Wildflower 2008 is OV-ER! I'm going to sleep well tonight.
The weekend: Had a great time camping with the SVTC crowd, seeing old friends and making new ones. Justine once again had me on the floor laughing. The club got a fantastic campsite for us all, right on the course and just an easy ride down huge Lynch Hill to transition (though a very steep trail hike up and down for those who weren't racing on the day).
After Saturday's hot sunny weather, it was a surprise to wake up today to cold foggy conditions. Chris and I ate breakfast (bagel and peanut butter for me), got our gear ready and packed up camp and loaded everything in the car. At which point I discovered the battery was dead! Nothing like having to jump start the car before the day has even begun. Wonder how that happened..no, no, couldn't have been someone listening to the radio in the car Friday night as the Sharks went all the way to OT (sidebar: GO SHARKS!).
Anyway, we rode down Lynch Hill to transition around 8:00am, found our spots, and got set up. Watched the collegiate men kick off the race at 9. I finally put my wetsuit on around 9:45 and started making my way down to the swim start after another trip to the Green Room (aka Porta Potty). Chatted with a few people I'd met who were in my age wave group, dissected our weaknesses and strengths, etc. By this point the sun was coming out and it was getting warm.
When the 25-29yo women went off at 10:20, we dove into the water behind them for a chance to warm up and then went back up to the start line. 10:25 rolled around quickly, and BAM we were in the water! It was much warmer this time than when I'd visited on training weekend last month. I knew I'd be slower than the rest of my wave and just focused on sighting the buoys early and paddling along at my own pace. I was fully expecting, based on pool swims, that it would take me about an hour - maybe more - to complete the swim. Not too many problems with getting bumped by other swimmers, the water was nice and clean, and I felt good throughout. Imagine my shock when I got out and realized I'd done the swim in 45 minutes! The rest of the day could go crappy and it wouldn't matter, I was so thrilled. I looked over as I ran out of the water and Chris was getting out at the same time, so she hadn't managed to pass me after all my joking about that.
On to transition, where my wetsuit did not want to come off and I was a little dizzy, but still got off on the bike in reasonable time. Began the immediate climb up Lynch Hill, which I decided to go hard on and passed a lot of people. At the top of Lynch Hill, I saw the SVTC group and was urged on by Justine cheering for me. I really pushed on this ride - only 40K (24.8 mi) after all, though a notoriously hilly and difficult course - and I passed many people who had started the swim ahead of me. Rolled back into transition after 1hr, 42mins (not at all my fastest time for this distance, but given the hills and heat on this course, it will do!).
Quick transition this time, just pulled my bike shoes off, threw running shoes on, grabbed a visor and water bottle and took off. Not my best 10K run, as I was hit with bad stomach cramps in the first kilometer. The heat (and more hills) was really getting to me at that point too. I drank everything at every aid station and was happy they had hoses to water us down. I walked often when the cramps threatened to blow up my whole day. I think I'll have to find a different pre-race food, something less solid than the bagel I thought would be OK to eat 6 hours before I would be running. Once I reached the top of the last hill, with just the 2km to go, I sprinted the whole way downhill and to the finish line for a run time of 1hr, 5mins.
Because of the nature of the Wildflower course, I had hoped to maybe get my first olympic race down in 4 hours. My final race time: 3 hours, 39 minutes!!!! This means with a "normal" course and a run where I could actually run, less than 3:30 wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility.
To put a capital B on the Brutal day, we then had to walk/carry our bikes and gear back up the mountain, on a dirt trail, in the heat, uphill a long steep way. If we weren't exhausted to begin with! Drove the 2.5 hrs home and now I really need a shower.
For your amusement until I have real race photos to upload, here is me last night rubbing "Stan the Man" the SVTC mascot for good luck.