I realize just how long its been since I posted anything to this website. . . and I ask for your forgiveness gentle reader.
What a four month period it has been since I last wrote. We packed up; drove across county (which, as I think about it is probably worthy of a post all its own); spent 5 weeks living with my parents in Massachusetts; ran Falmouth with my 7 year old son (definitely worth of its own post) and finally closed on our house on August 8th.
All that leads me to the realization that it was now 11 days before my half iron. What? Why was I doing a 1/2? Well, I'd planned to do a full. Really, I Had. I was signed up for Vineman 2012. I was training for Vineman 2012. Then life happened. My husband had a traumatic job change. We told our landlord we were moving. . not quite knowing where we were going. I found myself simply not able to handle the rigors of Iron-distance workouts and the stress of life, and, the physical demands of packing up a family of 4 (plus cat, dog, and snake) and moving them across country. So. in a moment of panic, I confided in my dear coach who gave me the much needed permission to "drop down" and "only" do a 1/2 instead. This was the first time I've ever signed up for a race and not made it to the start line. I'm still not sure how I feel about it-- except that I can't imagine how my body would have felt hopping on a plane back to California in July-- less than 3 weeks after we made the trip across country.
So, instead of becoming a Vineman, I was getting ready to become a Timberman up in New Hampshire on the shores of Lake Winnepsaukee.
Looking at the Timberman Website I saw a lot of things I liked. A clear lake swim in water temperatures between 72-77 degrees (NO WETSUIT!); an elevation gain on the bike of only 2029 feet and a double out and back course on the run with 300 feet of elevation gain. Sitting in my kitchen in Mill Valley, where every bike ride has at least 3000 feet of climbing-- this looked great!
Coming into the race, I thought I'd done a good job with my run training and my bike rides had been easy 55 mile rides around the Cape with no elevation gain. What I hadn't been doing was swimming. As in, during our drive across country, I left my lap suit in the very first hotel room on the trip. Then, when we got to the Cape, I could find a lot of bathing suits-- but no lap suits. After a week of looking, I gave in and ordered a suit online. Three days later, when it came, I finally found a pool and was in the water for the first time in almost a month. I think I maybe swam 5 times over the course of the summer-- so, I was a little nervous coming up on the swim. When you couple that with spending my taper week moving furniture and boxes around my new house, I was getting a little worried about this race.
I can definately say that the Timberman website and the drive into the Timberman Course ARE NOT THE SAME! As I drove into Gunstock Mountain Ski Resort my car went UPhill-- my car went DOWN hill-- and these looked like hills. Grabbing my packet and heading down to the lake to drop my bike in transition I could not believe how many times I went up and down. OMG-- what happened to the 2029 feet in elevation change?
By the time I got to the beach, I was pretty nervous. This didn't look flat and I know I hadn't been riding hills AND I was supposed to hit a 3:45 for the ride. Yeah-- looks like another disappointment is in my future. Then I started talking to folks. The word on the street amongst the residents of transition was, " this course is really hilly" and "the water is really cold." So now, I'd entered the great wetsuit should I or shouldn't I debate. LOVELY.
Leaving my bike in transition and heading to my hotel room I still hadn't made any decisions about the wetsuit-- but I had managed to work myself into a tizzy over the bike course.
"Baby, Its 3 am, I Must Be Crazy"
I awoke a 230 to grab my stuff and head down to the start/finish line to get a parking place. The parking area opened at 4, and there was extremely limited parking. Since I didn't want to pump my tires on Saturday (learned that lesson the hard way in Louisville) and wouldn't be allowed to leave my pump in transition, I wanted to be close enough to get my pump back to my car Sunday morning before the race. . . not to mention avoid having to shuttle myself and my bike back to the overflow parking 10 miles away after the race on Sunday afternoon.
Starting up the car, I was greeted by Matchbox 20. .. "Its 3 am I must be crazy" (uh-- lonely I believe the song says, but that was NOT what I was hearing. . . as I drove off to the race. Scoring a prime parking spot, I lay down in the back of the car to try to grab another hour sleep.
Yeah-- like that worked. Instead, I found myself googling elevation changes on the Wildflower course-- my only other 1/2 distance experience. While the stated elevation change at WF is somewhat of a moving target (I believe they try to keep that a secret), I found a good approximation of over 5000 feet. I began to calm down just a bit. . . although I did not get any sleep.
About 530 I wandered into transition, pumped my tires, shared my bike pump with about 10 people, and filled my water bottles.
I Succumb to Peer Pressure-- Again
A quick poll of about 400 people in transition revealed that I was "crazy" to even think about not wearing my wetsuit. So, giving in, and somewhat afraid of my lack of swim training, I began the wetsuit wiggle at 6:45 and headed down to the beach to find my swim wave. Timberman uses a wave start-- any my wave, Womed 20-25 and 35-39 (????) had a 7:20 start time.
At 7 sharp, the first wave of men went off. . . WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY DOING? There was a wall of people doing the butterfly after the starting gun. SERIOUSLY??? BUTTERFLY??? No-- not butterfly, the water was so shallow that they were standing up and dolphin diving repeatedly to try to get some swimming room. . .
Off went the pro women-- with the same interesting stroke and before I knew it-- our wave was entering the water.
Knowing I wasn't feeling as confident in my swim as I had in the past, I seeded myself towards the middle of the pack. There was a 5 minute wait for the gun to go off and, making chit chat, the woman next to me looked over and said, "God, I just hope I make it home to my 3 kids. So many people having been dying during the swim lately, I just hope I don't die." ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? I shit you not. The woman seriously said that she hoped we didn't die in the water not 3 minutes before the gun went off. Way to find a way into my head lady.
So off we went. The water was super shallow and I walked about 150 yards before I got to the point where I felt I could swim (no energy wasting dolphin dives here). I took off into the water and into some pretty heavy traffic. Lots of bumping and pulling as I swam over and around people. The water was clear, and you could see the people you were swimming over as you swam over them. You could even see your hands at the extension of your stroke.
The water was warm-- too warm actually for my full sleeve wetsuit. I was sweltering-- and, of course, worrying about dying as I turned into the first turn. That turn, by the way, is right into the sun-- wear your tinted goggles next time friends, because I could not see a damned thing-- especially not the buoys that I was looking for. There was plenty of swimming room on the way in and, even knowing I took it easy and had to walk the last 100 yards due to shallow waters, I was pretty happy with my 39 minute swim as the high school age stripper pulled off my wetsuit.
An uneventful T1 brought me onto the bike course.
This Ain't No Hill
Throughout the morning, people had been discussing the "hill" as you left the park. The California triathletes out there are now all thinking one of two things: Lynch or Beach. So was I-- even though I knew that couldn't be it. There was no hill-- there was an incline followed by a long down slope which left plenty of time to recover my heart rate before the "climbs" that occurred between miles 4 and 12.
The road was newly paved and the course was beautiful. We made a left turn onto the "hilly" part of the course and cruised along. I was getting passed left and right as usual, but was also passing a few people too. I knew that by the time I got to the first water stop, the "hilly" part would be done and just waiting for me on the return so I kept waiting, hoping it wouldn't be terrible.
There were some inclines, but for the most part, I kept waiting for the real hills to show up and they never did. I found myself at the water stop and out into the flat part of the course before I even started to get tired. I was passing New Hampshire Motor Speedway and at the turnaround before I knew it. It was time to start the false flat back to the hills and home.
I missed seeing my Ironteamies out there -- but managed to find some TNT folk willing to call out a "Go Team" as they read the back of my flames.
The entire bike course I kept waiting for fatigue to set in the way it usually does on the bike. I kept waiting to be uncomfortable or be unhappy of find my ugly place but I never got there. The course was great-- the numerous spectators were great-- the weather was great-- the hills were there but non-entities-- the only "complaint" I could come up with was that every time you got some speed going on a down hill, you had to make a sharp turn onto an incline, which caused me to lose my momentum. A quick potty break at mile 40 and I was done. Back in transition. Feeling pretty good.
Time to Run
I'd been a while since I racked my own bike in T2, but I managed to get it back on there without knocking the rest of the bikes over. I was feeling pretty confident. I knew that I had had a good bike ride and, by my watch, I figured I would still need to have a solid run to get myself to the finish by our 7 hour goal. I was hoping that I could pull it off. My failures on the run a notorious. For some reason, well trained, not well trained, having strong runs before hand or not, I find myself folding on this part of the course.
My trusty Garmin clicked off the miles for me. . 10:30; 10:28, 10:43. SLOW DOWN!! Are you trying to run 16 minute miles at the end of this thing?? Are you trying to burn out your legs? The first 3 miles went by pretty quickly. The fan support was amazing and the water stops were fabulous. (although whoever decided to pair tangerine poweraid with blueberry pomegranate rocktane Gu should be beaten with a wet noodle-- or forced to combine that sexy combination while running). Big props to the hockey theme station that had brought in a mountain of snow (shavings from the ice rink) and were offering to snow shovel it onto weary runners. Second place to the folks that set up a shower head on the course.
What bothered me the most? Knowing I was shooting for a time goal, I forewent my usual change in transition and left my Iron Team singlet on and simply turned my race belt around. They both rode up the entire run-- driving me crazy when my HR monitor and my race belt met up around my middle. (probably not my most flattering look either).
Being a double out and back, it was easy to game myself. I figured that the second time out would be the hardest-- and no surprise, it was. Garmin clicked off 12:00, 13:00, 11:45 I felt like I was in danger of not making it under the 7 hours.
Somewhere I found my second wind. The last three miles clicked by quickly with times running in the low 11's. My legs were tired, but not miserable. I had reached the turn to the finish. I slowed into the chute to enjoy the ride (and not to trip on the grass) and found myself staring up at the clock. 7:09. . . BUT WAIT-- remember, we started late 20 minutes into the race clock. Could it be.
Garmin confirmed it-- 6:49:41. Or 1 hour and 26 minutes faster than my Wildflower time.
I realize that the two courses aren't equatable-- but dropping an hour and half off of my time was a big shot in the arm. I'd been so discouraged lately-- having stress and bad races and life confusion and all of the above to get a positive finish was what I needed.
Overall this was a great course and a great race. The support was fabulous, the organization was great and the people were wonderful. I would love to do this race again next year.