In other words: I successfully finished my second 70.3. And I miraculously took 10 minutes off of last year's time. Yes, I missed my secretly hoped-for goal of a sub-7 finish, which was a little disappointing, but considering I didn't really train and was in bed with a 101-degree fever exactly three weeks before race day, I'm not going to complain. I'm just going to shop.
Here's how race day went:
Mentally, I felt suspiciously calm leading up to the race. This was most likely complete and total denial. Reality struck on race morning when I found myself surrounded by very expensive bikes and very fit-looking people. I clearly remember turning to my friend Megan and announcing: "I feel like I'm going to shit my pants."
Luckily, my parents were there to cheer me on, and since I haven't shit my pants in front of them since that time in the second grade when I had really, really bad stomach flu, I wasn't about to start. Instead, I took goofy pre-swim photos and hoped for the best.
Side note: I love that my dad's pre-race advice was to take it easy, try not to go for a personal best and basically just don't die or get injured. Clearly, this is why I never played sports as a child.
Swim: OK, but not great. I started off way too fast and had to calm myself down. And then the water got really shallow, so I ended up wading a lot. Overall, I found it difficult to gauge my speed, and I generally felt slow since it seemed like three waves of people (pink caps, dark green caps, blue caps) passed me. But the funny thing was I finished in 49:11, compared to last year's 49:00.
T1: That would be me sitting on the ground in the center of this photo.
I know they say no sitting in transition, but hey, I'm a rule-breaker. And I'm also really clumsy, so if I don't sit to take my wetsuit off, I'll fall and probably knock over all of the bike racks. Anyway, I was out of there in 5:12, compared to last year's 6:12.
Bike: I cannot tell you how much I love my bike. I cannot even begin to explain it, except that it involves singing cheesy Taylor Swift songs to her ("It's a love story / Baby, just say yes") while I pedal. The second I climb on board Muppet, it just feels right. Yes, the first little hill after the right turn on Sunset scared me some because I huffed and puffed up it, but it always takes me a few miles to warm up. And once I got going, I really enjoyed those rollers and playing with momentum. All I have to say is the bike leg this year was worlds better than last year -- faster, more fun, less stressful. The only real awkward moment was when a Picky Bar slipped out of my shorts and somehow ended up underneath me on the saddle, so my race-addled mind for a moment thought: Why is this so uncomfortable? What happened to my saddle? Omg, did I grow a penis?! And then I figured it out and sort of moved my butt around until I ejected the Picky Bar behind me. You know, like if Muppet pooped gluten-free nutritional products. I finished the bike leg in 3:42:56, compared to last year's painful 4:11:21. (And then I kind of wanted to make out with Muppet afterward because I was so freaking excited to cut so much time off of my split.)
T2: Nothing out of the ordinary. Although I probably should've eaten my bag of Kettle Chips because it soon became apparent that I was seriously lacking salt -- 4:44, compared to 5:24 last year.
Run: Immediately, I knew something was wrong. The stomach cramps started. And I tried so hard to keep putting one foot in front of the other (thank you so much to my awesome friend Greg for riding along next to me, chatting and encouraging me to keep going), but it was tough. I walked most of those first two miles and would've kept doing the death march if a volunteer hadn't suggested I take some salt tabs. And then I remembered I had salt tabs in the pocket of my water bottle. (See? Total race-addled brain.) And then I started taking them and -- surprise! -- I could run again! Unfortunately, I think I was so dehydrated already by that point (also, it was really hot) that I kept feeling like I had to pee, but every time I tried to use the port-a-potty, nothing would come out. This happened three times, and it wasn't pleasant. And I started to worry that I had somehow given myself a urinary tract infection mid-race. (Again, was it sitting on that damn Picky Bar?) Anyway, I pushed through and ended up running most of the course. Granted, my running is really slow since I basically haven't been training at all, and I finished in a dismal 2:40:26, compared to last year's decent 2:20:48. (And this is what cost me my sub-7 finish. Ugh!)
Still, when someone's taking a photo, try to look like your insides don't hurt (thanks again to Greg for this shot):
I finished with an overall time of 7:22:29, compared to last year's 7:32:45. It wasn't my perfect race, but I was ecstatic about my bike split and learned a lot about what I need to do for nutrition (salt, salt, salt). And hey, a 10-minute PR is still a PR, even if I didn't make my goal time.
Onward and upward!