70.3 in Review

I did it!  I completed my first 70.3 triathlon!!

It didn't go how I hoped, but I finished.  I crossed the finish line on my own two feet, and no emergency services were needed.

It only took 8 hours and 13 minutes.  

It was a long day.

I thought about doing a play by play of the whole race, but I was boring myself just typing it, so instead here are a few highlights.

I lost my phone!  But not for long.  Turns out I set it down on the ground when I was setting up my transition area and covered it with my towel.  I spent 30 minutes looking for it, and was starting to have a major anxiety attack.   Not because I can't be without my phone for that long (although there is some truth to that), but because without my phone I wouldn't be able to text my husband before the race.  I needed to just check in with him.  Eventually I found it, text him, he text back...all was right with the world again.

I had the best swim ever!  It wasn't the fastest swim I have ever done, but it was by far the best.  The water temp was perfect.  It wasn't ice cold as I feared.  I got in the water and just started swimming.  I never felt tired.  There were no negative voices in my head.  Just stroke after stroke after stroke.   I realized I need prescription goggles on account of being old, but other than occasionally having to stop to spot the buoy, I just chugged along.  I remember praying and Thanking God for the strength and endurance he gave me for this day.  It was just so peaceful.

Getting out of the water was an experience!  I've never done a swim that long in open water.  You stay horizontal for so long that it takes your body a few moments to get used to going vertical again.  I was swaying back and forth as I got out of the water, and am lucky I didn't face plant.  I had heard about this before, but had never quite experienced it.  Any longer swims I have done were in pools where you are flipping over and changing direction every 25 meters.  Next time I'll know what to expect.

Peanut Butter Gu!  I got on the bike and the first thing I did was down some Gu.  I don't know why I count this as a highlight, but for some reason it is.  I had gotten a sample of Peanut Butter Gu in a race bag eons ago and thought it was the most gag inducing thing ever invented.  Yet I stuck it in a drawer with all the other samples of stuff I've collected at races.  I brought the sample along to the Earlham Tri a few weeks back and gave it a try as I was getting on the bike.  I fell in love.  I can't stand the thought of it during a run or during normal daily activities, but put me on the bike and that is my go-to thing.  That and clementines...which are out of season now...grr.   So makers of Gu...if you read this...send me a big box!

The bike portion of the ride was as expected.  I knew it would be long and I knew my girly bits would hurt.  Done and Done.  I normally don't sympathize with men and their discomfort or disadvantages in any physical endeavor.  The reality is that in most situations they are usually stronger, faster and never will have to push a baby out of their bodies.  They can man-up and deal with whatever pain comes their way.  BUT...I do not understand how guys can deal with bike saddles.  After about 20 miles my nether regions are screaming...and I don't have extra bits getting in the way.  So guys...I give you props.  

I bent my thumbnail back!  As I was making a left turn on the course, there was another rider coming back.  I don't know if it was the angle that I was at, or the way I reached to grab my brakes, but somehow I managed to bang my thumb into the handlebars and the nail bent half-way back.  Since there was another rider coming back and making a right, I needed to wait until I finished the turn before I could bend it back.  For the next few miles, my mind was taken off other discomfort.

I loved seeing all the Richmond athletes!  I can not say this enough, but the group of triathletes, runners and cyclists in Richmond are amazing.  I kept recognizing people on the route.  Some were racing, some were volunteers, but they kept shouting encouragement at me.  I was also kind of in awe at how many people I actually know here now.  Not bad for just under 2 years in this town.  

I beat my husband to our meet up spot!  I took a map of the bike route, and wrote estimated windows of where I would be on the course.  I suggested a good place that he could wait if he wanted to see me on the bike course.  I was still about 2 miles away from where I told him I would be, and I saw him driving.  He actually got stopped at an intersection by a volunteer because I was coming through.  For some reason, this made me very happy.  I knew I was ahead of my predicted pace, and I wasn't killing myself, so it was really encouraging to know that I probably would be able to do this after all.  I also saw Darrell, my boss.  He even brought the marching band I had asked for...although it was imaginary.

I think I killed a chipmunk.  I was on my 2nd loop, and on a section of the course that is narrower, and shady.  I was heading out and another woman was heading in.  We both watched as a chipmunk started darting back and forth in front of her.  It finally got out of her way, but shot across the road directly in front of me.  Then I felt a couple of bumps.  I didn't look back.  

I bent my &*#^$^ thumbnail back AGAIN!!  Same intersection, same scenario.  Seriously!

I was 14 miles ahead of the sag wagon!  That really doesn't need much explanation.  

Getting off the bike!!  Those last few miles all I could focus on was getting off that stupid bike.  I did not like it anymore and wanted to be done with it.  I toughed out the huge hill at the end of the course for the 2nd of 4 times that day, and then cruised back down to transition.  Thankfully I remembered to unclip. (PROGRESS!!)  At the dismount, I realized that there was absolutely no way to lift my leg over the bike, so I had to almost lay it down on its side.  My husband was again there at transition, and we chatted a bit as I racked my bike and tried to get my shoes on.  

Don't leave Body Glide out in the sun!  This is really more of a public service announcement than anything else.  It melts into a goopy  mess.  At least it could still be applied like lotion.  

And then it all fell apart...

I realized very quickly into the run that I hadn't done enough training.  I just didn't have it in me to run the rest of the race.   I normally do run/walk intervals, 3 minutes running/1 minute walking.  After about a mile I realized that every time I started running my energy levels just plummeted.  I wasn't whining or complaining, I just realized that there is a price to be paid for blowing off all those runs in January through March.  I also didn't do enough brick work outs.  Lesson learned.  I was still able to keep up a fairly good pace walking...so I decided to walk.  

I did try and run a bit every mile, but again, my energy would just fade away.  It was hot and the sun was pretty bright, so every aid station I grabbed ice and water.  I ate 2 packages of Margarita Shot Bloks along the way, and grabbed some potato chips a few times.  And just...kept...walking.  I also knew I was getting a few blisters.  I tried to put some bandaids on at one of the aid stations, but they fell off pretty quickly.  

The walk still had some highlights...and all involved meeting new people...

Merle, who swears by 3 Aleve at every transition.  In fact at T2 we traded sunscreen for Aleve.  He does run walk intervals too, we were together briefly on the run, but I just couldn't keep up.

Don, who is 68 and was participating in this 20th 70.3.  I saw him at the last aid station on my first loop.  He said something encouraging and I said something snarky in response, figuring he was on his 2nd loop and almost finished, where as I still had 7 miles or so to go.  He laughed and said it was his first loop too, so we walked and chatted together for the next mile.  He was really nice and really funny.

Stacey, who is a Richmond area runner and was volunteering.  As I made the turn to start my 2nd loop, she started walking with me, and we walked and chatted for the next 1.5 miles.  I knew her in passing because I've seen her many times at the Saturday group runs, but never had a conversation with her until now.  I was grateful for her company and her encouragement.

Debbie, who was also doing her first 70.3...which was also her first triathlon.  She was plotting the death of her friend who got her into this in the first place, and who would be waiting at the finish line.  We walked together for several miles, and as we got close to the huge hill for the 4th and final time, her energy and will to kill her friend kicked in and she took off.

Kim.  Wow.  What can I say about Kim without starting to tear up?  Apparently not anything.  At the base of the hill, Kim and her husband Steve drove by me, and she jumped out of the car and started walking with me.  She had a rough morning. She has SIPE (Swimming Induced Pulmonary Edema) and had to be pulled from the water earlier in the day.  She told me this in T1, and was very upset.  It was her first DNF.  As we were walking she told me she went home, had a good cry then put on her big girl panties and came back out to cheer people on and volunteer on the course.  Kim and I have trained together for a long time. I met her and Steve at spinning, and then she and I have rode and swam together on a semi-regular basis for months.  For her to be there with me for the last few miles was bittersweet.  I wished she had been able to complete her race, but was so grateful that she was there to help me finish mine.  I'm pretty sure that around mile 12 I might have started whimpering.  

EVERYONE ELSE!  As I came back into the race site, my husband, my kids and a few other people were waiting for me on the berm.  I was trying to run a bit now, but was still struggling.  So I would run 100 yds or so then have to walk again.  A few of the girls came down and jogged with me as I would run/walk in.  As I made the turn to go to the finish line, they left me alone and told me it was all me at that point.  I heard my name on the loud speaker, and I heard everyone cheering me on.  I picked up the pace and I think I even jumped over the finish line.  I was so relieved to be done.  The first person that congratulated me was Steve Tomboni, the founder of America Multi-Sport and my boss as the Richmond Community Coordinator.  He put the finisher medal around my neck, and from that point on I was overwhelmed with hugs and pictures and more hugs and laughs and more hugs and chocolate milk.

The FINAL HIGHLIGHT!!! Taking off my shoes.  Yep, I did have some blisters after all!


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