Eagleman weekend started with a party too! Good friend Karen turned 40 and threw a marvelous backyard barbeque. I was a good girl, limiting myself to 2 small glasses of wine alternating with LOTS of water. The next day I rode up to Maryland with Emmie, who was smart and just signed up for the aquavelo (swim and bike...no run!) We made pretty good time, pulling into Cambridge around 1:30 or 2. Packet pick up went well, and we were able to say a quick hello to Jen and Jerome. It was so good to see her and hear her say everything would be fine, that I would be fine. Jen and I had the pre race talk earlier, and I knew my focus needed to be on racing smart, hydrating, and getting in the electrolytes. I think at that point we were all still hoping the 90 degree temps forecasted would not happen, but I was planning for the worst. While I did have ambitious goals, I knew they could be thrown out the window if the weather dictated dialing the effort back.
Emmie and I drove over to the transition/race area to drop off our bikes and get in a quick little swim in the Choptank. Oh was it hot out. We decided against wetsuits, thinking the water would feel good, which it did. There was some chop on the way out to the bouy, but none on the way back. Mission accomplished, so we headed back to Easton to check into our hotel and shower for dinner with Bart and Bethany. Here's Bart's harem post dinner:
We all trudged home and were in bed and asleep by 9:15. Race day would start at 4:45.
Emmie and I slept well, and were up on time. We were a little late getting out of Easton, however, so I was a little stressed that we might not find any parking. It all worked out though, and by 6:15 we were headed to transition. On the walk from the car, there were a few people walking in the other direction who let us know they had made the call that the race would not be wetsuit legal. That was fine with us--I knew it would slow me down a little bit and Emmie had just finished ProK's swim camp without using hers. We got to the race area, got body marked, and all set up quickly, only to have them delay the race start by 15 mins. By this time we found Bethany and tried to talk her down from the ledge. I like the "bring your own TP" idea.
I found Jen in transition too. I looked for Beth, but didn't find her until it was almost time for her wave to go off. She got to start side by side with Jen! I also met a couple of Kim's friends, sporting their Ballou Skies kits. Many Richmond friends were also racing, and I got to see them all before the start.
My goal on the swim is always to not dick around and keep my head down. JUST SWIM! I was surprised that this time I didn't have the "wtf am I doing?" thoughts and I was instead concentrating on staying with the pack, kicking strong, and getting to the next bouy. It took what seemed like a long time to get to the first turn bouy, but I resisted the urge to look at my watch. I had already started passing the stragglers in orange caps from the wave in front of me, so I knew if there was a current that I was doing ok. I swam inside the yellow bouys to the second turn since it seemed like a straighter line. By this time, the fast guys in the swim wave behind me had caught up. I tried to catch a good draft and get on some heels, but those guys were too fast and I was getting tired. Man the finish seemed so far away!
By the last bouy, you could stand up, and I did pop up quick to see who else was around me. Still quite a few purple caps (my wave). Dolphin dive, dolphin dive, dolphin dive, and it was time to exit the water. NOW I could look at my watch. What?! 49:57??? You have to be kidding me. Turns out some folks' garmins said the course was long, by almost 500m. If that is the case, I was swimming right at my ususal 1/2IM speed.
Thoughts of PRs quickly were dashed. Ok, time to regroup and get ready to bike. My rack was right at the swim exit and no wetsuit, so T1 went quick: 1:05 faster than last year.
I knew I would get passed on the bike considering the two swim waves behind me were the men 16-29, and women 16-29. My three goals for this leg, considering how the swim went, were:
to get off the bike before Jen finished the race
to keep 18mph on my odometer
and to stay on top of nutrition/hydration/electrolytes.
At every water stop, I refilled my profile bottle and dumped the rest over my head. I alternated taking 1 or 2 electrolyte tabs every 10 miles too. I could feel how hot it was and I hoped that would be enough. The wind didn't feel too bad--there were just a few areas where a headwind and slight drop in speed were noticeable which was a plus. On the minus side there was not much tailwind...boo hiss.
Reading back over this, I can't believe that's all I have to say about a ride that took over 3 hours. I thought they had changed up the course somewhat, but it turns out I just didn't remember it all. It seemed to be going pretty well, then at mile 40 I was really ready for more water. The bottle they gave me at the handoff was hot, and only half full. They had apparently picked up a discarded bottle from the side of the road and then handed it to me. Bleh. So that lasted until mile 50, and then there are no more aid stations until transition. I was pretty parched coming into T2. At the timing mat, I wanted to throw my bike to whomever wanted it (I think I told one of the volunteers that I was breaking up with it) but rolled it into transition, sat in the grass to change my shoes, and peed. Total bike time was 3:14. (This may be TMI, but I usually pee about 4 times on the bike during a half iron. This time I didn't pee at all on the bike...) T2 was 1 second off my previous year.
The Run (here's where it gets ugly...)
Heading out of transition, I hit the aid station. Cold, wonderful water! 1 cup went over the head, another on my face. 1 cup of ice went down my bra. I drank the gatorade, and that was blessedly cold too. Shuffle to next aid station (roughly 1 mi down the road). Repeat 13 times.
Oh. My. God. It was so damn hot out there. But my sucky pace really doesn't explain how I think I did pretty well. Let me explain. Yes it was a struggle to just get from aid station to aid station. But I ran in between, at a decent enough pace. That pace just went out the window when I stopped to walk at every aid station to load up on ice, water, and salt tabs, gatorade, and/or gu. I must also add that I did take full advantage of anyone spraying a hose. There was one lady, I think it was the house next door to that party house betwen miles 2 and 3, and the water from her hose was so blessedly cool. I didn't want to leave. Because after soaking yourself at every opportunity, you'd be bone dry just 3 minutes later. Everyone was shuffling along at their own pace, and telling eachother "Good job." I think we all needed to acknowledge to one another that just being out there, still alive, still moving forward, was worthy of praise. And it was.
I overheard someone around mile 11 tell his running partner, "Aren't you glad you're not one of THOSE people?!" pointing to someone just heading out on their run. And while inside I was shouting "Halleluja!" I had to give those folks kudos and prop them up if I could with encouraging words. Here it was, late in the afternoon and it was questionable if they'd be able to get the whole race done in the time allowed if they had to walk the whole run portion. But they still started what they set out to do. I had promised Joe that I would try to first and foremost run a safe race (given my propensity to end up dehydrated in the med tent...) but I still knew I wouldn't DNF even if it was 102 degrees in the shade.
So, overall, nowhere near a PR--with a finish time of 6:45 (13 mins slower than last year). But I learned how to handle extreme heat and come out ok in the end. Onward and upward. Vineman!
I did find Jen, Jerome, and Beth at the awards ceremony just after I finished. It was nice to check in with Jen and know she placed in the top 5 of her AG. Beth killed it! I saw her with just under a mile to go and she was looking so good and strong. I had no idea she spent much of the run puking. I didn't stay long though. They were all sitting in the sun and I was fried. Done. Kaput. It was time for margaritas (with salt!) by the pool (which was rudely cut short by a storm, but offered a rainbow when it was done). And food. And maybe wine too.