I've never raced Pumpkinman. I've always raced the Lobsterman Oly in Freeport instead, which is usually held the week after Pumpkinman. At one point I thought I'd do Lobsterman every year until death do me part. It is the ONLY triathlon I have done every year since I began triathlon in 2007, and I figured I could have a streak. I've always wanted to be a streaker. It would be a race I could always come back to... a race I knew by heart... a race I considered all mine.
But then when I went to sign up for it this year I thought, I'm sick of that race. Time for something new.
I'm so steadfast. What can I say.
So, enter Pumpkinman.
When I qualified for Kona I nearly bagged the idea of racing it. According to the pros, racing a half four weeks before the big show is "perfect timing." I put that in quotes, but I am actually not quoting anyone in particular. It just seems a lot of them said something like that when being interviewed before the 70.3 World Championship in Las Vegas this year. Anyway. It may be perfect timing for a pro, but I am not so sure it was perfect timing for me. I'm no spring chicken and I don't always bounce back the way I'd like to, and, more importantly, I'm no seasoned pro. I'm just seasoned. To race hard, recover, and still get in all the training I need to race Kona?
hmmmm. Probably a bad idea to race.
So, naturally, I felt the need to race. Badly.
Steadfast, reasonable, practical. That's me.
My introduction is getting too long already. Bear with me.
Truthfully, I decided to race Pumpkinman because I wanted to have a good race before Kona. This season started out with a bang... full of promise! full of surprises! full of success! Think Quincy Half (pr!) Think Boston Marathon (pr!), Sudbury Sprint, (pr and second OA!), Mooseman (1:36 half! woot woot!)
But then... not so much later in the season. Think IMLP (dashed hope for a sub 11 and lots and lots of puke), and AG Nats (lots o'fun but not much speed).
I felt a deep need for that promise, suprises, success thing again before I faced Kona. You might be thinking, why not just get that at Kona? Well... good question. I cannot be sure what will happen at Kona. I could nail that puppy and have a perfect day. Or I could get really hot and dehydrated and decide to take in cold margaritas for fuel on the run. I'm just not sure. I was sure, though, that I could get it at Pumpkinman. I knew I could. The fact that Kurt had me training right through this race with no rest did not phase me. I just knew I could have a good race, tired and un-tapered or not.
I'm sure you're very glad I explained that all to you.
I'm getting to the race report, all right? Leave me alone! Geez. Have a little patience.
The day before the race Kurt texted me to ask me if I wanted to switch my entry to elite. The race director (Kat) had emailed him and suggested it. Only four girls were signed up for elite, and there was MONEY to be had--through five places. At first I balked. My only experience racing elite came in 2009 when I raced the Fireman Oly. Catherine Sterling (right, the woman who was second behind the Olympian at AG Nats a few weeks back) and I were the only registered elites. She beat me by like a half hour. In an Olympic. Really. I'm not lying. Also, I remember spending the ENTIRE bike alone. The elite men and Catherine rode off quite briskly, and the age groupers took forever catching up to me, and I was just ALONE. I didn't want a repeat of that. I race to be around people and compete! Not to ride alone hum de dum wondering when and if I will see another racer ever ever again.
But there was money... and with only four signed up? I'd make five... so money for sure.
I decided to go for it.
Race morning I got up at 2:50 a.m. That is correct. It was the middle of the night.
I decided to drive to Maine the morning of the race because I didn't want to rent a hotel room, and my parents' home in Maine is at least an hour fifteen from the race site. So, I got up in the 2:00s...
I had a lovely ride, listening to my book (Cutting for Stone) and drinking coffee. When I arrived it was 5:15 a.m. Transition had just opened. I found Kat and got my entry changed to race elite. "So," I asked Kat, "Are all your elites racing in the World Championship 70.3 today?" I queried.
"Oh, not at all!" she said. "We have 21 people signed up for the elite wave!"
I'm hoping I didn't look to stricken.
Oh fucking fuck.
As I got ready at the elite rack I noticed who was there:
Oh sure. Good idea to race elite. VERY good idea. I pinched myself and screamed internally, "I TOLD YOU, YOU STUPID WOMAN! WHEN WILL YOU LEARN! ELITE IS BAD! BAD BAD BAD!"
It was cold outside, so after I finished racking and getting myself all dolled up to race, I went to the car to listen to my book, eat a banana and get warm. I also contemplated my fate. There were NOT four women here to race elite. There were more like 10 girls, goddamnit. But it was what it was. I would just have to beat all of them it was reasonable to beat. I might not be able to run down Karen, Kim or Lisbeth... but there were a few others to out swim, bike and run. Right? I said, RIGHT?????
The swim start was delayed because of fog. I waded in the water and chatted with a few friends I knew. I wanted to hide my white cap, which marked me as a person who thought she could hang with the big cats. I actually chatted with Karen for awhile. She is extremely hard not to like, I will say that. Classy woman, that Karen.
The fog had JUST lifted when they set us off. I was suprised that the whole pack of elites didn't swim right away from me. But they didn't. Or some didn't. I stayed with the some who didn't. The first loop was rather nice, as we had the water to ourselves. The second loop we merged with the waves just starting, and that was rather un-fun. It was a tad crowded. I got distracted and sighted the wrong buoy for a bit and lost some time there. But it was fine. I got out at 29:34. I would have been elated with that time, except for the knowledge that the swim is likely a little short. Stats here: 26/445 overall, 9th woman (in terms of time on the swim) and 4th fastest elite woman (in terms of time on the swim).
We had to run up this mother fucker of a hill to get to T1. It's big enough so they have a separate time for it in the results--"the hill challenge" or something. I was extremely winded and ready to collapse at the top of it. They ranked us according to our time climbing this hill. I don't remember what I was. It wasn't terribly impressive, I do remember that!
T1 was fine. I didn't forget anything. That's always a plus.
When I began the ride I observed that I was only riding 38 watts. average. I continued to look. The average moved to 37w. average. hmmmmm.
I had just cleaned my bike. I THOUGHT I got that magnet back right...
Also, my quads began burning about 30 seconds into my ride.
I think this may be because I was tired from my rides in the days previous?
In any case, I figured, if they burned now what did I have to lose? Let's just make 'em burn a little more, shall we? Can't save yourself if there's nothing to save, right?
(Belief in this axiom has gotten me into trouble in past lives, I will add.)
About 35 minutes into the ride my power meter started working normally. Thank God! I'm nothing if not dependent on that little thing. I settled in at my goal watts, comfortably hard. I like comfortably hard. I stayed in aero. I focused. The course was rolling. Not flat, but definitely not a hard course either. The only problem: I WAS ALL ALONE.
Of course I was. This is what you get when you race elite and you are not really elite! You get LONELINESS! I sang to myself....
I think we're alone now... there doesn't seem to be anyone around... (Tiffany. I am an 80's girl...)
All by myself.... Don't wanna be... All by myself.. anymore (Celine Dion, although I'm sure a million others have sung that tune...)
Well someone told me yesterday.. that when you throw your love away... (The Police, So Lonely)
That's all I could think of. Give me a break, though. I was racing.
Except it didn't feel like racing, because, as I have reiterated several times now, I was all alone.
On the second half of the second lap some age group men starting passing me. FINALLY! I wanted to scream at each one that passed, "WTF! Where have you been you slow pokes!!" My friend Ted zipped by just as I had stopped pedailng and was taking a piss. I would've yelled hello, but it takes a lot of focus to pee on the bike. Also, I was distracted by the warm wet streaming down my legs and into my shoes.
Toward the end of the ride a few guys played Pass and Park with me. The game is as follows: Pass the chick, slow down, and park your fat ass in front of her. She gets pissed and exasperated, and finally passes you back. Then, after a few minutes, you catch up to her again and pass her, and then slow down and again park your fat ass in front of her. And by the way, if you decide to play this game, please make sure that you are not wearing ten year old tri shorts that are see-through and reveal your ass crack. Thanks.
I did make a few friends toward the end of the bike. A couple guys just rode around me, and didn't play pass and park. I liked them. We all rode into T2 together. 2:39:xx. 80/445 overall, 10th female (in terms of time on the bike, 4th elite female (time wise), and off the bike in 4th position. The ride was more like 55 miles. I'm just saying.
I dismounted very very carefully after removing my feet from the shoes while still riding. It was so tentative and slow that it is likely it would've been faster to just hop off the bike with my shoes on, but hey. I'm trying. I WAS racing elite, after all.
I felt super when I started the run. I was calm. I was smooth. I had on Noah's cool black IM visor. I was ready to rumble! This lasted about 2 miles. Then I didn't feel like running anymore. But hey, two miles! I'll take it. The easiness of the first miles gave way to a steady, hard effort. The hard effort was not producing the splits I wanted to see, but I just kept on running and hoping that the NEXT mile would be a wee bit faster. The course was not flat. Like the bike, it also wasn't particularly challenging. But it was not flat. This disappointed me greatly. I was really pining for some FLAT. At about mile 3 I saw Karen Smyers coming in the other direction. I tried to figure out how far ahead of me she was. 20 minutes? 25minutes? Then came Kim Webster. She looked like she was just barely grazing the pavement with her dainty feet... sailing along. Then came Lisbeth. I reckoned I was only 10-15 minutes away from her... Not so bad!
I scanned the opposing direction for any more females.
There were none. I hit the turn around. I was runinng in fourth. On the way back I scanned again for females. Ahhh... there was one! I recognized her: Andrea. I had never beaten her. I thought I might be 2-3 minutes ahead of her. Could I hold on?
I began to run scared. My miles picked up a little. But I had this... I had this...
At mile 8, as generally happens in these races, I started really really hating life, running, triathlon, myself, my coach, my competitors, humankind etc. I drank Coke. That helped a little. A noted on the turn around that Andrea was closer... maybe just 2 mintues? Hard to tell. I hated her, too. She was young. (actually, she is in my age group, but she LOOKS young.) She was blond. She looked fresh and strong. My lungs hurt and I could smell my pee and sweat. Plus I have wrinkles and brown hair...
You get the picture.
I tried to gain inspiration from Karen, Kim, and Lisbeth, all friendly, all beaming at me as I ran by in the opposing direction. Were they so nice because they knew I would never in five trillion years catch them? Lisbeth looked really strong and pretty (really, she looked pretty), but also she looked like she was working. Not so much for Kim and Karen. I know looks can be deceiving. I remember an athelte friend of mine asking me when running got easy for me. I looked at her quizzically.
A friend told me before the race that the run measured 12.9 miles. It was not 12.9. It was 13.1. Barely, but yes, 13.1.
I had really really been looking forward to getting that little .2 in my pocket for free.
God damn. Maybe it WAS 12.9, but it had been changed.
The last little bit was up a hill (OUCHHHHH) and then down a big hill (OUCHHHH) and then finally! The end!
1:40:16, 50th overall, 11th woman (in terms of time on the run), 5th elite woman (in terms of time on the run), 4th position overall.
Final finish 4:52:40, 4th woman overall, elites and AG combined.
I was in the money, baby!
And I got to stand on a podium with Karen Smyers, Kim Webster and Lisbeth Kenyon and Andrea, who I had never beat before! So cool.
I had a great race. Thanks to Kat Donatello for putting on a really superior race. Thanks to Kurt (even though you asked me to run after the race was over. I forgive you)... and thanks to Andy (who took the kids and dogs camping this weekend--that's worth like a gold star and five... nevermind)....Also thank you to all my super awesome tri friends at the race. You know who you are!
Now onto those margaritas while on the run in Kona....