I am *Half* Ironman!!! Na na na na na na na na na na na.
I’ve done a lot of crazy races. I’ve had some extraordinary highs and lows. But nothing, and I mean NOTHING, compared to yesterday. This is a long post, consider yourself warned.
This week was tough all over. Eric’s grandpa passed away so we had to hustle to get him ready to head out for his family. Al was a very, very wonderful man. WWII vet, Detroit police officer, lover of food and family. We knew this was coming but it’s still a heartbreaker. God speed, Grandpa Al.
My folks were great and stepped in and had the kids stay with them Saturday night through Sunday. That was a huge relief as I was going to be completely unreachable for anywhere from 7-9 hours.
So 03:00 am I was up. It was a selfish luxury to be able to thump around the house and not wake anyone. I realized that this was the first time in almost 16 years that I spent a night at home alone. Crazy, right?
03:45 I met up with Morriah, her husband, and friend who were driving us up to the race. Yet another huge relief for me.
We got to Boulder before the sun was even up. I was nibbling my breakfast slowly and had plenty of time to fuel up. The traffic was already streaming in to the Boulder Reservoir. This was going to be a busy day!
|Well, the swim sure looked pretty from afar.|
Again, the extra help was great. We got our bikes and gear into the transition zone and were able to set up at a leisurely pace. More than enough time to wander around, hit the bathroom, stare at the swim start, and totally freak out.
|I can say that this race absolutely, positively would not have happened without Morriah.|
06:45 we were suited up and acclimated to the water. We cued up in the back with all the rest of us novice weenies.
07:05 and the pros started. Morriah and I gaped as we watched them tear up the course. Uhhh .... well, that’s really something. The cue slowly moved along. I really liked that we started with our expected finish times. But, here’s what really hurt ... the pros FINISHED a good twenty minutes before we even started. That was a real mind scramble.
|The dorky side of triathletes. We both agree that we were hanging on for dear life in this pic.|
07:50 - everyone in the water! I started slow and easy. But the people around me were far crazier than my prior tris. There was no such thing as a straight course. They were flailing left, right, in all kinds of crazy angles. I knew I was in the novice group but holy cow!!! I was so grateful for all our open water swims over the past month. That made a HUGE difference for me. I tried to get my face down and get into a freestyle groove. But, no matter how I tried to distance myself, I was getting whacked in the back and neck non stop. Only one apology. Then I got a swift kick to the face which left me with a minor bloody nose. At that point I had to sight my swim. So this really slowed me down but I was getting really stressed and I was more then ready to sacrifice time for anxiety ... and injury. So I made it through my swim relatively intact. My goal was one hour. 57:35. Fine with me ... and no breast or backstroking!
Transition - slow. I didn’t care. This was going to be a long day. I scarfed down half my turkey sandwich and slammed half a coke. Yum. And away we go.
The fist 6-8 miles were mainly uphill. I chugged along just fine. Much calmer and energetic after this swim compared to my prior races. All was well. I kept checking my Garmin which was registering me extraordinarily slow - bummer. When I hit the five mile marker my Garmin was reading 3.5. It took me to mile 10 to convince myself that the signs were NOT wrong and my Garmin was. No splits and paces for me. Biking by feel today.
And things moved right along. I was LOVING my water bottle tucked between my aeros. Reminded me to keep slurping and at every water station I would grab a bottle of water and refill it without stopping. Sweet! I brought FOUR additional bottles and only drank half of one. Lesson learned. That was a major waste of weight. I’m taking my seat water bottle holder off today. By mile 15 I finished my sandwich and munched away on peanut butter M&Ms from my bento box - it was nice to eat solid food and this worked out very well for the ride. I allowed myself real food until mile 40 so that everything would be fairly digested for the run.
Mile 30 and I was getting a little punchy. I was cruising through some very pretty farm land. Hello cows ... hello horses ... hello lamas. I was within a line of plenty of cyclists but I was feeling so utterly alone. We were dealing with lots of cars along the way without problem until one prick in a truck flew way too close blaring his horn at us. Thanks, dude. Hope you enjoy the thousand other bikers you’ll be encountering on this road. Jerk.
At this point ‘Country Roads’ got stuck in my head and I starting singing (braying) along to try to exorcise John Denver. As much as I love him he was really irritating me. Hope the other riders didn’t hear me ... although I’m sure they would understand, and if I made someone laugh all the better.
Mile 35 ... lots and lots of rolling hills. I came to a rather steep (but short) hill and whimpered out loud. Didn’t even know I was doing it until I heard myself. That made me laugh and I chopped up the hill. Best of all, I came across Terzah and her twins cheering me on. That was WONDERFUL!!!! Just what I needed at the right time. A few minutes later they drove by cheering. Apparently Will and Ruth wanted Stars Wars blaring. I didn’t hear it but I love and appreciate it all the same.
|Love, love, love you Terzah!!!|
Mile 45 and I was getting punchy again. I was very much over the ride and my butt was seriously hurting. I was getting warm and I was wanting just to quit.
Mile 50 and I totally fell apart. I have had hard patches in prior runs that I was able to Pollyanna myself through. But I was SO over the bike ... hot, miserably lonely, and dreading the run ahead of me. So I just started crying. Honest to goodness bawling. I felt like a two year old having a tantrum. So here I am biking along weeping with cars whizzing by me. I can’t explain this situation. I really can’t. All I can say is that it happened but I kept rolling. The storm passed in a few minutes, thank goodness.
Bike to run idea ... I brought a skirt and was able to change my bike shorts to my running shorts without flashing anyone. Waste of time, sure. But I wanted those tri shorts OFF!!! Felt great.
The first two miles were OK. I kept it slow, it was about 86 degrees at this point. I took a Gu before mile two and then my gut totally seized up on me. 2.5 and I really wanted to puke and had to walk. I walked until mile four and was just about to quit. Then my gut started to settle down so I started running .25/ walking .25. I managed OK. Finished the first loop. I was so resentful of all the runners turning towards the finish as I started back out again. Then I saw my friend Carrie, I made sure to tell her my opinion of my run.
A few clouds around mile 6-7 made me hopeful and my energy was bouncing back. But the storm moved north so nothing but sun to the finish. Bleh. For some indescribable reason the word ‘yurt’ got stuck in my head. Made me crazy. From here on out the word ‘yurt’ will mean ‘bonk’ and any other four letter word to me. Took over a mile to get that that yurting ‘yurt’ out of my head. God, how I wished music was allowed on the run.
Mile 7 and my right achilles seized up. So back to only walking for another two miles. I was so pissed at myself. But, to be honest, I was the only person actually doing any running around me so I was doing better than most. I was able to strike up some conversations which I badly needed.
Funny point at mile 7-8. We were trudging along an industrial canal (not particularly pretty) to the right of us and a humming electrical fence to the left. The signs along the canal warned us the it had a swift current that pulled underground. What’s more it assured us that “Certain death WILL occur.” Oh, great!!! Electrocution to the left, certain death to the right. Charming, simply charming. I looked around all at the other people sharing our little slice of no man’s land and had to laugh.
|My thoughts exactly, Rick.|
My leg loosened up to I was able to walk/run my way through the finish. Hardly triumphant. But I did it with plenty of time to spare. I was very happy with my swim and bike times (despite the flat tire). But my run was really upsetting me. I was drained and just couldn’t enjoy the forest for the trees. Carrie and Morriah were there at the finish. All I wanted was to get out of there. Run 2:55 - over half an hour more than I was hoping for. Sigh.
|I never, NEVER needed a hug more in my life then at that moment. Thanks, Morriah.|
So we packed up just in time for clouds, a drop in temperature, and rain. Grrr. But as we were packing I was able to see plenty of people still out on the course. I wasn’t last, not by a long shot.
On the ride back I was able to relax and get over the run. I started to feel really good about my day. As grumpiness passed I began to feel proud. Very, very proud.
|Earned the heck out of my shirt, hat, and medal.|
I still am.
So will I ever do another Half Ironman???