Okay so I thought of every tornado like wind reference I could write to describe the race yesterday, but I'm at a loss. The Wizard of Oz reference was as good as I could come up with, yet that doesn't quite explain what happened yesterday! Here is goes...
So leading up to the race, it's beautiful and the forecast is perfect- I'm talking 70's, sunny skies, perfect for a half ironman. What more could I ask for on race day right? Spoke too soon - don't you know that it of course changed the DAY before the race. Hot temps and wind advisories because Ike is moving north. Lovely. And that's just what we got.
The race started at 9:00 so of course my wave didn't go off until closer to 9:30. I was the last group to go - all women in the half. The first lap of the swim was fairly uneventful, but I could feel the current starting to pick up. On the second lap, one of the turn buoys had come lose and drifted away. If you attempted to sight, you got smacked upside the head with a wave. Lots of water was being drank. It wasn't pretty. My swim was slow - 46 minutes but I was alive. That's a good start to the day.
Got up to T1 with no problems and out on my bike. I exit the park for the 1st of 3 laps and get smacked in the face yet again, this time with wind. I thought that the advisory wasn't supposed to be until noon and it was maybe 10:20 at this point. I averaged about 15 for the first 5 miles, made a turn and FLEW for about 10 more miles with the wind at my back. Alright, I can get used to this. The first lap I averaged 19.2 and felt great. Second lap, the winds just a little harder. And it's getting hot. I'm running out of liquid but know that I can get fresh bottles at the 36ish mile mark. 3rd lap - couldn't maintain more than about 13.5 into the wind. It was after noon and the winds had kicked in full force (or so I thought... I would later learn this was nothing compared to what I could soon face!!). At times I actually thought that I might get knocked off. Corn husks were starting to fly and it was crazy. I was actually looking forward to the run at this point because it was just hard. I got off the bike in 3:16 and averaged 17.1 for the ride. Felt good because I knew I had something left in my legs and hadn't pushed it nearly as hard as I could have on a good day.
T2 was uneventful as well... mom sprayed me with sunscreen but it was too late. I was fried! :(
The run started bad. I felt really good but my mind started getting to me. I passed Tom around mile 1 and he was looking great. No matter what I tired, my mind started playing games with me - telling me that I couldn't do this, that I felt worse than I really did, that I shouldn't be attempting an Ironman in 45 days, that this just isn't for me. After about 3 miles of fighting with no one but my mind, I won! YAY! I just figured I was out there to have fun. Very few girls were doing what I was doing that day. And who did I need to impress anyway?? It was windy, people were walking and I wasn't going to let my mind get the best of me. It was like *poof* instant attitude change. That was my biggest success of the day!!! The rest of the run was more of a run/walk, but I have to tell you - it was 95% because of the winds. You couldn't run into them so you walked. And when it was at your back, you ran. By the time I was done, the gusts were upwards of 60-70 mph. Limbs and leaves were blowing off tress and hitting us. At one point, as I was crossing the damn about a mile from the finish, 3 of us dropped to a three point stance just to keep from blowing over. The wind took your breath away and you needed to stop every once in a while just to keep your footing. IT WAS NUTS! I finished in 6:50 - no PR, yet SO thrilled.
When I got back to the finish, everything had been taken down. All of the bikes had been laid on the road, helmets were blowing all over the place. All of the port-a-johns had been knocked over. People were running around picking up wetsuits, shoes, helmets, etc that were just blowing around. It literally looked like we were in the eye of the storm. I've never in my life seen anything like it. When we got home, we found that just about all of the power in Delaware was out, trees/lights/poles/wires were all down, everything was shut down. Still today, things are just weird... very little power (we luckily have power!), almost all businesses and restaurants are closed, and it looks like we went through the hurricane.
It was a race I'll never forget - not in a good or bad way. Just kind of different. My family was there which was awesome, Tom had a great race (he came in first in his division), my mother in law did a du (came in first in her division) and my father in law did all of the half except for the last lap of the run. We all had great days, considering everything. I'll post pictures when I get them.
Whatever Florida throws at me, I think I've trained or raced through it. Hopefully I'll survive that race too.