Saturday night I tucked myself in bed at 7pm.
Now, I didn't expect to fall asleep right away. I gave myself two hours to read myself to sleep.
9pm was lights out. Race nerves paired with sleeping 11 hours the previous night meant I didn't fall asleep right away. I made it a point not to look at the clock, but I know it took me a very long time to fall asleep.
My alarm went off at 5am.
I think, no matter how much sleep I get, 5am still feels six degrees of awful.
The previous night I had laid out everything I needed.
It took minimal brain power to throw my tri suit on, double check that I had everything I needed, and I was out the door. My hotel was 0.5 miles from the race site, so it was a short walk.
I had set up my bike the day before.
And my bike was in a candy location. The yellow arrows point to my bike and the bike in and out. SCORE.
By 5:45am I was set up and ready to go. Well, mostly. My stomach does not like racing or getting up early, so I was trying to calm down and see if I could choke any food down (short answer: no).
At 6am my tri coach arrived. He knew at least a dozen other people racing. Apparently the tri community all knows each other out here in the desert. We went over some last minute pointers.
And then it was time to line up, put on my hot pink swim cap (my wave color), and get in the water.
The Swim: 750m, 24:23.6 (there are rumors this ran up to 100m long)
The swim started a bit out into the lake, which means our wave had to tread water for a few minutes before starting. Treading water in a cluster of people is hard. And, to be honest, it was kind of tiring. Which was a little scary. The race hadn't even started yet and I was exhausted.
But, it gave me something to do, which meant my nerves melted away.
And then the gun went off, and we were racing.
I did not get kicked in the face. It as slow going to first few seconds, trying to carve out my own space.
And then, I swam.
And the swim got real hard, real fast.
And I don't know why. I had swam that distance before, comfortably. But it was difficult. The whole time. I knew I was going slower than I should have been going. But, I couldn't go faster. I was swimming as hard as I knew how. I don't know what else to say.
I came out of the water in a foul mood. I knew I was in the back of my wave. I was tired. I wasn't happy with myself. But, there was nothing I could do but bust my ass. I tore my googles and swim cap off as I ran to my bike.
By the time I got to the bike all I had to do was put on my socks, shoes, helmet, and race belt. I wear my shoes loose enough that I never tie or untie them, which helped. And I'm pretty good at putting socks on wet feet. So, it went pretty quickly.
Bike: 12.32 Miles, 0:41:49.3
I came out of T1 33/42 in my age group, and came out of T2 18/42 in my age group, which is a good indication of how I did on the bike.
I wasn't keeping an exact count, but I'd say I passed about twice as many people as passed me. By the end of the bike course I was being passed by people doing the olympic distance, which was humbling and AWESOME. Those guys were fucking rad, man.
The bike had lots of turns and gentle hills. Ooops, hills. I didn't really train for those. But, I knew how to work my gears. When I wasn't getting passed by the elite oly guys, I was getting passed going up the gentle hills, which tells me what I need to work on if there's a next time.
The bike ride was hard, but felt good. Admittedly, for most of the bike ride I just wanted the race to be over. I was tired. Racing is hard. But, the bike ride was good. Passing people felt good. Passing guys felt awesome, because I knew they started the swim at least three minutes before me, so it made me feel good about how I was doing on the bike.
But, most of my good bike feelings are in retrospect. It took at least half the bike ride for me to catch my breath, which I promptly lost again by the end of the bike ride. I guess that's a good sign for how hard I was pushing myself.
T2: 0:51.0 (I know, right??)
All I had to do was put my bike on the rack, take off my helmet, and run. Easy peasy.
As I was running out of the transition zone I pinned my bangs back and twisted my race belt so my number was pointing forward.
Run: 5k, 0:26:57.2
As I told my coach at the finish line, I can't recall my legs ever being that tired. Even in the final hours of my ultra, I'm not sure my legs were that tired. Of course, I've blocked out all previous race pain, so it's probably not a true observation, but man, they felt TIRED. And heavy.
I felt like I was a few minutes away from having to walk. And that feeling persisted for most of the run.
But, I kept passing people. I had no idea how. I felt so SLOW. But I kept passing people.
Two people passed me. One, a woman, about halfway through, who was going STRONG. The other, a guy, with half a mile left to go. He didn't get too far ahead of me, but I wasn't trying to pass him again.
The rest of the time, I was passing people. It wasn't on purpose. I wasn't picking people and passing them, one by one, like I normally try to do. I was just focused on continuing to move. And, apparently, I was moving faster than they were.
It was kind of hilarious to compare to a normal 5k. Everyone was moving in slow motion.
At one point it started raining on us, and everyone in earshot was verbally grateful.
I wish I had a mile by mile breakdown of the run. I guess this is why people have those fancy watches. At some point, halfway through, I thought about my brother Sky. When we run together, he always talks about how a longer stride takes the same amount of effort as tired shuffling, and gets you to the end of the run faster.
So, I switched, from the heavy leg shuffle to the heavy leg shuffle with a longer stride.
Looking at my time, I guess it worked.
The final stretch was all down hill, which was perfect.
As soon as I knew how far I had left to go versus how much I had left in the tank, I picked up the pace mightily.
I was aware of the camera for this picture. I'm not sure why I chose to make retarded dinosaur arms, but it was on purpose, I assure you.
As soon as I could see the finish line, I sprinted. Finish strong. I tell my training friends this all the time. We are not elites. We ALWAYS have something left in the tank.
Final Time: 1:35:31.43, 15/42 in my age group
My goal time ("goal time") was 1:40, so this was pretty swell. The time I lost on my swim, I made up for on my run.
After I crossed the finish line I grabbed some water and some watermelon, exited the finisher's area, sat down, and ate. I was glad to be done, but mostly I was tired and hungry.
Then I moved back to the transition area, packed up my stuff, sat down for a while longer, and finally shuffled back to my hotel.
There are no victorious post race pictures. I had my camera, but my brain wasn't thinking "pictures." You guys, I didn't take a single picture of my butt all weekend. What's up with that? I assume the race photographer got a picture of me crossing the finish line. That will be nice.
I'm a little bit sore today. My neck and shoulders are sore from being too tense on the bike. I can feel some tightness in my calf.
My shins are a little scraped up from exiting the lake.
And I was too tired yesterday to properly scrub off the backs of my calves.
So, that's it. I finished a triathlon strong. I can check "tri" off my lifetime exercise goal list, I guess.