The day before I was pretty calm, and nerves only hit while I was in line with all these amazing people wearing shirts from other ironman and half-ironman races. I felt a bit….small. But, I saw many friendly faces, chatted and relaxed and moved on quickly. Enjoyed the inspiration dinner (Shout out to Cliff. He gave a very inspirational speech. Loved it.). Soon after I went upstairs to sleep…which I did…until 2:59.
Race day came and I felt pretty good. We met in the lobby and I remember how good the peanut butter smelled. Mmmm…I promised myself peanut butter after the race. I stuck with my pre-race meal – it works for me.
There was a call for rain that day. Luckily I had garbage bags for my transition gear. First time syndrome set in. First I forgot if I set up in front of or behind our front wheel. I knew my set up, but was clueless where it went. Thought of Darren for the first of many times of the day. Luckily I had many experienced teammates around to ask for a reminder. I had no problem, though, with the order and positioning of my gear. I fussed and fidgeted with my transition – trying to decide if I wanted to put all my gear in the garbage bag or not. Finally I decided I could do no more…left my transition set up in the garbage bag and headed out to catch the shuttle to the swim start. I caught up with Susan, Belinda and a few other team mates and so hopped the bus with them. Grateful for the company
I walked to the swim start with Cameron, Chris and Lindsay. Once at the swim start Alec joined us as well. Our group slowly grew until we dispersed in preparation for our swim start.
I was in the woman’s 35-39 age group…and it was an awesome group. There were about 13 of us from the GA time there: Joanna, Barrett, Susan, Pam, Belinda, Kim, Lauren (two of ‘em!) I can name off the top of my head.. I loved it. As we moved up I felt very relaxed – chatting, dancing to the music and laughing. I hopped in the water no problem and moved up towards the from of the line. As I looked back I saw how huge our group was. They really could have broken our group in to two. Wow! And before I know it the horn blew and we were off. I started off OK, but then couldn’t breath because of the water lapping in my face. I tried keeping my head out but I quickly realized that if I kept turning my head side-to-side I was going to exhaust myself. I did what I could and decided to turn on to my back and backstroke. I was worried, confused, and honestly felt like I was not going to make the swim. I swam like that past the bridge still doing the back stroke…still keeping pace with most people. I decided then and there that I need to try a 5k swim to practice.
I started to relax and decided to flip over. Still didn’t work, but it was better. I retuned to my back for a few strokes and then returned to my front and it clicked again. I found my rhythm. I didn’t think, I just kept going, counting my strokes. I was afraid to sight, but did periodically. More often I glanced to the side and made sure I saw some yellow swim caps around me. At least with the river current I could not swim too far off course! I started sighting more, relaxing more, and feeling more confident.
After this point I never thought I wouldn’t finish. I never thought of the finish, but I never had any doubts creep back in. I was ready and felt great!
When we finally reached the swim exit I started running up – and heard Mary and Mike yelling and cheering. I started smiling – something that didn’t leave my face until well after finishing. I had gotten the swim done. After that my heart beat remained normal, breathing normal, and I just enjoyed.
I messed up here, and put my helmet on before my sunglasses. Darren’s talk about transition and the order to do things was running through my head – accent and all. Dang. I dinked around a bit trying to get them inside the helmet bands and quickly decided to undo my chin strap and move on. I was set. I grabbed my bike and headed out.
I felt great on the bike. Loved it. It was raining at this point, but it was the first time I have ridden in the rain and ignorance is bliss. I honestly felt like we were given license to play in the rain. I smiled the entire time. I went little faster than my other rides, but I felt great and my legs were not tired. I went with it. I was comfortable with the course and knew the hills would not really be a challenge. I felt ready. I passed people, and also became very familiar with the woosh-woosh-woosh of the disc wheels as the riders with them passed me.
I loved the course: getting to click through the gears and feel my speed increase. You can thank Jane Eastman for creating that monster in me. As I looked back to my first long ride thinking “How will I get through 56 miles” to how much fun it is now that I am watching for opportunities to gain speed, and listening and watching for when I need to change gears and reading my body – wow! Exponential increase in enjoying the bike. That combined with all the activity on the course my time on the bike just flew by.
The home stretch came up fast. I knew what to do, and started spinning out. I was at a great pace. I was a little nervous remembering Darren talking about how a little extra speed on the bike can kill you on the run. But I had felt great on the entire ride and was still feeling good.
The transition went well. I was not speedy. Loved my dry socks and shoes. Worth the time.
Once geared up I headed out.
I felt strong and did not struggle, but I had no speed in my legs. Every other run off the bike I had had speed. This time…nope. Darren returned to my head with his talk at Moe’s about how just a little increase in bike speed can kill your run.. However, I took it as it was, was glad I felt strong and went with it. I headed out and saw Mary, Mike and Darren cheering away. A little cheering does good for the legs.
The run was the hardest part. I walked all water stops. My stomach was telling me if I ate anything sweet it would consider causing problems. I ended up running the 13.1 on water, one salt packet, and 4 sharkies. My stomach cooperated though. Victory!
Where the first lap split from those finishing the 13.1 I saw the TNT tent and people I know cheering wildly. I know I picked up my pace a little (naturally).
As I came to the end of the run I started picking up my pace. I threw off the sponges I had in my jersey and handed Carlos my water bottle. I rounded the corner to hear the cheering of Mike, Mary, Darren, Mary, Jessica and teammates. I actually had enough kick left to sprint it in. I finished and was thrilled! Loved it! I was stunned with my time, excited (even if I was disappointed with my run speed – it still beat my expectations). I am so ready to go again…and go for more!
I wasn’t emotional until Tuesday at work…putting together how far I have come in two years, remembering how grateful I am for so many people who love life and share that love willingly. Without Team it would have been another mark in my life – a challenge to finish and move on. With Team it is friends, heroes, inspiration, and an experience of a lifetime! And about eating peanut butter and enjoying every bite.