Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wildflower - The Race!

As is par for the course when I bunk with PIC, I slept fabulously the 2 nights before the race!  Race morning I wasn’t nervous just excited and was able to put down a great breakfast of Justin’s Nut Butta on naan bread and a mix1 - breakfast of champions.  Or bridesmaids.  I digress.   I was ready to go!  

Sonja's parents and cute kiddo Annie showed up while we were packing up but Annie was sick!  She had a mean fever and wanted nothing more than to cuddle with her mama.  I could tell PIC was can I race when my kid is sick?  I should stay here with her and be her mama, not an athlete today.  I tried to give her as much space as possible but soon it was time to go.  She sent Megan and I down to transition and would meet us in a bit.  As we left, I soon realized I had a problem (minor compared to Annie's fever).  Aero helmet and big transition pack don’t mix.  But you can’t ride without a helmet....what’s a girl to do?  

The Beak

Tatoos, numbers.....not much more real estate on the arm
The weather was warmer that morning than it had been since we’d been at the lake and it seemed the wind had died down too.  The pros went off at 8 and then all the men and then the women.....and my start time was 9:25.  Never started that late before.  PIC and I watched the pros and the men come out of the water and into transition and cheered them on!  We called it the Guns and Tenderfoot Show!  It seems, the bigger the arms on the guys, the softer the feet and the bigger the tip-toeing up transition!  About 9 the wind decided to pick up again so the chop in the water was AWESOME for the ladies.  No worries, I lined up for the start and we were off!

Having a little chat with my higher power, another girl looks like she needs a nap!  Starting line photos are pretty entertaining.
I was off the front to the right of the first turn buoy and was with 3 other ladies sprinting at the front.  I had women on my feet hitting and trying to swim on my legs, I kicked pretty hard and got out of there.  Clearly, 2 of these women were FAST and I knew I wasn’t going to be hanging with them.  I tried to get into their bubbles but they took off.  Before I knew it, I was looking at the turn buoy and I had miscalculated my line - I had to cut in pretty good for the buoy.  Oops.  First open water swim of the year.  The chop was with us on the way out so I tried “riding” the waves and letting them push me forward.  but the chop made it extremely difficult (for me) to sight.  For the most part, all I could see was water or a kayak.  Finally the turn came up and I saw another pink cap!  As suspected, the chop on the way in was dreadful.  I was trading places with the other pink cap, getting face fulls of water every other breath or so and was so glad to see the turn into shore.  The other pink cap got a bit ahead of me at the finish and beat me out by a couple of seconds.  Third out of the water for my age-group.  
I love my new TYR/KompetitiveEdge kit!!!  But I couldn’t find the pocket to shove my First Endurance Liquid Shot in!  Pink cap beat me out of transition while I practically had to take my top off to find the pocket - need to do a little practice with that.
I was excited to be on the bike!  The crowds were incredible out of transition and lining up along the road to the first hill.  It was really cool.  The first hill I just kept my eye on my heart rate - I love hills and I didn't want to blow myself up early because I was so eager to be racing, going fast and climbing.  This course is amazing.  It is beautiful and tough.  The first 20 miles are really just little climbs and a couple of screaming downhills.  I felt great.  My legs were with me, my heart rate was exactly where I thought it should be - and maybe even a tad low - and I was passing people non-stop. I finally caught the pink cap that beat me out of transition:)  So at this point, I figured I was either 1st, 2nd or 3rd in my age group - the pink cap wave was 40-49.  I kept pedaling hard and loving every minute.  Every once in a while I'd look around and just smile at the blue sky and beautiful hills.  There was a fierce headwind and crosswinds and I didn't mind it at all - wind has been the story of this year so far with training anyway and with Kona around the corner, I am embracing the wind:)  It was pretty scary though to see three ambulances and a flight for life.  At one point around mile 20 I passed an ambulance with someone holding up an IV.  Yikes.  
Around mile 3 coming out of the campgrounds, love the crowds!
At mile 35, I reminded myself that this was where the race really started.  And at mile 41, Nasty grade!  I got in my lowest gear right at the get go and some woman said to me....that sucks to be in your lowest gear at the start of the climb.....whoa - was this some smack talk?  I laughed it off and just pedaled on by.  I actually really liked that climb, it reminded me of Olde Stage in Boulder only a little less steep, a little longer, and a lot more oxygen. About mile 50 I started feeling the effort.  I'd been riding as hard as I knew how for 2.5 hours.  And I was certainly not going to meet my goal of 2:50 on this course.  Now I just wanted to beat 3 hours.  I missed the last hand-off at the aid station and rode the last 6 miles without fuel.  I didn't worry about that though because I knew my nutrition had been solid to that point.  It was time to reenter the park and all the crazy cheering crowds!  
2:58, 2nd age group
Next up, Run!
OK peeps, I didn't know if I was going to blog about this but then I figured I pretty much tell everything as it is during a race and the following turned out to be a big part of my experience.  So, if you don't want to read about my period, or blood, stop now!  You have been fairly warned!!  You can skip this blue part and read about awards:)

I felt great coming in to T2!  My legs weren't feeling all that bad and the crowds certainly lifted my mood.  As I went to rack my bike I noticed my seat was covered with blood.  Crapola.  Now what?  My period had certainly picked a bad time to be on a rampage - I was in the middle of a race!  What do I do?  Stop?  Medical? Lay down and cry?  Go home and camp out in the "red tent"?  Keep racing and "go with the flow"?  I just wished I didn't have to deal with this!!  I drank my Pre-Race (coffee on crack) concoction and started running.  I guess I would figure it out soon enough.

So, I ran out of transition completely preoccupied with what may or may not be covering my legs.  All I could think about was Bree Wee and her experience in Cozumel.  Thank goodness I wasn't wearing white!  Mile 1 passed and although I wasn't thrilled with the split, I did feel pretty good.  I kept running.  The course now went onto trails around the lake and I loved this part!  A girl passed me and I figured she would be a good little rabbit for me and I kept her in my sights.  I ran up the first steep hill and had a goal to NOT walk the monster hill from miles 4-6 and I did a pretty good job until the last bit of mile 6.  I walked.  But as soon as it crested, I immediately started running again.  About this time, a couple of female volunteers were announcing the next aid station so as I ran by I asked them if they could see blood as I was pointing to my crotch and legs.....they said no!  I needed to hear that, I was somewhat relieved:)

My run training up to this point has been sloooowwwwww......but with a purpose.  Chuckie has been so diligent with getting me running again and healing up my foot.  We've been taking it slow and easy and slowly building up the miles.  So I knew not to expect anything special coming into this race.  Really, I was worried if I could even finish a half marathon!  And, I definitely wasn't trained for the Wildflower hills.  but I was motivated and I felt good and I was pain-free!!!  Miles 7 and 8 I felt like a freaking rockstar and passed my rabbit friend.  Of course, that was the part through the campgrounds and all the cheering crowds and awesome aid stations.  I was just running as hard as I could knowing that I was coming on the HARD part - miles 10 and 12.  Mile 9 is a nice downhill for a mile, but it is really tough to enjoy when you know that all you are going to do at the bottom is turn around and run right back up it.  It was getting hot too!!  Ugh!  The best part was seeing Sonja kicking it and high fiving her - it's been awhile since we've done that!  Mid-way through the sufferfest of mile 10 I saw Megan and she yelled at me to not let that girl catch me. What????  Yikes!!  I sped up to a solid 9:30 pace (ha) and just willed myself up the hill.  Now there was just one more *(*&(*(^&%(*^ hill left.  Oh, and period update?  Yep, I now had blood streaming down my legs.  Awesome.  So I knew I was one mile to the finish - a brutal downhill - and I would be done yet I wasn't planning any finish line celebrations, I just was trying to figure out to clean myself up!  Immediately run to the lake and jump in?  Get to transition and fresh shorts and supplies?  Paperbag over my head?  The finish just wasn't as glorious as it should have been since I knew I had executed a great race.  Medical was immediately at me asking what happened, why it appeared as though I was bleeding out, and if I was OK.  I'm sure they thought I had left my uterus out on the course somewhere.  But the medical gal was awesome - she gathered some supplies and led me to a nice bathroom with a sink:)
1:52 6th or 7th in age group
One stinkin' mile left!

A word about the aid stations.....WOW!  I can't think of a race where there was so much enthusiasm and skin showing at aid stations!!  The volunteers were awesome - beer may have helped some of them out but no matter - their cheering and splashing was the best.

PIC, Megan and I walked through the food area and ended up at results.  We all checked out our splits and finishes and for some reason mine showed I was 5th.  I was so confused because no one passed me on the bike, no one from my age group passed me on the run and there were only 2 girls off the front in the swim??!!  But, well, OK, I was fine with 5th.  Awards were going to 5th so I was excited I could be there.  As it turns out, results were screwed and I was 2nd!!  Bridesmaid!!  And the amazing studette that was 1st?  Yep, that was fellow Kompetitive Edge teamie Susan Williams.  You may remember her from the 2004 Athens Olympics - she was the bronze medalist in triathlon!!!  Pretty cool to be somewhat (OK, not really) in the same zip code as Susan:)

Total Time: 5:25:41, 2nd age group, 14th overall

After the dreadful walk up that dreadful hill to our campsite, we barely had time to shower before heading back down for awards.  But it was fun!  Fellow teamie Grant won his age group and was second overall amateur (FAST), Susan and I went 1-2 and Sonja was 4th in her age group.  What a great showing for KompetitiveEdge!

KE Teamies: Sonja, me, Kendra, Grant

Awards with Tim Hola, Grant and Son!

As we all walked back to our campsite for the night, some folks were gathering on the road cheering and talking and I heard something about naked men.  A finish line was being put up and we were looking around wondering what the heck was happening......all of a sudden a bunch of naked men and a few naked women came running up the road in an apparent naked race.  There are all sorts of "fun" photos that documented this run but since this is a family-friendly blog and I'd rather not have my blog taken are a couple of pictures:

And that's all I have to say about that!!


Michelle Simmons said...

Love the naked pictures! HA! How fun. What a great race... congrats! Even with the blood. Ugh. I ran a 1/2 marathon one time and right as I was crossing the finish line. Yep. It FELL OUT. Talk about horror. Oh my. What can you do though? Oh the joys of being a woman.

Well done!

Oh, and do you read Julie Dunkle's blog? She was one of the gals off the front in your swim wave... 45-49 and got her Kona spot at Oceanside. She's super cool.

Meredith said...

Congratulations Michelle!

Anonymous said...

Looks like I missed the party. Bummer!
Glad the race went well.

Anonymous said...

The Anonymous was me


new computer

Unknown said...

Wow girl! that was one hard core race you had!!! Totally love "the Beak" by the way! Congrats on an amazing race!