As soon as I ran out of the chute I saw the tri club tent and club members lined up and cheering me on, it was a great mental boost! I looked down at my Garmin and it was showing 44/mph instead of my run pace! Argh! You’d think I would have figured out the multisport mode by race day, but obviously not. I tried fiddling with it and in the process accidentally hit the lap button, which to the watch meant I was done with the run. It played a little song (the ‘you finished the race’ song? Not sure where Garmin was going with that one) and then displayed 0:00:00. Great. I had to reset it, switch to just run mode and then I was able to see my pace. Ridiculous. If I can’t figure it out during the next race, I’m skipping multisport mode and just using it as a watch to track total time.
My first couple of miles I went out at around an 8:30 pace, a bit faster than I had planned, but I was feeling good. Until mile 3. At that point, I started feeling extremely nauseous and since it was around noon, it had gotten really hot. 93 degrees hot. Additionally, the two loop run course offers no shade and there wasn’t a breeze to help out either. I started to really slow down, and then, what I had dreaded to do on the run, I started walking.
Ugh. I couldn’t believe it, I had trained all summer to WALK the run? I tried to pull some mental toughness and get myself running again, but when I did, I had huge waves of nausea. I didn’t want to throw up in fear that I would get really dehydrated and have even more issues, so every time I got nauseous, I went back to walking, and then running…and then nausea. Ugh. At this point, I started to get frustrated and began to wonder why people did these races, why pay money to run in the middle of the day after already swimming 1.2 miles and biking 56 miles? Real running races start early in the morning when it’s nice and cool. This is freaking nuts. How was I going to finish this if my stomach was grumpy the rest of the race?
I drank water and gatorade at every aid station (there was one every mile) and took the cold sponges volunteers were handing out and stuffed them in my tri top, but nothing seemed to help. At the mile 5 aid station, I head someone yell ‘coke!’ and I remembered a club member saying how they tried coke (a-cola… not the illegal stuff) and how it really helped them during their race. I figured I didn’t have much to lose at this point, so I shouted ‘Coke!’ and a volunteer handed me a cup. It was surprisingly refreshing! I finished the whole dixie cup of it and kept running. I passed by the club tent before the turn around to start the second loop, so I did my best job to fake a smile and give high fives.
I finally made it to the turn around for the first loop, and a friend in the club ran alongside me to see how I was feeling. All I could manage to say was that I felt nauseous, and my stomach was full of liquid, but I was still thirsty and couldn’t seem to figure out what was wrong (Perhaps I should have peed before the run? Too late now, there weren’t any porta potties on the run course…wtf?). I must have sounded really whiney because he just responded ‘aww, you’ll be ok’ and smiled at me. Oh well, so much for words of wisdom, I guess I needed to just suck it up.
On my way out from the turn around, I was running alongside a lady and we started chatting about the race, and it turned out this was her first half as well! Suddenly I was able to pick up my pace and I was feeling good, we wished each other luck and I went ahead. Next, I passed by the club tent and this time I was feeling good! This smile was for real this time!
I gave JMR a big smile and wave and in retrospect, I wish I had also given him a kiss, but I was all business at that point. No time for kisses. See I was even too focused and missed his highfive:
I looked down at my watch and I was back to running around 9 minute miles! Woah!! Hooray! And it felt good…. the coke! It had to be the coke, that was the only thing I did differently and things had changed. Hail to the coke! Going forward instead of gatorade, at every aid station I would ask for a water and coke and it really seemed to be working. I ended up passing a few club members racing and gave them high fives along the way. This was the race I was supposed to be having during the whole run! As I looked at my watch, I realized that I wouldn’t finish the run in under 2 hours, but at that point I didn’t care too much because I knew I was going to finish, and I was going to finish STRONG!
As I got to the last mile, I tossed the sponges out of my tri top (didn’t want a silly finishers picture with sponges hanging out of my top) and tried to pick up the pace a bit. Soon I could see the finish chute, this was it!! I passed the club tent for one last round of high fives and dashed down the chute! I heard the announcer call out my name, I had officially finished my first 70.3!! (Although he read the person’s information that finished behind me at first, saying this was my third 70.3, boy was I surprised when I heard that!).
I immediately found two other club members I trained with over the summer in the finishers tent and was so happy to see them. I drank (yet another) coke and basked in the excitement of finishing my first half, and also how great I felt! After doing some math I knew I hadn’t finished in under 6 hours, but I was pretty close. We went over to the timing booth where they printed out our race splits/times and I had finished in 6:07! I was pretty excited but also felt a little twinge of irritation of knowing what it could have been had the first half of the run gone as planned. But I guess that’s the point, if everything always went as planned, where would the challenge be?
After spending a few more minutes in the tent I headed out where JMR was waiting for me. I gave him a hug and a kiss, I was so happy to see him! He took a picture of me next to the finish cute with my medal, and at this point gatorade reappeared as it was no longer my enemy.
I couldn’t believe it, it was over! Five months of dedication and training and I had finished the race – and other than the run, better than I had expected to finish! My swim went well (I was able to keep up with T), I didn’t even know I could maintain 18mph for 56 miles, and even with the hurdle in the run, I still finished strong and felt great. I also owed my finish to JMR, my family and friends, because without them and their support (and them listening to me whine about bad days and brag about good ones), I couldn’t have done it. My tri season for 2012 was officially over, but plans for the 2013 season were already in the works 😉