Better late than never...
Beep Beep Beep! 4 am and I'm up and getting ready for the race. I change, grab my gear and head out to the race. Keith & I start chowing down on almond butter & jelly on bagels as we drive the 20 mins or so to Gunstock. About 5 minutes into the ride “Hey Keith, you brought my aero bottle down right?” Keith: “Um I brought mine, you were supposed to bring yours.” Oops! Strike 1 and back to the hotel to grab my bottle. Luckily we weren't too far from the hotel and Keith didn't really look too annoyed. Ok back on the road and cue pump up mix on the Ipod!
We arrive at Gunstock to park and take the shuttle to the race start @ Ellacoya. Our bikes were already in transition from having to drop them off the day before. We arrive at the park, get body marked and head to our bikes in transition. I was pretty happy with my assigned location in transition (on a bike rack end = lots of space & next to a tree = easier to find my stuff coming into T1). When I arrive at my bike, the girl next to me is setting her stuff up. I notice she pretty much has a hockey bag for her transition bag. Um wow haven't seen that before. Reminds me of my days before my transition bag when Keith & I looked like a newbie mess toting our stuff to the race in multiple containers and bags. Keith comes over after his area is set up and he pumps up my tires while I get the rest of my area set up. Keith: “Wow that girl next to you has a hockey bag.” Married one year and we're thinking alike!
Transition area and bikes are set to go so we're off for a quick warm up ride. No more than a few minutes in I start to hear some noise from the front of my bike. Yikes...a flat! Ok now I start to slightly freak out. It's only like 20 minutes before transition closes and I still have to get my swim stuff and apparently change a flat. I might add that I'm really bad at changing flat tires. I bring my bike to the bike mechanics @ Mavic figuring they can fix it faster than me and so I can try to get another tube from the bike store at the race while I wait. Turns out the bike store decided not to show before the start of the race. Seriously that is the worse bike store ever! Why wouldn't you be there before the race?! I check with Mavic on a spare tube and they don't have any since the bike store was supposed to be there. Another problem with my dilemma is that I've got 650 wheels so trying to find a spare 650 tube was impossible. Ok strike 2 – my flat is fixed but now I have no spare for the race. Oh and the bike mechanic tells me that the sag wagons on the course don't have any since they're uncommon and they ran out of them. My first ½ Ironman and I have to ride with no spare...awesome! Ok time to recover from the freak out and just hope I don't get a flat and have to pull out of the race.
|Me & Keith Pre-race|
After dropping my bike in transition and grabbing my swim gear, I head to the Port-a-potty then the beach. Since Keith and I have about an hour before our swim waves actually start, we use this time to finish our warm up (stretching and warm up swim). Waiting for the other swim waves to go was probably one of my least favorite parts of the race. I like to warm up and then just go. Around 15 minutes to go and I throw down my Huckelberry gel...mmm mmm good. Keith goes ahead with his swim wave and I hang out with mine while I scope out the beach for my parents (who were coming to take some pictures for us). I wasn't sure they were going to make it up in time but sure enough I see them right before my wave enters the swim start. After a few pictures and them wishing me luck (along with me telling them to pray that I don't get a flat), I'm off to the swim.
|With Mom before my swim|
I position myself towards the middle of the pack, the horn goes and we're off! The swim (especially the beginning) is my least favorite part since this is only my 3rd year swimming. The swim goes as expected except for some choppiness towards the end of the course. I also had the joy of being next to someone who'd switch between freestyle and breaststroke for part of the swim. How do I always manage to be next to someone doing the breaststroke in every race I do? I do not appreciate being kicked in the side...although good Ironman practice. After 1.2 miles, I'm out of the lake and running through transition to my bike.
Swim time: 40:35 AG place: 56 out of 106.
|1.2 miles down!|
I bypass the wetsuit strippers (I don't feel like flopping down) and head to my bike. When I take my goggles off, my left eye is really foggy and it won't go away no matter how much I rub it. Oh no, I really hope this goes away soon. I drop my wetsuit, throw on my biking gear, grab my bike and I'm off to the bike out area (while my eye is still foggy). Finally as I make it out of transition, “I can see clearly now” (to quote the Johnny Nash song)! Phew, relief!
T1 time: 2:38.
I hop on my bike and try to clip in. I quickly realize my right bike shoe won't clip into my pedal...great! After several unsuccessful tries and some riding without being clipped in, I'm finally able to get it in (after clearing some dirt and rocks out of it) and I'm off for 56 miles. The ride ended up being my favorite part and seemed too short. My goal was to finish it in around 3 hours (averaging around 18.6 mph) considering it had some hills and was on the longer end of most of my rides. My legs ended up feeling great and I noticed part way through the ride that I was holding a mid - 19 mph average. I thought about holding back so my legs wouldn't be dead for the run but decided to go for it and ride as fast as I could and just see what my legs had in them. With around 10 – 15 miles left, it started to rain pretty hard. Luckily it seems I ride faster in the rain. Maybe I just like riding in the rain or maybe I dislike it so much I ride faster to finish sooner...who knows? I'm also not very good at remembering to eat or drink on the bike (esp. if it isn't hot and humid) so Keith set my watch to go off every ½ hour to tell me to eat a gel or take some salt tabs (switching off between the 2 each time). After taking the salt tabs once, my stomach didn't feel so great so I stopped taking those and just kept with the gels every hour (I figured this would be fine since I wasn't sweating much at all).
One major dislike I have is the drafting some people try to get away with. I saw a girl in my AG drafting another for a good 10 miles. Some guy actually asked Keith about 5 miles in if he wanted to “work together”. Seriously people?! You probably shouldn't do a race if you're going to blatantly cheat. We trained our butts off for this 70.3 and we're going to do it on our own! As I got close to transition, I was pumped that I was able to hold 20.1 mph on the bike and that I didn't get a flat! Crisis averted! All I could think is “Keith is going to be so proud of my bike split”! As a side note, I'm the one trying to keep up with him on our training rides and I don't usually average that high. Wow I'm in a great mood going into the run and am loving the 70.3 distance so far.
Bike time: 2:45:50 AG place: 8 out of 106.
I drop my bike off in transition, grab my running gear, my gels and Shot Bloks and I'm off to my half marathon.
T2 time: 2:19
As soon as I start the run, I heard some people from BTT cheering me on then from NSTT then my parents – a major boost. I give my parents a smile & a wave and I'm off on loop #1.
|1/2 marathon left to go|
1st stop on the run: Port-a-potty since I don't want to hold it for a ½ marathon. Losing a minute or two will be worth it. Hey there's Keith running by. “Keith! Keith!” Hmm I guess he's in a zone...he doesn't even see me. FINALLY he sees me...but totally missed my high 5 (at least we get it right during loop #2). I start thinking towards the end of the 1st loop that I'm genuinely enjoying myself. This might be a sign I should be running faster but I want to have some legs left for the 2nd loop. Since the legs are responding well during the 1st loop, I'm very glad I didn't hold back on the bike. I start getting close to the finish but quickly remember I'm going out for loop #2 so it's by the finish line and back out again for me (which I thought was a bit mean). Mile 9 of the run and I'm starting to feel it in my legs. Sore upper quads and then sure enough the familiar stiffness and knee pain. Ugh the next 4.1 miles are going to be long! Luckily my foot is still feeling ok (or it hurts but I'm only noticing the knee). These were my two biggest worries coming into the race and I highly doubted I'd get through the whole thing without one of them hurting...although I was planning on the foot hurting more than the knee. Ok time for some mental toughness. This is just a little longer than a 5K then I can rest my knee all I want at the finish...no biggie. I keep my pace and YES I'm at the finish! 1st ½ IM complete!
Run time: 1:53:42 AG place: 31 out of 106.
As I finish, I see my parents. “Michelle, the female winner's behind you.” What?! Chrissie Wellington?! Um understatement Mom & Dad. She's like the best female triathlete in the world! So like a 10 year old girl, I ask her for a picture which she is more than willing to do.
Final Time: 5:26:04 AG place: 14 out of 106.
|My photo op with Chrissie Wellington @ the finish|
|With my dad after the finish...70.3 complete woohoo!|
I loved it! I'm hooked on this distance! The great weather or the fact that I executed this race almost completely as planned might have something to do with it but I don't care...it was amazing! I was really close to placing in the top 10 of my age group. I can't wait for my two ½ IM and my full IM @ Lake Placid next year. It felt so rewarding that all my training and rejecting junk food paid off. I feel like I peaked and tapered well and I owe a lot of it to Keith for acting as our coach for this race. It's definitely nice being married to someone who enjoys triathlons as much as me and pushes me in my workouts. Thanks to everyone there cheering me on...it was a much needed boost. Especially thanks to my parents for leaving at 5am to come up and take pictures and to Keith for dragging my butt through many workouts and the support.