It's all about perspective. I learned that this weekend. If you live in a hilly area, this course is awesome. If you live in central Ohio, this course is brutal (but still awesome). If you train all winter in a warm place where you can swim and bike and run outside, it's not too early for a half Ironman. If you live in Central Ohio and Mother Nature hates you, it's going to be a bit of a struggle. If you think about how lucky you are to have the ability to move your body 70.3 miles, you'll love every minute of it, no matter how slow, hard, and hilly the day is!
We got to Knoxville on Friday, checked into out hotel (which was located right at the finish line and perfect), checked into the race, walked around the finish line area and finally met up with teammates. It was so fun to finally put faces with names and I'll always laugh about us twitter and facebook stalking people as they walked by in their lime green visors, trying to figure out who everyone was. A lot of "hi, I'm Colleen... aka Irondiva or @CBKingery. :) We ended up grabbing a great Mexican dinner on Friday night with a bunch of the team and Tom's teammates. Lots of laughs!
TYR Hurricane Cat 5 wetsuit was AWESOME and I'm not just saying that because they are a sponsor. The thing freaking rocks... flexible, no chaffing, kept me floating and warm! :) Two thumbs up.
Triathlon Rocks!) and grabbed some grub before volunteering at the registration tent for a few hours. People loved my shirt - some took pictures, some asked if I really do that, others just said "best shirt we've ever seen" (btw, if you want one, you can contact Triathlon Rocks and tell them I sent you - they'll give you a special deal! Their website should be up shortly, but they are on twitter @TriathlonRocks).
After volunteering, I got my bike to check, realized my brakes were rubbing something fierce that I couldn't fix, totally freaked out and luckily the great people at the mechanic tent took care of Papa Smurf and made it better. I love my Kestrel to death, but the breaks are a little funky and I changed my wheels out which weren't working real well with the set up. They got my bike done by 7:15 (bike check in closed at 6) but I was still able to get it in there, all settled and ready. Quick bite to eat with Tom's team and I was ready to crash!
I slept well the night before the race, but had been on my feet WAY more than I wanted on Saturday and woke up Sunday a little groggy and sleepy. And nervous. Did I mention that? Holy nerves.
Tom, his team, my twin Kristin and I walked to transition and got everything set up. It was chilly in the morning and all I could think about was how cold the water was going to be. My stomach was flip flopping. I found Tom and we walked out of transition and the tears started. I just felt like I was in over my head with this race. He assured me that I was fine and to remember that I'm not racing it. This isn't a course that suited me well - we don't have the terrain around Columbus to get us fully prepared for the climbs, and it's early in the season. I knew I wanted to treat it as a training day and just get through it.
We got our wetsuits on and made our way to the swim start. It's an in water start and all of the half women started together in pink caps. Tom was in our wave too because he changed to the aqua bike so I smiled when the man on the mic yelled "the party has started now that the women are in the water". The women and Tom. :) He was loving it...
Swim - I positioned myself in the back of the pack. Tom didn't think I needed to be that far back, but felt like I was going to panic. There were a lot of pink caps in front of me and the water was cold (although it felt warmer than the practice swim). The horn sounded and I panicked. Full on "oh my God, I'm going to die" panic. Called that one. As the pink caps swam off, I did a quick pep talk. I can do this. I swim all the time. Head in a go. Maybe a minute later, I was totally calm, swimming in a body free bit of water and passing some pink caps, then some yellow (the wave before). The turn out seemed to be 5 miles away and there was not the help of the current that I was hoping for. I felt like I was in the water forever, and that was fine. I got out in 48 minutes. Shoot... that was really slow. I later learned that the course was long and on average, people were 5-6 minutes longer than usual. Made me feel better, but I'm still slow.
T1pokey for some reason and didn't get out real quick. I think it was like 2:30. HA!
Bike - Remember how I said Tom was going to bike with me. Yeah, that lasted about .05 miles! :) This course was a dream for him (he was in the top 5% of the bike overall). I just got comfortable and knew it would be tough. I didn't however think it would be that tough (Wes, you warned me and I will forever listen to you!). Again, perspective... when you don't bike any hills, it felt like I was climbing mountains. The course was beautiful and I really have to tip my hat to REV3. The volunteers were amazing and I loved having police AND volunteers at ever intersection. I used my small ring a lot. I just rode comfortable. I ate when I needed. Drank my EFS Grape (love that stuff) Yes, I peed on my bike. I think I averaged like 17.2mph and I was thrilled with that. It might have been my slowest half bike at 3:15, but I was happy with it.
Run - Again, I just wanted to take this run comfortably. I turned my watch off. I didn't care what pace I was running. My legs felt a little sluggish, but I was happy. The first couple of miles were flat and went by quickly, but I knew I was running a very slow comfortable pace. I got to maybe mile 3.5 and the climbs started. Short and steep. Mile 4 had a huge climb. Miles 5-8 were up and down. I never thought "I want to be done" but I knew that I was running a very slow pace. It felt right that day... I saw some teammates and cheered them on. I talked to people, thanked the volunteers and police. Running to the finish line was amazing.
I ended up 5th in my age group out of 20. Not too shabby for a training day. Trakkers rocked - I'm so honored to be racing with my teammates who are pure rock stars... a few podiums, a few big PR's!
So I'm home now and sick as a dog. Sunday night I started to feel crappy with a sore throat and itchy eyes. Yesterday was all out cold. Last night I slept 11 hours, got up, ate breakfast and went back to bed for another 4.5 hours. And I could shut my eyes now and probably sleep till morning. My body is run down. Oh... and for all of you asking about Tom's Achilles. We don't know what's wrong. It started bothering him 2 weeks ago. No distinctive pop. Lots of swelling and absolutely no way he could run. Not a ton of pain, but went to the ART tent on Saturday before the race and they wouldn't touch it. They said that there was a visible ridge which made them think rupture. YIKES. He raced the aqua bike Sunday (and came in 2nd out of 8!) and it felt fine, but he couldn't walk the rest of the evening. It's probably two times the size it should be and we have an appointment with a sports med doctor on Thursday. I'll keep you updated!
REV3 does things right. From check in, to the volunteers, the race and the finish line party, everything was top notch. I honestly felt this was one of the most organized races I've ever done. All of the little nuisances that usually bother me at races weren't there. This is a top notch race and I'm hoping to be back next year. But, I'm going to have to find some hills this time around!