Tuesday, September 23, 2014

2014 Princeton Ironman 70.3

"Move outta my way, I want to sit down"
The big day has come and gone and I have the sore legs, shoulders and butt to prove it. Sunday, September 21st was the first annual half Ironman in Princeton, NJ and as a new race, I think it was well organized and safe. Whatever small gripes I may have, those two qualities matter more than anything else to me. Spoiler alert: I finished the race.
Despite being hit with a head cold Saturday morning, the weekend itself was fun, I was surrounded by friends and my hubby in beautiful Princeton on Saturday evening and we had lots of laughs and a good dinner. We were all checked in with our bikes waiting for us in the transition area overnight so we only had to worry about our actual race gear in the morning: clothes, shoes x2, helmet, sunglasses, cap/goggles and water bottles/snacks. There's so much crap to bring to a tri.
I had one little hiccup at the check-in on Saturday, I brought my bike to transition before picking up my packet, which meant I had to turn around and walk back to the car and across the park and then repeat my trip to transition.. Oops. Otherwise things went smoothly and it was well organized.
Out of the water, happy to have my cap off
Race morning was no different, I rode from the hotel with Baker, Doug, Susan and Eric (race support crew!) and we parked in the woods and got ourselves ready to rock. Despite the 1+ hour wait time between the time transition closed and our swim waves, I managed to stay pretty relaxed. It was great to have friends to keep me company while we watched the pros and everyone ahead of us swim by. The lake looked really long, but it was marked really well with tons of numbered buoys in different colors so you always knew right where you were. I've swum in Mercer County Lake a few times before, but this was much longer than the sprint distances I've done before. When our wave finally took off at 8:18, I was happy to have friends nearby, Amanda, Cathy, and Susan were all in my wave. The water was sort of perfect, I think it was around 70 degrees and overcast so there wasn't any glare. I remember thinking that this was one of my favorite swims in a triathlon, despite the shallow lake and murky water. The buoys cruised by and most of the time I had plenty of space to swim. After about 6 buoys I was fully immersed in the wave of yellow capped swimmers from the wave ahead of ours (we were green) and by the turnaround I was in a full out rainbow of caps. People from several waves before mine were doing diagonal backstroke and who knows what else. I weaved around and finished in 38: something. I was already a little behind schedule, but only a few minutes off my target of 35:00 or less. I took off into transition, bypassing the wetsuit strippers because I wasn't wearing one, but they always make me giggle as they're pulling the suits off of people.
Early on, looking alive and well.
I even smiled for this one!


I started the bike off strong, really strong. I think I hit the halfway mark at 1:33, which was excellent. I was cruising along thinking that the course was a bit boring, but beautiful and mostly flat. There were a few quick, steep hills during the ride, but compared to my NYC rides and Adirondack rides, it was nothing. I was snacking and sipping water along the way, having a lovely time in the cornfields and horse farms of Mercer County, but something changed along the way. Perhaps it was a sign that I hadn't finished even one bottle of water when I exchanged my bottle at mile 45 or so, but it's hard to judge how hot it is when you're riding 17 mph and I think I just let it slip. I thought I was hydrating, I even took a salt tab, but I realize now that may have been a mistake. I was also feeling my head cold more now because I didn't take sudafed in the morning because it seemed like a bad idea. So there I was, fading on the bike with no idea why and getting cranky about it. My heart rate was high, especially for how slow I was going and I was sick of being out there alone on the bike. I was surprised how few people were around me for long stretches of the ride, making the country roads even more boring. In one little crowd of people on a bumpy stretch of road (there were many of those) a girl had the nerve to tell me I could get a penalty for riding too far to the left (I was avoiding potholes just like everyone else in the crowd) AS SHE PASSED ME ON THE RIGHT SIDE! WHAT?! I turned to her and said "There's also a penalty for passing on the right!" as she went by. What an idiot. Her response was "what did you want me to do?" as she rode over the bumps and potholes we were all avoiding.
Late in the race, looking...special. 
I told you there were cornfields.
After some serious misery on the final 10 miles of the bike, including the extra two because the course was long, it was time to get running. I was having some bad left knee pain from obviously tight hip and ITB, but luckily it went away as soon as I got off. I have never been so happy to see the "dismount" sign. I trotted through transition, switched my shoes clumsily and hit the road... Still hopeful about my time. I say that because I was oblivious to the time and didn't realize that the second half of the bike took nearly 2 hours. I felt fine at the start of the run, I was just so happy to be off the bike. I made a quick pee stop early on and glanced at my watch, I was 4:15 into the race, I was surprised and realized how far off I was from a goal time or even from breaking 6 hrs, but I was hopeful. I got about 3/4 mile into the run when I hit a wall. Oof. I pushed myself to reach the 1 mile marker and walked for a minute or so. I did a systems check and found the usual aches and pains (hips, lower back) and general thirst. I got running again and made sure to drink water at each aid station. I felt well fueled, but grabbed some pretzels anyway and trotted on. Things went up and down for the rest of the race. I was so thirsty and hot, but there were tons of people walking and talking about the heat, but I didn't think about dehydration. I'm not sure what I thought about.... Mostly getting to the finish line so I could SIT DOWN. I was going through every emotion along the way. I was angry for a while, mostly at myself then the course, then my bike (for what, I'm not sure). Then I was just bummed. Soo bummed to be missing my goal after training so hard and for so long. I was disappointed and I was sad that Baker was going to be disappointed with the hard work he put into my training plan all summer. I know that's not the case, but looking back that's what I remember. The run was a 2 loop course, meaning we ran by the turn off to the finish line but had 6.5 mi left. I may have thought some things that aren't appropriate to share. I was grumpy and still thirsty. I'd been soaking myself and drinking at nearly every aid station. I was determined to run as much of the second loop as possible, but I have no idea if that happened. I set small goals along the way, "make it to mile 10 and you can walk" or "run until you get to the aid station with the potato chips". These little things got me through. On the bike I'd been dedicating 5 mile chunks to Baker, Joe, Amanda and others, but on the run I couldn't focus long enough to do that. I thought about the kids I work with and how hard they work to make gains and that helped me along for a bit. By mile 8 I was chatting with the other walkers (Oh, there were LOTS of people walking, possibly more than there were running) and telling them this was my last 70.3. I realize now that I was probably a little nutty. I saw the photos and I looked like crap. I wonder if that's why the aid station worker at mile 8 asked if I could count to 4. I told her I could, but didn't feel like it.
Not looking good, just... not good. 
Finally, I was slogging through the last mile (uphill!?!) when I heard a girl asking a volunteer if she could just stop. He told her the finish was less than half a mile away and she said "you're not lying to me, right?" I recognized her as someone I'd been running back and forth with the whole time, she had bright purple and orange shoes and I wasn't letting her quit. I turned and told her to "come on" and she smiled. She said I'd been pacing her the whole way. Obviously she was delusional too. By now I'd had a lot of water and gatorade and was feeling somewhat more alive. We ran together for the better part of the last mile before she drifted off behind me, cheering me on. I turned into the chute, the longest chute on earth, and trotted along until I could *finally* see the finish. Dave called my name just before the finish and I managed to give him a tiny smile. There was no fanfare at the finish, I just wanted to get through the swarm to sit down! I caught up with Susan and then Dave and Eric and we tracked down Baker and Doug and FINALLY I got to sit down. It was amazing. It was the best feeling in the world to just stop moving for the first time in 6 hours and 21 minutes. Or however long it took. I'll do a separate post of stats. This has gone on long enough already.
Really just happy to be done. 
posted from Bloggeroid






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