Friday, September 12, 2008

Iron Girl Race Report

I think I've finally had enough time to absorb the whole event and now I can tell you about it, sorry if it is in painful detail.

The night before I made a list, checked it twice and packed my bag and milk crate. I also filled up water bottles and made sure I had gu and Kashi bars. I must have made 100 trips up and down the stairs checking and re-checking. Finally I headed to bed, I knew I had to be up early.

I got up at 5:10 AM and had slept much better than I expected. Into my Mid-Maryland Tri top and tri shorts, on with the heart rate monitor and out the door. I was surprised at how dark it still was. The race was only one exit away and almost immediately off the exit the traffic was backed up. Its good to be a local and know to park across from the park instead of in it. I got all of my things together and headed to the park in the dark with lots of other people.

As we moved down towards the transition area they had body markers with lines several women deep. Off with the long sleeved t-shirt, time to get marked! 1524 on both hands, arm and my age on the back of my leg. Pick up the stuff again and off to transition. Stop to hug several people along the way. As I am unpacking I notice I have a message from TriTurtle who I met on one of the Weight Watchers message boards--she'd been at the park before I got up. I went to find her as soon as I was set up but only saw her bike spot. There was a woman in transition who was also set up near me at the tri in July. It made me realize that when you are grouped by age you end up seeing the same people a lot.

Finally it was off to the swim area (after considering shoes or no shoes, which goggles and what else do I need, many, many time!). On the way I had to go to the bathroom. The line for the porta potties was really long so I headed off to the permanent bathrooms. Big line there too but the women had commandeered the men's room so I got in that shorter line. Of course about two ladies in front of me one of the two toilets overflowed. We all giggled about that putting the lake water into perspective. Everyone was chatting and friendly. Finally I did my business and headed off to the swim start. I ran into a friend from church and we went down to check out the swim course. WOW, 1100 yards looks a lot longer when its all laid out in a line rather than back and forth over and over in the pool. Finally I got my MMTC tattoo, found Esmerelda and GMan and the girls. Our great friends Tracy and Shelby came along and helped the girls make signs and gave Gman time to take pictures! Swim

Into the water with 100 of my best friends. We tread water and they announce 40 seconds. At that point I realize that I am in the middle towards the front of the wave. Not where a slow poke like me belongs but way too late to do anything about it. And we are off, after a slight panic I settle down, slow but sure and there are plenty of people behind me. I try to move in towards towards the buoys to swim the least distance possible. From about 1/4 of the way through the swim to the last 200 yards there is this woman I can. not. shake. No matter where I go or what I do she is there. Either swimming into my path or over top of me. I stop to tread water to try and lose her, I try to speed it up to pass her and neither tactic works! Eventually I get her with an elbow (sorry!) and she moves off a bit. All I kept thinking was this huge lake and you have to be ON TOP OF ME?! 32:36, not bad

Coming out of the water they handed us Aflac duck towels for our feet. I jogged up through the transition area to my spot near the back near the end of a rack. Thank you to whomever put an orange lei on the sign at the end of our row. I sat on my crate and changed my shoes. Since I changed from Athena to age group my section was nearly empty of people. I got my feet wiped off and struggled into my socks. Into my bike shoes easily and then a major wrestling match to get my bike out of the rack. My seat was too high and getting it back under the pipe was a battle. Then I had to stop and straighten my things up so they were in the way for everyone else. Finally I was off.

The bike was fantastic. The exit from the park was lined with people. I saw a neighbor and then I was out on the road. What a difference traffic control makes! I felt good and was quickly in a groove. I was getting passed occasionally but was passing a few folks as well. I got to the big hill and there were people spread out all over the road. I passed several people and said a little prayer of thanks that I wasn't one of the women walking my bike up the hill! At the top I didn't feel as winded as I had many times in the past, training pays off. Worst part over. On the gradual uphill to the turn around there was some yahoo wanting to make a left hand turn but was so far over to the right cyclists couldn't get past him. The officer wasn't quite sure what to do. I was glad I was on the opposite side of the road! Through the turnaround, pass up the water, take a slug out of my bottle and move on. The trip back to the park was fun. I played pass with a woman in blue shorts and a Camel Back. At the top of the last hill I see our friends and their kids with signs. I yell to them and they yell back. I hear one of the kids say "is that really Miss Heather?" All along the way women would yell out encouragement to each other. There were people with signs at the side of the road. A definite benefit of wearing the tri club jersey--people cheer for you, go Mid-Maryland! Its a big pick me up. Finally into the home stretch and back to the park for the run. As I enter the park I realize a) I have to pee and b) I have had VERY little to drink during the ride.

Struggled again with the bike. Decided I couldn't wear the wet socks to run. Took a big slug of G2 and headed out. Thankfully there were porta potties on the way out of transition so I took a minute to do my business. As I exit someone yells "lets go 1524!" Nothing like a cheering squad to pee!

Immediately I knew I was in trouble. My legs were like lead. Not nearly enough bricks and laying off the running after a painful training run that ended up shoeless. My goal was to finish in less than 2:45. When I started the run I thought piece of cake! I convinced myself if I could just run the flats I could walk the hills. Then it was hills and water stops. Finally it was just get me to the end! Up the worst hill on the course was the tri club, dressed as the Village People giving out water, Gatorade and wet sponges. I love these people. I ran a little and then walked uphill some more. As we started back down into the park there was a guy yelling encouragement--you know if you made it this far you've got it, you can do anything! He was fabulous. There was a woman saying her husband told her it would take 3 hours and she was walking and thinking he was right. I really wanted to bean him, she was doing it and I imagined him sitting on the couch. I left her as I started to run again. Look at my watch and know its going to be close My foot was hot and my toes hurt. Run a little, walk a little, women go thundering past and I am in awe at the speed of some of them! One last uphill, I am going to try and run this one, made it. Then the crowd thickens, first little groups of people, then clumps of people and finally people lining both sides of the trail screaming and yelling! How can you not run faster with that kind of encouragement?! Into the shoot, I see my girls with their "Go Mommy" signs. They reach out and give me a high five. I run across the finish line. Feeling AMAZING. They put a finisher medal around my neck and I am in a bit of shock.

I did it. It was hard, it was fun. Truly one of the most amazing, empowering experiences of my life. I can't wait to do it again! Esmerelda and I have joked several time that triathlon is dangerous because you truly believe you can do ANYTHING!

So, who is going to join me next year?

298 1433 HEATHER 39 ELLICOTT CITY MD 2:43:47.75
Swim 317 32:36
T1 251 4:56
Bike 246 1:14:43 mph 14.1
T2 314 3:45
Run 317 47:50 pace 14:05

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