Part I: Race report, preliminary pics
Part II: Thoughts on triathlon, more pics (to follow in another week or so)
I have had so many thoughts and feelings flooding through my mind since...well since the race STARTED yesterday!
Ultimately I can honestly say I gave it my all yesterday. I did my best and I put it all out there. The biggest disappointment for me was my run. I gave it my all but I wanted to feel better. I wanted to have more strength. I wanted to have more 'get up and go' in my legs. I wanted to be faster. But, I did what I did and in spite of knowing that I was running slower than I had originally intended, I kept a smile on my face, I kept my thoughts positive, and I told myself "Sarah...this is the last time you have to do this this year..."
My goals going into this race were as follows:
-Go sub 5:10: Nope
-Qualify for Clearwater: YES! (But I turned it down)
-Not break down at mile 9 on the run: YES!!
-Have fun and be confident and proud of myself: YES!!!!
My times went like this:
Swim: 34:34 (1:47/100 yard pace, avg HR 162)
T1: 2:58 (avg HR 169!)
Bike: 2:45:34 (20.3 mph, avg HR 161)
T2: 2:17 (avg HR 161)
Run: 1:53:51 (8:41/mile, avg HR 164)
I went into the race feeling pretty positive. I had a lot of fun the day before - met Loren and Christine at packet pick up, and Christine and I headed back to my house and chilled for awhile. Then Jocelyn showed up. It was a big ol' blogger/girl party!
Race morning we all headed out. Our wave didn't start until 8:15 so we had plenty of time to get there, get situated, all without the worry of having to rush. The air was cool and layered with fog. Perfect racing weather! As Jocelyn put it, "perfect weather for a PR!"
Pre-race superstars! ------------>
I smiled when she said that. I certainly was aiming to do my best. Even if it wouldn't be sub 5, I was aiming for something just under 5:10 - my previous best at Big Kahuna last year.
<----- Me, Pat, Jim and David - the WC Velo Vineman Crew, pre race!
Before I knew it, we were in the water and counting down. 10...9...8...BAM! The gun when off. I thought of Bree and Eileen always talking about grabbing feet. I thought "ha, I'm so fast, I'm going to rock this swim!"
Well...I didn't really rock it. 34:33 for the swim. One of these days, I will get it down to 32:00. I KNOW IT! Still, I kept trying to find a rhythm and seemed to have a hard time doing so. I'm really looking forward to spending more time in the pool and working on having a smoother, longer stroke. I eventually started to catch some people from my wave and felt better about that. Then we were done!
T1 - wetsuit off, no problem! I saw Jocelyn across from me and she was already getting ready to head out. I wished her well and got back down to business. As I ran out with my bike, I looked at my watch - just about 3:00. WTF? IT DOESN'T FEEL LIKE THAT LONG! WHY DOES IT TAKE ME SO LONG?!?
Bike - Off I went. I wore my HR monitor so I could keep myself in check. Knowing these roads like I do, it's easy for me to want to just GO. Westside Road NEEDS to be repaved before next year. I saw SO many water bottles and crap all over the road because of all the stupid potholes! I just put my head down, smiled and went. I felt so happy to be on the bike, so strong, and it helped that I just kept passing more and more people. In the first 30 minutes I figured I had caught most of the women who had beaten me in the swim...and I just kept passing folks. It was such a confidence booster.
Before I knew it, we were off Westide and onto Dry Creek. At this point we were about 20 miles in and I felt great. Pretty soon, I heard two female voices up ahead chattering and laughing. I looked up and there was Courtenay and Kelly!! They smiled at me and cheered for me - what a nice surprise! The only people who had passed me were a handful of fast men who had started in the last two waves after me. I kept repeating my affirmations to myself throughout the entire ride - "I radiate confidence and relaxation."
At about 35 miles in, a woman with '25' on her calf passed me - the first one! However, after Chalk Hill, I came up on her again - from Chalk Hill to the finish, we leap-frogged. Keeping in line with Courtenay's attitude from her last race, I had wished most women I passed 'good luck' or "way to go!" Even if they didn't say anything back, it made me feel good. This woman and I had been smiling at each other, kind of cracking up that we kept passing each other. Finally she said "what's your name?" We exchanged names (she was Vanessa) and wished each other well on the run. I had a good feeling she'd kick my ass. She did. :)
Coming closer to the bike finish, I began to worry. Was I really going to finish in 2:45? How could that be? Last year I had a road bike and no racing wheels. HOW ON EARTH COULD I BE A MINUTE SLOWER?
The negativity began to creep in. I wondered how on earth I could possibly be SLOWER on this course. Finally I caught myself and said "SARAH! IT DOESN'T MATTER! FORGET AND FOCUS!" I repeated another affirmation, telling myself "I believe in my training and fitness."
I was doing all I could do, without leaving it all out there on the bike course. I knew that I had raced that bike to leave a little for the run. That's the name of this game and I was playing it. So...onward.
[I later found out from my super-fast friend John Murphy (who, btw, got 4th in the SUPER competitive age group of Men 40-44 - GO JOHN!!) that his bike time was about 5 minutes slower this year too - there was a headwind for about the last 20 miles that I somehow neglected to notice...I felt MUCH better after learning this!]
Run - I started the run uncertain of how I was going to feel. I had kept my HR in the low 160s for much of the bike. I had eaten well, though I had to back off near the end - because it was still so cool out I wasn't sweating as much as I thought I would, and I wasn't digesting as much as I thought I would either.
Coming out of T2 I saw Chris and realized he was the same guy who I had seen as I came in on the bike (and was like "who is that and how does he know me?"). It was awesome to see he'd come up here to cheer us on!
As I embarked on the first mile, I realized my FEET WERE ASLEEP!! Pins and needles - for 4 full miles!! Right out of the gate, Vanessa and about 2 other women from my AG passed me up. Hm, oh well. I just hoped I could hang on tight and race my race - I was shooting for about 1:48 at this point.
Inevitably, however, it came down to taking it one...mile...at...a...time. I would say "3 miles down, 10 to go. 4 miles down, 9 to go..." etc. My friend Jerry saw me right before La Crema and offered some helpful words" "Sarah, you're dragging your arms. Swing them and get some momentum going!" He's a fast runner, so I knew whatever he had to say I should follow. It seemed to help.
I tried to pick up the pace a little. It hurt. My HR was getting into the 170s and I questioned whether I should just let it stay there and push through this. But then I doubted myself. I knew that in an open 10K I could easily hold my HR there, but what about right now (with only about 10K to go)? My legs were jelly. No threats of cramps, but just losing strength with each passing minute.
I sighed. Just had to press on. In spite of being positive, I was convinced that even if I qualified for Clearwater, I was just DONE. I didn't want it. Burnt out, tired of half-ironmans for this year. But in that moment, I knew that I HAD to push through this because a) the pain wouldn't last forever and b) this was the last time I had to do this for now. I had to make it count.
Right around this time, Beth passed me. The one and only woman from my AG to pass me on the run. I figured if only one woman had caught me, I was still running fairly strong and holding my own!
Seeing her sort of inspired me to hold onto things, suck it up and just get it done with. So I did. Nobody else passed me, I passed more people, ate more Gu, drank Coke/Gatorade/water, went through more lows and highs and decided that I had indeed met my goal: I did not blow up at miles 9, 10, 11 or 12.
Finally, as I turned the corner at the front of the high school, I saw Courtenay and Kelly again! THEY ROCKED!!!!!! They ran with me from the front parking lot, saying "GO GO GO" and I was saying "I F-ING HATE THIS FINISH! IT'S SO F-ING LONG!" and Courtenay just saying "GO!" Then I heard Kelly say "okay, I'm tired." and that cracked me up. I smiled and knew it was done. I just had a little further. In spite of hurting, I knew I would 'fake it 'til I made it' and look like I felt like a million bucks (because in a way, I did - I was DONE, DAMMIT!).
So I ran down the chute, smiling and being grateful for still beating my time from last year. Grateful for being able to do this sport. Grateful for my friends and family who support me. Grateful that I could push myself to finish strong. Grateful that I've experienced so much from this crazy-ass sport.
As I came through the finish line, I put my arms up like I was the champion of ME and yelled "YESSSSS!!!!"
It felt so good. The best surprise of the day was yet to come - my parents WERE THERE! They found me after all was said and done and had made it in time to watch me finish! It was the most awesome thing ever and I was *so* stoked that they had totally surprised me by being there. :D
I'm so proud of Jocelyn - she wanted sub 5 SO bad and she got it - she did 4:58!
I'm proud of Christine - it was her first half ever and she took second in her AG!
As for me - I wondered how I'd placed. I figured maybe top 10? I had seen so few women from my AG on the course, that I figured a handful were way out front, but I had to be somewhere close.
Apparently, however, I placed 18th - and as I looked over swim times of all the people who had beaten me - THOSE WOMEN WERE FAST! And not only fast swimmers, but fast bikers and runners, too!! It was rather surprising - often some of the fastest swimmers are not always quite so fast on the bike and I can usually catch them on the bike, then try to hold them off on the run. But so many of these women had swim times under 30:00!!! It was nuts.
To that end, I realized that I did what I could do. I did my best. I'm very proud of my performance, my effort and for still being 5 minutes faster than last year. And I've made up my mind: LA Triathlon, here I come! NO MORE HALFS FOR THIS YEAR!!!!!
Thanks to everybody for all the support. Especially to my local Wine Country Velo crew (and their families) who was out in full effect, to Courtenay and Kelly for coming out to cheer, to my parents for totally surprising me and making my finish that much sweeter, to Matt for putting up with me through all this, and to all of you people in the blog world who inspire me to push hard and never look back. It really makes this journey possible.