Initially, my goal for Vineman 70.3 was 7 hours and 30 minutes. Then my coach suggested 7:10. And as I thought about it, I figured I can do the swim in 45 minutes, the bike in 3:45, and then run even if I completely fall apart can be done in 2:30. So my goal was seven hours.
And I had to remember, this is my "A race". I'm only competing against myself to do the best that I can, but this is *the* race that I've been training for. And, I need to focus. Often in races I find myself daydreaming and acting like it's just a training swim/bike/run, but this time, this is the real deal.
The day started chilly. My wave, the 30-34 year-old women headed to the water for a start. I hadn't been too nervous until just then.
"I think I'm going to throw up." Not sure where that came from. But as the gun went off, any nausea dissipated and I started swimming up the river. Aggressively to start, per Coach Jamie, trying to draft off of someone. The outward portion of the swim seemed to last forever and I settled into a good pace. Shortly after the turnaround, my arm hit the ground and I stood up in the water which must have been only three feet deep. I glanced at my stopwatch, regained my concentration, and dove back in.
I finished the swim in 41 minutes. In transition, I tried to put on my bike shoes without removing my wetsuit. Whoops. That ate up a couple seconds. To the person who keeps mocking me that my transitions take too long, no I did not put on makeup or cook tofu in transition.
Off on the bike. I used disposable water bottles, which did not want to stay in the bottle cages. My Gatorade flew off the bike as I rounded the first turn. Whoops! So I had only one bottle of water, and no electrolyte solution, for the first nineteen miles of the bike. I bent my front bottle cage so that the water would not fly out. That took me a couple extra seconds.
The first five miles of the bike were flat. Then miles five to fifteen were rolling hills, and a bit challenging. Then around mile 25 was the first "hill". I pounded up it, and at the top wondered, "Was that a hill?"
Something hit my face around mile 40, then fell on my leg, and then there was a stinging sensation on my right thigh. I looked down, and there on my leg was a bee!!!! I was stung, through my bike shorts, by a bee!!!! It stung like crazy, and thanks to adrenaline I was able to for the most part ignore the pain for the duration of the race. But on the way home in the car that evening, I definitely felt the bee sting.
Then there was yet another, far longer and a bit steeper hill at mile 45. Not too bad. I was surprisingly faster than I anticipated on the bike. My average pace was 16.2 mph, faster than my goal pace of 15 mph, and in total the bike took 3 hours 36 minutes.
Then, off on the run, which was really hilly. I reminded myself that I had 2 hours and 40 minutes to finish the run -- even if I completely fall apart on the run, I will break seven hours for the course. The first four miles seemed to be all uphill, but as I ran them the opposite way on the way back, they sure didn't seem like they were downhill at all. My legs felt like they weighed fifty pounds apiece. My stomach started getting upset at mile eight. I'd start to walk a bit, but then I couldn't get myself to run again. We ran through the La Crema Winery, which was really the only pleasant part of this run, as the rest was just hills and more hills.
I felt awful during the last 5k of the run. I was exhausted, and my legs were heavy. My left calf started to cramp up in the last mile, and I tried to ignore it. I pushed myself for the final stretch. The announcer called out my name, then asked, "We've been waiting for you all day. Where have you been?" Kind of a bizarre question. Nonetheless, it got me some applause as I finished.
My finishing time: 6 hours, 48 minutes. I'm pleased.