Okay, for brevity’s sake, I’m going to bypass the little details like seeing a guy lying flat out on the run with an IV being squeezed into his arm or the buses refusing to ferry athletes back to the parking lot after the race because loading the bikes was taking too long and just jump right into the good stuff.
Saturday, May 14th, 2011
3:30am – Jerritt got home from his shift, we got into the pre-loaded car and headed south. Jerritt drove for a few hours and then I took over. We got to the Grumpy parking lot of the Magic Kingdom about 8:30am; funny, since the car we were driving housed a grumpy couple.
We took the bus to Fort Wilderness where we were 1.5 hours early for athlete check-in. We had no other place to go since check-in at the hotel wasn’t until 3pm. I thought the lines were going to be horrendous because it was a Disney event and at the Disney Half Marathon, it seemed like there were 500,000 racers. This is when Jerritt reminded me that there are not that many people crazy enough to do triathlons. Touche.
We basically did a lot of waiting for the check-in to open at 10:00 and then the transition to open at 1pm. There was a kids triathlon happening that morning and I was amazed at the athletic ability of these pre-teens (my memories of exercising at that age include throwing up after running a lap at the track during gym and basically failing the Presidential Fitness Test) and horrified at the sideline coaching of some of the parents. Jerritt and I were witness to one dad yelling commands at his daughter during T2 and in the women’s bathroom, I heard a lady asking her daughter, “so, what mom and dad do isn’t that easy, is it?” Not that any of that is especially scarring, but still, even as an adult, I need reminding that racing should be fun, otherwise why am I doing it?
Sunday, May 15th, 2011
4am: the alarm went off and a groggy Jerritt and I got ready to head to Disney. I do a quick check of the weather and see a large, vertical band of storm crossing central Florida. I think to myself, “maybe it will be canceled,” without holding too hard onto hope.
5am: arrive, once again, in the Grumpy parking lot. Grumpy always was my favorite dwarf; I really identified with him.
5:30am: I’ve been body marked and start putting my transition area together. I run to the bathroom, potty, put body glide everywhere (thanks for the tip, Karen!) and then put on sunscreen even though there’s no sign that we’ll be seeing the sun. It’s cold and rainy and lightening has everyone huddled under the few scattered covered porches. I’m still thinking this thing could be canceled or, at least, maybe they’ll cancel the swim and make it a duathlon. I get pretty excited at this idea. Jerritt asks me if I would be disappointed if they had to cancel due to weather, and I have to admit that I really don’t want to do this. I don’t want to do any of it, but the swim has me shaking in my flip-flops. Or maybe that’s the cold. Let’s just say it was both. Even though I know I can do this distance in the pool, my fear of open water has me telling Jerritt, “I just want to live through the swim. I’ll be happy with anything else after that.”
7:00: The 1st waves of swimmers are already in the water, the sun is up and the weather is beautiful. Toes in the water confirm that the swim is going to be pleasant and I’m actually looking forward to getting into the warmer water. Just live through the swim. That’s all I want. Kate and I get into the chute with our maroon-capped peers and get ready for this beast.
I actually keep up with my group for a couple of buoys. They do eventually leave me, as they always do, and I start getting overtaken by the waves behind me. The buoys are far apart but there are still so many of them. Even though I’ve finally found a pair of goggle that don’t fog up, I still can’t see the buoys and have no idea where I’m supposed to go. I end up just following the swimmers and forget about trying to see the buoys. As each wave leaves me in their bubbles, I become increasingly thankful that the guys behind me are leading me to shore even though they are kicking me in the face and clawing at my feet in the process. For the last fourth of the swim, I start picking up speed and actually start to sprint once I can see the swim exit. Surprisingly, this energy burst is not from fear of aquatic life or a need to get out of the water before it drags me into its depths, but just because I’m feeling strong. When I get out of the water, I don’t feel drained and I’m not dragging my feet, I’m ready for the bike and feeling good. And I only panicked in the water twice! That’s a record for me 🙂
Total time for the swim: 53 mins and 51 seconds.
Getting to T1 is a long trek. Time spent in T1: 3 mins and 54 seconds.
About 8:20am: Exhilarated to be alive after a grueling hour in the water, I must remind myself to start slow on the bike. I keep the marathon close to my heart, remembering feeling good the first half, jumping the gun then loosing it all on the second half. My mantra for the remainder of the race is: slow down. If I find myself breathing hard, I’m going too fast. If my legs are burning, I’m going too fast. If I pass someone, I’m going too fast (just kidding…I did pass a couple of people, though mostly I am the one being passed). This takes all the mental strength I have. I knew before starting that I would have to sacrifice ego for strategy. I put blind faith in the belief that if I saved my legs on the bike, I would pass these people on the run. For all I knew, these incredible athletes could pass me on the bike and still have legs for the run. New strategy, race for myself. I wasn’t racing these people, I was here to experience 70.3 miles at my own pace. So that carried me through the bike.
Also, for any hardcore, Aero-helmeted, Zipp-tired triathletes that may be reading this blog: some people are in danger of falling over in course turns. You are in danger of losing .3 seconds. I beg you, slow down and give other athletes like me room to maneuver. Fair warning, if you make me fall, I’m taking you with me.
Total time for the bike: 3 hours, 31 minutes and 57 seconds
Time spent in T2: 3 minutes and 13 seconds
About 12pm: Time to start the run. I’m so grateful to be off that bike. Though it wasn’t strenuous, my back started getting tense around mile 45 and I ended up getting up out of the saddle a lot more than I would have liked to stretch it out. Coming out of the chute, I meet up with a lot of other people. Right after an early turn, I see mile marker 9 and panic that I took a wrong turn. I quickly figure out that we are doing several loops and ask a nice athlete how many. She says 3 and I thank her.
The run is awesome. Not only am I feeling great, they have 3 or 4 water stops along the route so I stop at each one to hydrate and dump ice down my shirt. Also, there is a small portion that is off road. I hear other athletes grumbling about the trail, but I train on the trails and enjoy the trees and grass. Likewise, on the bike, one guy passing me joked that Florida was supposed to be flat. Haha, Orlando’s hills have nothing on what Mike, Karen and I workout on. Thanks, Tallahassee. So, I have to continue telling myself to slow down. I know I’m feeling good right now, but will I at mile 8? 9? 10? I don’t want to have to walk so I keep a 10 min/mile pace. Easy.
I find Kate in my second loop and we run together for a while. She told me that her pedal fell off during the bike. Luckily, there was a guy riding around the course on a motorcycle with repair items, helping out cyclists. Way to stick it out, Kate. She’s suffering a little bit and has to take a walk break but tells me to finish strong. I see her a couple more times in turns and her family cheers me on too 🙂
Around mile 10, I do start to get cramps in my quads. I have to walk/high step for a minute to ward off the pain and am able to push through the rest of the way. By this time, I’m in my final loop and am tired, but still feeling good. I’m still happy to be here and I’m having a good time. Tons of people are walking and I smile a little smile to myself for saving it on the bike. I come around the last corner and get to bypass the “2nd and 3rd Lap” sign and follow the arrow that leads to the finish. I’m so pumped and amazed that I could do 70.3 miles. I cross the finish line with my arms in the air and fall victorious into Jerritt’s waiting arms.
Total time for the run: 2 hours, 12 minutes and 9 seconds
Official race time: 6 hours, 45 minutes and 4 seconds
And, looking at my ranking, I picked up 309 spots overall and 13 in my age group during the run. Love that run!
Though the Half Ironman looks daunting in terms of miles, I’ve always kinda thought, “how impressive is a Half when people are out there doing a Full?” I thought I would feel like a fraud having Ironman paraphernalia only having done 70.3 miles but after putting that distance under my shoes, I’m seriously impressed with myself. Most people didn’t even drive 70.3 miles on Sunday and I raced it! Yeah, I let Jerritt put that Ironman sticker on my car and no, I will not be slightly embarrassed when I tell people I did a Half.