Tuesday, August 27, 2013

REV3 OOB Maine!

 It's been a quiet summer on the racing front for me. I kicked it off early and big with a Half Ironman in California in March then an Ironman in Texas in May. At that point,I  stepped back. Just a bit. I needed a break. I did toe the line at our local sprint, the Norway Tri in July. I had to push myself outside of my skin to win that race.. .sprints hurt when you're used to racing >70 + miles! It's a whole different level & kind of suffer to go that fast.  I also ran the Beach2Beacon 10K a few weeks ago... of course it was a road race not a Tri but it counts for a race!  And that's it... 

This race was  great on the one hand because it's in Maine and starts on a beach! Can't beat that....  
On the other hand, it was  tough for me because it was  the first day of Travel soccer games (2 of my kids in 2 different towns that are far from each other and very far from my race = sad), the weekend of my son's birthday ( just turned  14- eek!), and school is starting tomorrow. We are also still living out of our camp during the weekends which meant I departed our island at 3:50 a.m, on a boat,  in the dark, after navigating my way around the camp in the dark . ( No power there &  gas lamps only do so much at 3:30 a.m. when you're hurrying... ) As a result, the week leading to and the days before this race were  less than mellow and relaxing and I had to juggle all things family/racing to make this one happen.
In the end, we made it work. Cameron, my oldest, even decided to be my Sherpa!! How cool is that. He crawled out of bed way wayyyyyyyyy before his 14 yr old self wanted to and hustled around with me all morning. Also, my incredibly supportive parents {they have been attended nearly all my events since I was 8.. no joke... they are always there and supporting me!!} were on the beach for the start by 6 a.m. too. I was not alone even though my other boys and husband were off on the soccer fields.  

The nerves were there... but I was in control. I had no idea who I would be racing. I also wasn't too sure what to expect out of myself. My run has given me trouble this summer. I have a few things that are 'talking' to me right now... body parts needing a little extra TLC. In the past few weeks, things have come together though so I had faith and was ready to lay it all out there to see what I could do.   

Cameron and I walked to the beach and admired the amazing sunrise. It made me happy to see my teenage boy snapping photos of this.  I crawled ungracefully into my wetsuit (one of my least favorite things about this sport.. ) and made my way to the water for a long warm up. That was my plan anyway. A nice long swim so I'd be ready for the gun. I need a solid 1500+ wu when I train so I had intentions of trying to do that for the race.  

I'm disgusted to say, I'm afraid I've become a bit soft when it comes to the ocean. I am an ocean girl through and through. Growing up on the coast, it's my happy place. I would spend time on the ocean any day of the week if given the chance. That being said, I no longer swim it anymore. I live in the Lakes region and I have a camp on a lake. It's warm. And so now, I am a wimp. 
It was Freezing!!!!!!!!!!  
Seriously, my face Hurt it was so cold. The guy said it was "60" and I wasn't too worried about it but yikes, it was bad. I think I swam for ....  4 minutes? Yeah, good warm up Ange! Ha! I rationalized that I would make myself tight and too cold if I stayed in. It was better for me to get out and just stretch a bit. Right or wrong, that's what I did. 

That's me in the middle with my hands on my hips-- not sure what I was laughing about

Time to line up. Our start was at 6:40 a.m. An early one! I think my group was the 4th wave, but honestly, I can't remember right now.  I know that 2 groups of men were ahead of me. The 50+ and the 40-45.  The rest of the women were starting behind me. That's all I knew.  

As I ran in the water, I heard yells from a few friends. Thanks guys! I'm not sure who it was.. I know my buddy Mike MacDonald was there.  And I might have heard my coach, Doug Welling. Regardless, hearing the GO ANGELA was surely a nice  push as I dove in and started the long day. 

Two dolphin dives over the small waves and it was time to swim. I felt really good! The typical ache I get in my arms with my wetsuit on wasn't there. I felt myself pull away from my group with the exception of one girl. Hmm.. who is this?  Let's see what happens... 
I pushed pretty hard but after the first buoy, cut back on the kick and just worked my upper body. I caught guys ahead of me and wiggled my way through. The water was no way near as cold as it was close to the beach. Strange but I was happy. I did swallow a few giant mouthfuls but otherwise,it was smooth sailing.  The sun was in our eyes but the buoys were easy to see. Just a nice uneventful swim. I lost track of that one other purple cap so I figured I had a decent lead. Time would tell!! 

I swam right up to the shore when I got to the beach. Men all around me were running and running in So far!? It's so much faster and easier to swim all the way up until your hands scrape the sand.... little tip there.  Don't stand up in knee deep water and try to run in! 

{swim time 30:xx. A few min slow for me and slower than I thought it felt.  People said it was long .. times were off by ~3-4 minutes apparently, but who knows! it's an ocean swim so measuring a true 1.2 miles is tough. }

Ok, I was up. The tide was out and the beach was lined on both sides with supporters. I saw my Mom, Dad and Cam yell and I waved and tried to smile. I made the last minute decision to yank the wetsuit off at the road instead of running to T2 with it on.  
It's a Long run.. about 3/4 mi and it's on a hard sidewalk. I found myself running on my tiptoes and worrying about my calves seizing up....it was awkward. 

While I made my way ( sort of slow running at this point ) that girl passed me! Ahh! She WAS still there. She was still in her wetsuit so that's how she caught but still, no real gap between us. Ok, game on. 

Wait, she stopped!? She was a RELAY swimmer! ha.. alrighty back to my own fight for a while!  Good!


As I ran out of T1, I saw my friend Bob Turner heading in from the swim. We yelled to each other and I was happy I had been able to catch him in the swim. However, it was a matter of time...he's a machine on the bike!

Sure enough, just a few minutes into the ride, he came upon me.  We exchanged a few words and off he went. I Did keep him in my sights for a while, and then, he was gone. Hmm. Maybe he was just around the next corner. Maybe not. :) 

I rode pretty hard and felt pretty good. I was with the guys. That was ok for the most part. I went back and forth with a few. It's hard when you're evenly matched with someone. There was one person I would out-ride on all the 'flats' and he would overtake me on the hills. We went back and forth all day.  You have to be very aware not to ride illegally when this is the case. Staying more than 4 bike lengths apart can be hard when it's not a quick pass of someone slower than you. 

The ride was a bit hillier than I expected. The hills aren't steep at all, but you are climbing up long grades quite a bit. However, good speed was easily reached and I felt it was a fair & fun ride. 

Ok, I have to ask. Am I the only one who can't touch a gel without wearing 1/2 of it? It's like eating pancakes with syrup. No matter how careful I am, the fork is sticky.  Same with gels. I opened one around mile 30. I was stuffing the little top into my shirt so I wouldn't litter but meanwhile the gel is ooozing out of the other part. Now, it's on my hands. Then my bars. Then I wipe my face and now my face is totally stick. I rub my leg trying to get the wetness from my shorts to wash them but they're dry. Now my leg is sticky. I was a mess and it drove me crazy. Is it just me? Probably. 

I just lost focus for a few minutes while I dealt with that. I never saw another woman. I tried to keep the race mode ON even though there were miles and miles when I was alone. this is not training this is not training I was repeating as I was riding down a quiet neighborhood road. Finally, I was back with some men and the race feel crept back up.  That can be hard. I work hard and push myself alone all the time when training but racing is a different game. It takes a certain level of focus to keep that race-push up when you're by yourself.  

The thing I love about the 70.3 race distance is that the bike is ending just as you are getting sick of riding. I was ready to get off and run... let's move on and get this thing started! It all comes down to the run after all.... 

{bike 2:31-- fast time for me! However... the course is short. I think it measures @ 54.4 or so miles... doing the math, it was still nearly a PR for me at that distance so I'll take it. (well, except for Clearwater but that's an unusually fast course..I don't count it.) }

Running out of T2, I felt good! I was so happy to be on the run. I heard lots of cheers and saw my family! It's a fun start to a long run! Surprisingly, I hadn't even seen Mary all day!!! She was there racing the Oly but our a.m. starts were far apart so she likely arrived from her nearby summer place a lot later than I had. 
But then this: 

I love that my friend Jodi ( Bob Turner's wife- the uber fast bike I mentioned before ) , caught the two of us in one shot! Moments before this, we saw each other and waved "YAY!!! GO!!!" And all those other girly things two BFFs do when they pass each other in races. :) 

This picture makes us happy.  And we laughed... she was so relieved to be heading to the finish line and I was jealous! I had 13.1 to go and she had .1 to go... 

Time to put the head down and RUN!!!  

A few more waves and smiles in town and off I went. The legs responded and those nagging body parts stayed quiet. My effort felt easy but my pace was pretty quick. Good start...just the way I want it. I did some self-talk  and kept it real. I was 1 mile in with 12.1 to go.. keep things in check.  THe first 3 miles are mostly uphill. Long gradual climbing that allows you to keep moving along at a nice clip but have to focus a bit. At mile 3, the course turns onto a dirt/ rocky trail. At first, I loved it. It felt cool and easy on the legs and a nice change. 
However, we had 6 miles of this. Eventually, the trail opened up to full sun and those rocks, well they HURT me. A lot. 

Through mile 6 or so, I was cruising along feeling strong and in control. I hadn't seen any other women yet. I was Happily surprised by my brother and 2 nephews standing on the side of the road cheering too!! That was a great treat! Thanks Jeff!!!  People watching and at the aid stations were telling me I was in first. It was an out and back route and even the guys coming the other way were cheering me on as 1st at that point. That is a great feeling. 

As I got closer to the turn around, I was getting tired. My feet were hurting. I have had a neuroma forEver. It's nagging. Sometimes it's there, sometimes it's not. But that day, it was there. It's my chronic foot 'thing' and I just deal with it. However, when it's a bad day, it's very distracting. It feels like a big hard ball of fire in my foot. If I squeeze my foot it helps a bit and if I take my shoe off, it's fine.  I couldn't do that. I had 7 miles of racing to go! The big rocks on the trail were like bullets I had to dodge with every step. Landing on them caused Very intense pain that was really messing with me. I was limping and trying really really hard to block it out. 

I made the turn. Moment of truth. Who is there and how much time do I have on this field? I wasn't in the final wave of women either, so, if someone was within 4 minutes, she was ahead. Alright...what am I up against? 

There she was. I had a brief flashback from Ironman Lake Placid 2011 when I turned and saw now Pro, Kim Schwabenbauer running towards me. This girl was young and quick. Her legs were turning over with zip and spark. She was running at me the same way Kim was that day... 

Oh oh...

A guy went by me. I had a choice....

Succumb to the fact that she was going to out- run me Or
Fight back. 

Are you kidding? 

I fight. I latched on to the guy who passed me. I knew I might blow up in 3 miles but how would I know if I didn't try. I ran with all my heart and just pushed. I was really tired. There's no other word for it. My legs were killing me. My foot was a ball of fire. But I was determined to hang on. Do not give up! That's the easy way to go. Fight back and make her work harder for it.  I'm not giving this away...  I watched the pace on my garmin drop from upper 7s to low 7s and better. After a few minutes the guy said, "Hey Angela... where are you from? "  
really? Idle chit chat? I was trying to breath Mr.! :) 
and yet, I answered him and asked him the same question back.  He was from Detroit! Long way to travel. He talked about how beautiful it was here. {I was laughing in my head... I was fighting for my race here and he was admiring the beautiful coastal marsh.} 
Then he said, "You're crushing it! Keep running fast!"  
Thanks! Yes! Let's GO!! 
I also thought about my friend and former coach, Jen Harrison. That woman is as tough as nails. She fights harder than anyone I know. I thought to myself, "Run Faster Run Harder like Jen!"  She inspires me. thanks Jen :) 

An aid station appeared.. it was time. Coke. I grabbed it and stopped for just a SHORT quick stop to get it in... and I lost my guy. Thanks for the pull though! Wish I'd caught your name!!! 

Well....a bit later.. not sure where we were.. around mi 8? I heard steps and breathing right behind me.. and knew it was a woman. I had been racing with men all day, I could hear the difference. 

She came up next to me ( damn ) and I said, "Great Run!!! Congrats!" and she said, with a certain tone I hadn't heard before but understood, "Oh you Too! You are amazing! Wow!" 

And at that point I realized.  I just experienced my first, wow you're doing this even though you're "old" comment. 

I had a big dark 43 on my calf and she had a big 28. Yup. I was 15 yrs older. I have a kid who is Nearly 15. She was shocked that this old lady almost beat her. hmm... not sure what to think about that one. Is that where I am now? Am I that lady? 

Off she went. I kept fighting and praying I would get Off that trail! Finally.. .mile 10 and we were back on smooth roads. phew. 

I made the turn and started the run back to town... ready to be done.  

I didn't have time to mess around. There was another woman back there too. I saw her when I made that 6+ mile turn. Just because young girl #1 flew by me didnt' mean me I was going to give up! Hellno. 

I pushed hard to the finish and nailed the run after all.  {run 1:36-- I think! need to check that again..}  

It was a good day!!! 
I finished up in 4:45 and 2nd overall female. I won my age group by about 35 minutes too so that made me smile.  

I really do love racing. Now, time to heal these aching muscles and get ready to do it again in 12 days!!! Pumpkinman Half up next!!!