I did it! 70.3....I totally earned my bragging rights!
I still can't believe that I finished my first, and possibly my last, 1/2 Ironman - The Timberman 70.3. Two days later and I'm still flying high.
I'm so glad it's over and yet I'm so glad that I did it. I started training in May and the training definitely paid off. Thank you Sharon Johnson for being an awesome coach!
We checked in on Saturday and racked our bikes with a beautiful view of Lake Winnipesaukee and then off for a great pasta dinner with Jay & friends Wid & Jane Spaulding who did the race as well. Saturday night was early to bed but who knows why because I swear that I didn't sleep a wink. I just kept thinking about the swim. Was I going to be pulled under by those crazed triathletes? Where do I line up for the start...to the left...to the right...in front...in the back? The alarm went off at 3:30am with a full day ahead of us. We had to get to the parking lot by 5:00am in order to get a space in the lot closest to the event. Otherwise, we were going to have to part in Gunstock and take a shuttle bus down to the start...and back up once it was done.
We got into the lower lot, still pitch dark, but were in. The day's activities had already begun and nervous energy could be felt in the air. I was still consumed with wondering where to line up for the swim! I arranged all of my "stuff" in the transition area taking cues from my fellow athletes...helmet on the bike with gloves and a packet of Gu in the helmet. Bike & running shoes neatly on the side with socks inside my bike shoes and my Garmin inside of my running shoes. So neatly done...only to be blown up during Transition 1.
OK, now to put the wetsuit on...and where am I lining up?? Jane & I proceed down to the lake with our wetsuits on. The water felt great and was so clean. Stiles Pond it was not. Then the Canadian National Anthem was sung followed by our National Anthem. They announced that so many Canadians come down for this race that they started this tradition years ago. I thought it was great!
Then the first cannon boomed starting the elite males. 3 minutes later the elite women. THEN the 45+ women were to line up. Where was I going to line up? Too late now to think about it. I went with up front and towards the left. I'm a left breather so I'm not sure that this was the smartest but that's where I was. BOOM! Off we went. I was pleasantly surprised that even though there were a ton of women no one attacked. I got into my pace fairly quickly which felt good....I had a lot of nervous energy to get rid of. 1.2 miles of swimming is long. The first leg was the longest which I didn't realize at the time. During the second leg it got very choppy and the third leg was like being in the ocean with the chop. Fortunately I didn't have a ton of people around me so it was OK. I finished the swim 7th in my age group. I had no idea but Jay was there when I got out with a huge smile on his face saying that I did great. Of course he says that to me all the time. I was so grateful to the "strippers". They had people to assist getting wetsuits off. Those people deserve medals!
Done with the swim, now for the bike. Dry off, sock, shoes, gloves, helmet, sunglasses, spray sunscreen, off I go. Unfortunately I wasn't able to ride the course in advance and that might have been an advantage. I knew that it was a hard course but had no idea. It was a 56 mile single-loop course. Sharon told me to take it out slow and just warm up so that's just what I did. I knew that there were 3 tough hills - Momma Hill, Baby Hill, & Poppa Hill. Shortly after I had gone over some steep hills I met up with my friend Terry Williams whom I had trained with. She had ridden the course and told me that we had done the first 3 tough hills then she was off - she's a much better rider than me. Then, there it was - Poppa Hill. Climbing up Poppa I met up with Terry again and asked if she had really forgotten this monster. She then admitted that when she did the course ride before she had gotten lost and not done Poppa Hill. It was definitely a hill that she would have remembered! Once we were done with the initial 3 huge hills it was nice rolling hills for the middle part. Then coming back BAM! the hills were back in full force. At one point I was worried that my bike computer was going to shut off since I was going so slow. Finally I wrestled with, and completed the last big hill...now for downhill. Everyone that knows me knows I am a complete whimp when it comes to anything fast, especially fast going downhill on my bike. I'm probably the only one in the entire race that had their brakes on. I probably wore them thin. Then, the rain started. Not just a little misting like it had been doing for most of the ride but a downpour. I was soaked! My shoes were even squishy. I was pretty miserable. Then at mile 52 it happened - some idiot passed me on the inside while his buddy was passing me on the left. His wheel touched mine and I was down as he rode away. Right before it happened I remember saying "you're kidding me right". Boom! I was down. I looked up and saw him wave as I lay there trying to figure out if I was OK. Two spectators jumped in to help me. I stood up and could tell that nothing was broken - thank God! My right shin was scraped which I could see but had a big scrape on the back of my right leg which I couldn't see. It was still pouring rain. The two guys helped squirt off all of the dirt with my Gatorade....yes, so, so gross. My handlebars were bent and my gears were damaged but I just wanted to finish the ride. I got back on my bike and was off. I realized very quickly that I couldn't shift gears. I had no idea what the rest of the ride was like and just hoped and prayed that I could make it in the gear that I was in and that my chain didn't fall off. You see, my dear husband Jay totally spoils me when it comes to my bike and I'm not so sure that I could have fixed it myself. Yes, I know, I need to learn! Finally, I saw the turn in for the transition area...so grateful!
Transition 2 - now for a fun 13.1 mile run. Jay was on the other side of the fence cheering me on when he saw the blood. I had sat down to change from my bike shoes to my running shoes and he motioned to me - "are you done?" NO WAY! I had trained so hard and was so close I just had to finish. I wiped my wounds the best that I could but soon discover the road rash on the back of my leg - ouch! I was in such a daze that I forgot to get my fuel for the run. I also had 2 Tylenols for "just in case". This was definitely the time for them but forgot them as well. Not very well equipped I was off for my run. The run was a very challenging course of two loops. It was extremely well supported and I was able to see my fellow TriFurian buddies and Jane & Wid several times during the run. Again, Jay was awesome and met me 3 times during the race. Finally, after 70.3 miles I saw the finish line. I must admit I teared up when I came into the finish. It was the hardest race that I've ever done and was extremely proud of my accomplishment. The road rash will heal soon and will be forgotten but the sense of accomplishment will live on. I truly earned my Bragging Rights!