Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Half-Full Triathlon: Done!

I finished! Barely, but I made it! A lot of things all kind of come together to make for an *interesting* day, but I'm glad I made it! Also, my husband came home early, and was there to help me out, which was amazing!

The Expo

The race expo was Saturday afternoon in Centennial Park in Ellicott City, MD. It was set up by the finish area for the race, and transition was very close by. I had a class softball tournament that day, but I left early to get to the expo around 3pm. The day was hot, much hotter than is normal for October, which boded well for race day.

After dropping off my bike in transition, I walked around the area a bit and scoped out the swim. The buoys were already out, but it was hard to get an idea of the whole swim from the start area.

There were some kids from the college teams doing workouts on the course, which would be a good idea. But I'm pretty lazy. I was sick most of last week with a terrible cold, so my taper had been very dramatic and included lots of soup and sleep.

That night I laid everything out one last time, packed my transition bag, and then went to a Brazilian steakhouse with Kevin and some friends for dinner. Nothing like a lot of medium-rare meat to get ready for a race! I tried to sleep early, but got to bed at almost 11, and woke up at 1:30 to call my husband and remind him that we needed to leave by 5:30. He stumbled in around 3, so I bet he was feeling great when the alarm went off two hours later :D

Race Day

Race Day came bright and early, as usual. Downtown Baltimore to the park was only about a 30 minute drive, and absolutely no traffic at 5:30 am! I left my husband to sleep in the car (he ended up driving back to get brunch with friends while I kept racing), and set up my transition area quickly before grabbing my wetsuit and heading to the swim start.

The first few waves were college teams, who were competing for their own championship. Immediately after them were several waves of Olympic racers. The Half distance waves were last. No idea why. The swim itself was gorgeous. The water was 74 degrees on race day, and the lake was perfect. No currents, an easy two-by-two time trial start, big yellow buoys, and just a little sun. I took it easy, since my chest was still pretty congested form being sick, and was quickly passed by the wave behind me. When I got out of the water, the first runner from the college swim wave was already starting the run. Good lord. \

I changed quickly, pulled on my bike shoes, and started the long, long bike. I did not know this part of Maryland has so many hills. I was planning on a 16 mph pace, which was slow enough, but I had a very hard time adjusting to my bike, and getting up to a comfortable level of speed. I ended up finishing in just under 4 hours, well over my goal time, but at least I finished! I was literally the last biker on the course, and had a police escort for the last 15 miles or so. The driver kept telling me, just one more hill! About the fifth time he said that, though, I think I gave him a pretty dirty look. It was still not the last hill.

Apparently I did not lube up my feet enough for that ride (or wear enough sunblock) because I could already feel the hot spots on my feet as I pulled on my running shoes. I stopped at a portajohn in transition, then started my first loop around the 2-loop run course. There were a few good hills on the course, but it was pretty easy compared to the bike. By mile 5, though, the blisters on both my feet were just getting bigger, every step felt like I was carrying a lot of extra weight, and I was walking pretty much the rest of the way. The run loop went by the finish line, where I saw everyone else celebrating, but I still had another 6 miles to go. Yay! As I passed the water stations (last runner, you know) I picked up some race team members, who finished the last 3 or 4 miles with me, all the way to the finish line. I think without them, I probably would've gone into full self-destruction mode. I am so thankful they walked me through those last few miles! As we got closer to the finish, they rooted me on, and I managed to jog the last couple hundred yards all the way to the finish chute, where I saw Kevin with a bag from Cheesecake Factory!! I finished in almost nine hours (!!!), my eyebrows were literally caked with salt, I had huge blisters on pretty much every part of my feet, and I am so glad I did it!

Kevin helped me home, picked up ice for a bracing ice bath, then he had to leave to drive back to Georgia. He's the best. I ordered pizza, took some advil, and sat up on the couch until it was socially acceptable for me to go to bed. I crashed. Hard.

The Day After

The next morning, I woke up, and I felt fine. Like my marathon last year, I thought my legs were tricking me. As I got out of bed, I could feel all the little twinges, but overall, ok. My shoulders were so tight, sunburned, and sore, I thought there was something wrong. I took another advil, drained the blisters on my feet, and pulled on some yoga pants and flip flops to go to class. For the rest of the day, I was drowning myself with water and gatorade, trying to rehydrate, and ate the rest of my pizza and breadsticks from the night before.

I still can't believe I did it.

BTW, the long sleeve 1/4 zip top we got was awesome, and the medal was gorgeous! It included a bottle cap opener function! So practical!

I'm pretty sure that after all this, I told Kevin to never let me sign up for another these. But, of course, two days later, I'm already forgetting how miserable that bike was, and thinking about next year. Eh?