianne on the right side of the road, encouraging all girls up the hill (including a few walkers). I yelled out to her and when she realized that it was me, she yelled across the way to “The Devil” (Shane). They both surrounded me and literally YELLED me up that hill. OMG! I have never made it up that hill so fast! That proved to me that I do have more in me that I think! I was SO glad to get back to 108. I put it in gear and just WENT! I was determined that I was going to give it my all – all the way back to the park. Apparently I did because I was in 18th gear (if I’m counting correctly).
T2: 1:54 (last year = 2:13)
Had to make sure my legs were steady below me, running down the hill. Wasted a few seconds getting my Garmin out of my Bento Box and resetting it before the run. Put on visor and belt while running out of transition.
Run: 36:29, 10:44 min/mi (last year = 45:30, 13:23 min/mi)
I started out slow and steady but didn’t walk! Just focused on controlling my breathing all the while getting my running legs below me. I jogged, and jogged, and jogged some more. In the past couple of months, I have gone and done hill repeats up and over Gatorade hill for a total of 10 times (Thank you Aleah for coaching me the first time because you proved to me that I CAN do it). I got to the front base of Gatorade and saw Lisa G. standing there, cheering everyone on. When she saw me coming, she yelled “I got up this morning and came out here so you could have the perfect run”. She saw that I had changed my FB profile pix to the shirt that I bought on Friday (in memory of a run which I had a few Friday’s ago and hopefully many more to come, 44) which says “The Perfect Run…The sun on your face the wind at your back, your best friend by your side.” So she ran with me for about 20 feet. Then here come Alan DOWN the hill. I simply said “hi” to him and then next thing I know, he turned around and began running me UP the hill! I did it! All the way to the water stop. This was the first time that I walked – wanted to take in a few sips of Gatorade. Then began running again. I am SO pleased to say that I ran 99% of the rest of the way – even up the back side of Gatorade hill! It was far from easy but if I did it with Aleah (and again later by myself), I could do it now – when it REALLY counted. I was running across the damn, mentally preparing myself for the end. Saw Liz Flynn right before that last little uphill, however, I just needed a 5 second walk break – took 3-4 DEEP breaths and then started running again. I came up to a small group of women who were steadily jogging in. “Passing on your left” and I had to pass them. Right in front of them was a lady who was in my age group. Oh no!!!! I can NOT let her beat me, THAT close to the finish. So I took off – running as HARD as I could, coming down that chute – all by myself! I crossed that finish line, feeling SO good about what I had done.
FINISH: Carole V. pulled me over to the side so she could take my chip off and then I headed straight for water/Gatorade. I saw 2 ladies standing there talking. I asked, “What time is it?” In order for me to achieve my goal of 2:29:59, the actual time would have to be about 10:15 a.m. The one looked at her watch and said “10:00 a.m” (but then added something about it was off a few minutes). I don’t remember – I was crying too hard! I had done it! I had actually achieved and beaten my goal! I started walking around, looking for any familiar faces. Didn’t see anyone: Brian (who was tracking his own personal team of his wife Renee, his mother and mother-in-law who were in a relay), Aleah (who has passed me within the first few miles of the bike so she had probably already gone home, showered, done her hair and make-up) or anyone. So I headed to the tent! Let this be a lesson to all: that is where to go. That is where everyone hangs out. I was still in shock so I can’t remember everyone that I saw but it was amazing: Jill, Mary, Sharon, Tim, Dawn, Lara, Alan, Rachel, Kristin, Jenni, Keely, Deb, Danny, Heather, Raminta, and so many other people (I sincerely apologize if I’ve left out anyone). Believe me, each and every hug that I got from everyone was so special to me. I LOVE my MMTC family and of course, the extended “family” of Team Fight (even tho’ I’m not a member). I had a smile on my face that just wouldn’t stop! I finally found Aleah (who was looking for me at the finish line). Then when I finally met up with Brian (and Renee), I asked him “when is the last time that you’ve seen me finish a race with a smile on my face?” I realize that not every race is going to end with a victory but when they do….I’m going to enjoy it for every moment that I can!
GOAL: 1) Decide if I’m going to stick with the 40 or “go for the gold” of the 70 distance for Half Full (my first HM distance!). 2) Plan races for next year!