Monday, June 28, 2010

Pacific Crest Half Ironman Race Recap Part 2

The race didn't start until 9, so we didn't have to get up super early. We got out of bed around 5:30 (when did that become "not super early"?), we had our smoothies and coffee, got dressed, loaded our stuff into the car and headed to the bus pickup area.

This event starts and finishes at different places. So, we dropped our bikes off out at the lake on Friday. That was where we would start. We would then ride our bikes back into town to the next transition point. We set up our run gear in the morning and hopped on the bus out to the lake. We got out there with plenty of time to set up.

The hours before the event starts are the worst time for me. This is when I get anxious. I would be better off to just get there and go...waiting around is bad for me! We got all our gear set up and ready to go. I walked down to the lake - it looked very calm and clear. The air temperature had to be in the high 60s, it felt warm already.

I started to get into my wetsuit early because it takes me forever to get it on. We were there over an hour before we started and Trevor said "do you think that will give you enough time to get into your wetsuit". It was...just barely....

My heart rate got up to 117 while putting on my suit and then up to 125 while we were waiting for the start. I get SO nervous before the swim. Once we get in the water I usually settle down, but like I said...the waiting around is the worst.

Finally it was time to go. Trevor and I were in the same wave together, I liked that. I don't like to watch him go out ahead of me. Doug was in the wave behind me. The horn sounded and it had begun.

My plan was to do a few breast strokes, then put my head down and go. There was a guy out there in the previous wave who was breast stroking. I told Trevor I would sight off him! I followed my plan, put my head down and swam. I stayed to the outside, way outside. I probably swam an extra half mile because of my line, but I didn't care. I wanted to be comfortable.

I am a stronger swimmer than I give myself credit for. Really, I am. I have a history of getting seasick on boats and I read a race recap once of a girl who got seasick during a triathlon, so now this is something I worry about. Because of the others in the water, it was a little rough - I kept checking myself to see if I felt sick - instead of just swimming.

The swim is a HUGE mental battle for me. It takes me a while to calm down. Today was no different. I give myself positive self talk the entire swim, but its still tough. This is something I really need to work out for Ironman. I can do it. I can totally do it. And this day, I did it just fine. There was a few minutes after I made the last turn towards home where I hit a sweet spot and felt really strong. Then some guy swam into me and blew it. Now I know that feeling and I just need to find it in all my swims.

I got out of the water and heard them call my name "Tracy Bryant from Vancouver, Washington"

Swim time: 51.07 minutes
This was about 6 minutes slower than I had hoped and 2 minutes slower than Lake Stevens. However, Lake Stevens was an out and back, this had several turns and I did swim further than necessary. Either way, I was THRILLED to be out of the water.

T1: 6:25

Now, onto the bike. I saw Doug getting on his bike too. Trevor was already out of the water and off on his bike by then.

This bike route was billed as tough - there were three "challenging climbs". I feel pretty confident in my climbing ability. The sun was shining bright, no clouds in the sky. I knew the temperature was going to rise quickly. I followed my nutrition plan and stayed hydrated. The ride went fast. I knew that I needed to make it to mile 38 and then it was literally all downhill.

The climbs were tough, I was in my smallest gear for more time than I expected, but I didn't feel like I was mashing my pedals. I felt strong and steady and just kept riding. I got to mile 38 and only passed one person walking their bike. I didn't have any moments where I felt like I couldn't go on or like I wanted it to be over.

After mile 38, it was a long fast downhill. That was FUN! I sat back and enjoyed the ride. By this time, my stomach was feeling a little crampy and I didn't like that. I have been experiencing that in training and can't figure out what is causing it.

We neared the finish of the bike. I was hoping to finish up around 3 hours and 15 minutes, 3 hours and 30 at the latest. I did Lake Stevens last year in 3 hours and 38 minutes. I wanted to beat that. I didn't take into account this event is 2 miles longer on the bike. Add in the heat, which we have had no training in this year and that slowed things down a bit. Oh...and that last long climb where I went 5 miles an hour for at least one mile....that had something to do with it too.

Pulled into bike tranisition. done. Yay.
Bike time: 3:45:15

I got off the bike and my hip was locked up a bit. I walked over to my gear. Changed my shoes, too off my helmet, got my gels, nuun tabs, put on some sunscreen, my visor and off I went.

T2: 4:01

I knew the run would be a challenge. I tried not to think and just ran. My stomach was really cramping and it hurt to breath. All the other participants around me were walking. I refused to walk. I knew that if I started walking now, I would never run. So I ran. Super slow. At one point, a girl next to me was walking and I was running and we were at the same pace. I didn't care, I just kept running.

My skin was covered in salt. It was SO hot out there. I kept focusing on moving forward. I stopped at all the water stations and walked. I got ice and put it down my shirt. I put cold water into my water bottle. Then I put in my electrolyte tabs and that helped. I was having a tough time keeping my heart rate down and I was worried.

Now is when the doubt started to creep in. I thought about those people talking at the bike store and I started to feel like I was ridiculous to be out here doing this. Who did I think I was? The winners of this event were done in like 4 hours and they were home, showered and out to dinner by now. I was still out there, slogging away like a big loser. I fought these thoughts for a few miles. Really feeling sorry for myself.

There were less than 500 people in this event. I was alone for most of the bike and the run. That is a long time to be completely alone with your thoughts. I was hoping that if I just kept moving forward, kept trying to cool down with ice, my stomach would stop cramping.

Around mile 6, my stomach stopped cramping. I felt better. I think I even sped up. At this point, no one was passing me anymore. I was passing others and they were all walking. But not me, I was not going to walk. I just wasn't.

I rounded the corner and had about a mile left to go, maybe less and then I had the worst experience I have ever had during any event. The run went through the resort of Sunriver, all along the bike path. At intersections, they had flaggers. I came to a crosswalk and there was no flagger. I was right by the pool area for the Lodge there. A guy came out of the pool and was flagging down one of the shuttle buses for the resort. The shuttle bus stopped right in front of my in the crosswalk. I was going to have to go around him. After 7 hours and 15 minutes of forward movement, the idea of having to take any extra steps was too much for me. I said outloud "are you kidding me?". The bus saw me and tried to get out of my way. The guy who had flagged him down said to me "You are going like a mile an hour. Run faster and chill out" in a really rude voice. I was silent for a minute and then the New Jersey girl in me yelled back a profanity so loudly that I was pretty sure I was going to be disqualified!

I wanted to cry. I was less than a mile away from the finish. I wanted to say to him "I've just covered 71 miles in the water, on bike and now on foot. What have YOU done all day but sit around and drink beer by the pool. This hurt my feelings so badly and I started to cry. Again, I felt so ridiculous for even attempting this.

Then I came around the corner to the finish line. I saw Doug's family and Doug and the announcer said "here comes the beloved Tracy Bryant". I don't know why he said or really if he said that, but that is what I heard. And just like that, it was done.

Run: 2:44:19
I wanted to run in about 2:23, but the heat was just too much for me and so was the stomach cramp.

Overall time: 7:31:08

I wanted to finish in under 7 hours, but I had not taken into account the extra two miles on the bike or the heat. Trevor and Doug both took longer to finish than they expected, so I felt okay about my time.

Really, I was proud of myself. True to form, I started out slow and picked up speed - I came out of the swim in 373rd place, go off the bike in 366th place and finished overall in 347th place. I have come so far and I know I am worthy of being out there. I really do. I work hard, I fight hard, for every single inch that I cover.

Even though my times were a little longer that I wanted, I followed my plan. I swam steady, I rode with intent and I ran the run - I walked the water stations, but ran the rest of the time. That to me is a huge success. The day was fun, as much fun as something like that can be. I felt lucky to be alive, to be able to do these kinds of things with Trevor and Doug. The course was beautiful. And really, what would I have been doing otherwise....


Kristine said...

You are such an inspiration to me! I went out for a 5 mile walk/run tonight because you inspire me! You may not be able to realize how far you have come since your training started in January... but let me tell you sister.. you have come a long way! You are doing FANTASTIC! FANTASTIC.. read it again! I am so envious of your dedication and strength! Keep your chin up!

ibounce said...

You are amazing! I wish i could have been there to say something to the guy for you.
I am excited for you to do the full iron man. it will be fun to read your race recap. Your writing makes the event come alive again and I feel everything you go through. I understand some of what you are going through having done separate events of similar size. You however are doing them all on one day! Kudo's to you, Trevor and Doug. I am sure you will all meet the event well.
Keep up the good work!
Much love