This past year has been full of major and minor disappointments in racing. First, injury from the Trans-Alpine, then lots of training and never quite setting the PRs I expected in running. Then a slew of injuries, a so-so triathlon and and then the pregnancy.
Anyway, yesterday I felt like I had been born again. I felt young and strong. And I know from my training that I have never been in the shape I am now. But being able to display that in a race, especially a triathlon, is never guaranteed.
The day before the race, where the scene and mood is always set, SR and I were full of nerves and thus on each other's nerves. But luckily, there was a party that night, with the fun Danish tradition of song writing (this time for SR's uncle who is soon turning 60). SR and I wrote two separate songs, which ended up being the highlight of the night. His was a more straight-forward comedic piece and mine was more of love story in a short musical (á la Rocazino). We ate tons. And so did The Lorax, who ate 4 portions of Lasagna with SR and then, since I thought he hadn't eaten anything, I gave him 2 more. An hour later, out on a swing, the lasagna came back up all over his clothing.
That night we slept well in SR's parents' basement. We arrived in the morning with plenty of time to spare.
So, as I've stated before, the triathlon would be an ALMOST half ironman. To be more exact, it was 1 km swimming, 76 km biking and 20 km running.
As people were arriving, the normal dynamic developed with nervous men becoming extroverts and nervous women becoming introverts and I was no exception.
They announced shortly before the start that drafting during the bike WAS permitted. Normally drafting is not permitted in triathlons due to various reasons (safety, staggered starts, other?). This was a huge piece of news, though, since drafting would be a huge help on a windy day like yesterday.
There were staggered starts with people starting the swim every 30 seconds.
Here was the swim hall it was held in. It was a 50 meter pool, which we would swim down and back, crossing over lanes under the lane dividers, get out of the pool, walk to the start, and do it again.
SR and I took showers separately :) and met out by the pool. I had a sore throat and felt febrile and was just really nervous, though determined to enjoy myself. I realized the strap wasn't in my goggles correctly. SR took a quick look and couldn't fix it. I started having a minor freakout and he wisely said he had to go to the bathroom one more time and left. Deep breath, ah, and I strapped the goggles. We put our chip straps around our ankles. SR would soon take off 30 seconds in front of me. We both had our wetsuits on.
When they told SR to go, he took the ladder down into the pool and I was befuddled by this. 30 seconds later, and I took a flat dive in, grateful my goggles stayed on. There were tons of people in that pool!! And it was hard to pass, but I managed to pass a few. I think my kick turns and gave me an advantage and I passed way more people than I had expected.
I ended up with the 3rd fastest female swim time of 21:12 (which included part of the transition). SR also had a much better swim than our last tri with a time of 22:39.
My transition onto the bike was okay. My new Sailfish wetsuit (my old one melted in Wisconsin :( - never leave a wetsuit inside-out in the heat) glided off beautifully. But then there was all this stuff: garmin on, gels in pocket, gloves on, Camelbak on, helmet and last socks and shoes. I ran my bike out, now seeing SR coming up to the bikes, knowing I'd see him again soon.
Here was the transition zone (earlier in the day, before all the participants had arrived).
So, the bike started out poorly. I had just learned to use the tri-bar the day before and felt a bit uncomfortable riding fast with it. A few super fast guys blew by me and I thought "this is going to be a long 76 km". Then SR blew by me, immediately to follow a guy down a wrong turn, but they quickly turned around, to pass me yet again. I couldn't get into a grove and then couldn't open my energy bar and was hungry, so I got off my bike just to open that stupid bar (actually it was a really good bar, as far as Danish bars go). Then we started biking into this horrendous headwind and I had no one to draft off. But then... a woman who had started earlier than me had a flat and got onto her bike and I started drafting. It is easy to tell by body language that someone is pissed off you are drafting and this woman definitely was. Eventually I pulled ahead to let her draft behind me, but she just immediately biked ahead of me again. This was very perplexing behaviour to me, so I just kept drafting, for a long time. What a nice free ride. If some of you reader have not drafted while biking before (I'm an old pro, now that I've done it twice) it makes biking SO MUCH EASIER. Anyway, I was all calm behind her for the first 30 km and then a faster woman passed us, and I then started drafting off of her, while the woman I had been drafting off of now had no energy to keep up. I know... it seems unfair! The second woman did not seem mad I was drafting and was qutie pleasant. We soon got into a big group, most of whom were faster than me, and I just kept drafting. Near then end of the bike, I fell behind, and just cruised to the end with a back wind and using my tri bar. It felt beautiful.
My bike time was 2:34:05. (SR called me from work this morning to say "What the hell, you bike ALMOST as fast as me!! It's impossible. Now we can actually bike together without me holding back."). I should point out his time was quite a bit better than mine at 2:25:01.
I had eaten two gels, 1 bar and drank all the sports drink in my Camelbak.
One of the great things about not having clip-in shoes is that when I get off the bike, I just run. And my tri outfit means no changing shorts or shirts or anything. It even has a built-in bra and undies. A complete one piece. It's perfect. I soon realized after I started the run that my shoes needed to be retied. Oh well. So I got a breather while I took care of that.
The run was uphill through Hillerød and then uphill more into a forest all the way up to this lake after 5km
and then turn around and go downhill. Then repeat, for a total of 20km. There were lots of hills where it was tough to know if one should walk up or run. Turns out I ran them and SR walked them.
The run was okay. Not stellar, but no disasters either. My stomach felt so bloated and I realized that decreasing the size of my bladder might be the only way I could help the situation. The downside of wearing a unitard tri-suit is you have to take the whole fricking thing off to pee (I have considered making a velcro pee flap). And, as I mentioned, the built in bra and undies come with. So, instead of creating a spectacle, I just peed while running. This is not something I am well-versed in. I felt fine, though, until urine hit the area of my ankel where the chip band was and burned like hell. Wowzers. I had quite a cut there.
I came through the first 5k in 24, 10k in 48 and the 20k in 1:43:52. This was the third fastest female time. SR said he had a disppointing run with leg cramps and came in with a time of 1:29:34.
The final tally
Well, I can see I've got to go to work, so I had better wrap this up.
I was shocked this morning to learn I had come in 3rd overall for the women (1st in my age group) with a total time of 4:39:10. We didn't even stick around after for the end since people were still coming in and I had never dreamed I would actually get on the podium! Well, if there was a podium, I was not there to enjoy it. But I am enjoying the fact that I finally had a race I was really proud of.
Here are the results.
Running Song of the Day: Frequent Flyer by Jon Lindsay (especially for fans of Steely Dan)