Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Pocono's 1/2 Iron Man Recap

The sun rose at 7am Sunday. I rose at 2:30am. My plan was to get up at 4:30 but after needing to pee I could not fall back asleep and just tossed and turned for 2 hours. I ate a bagel and took a banana to eat later before the swim. My mom drove me to the drop off zone where I and my two gear bags would be bussed to the swim start at Second pond. We had very few spectators for the swim, as the available parking was minuscule. Once there, I set up my transition area, visited the porta potties, stripped off my outer before race layers and got into my wetsuit. This time it was not that hard of a struggle and I actually got the crotch to a comfortable position. After dropping off my green morning gear bag (it contains dry warm clothes that would be bussed to the finish for us), I headed down to the swim start. I was in wave 9 and was supposed to hit the 64 degree water at 7:30. Instead, we got a late start and I went in at about 7:45.

I'm so happy I got a wetsuit before this. That water was freezing and it was quite a shock even with the suit. There were some people who swam in sleeveless wetsuits and some who swam in just swim suites! CRAZY!! I stuck my head in during the 4 minute warm up and it took my breath away! I hung back and started at the back of my wave. I didn't want to deal with the crush of bodies and 30sec would not be that big of deal. The swim was hard. I'm not going to lie. I kept waiting and hoping for the first turn, that would be about half way. I did pass several people that had started in waves ahead of me and it helped bolster my mood. After the halfway mark I started getting passed by waves that started after me. Passed is to nice. I was practically run over. How do you not see a swimmer in front of you? At this point I took in some water, which tasted strangely salty. It could have been the snot pouring out of my nose or the spring fed pond had some dissolved minerals in it. Through out the swim I battled calf twitches in both legs. They never fully cramped but it was bothersome. Swim Time: 43:58, cat place 4/6. Predicted: 48:28

T1 did not take as long as I thought it would. I quickly stripped out of my wetsuit, threw on my shirt and sleeves, and dried my feet for my socks. And then I had to pee. Normally, I just let it go during the swim if I have to. But, I couldn't do that with a wetsuit. Well, I could but I hear it's impossible to get the smell out. My goal for the swim was 1, to finish and 2, to not pee in my wetsuit. Check and Check! So I had to visit the porta potties again before I headed out for the bike. T1 Time: 10:45.

The first 3 miles were all down hill and the bike was basically uneventful for the first 20miles. At one hour I had done about 16 miles. This is the fastest I had ever gone. If I was able to keep it up I might finish the bike ahead. Um, that did not happen. My left calf was a source of irritation for most of the bike. I got off at each water stop to take in water, Ironman Perform, and some food (bananas or pretzels). My stomach was empty and had started to growl, GU would not hold me over. While off the bike I took the opportunity to stretch the legs a bit. After mile 20 the course gets hilly. There were probably 3 or 4 that were complete bitches to get up. There were also some that on their own would have been no big deal  but when strung together with small and large hills were excruciating. I rode up every hill. I may have stopped and given my legs a break but I never walked my bike up! I'm very proud of that. The down hills were amazingly fast and I was actually scared several times. I was going so fast on some of them that I knew if I hit even a small stone my race was over. But, it was exhilarating! At the end of the bike I saw my mom and her cow bell! Bike Time: 4:25:34, cat place 6/6. Predicted: 3:38:24.

T2 started rough. The dismount guy kept yelling at me to dismount NOW! Dude, I have 3 feet till the line. I'm gonna ride all of that! Then I couldn't find my number to rack my bike and get my shoes on. I had to have a volunteer find it for me. Thank god, he was there. I was almost in a full on panic thinking I had put my run gear in the wrong spot on Saturday. Luckily, he found it and I was able to change socks and shoes quickly. T2 Time: 5:19.

The run was bad. From start to finish. As soon as I took off I knew my muscles were not in good shape. My lower back had started to ache and was actually starting to seize up. The entire back of my left leg was also tight. At about mile 3 I thought about laying in the grass and trying to get everything to relax a bit. Then, I thought I'd never be able to get back up. Better not stop. I continued on in the run doing a run for 5 minutes then a walk for 30-40 sec. For the first half of my run a lot of runners were heading back and were passing me on my way out. Let me just say that almost every runner that ran past me gave me encouragement. Be it a wave, a smile or a "You got this." Every single one of them helped me to continue and finish. At the turn around/halfway point my back had loosened up but my left leg was still tight. I continued on at my run/walk. Miles 5-11 were very lonely. There were no other runners near me and the spectators had either left or hadn't come that far out of town.
I will not be eating bananas for awhile!
 Mentally, this was challenging. I kept telling myself, "If you can just get back into town you'll be fine." Then the big blow happened at mile 8/9. My right calf twitched. Then my left twitched. I knew that a full cramp was not far behind the twitch. I ran until one twitched and then I walked till it felt better. And I repeated this until I got to mile 12.9. By this time I was back into town and passing spectators and finishers on their way home. All gave encouragement and told me I was just around the corner from the finish. How could I walk in front of these people? I couldn't. I ran in the last 0.2 miles! Well, what felt like running but was probably some sort of zombie walk. I'm sure it did not look pretty. My mom was right before the finish line and I burst into tears the minute I saw her. I remember yelling, "I hurt so bad!" at her. I crossed the finish in tears. Of joy. Of pain. I almost had to go to medical since I was "wheezing". I assured them it was only because I was crying and I'd be ok. Run Time: 2:59:09, cat place 5/6. Predicted: 2:43:14.

I cried four times after finishing. Most of them happened every time I looked at my medal. I believe, shortly after finishing, my mom asked if I would do another. My reply was, "Of course! But not this one." I am 99.9% sure I will do another next year. I'm leaning to Steelhead. I'm, also, 95% sure I will never do a full Ironman. If I did I would have to wait till my mom was incapable of hurting me. She's absolutely forbidden a full. If she had it her way I wouldn't do another half. I understand. It has to be hard to wait for your child when she's an hour late and not knowing if she's been hurt. To watch your daughter stumble and cry in pain. But, I am thankful that she was there. To calm me. To help me to remember to Glide my neck for my wetsuit. It helps to get through the hard spots when you know someone is expecting you at the end. I'm also thankful to my sister, my father and my friends. All pushed me in training and had to listen to me vent my frustrations and fears. Final Time: 8:24:53(includes transitions), cat place 6/6. Predicted:7:10 (does not include transitions).

Front of shirt I just bought
I also want to say that all the volunteers at this race were amazing! At the bike water stops they asked what I needed and brought it to me. Every one directing traffic at corners gave encouragement. The volunteers on the run water stops were the best, though. They were always ready with what ever I needed, gave me a mileage report, informed me how long I had until the course was closed, and always had a smile. And all this for a girl who was one of the last runners out there! I think 3 others came in behind me before they closed the course! I, also, think the directors of this race did a great job! The course was beautiful and seemed well planned. Maybe a bit too hilly. But, would anyone want to do an easy 1/2IM?


Afterwards, I took an ice bath followed by a soak in the hot tub. I've been wearing compression socks for three days now. My calves still ache. Well, my whole body hurts and if they made a compression sock for every thing, I'd be wearing it! I hurt but it's a good proud hurt!

Overall: 1047/1099. 14 of the 1099 DQed, including a pro. 30 of the remaining 1085 DNFed, also including a pro. I was 1047/1055 of those who finished. Not bad for my first time.

Update: 10/05/12, I've analyzed the data from my Garmin, Mile 12 of the run portion took 29 minutes!!! 

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