Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Long Course Triathlon Done!

Well I made it.

After a huge day cheering and supporting my husband and my friends in their
races. Then registering my bike and entry into my race for the next day and
leaving my precious ride on its rack, we headed home at about 4pm.

4am and I was up with the alarm again and choking back a couple of muffins
with jam for breakfast. Yep, I haven't quite worked out what the best breaky is
for me yet. But the muffins held me over for a while. We travelled the 80mins
back down the coast again in the dark. Husband drove, I snoozed and tried to
fight off the nerves.

I left him in the dark to catch an hour of sleep and walked alone along the
streets to the transition area. The Gathering! Athletes were milling about their
bikes making last minute adjustments. I had a backpack on and tools onboard as I
had a few extra adjustments to make. Basically at the last minute my rear brake
had failed on Saturday and now Sunday morning at 6.30am I was tapping and
pinching cables into place. Just to add to the nerves.

I added my drinks, food, shoes, helmet etc and headed off to find my training
buddy. I found him with his girlfriend, he was a ball of nerves. He hasn't been
training for a couple of weeks. A real worry but nothing I could do would get
him up and out the door. I had to leave him and train without him and I felt
awful but technically he is a better athlete than me and we knew we had to part
ways anyway.

We pulled on our wetsuits and stared out at the flat calm ocean. Race

The starters gun had gone and I was off. Thrashing about with about 200 women
35+ years and heading for the first bouy. Trying not to hyperventilate. Round
the first bouy and finally some clear water. Tried to get my rythm and glide
through the water. Then the 35-39 year old guys came through. Not sure why they
send the girls off and then send off the strongest, largest mens field. But just
when I was wondering if I was heading in the right direction, the boys came
through and my answer was quite clear. Yep, you're right in the middle of their
race line. Keep going.

I stood up when both hands hit the sand twice and began to run through the
shore waves. At the same time remove goggles, cap and top half of wetsuit. Reach
my bike, yep I found it for a change. And within a minute was out on the
legs spinning easily.

Clear roads for a while saw my first of 3 laps go by quickly. 2nd lap was a
chance to get some speed in. Stomach cramps from swallowing too much salt water
hindered me getting the food in for a while. So while I waited for the pinch to
go I worked hard to get some good distance under my belt. 3rd lap of the 83km
course and I started to tire. I needed to get the food in and so I had to sit up
out of the aero position so that I could stretch out my middle and get the food
down. OK, done, get back into it. Head down and as the heat of the day let
itself known on the competitors and I started to feel the legs, the end of the
bike leg was in sight. Very happy with my ride I dismounted and headed into
tranistion again to rack my bike and get ready to run.

The heat worried me a lot for the run leg. But as I ran out of transition I
was determined to run in front of the crowd and my friends and as soon as I was
out of sight only then would I let myself walk. I should not have panicked. I
should have trusted my legs and my fitness and as I dissapeared out of sight of
friends the legs just kept on ticking on.

I ran the 20kms faster during this race than what I had done previously when
I ran a half marathon without the bike. I was extremely happy. I was sensible in
that I didn't push it and run up and down two steep short hills and I walked the
aid stations getting the nutrition right first. Still I had a great race. My
ITBs held strong and as I headed home on the second lap I managed to come up off
my heels and run on my forefeet so that as I came down the last 3kms of the run
I got stronger and faster.

The cheers from my friends were amazing and I felt amazing. As I crossed the
finish line I didn't fall in a heap. I walked calmly to the aid station and
helped myself to a well earned piece of fruit and icecream.

At the end of the day, I feel bolstered that my fitness is so good. That my
body is ready and now I truly believe that this Ironman is fully within my
grasp. (barring accident or illness). The next 7 weeks are going to be hard. But
this will only make me more prepared and ready to play.