I needed a few days removed from this race. I needed to sort my feelings and figure out exactly what I thought about it before I shared my experience with you.
I like this race, this is where my big triathlon endurance dreams all got started. This is where I found my strength and learned I could really do something I never thought possible. Coming back to races I’ve done before is always a good check in for me. It allows me to see how I’ve grown as an athlete. It also gives me comfort and a slight home field advantage feeling.
I won’t get into the lead up crap, other than I executed my plan well and even dropped in some froyo Saturday to give me extra speed on Sunday. Also? Rode the bike on Saturday to make sure all was in working order and had a death grip on my aero bars. 20 mph winds sucking you sideways with gusts is scary.
Early race morning was nice and quiet. I was surprised at how well I slept – my head cold hit like a little bitch again on Friday and I was hoping miraculously it would be gone by race morning. While my sinuses felt clearer, I was definitely still fighting something. We got ready and headed to transition.
Transition was uneventful. Triathletes are generally such nice people, it’s fun to chat with those around you. It is always enjoyable to speak to those who are doing a half ironman for the first time. The mix of nerves and excitement brings back such memories. Once I got everything set up, I found all of my friends and their sherpas. Big shout out to Sarah who not only took care of her triathlete but totally let me throw my crap at her, too!
Got to meet Mac from Quintana Roo, metalhead (super cute kid) and his wife Kristi prior to heading over to swim start. Super excited to see these guys again when Krisi races IM Texas, too!
Brian and I headed over to transition only to realize that his group and my group were already congregated on the pier and moving towards hopping in. Oh shit. Yep, had to run over there and get ourselves in line. Nothing like starting out with a bit of panic! Lined up with my wave and hopped in the water. It was a little chilly this year at 65 degrees but I was still happy with my sleeveless wetsuit choice. I found myself towards the front but off the right side. Before I knew it the cannon went off and we were off.
Swim 37:14 (2012 40:25)
My goal was to stay on feet for the swim and I tried. Found some and kept them for a while after the initial chaos. About 3/4 of the way to the first turn buoy though I noticed my breathing was way too hard and I was about to get a side stitch so I slowed down and let the feet go. I was in for a long day and didn’t need to kill myself in the first 30 minutes. I tried to keep with feet around me as long as I could then I would let them go when I realized I was breathing too hard. I was also all over the place. The thing about swimming in the ocean is remembering that there are currents. Yeah, on the long stretch I was all over the board. Which explains why my swim was 1.31 miles, and not 1.2. Doh.
T1 4:24 (2012 2:58)
Transition was set up differently this year forcing you to snake out for the swim in/bike and run out. I did spray myself down with sunscreen in T1, but I don’t think that is the reason I was so much slower. Pretty sure it’s the excess running around I had to do. I did end up having to run .35 miles from swim exit to bike out, so that may explain the time variation.
Bike 2:58:45 (2012 3:33:06)
My plan was to stick to a certain heart rate range and if there was a tail wind enjoy the free speed and go off of effort instead. Well, basically right away I learned my heart rate monitor was a cranky little thing and decided to tell me my heart rate was 240+ for a majority of the ride. Yeah, not likely. So it was up to me to race based on effort. I started the first few miles slow to get settled and up and over the sea wall. I was getting passed left and right but let it go.
Once at the sea wall I tucked in and put my head down. My legs felt tired and achy (hello no taper) but I just kept them going (and passing a ton of people back on the way). The miles kept ticking off and I couldn’t believe that I was keeping the pace I was without struggling. The time on the trainer was paying off. I can do long straight or slightly uphill stretches really well – I’ve got the power and confidence on this type of course.
It is a straight out and back along the ocean and there is one area that gets a little rough up and over a bridge. On the way back I noticed that my right aero bar pad slipped and fell all the way down, which made being in aero a little awkward. I tried to make due, but I’d have to ride like this for another 20+ miles. I sat up, leaned back and got into my bag to see if I could get my multi tool without having to get off the bike. Low and behold I grabbed it! Pretty sure I erred on the side of too high for the arm pad but at least it was tight again!
Around mile 40 I came to realize that this was feeling rough on me as well as my stomach. My legs were dead through the whole thing, but now I was starting to feel tired. I don’t feel like we ever really had a tail wind, but I think a head wind started making her appearance known at this point. I just tried to keep my effort steady, while also in my head knowing that I still wanted to stay on track for a 3 hour bike. I also really started notice my stomach being cranky, so I stopped eating my picky bar but kept trying to get some water down.
I worked really hard those last couple of miles because I know I was getting close to the 3 hours. Also about 2 miles out my left aero bar didn’t like the jostling of a slight construction area and decided to fall down, too. Didn’t bother trying to fix that one though. The course this year brought the bike back through the airfield which was awful. Super bumpy with holes and grass everywhere. I got my feet out of my shoes and dismounted – knowing I cut it close but thinking I made the 3 hours.
T2 2:45 (2012 2:13)
Super quick transition, thought about applying more sunscreen. In retrospect probably should have, but grabbed my visor and put on my shoes and socks and headed back out.
Run 2:30:31 (2012 2:30:18)
I kept my head down and just tried to run what felt like slow for the first mile. I knew immediately it was going to be a very rough run. My legs wouldn’t move and my stomach was not happy about the whole running thing. And honestly? From about mile 1 I mentally gave up. I was pissed and angry and grumpy. I couldn’t believe that I was supposed to race this thing so tired. I was angry I didn’t really get any sort of taper to feel successful here. I was grumpy my stomach was so sloshy and that my heart rate monitor wasn’t working. And I just didn’t want to run.
It made for a very difficult half marathon. I saw Brian at the first turn around and was maybe 30 seconds behind him, but I had already given up and didn’t want to fight to catch him or race him. I wanted to get stuck in my pity walk/run party. And that is where I stayed for about the next 1o miles. I just didn’t give a damn. Run? When I felt like it. I walked when my heart rate was too high or I just wanted to. This was all about just getting it over with.
I relied on the aid stations, throwing my nutrition plan out the window. Coke, perform and water was the rule of the day. Stomach would get cranky and sloshy, but I knew with the heat creeping up I needed to keep getting fluids down so I kept forcing it.
The last loop I was finally able to pick it up. Mostly because I knew it was my last loop and I could do anything for 30ish minutes. While I did pick it up, I wasn’t really motivated to run the whole thing. The last mile I ran everything except two of the short steep hills and was happy when I brought it in.
Overall 6:13:39 (2012 6:49)
I know I should be pretty excited about a 35 minute PR. And I am. I’m also really, really disappointed. I’m mostly disappointed in myself for giving up. I don’t typically give in. I’m a fighter until the end. But on this day, I just didn’t have the mental fight. I don’t know if I was too tired, cranky, or what. But I gave up. And I’m upset with that outcome. I went from 27th off the bike to 43rd finishing the run and that is just unacceptable. I am better than that.
I don’t know what changes need to be made, but I just don’t feel strong on the run. I knew that going in. Even during the regular weekend runs. Something has to change between now and 5 weeks. I don’t want to go to that place again for a full marathon. Maybe going there during this race and still finishing gives me some mental strength. I could have kept going on race day if I had to. I know the strength is there. I just need to tap into it and push through.
The one great things that came out of this race?
Awesome race pics. For some reason I get great ones here, and that in itself, is a win.