I completed my first half iron – the Delware Diamondman – last weekend, and while the undefeated streak ended, I couldn’t have been more pleased with my debut. I offer the following race recap:
The night before the race, I mentioned that I felt nervous. Cane reminded me that it was just a long day at the office, and in some respects, it would feel easier than a sprint. “You won’t red-line it, and if you do, slow down.” That calmed me and I took that advice as I headed to the starting line. Apparently it is now commonplace for me to dry heave at the beginning and end of all my races. What is that?
Swim: There wasn’t much visibility in the water, and so every time I tried to find someone to draft, I’d lose them. I swam that entire swim by myself. The reason I didn’t feel tired coming out of the pool is my lack of serious effort. I was so concerned with going out too fast. So, decent, but not great swim. I put on my sneakers, and ran .25 miles to T1. So far, I felt fine.
T1: Embarrassing. There was absolutely no urgency here. I tried on couple different outfits and stuck with the jacket as I was chilly and it was raining.
Bike: Again, I was conservative. I don’t know that was such a bad thing. At one point, I was all alone and kept replaying Cleavon Little’s line from Blazing Saddles in my head, “Where the white women at?” I was either so far ahead or so far behind the rest of the field. I really had no idea. The first sighting was at an out-and-back. I realized that there were 2 women very far ahead of me. And then I thought, “Oh, this is not an out-and-back, you’re leading, Silly.” And then I was directed to make the u-turn and that confirmed I was behind. It didn’t discourage me at all. I just wanted to go out there, break 5, and not blow up. I was very conscious of nutrition. I hydrated and ate well on the bike.
T2: I looked at my watch and realized that I would not break 5 if I ran 1:45 for the half. I had no idea what I would be able to run, but 8 min pace seemed reasonable. I left T2 in good spirits and fresh legs.
Run: First mile was 7:12. I thought the mile marker was wrong, but that I should slow down nonetheless. Mile 2 was 7:14. Then 6:58. I had no idea why my legs felt good, but I was so afraid to go out there and blow up. I employed the 5-5-5, 5miles-5miles-5k tactic, and started doing a lot of math in my head. Now started to realize that sub-5 was possible. I cheered everyone I passed. It’s amazing how uplifting it is to cheer on your competitors. I ended up running with a guy for a while and it made things easier. Then I started feeling a little GI distress and used the port-a-pottie. Glad I made the decision to stop.
Was worried that the stop would ruin the momentum, but it was good that I went. Then there was a huge hill at mile 9. I really wanted to walk, but knew that it would be the end of me if I did. I told myself I could shuffle, do switchbacks, anything, except walk. And before I knew it, the hill was behind me. It was such a mental fight.
The final 5k was a death march. I wanted to use the bathroom and I felt pretty horrible. I did the math and told myself I would feel worse if another bathroom break cost me the sub-5. The last mile took forever, but coming in and seeing the clock, my knees lifted and I felt this overwhelming sense of pride. I couldn’t stop smiling. I came in third behind 2 incredible women who beat me convincingly. It was great to see such strong women out there and share the podium. So now it’s off to SC and Nationals. I am going to clean up my transitions and be more aggressive and confident. This has been the best season ever.
(note: Not saying I would have placed any differently had I been more aggressive. Those women stomped me. And maybe the effort allowed me to finish sub-5. However, I’m excited to see how much more time I can shave off in my next race.)