It always feels good to be on the other side. Ahhhh…..
I have been draggggggginnnnggggg a bit this summer, and I was worried last week that my mojo wouldn’t return in time for the race. But it did.
Since CDA I have been chillaxin’. I wanted to enjoy summer and not stress about training, and so that was what I did. I wasn’t completing all of the workouts Jen had set out for me (specifically on the swim), and the workouts I did do were done with less verve than usual. During my last few road races I haven’t had a lot of fight, and I did have moments last week where I thought maybe I shouldn’t race at Timberman at all. But I really wanted to race—really because all of my friends were there and Andy was racing. So with Jen’s help (she gave me several very long pep talks this week) I fought my way into a good mental state for the race.
And I ended up having a good race.
It wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t the sub-five effort I had pined for when planning my season last winter. But it was a good, strong, hard effort, and I’m proud of myself for pulling it out.
The short version
- Hard swim—rougher and slower than past Timbermans—I think for everyone 32:02, 5th AG.
- Strong bike on which I felt awesome 8th AG 2:44:26 . Cool temps and little wind.
- Okay run, not my best by far, but not my worst either. (11th AG) The rain and cool temperature really helped me out on the run. It could’ve been ugly—but instead it was only a little ugly.
- Total Time--. 4th/149, 391/2141Overall
The Long Version:
I got up at and choked down about 400 calories of breakfast. Argh. I love to eat, but eating pre-race is just the worst. I have been experimenting with pre-race morning breakfast. A bagel and pb is too heavy, so I tried having just a little bagel and pb, a banana (or some of it anyway), most of a bottle of Ensure, and coffee. I think it worked okay.
Andy and I got on the road by . We were staying a half hour away in Wolfboro. When planning for Timberman I forgot to find lodging, and by the time I got around to it there was not much available. But it totally worked out. We entered Ellacoya from the opposite side of the lake as everyone else was entering, and so we slipped right in to park our car—no line—at . I took this as a sign that the day was going to be a good one.
I have a pre-race routine at this point. Here it is (because I know you are all fascinated by such things!)
Step 1: Eliminate. Aka trip to porta potty. This is wise because no one is in line yet. Everyone is entering transition at this point and getting marked.
Step 2: Get body marked. Set up transition.
Step 3: Eliminate: The lines are still not bad at this point, but they will be soon. Even if I don’t really need to go, I go.
Step 3a: Warm up. (note: this only happens in races shorter than 70.3. I only do a swim warm up for 70.3 and up….)
Step 4: Double check everything in transition. Grab wetsuit and head to water.
Step 5: Eliminate. This is usually unnecessary but better safe than sorry, I always say. There is usually a line at this point, so I get some pre-race meditation done while I wait, or some socializing, depending on who I see.
Step 6: Put on wetsuit and get in water to warm up.
Step 7: Eat a gel.
Step 8: Freak out because the pros have just gone off.
Step 9: Continue to freak out – putting goggles on and off over and over again – until my wave starts.
In most races I stand with Ange until we enter the water. We are always the first to cross the timing mats after they let our wave in. (Yes, we those annoying ones who MUST be first.) The first ½ Ange and I ever did was at Timberman, and so the start of the race brought me back to that first time. I was absolutely terrified before the start that day. I remembering saying goodbye to Ange before the canon went off and feeling like I was saying goodbye forever—like as soon as we put our faces in the water we were headed for the grave.
This year we pushed our way to the front as we usually do. I like routine. However, this year it was a beach start as opposed to the deep water start of other years. I must say I like the deep water start better. I had to do like 12 dolphin dives before I even got close to being able to really swim because it was so shallow. But other than the dozen or so dives I got right into it. I found some feet attached to a girl in a Farmer John and tried to move as quickly as I could to stay on them.
The water was warm and I felt suffocatingly hot in my wetsuit. I tried not to think about it. It threw me, though…. this wasn’t the Timberman swim I knew. The start was all wrong, the water was way too warm, there was no sun glare because it was very overcast, and worst of all – the water was not CALM. The swells were large and annoying and I kept swallowing water. WTF! Timberman is a calm swim! It is cold and calm! Where was I!? Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming….
I followed Farmer John girl off course and wouldn’t you know it? I smacked my head right into a kayak! Duh. I stopped after hitting and looked up at the dude in the kayak kind of stunned. He pointed to the buoy I was supposed to swim toward. Oh shit! I said aloud and then Farmer John girl (who had also stopped) and I headed over to the buoy. Argh. When will I learn NOT TO FOLLOW PEOPLE and to sight on my own?
I lost Farmer John girl and I didn’t care. I was feeling hot and grumpy, and the swells were really pissing me off. I needed an attitude change, and fast… and I was thinking this I swam right onto a light blue capped woman who was moving… well, very slowly. I apologized and then moved on. I was NOT having a great swim for sure.
But it ended. I clicked my watch (31:50) and heard the announcer say, First purple cap out of the water!
WHATTT???? I don’t think so… Ange is in this race!
Then I heard him say, Oops! I stand corrected. THIRD purple cap out of the water! Okay… that was more like it—Ange, Farmer John, then me. Then I heard my friend Mike shouting, GO Mary! Third, Mary! Third!
Coming out of the water with my super cool orange Blue Seventy goggles.
(Later I found out I was actually fifth. Umm…. Did the purple caps just sneak out of the water or something so no one could see them?)
I got stripped and found my rack. But where was my bike? I ran up and down the line of bikes? Panic. Where was it? Where was it? 643….639… 635… Oh My God Oh My God Oh My God! Then she appeared… suddenly taking shape in front of me. Weird! Okay… helmet, shoes, belt, GO!
I was psyched to be on the bike. It was cool outside, I knew the course, and I was third in my AG to be out on the course (except I was actually fifth.) I immediately passed a girl with a 43 on her leg. Okay. One down! Only Ange to go! (except, apparently, there were actually two others…)
I worked the bike from the start. My goal wattage put me straight into zone 3—and I felt it. Could I really hold this for 56 miles? Who cares! I was having fun! I got down snug in aero and stayed there, and starting playing stick as close as you can to your goal watts no matter what the elevation. It’s a fun game. It occupies me when I could space out and notice other things like how I am breathing too hard for this early in the race.
The bike didn’t feel easy. But it felt good. Do you know what I mean? I just felt great out there and I was really happy to be on the bike. What was going on!? My swim had sucked and my bike was going awesome? Huh? I had the best time on the flat part of the course. I just tucked into aero and pushed hard. I passed a lot of people, and played cat and mouse with a bunch of guys in their 50s (the wave before us). Then I passed my friend Mary Lou. It occurred to me then that maybe I was working too hard. I don’t pass MLou in races. She told me to Go for it…as I passed.
Was I in trouble?
On the way back to Ellacoya I came across a pack of people as we ascended a big hill. I saw a woman in the pack and of course checked for an age number on her calf. 40. Ummm… another one? But then I looked again. It was ANGE! Holy shit! I had caught up with Ange! (Again the doubt swept over me—was I in trouble? Had I worked too hard? I had stuck to my goal watts…? But were they too high?)
Who cares! I had caught up to Ange! I made it my mission to stay with her. I passed. She passed back. She passed. I passed back. It was WEIRD and fun too. Whenever she passed me I just told myself, STAY ON HER ASS—do not let her go! It was comfortable… but we both clearly meant business. And then another chick passed us—with a 40 on her leg. WTF! Where did she come from? The three of us came into transition at the same time. I hopped off my bike and clicked the Garmin 505 on my bike, and it flew off and onto the ground behind me. Fuck! Where was it? Do I go back and get it? Ummm…. Yes, Mary, that sucker is not cheap. I dropped my bike to the ground and scrambled around to find it. I saw it, scooped it up, picked up my bike and ran across the mat. When I got to my spot in transition Ange already had on her shoes and was running out. Damn! Still, I had my Garmin. That was a relief.
On to the run. I stuffed the gels I had picked up in transition down my bra, and then struggled to put my Garmin around my wrist. Then I settled in. The goal was to hold pace. I ran a first mile, and I felt great and I felt like it was easy. I knew that easy feeling wouldn’t last long, so I tried to savor it. I held onto that pace for the first six miles, and I have to say, it stayed easy that whole time. Christine passed me early on in the run, and I briefly wondered what she had done there that caused her to be so far back. It must have been a porta potty stop—nothing else would’ve taken that long. So I was running in third. I wasn’t thinking about catching Christine or Ange. I know them both—(Christine raced with me at FL 70.3) and I know they were likely running a minute faster per mile than me. I wanted to catch them, but if I ran too hard early I would pay. I stuck to the pace I knew I could do.
At mile 7 things started to get hard. I began to doubt that I had the endurance to hold on. I had been running so little—I didn’t deserve to have a good race etc etc…. I tried to shut out the thoughts. My pace slowed slightly, but I was holding my pace under 8 minutes per mile. At about this time Maggie passed me – Maggie with a big fat 43 on her leg. Damn! I couldn’t catch her—she was moving easily and she was fast. I prayed she was just on her first loop, but I kinda knew she wasn’t. She looked too strong to be just starting her first loop, if you know what I mean. The fact that many of the 40-44 year old women were on the course now did mess with me, though. I would pass a woman with a 40+ on her leg and wonder what loop she was on—first or second? It had to be her first … I had been third at the start, right?
Friends shouted to me from the sidelines and from the course. (Thanks to Elaine, Kevin, Suzy, Kim, Ange, Andy, Mark, Keith, Rob and Courtney for cheering for me!) I tried to smile and wave, but I was really focused on holding on. Mile 11 was almost all uphill, and it was a slow mile. I began to despair, but I knew the last mile of the race was flattish and then down, if I could just get there. At mile 12 I picked it up and decided to run under pace if it killed me. I felt bile in my throat, and I felt a little woozy, but I would do it, God damn it! I crossed the line in and ran right into Ange’s arms. Later I found out the number 5 woman in my AG was hot on my heels—that I had only beaten her by 16 little seconds! Thank God I had been able to pick it up on that last mile!
Right after finishing. I am thrilled to have finished 4th!
A few minutes later Andy came in. He had a GREAT race… He had a solid swim (37 minutes), a great bike () and a smoking run (). He finished in and was in the top quarter of the 40-44 year old men. I think it was a little weird for him to finish so deep after having a successful race. He's used to the running world--and here in tri land it's a bit different: the 40-44 year old men are the biggest, baddest and toughest AG for sure (maybe not the fastest, but the deepest and most difficult to place in, I think...) I’m impressed as hell with his finish. It's his first 1/2 and he really didn't train that much for crying out loud! It’s that damn run of his… he is so fast there. He was actually miffed at his , knowing he can run much faster than that. (That is the trick of IM, though, huh? Running up to one’s potential off the bike. It's certainly my biggest problem! I was fifteen minutes off my 1/2 marathon PR for the run! That's a lot!)
Andy and I post finish. Thanks for the picture, Jodi! I'm framing it!
Anyway, It was a great race for both of us, and an awesome way to celebrate making it to year 11 of our marriage.
That was the day! More pictures to follow... I know my friend Mike got some good ones!