Wednesday, August 20, 2014

It was totally EPIC! Pigman Long 70.3 miles

I'm truly still on a high from Sunday's race.  It was unbelievable and I really can't believe I did it.

First I'll finish up with my training schedule to let you know what I did days leading up to the race and then will fill you on THE RACE.

Total miles leading up to the race for the week: 14 miles approximately
Ran 6 miles
Bike: 8 miles + a 10 min spin at wellness center
Swim: 0

I was pretty quiet/on edge the week before the race.  I tried to rest, but I ended up getting a "bee in my bonnet" and did a bunch of house cleaning Wednesday and cleaned out closets Thursday- crazy how different people deal with stress- I like to clean :).  In-laws came in for the weekend to help out with kids on Sunday since we would be gone most of the day.  So lucky to have them in our lives!

So now day of race...
Woke up at 4:45(that is a.m.) ate a cinnamon raisin bagel with peanut butter and had my coffee.  Left house at 5:15 a.m. only to realize we were almost on E, which is totally unlike us.  So we stopped and filled the car up and headed onto Palo, IA.  We got there about 6:15 and headed to transition- this is what it looks like with all the bikes ready.  We headed out of transition at 7 a.m. to go attend pre-race meeting.  I had heard rumblings of possible delay of race because of the fog.  Yep there was fog- kind of thought it was a sign I wasn't suppose to see the buoys out on the lake when we drove in the park- couldn't see any of the lake.    Well the fog faded and then I saw the buoys/triangle floating devices out in the water marking our swim route.  HOLY BUCKETS- what had I gotten myself into?  Hubby and I stayed together as long as possible and then like that it was time to get into my wave and get ready for the 1.2 mile swim.

I wore a wet suit, really most Pigman Long and Olympic distance participants did.  It really does give you buoyancy.  I went into the water at the end of my wave and tried to start swimming free style.  I felt myself stopping to tread/attempt breast stroke multiple times in swimming to the first triangle, but felt I wasn't going anywhere.  I went to my back for a few strokes and just swam and deep breathed.  I really that first 500 yards was ready to swim to one of the many rescue boats and jump in and say "I'm done", but I didn't and after that first turn a light switch went off in my brain and I was fine.  I started swimming free style and stopped treading/breast stroking.  I did find myself swimming off to the left instead of to the right- I just figured it was my weird crooked swimming, but others said the same thing so maybe it was current.  I likely wasted some time swimming off to the left, but after I swam past the second triangle I was on the home stretch and really swam well.  Throughout the swim I was touched, a few "love taps" by other swimmers, but I felt safe and calm.  I ended up swimming the 1.2 mile swim in 46:27.

I ran/jogged out of the water and did much better than I did at the Pigman Sprint getting through the Transition 1- 4:26.  This was enough time to strip my wet suit off, towel off, put shoes on, put Garmin on and belt with bib on it- as well as the all important food in my tri shirt (ate a GU prior to swim, ate a nature valley Peanut Butter granola bar, fruit chews, and greek yogurt covered raisins on the bike, and then another GU and orange slices on the run), helmet on head and sunglasses. 
This is what they call transition.  Kind of eerie with no athletes present.
I started riding.  I had been pre-warned to ride my own race and not pay attention to the high end tri bikes and equipment available.  I was likely the only Long participant who had "cage/basket" instead of clips on bike pedals.  However, didn't have to change shoes from bike to run- so that helps transition smoother.  I got about 2 miles into the ride and I remembered the bike computer.  Hubby and kids gave me an early birthday present- bike computer that tells you distance, mph, etc.  Well every time the front wheel starts rotating the computer will ask if you want "new ride- yes or no"- I didn't even look at this when I got on the bike so I started riding and the other movement of the bike I had done that morning had already triggered a "ride" earlier- so long story short- it wasn't going to accurately calculate my mileage. When I started my ride it said I had already been riding for 38 out minutes.    Now they have mile markers on the route but I was so flustered by looking at the screen and not knowing what numbers were what I  just stopped using it and instead started my Garmin up and just hoped it would last long enough (battery would last for potential 8 hour race).    Then about 6 miles in I looked down at my ankles for some reason and realized my chip was gone.  You wear a Velcro chip band on your ankle during swim and throughout the rest of the race to track your time/progress.  I was freaking out!  I didn't know what it meant- would I owe $100 (that is what they tell you about losing the chip), would I be disqualified, would my time not count?  I being one to not have fear to ask questions yelled out to any course volunteer after mile 6- "I lost my chip do you know what I do"- hubby soon passed me and he asked how I was doing- I told him I lost my chip and he always being "cool under pressure" told me to just tell course marshal when I finished bike my bib number and that "I lost my chip".   He pedaled on.  I pedaled on and was passed, passed, passed by many bikers. I stopped asking about the chip and just focused on riding. 

It was really a beautiful day. 

Now in triathlons they put your age on your calf so it is known what "age group" you are in.  So I was watching the varied age groups pass me- many older than myself.  I just couldn't seem to make any head way.  Well I had to just ride my own ride.  It was a ride.  It was hilly.  The course description was "rolling hills", but it felt more like up and down hills, not rolling.  Biking is hard for me.  By halfway point I was hurting.  I was pretty sure my "private parts" were going to be swollen for days.  I was sore!  By mile 45 I started experiencing leg tremors if I straightened my leg, which worried me because I had to get off the bike, straighten my legs, and run a 1/2 marathon. So I just kept pedaling to not experience the muscle fatigue.   My ideal goal was 4:15 for ride and I finished in 3:52.  Ecstatic I was when I saw the time, but not as ecstatic as I was to get off the bike on Sunday and be able to run with no soreness or pain.

Almost Done with the bike

Transition 2- went into the bike finish line and told them my number and that I had lost my chip.  A race official went with me to my transition area to help me look for my chip and sure enough it was stuck in my wet suit.  When I took my wet suit off after the swim the chip just stuck in the leg of wet suit.  I strapped the chip on and away I ran. 

Me after finding my chip- boy was I happy!
For some reason I like this picture- I'm not a little thing- I still have gymnast thighs, but my arms look pretty Burly!  See the chip on the ankle that was what I was so happy to have back on.

By now it was extremely sunny, warm, and I had to run 13.1 miles.  I knew they were going to have aid stations every mile and I was not disappointed.  I had water, cup of ice, and orange slice at each aid station.  I had brought my own fuel belt with PowerAde Zero and water and used this to keep me hydrated. They had Heed (a triathlete drink similar to the historic Gatorade used during marathons).  Hubby had tried it at the sprint we did earlier in the summer and hated it.  I tried it this time around and it was GROSS!  Not sure if it was not made correctly or what.  I was thankful for my own powerade zero.   The water from the aid station I would either drink or pour over my head.  I was so glad I had a hat.  I put ice in the hat and put hat on head and by every mile the ice was melted and ready for refill.  I also passed a fellow Tri club member and she yelled out- "put ice in your bra it will cool you down"- I tried it and she was right.  It was an out and back course and so by mile 6.5 I knew I was going to make it.  I ran all the miles except the aid station areas- even the hills.  The run was when I started catching up and passing others.  I wasn't even bothered by the heat/sun. 

I truly had an epiphany when running that part of the race- "I AM A RUNNER!"  I'm not fast or speedy nor do I have a runner's physique,  but I can run and I'm a runner!  Now I didn't have the same reaction with swim or bike, but the run I felt really good. 

I finished running a 2:26 half marathon (11:08 pace) which I was ecstatic with after all the miles of swim/bike fun. 

There were a lot of great parts of the day, but one of my favorite was coming down the last stretch- 2 miles or so- and hearing cars pass me and cheer me on/ yell out my name or my tri-club name as some participants were leaving the festivities.  Then the very last stretch there were members of my team smiling and cheering me on.  I was the last of my teammates to cross the finish line, but they were there to cheer me on and support me- no judgement and a lot of pats on the back after the race. 

One of my Tri-Club teammates who also just happens to be one of my good peep's hubby cheering me on down the final stretch.
My overall time was 7 hours 11 minutes.  Just writing that down seems pretty amazing to me.  I can't believe I was actively pushing my body for that long.  My ideal time was 7:30 with worse case scenario of 8:00, but it went better than I expected.  I was 9th out of 12th for my age group.  I was really happy with how this race ended up.  I still can't believe it is over.  However, I didn't finish the race and think "OK I'm ready for another one" like I've felt after finishing marathons.  I am ready for a little break!  I'm sure I'll have more to share and look back on, but for now goodnight!  Good luck to all those still training hard for this year's races- it is worth it- it really is!  Accomplishing what you set out for is so powerful. 

I'm a Runner! and I am finishing a 70.3 mile triathlon!

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