Beautiful, eh? Sunday, I had the opportunity to race in a fabulous half ironman distance race. Since I have only been living in Spokane 1 year, every race lately has been brand spanking NEW.
The weather was absolutely gorgeous the morning of. To be completely honest, although I wasn’t nervous the day before, I was REALLY nervous the morning of the race. Was my minimal training enough to even finish 70.3 miles? Was my limited time on the bike this season gonna screw me? I tried not to be hard on myself considering the workload that I have had plus the family issues happening this season.
What made the beginning of the race a little easier? I got to concentrate on other things besides those dumb questions like the fact that this race was, my friend, Lauren’s 1st triathlon. Yes, she is a crazy lady to choose a half iron for her 1st triathlon, but I might have contributed to that just a bit. I told her that she was perfectly capable of completing the distance. Maybe I should have listened to my own advice?
The SWIM (1.2 miles + .3)
The water felt great. Someone pulled on my leg during the swim, and I freaked out just a tad. Other than that and me swimming in a zig zag fashion because the buoys were not in a line (and I suck at open water swimming), it was uneventful. Oh, except the fact that the last buoy broke free and floated off until someone in a kayak went to go get it. This caused the swim to be a 1/4 of a mile longer than it was supposed to be. GREAT!
Swimming is by far, the weakest of the 3 sports to me, and I don’t need extra distance (especially when I can’t swim in a straight line to save my life). I thought it was particularly long, and I found out after the race exactly why.
Meanwhile, at the ranch… haha. My husband ran into one of his co-workers who brought her own fishing pole. They were fishing while we were swimming. Nice.
I was thinking, “Thank god it is over with!!!”
When I got back to the transition area there were about 20 bikes left out of about 200. I wasn’t surprised by this as I have stated before that I am not the best swimmer or sighter for that matter.
Time to bike some people down.
The BIKE (56 miles +4)
I passed some people on the bike, but I took it easy. Running is my strength compared to swimming and biking, and I didn’t want to wear myself out.
Everything was going along just fine until about mile 20. The road was really bumpy for the entire race. All of the sudden, my bottle cages in the back of my bike snapped off my bike, bounced off my back tire, and tumbled into a ditch — all while I was riding along at 20 miles an hour. As I looked behind me to see the damage, I saw my nutritional drink all over the road. My precious water in one and nutrition in the other were gone. Lovely. After 2 minutes of freaking out about losing 200 vital calories that I needed on the course, I realized that I lost 5 lbs that I didn’t have to carry on the bike anymore. There is always a plus to every situation! 😉 If you knew me well, you would know that I tend to find a way to laugh at bad situations. This was one of them.
After that, I settled into the ride and said hi and chatted a bit with my teammates as we crossed each other’s paths. My tri team is SO supportive!!
When my garmin hit 55 miles, I was ecstatic. The bumpy road was doing quite a bit of damage to the lady bits, and I was getting antsy. Fifty-six miles hit. No transition area in sight. Fifty-seven miles. No, not yet. Fifty-eight? No luck. I was regretting not finding a spot on the side of the road to use the restroom 2 hours prior when I first realized that I had to go. Fifty-nine. You have got to be kidding me!!! Sixty. FINALLY.
Since the bike/run transition area was in a different place than the swim/bike transition, they had volunteers take your bike from you and your cycling shoes. You then got handed a bag with your run gear in it.
I was shaking as tied my shoelaces to my running shoes. I needed calories. My shot bloks that I had on the bike were not enough. Thank goodness, i had another package of those things with my run gear. I threw them into my bra along with some chapstick (it is my only vice), and took off. That is, once I found out where to go. I was a little disoriented after that bike!
The RUN (13.1 + nothing — at least the race got that right!!!)
I was not expecting to see my husband at the bike/run transition area since he had a soccer game that he had to get to, and I was pleasantly surprised when I saw him! This is my “surprised, I’m going to kiss you now because I’m so happy” look. I planted a salty, crusty, wet one on my husband. And he didn’t pull away. That man is amazing! haha
After that kiss, I ran away at a 7:30 pace. Whoa!! WAY TOO FAST. Plus, I still needed to find a vacant porta potty. Calm down, Nicole. You still have 13.1 miles to go.
The 1st half of the run went great. I told myself that I was only allowed to walk through the aid stations, and that was exactly what I did. Every aid station every 1-2 miles, I dumped a cup of ice down my sports bra. It felt so amazing. The heat was bearing down on everyone. I must have passed about 20 people walking during the first 6.5 miles. I’m not kidding. All those people pushed it too hard on the bike. No one passed me. It was a great feeling. I was able to ignore my growing bloated stomach that desperately needed to empty itself.
That is, until about 2 miles after the turn-around. I was feeling the effect of the heat, and my stomach was pissed that I had ignored it for 3 hours already. I passed a porta potty at mile 8, and it was occupied. I didn’t want to stop and wait because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to start back up again. My bloated belly felt huge and uncomfortable.
The sooner I could finish the better. I spotted people up ahead of me, and focused. I will pass you next. I WILL pass you next.
I like playing those little games. They make the races go by so much faster!
Around 11 miles, any energy that I had left had dissipated. My pace had slowed, but I refused to walk. My skin was crusted with salt, and I felt like I was on fire. I was on the verge of crying. All I wanted to do was poo and be out of this horrid heat. Was that too much to ask???? Ahhhhhh! I started torturing myself about the fact that I hadn’t run over 8 miles (which I happened to run one 8-miler last week) in 3 months. Probably not a good way to train for a half ironman or a half marathon for that matter.
All of the sudden my coach rode up behind me on a bike. We chatted for a few minutes, and I told him that I honestly just wanted to cry. Everything hurt. He told me that I could pass the guy up ahead of us. I pushed forward, each step worried that I might poo myself. I passed him, and I just kept going until I made it to the finish. Once through the finishline, I hobbled to the restrooms.
When I came out, I discovered that I had gotten 3rd in my age group. My age group isn’t terribly competitive in Spokane, hence that is why I have placed in my last two races. However the 30-34 and 35-39 groups are. I would need to shave at least 30 min off my time to place in either group in this race. I have a year and a half to work at it!!
It was still a nice surprise to place since I just wanted to finish the darn thing!
Battle wounds from the race:
Wetsuit burn from the velcro… This thing was oozing that night. Sexy.
Paper cuts from my bike number that cut every single pedal stroke. I will tie that sucker down in the next race to avoid this!
And from the timing strap.
I usually walk away from a race with a new wound that I didn’t think was possible to get.
Special Thanks go to:
My husband: Honey, thank you for always being there for me, and taking my nasty kisses like a champ during my races.
Team Blaze: It has taken a year, but I am finally starting to feel like I “fit” in this group. Thank you for encouraging me to continue with this sport that I hate and love!
The Swifts : Girls, you kick my ass EVERY single run I have the guts to show up for with you, but I think that is the only reason why I was able to pass so many people on the run. I can only imagine how fast I could be if I showed up to every practice. Thank you for being so encouraging!!
Bloggy Land: I know my posting frequency has gone down quite a bit because of my new job, so thanks for sticking with me! I don’t even know you guys, but you continue to surprise me with your support. Thank you!!!!