Warning: This is long!
We got into Benton Harbor on Friday and went straight to the Expo at 12:30, hoping to get there early and beat the crowds. One of my only complaints about this race is how the registration was set up. The line was already out the door and winding down the hall and around the corner. You then proceeded to wait in at least 5 lines to get checked off, get your waiver, sign your waiver, turn in your waiver, finally get a nice spike bag with your number, cap, etc... then check your timing chip. The whole process did not get complete until over an hour later.
We then hopped into anothe line for free food from Pizza Hut (pasta and salad) and then heard the pre-race talk about rules, the course, etc...
We bought a few things from the ironman shop. I got two shirts short sleeve and long sleeve and John got a short sleeve and a pair of biking shorts. They hadn't given us a shirt at registration, but we found out later we would get one at the finish. I'm sure I had read that somewhere earlier, but had forgotten.
We finally got out of there well after 3:00. Headed a few miles away to the transition area on Lake Michigan. We took the bikes out for a short spin just to make sure everything was working after the trip. We put the bikes in transition and covered the drive train and handle bars with plastic, then took a short swim in Lake Michigan. It was a pleasant surprise. Very clear, clean, with nothing growing in it and no smell at all. It was a beautiful beach, with awesome, clean sand.
We headed to the hotel and it was much later than planned. We got directions to a nice restaurant, had to wait a while to be seated and ended up eating much later than I would have liked. We didn't get back to the room until 9:00. Packed up and organized our transition bags, made out bottles and tried to get some sleep.
We got up at 4:10. I had some oatmeal and a little coffee and we headed out before 5:00. It was just beginning to rain as we pulled into parking about a mile from the start. We took a shuttle to the transition area. By then the rain was pretty steady. We set up our transition area and put plastic over as much as possible and then hung out in a tented area for about a half hour.
We finalized tranisition, put on wetsuits and cap which were much appreciated in the rain. By then I was pretty much soaked through. I put my Garmin into multi sport mode, left in on my bike and left the plastic bag on my handle bars.
We began the one mile walk down the beach by 6:40 to make my 7:18 wave. At 7:00, I ate a Hammer Gel. It looked like a herd of ants, all in our wetsuits walking down the beach. The going was slower than I expected and we got there just as the wave 6 minutes before mine was taking off. I felt very calm, and ready to go.
It was a beach start. We all crossed over the timing mat and then stood right at the edge of the water. I stood in the front row on the outside. The announcer finally counted down for us and we were off. I ran a little way in the water and as soon as it was deep enough did about three dolphin dives to get going. I was on the outside and felt like I was swimming toward the inside, but still went wide around the turn bouy. I had very little contact with anyone on the swim. We swam out about 30 yards, then parallel to the beach past orange buoys, then red buoys, green buoys and then looking for a final orange buoy that we did a 90 degree right turn around to head back toward the beach.
I felt fairly strong on the swim, sighting easily, bilateral breathing, and keeping my heart rate low. I was worried that I had taken the swim way too easily and I really do feel like I should be pushing my swim a little harder. It is just so hard to know how to pace when you have a long day ahead. I swam at a pace I could have kept up for a long time. My only issue was I could feel a bad rash developing on my neck from my wetsuit even though I had applied body glide.
Before half way we were running into the guys in white caps in the wave that had gone 6 minutes before us, and then not long after we began running into guys in yellow caps from the wave 12 minutes before us. That led to a little traffic here and there.
It went by fast and before I knew it I was swimming for shore and kept swimming until I no longer could. As I exited the water, my watch said 33:xx and we had about a 100 yards UPHILL through the sand to get to the timing mat, so my official time was 34:41 which was 13/82 in my Age Group of F 40-44
The transition are was LONG (very long) and thin so it was a very long way to run to my area, tear off the plastic, wetsuit halfway off while running, rest of the way off, socks on, biking shoes on, number on, helmet on, decided not to put sunglasses on because it was sprinkling. Then run all the way down the line to BIKE OUT. It seemed to take forever!! and it did my time was 4:29. Need to get that down.
I love the bike leg!! It was barely raining at this point and it stopped soon after I started. The sun was actually out for much of this leg.
I got right down into aero position and started passing people. I felt great right from the beginning. I spent the first 20 miles keeping an eye on my heartrate, and holding myself back because I felt so good on the bike. I was passed by a total of two women during the entire 20 miles and I passed more men and women than I could keep track of. I hit the 20 mile mark at 58 minutes, and I really felt like I was not hammering. At this point I felt like I was in a great spot. I had an early wave and had passed a lot of the weaker bikers in the earlier waves. I knew that there would be some stud guys starting to pass me soon. But for the most part I was out of the traffic and had a open path in front of me. I knew that a good bike was going to happen today and then it happened.......at mile 22.5
my front tire went flat....
Looking back, I am actually totally surprised at how calm I stayed. I have changed a tire by myself all of ONCE. I was out in the middle of a bunch of fields, and actually pulled over into a driveway where a bunch of immigrant workers were sitting on their front porch, watching the bikers go by.
I pulled everything out of my seat pack. Used my tire iron to get my tire off, pulled out the bad tube and felt around to see the cause. A piece of glass stuck in my tire. I couldn't pull it out with my (then filthy) hand, I had no pliers, so...I used my teeth! I didn't really even think about it, I just wanted it OUT of my tire. I put the tube in, and pretty easily got the tire back in. Got my CO2 tube and ready and filled it, to have it immediately go flat again...I was feeling defeated. I didn't have another tube...
Here is the part I am so sorry to admit...I look down on the ground and there sits my new tube. I cannot believe I did it...but I put my old tube back in...DUH!!!!!!
Calm...Deep Breaths.....I now put go through the whole thing again with the new tube. Thinking just wait until I tell Matt (my son who works in a bike shop and changes tubes all day long) this story. At this point I wasn't sure I would have enough air left in my Co2. So I say a prayer and fill this tube...and a little 'bubble' of tube pops out right at my valve. Now I begin to think I am going to have a DNF. I DO NOT WANT A DNF!!!!!!
So I let out a little air, and stuff the 'bubble' back in as best I can. I know I don't have enough air to let it all out and refill. So I put the wheel back on my bike, ask the guys on the porch to throw away my old tube for me, and try to head out. At this point I am filthy all over. My legs, my arms, my fingernails....YUCK!
There is an aid station at mile 25 and by then I am hearing funny things from my front tire. I stop and see that the bubble is back and so it was rubbing my brake with every turn of the wheel. I ask if they have air and they say 'NO', but two guys there tell me I what I already know. I need to let all the air out, tuck it all in, and MAYBE it will hold. So I do that, and am about to start asking passing riders for air, when I decide to look in my bike pack and see that I DO have another Co2. So I fill up the tire and hope it holds.
and to make a long, long story just a long story...it does hold. I feel absolutely great on the rest of the ride. I now have hoards of people that I have to pass and a few that pass me. My Garmin has 'auto pause' and so I know what my ride "would have been". I stayed above 20mph average for the entire ride. and when I came into transiton my Garmin said 2:46, which is 20.2 mph average. Unfortunately, the race clock said it took me 3:06. So the piece of glass, my stupid wrong tube change, and my weak tire caused my to give up 20 minutes!!
Of course my kids at home tracking me, wondered 'What happened to mom on the bike?" They knew I wouldn't be averaging 17.99mph unless I was hurting or some other mishap.
Final numbers for the bike 3:06 41/82 and I will say that I am proud of myself for getting through these obstacles, changing the flat (twice) and not giving up.
Again longer than it should have been, someone had put their bike in my space, so I had to move things over. Change shoes. At this point it was sunny and I which I had sun glasses to put on, but I had put my clear lenses in for the bike when it was raining earlier. So throw on the hat and get out of there in 4:20. Yikes, I know transition was a long run but I need to not give up so many minutes here!!
John said he could not wait to get off the bike and start the run. I felt the opposite. I'd rather do the bike over again than do the run.
I really never felt good on the run, on the other hand I never really felt bad either. I experienced not cramps, no severe pain anywhere. I just felt like there were way too many people who just run faster than I do. We did a lollipop type run, with two laps on the circle part of it. Most of it was on the Whirlpool campus, some of it on asphalt trails. Lots of aid stations, the volunteers were great.
There were three STEEP, but not too long hills. One at the beginning which I ran, and one on the loop which you did twice and I walked (along with many of the people around me) both times. I also walked through some of the aid stations and drank water and gatorade.
My pace stayed pretty even. My first mile was pretty fast (a little under 9:00) but then I stayed right around 9:30 pace for the whole run. I like that my pace was even, I would just like it to stay around 9:00 or faster. Looking back, I don't know if I might have had a better run IF I hadn't flatted and known my time was shot already. I just don't know. At the time I felt like I was doing the best I could.
I need to improve my run!! By doing two things, losing 10-15 pounds and running more and faster. If I want to get anywhere close to where I want to place in these races, my run needs to be well below 2 hours!
The temperature was a little warm out there. But really conditions were very good today.
The last mile seemed to take forever, but then we got back to transition and the crowds were great at the end, and I was smiling and couldn't wait to hit the finish. And John was there waiting for me.
He showed me his watch for his race 4:59.22!!! He broke 5 hours, woohoo!!!! He had a great race. Good swim, great bike and awesome run!!
Final run stats 2:05
and overall 35/82 in my age group with a total time of 5:55.24
even with my 20 minutes back I would have been 24/82. there were A LOT of fast women in my age group at this race. Quite a few UNDER 5 hours. YIKES!!
The shower afterward never felt so good. We had an awesome pizza dinner in St. Joseph's, which is a beautiful town.
We drove back on Sunday, and Matt put on a little sprint triathlon at our house. We actually had more spectators than participants, but it was a lot of fun. Matt and Liz had good workouts, and Megan (my 11 year old) did about half of it with John. Then we had a picnic and corn hole games afterward.
Matt made a special trophy to give the 'winner'. (He won, so he gave it to the guy who was second who has to bring it back next year to pass on)
for the winner of the "CYMAN triathlon" the M looks like the M dot of IRONMAN and it is an old bike frame he got from the bike store
On a final note:
I signed up for an OLY triathlon on August 15th. Matt and Lizzie (doing the sprint) were already planning on it. Because of my flat and not getting a 'clean' race on Saturday I decided to sign up. It has a challenging bike portion. I haven't done an Olympic distance tri since 2008 so I am looking forward to it.