I made the excellent decision to drive to Asheville with Jack & Erica and they were a constant source of entertainment on the trip! THANK YOU guys SO much for being such awesome and fun travel buddies! It was a super quick trip - we drove down on Friday, raced Saturday, and then drove straight home. Exhausting really. But still tons of fun. A big non-race-related highlight for me was eating at The Laughing Seed in downtown Asheville. It is an awesome vegetarian/vegan restaurant and 100% delicious. I highly recommend the Harmony Bowl (brown rice, black beans, tons of veggies, & an Asian peanut sauce). We ate outside and an added bonus was that right across the street was a climbing wall. There was a girl climbing it with only one leg; Erica and I made a mental note to remember that
Race morning came early. We thought we were ahead of the game cause there were very few cars going up the mountain to T1. Unfortunately when we got to the top, we realized why - everyone else was already there!
We were probably the farthest car parked from the transition area. This resulted in a slight rush to get everything situated and use the porta potties. I had to choose between doing a swim warm up or using the bathroom a 3rd time; I chose the latter. Here's a quick porta potty side story for ya:
Poor Erica had been waiting in line forever to use the lone porta john that was located in the parking lot. When she finally got to the front of the line a guy came out and said to her, "Be careful in there; a lady who was in there earlier had an accident."
Erica was like, "WTF do you mean an accident?! What's going on in there?!"
He said, "Let's just say she missed the hole."
"Oh pee on the seat, I'm a PA, that's NBD."
"It's worse than that."
"Ummmm, how the hell does that happen!?!?"
"Apparently it was dark and she didn't have a head lamp or phone light."
"Yeah, but who the f*ck hovers to do a #2?!?!"
She was then faced with doing some risky business or walking all the way to the transition area and getting in the very back of that porta potty line. And if you've ever raced before, then you know that when one gets to the the front of the porta potty line, one cannot simply go to the back of the porta potty line ... it's not physiologically possible. Haha, so poor Erica gets in there, rolls her sleeves up, and a lot of toilet paper, hand sanitizer , & f-bombs later, finally gets to build her own nest and do what she went in there to do.
Erica - I still don't know how these things happen to you, but I'm sorry that was the first thing you had to deal with before starting a half iron! Not ideal, haha! And, for the record, I'm a little insulted that you almost didn't tell me this story cause you were worried that the woman who had the accident was me!!!!
OK, so on to the race....
The Swim - 1.2 miles - 30:01 (1:25/100 yds)
I hadn't been in the pool once since my accident, so basically for 2 weeks prior to this race. My elbow was still not fully healed and so I decided to wear a sleeveless wetsuit to prevent having something super tight around my arm. This worked out perfectly cause the water temp was 74. I stayed to the back right of the open field because the last thing I wanted was someone to kick my elbow. I found a good pair of feet to draft off of and essentially did that the entire time. It was a pretty pleasant swim & was over quickly.
T1 - 2:52
There was a decent run on grass from the swim exit to T1. I was moving slowly and took my time putting on a cycling jersey for the ride. In hindsight, I wish I had tried to go faster here.
The Bike - 56 mi - 2:56:31 (19 mph)
The start of the bike scared me to death. It's about a 5 mile descent down a windy hill and the roads were still damp. It was the second time I had been out on the road since my accident and the first time riding my road bike in 6 months. (I took the road bike b/c I didn't want to put pressure on my hurt elbow in the aero pads of my tri bike). People were flying by me and I was worried that I'd take a wide turn and someone would crash into me while in an aerodynamic blaze of glory. Thankfully that didn't happen and I made it down without wiping out. I was pretty tentative at the beginning of the race, but my legs felt good going up the hills. Both of those things changed as the race went on. I felt more and more comfortable bombing down some hills on the bike (and actually I could have used another gear cause everyone was passing me on the down hills - my road bike came with an 11-23 and prior to this race TrySports Charlie let me borrow his 12-28 so I could have some climbing ability). At the same time, I got more and more tired as the race went on. I saw some drafting which really pissed me off, but I couldn't catch up to say anything to her (pink Wattie Ink). There was a very large incline around mile 40 or 45 that felt like it went on FOREVER. I was definitely doing about 6 mph up that thing! I was successful in doing a water bottle handoff, but that bottle was unsuccessful in staying put in my cages. It came halfway out at one point and I had to toss it with 10 miles to go cause I didn't want it to get stuck under my wheel or someone else's. By the end of the bike I was so tired that my brain started telling myself that I felt bad due to residual effects of the crash. But I had to be realistic and tell myself that that wasn't the case and I was just tired and being a baby. Remember the one legged wall climbing woman!?
T2 - 1:43
Another stroll through the transition area.
The Run - 13.1 mi - 1:34:20 (7:12/mi)
I was not looking forward to the run, but conversely to how the bike was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be, the run was a lot easier than I thought it was gonna be. The run is essentially 3 miles up a hill, 3 miles down, 3 miles up the same hill, and 3 miles back down. I remembered this hill being pretty steep, although this time the gradient seemed milder. It felt like running into the wind in Wilmington and wasn't steep enough to tear up my quads on the way down. I was in 10th place off the bike and was quite a ways back. But I was holding around 7:30 up the hill and 6:50 downhill and could tell I was gaining on people. I passed quite a few people and was enjoying the shadiness of the route. I wish there had been a few more aid stations because it seemed like the volunteers got a little overwhelmed at times and I got a coke once when I asked for water - it went down easy though and made me laugh cause Erica had told me a hilarious story about a time when she was so bloated on the bike that she couldn't even take a single sip of water without getting reflux. She was unable to see her own feet over the profile of her midsection while on the run and it was by taking one sip of coke at a time that she could visibly see her belly deflate and was able to fit comfortably into the waistband of her running shorts for the second half of a marathon in a 140.6. If you get the chance, ask her for the details on that one - you'll laugh so hard you might pee your pants! So I ended up passing 5 women on the run, including the drafter who stopped for water at mile 12 and I was like "see ya" like when Macca passed Raelert FTW at Kona 2010 as described in "I'm Here To Win."
Total Time - 5:05:25 (5th woman)
Overall I'm pretty happy with how this race went. It was a good confidence builder coming back off of injury. It's kind of annoying that I was only 5 minutes from 1st place and you look back and think, "geeze I'm sure I could have cut 5 minutes out of somewhere over the course of 70.3 miles!" BUT I'm still happy with this and I beat my White Lake time by 30 seconds and I know that was a much easier course. Next up ... Chattanooga 140.6!!!!!
Congrats to all racers, we had such a beautiful day and beautiful scenery to be out there!!!!