Ok so I have the crazy sometimes obsessive personality that anyone outside of endurance sports doesn’t understand, and am now doing things that just a year ago would have thought was bat shit crazy! 5 weeks of training, followed by 2 weeks of taper in hind sight probably wasn't enough, but hell I finished!
WHAT AN EXPERIENCE!! Leading up to this a lot of people warned me about this course, calling it a ¾ Ironman and saying how I chose such a hard one for my first one. I figure get the hard out of the way for the first one and fine tune for the next one :p I probably should have paid a little more attention though!
So I am a terrible swimmer, never had lessons growing up so I was nervous about just surviving the swim…my longest non-stop swim before the race was about .75 of a mile… I put on my wetsuit for the second time, and head up to the beach with a group of bobbing heads in pink swim caps. It was a wave start, going every 3 min and all of the women were in the second wave, with 3 more waves of men behind us. I never heard them say go, but all the sudden the mass of wetsuits around me started sprinting for the water so I followed suit. We got into the lake and you can barely see your hand in front of your face its so murky…this was my first time swimming in open water and freaked me out a little bit, but I just started thrashing trying to make forward motion.
That first 5 minutes was the most terrifying thing I have ever done…and the only point in the race I really considered quitting.
Heart rate was racing, the wave behind us caught up I think it was 35-40 yr males, the water became a frenzy with a few slaps and kicks as the fast swimmers swam over me. Then came the first buoy along with the next wave, everyone crunched up and I had someone latch onto my wetsuit Velcro…opening it up. Well great now I have a wetsuit filled with water :s There goes the buoyancy advantage! It wasn’t until half way through when I got some space to breath, just tucked in and finally found the familiar rhythm of my stroke through the water, that’s when I started to feel strong again and knew that I was going to finish no matter what!
Out of the water, got my wet suit stripped by 2 girls (I know your jealous boys) ran up to transition. I was so happy to get on my bike, this was familiar. We had become very intimate friends over 5 hours weekends of training together. Now I am in Midland Texas….which has zero hills…the largest grade is a .2% grade incline that is known as “The Hill” but what we do have is wind. I’m talking 25-35 mile per hour wind on most of my training days so I wasn’t worried about the hills too much…hills end…the wind just keeps beating on you! Well the one part I didn’t prepare for hill wise was gravity…yea I should have seen that one coming….my bottle between my bars with all of my nutrition fell out on the first downhill….damn. So I got the pleasure of trying the Ironman perform…not bad…not great, but it got me through. The bike was comfortable most of the way I wanted to save my legs for the run…which it turns out didn’t really matter how my legs felt off the bike, little did I know they were about to take a beating. I did pass about 300 people on the bike, just keeping it at a pretty easy effort. Legs never burned, surprised to see how many people I was passing going uphill without spiking my HR.
The Run. I figured the run would be my weapon, I had been running really well since I started incorporating the biking, most of my run training of the bike was done around noon so 100+ Fahrenheit was familiar and race day was only calling for 90 when I would start the half marathon. What I didn’t prepare for mentally or physically was the hills….those damned hills. It started off with rolling hills…that were a little larger than my definition of rolling and more than any hills in midland…then there were the 3 big ones…7-10% grade, ranging from 400-800 meters in length. I had to walk them…I’ve never walked in a race before but there was no other option…I was running up them slower than I could speed walk them. It hit me hard mentally on top of the physical. Then came the downhill….first downhill was the begging of a very large blood blister that would continue to form. The second half I started to get into a groove, there was never a question that I would finish, but there was the thought of just walking the rest of the way…I was feeling shattered, my legs didn't know how to handle the incline and blood blisters had formed on both my feet from the decline, not to mention the beating my quads had never experienced before. Funny enough a lot of people talked about how tough the one flat section leading up to the turnaround is, it’s just flat and hot, and there is nothing around you but tumbleweeds and pump jacks….that was my favorite part! It felt like home :p
JENNA-CAER FROM MIDLAND TEXAS CONGRATULATIONS they announced as I crossed the finish line, (butchering my name but its all good). I felt such a sense of near delirious happiness that I had made it. It was a wild journey, with just over a month of training for a Half there was always the question of if I would finish…if I had stepped off I would not have been the only one that day…but I was determined. It really amazes me what your body can do if you put your mind to it and believe you can do it. This former fat kid, that never won or really competed in any sports growing up realized that there is an athlete inside her. I can’t wait to take on my next one! Next month I will do the sprint triathlon that got me thinking about this crazy sport.
Finished in 6 hours 01 minute.