Wow, I’m glad that is over and done with!
Cliff Notes Version of the RR, for those of you who are in a hurry: The upside, nothing I do this year will be that hard again, from a weather perspective. The downside, it was a hard day.
I got up at a normal time race morning and ate several breakfasts to ensure that I was well-fueled.
Ready to get it on!
We dropped off the run gear at T2 around 11:30 and then headed to the swim start at Lucky Peak. Because of an effed up parking scenario where I had to walk up the mountain to transition and dogs (theoretically at least – we saw many though) were not allowed at the area, we had decided Jeff would drop me off and then just hang back at the hotel and see me when I biked into T2 and on the run. That didn’t stop my IronSherpa from carrying all my bags up the mountain so I didn’t have to though.
I got body-marked and then amidst the usual sniffles of WTF-am-I doing-here, I sent Jeff on his way.
Lucky for me, I wouldn’t be completely alone in the time leading up to the start. My awesome friend Kirsten drove up from Salt Lake City on race morning and then rode her bike up to the start so she could watch me race. She kept me distracted while the pro waves went off and I watched the chop in the lake get higher and higher as the wind increased.
Apparently I was somewhat oblivious to the clouds behind me…too worried about the swim.
Finally it was time for my wave to start. The 64-degree water felt great after all my practices in low-50s Santa Cruz water. We were not allowed a warmup swim, so I am glad the water was as warm as it was. As we waited to go off, the chop and current kept pushing us back towards shore.
And then finally the horn went off!
After about the first minute, I felt like I’d found my own space in the water and it was time to follow my plan/instructions – use the swim as a warmup for the rest of the day and move at a reasonable comfortable pace. This ended up being important to getting me through as I had to fight hard enough in the conditions we faced. The chop (and I think also getting waked by all the boats speeding in to pick up DNF-ing swimmers) ended up tossing me in the air through the entire first leg of the swim. I’d land in the water, catch a breath, stroke, and get tossed again. Oh fun.
After the first turn, I had to swim a longer leg into the current. I was grateful throughout for not getting run over by the men’s waves that came after me. It seems everyone was having a rough day and the swimmers were spread out enough to prevent too much manhandling. At the second turn, the turn buoy broke free of its moorings and drifted, causing everyone to swim a bit long while they captured and deflated it. All throughout, I saw people getting fished out of the water, or trying to breaststroke the entire distance (at least I passed them!). Of course on the last leg, where the current would have helped speed us in to the finish, the wind relaxed and the lake was calmer again. Doh!
I think my sighting was good throughout so I'm pleased with that. I don't think any swim on my race schedule this year will be as nasty as that one. This swim was so far off what it should have been for me timewise, but after the destruction I saw along the way I am just happy to have survived and finished it. I see from the numbers that quite a few people did not continue their race after the swim.
Very happy to be out of the water finally!
Geez, I thought bitterly, they couldn’t wait for ALL of us to finish before they take shit down? As it turns out, Kirsten captured how it collapsed in the midst of the peak athlete departure time and had to be taken down.
Mentally, I was all ready to get out on the bike, knowing the first 5 miles were downhill - I could get my fueling started and let my legs warm up a little. Well, it’s a very good thing that my instructions were to NOT push on the bike and DO NOT LOOK AT PACE, because when you are going down a steep hill into headwind and rain and you’re only going 12mph…pace goes out the window.
Due to my late wave and all the DNFs, there either were not a lot of athletes behind me, or they all cycled slower than I did. I spent a lot of time on the bike course all alone. It was a point to point ride that mostly involved riding out in the desert outside Boise – beautiful country but isolated with little crowd support.
Like the isolation was not enough, the entire ride was a perfect culmination of thunder and lightning storms, with rain and hail and monster headwind that shifted directions as the storm blew through. It was really cold and miserable. I know of at least one athlete who ended up in the ER as hypothermic off the ride. I had to be careful on the descents because of the wind and drenched roads...I guess my goal for the day became to not crash! With all the lightning striking, I really wondered if we’d be pulled off the course a la Kansas 70.3 last year!
Kirsten took this shot from her car while I was out riding
Regardless of the weather, I stuck to my instructions, fueling and drinking on schedule, and NOT pushing. Even spinning every hill easy as instructed, I passed people.
Since he was supposed to be back at the hotel, imagine my surprise around the 15-mile mark when I saw Jeff standing at a corner just before a steep climb to cheer for me!
When I came back down the hill (it was an out-and-back climb), I’m pretty sure I asked him to marry me again, I was so excited to see him.
And then I was off on my own again…
But about 15 miles later, there he was again in the middle of farmland, with all the dogs!
Finally, in the last 15 miles of the ride, I started catching riders from waves ahead of mine and passing them. If anything, my bike leg was a victory of sticking to my plan, regardless of what conditions were thrown at me.
By the final 5 miles into downtown Boise, I was ready to get off the bike and not look at it again for a long time! Given how long I had been out in the cold, I wondered what my tired stiff legs would have left. I already had a sore shoulder from the choppy swim and cramped hands from the cold on the bike.
Nearly there – speeding into T2
I ran my bike to its place, tossed it into a rack and changed shoes in a hurry.
All I could keep thinking was, I'm a runner, this is my happy place, this is what I suffered all day to finally do. I felt so good heading out to run, it made me giddy. I was finally around PEOPLE again, both the crowd and other racers. The entire 1/2 marathon, people (spectators and fellow racers) kept commenting on how happy and strong I looked. I passed people on the whole run.
The first loop seemed to go by pretty fast - I took in calories on schedule and just felt happy.
My spectating crew didn’t mind the rain much (Max was just pissed I kept running away from him)
The second loop was no doubt slower but still didn't feel too bad. My stomach started to get sloshy, so I cut back on the calorie intake for a little while and switched to Coke from the aid stations starting at mile 9 to settle my tummy down. I focused throughout that last loop on fast feet, high cadence, good form, and feeling zippy, and it seemed to work to keep me moving along. Final few blocks to the finish and I was hurting...getting harder to breathe, running out of gas, but I pushed through to the end and saved my wheezing for afterwards. 1/2IM run PR!
Last block to the finish line
At that point it was around 10pm so I hobbled over to pick up my bike and all my gear bags, walked back to the hotel, and we ordered pizza.
I also had my first alcohol in 6 weeks! 1 beer was more than enough for this night.
Overall it may not have been the race I wanted, but I stuck to the plan and got through it no matter what the day threw at me. It is a huge confidence boost for my A-race 1/2IM in August, where I know I won't face these kind of conditions.
Finally, another thank you to all of my friends for their kindness and support. Knowing that Kirsten was coming to cheer, my Smofit friends sent their messages and Kirsten flashed me different signs all along the race course for encouragement. You guys are too awesome for words.
My signage (there should be 1 more, sorry Andrea rain is a destructive thing!)