And several days later, we're on part two: Race Day.
Dark and early Sunday morning, the alarm went off. All four of us slowly rolled out of bed to start our day. Brandon and I got dressed and did our morning thing and attempted to eat the reheated IHOP from the night before while Kris and Mark got ready themselves.
For anyone out there: IHOP reheated the next day in a microwave is crappy. Not even craptastic; just plain crappy. Still, calories are calories and we needed some breakfast.
Soon enough, we were all packed and ready to leave. We checked out, got into the car ... and I realized that Fiona the Rav needed gas. If I was going to give Mark my keys so they could zoom around the course, some fuel might be nice. So we made a quick stop at a gas station to throw a couple gallons in while Kris and Mark got much needed coffee. Gassed and coffee'd up, we were on our way to Boulder.
Much like Rattlesnake last year, we were part of a train of cars heading into a reservoir. However, we knew the drill this year and, moreover, felt like we belonged.
We parked, Kris and Mark helped us reassemble our bikes (we seriously need to get better at that) and then helped us schlep all of our crap to transition. From there, we split up; Brandon and I into trans (and then our separate ways) and then Kris and Mark to ... somewhere.
By now, I'm basically a seasoned pro at setting up my trans area so I made quick work of that.
I found Brandon shortly thereafter, we sunscreened each other up, grabbed the kidlets and went off to find Kris and Mark. That took a while, but eventually, found. And then, picture time.
Prior to their transformation ... you'll see in a bit.
Evil smiley. Not used to that ...
Part of the pro rack. Andy Potts is on the far right.
As much as it was fun hanging out, we had to finish our pre-race business; that is, get in the port-o-potty line, pop a salt tab and get into our wetsuits all before being kicked out of trans.
After that ... the waiting game. We got kicked out of trans at 6:20am and my wave (i started before brandon) didn't even start until 7:10am. The cool thing was, we got to see the first of the pro men (the aforementioned andy potts) speed out of the water.
I wish I were that fast!
Cool as that was, it was time to get serious.
After seeing Andy Potts and a few other pros come out of the water, it was time to go in myself to get in a warm-up and get accustomed to the water a little bit. I did a short swim, felt comfortable, got out of the water and started getting cold. Happens every time.
Nice though, I had a few people to talk to.
With Kris and Mark.
Soon enough though, it came time to start my race.
Heading down to the water. I think I'm there in the middle ...
Down in the water, heard the countdown, the gun went off and my day started.
I didn't do what I did in Boulder Peak - hang back and wait for everyone to go before starting. This time, I actually started swimming along with everyone else ... and waited for them to pass me because I'm slow. This worked out pretty well, actually. It took a while for the next wave of swim caps to pass me and all was good.
Until we turned. The course was essentially three sides of a rectangle: long out, shortish across, long back ... just in more trapezoidal (rhomboid? parallelogramish?) shape. And, for whatever reason, that shortish across just sucked. A lot more of the following waves had caught up to me by that point, I was having sighting issues (probably due to the sun on my breathe side)(yes i need to work on bilateral breathing. offseason, i swear), I got kicked in the face, I don't even know.
Longer than it should have felt, I eventually got to turn back toward shore. I struggled with staying in a straight line more than I did on the first leg, but I got back into a groove and felt pretty good.
I felt better once I saw the shoreline and was proud that I had done the entire swim while crawling. Win for me!
I got out of the water, started running for trans, heard Kris and Mark yelling and life was good. Except for my slow-ass time.
Time: 59:28 (rate: 3:05; rank: 1367th overall)
It's bad, but I don't even remember T1 much. I know it took a bit longer to get my ponytail through the appropriate helmet hole. I also know I reapplied sunscreen, Body Glided the feet well and tossed on the ring. Other than that, in, out, yay.
The first couple miles of the bike were old hat by this point, as I'd ridden them in two previous tris. That's not to say they still didn't suck, but y'know. But once we got past the sprint turn-off (well past the oly turn-off to stage), it got worse. I knew that was the part of the course with the bulk amount of climbing, but still. Ugh.
It also occurred to me early on that, "Oh crap, that's what I forgot; a second pair of bike shorts. Darnit."
Other not-so-good thing: Perform in the aero bottle definitely not diluted enough. Made the decision early on that I'd be stopping at all the aid stations for some plain old h2o.
It finally came time for the downhill portion which was happy, but totally not as long as advertised. (hills are always worse; descents are never as good). Coming out of that main descent, I thought I saw Fiona up the road ...
... and I did!
Best. Cheer. Squad. Ever.
Mark and Kris had changed into crazy hats and hula gear to cheer us on. SO AWESOME.
A ray of WELCOME sunshine on a miserably hot day.
We saw those two EVERYWHERE. Mark came up with a game plan of how to pop out at various points on the bike course using the back roads of Boulder and their cheering faces/selves were so unbelievably welcome. Knowing they were out there made loop one go by pretty quickly.
Starting loop two sucked though just knowing the pain that was ahead. And yes, it felt worse on the second go around. It also didn't help that the heat was starting to really set in. I was dumping water on my head at every station, trying to eat, trying to take in salt tabs, praying it would all be enough.
I smiled every time I saw Kris and Mark, but it was getting harder to maintain the endorphins/adrenaline after I saw them.
On the bike. Not sure when, though ...
Brandon right behind/in front of me!
I should probably mention that shortly into starting loop two, Brandon caught up with me. It meant that he had a really good swim and his bike was going well also. We chatted and passed each other back and forth for a few miles before he left me for good. I knew he wasn't too far away, though, as there was a mini out-and-back in the last 10 miles of the course (well, both loops) and I saw him coming out as I was going in.
The problem at that point, was that my feet were starting to KILL me. Probably for the last 5-10 miles (really don't know), the balls of my feet ached with every pedal stroke. I didn't work as hard on the downhills as I should have because my feet hurt so badly.
I saw someone getting picked up by the sag wagon with probably six miles to go. It looked so tempting to me, with the heat, the headache that I picked up shortly into loop two and my foot pain, but I knew I couldn't do it. I could physically go on and I knew that with some effort, I could mentally go on. So I pedaled right on by ...
... and almost got run over at the next intersections. The city had cops out directing traffic, but Boulder has some weird diagonal intersections and some guy wasn't paying too close of attention to the cop and tried to kill me. Luckily, he didn't, but that wasn't fun.
Also sometime on that stretch, I got passed by a cheering Kris and Mark as they were driving the Rav back into the Res.
I saw them once more on the road leading back into the Res as they were stuck in a looong line of cars. Those last few miles were rough - I wasn't spinning my legs out as I probably should have been - I was just trying to finish the bike without my feet falling off.
I also had two more near-death experiences:
- Right at the entrance gate, I came up on another couple of cyclists (not racers) going in to the res. The one guy started swerving over so he could pay his entrance fee, clipping me in the process. Luckily I didn't fall OR hit the road cones, but it was pretty hairy.
- Turning into the dismount area, one of the volunteers accidentally started waving a truck through ... that had to slam on its brakes so as not to hit me. The guy apologized, but still.
I hit the dismount line very happy to get off Bob. Don't know if it was as happy as Rattlesnake or not, but it was close.
Time: 3:29:13 (rate: 16.1; rank: 1268th)
I was SO UNBELIEVABLY happy to see Brandon still in transition when I rolled in. We had told each other that if we ran into each other on the run, we'd finish it together. Well, it looked like we'd be able to do the whole run section together.
I changed into my running crap, grabbed my handheld bottle with Perform, a salt tab, quickly sprayed on some sunscreen and joined Brandon for the long run ahead.
Due to the loop nature of the run course, there was a water station (and misting tent!) right as we exited transition, so we took advantage of both. We tried running a bit, but something was going on and I didn't know what. The headache from the bike was in full force and running was not a pleasant idea.
We tried as we could, but we knew that if we had to walk most of the course, we would still finish in time.
It also didn't help that it was, as we would find out soon enough, 94 degrees as we started the run and the first chunk of it was uphill on a hot, dusty country road. We ran when we could (or, more accurately, i could), but it wasn't much. When we hit the first aid station about a little over a mile in, I had to stop and use the port-o-potty - a race first for me. The only problem was, it took probably the next three miles to get my tri shorts back to a comfortable position. They had glued themselves to my legs and didn't want to get back into their proper place. That was not fun.
Hot and miserable though we were, we plodded on. I ended up taking my first gel earlier than I wanted - at somewhere between the three and four mile points - to see if it would help my headache. It did somewhat, and we walked/jogged (mostly walked) and basically just kept one foot moving in front of the other.
We decided to try the cold sponges that they had at the aid stations at one point - OMG AWESOME. I had been drinking water and dumping ice/water down my head/tank at every stop, but the sponges were a whole other level of amazingness.
Coming into the halfway point (the turnoff to the finish line for the lucky ones; the cruel torture of running past it to start loop two for the rest of us), we saw Kris and Mark again and slowed down to talk with them. We got some encouragement and basically a, "hey, we wouldn't be out here if we didn't have to be; you guys are rockstars" which helped us continue on our way. Right before crossing the timing mat, we saw my parents, too and told them we'd be back around in a little while.
Loop two was both better AND worse. Better because I actually started to feel a bit better (in other words, i started going deep within my brain to mentally finish the damn race) but worse because Brandon started falling apart. That, and there were fewer and fewer people on the course and the aid stations were starting to get a little thin and we had found out how hot it was.
We felt our skin boiling so I actually reapplied some sunscreen at the mile 1/7 aid station just to get me through while Brandon made a port-o-potty stop of his own.
I took my second gel at one point, but I kind of forget when. We were able to pick up the running a bit more, but it got difficult in the last few miles when the miserable hot winds that we had been so fortunate to avoid most of the summer kicked in.
Though we knew we were still good on time, we started getting concerned as the last few aid stations were down to essentially nothing and course officials started asking us which loop we were on. "Second? Good. Congrats and keep it up."
Eventually, we saw the tents of the finish area and I left Brandon so I could be there waiting for him at the finish. I ran almost the entire last little bit, screaming at Kris and Mark to stop taking pictures and get to the finish line. I somehow managed my sprint across the finish (going deep inside one's brain really does help one do crazy shit) and was told by the volunteers that I had the best finish of the day.
That made me happy, as did the wet hat they gave me to toss on my head. Shortly after I crossed, Brandon came rolling across the line. We hugged, he cried, we were happy. I took some of my water and then realized our cheer squad probably needed it more than I did and tossed the bottle over the fence to them. They were appreciative.
We met up with them and my parents, got some congratulations and headed over to the food tent for some fruit, pizza and sugary soda (which tastes so freaking good after a race). After quickly snarfing some food, we went to trans, packed up our stuff and rolled on out.
1271/? overall (1900 signed up, 1600 started, 13something finished)
66/73 division (W25-29)
- WTC puts on a good race. My main complaint is that it seemed that because I was one of the last people rolling across the line, it didn't seem like I was as important. It was depressing seeing those bare-bones aid stations and half the vendor tents gone by the time I finished.
- That was unbelievably difficult ... and yet I still totally want to do a full. IMAZ 2013. Fo' sho'.
- We're kind of regretting signing up for the Rock 'N Roll Denver Half ... because neither of us has any motivation to train now. It's kind of like, okay, big race done ... we're now done too. Obviously not ... but it feels like it.
- I feel kind of like a bad-ass now.
- Would I have liked to finish with a better time? YES. Am I happy with what I did? Absolutely. The plan we followed was to FINISH a half-Ironman, and finish we did. How can I not be happy with that?
Sorry for the length; decided to keep this all together. But, I hope you enjoyed the novel!