As per usual, I will try to keep this brief, and loaded with pics.
So on June 6, I did the Kansas 70.3 . For those non-triathletes among us, it's a half-Ironman that consists of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run.
I picked Kansas because Cheese's family is out there and I figured - hey, kill two birds with one stone, right?
Also along for the ride was Spie, who most of you might know from past events such as MC200, and my recent trysts up to Wisconsin for my long rides on the weekends.
We left at about 5am Friday morning, drove for 10 hours (awesome), and finally arrived to 92 degree heat (98 with the stifling humidity). Guess who didn't exactly train for THOSE conditions?
That's right - THIS GIRL.
So almost as quick as we said hello to my in-laws, Spie and I threw on our running clothes and headed out the door. The goals? Shake out the 10-hour ride from our legs, get in a last workout before the race, and try to acclimate to the heat.
Lemme tell you - it was about as close to running inside the seventh ring of hell as I can imagine. My nipples literally melted off my tits. True story.
After 40-ish grueling minutes, Spie and I arrived back home, completely dehydrated, foaming around the mouth, and me covered in my own salt (as usual). Since I have taken to running in shorts and a sports bra (hell, dudes can get naked, a sports bra ain't nothin'), I was a little taken aback when I entered the in-laws home to find a room full of people.
And my sweaty half-nakiddnes.
Quick like a cat, I dried off, and the hug-hello-how-ya-doings commenced, followed by a BBQ of epic proportions.
Me and Spie, post run, full of grime.
As the evening came to a close, and me with a belly full of baked beans and homemade ice cream, we said our good nights and headed to bed.
Me and my man.
And although there are no pics to document the following day - which consisted of another round of melt-your-face-off-your-face heat - Spie and I spent most of it together, getting lost thanks to Tom-Tom (Dum-Dum), driving around rural back road Kansas, and finally checking into the race, where we found out the water temperature was 81 degrees.
My hate for the wetsuit knows no bounds, and with this news, I felt like, "Yeah, things are going to be juuuuust fine....."
Then we drove the bike course.
Panic ensued, possibly a few tears, lots of nervous laughter, and then - after much hydrating with lots of water - a brief lapse of incontinence (me) in the parking lot when both Spie and I realized we didn't pack out tire repair kits until about midnight.
Which brings us to.....Race Morning.
My Curb Crew. Does the shirt look familiar?
Wait - what? Who's this? It looks just like.....it is!!! Chrissie Wellington!!! Right her in the Land of OZ!!!!!!!
So, Chrissie was well on her way to setting a new Kansas record and breaking her own from last year by the time my sopping wet ass emerged from my swim.
I swam without the wetsuit, but in hindsight I should have just laid it out and floated on it like a dead man on a raft and would probably have posted a better time.
But I got out of the water, mostly unfazed, but yet totally stunned to look down at my watch as see: 47:45.
What the fuck?
I wasn't even tired or disoriented like usual. I just popped up, saw my time, and then noticed, "Yeah, I am pretty sure I am the only white cap in my group to be out here." To say I felt shame doesn't even cover it.
But let me pause here and relay the most glaring lesson I learned this race - In triathlon, you will always get the race you train for. There are no miracles, and there's no one to call in favors from come race morning. You either train, or you don't, and the race doesn't lie.
For me, I regularly chose the bike or a run over the pool, and here - in the form of a 47-minute swim - was the undeniable consequence of those choices. I didn't train well for the swim, so I wasn't going to do well. No complaining, no excuses. It is what it is. I am the only one to blame.
But I was ashamed nonetheless. It always sucks being towards the end of your swim heat.
In fact, the shame was so bad, it took about 10 miles into the bike for me to pull my head out of my ass and get right.
And the getting got right as soon as I saw my first bike split.
Shame erased. Game on.
(Side note: T1 was an astounding 2:32, which is UNHEARD of for me. In 2006, it was 6:56, for crying out loud, and in 2009 it was 4:38 - THANK GAWD someone finally told me that T1 didn't stand for "Time Out to Nap" Who knew?)
(Also note the lack of bike photos - it was impossible for spectators to be on the course so no pictures)
Pictures aside - this was BY FAR the toughest bike course I ever rode. Unrelenting hills, up and down the whole way - but having drove it the day before set me up well. I knew what to expect and when. No matter - it was still balls-ass hard.
So imagine my shock to finally pull back into the State Park, look down and see:
And wait! What's this? I jump off my bike and can actually run it to the rack? Hold up! Is this a joke? Who is this Super Girl? It's ME!!!
PR on the hilliest bike course I've ever tackled!!
Eat shit, bad swim!
Now, I don't know about you, but by the time the bike is over, I am usually just relieved to have made it through without a crash or flat.
But yet here I was, relieved AND energetic!
Bring on the run!
(T2: 2:26 - again, this is crazy talk for me)
This was just before (or after) Mile 3.
Mile 5 - still running, refusing to stop, bladder filling, but smile on my face.
This picture is hella ugly, but at this exact moment, I was running past Cheese just about Mile 7 and saying, "I'm gonna break 6 hours!" (my previous PR was 6:32 in 2006). Those exact words - look, you can even see me forming the word "I'm" here.
Between Mile 7 and 9, some random dude caught up to me and starting chatting me up. I think he was trying to pace with me, and rust me - for the first time in my entire life or racing, I noticed that I wasn't the one trying to keep up. Hellz no, I was the one setting the pace! Runner Dude was on Mile 2, and we chatted a while. At this point, I pointed out Cheese and his family, waved, and marveled at how I hadn't yet stopped running.
Smiles, but in just a few short miles, they are going to start to fade.....Mile 11 to be exact.....
(Side note: In case you are gawking at my sweet boobs and wondering "Why do they look crinkly?" you're not alone. I ask that every morning myself. But here, it appears that I had a half-pack of Clif Bloks shoved down my shirt from the bike - easy acccess - and I clearly forgot about them.)
By Mile 11, I was struggling. I started making deals with myself. You know, things like, "Okay, run to the far light post and if you want to stop, then you can. But go at least to the far lamp post." This worked well and kept me going until right before Mile 12, when I walked for the first time - for about 60 seconds.
I picked it back up again, noticed my hip was super tight, but also noted that I had just over ten minutes to get through the last mile. I knew it would be tough because I was already slowing down, but I reminded myself of a research study I recently read about how exhaustion is only in the mind - that if needed, my mind could overcome the slowness of my legs, and I could pick it up.
So I did.
I came slow around bend, but then it felt as if my legs just took off.
Run time: 2:03.
And though it may only be two minutes - its still a SUB-6!!!!!
Oh, and uh...30 minutes off my previous PR.
But wait- what's this?
Oh yeah - it's me. And my pal Chrissie. Just chillin' at the finish.
I mean, sure, some people call it stalking, but I know true friendship when I see it. And no, there is nothing weird about the fact that I stood five feet away from her for several minutes just watching her...watching...before I made my move...creeped up...nothing weird at all....
I don't know if you know this about me but...uh...I'm kind of a big deal
So I don't know if I've even mentioned this but, Cheese's mom is a lip-kisser. Like, she goes in for the hug, then pulls back to look at me, and then without fail always goes in for the lip-kiss.
I learned this the hard way - she got me good the night of the engagement party, when I was drunkenly trying to change out of my dress into my pjs and she wandered into the room and gave me my 150th hug of the night and caught me straight pucker.
And most of you know - I'm not even a hugging person, so a lip-kiss is far beyond anything that I consider remotely acceptable.
(side note: my own mom does this with Cheese - and she's even gone in for the lip-kiss on me. What's that about? Is this a generation thing? Have ladies over 50 been conditioned to lip-kiss, no matter how awkward?)
Anyhoo, I put this in because this is photo evidence of his mom pulling away from the intial hug and going in for the smacker, and you can see me do my now-infamous head-turn.
Me and Spie, post-hashing.
Me: "So everytime I tried to farmer blow, it just went clear across my cheek and I couldn't wipe it off."
Spie: "Yeah, you kinda got some right there - right by your lip. And frankly, it's freaking me out."
Me: "Where? Oh, right here (twisting tongue) Oh yeah, that's it. I think I got it."
Not to be deterred from my aformentioned head-turn-spurred-lip-kiss, here's the next family Christmas card, complete with Cheese's mom checking out my hot rack.
And let's be honest, shall we? Can you blame her?
Me and my man. A long hot day and good sunburn later, he graciously drove us home.
So my final thoughts are this:
While I am all-to-sure of why the swim sucked, I am not all that sure why everything else was spot-on. I have definately come into other races feeling far more prepared and stronger, but for some reason, it all clicked in this particular race.
Did I train differently? Better? Stronger? And if so, what specific workout helped most? I have so many questions like this because I clearly - finally - did something right, and I want to know what, so I can keep improving it.
I know I joked a lot about it, but it is so rare for me that I come out on the other end of one of these smiling and proud - more often than not, I feel humbled, sometimes ashamed, often frustrated - and that's WITH training. So this new feeling of pride is different - it's kinda nice.
And who knows - maybe the next race will blow monkey sacks. But right now, I am just going to allow myself to enjoy the experience of things clicking. It's been a while since I felt so happy and proud - time to enjoy it.