I was up by 5:00 this morning to get ready for the race. By 5:25 I received a tweet from the race organizers “The swim is ON. Gorgeous calm morning.” And they were telling the truth. Lake Erie was smooth as glass. It was a bit chilly in the air, but the water was 74 degrees. My wet suit kept me warm while I waited for my swim heat to go. I was in the last heat too. I don’t panic often in swims, and I didn’t today. I did have a few challenges the first 300 meters or so. I started toward the inside and about a third from the back. Several swimmers were getting close and when I would breath I would take in more water than air at times. I slowed my pace to calm down. Finally as I approached the first buoy, I got in a groove and kept with my stroke. That is when I started passing people. I even passed a few women who were in the wave ahead of me. I got out of the water in 44 minutes and change. My goal was 40, but it was still a faster swim than any of my previous half iron distance triathlons.
The bike started off well. With the storms that had been in the area, it was still windy. There were times of sunshine and times of ominous looking clouds. Fortunately the clouds were all show and it didn’t rain. My first hour was good – I road just over 17 miles. I was happy considering the wind. Then at mile 20 things changed. The elevation started picking up for the next 10 miles gradually and the wind wanted to pick up too. Two things that are out of my control, so I focused on keeping pace as best I could. Then something I had never dreamed of happened – my stomach started acting up. I have always had an iron stomach and never had to worry about race day. All of the fuel I ate and drank on the bike I had done in training regularly. I really want to figure this out because it caused me to make several adjustments. I had to stop twice on the bike at aid stations. This messed with my head, my pace, and my time. On the bike alone I waisted four minutes in port-o-potties. I finished the bike not thrilled with my time – 20 minutes slower than I had hoped for at 3:33.
The run did not change anything. First I will focus on what went right on my run. My pace when I could run (explanation soon) was between 10:30 and 11:00 minute per mile pace and my heart rate stayed in the low 130’s. My training is working and I thought several times of my trainer while running. She will be happy to know I am improving in my efficiency. If I could have done that the entire 13.1 miles, it would have made up for my not so wonderful bike time. But my stomach did not calm down. I had bad cramps and would have to walk a bit to keep moving without bending over. I also had to stop four times at the aid stations – I have no desire to go into a small blue port-o-potty for a long time after today. On the run alone I figure at least eight minutes were waisted at these stops.
As I approached the finish line, all of the aggravation momentarily left and I was able to savor the victory of completing 70.3 miles of swimming, biking, and running (while dealing with a few issues…). I did it. I was happy to finish and I know I will do another 70.3 triathlon again. I will not deny, I am not pleased with my finish time – 7:08:30. I had the training in me to do a 6:30. But it wasn’t today. A positive note – despite my difficulties, it was my second fastest time. So even in my disappointment there is something good to focus on.
As for my motivation – I did use my mantras. But something, or someone, else was more effective. I thought of four people along the way that kept me going. The first three – my training partner who couldn’t be here, my dear friend Caroline, and my new dear friend I met blogging Adrienne. And don’t you know it, they all were thinking of me – my training partner sent me a text during the race, Caroline commented on facebook as soon as I posted my results, and Adrienne tweeted out to me. When I was dragging, I thought of these ladies and how much they cared about me and my race. I pushed on so I could tell them I did it. The fourth person that got me through was my mom. Today is her birthday. It is almost two years since she died and I miss her every day. Today I took her with me and felt her love through all of the joys and challenges. So yes, even on a day when my race did not go perfectly, I still have plenty to be happy about and wonderful people in my life for which I am thankful.