So. I talked my husband in to the whole marathon thing because it was close to my birthday and I have always said "someday, I want to do that."
When my bike was stolen this winter, I realized my "someday" for a half iron distance tri was going to have to (most likely) wait. The idea of doing one had been in the back of my mind for awhile, especially since I had a good summer in the water this year--I had several swims over a mile and multiple open water swims. But suddenly, my bike was gone, and not only would I probably not do a half iron this year, but my triathlon season was probably over.
Somewhere in there, I told myself that if I somehow ended up getting my bike back, I would just go big or go home. I would sign up for 70.3 and try not to die in the process.
Then Diamondback Bikes came in big for me, and the difference in the quality of the bike made me absolutely certain that I could handle 56 miles in the saddle. I knew, with marathon training in the works, that I could handle 13.1 no problem. Putting it all together, on the other hand, was crazy.
Triathlon is a little bit of a logistical nightmare to begin with. It's equipment heavy---you need your gear to swim, your gear to bike, your gear to run. There are about 1,000 things that can happen in 56 miles on a bike. I have never, in the three years since I've had a road bike, flatted, and I'm perpetually worried about it happening during a race.
The day before the race, I was in freakout mode. My training was completely derailed in October--I hadn't bricked, I hadn't swam. Longest ride on the bike was 44, and I hadn't done a mid-distance brick after a long ride. I was exceptionally worried about the cutoffs, and was trying to mentally prepare myself for a DNF, because I was almost certain it was going to happen.
One of the Multirace staffers talked me into switching to the first wave on race morning. I am SO GLAD she did. Once I made it out of the water on the swim, I KNEW I had plenty of time and it allowed me to really sit back and enjoy things.
View of the swim from near transition. Two loops around the lake, and you had to exit the water at the end of each loop.
I very much stuck to the back and took my time on the swim. This lake is my favorite swim of the season--its clear and calm and you can (usually see) very well. Race morning was overcast and disgusting, the weather outlook was terrible, and we were just thankful for no lightening.
When I exited on the swim, I heard tri-friend Madison screaming my name, which was awesome. I hadn't drowned. Yay!
1.2 mile Swim: 53:38, which works out to over 3 minutes/100 m but my only goal was to finish it under an hour, so I'll take it!
T1 was not memorable, nothing major happened. 2:50
Its really hard to even begin to explain the rest of the race after T1. The skies opened up and it poured. POURED. Here. . . just watch. 56 miles of wet, rural, open roads in the pouring rain. You can see how much wetter things get as the video progresses.
2014 Mack Cycle Miami Man Triathlon & Duathlon from Multi Race on Vimeo.
The bike went much much MUCH better than I was expecting. I held above a 17 mph pace pretty much the whole ride. I was really expecting to be much slower than that. My lower back started screaming around the 35 mile mark, so I started trying to really stretch as much as I could. As we neared the end of the 56, I realized I was going to finish this thing, as long as the weather didn't force a close on the run course.
56 mile bike: 3:09:37 - 17.71 mph
When it was over, it was hard to walk. Its actually kind of funny to be in T2 of a half iron after doing so many sprint triathlons. People move slowly and take their time. Many are in pain, and I was definitely one of them. My back was miserable, so I took some time to stretch as I switched shoes. I thanked my lucky STARS that I had covered my running shoes with a bag in the morning, because they were dry. My feet were pruned and felt disgusting from 3 hours of being in cleats, soaking wet. So dry socks and shoes felt lovely. Popped a couple of advil and off to run 13.1
T2 - a very slow 4:45. It was worth it.
I can't say enough about the Galloway method for running. I would have probably had a melt down if I hadn't been able to say "just three minutes" as I left transition. Those first few intervals were awful. I also spent a lot of time attempting to avoid puddles because my feet were so happy to be dry. I started loosening up, and it started raining again, so after awhile, it was just plowing through puddles. The run course was WET. Part of it is on trails, and there were a bunch of unavoidable puddles. I saw friends around the 4 mile mark, got some hugs and was recharged to finish the first loop. Saw Brad hunkered in a rain slicker at the finish as I passed for my first lap. (He had done the international distance--bless him for standing in the rain for 3 hours to wait for me while I kept going) It was pouring again, and started thundering right after I passed. I worried again that the weather might cause them to stop us. But it moved through quickly, and I felt good enough to pick up ever so slightly. Knowing I would see familiar faces again kept me going.
I was really surprised that I never reached a wall. Maybe I wasn't pushing enough, but I genuinely had much more fun than I thought I would. I love doing Multirace events because its always a bunch of familiar faces, and you can always find someone to say hello to. It may have been a totally different ballgame if the sun had been blazing, but it was really an incredible experience.
When I came to the finish, I was, OF COURSE, bawling. These are things some people never even consider doing, and certainly things I myself never thought I could do until very, very recently.
13.1 run: 3:05:02 - 14:07 min/mile.
Total time: 7:15:50.77
Much, much faster than I was expecting. I can't wait to do another one, this time with proper training. I should be able to shave a good chuck off of that. Glad to have the first one under my belt--its putting yourself out there and going for it, not knowing if you have it in you, that is absolutely the hardest thing in the world.
I didn't even manage to get many (ANY) good pictures after the race, because the rain continued to come on. I ate (a LOT) when we were done, hoping it would stop so that I could get my phone and take a few pictures, but it never did. Couldn't even change out of my soaking wet kit, because we would have gotten soaked again getting back to the car. The warm bath we took when we got home was literally the BEST BATH EVER.
Big thanks to my awesome friend and training buddy Julie, who not only kept my kids, but also fed us dinner afterward. And to everyone who listened to me whine about how I didn't think I could do it, and told me that I could anyway. To Diamondback Bicycles for my awesome ride. To everyone who I have the pleasure of training with regularly this year--Julie, Jess, Tiffany, Karen, Susan, Rosie, Peggy . . . and of course to my hubby, who thought I had lost my marbles when I did my first sprint. I love that I'm slowly dragging him over to the dark side. To all the ladies on Team Tough Chik, who gave me the courage to think big. And to my kids, who made me want to be a better version of myself. A version of myself that was comfortable in my skin. It's kind of hard to hate a body that can carry you through 70.3 miles.
Tonight, we head up to Palm Beach for the last big adventure of 2014. 26.2 miles covered by nothing but our own feet. 2014 has been a year of firsts for our household. Scary and so incredibly worth the wild ride.