Last Saturday I did my first half iron distance triathlon in 2 years! I was excited for it, but also nervous about the sheer length of the race. After feeling heavy in my last race at Arlington Place (~10 lbs over marathon race weight), I knew I wanted to drop some weight before trying to race a half. I cleaned up my diet and only ate whole plant foods for 3 weeks. I knew it wasn't enough time to make a huge difference but I did drop a few lbs and a percent of body fat! I also knew that I wouldn't be as fast as the last time I did this race, but I thought I could go under 5:30 and if I had a good day under 5:10.
I met up with Mr. Tony Newlywed Reyes at 4:40 am on race morning and we made the drive to White Lake. About half way there, I unfortunately ran over a bunny and I really hoped that it wasn't an omen about how the day would unfold! However, once we arrived at race location, packet pickup, setting up transition, body marking, and bathroom breaks all went smoothly! I saw a bunch of friendly faces and started getting pumped up for the day!
The Swim (1.2 miles) - 33:58 (1:36/100 yds)
The lake was perfect - smooth, inviting, and a toasty 66 degrees. Compared to 2013 when the lake was 54 degrees, every swim I do now seems warm :) I did a short warm up during which I managed to swim head on into someone else; whatever, probably was his fault. I lined up at the back of the open pack and tried to keep up with the initial sprint once the horn went off. I couldn't believe it because there were people around me almost the entire way to the first buoy! This meant I wasn't going that slow! I was able to do a good amount of drafting until I wasn't able to keep up anymore, which was around the first turn. I could still see the pack ahead of me though and used them for sighting purposes - this paid off as well because after looking at my Garmin file I pretty much swam a straight line! I started to get tired around the second turn buoy and I couldn't see too many people in front of me anymore. At that point I alternating taking 12 strokes to each side and sighting in between just to get me back to shore. When I climbed the ladder and looked at the clock I was kind of surprised by my time - not too shabby!
T1 - 2:44
I tried something new in T1. I have been wondering how I'm going to carry all my nutrition during my Ironman and TrySports Charlie gave me the idea of putting all my food in a jersey and then putting that jersey on in T1. So I ended up swimming in my tri shorts + sports bra. And actually I felt like my wetsuit fit me better, but that may have been more due to the weight loss rather than lack of a tri top. Anyhow, I had the jersey hanging on my bike in T1 and was easily able to put it on and zip it up before heading out on the bike. It worked great cause I had all my food and knew which gels were in which pockets :)
The Bike (56 miles) - 2:55:09 (19.2 mph)
Somehow I always forget the true pain of this bike course. About 10 miles in, I wanted to quit ... the sport. My saddle was giving me so much discomfort and it was amplified by all the cracks in the road. About every meter there are horizontal cracks in the pavement which have been filled over with some sort of asphalt or tar. Every time I went over one it felt like someone was lifting me up off of my bike and then throwing me back down on my uncomfortable saddle. I also took a wrong turn, which is ridiculous considering I have done this course at least 3 times before and there are only about 2 total turns, haha! It didn't cost me that much time though and was the least of my worries given the saddle issues going on. Once I made the first actual turn of the course, the road smoothed out a little bit and we seemed to catch a tailwind. I was averaging about 20 mph and I thought I could have pushed it more, but I wanted to stay comfortable because I knew what lied ahead: 53. Once we made that final right turn it was 20 miles of suffering. The bumps in the road were relentless and there was also a headwind. I tried to ride to the right of the white line but that pavement surface was rougher and it was littered with random potholes. Riding on the white line or directly to the left of it didn't help any either. I did a lot of cursing during this section and I was only going about 17 mph, but I FINALLY made it to the end! Oh and I forgot to say that probably 50 people passed me on the bike and I passed no one.
T2 - 1:17
I was extremely happy to reach T2 and my spirits were lifted when I saw a bunch of familiar faces cheering! Thanks guys! I swapped my jersey for a running singlet and was on my way.
The Run (13.1 miles) - 1:32:46 (7:05/mi)
I didn't feel too good starting this run. I think I had expended a lot of energy on the last 20 miles of the bike and I felt like I was paying for it. My first couple miles were around 7:20 pace. I kept it moving though and started to pass a few people for the first time in the race! I started to feel better and better as the race went on and I started passing more and more people. I've always liked this run course too! It's nice and flat and fast. Some people think it's hot, but I was kind of chilly on the bike and it felt great to me. Around mile 5 the run course paralleled the finish of the bike course for the olympic distance racers and it was cool to see them cruising it in on their bikes and see more Wilmington peeps! I don't know why I only put 2 gels in my race belt, so around mile 8 I had to ask for a Hammergel - apple pie ... yum. I kept feeling better and better though and whereas in the past the last 3-4 miles of this course have hurt the worst, this year I felt the best. My last 3 miles were 6:55, 6:50, and 6:40. By the end of it, I had closed the gap down to 1 minute behind the second place female and turned in a respectable 1:32 run split. Not a bad way to end the day!
Total Time: 5:05:52 - 3rd overall woman
I finished in 3rd place and was pretty psyched about my time. I was 15 minutes slower than 2 years ago, but hey, for only training since January I feel good about it!!! I'm happy that my swim is improving and that I felt my endurance base on the run kick in. I'm going to keep working on the bike and hopefully can produce a better bike time in my next half in August.
Next up is my all-time favorite race in the Set-Up series: Over The Mountain. It's soooo pretty and has the most scenic bike course! The terrain will be a challenge for sure, but I'm looking forward to it :) Congrats to all White Lake finishers last weekend - we did it!!!