I was naive going into this race. I was level headed
and calm. The stories of heat and hills didn't worry me. Why not? I can't answer that. I rationalized that the dry air vs humid air we have here in the Northeast and that I've dealt with twice in Kona is much worse so the desert heat would be tolerable.
Friday and Saturday were typical pre- race days. I was really happy to have some Maine / NE friends there with me!! Two TriMoxie Athletes ( Marisa and Tammy ) earmed spots to race at the Mooseman 70.3 in June so they were there and our good friends Mary Lou Lowrie and Nat Steele were there too!! MaryLou raced there last year so they had some great advice and tips for us. I really enjoyed everyone's company and support those two days. The weekend was definitely fun because they were there.
Let's get to the race.
Up and at 'em at 3:40 and into the transition area for final preparations. Nat followed us down bright and early and got our tires pumped. (Thanks Nat!!!!! ) I was so relieved about that.. I am uneasy pumping my disc so this was comforting to have his caring hands on the rig before I hit the roads.
One snaffu.... my garmin was frozen. It turned on, but never left the garmin welcome page. Hmm...
I wandered around trying to see if a new spot would activate it. nothing. I looked for Nat. He was gone. So... I had a chat with myself. And actually, I was fine. I was completey calm about it. No power. Ok... Ange, you can ride your bike. Go out and just do what you know how to do. I know what it supposed to feel like. I know what to avoid and what to aim for by feel. I truly didn't really care!!! I was mostly annoyed that I wouldn't have the computer to tell me what mile I was on. THAT helps me. I plan fueling and aid stations and count down to the run. But, it would be fine. I was truly 100% ok with it.
I was heading back to T1 to snap it on the bike anyway when I saw Tammy's husband, Mike. I said Hi and then remembered...HE is a computer whiz! Suddenly, I cared again. And, he fixed it. :) Almost. It was completely reset and all data from the past erased. That's ok. The main thing is that it wasn't synced to my SRM so I would have to do that when I hit the course.
I got ready to go. We were lined up in order of waves ( I was #8) and let into the water with 5 min to go. The wave ahead would go... we'd line up at the in water start and then go from there...
Mark had a great view on the bridge of the hotel overlooking the swim course. Here we are lined up and ready....
|Corralled for the swim start|
|that's me waving.... feeling nervous for sure... but ready to go|
|I didn't know I was being watched with a zoom lens....|
|Focusing... or.... wondering if I REALLY had to get into that brown water....|
|Time to dive in and line up... this photo doesn't show it but the water is Brown... it's not good. It smelled and was full of dirt and who knows what else.... I hesitated here before taking the plunge...|
|40-44 women at the start|
|And we're OFF!! That's my left arm right under the flag.|
|that's me in the middle... my right arm is in the air...|
|looking off the bridge at part of the swim course|
|the swim course|
The run went something like this....
I felt good at first. I was surprised. I knew I had 3 loops so I made a plan. I'd run the first loop and get my legs in run mode, get cooled off, start with calories and see how I was doing. Loop 2 would be hard, the middle miles always are. So I would concentrate and focus and work on digging deep. This would be the fight. Loop 3.. .bring it home. Give it all I had and get in there. The big picture plan was to start picking off the girls that had passed me on the bike. I wanted it back.
It started out just like that. First, I started passing some men. Tall skinny fast-looking men that I KNOW had passed me on the bike. It always happens. byebye... :) Mark and Nat were standing on the road at the beginning of the loops so I saw them a lot. I smiled some, told them I was hot, told them it was kicking my a--, and tried to find out how Marisa and Tammy were. I had been seeing MaryLou so I knew she was ok.
Up the first section and time to go down... yay! Down hill running.. .time to go fast.
Um.. Legs? Let's GO! Instead.. I felt like I was running in molasses. sigh...
I just persevered and hoped it would get better. Instead, it got hot. Very very very hot. Hotter than anything I've ever felt. No, it wasn't humid. But the heat and sun were So incredible intense. Turns out, it was107 degrees. I have never run in air like that in my life. It sucks you dry.
I stopped and walked at every aid station. I was very aware of keeping myself cool and hydrated. For performance and for safety. I put ice where I could and carried it in my hands, I dumped water on myback on my head and drank some, and I drank perform every single time. I popped salts too. Over and over and over.
My running was ok. It wasn't fast, but it was good. I was very very steady and felt quite strong. I felt in control. Again.. I couldn't turn on my speed like I like to in the run. I usually run So hard in these half ironmans but that day, I knew I had to just stay consistent so I could survive in the heat.
I'm not sure exactly where, but around mile 5, I passed fast Amy! Ha! I was psyched. I passed a few more ladies in my group as well. Our ages were nearly all worn off so I was going by memory and gut feeling. I was definitely passing a lot of people who were shuffling along. The whole field was wearing down in the sun. So while I was slow, I felt like I was holding on stronger than many.
Mile 10 came along and without warning, or change in effort, my heart started racing. Things got a little blurry and I felt sick. oh oh..
An aid station was within 1/2 mi so I got myself there and did the whole cooling thing again. It helped.
Alright Ange, 5k. Bring it in.
I ran as hard as I could at that time. It wasn't fast but again, I was moving. My pace was hugely decreased by all my stops but it was what had to happen in those temperatures. It was an inferno. It was intense and absolutely burning hot air. This Maine girl, with 3 kids who need her, had raced a smart and careful race in that heat and I had to respect myself for that. I had to cut myself some slack for the results.
I was finally left with 1 mile to go and I pushed so hard. I had a feeling I saw 2 ladies my age JUST up ahead but I couldn't quite get them. If only... if only I hadn't slowed for all that ice. No Ange...don't go there. I had to get that out of my head. I did what I had to do at the time. I did the best I could at that time.
In the end, I was 11th in my age group. I've done 10 Half Ironmans if I am counting correctly. My time was about the same as #1. Hmm...
I'm a much much stronger athlete now. So, that stings. And yet I know that if I did this course, in these temps way back, that time would have been waaaaaaaaaaay slower.
I am frustrated that the conditions resulted in a bike and run time that I can't even really look at. And yet, I also appreciate that it wasn't just me. I spoke to many many others after the race and it was across the board. We all said the same thing. This World Championship course in Vegas is Not a PR course.. it is tough. I think possibly, the toughest course I have ever done. Yes, the course is harder than Kona. It had the feel of an Ironman. A 140.6 mile Ironman... I can only speak for myself but my mind was on survival mode. It was all about staying strong and steady and tough. Fast racing had to take 2nd fiddle that day. It wasn't meant to be. I wish I could walk away from it feeling 100% satisfied and psyched to end the season that way. Instead, I feel accomplished and proud to have held on. I am being forced to think of this race with my head rather than my heart. My heart wanted more. I think I had more. I know I let myself off the hook here and there while on the course because I knew I couldn't win against those elements. I backed off in order to be smart and safe. I guess that means I'm growing up a little? Or, did I weaken? No.. .I am not weakening. I learned a few lessons and I conquered something new and harder than ever before. Days like that drain me. Some of my love for racing was sucked out of me that day. I felt powerless when I couldn't fight back even though I wanted to. It confused me and has left me wondering... what's next?
As each day passes, I feel myself being pulled just a bit back in the right direction. The direction I am familar with. I need a break right now but I am not done yet. I have a bit more fight left in here and that's what I intend to do.
Sunday humbled me. I've had a number of great races over the past couple years and I guess in some ways I was due for a wake up call.
It was what it was. Not my fastest and not perfectly executed but I know I was strong mentally and somewhat physically that day so I have to walk away with my head up.
|I have the greatest family... and this is what matters most. thanks Cameron, Tommy & Nick|