The coffee started to brew at 4 am. The camper was frosty and I slept pretty well. I had packed and repacked my tri gear 10x worrying that I would get to the campground and be missing something essential with no place to buy a replacement at Inks Lake. I had a small sports bra temper tantrum, ate my waffles and set out for Marble Falls. 30 minutes later we arrived in the dark. I immediately set out on my race day tri tasks, enjoying the industry of it all as compared to a running race where you just pace around and drink too much water until the gun goes off. We were there about 15 minutes after transition opened (perfect!) and I got a great spot on the racks. Right in line with the bike and run out, and with a lamp post, so I could zero in on it when I came out of the water like a dazed and confused swamp thing. Once I was all set up I grabbed my bib and went to the water to get my chip. There was a beautiful sunrise forming over the lake, to illuminate the swim course... good god. It was sooo far. Swim way out parallel to the shore, then arc back around the buoys toward the dock. Both standing in line for my chip and at the swim wave start I spoke to two other ladies who looked nervous and said that this was their furthest open water swim. That sort of calmed my nervousness a bit, but it was reignited when I was scanning the racks for a bike with down tube shifters... nada. Lots of aerobars, and some superstuds warming up on their trainers (ya don't see THAT at the Danskin, lol) but no one else with downtube shifters. Oh well. Work with what you got.
I was the second wave and we hopped in the lake for a deep water start. Well it was deep where we started but only like 4ft where we got in.Good thing I didn't do my Rodney Dangerfield Cannonball (it was soooo tempting) Ooof. Just like that we were off, and my open water swim panic attack began. I'm really contemplating getting hypnotized or something so I don't freak out on the swim. I do it every time. It's so lame. I am a freakin fish. I love the water. Anyway, I was getting really short of breath and flushed in the face, so I dog paddled and talked myself off the ledge. I gave myself an ultimatum (you have until the first buoy to get your shit together) and outta nowhere a mantra came to me (from Dr. Dre's Nuthin But a G Thang:
It's like this, and like that,and like this and uh
It's like this, and like that,and like this and uh
It's like this, and who gives a f*ck about those
So just chill, til the next episode
I had my mantra, and started cranking along, I also realized I could sight while swimming using the powerlines, and began moving up in my wave. Just when I'd make some ground, some dude from the wave behind me would get all ironman and try and swim over top of me (good luck dude, I float) but I had Snoop and Dre and just kept plugging along. Around the last buoy I checked my watch... 16 minutes, WOW. I'm going to be outta the water early. Despite my freakout I was out of the water in 23:33. I knew this was the fastest I had ever swam in a race... AND I was coming in to T1 7 minutes ahead of schedule. I was not very composed in transition. I should have taken more time to put my shoes and socks on, and kind of floundered with my camelback and poof I was off. I mounted behind the line and didn't move my bike without putting my helmet on so I was good to go, right. Um, not really. See, I put my shades on my head under my helmet, so there was some sketchy riding out of transition (where there were plenty of spectators to watch me) as I removed my sunglasses from under my helmet and got them on my face.
The bike was pretty brutal. My quads were screaming on the first hill after the bridge. I settled in and had a snack. I was really enjoying the downhills and trying to focus on getting my heart rate chilled out. Between my swim freakout, my sunglasses incident and a shifting FAIL that popped my chain off the lil ring I was revving pretty high. Since it was 1990s hip hop day in my brain, I settled on Tribe Called Quest's "Award Tour" and was on my way. 23 miles is a long way on the bike. Because it was a smaller race (about 400) and I was already way in the back I was alone. I can understand why people who do the half and full iron talk about space madness on the bike. The rollers made it a bit more fun. I was so thankful there were clouds to watch and not a cloudless sky with a blazing sun. The climbs were hard, but there were also a lot of rollers where you could coast up the next hill. I was really trying to keep my pace above 13... but there were times when it was as low as 5, ugh. I also forgot to set the odometer on the bike, so I was going mostly by my watch. I wanted to be off the bike in 90 min. When it was all said and done I was back in 93 minutes but I considered it a penalty for my sloppy shifting and chain malfunction at the beginning.
Now for the run. I was actually excited for the run. My legs have been feeling so strong after the trail season, I was not dreading it for the first time ever. It was so cool and overcast I didn't bring my camelback, just a water bottle. As I ran past the finish I saw one of my trail coaches and he was cheering for me, that was pretty cool. It got me thinking about all my crazy trail runs and how much easier this run was going to be. No ledges to leap off of, no loose gravel downhills to attack, just one foot in front of the other. I was feeling good! Not shuffling along and making my marks. I'm used to running a trail 10k with one aid station at half way, so it was awesome to have mile markers at all 4 miles. Everyone was so supportive on the out and back run, even the other hard core racers were cheering me on (which always makes me think I look like I'm dying) and Tiger and Dixie were there too! One of the volunteers (a larger lady) told me "I'm gonna train to race with you next year! You go girl." That started the tears. My run pace was 12:45 which was slower than I thought it was I was giving myself 12 minutes to get from aid station to aid station, and I'm pretty sure that I ran a 10 minute mile in there between 2 and 3 which would be a super PR for both the road 10ks and tris for me. Then I was all alone, back in some neighborhood. No one to catch, no one to stay ahead of. In fact I contemplated a short cut, not really because I wanted to cheat, but I needed some moral support. I just plugged away, again getting choked up, I was on pace to beat 3:00. I had some numbers on a post it I stuck above my desk... 30 min swim, 90 min bike and 50 min run. Of course that run time didn't account for the additional .4 miles OR any transitions, so I was really like 10 minutes ahead of schedule... oh the running math. I never figured out how long it should take me to run .4 miles... (the answer is 3 minutes) but I did cross the finish line (with lots of cheering spectators, yay!) at 2:59:22!!!! PR swim pace/PR run pace not bad for a month of training. Of course being the racing nut that I am, I'm looking forward to meeting or beating that swim number in the splash and dash tomorrow ;)