Short version: I raced, I finished.
The morning started off interestingly enough. You would think having gained an hour of sleep there would be no way anyone would be late. You guessed wrong! I'm not going to even try to explain what happened. I made it to transition with 10 minutes to spare...piece of cake. Thanks to my anal retentive tendencies, I had packed my bag in the order I would need items so setting up transition took no time at all. Yes!
Swim - I had gone back & forth with my plan for the swim. Part of me wanted to go balls to the wall since I have never done that in a race. Part of me wanted to just take it easy and conserve energy for the bike. This was my first 70.3 after all. I compromised with myself and took it easy at the start and then when I got towards the end, pushed myself. I finished the 1.2 mile swim in over 44 minutes which is basically the same time it took me to swim .9 miles at the Houston Oly in September. Thank you! I was very pleased with my swim. Despite the fog and the fact we couldn't see most buoys until we were on them, I sighted very well and swam in a pretty straight line. I took in a little water at the beginning but didn't let that upset my rhythm. I stayed calm. I have to say it was so awesome sharing some laughs with Amy Gage & Michelle Comrie before our wave, the final wave started. Amy is a strong swimmer and put herself to the front while Michelle & I placed ourselves in the middle of the pack. We got to start our first 70.3 together and it was really fun!!
Bike - After doing my race prep on Saturday, I knew I would be cold on the bike. I decided to pack the make shift arm warmers made of tube socks and a zip up jacket. I figured I would make a game time decision. When I got to T1, I decided arm warmers would be the way to go and I'm glad I made that decision b/c I was PERFECT temperature wise on the bike. Speed wise, not so perfect. My bike time was 3:54 which is far longer than I expected to take (I was thinking 3:40 range). I can't really say what happened. I felt strong and thought I was riding solid. I know I slowed down the 2nd half of the ride b/c my HR was getting a little high but I didn't think I slowed down that much. At the end of the day, the time isn't an issue. I was to have no time goal for this race so as long as I made bike cutoff, my time didn't matter. What I was really thrilled with is nailing my nutrition & hydration on the bike. Very, very proud of that as that was my downfall in Galveston in April. An added bonus for me on the bike was Keith, Stef & Hannah drove to the turnoff point at 1486 & 2819 and cheered for me. I can't tell you how great it was to see them out on the course!! To top it off, they had signs for me AND Team sTRIve! How awesome are they?
RUN - As I was coming to the end of my bike, I was really curious to know if the leg cramping would return. This would be the true test of my hydration on the bike. I passed! I had NO leg cramps. Zero. I was thrilled. I had a mishap early in the run as I tripped on a metal thingy going through a gate. I hit the ground and know I started to cry mainly out of complete frustration. As many f you recall, I collapsed on the run course in Galveston when I tried my first Oly. A volunteer came up immediately and yelled for a medic. I yelled no to her and a few other expletives. She let me know my leg & arm were both bleeding and a medic needed to look at it. I was in pain, I knew I was bleeding and I didn't care. I was getting up to finish hell or high water. Michelle was right behind me and was sweet to stop & check on me before continuing her run. I got up and immediately tried to run and couldn't. For a split second, I was really afraid I had done something to my knee & that I wouldn't be able to finish. I quickly put that thought behind me and made myself fun. I was fighting tears for a good 1/4 mile. There was no way I wasn't finishing this race. After a few minutes, I forgot about the pain (mainly b/c I realized my left hand was swollen and hurt way more than my knee). I went back to my run/walk combo and focused on the task at hand, complete 3 loops. When I got back around the transition area, I was thrilled to see my support crew had grown! My mom, brother Kevin and sisters Annie & Kiri showed up along with my nephew. On top of that, Val's hubby Spencer made his way to my family area. On my first loop of the run course I got to see many of my teammates who were at different points of their race. I was so excited to see everyone! As I started my final loop, I knew I was almost done and one step closer to my big race in May. No time to think about Ironman now though, let's get through the half. I was so happy towards the end. I made my final turn on to La Torretta Blvd and saw Micah who had volunteered for the race and was cheering us on. Being in the last wave, many people were leaving when I was still running. Every person who passed me as I headed to the finish cheered me on and wished me well. The spectator support was awesome. I saw Scott & Tarrah Mayer one more time. My family was no longer where they had been waiting as they moved closer to the finish. I hit the 13 miles sign and had .1 left to go. Oh my gosh! Kathleen Woodhead was still there even though she finished long before and was cheering me in. Stew & Michelle were right along the finish chute. My family was cheering like crazy and then I crossed the finish! Misty was right there too and I got to give her a hug as I collected my finishers medal and water. I did it!!! The run took me 2:45 and I was FINE with that. Per coach's orders, I finished with one big smile! Total race time...7:31! The way I look at it, I'm setting myself up for a great PR in Galveston this coming April!
As I sit here today typing this, I'm just still so proud of this accomplishment. If you had told me 5 yrs ago I would attempt and complete a 70.3 race, I would've laughed at you and said you were crazy. Here I am though!
I know this is going to sound like an Oscar speech but I need to thank so many people. Obviously, my family, Keith & Hannah were so awesome yesterday. To spend their entire day cheering me & my teammates on was so appreciated it. My teammates are the best and with yesterday being a key race for so many of us, we were given a neat opportunity to bond with each other. Hugs were a plenty at the start and end of the race. I think Michelle & I must've hugged 10 times at swim start! Kathleen, Scott, Tarrah, Micah, Spencer, Logan and everyone else who cheered for me...THANK YOU a million times over! My coach, Gena needs to be thanked as she has always provided me good advice and encouragement when it's most been needed. I have to of course thank the person who started all this....Jill Gellatly. If it wasn't for her, I would never have given tri's a try!
I'm over the moon today and enjoying my day off. I will be back at training tomorrow...I've got big races on the horizon. While I have a few small races coming up, I plan on focusing on training.
Thanks again to everyone near & far who sent me well wishes last week & yesterday. I really appreciate the support. Don't worry, I'll be blogging soon even though I don't have a big race for awhile. :)