This race was about the run for me. I knew I wouldn't PR on the swim, thought I might hold steady on the bike, but I REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted to nail the run. Nothing insane, just RUN it.
But, as we all know, you play the cards you are dealt, and you run the race that's before you.
I'll skip all the logistical crap, except to say: it was kind of a mess.
Saturday, the day before the race, was packet-pickup day at a downtown hotel, mandatory bike-racking day, scope-out parking day, practice-swim-in-Potomac day and D.C. Tri's athlete dinner. Too much.
Cleverly, I decided to pick up my packet on Friday afternoon. No crowds, no muss, no fuss, in and out!
Bike racking went fine.
None of my PEEPS were doing the practice swim and I almost bagged it but a last-minute call from this guy reminded me that I needed to do what I needed to do, nevermind what everyone else was doing (your mother: "if all your friends jump off a bridge (or in this case, DON'T jump) does that mean you have to??") So I went for it.
I stood by the floating docks trying to summon up my courage to jump into the river (I don't jump, people, ever. I climb), and promptly stepped into a hole, fell, and twisted my foot. Three elderly gents sat with their feet hanging over the riverbank, watching the shenanigans. They were extremely solicitous, asking if I was OK, and telling me not to get hurt before the race even started. Duh. If I were suspicious, I might have taken my fall as an omen and called it quits. What I am is stubborn. I was determined to get in that water.
So I just...jumped! I had a great swim and it helped build my confidence. I headed home, showered, took massive amounts of ibuprofen, and iced and taped my foot, on which I was now limping. I drove back downtown to the athlete's dinner, where I was a total grouch and left early because my foot hurt like a mo'fo. If I couldn't WALK, how the hell was I going to run??
Up at 4:00, at transition by 5:45. I parked about a mile away, and LIMPED my way there, trying not to think about running. My backup plan was to do the swim and the bike and see what my foot felt like after that.
I met up with Nancy, and Minime (she goes by several names). Nancy and I were in the very last wave, 50+, scheduled for 8:30. We sat around and watched the sun rise. Minime sat with us and I talked her down a few times, since this her first Olympic and you know, I'm such an expert and all.
We waited 1 trillion more years, some of them in my wetsuit, which I think I lost 10 lbs in, just standing in the heat. Somewhere along the way, I noticed my foot had stopped hurting. Didn't want to jinx it, so I didn't think about it. I lurrrve my age group, because they are pretty damn laid back (at least in this race).
Jump! We hung in the water for a while, waiting for a horn or a countdown or something. At one point the official yelled for people to move back. Then he yelled "go" without a countdown. It was a weird start. The swim map was misleading.
I had memorized this map. Under the bridge, turn left, bridge on left, turn left, back.
Well ... no. Under the bridge and ....keep swimming til you get to the NEXT bridge. Further than expected. But I plowed on. The course was not well marked but if you kept the riverbank to your right, you were fine. Yay me, I managed to pass a few people. I've been trying to focus on how many strokes it takes me to get across the pool--something like 25. So I decided to just count to 25, and each 25 would be one length of the pool. That sort of helped. Unfortunately, I was so focused on finishing that I forgot to revel in the fact that I was swimming in the Potomac and I completely MISSED swimming past the Lincoln Memorial, a vantage point you don't often get. I freestyled the whole way, only stopping a few times to get my bearings.
It was hard to see the last buoy so I started heading for the ladders too soon. The last buoy was a little past the ladders (or so it seemed) and you had to go around it and then swim left into shore. Climb out into and BOING get your fab swim exit photo, exhibit A:
When does the short bus leave?
It was a long run back to transition, and I heard my name called, and there was Number One Daugher's Boyfriend! Awwww! So my transition time includes me running over in a rubber wetsuit with those goggles on to give him a kiss. The volunteers thought I'd lost my mind and was going the wrong way. Ha.
Nancy was gone, and I was slow. A long run to bike out.
It was hot, and a lot of the course was in the sun. I usually love riding, and especially on streets--MY STREETS!! MY TOWN!!!--that are closed to traffic. But I wasn't feeling it today. Past all the monuments, some twists and turns and then a long out and back.
It was gorgeous and any other time I would have been deliriously happy. Unlike New Jersey, I was NOT the last one and I was not alone. I even passed a few people. But I was just not feeling it, as evidenced by my speed of 14mph. I felt oddly detached but I tried VERY hard to appreciate the beauty around me, stay in the moment, not fret about time or worry about the run. A non-racing biker came up to me while out on Cabin John Parkway and said, "I hope you know how lucky you are to be riding these roads with no cars." Indeed I did know!
Yep. I was there!
Today was all about the run for me. My foot had miraculously healed, but unfortunately it was now hotter than Hades. I was SO DETERMINED to run this I can't even tell you. This was MY run, I've run Haine's point a million times, I KNEW this and I KNEW I could do it. I decided to just take it slow and not worry about time, but just not walk (aid stations excepted). Aid was promised every mile, but it was more like 1 1/2 miles apart. I was running with the lame and the halt. We were a sad bunch. Everyone was miserable, the sun was unrelenting, there was really no shade. D.C. Tri had a water station at 2 1/2 miles and my peeps B. and S. (ha ha, no not BS!) were there with words of encouragement. SO HAPPY TO SEE THEM! I kept up my trudge until about mile 5 where I gave in to walking. But my walks were short and I got RIGHT back into running. So props to me for that. There were two misting tents along the way--glorious! A lot of camaraderie on the run. About four blocks from the finish my savior N. saw me, jumped in and told me no more walking. I almost cried with gratitude. It's absolutely AMAZING what the encouragement of another person can do for you. I managed to pick up the pace a bit and hold onto it for a nice strong finish.
Sometimes it's really NOT about the time, it's about the effort. I was disappointed with my time, but I know I did my best. What more can you do?
I met up with Minime at the finish, and met her parents (Minime: "Mom, Dad, MEET MY 51-YEAR OLD FRIEND." I AM NOT KIDDING!) and could have joined the post-race D.C. Tri party, but I was exhausted and just wanted to get home. You had to wait in line for a bus back to transition. While waiting an ambulance came and took someone away who was busy passing out in the heat. The heat was nothing to fool around with. There was a lot of bitching about the logistics. Waiting 1/2 hour for a bus after racing for 4 hours--not fun. And the bus didn't drop us at transition, but more like 1/2 mile away (at the WWII Memorial). So it was along slog back, then another long slog back to the car walking my bike with wetsuit piled on top of it and a very heavy backpack on my back.
Someone asked me the next day if I had fun. Since I am still having trouble answering that question, I guess that means no. I wasn't miserable, but no, it wasn't fun. But I'm glad I did it and I'd definitely do it again. Because I know I can do better.
bib number: 3150
location: BETHESDA, MD
overall place: 2260 out of 2398
division (ATHENA, all ages) place: 66 out of 84 (had I competed in my age group, would have been 32/40)
gender place: 852 out of 955
bike: 1:45:43 (14.1 mph)
run: 1:25:39 (13.49 min/miles)
Meanwhile (still with me David?), I have one last tri this weekend: I'm doing the swim leg of a relay at Savageman, but more importantly am staying in a house with my great D.C. Tri friends. Fun will be had.
My goals for the "off" season? I'd like to keep focusing on running, maybe run the Fredericksburg Blue Gray Half; I absolutely MUST work on my swimming, and of course, I need to work on biking!
Plus I'd like to get some weight training in, and some yoga, and start meditating.
Right after I quit my day job.