Patriot Half 2015 – Race Stories

Sun MultisportBefore a super long narrative, which includes deep reflection on everything from my sock choice to the Lorax, I’ll summarize… I am over-the-moon-happy with my finishing time! I never tallied the target times I had for each leg – but somewhere I settled on the idea that anything under 6 hours would be awesome and anything in the neighborhood of 5:45 would be spectacular.  I didn’t have an adjective picked out for 5:33:09! (I’ve come up with quite a few since)

The super long narrative: 

Lead up to the Race: Overall, I’ve been very happy with my health, energy, and training / preparedness. I’ve been injury-free since my ankle sprain in April and triathalife has been busy, but not in too much competition with training goals. I’m feeling strong.

Day before: Nerves. Definitely thinking that 70.3 is a little too much. Nervous about nutrition and all the unknowns. A nice short brick in the morning, a little less tea than usual, and a schedule of morning meetings, helped to distract me. I was home around 1:00 and packing the car to head to Freetown. Making a packing spreadsheet/list was still one of the best things I’ve ever done. (Although now I occasionally worry that packing isn’t stressful enough – and I probably forgot something.) In any case, I was in the car and heading to meet up with Nancy before the kids were off the bus. Cape traffic made the drive longer than planned, but we arrived at the venue with plenty of time to spare.

Recon: Packet pick-up – easy. Sleeveless wetsuit rental – easy. Transition walk around – so awesome to have Nancy to walk me thought the maze of transition and run-ins and bike-outs. We take a drive of the run course – very pretty, but clear that mid-day sun is going to be direct, on most of the course. (Noted & added to list of things to worry about.)
Nancy left to head home to rest and hopefully get on the other side of her hacking cough. I joined the VMPS swim clinic and got in a quick swim. I happily ran into Shira Flowers, who was also racing and arrived with a batch of 5Q tattoos and swim caps – AWESOME!!! I popped my 5Q cap on and waded in. The water was lovely. So clean, great temp, calm – really, just lovely. Before I made it back to my car, I ran into more triathletes wearing #50womentokona shirts and had passed out all but a few of the tattoos. AWESOME to see such awareness and support for equality in sport!

Accommodations: Days Inn, Middleboro. This was a last minute change of plans. Until the week before I’d planned to drive from home the morning of. The 7:00 am race start and a little working backward, motivated me to find a shorter commute and get more sleep. This was a great call! The room was smelly, but the location was perfect for traveling to the venue and for Jason and the kids to join me.

Morning of: Fell asleep before 10:00 while the kids watched the Lorax and woke at 4:50. Felt rested. Checked my phone – ugh! Nancy was too sick and had to call it. I’d always assumed I’d be with her, waiting to start, eep!  I got dressed and left with bags without waking the kids – Jason was stirring.  Beautiful morning – low 60s. Off to Dunkin’s for a large tea and a raisin bagel. SO nice to not get lost on the way to a race.

MotivationRack 16: I was racked with a very nice group of female athletes, which is more often the case than not. I passed out the rest of the 5Q tattoos and applied my own. The baby powder for inside the socks was the most shared item in my race bag. We all made sure we were well-covered with glide and sunscreen.  There were several racers rocking some sweet Betty Designs kits and the new Team Betty kit got rave reviews! Lots of compliments for the new partnership with Hincapie and the long zipper on the new tri top.  At the request of another racer, we hung my Team Betty jacket on the end of the rack, for VERY easy visibility. (this received many thank yous post race)

Warm up: A few minutes of dynamic stretching and then into the water for a warm up swim. I felt calmer than I’ve been at races in the past. I was happy to be in the water. I felt ready to go see what my winter of training has prepared me for. It was exciting, in a good way, to have a new distance and no idea what to expect.

Line up: Patriot uses a time trial start, so we enter the water in groups of 3, every 10 seconds. It didn’t take me too long to find my friend, Lisa, in the wave of purple caps, right at the front. This was good, we’d be on our way soon.

The swim: This was the most present, strong, relaxed swim I have ever had in a race. I felt comfortable. There was a lot of maneuvering around people, but I was able to keep swimming forward as I dodged limbs. The water got a little choppy, but no anxiety. Just kept my head in it. I loved the sleeveless wetsuit, whether it made me slower or faster, I’m not sure I care – I just felt so good. I think my sighting was fairly good and remembered to get my legs ready before I tried to run to transition on them – all good. 38:22

T1: Wetsuit came off easier than the day before – thank you BodyGlide. My Injinji toe socks were not too bad to put on when filled with baby powder. And a huge improvement over the the first race of the season, I didn’t get water all over my lens and could see as I ran out of transition – yay! (small wins) 02:36

Bike: Ok, here was where I got unsure about my plan. I knew that I’d done solid training through the fall and winter. I know I’m a stronger rider. I know I can do this. I fight the compelling worry to slow down and save myself for the run, but stay with my plan. On every uphill, I could hear Nancy in my head – “don’t burn watts!”. I focused on my heart rate  – steady and easy (no power meter) and soon enough I’m settled into a pace that averaged around 19.5. It felt right, but my head was definitely having a hard time accepting that I could make and sustain this higher pace for 56 miles. Lisa passed pretty early in the first loop. (I had no idea I was ahead of her from the swim) I thought she’d blow past me like a freight train, but I stayed ~30 yards back for many, many miles. She’s a strong rider, so keeping her in sight actually made me nervous, but I just kept reminding myself to stay in my own race. The bike course is really great – lots of rolling hills – but not too many crazy scary down hills. There was an accident on the course – a rider crashed into a pedestrian who was on the ground when we passed. So scary. Bikes are fast. Somewhere around 50 miles, I felt ‘done’ with the bike. I wasn’t I’-want-to-throw-my-bike grouchy, but definitely ready to get off the saddle (Note: remember chamois lube next race) I briefly caught up to Lisa again before she took off for T2. The wires between the CX and the tri sides of my brain got crossed as I coasted into the dismount area. I left me left foot clipped in as I dismounted – not pretty – but I stayed upright. (another small win) 2:53:38 (elev. gain: 1,818 ft)

T2: The run in wasn’t speedy, my legs were definitely complaining about the repetition of movement over almost 3 hours. I took my time to reapply sunscreen (although I missed a patch on the back of my neck) and get sunglasses, visor, and Fuel Belt set. 03:31

Run: Oh, stiff legs.  Thankfully, I started out with Lisa and another racer who calmed my worries with veteran assurance that they’d feel better after the first mile…they did. And then the next few miles felt pretty good. My thoughts were clear and focused on posture and nutrition timing, Around 4 miles, I started getting unpleasantly hot. Ice at the water stops was amazing – in the top and shorts…ahhhhh. At around an hour into the run, my legs felt tight again, and getting tighter. The last 5 miles weren’t easy and required a lot of mental endurance. I knew I could add 2 min. walk breaks and keep a pretty decent pace (thank you, Nancy), but decided to see how much farther I could go before I started #galloway. I was nervous that my legs would get stiffer in the walk breaks be harder to move.  Any patch of shade felt like a miracle. As I reminded myself to be grateful for each one, I thought about the kids watching the Lorax the night before. “I am grateful for the trees and the Lorax”  ran through my head over and over – and didn’t seem crazy, at all, at the time.  When I passed the 12 mile marker, I thought of Jes…”I can do anything for 10 minutes.” I wasn’t going to stop – I was going to run all the way into the camp – as long as I didn’t fall down.    1:55:03 (elev gain 394 ft)

The Finish: The run into Cathedral Camp, over the grass, the little bridge, and into the finish chute was awesome! I had no idea what my finish time would be – and really didn’t care. I’d done what I wanted to do – I gave it all I had, 100%  I trusted myself and my plan and didn’t get caught up in anyone else’s race. My body hurt and I felt strong.  I saw and heard  Jason, Hannah, and Will as I ran the last few feet. I had told Jason it was ok, if the day was just too long and they didn’t make it – but I was so happy that they were there.

70.3 Cool downTaking off my shoes & socks and sticking them in the ice cold baby pool was perfect. All my peeps came over and hung out with me while I cooled down. Jes was happy she didn’t have to yell at me to run faster. Nancy ( germs and all) was so excited – she couldn’t wait to see my time. I saw the time on the finish clock was 5:50someting, so I was pretty sure I’d met my time goals. My head exploded when Nancy said 5:3:09. I was just happy. Amazing! I can’t describe the joy to realize that this 48 year old body can accomplish something like this. Amazing! Ha! At that moment I think I fell in love with everything, all at once.

Thank you, Sun Multisports – It was an amazing race. Around mile 9, I was certain that I’d never do another half iron. A week later, I’m sure I’ll trt Patriot again next year.

Thoughts?

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