As I walked into transition, I realized that I was really ready for this weekend to already be over. After being in the car for over 8 hours the day before, doing a sprint race, going to bed late (11:30p and not getting good sleep) and wearing the same smelly clothes from the race in the am, I was mentally tired and wanted a shower and nap (in clean clothes). But, I had to power on, and definitely didn’t want to come across as whiny to the other club members, so I set up my transition and got ready to get my bike and wait for my turn to start the bike (it was time trial, 3 at a time, just like the swim). Bike, you might ask? Oh, I guess I forgot to mention that there was a special twist to the second olympic race that day. The order was switched so that we biked, swam and then ran. That combination wouldn’t be too bad, if we didn’t have to mess with trying to put on our wetsuit after being all sweaty from the bike. I was really not looking forward to the swim, especially because it’s my least favorite of the three.
I lined up next to my friend PT and we were off. She’s a much speedier cyclist than me, so within a few miles she was out of my sight, but I kept peddling on. I hadn’t paid much attention to the bike courses, but did glance at the maps the day before we left just to have an idea of what they looked like. Other than being super hilly, the other thing that stuck out at me was that the third bike course was an out and back. So I really started to notice when we kept going down, down and down the (what seemed like) mountain. Each time I grabbed my brakes as I made a sharp turn going down a switchback I realized that I would have to come UP this same darn, steep hill. Sigh. Faster than I realized, I was at the turn around and getting ready to ride UP the big hill. I took a big swig of my Infinite and a couple of bites of a Honeystinger waffle and then I started shifting down into my easier gears to get ready to climb.
Climb I did, up, up, up and up. In my easiest gear, peddling as hard as I could to keep moving forward and not topple over. As I kept moving, the hill just kept growing, switchback after switchback, we were still going up without a break. I just tried to keep my head down and focus. And then it happened. The weather had called for rain all weekend, but so far we had been pretty lucky and just had overcast skies. However, now our luck had changed and suddenly the skies opened up and it started to rain. Not just rain, scratch that. POUR. Rain so hard that I could hardly see in front of me, and rain so hard that it hurt! I was also steaming up my glasses from working so hard to keep pedaling that it made it even worse to try to see. At one point it got downright scary. Finally the rain seemed to calm down to a slow drizzle and about the same time I could see the end of the hill. It also was about that time that I just about burst into tears from being so exhausted, tired of riding the hill, tired of being in the rain, tired of the whole weekend! I wanted a warm shower, dry clothes and my own bed to take a nap! Maybe Ironman just isn’t for me. This was tough.
As quickly as that feeling rushed over me, it also quickly went away once I crested the hill and started to descend the hill. I could see that there was one more hill (the same one I climbed that morning and the same one I would two more times on Sunday), but I could see the top and knew that was my last climb of the day. I shifted again into my easier gears, put my head down, and mustered all of my strength to get. up. the. hill. I could hear someone with a cowbell at the top, which also seemed to help give me the energy to spin up the hill. As I reached the very top, I had tears in my eyes again, but this time tears of relief. I was finally almost done with the bike. The rest was downhill. I did it! This course was the hardest of the four races and I was more than happy to be done with it!
I coasted the rest of the downhills and finally ended up back at transition, hobbling to my transition area and in no mood to try to squeeze into my wetsuit. I saw PT right away and she gave me the same type of look and we both began putting on our wetsuits. Everyone was helping each other out, zipping up their wetsuits, pulling on sleeves, it was pretty funny to see, since usually everyone is trying to hurry along in transition, but everyone was chatting and taking their time for the most part. After helping a few people (which was mostly to avoid having to do the swim), I finally headed out of transition to start the swim. Once I got in, I slowly started to swim, but one thing that was different this time was that I could breathe more easily and every few strokes, without any issues. My first loop was really slow, but at that point I didn’t care, it was the last thing I wanted to be doing, so I took my time working on my strokes and breathing patterns, and eventually got back to the calm feelings I had last year during my OWS. As I got out of the water to do the second loop, something in me clicked and I became very determined to get this loop done and get it done fast! I really started to swim harder, working on my breathing but also picking up the pace and after saying my usual mantra ‘just keep swimming’, I was getting out of the water. Hooray!! On to the run!
After I got out of my wetsuit, I put on my running shoes and was off for the run, curious how my hips would hold up. But sure enough, they felt fine, a bit tight, but no pain. It was the same run course as the 10k in the morning, so I pretty much had the same strategy of walking a few of the bigger hills and running the rest. I did walk through a few more aid stations, but kept on pace, hips felt good, and crossed the finish line only 2 minutes slower than the run that morning. Once again, super slow, but I was happy with that time!
After cheering on the rest of the tri club teammates, we headed back to transition to pack up and then head to the car. I looked at my watch and couldn’t believe it was already 7:30! We hadn’t even eaten dinner yet and the hotel was still 30 minutes away! Argh! I really needed sleep for the big race the next day! We finally arrived back at the hotel around 8:30, I unpacked my gear, washed out my tri top and shorts (I also washed them out Friday night, don’t think I was wearing dirty smelly clothes all day Saturday…well, they were dirty by noon, but you know what I mean :)) Getting my nutrition ready took a bit longer because I was going to be out on the bike course for around 4 hours, and needed quite a bit more nutrition than the two 25ish loops from Saturday. Finally I was in bed around 10:30p and was happy to hear that the toilet was no longer making any noises! The next thing I knew I was waking up to my alarm at 4:15a. Last day of racing!!!