Friday night we packed up the car with the dog crate, the bike and all of the other gear necessary to spend the weekend away from home. It was the dog's first real road trip and all I could worry about at that point was her puking in the car like she normally does. Needless to say, she didn't!
Once we got up to Seekonk, MA and found our hotel we settled in for some TV watching and passed out shortly after. The alarm went off at 7:30am on Saturday and it was time for some carb loading and race prep. We remembered from last time to get up early because we had a late start to our Saturday in 2009 and we ended up wasting the entire day driving all over RI.
We headed over to the local Friendly's to pick up the super breakfast and after stuffing myself we headed to the expo right when it opened. Once there, we picked up all the necessary items, along with a few unnecessary things as well, which ended up coming in handy in the end, and headed over the T2 to drop off my bag. Now if you aren't familiar with this race, I can explain. The majority of the race happens from Narragansett, RI to Providence. Once you are in Providence, you hit T2 and then run the half marathon. So it is a point to point course.
After dropping off my T2 items we headed back to the hotel to eat more and grab the bike and the dog to head to the beach to set up T1. Once again we got there right when it opened unloaded and then realized, we had the whole day to relax. We headed back to the hotel again, and watched some TV, then headed out to see Despicable Me (in 3D), which was amazing and then off to eat some pasta and chicken.
While out at dinner I got my HR numbers to follow from my coach and we talked a bit about strategy and the things I needed to remember to do. Like for instance, to make sure I peed while on the bike. Now this is an issue for me, while sitting hunched over, I just can't seem to do it, but he reminded me that no matter what it took I had to. He recommended what with the recent heat that I spend the bike in mid Z2 and then take the average of that and add 10 beats for my run pace, also allowing an extra 5 beats for climbing hills.
After dinner we headed back to the hotel and I was out like a light by 9pm. At that point I wasn't feeling nervous. I physically had felt off all day, but my nerves were ok. Actually more ok than they have ever been.
We left for the race on Sunday morning at 4:20 and when we got the beach there was a traffic jam of about 50 cars trying to get into the park. Athletes decided to just get out and walk and meet their drivers somewhere near T1. When I got to T1 to finish set up all I could think about was going to the bathroom and I had to go BAD! So I managed to set everything up and pump my tires in under ten minutes and then it was off to pee and suit up.
Then it was down to the water to get with my wave. As we started to gather I realized that our wave was kind of large. I then found out that they were grouping 30-39 together because they didn't feel as though our waves separately were large enough. Not for nothing, we looked large. Once they called us up, and the gun went off it was time to focus. We charged and began to swim and that was when the race started to fall apart for me.
I was in the thick of a bunch of people when all of a sudden I felt a blow to the side of my head. I lifted my head out of the water and saw stars. I felt like I had no idea where I was and I drank a few mouthfuls of salt water. When I snapped back into it I saw the girl who hit me and she was literally swimming with fists. I mean I get it, this is competitive and all, but swimming with fists and then nailing someone in the head, it's not that competitive.
Needless to say I couldn't quite get my bearings after that and it took me over half the swim to get into a rhythm. I got out of the water in 38:40 and off to T1 for a quick run up the beach and grabbed my bike in 3:07.
Then it was time to bike. I knew the bike route since I did it last year, so off I went. The beginning is relatively flat and I was maintaining a decent speed for the first 20 miles. And not to mention, it is quite scenic. After about 20 miles the climbing began and there went my average. As I began to climb I started to feel a bit fatigued but I kept on pushing. The problem was that at this time, it was hot, and I knew I wasn't going to PR. So what did I do? Well the obvious thing, I started to mentally go after myself. That is the worst! Anyone who knows racing, knows there is such a huge mental aspect that is part of it. And in order to succeed you need to stay positive, but for some reason I just couldn't do it. I began to doubt myself and my ability to finish the race.
Thankfully at around 40 miles, I gave myself a swift kick in the ass and told myself to just shut up and keep moving. The main issue with the bike, besides the internal mental battle was that I could not pee, no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't. I knew I had to, but it wasn't happening. But I also knew that as soon as I got off the bike and stood up I would have to. I pulled into T2 and racked my bike and that is when I remembered I had to pee and now I had to pee badly. I had already ran past all of the port-o-johns so I had to make a decision. Just pee in my pants or run back to the port-o-johns and waste time. So pee in my pants it was! The thought of wasting anymore time and adding on to my final time was just too much, so I said f*ck it and pee I did! I came in from the bike at 3:29:51 and a T2 of 2:43. Again, not happy but with the way I was feeling I could deal.
Run time! The game plan was to run the 13.1 at 10 beats higher than my average bike. So around 180, giving myself some extra for the hills. And by hills I mean mountains (or at least that is what they looked like to me)! I started off feeling great, knowing that this was the leg of the race that I knew best but as soon as the climbing began the high spirits exited the body. Every time I would try to climb I would suddenly feel the urge to vomit. So I decided that in order to survive the run without projectile vomiting everyone that I would just walk the hills.
By the time I hit the end of the first loop, it was all a matter of surviving. I am sure everyone has been there at some point, but this was the first time I ever felt like this while racing. I was literally counting down the miles, forcing myself to keep one foot in front of the other. Here is where the unnecessary purchases came in handy. I always make a deal with myself that if I buy something race related with the race name on it, I can't wear it unless I finish the race. And I had just bought a really nice sweatshirt the day before at the expo, so I knew in order to get any use out of it, I had to keep running.
To be honest, once I hit mile 9 I started to feel normal and no longer needed to walk. I came in from the run at 2:10:18, which was only 2 minutes slower than last year. I ran over the finish line and found the dog and boyfriend and man I was spent. I sat the grass and cried a little out of frustration. My final time was 6:24:38, 20 minutes slower than last year and the first race I haven't improved on. At the time it was a tough pill to swallow, but 2 days later I am over it and ready to move on to the next race!
The last two days have been all about relaxing and strategizing. I am definitely ready to try put this one behind me and try again. I am only going to learn from races like these.