Saturday, October 2, 2010

Episode 2 - My First Half-Ironman Race Report

And now Episode 2 - Attack of the the Cramp... (okay bad Star Wars reference)

I can't really describe the number of emotions I had the week before the race:
  • Extremely excited - summed up by "woohoo"
  • Extremely scared - "Oh shit what did I sign myself up for"
  • What-if - "what if I get a flat" "what if I can't finish" What if I get a calf cramp in the beginning of the run and still have 12 miles to go?" among others.
I had decided to look at it as a 6-7 hour workout., another way was the just continuing on the Olympic distance, just one more loop....these are all the different thoughts I had during a 5 mile run that Wednesday before the race.

Work was not letting up and I don't know if that was a good thing or bad thing but I needed to get a report done and sent by SATURDAY - yes, the race was SUNDAY! I still had package pick-up, etc. I was pretty much working 12-14 hour days up until Friday night. Sat, I woke up finished the report and then ate breakfast. I then got all my things together carefully, rode my bike on the trainer for an hour just spinning. I was going to drive there at noon, pick up my sister to go with me to Delaware, we were going to scope out the area, go back to mom and dads house for dinner and sleepover (they only live 40 min away). Mike was going to pick up my dad in the morning and my mom was going with me to the race.

So Theresa and I went to pick it up and missed part of the pre-meeting, but got there in time to ask some questions. I found out that there was a 1/4 mile run from the swim end to the transition area so it would behoove you to have an extra pair of sneaks at yet an additional transition area after the swim. Check! (I did read my pre-race instructions and brought my bright pink New Balance so I could see them) - and yes, rain was gonna happen the next day so I needed to have some trash bags.
The race looked like it was well run, there was numbers by the transition area, very cool, then you don't have someone taking up too much space and well, if I am running late, at least I know I have a spot - and they gave us a cool hat...

The water looked least during a perfectly sunny 75 degree day...
I talked to a couple other triathletes, a couple newbies which always gets your confidence up when you can give advice. I was excited again and we got cool hats...excellent, since I forgot mine.

We had a great dinner of lemon spaghetti, grilled chicken, salad and fruit, watched some TV and went to bed.

4am alarm rings, I get my stuff together, make 2 ezekial muffins for mom and me. There is something comforting about not being alone and yes, having your "mommy" be with you in the morning.
It is POURING, it takes us a little longer to get there so I am in my panic mode as usual. I go to transition, luckily I brought 3 trash bags for everything. I meet some great girls in the transition area who are also doing their first half-ironman.

Swim (57 minutes - including 1st transition and run to 2nd transition...)

Now I always go to the bathroom beforehand but I am rushing with my wet suit, and everything else to get down to the 1/4 mile start. We get down there and they are telling the men under 50 to get in the water. It is 2 waves about 100 each. Now, here is the kicker, you have to swim about 300 metersish (or it felt like that) to the swim start!! WTF! So as soon as the boys go, they tell the next wave to get in and start going! I was panicked and scared, I don't even think I was 1/2 way to the swim start when they yelled go. Okay and it is still POURING!! So you think that is okay when you are in the water but well it is dark and then my goggles filled up. I seriously thought about calling it a day but just kept stopping emptying goggles, etc the entire way. It was sooooo annoying and time consuming. About 1/4 of the way, I poked my head up and ran into s Megan, one of the girls I met at the transition area. We swam together pretty much the whole way. I felt a little better. I was hoping for a 45 min swim but there was a lot of things I wasn't prepared for...

Key Learning from swim: -Always check out new goggles before you race in them (I checked it once but not enough)

Transition - 5:01 - I know, this is terrible - I was talking, trying to get out of wet suit, double checking in the pouring rain that I had everything I needed and making sure the rest of my things for the run stayed dry.

Bike - 3:16:03 17.1 mph pace
I forgot my heart rate monitor during all the commotion of the rain and everything else, so I had no concept of time. To top it off my bike computer did not work. And if you have ever done a 1/2 ironman in a small 235 people event - it is extremely lonely. So I decided to carry on, it was raining and a little slippery but it was a pretty flat race with the exception of a couple bridges. I saw two women as I caught up, I asked if they knew if there were any port a potties, they said they didn't know, but we talked about how one girl said her husband told her to pee on her seat, I said I heard of it, but would rather stop off the road.

So as my pains in my stomach increased and I tried to stomach a Gu and sip on my Gu Recovery Drink (I tried Perpetum and I couldn't stomach it) so figured this had a good carb/prot mix. I drank my Gu Electrolyte which worked out as well. I stopped and peed but I knew I had to actually go. I passed those girls so now I was alone, with no clue of miles/time or anything, just thinking about how bad my stomach hurt as I tried every so often to stomach a Gu and sip on the drink. I couldn't do it anymore, passed a water exchange and tried that for a while. Pain did not subside, I caught up to a guy who had a flat and was rejoining the race. We talked for a while but then I left him after the turnaround. I knew I could have gone a hell of a lot faster, but I knew I still had a half marathon after this and honestly, I didn't feel anything except this exasperating pain in my stomach. I stopped at a port a potty, again only pee. So I kept going, I started crying (I hate admitting this but I did have a little breakdown) on the bike thinking what if I can't do the run, what if I stopped, everyone on facebook would think I was a quitter, damn it hurt so bad, it actually felt like a bunch of knives cutting my stomach. I tried to stomach one more Gu since I knew I needed something. I couldn't drink that drink, I couldn't even eat those cut up lara bars I had. I was getting worried. So I did nothing else but I prayed to Grandmom, thinking if you are up there in heaven and happen to hear me, I could use some help, I thought of her doing the rosary every day in the living room and thinking how awesome she was to survive almost 80 years of her life with ONE LUNG. So I kept on trucking (yes, I started singing that in my head), next thing I knew I was passing something familiar and knew I probably had another 20 min left. I got in, still in a ton of pain but talked to my parents and Mike and they told me I was right on schedule! Really - I knew I ball parked 17mph. Wish I could have went faster but didn't know how I would feel later. I feel good for my first time though!

Transition 5:59
Okay so the only thing I can think of is the full conversation with Mike and my parents and oh yeah, my rocking pink compression sleeves...
Run 2:20:29 (10:43 min/mile)
Miraculously, my cramps went away and I was running, I mean actually running and passing people for the first 3 miles. It felt awesome, but then I got a little worried (i had no idea what my speed was but I was guessing around a 9min mile just from experience) that maybe I was overdoing it, like yes, Heather you do have 10 more miles and the longest you ran was ohhh 11....Okay, I say to myself, slow it down, I think I was doing a 10 min mile pace. At mile 4, I pass a port a potty, okay mental I ran happily and then at the mile 6 whatever turnaround, it happens, you know when your stomach makes that noise that is really loud...uh oh....yes, it was back and with a vengeance. So I thought where was that port a potty? About mile 4 which meant that was at mile 9, which means about 30 minutes away....OMG, that is like an entire episode of the Office with commercials... Crap, literally, what was I going to do?? There was no where to go. We are running on a canal, which meant on my right was water and no shrubbery, and on my left of houses and sometimes a couple shrub with dirt...please, God, I am praying let me make I can feel my mile pace getting slower, it is sooo hard to run like this...I see a women go off to the left and I think okay, you got to do it. So I did, I know disgusting but well, you have to be a little mental if you were doing this race to begin with, and it would be a lot grosser if I didn' I come back, I run, I feel good and then, yup you guessed it, the calf cramp comes, SERIOUSLY, I think??? Can I catch a break? I run, I stop and stretch, I run, stop and stretch, but I know there is a serious hill coming up, I walk up the hill with 2 other women and keep on going. I am now reduced to running of flexing my right foot, to walking a little stretching...this is so degrading... I come in to the last mile and decide to just do it, I see Mike, and I think he takes the picture before I can even smile to hide the pain,
and he keeps me going, see mom and dad, I complain a little and go.
I hear Meghan, my new friend (the girl I swam with) a little behind me yelling "we only have a 1/2 mile left!" and I try to keep going, the guy I met on the bike comes up and we start moving a little faster, okay home stretch and I FINISH!!!

I can't believe what I did and can't wait to do it again!!! It is such a wonderful feeling of accomplishment. I laughed, I cried, it was better than Cats! My total time was 6:44 but I feel like without the rain, the first-time of this distance, all my frequent bathroom breaks and the cramp, I think I could have reduced it to 6:15. But I am extremely excited about my finish!

Once you do one, you realize that if I can persevere all this pain and keep on going, I can pretty much do anything!! Mike said to me, are you going to do another? I said "Hell yeah, I am signing up for Vineman 70.3 with a goal of 6 hours, then we can do some wine tasting after!"

This pretty much started off my fantastic week because in three days I was going to Stockholm with Mike to celebrate my 35th birthday! I am one lucky girl!
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