So where was I? Oh yes, T2, or T1 as it turned out on this day. I came in off the bike feeling really strong. Other than almost slipping as I ran in my tri shoes with my bike - note to self: work on getting out of the stupid shoes without unclipping! - I found my spot and felt like I transitioned quickly. I had already put my soks on before the bike start and grabbed my gel flask, baggie of salt pills, visor and was out of there. The reality is that my time was slower than I thought it would be and I'm not sure why but it is what it is at this point.
I started out on the run feeling fantastic. I was at a 5:30/km (8:51/mile) pace and not feeling taxed at all. This was though the pace that I had held at the Oly in July until shit fell apart at mile 4. I decided to keep going at that pace until I couldn't anymore as this day had turned into one big experiment. At one point (I don't remember when - it's all a little foggy) I went to open my little sandwich baggie to take a salt tab and they all flew all over the road. This would come back to haunt me later but otherwise things were going really smoothly. I was passing people and the heat wasn't bothering me and I was able to jog through the aid stations. I was feeling great and excited to see a PB for the 5k, then a PB for the 10k. People all around me were stopping and walking and I felt awesome and would pick them off one by one.
During our discussion that week Mary had said that it would start to get hard around mile 8. Well, she's obviously coaching for a reason because mile 8 started to get hard. I started to feel my quads and lamented the loss of my salt tabs. I went for Coke at the next aid station and was very disappointed that it was Pepsi - blech! Coke is bad enough, but Pepsi? I was looking for pretzels, which I'm almost positive was listed as something that would be at the aid stations but no luck. In retrospect I should have taken a piece of banana that they were offering but I didn't know any better. By mile 10 my quads were on fire from the cramping. At one point I saw a little bag on the ground that looked like it had salt pills and actually considered picking them up. I then thought better of it because a)they could have been anything, and b) I was seriously worried that if I bent down I would not be able to get back up. I wanted to stop to walk so bad but knew that if I stopped, I would likely not go again. Around mile 11 is the second go at this hill on the run that is a pretty decent climb all things considered. I used my arms to motor me up and was satisfied to pass all the walkers. I got pretty big ovation at the top with all kinds of people cheering because I had run up that hill. That helped a little.
The last mile was Hell. My quads were cramping and burning so badly that I couldn't feel my feet. I ran alongside a couple of guys that were struggling as well and we just tried to keep each other going. I was never so happy to see a finish line in all my life. Sadly though, the triumph that I had envisioned feeling whenever I thought of crossing the finish line at this race was missing. I was disappointed and felt a little robbed. What I can say though is that I am proud of myself for running every step of that 1/2 marathon. Every aid station, every hill. I also managed a PB for the 1/2 maration by almost 2 minutes.
At the end of the day this race was a little anti climatic. And maybe that's my fault for having built it into such an epic event in my mind. What I will say though is that it showed me that I am capable of more than I give myself credit for sometimes.
That evening I was already emailing Coach about potential redemption races in September. I HAVE to get that 70.3 miles in. I cannot check that box after Steelhead. And so, on September 11 I will be racing the Half-Rev at Cedar Point. 70.3 miles. It's not an "Ironman" race but that's just marketing in my opinion anyway. Of course with this new race comes so many doubts and anxieties like, "What if that was a fluke day?", "What if the swim (my weakest) proves hard enough to screw up the rest of my race?", "What if I bike slower or have a slower half marathon?" So many questions and worries!
Steelhead in Numbers -
Bike - 3:00:21 (18.63 mph - 53/92 AG) - My goal on the bike had been 3:15 so this was awesome.
T2 - 2:34 - You'd think I'd stopped for lunch or something.
Run - 2:05:49 (9:36/mile - 46/92 AG) - My goal had been 2:30 so this was awesome too. NEVER expected to PB.
Overall I finished 46/92 in my AG. Dead middle. I guess maybe I'm not a "back of pack" triathlete anymore?