Since this is my 'home' race, I felt very relaxed going into the race. Met up with some friends for the pre-race athlete dinner which was well worth the $1 entry fee. They had a good assortment of veggies, salad, pasta and chicken. A little something for everyone and tasty too. Not your typical pre-race pasta dinner.
|a little sparring with the devil
|Sweet trucker hat race SWAG
Woke up about an hour before my alarm on race morning. There was no going back to sleep so I checked out Facebook for a bit. This entry was in my feed. It felt very appropriate for the day... that was my plan - to finish with joy.
After I updated myself on all things social media, I got up and ate some yogurt, a banana and the first of three uncrustables for the day. (apparently it has become my go to food). This was a good sign considering in Chattanooga I couldn't choke down even half of the yogurt.
My friend, Meredith, was also doing the full so we met up at the bus to start our journey. It was nice to have someone to hang with at the start and someone to look for on the course throughout the day. We did all the usual bag dropping, bike prepping, uncrustable eating, etc. and made our way to the swim start. Before we knew it, Eminem was blasting over the loudspeakers and we were off.
The current was with us this year and I was out of the water in good time with only minor hand to hand combat. I took one good breaststroke kick to the shoulder but, other than that, the swim was not too bad. I made the rookie mistake of stopping at the smallest female wetsuit stripper I could find and ended up helping her help me with the wetsuit. LOL. It took me at least 60 seconds. What was I thinking? ALWAYS go to the big burly guy to get the wetsuit stripped! In the scheme of things, not that much time but if you know how quick that process can be 60 seconds to get your wetsuit stripped feels like forever. Wetsuit off, fresh water shower and on to T1.
The weather was around 50ish warming to 75 throughout the day so I decided not to change for the bike. Helmet on, shoes on and I was out of there.
In 2012, I lost my aero bottle on a big bump within the first mile so was glad to pass that bump with no issues this time. Turns out my issue was going to be on the grating on the drawbridge. Some years, they have down carpet or other things to help minimize problems but they said none of that seemed to do any good so this year we rode directly on the grating. I slowed down to cross but still managed to do a huge fishtailing maneuver from one end of the bridge to the other. I should go back and look at my heart rate for that section because I was pretty sure I was going down on that grating and STILL cannot believe I saved it. I knew there was another bridge with grating at mile 111 so it gave me plenty to think about for the next 110 miles. ;)
The ride itself was uneventful. I will mention nutrition since I had trouble last time. This time, I went with skratch for hydration and one bonk breaker bar every hour along with a salt stick tablet. At special needs, I had premixed three bottles of skratch. I swapped those out and ate my final uncrustable of the day. (ha ha). I ended up stopping twice during the ride; once at special needs and then once 30 miles or so later just to use the port o let. Sometimes you can pee on the bike, sometimes you can't... and it felt good to stand up for a minute at that point.
Leading into the bridge I had decided that it might be best to get off the bike and walk it across. Once I rolled up on the grating, there was a woman in front of me so I just decided to kind of follow her over. I slowed it waaaaaaaaaaaay down and didn't have as much trouble as I did on the first bridge. #whew From there it was a short ride into T2. The announcers and volunteers laughed as they called out my race number. 666 the ongoing joke of the day. Get out of my way! :)
|A sea of white bags.
The run has been slightly different every time I have done it. They continually make it better from year to year. You run right past the finish line on the way out and back which normally might be cruel but I kind of liked it. ...and by right past, I mean if you jumped the barrier, you would have been in the finish chute. The run is two 13 mile loops. I saw Meredith somewhere along the first loop as well as her Dad and Grandfather a little bit later on which was kind of nice. They were sitting on a bench waiting to see her come by. On my way back out, I stopped to tell them Meredith wasn't too far behind me. Later on I saw another friend, Todd who had done the half, and took a run selfie.
Backtracking a bit to discuss nutrition, I should mention around mile 10 I ran into the Base Endurance people. I had heard of their product in Chattanooga. They gave me a tube of their salt product and seemed like they knew what they were talking about so I followed their instructions to take 2 hits before the next aid station and then one every aid station from then on. I am sure this is how people get started on drugs, right? "I met this guy on a street corner and he told me to take two hits..." So trusting. Which is unusual because, a. I never take food or drink from those little homemade aid stations you see at races sometimes - it is official race food or nothing and b. hello, nothing new on race day ever heard of that? of course you have.... Anyhow. I had been taking my salt stick tabs every hour up until then so made a game time decision to make a switch. Other nutrition was huma gels every 3-4 miles along with coke and water at most aid stations. Around mile 18 or so, I was over the gels and went to coke, the salts and water. It worked. I'm sticking with the salts from here on for the run. It was easier than having to take a pill and it seemed to work so there you go.
...and back to the run. One of the things I liked about running past the finish on the loops was when I was closing out the first loop, I looked up at the clock and saw that it said 10 hours. This gave me a lift as I knew I could finish out the next half in 2:30. My goal was around 12:15 to 12:30 so this made me happy. The second loop was kind of uneventful, I spotted Meredith a time or two, there was a concert I could hear over by the amphitheater and I spotted a few other people I had met over the weekend. Before I knew it, I made the turn down the cobblestone road to the finish. The announcer said "here she comes, #666" (the crowd laughed and I did too). My name was not printed on my bib so people had been calling me beast or 666 all day which was only awkward when I went through the aid station manned by a local church. I almost felt like I needed to apologize... ha ha. But I digress.
Back to the finish line! Made it in 12:32 which felt great. This race was a mid-atlantic qualifier for the Age Group Oly Nationals in 2015 and I qualified which was icing on the finisher's cake! All in all, a great race. So happy to have shaken off my attempt at Chattanooga!
Thanks for reading, I realize it was a bit more rambling than usual.... next up is a 50k in January. Going to have to re-stock my Base Endurance Salts and Skratch.