Here I am, less than a week post race, already thinking about what my schedule for next year is going to be. I think it is safe to say I am hooked. I knew that it would feel great to cross that finish line, but I had no idea how great.
I felt ok waiting for the start. I got in with my wave and waited for the horn. And then it was terrible. In the first 100 yards, I almost quit! I felt trapped in, unable to breathe and completely panicked. I started looking for a kayak and was about to ask to get pulled out of the water. Luckily, there was no kayak around. So I switched to breast, started swimming and before I knew it I was at the second buoy. By then, things had spread out and I didn’t feel trapped, so was able to settle myself. It seemed like every time I switched to crawl, I took a mouthful of water, or someone hit me swimming past. But I also noticed that when I would switch to crawl, I would end up passing people that I had been swimming with on breast. Confirmation that crawl is faster, if I could just get more comfortable with it in rough water and crowds. I did grab a kayak probably at about 1600 yards just for about 15-20 secs to grab a few good breaths. I am sure I could have made it without, but somehow got it in my head that I needed that little break.
As I left the water, I looked at my watch, and realized I never started it! But I also saw the time was 8:42. With a 7:50 start, that gave me just over a 50 minute swim. I had known all along that if I got out of the water in time, I should finish. So then I was just grinning. I got my watch started and kept moving.
The bike was awesome. I was in my heart rate zone every time I looked. I probably could have pushed a little harder, but was worried about the run. Mental state was really good on the bike. No negative thoughts at all. However, I still have a tendency for my mind to just wander. I am not sure if that is good as it keeps me calm, or if with a little more focus, would I be pushing a little more.
In T2, I changed my socks. I had on thick run socks, which got wet, and I could feel the bottom of my foot getting irritated. So into dry socks and off on the run. I am a little disappointed in my run. While my time was ok, I do feel like I let myself quit a bit. I walked a lot more than I expected to. When I did pick up a run again, I was consistently at 5.8-6.2 miles/hour, and I was able to pick it up at the end and sprint it in, which tells me that I had more in me, and was holding back. The blister on my foot was part of it but by far the bigger part was that stupid mind block. I don’t know what I am afraid of if I really leave it ALL on the course.
At the very end, at the bottom of the last hill, I could see Tori’s bright pink tank in the crowd. Nothing to make you pick up your pace like your coach standing at the 13 mile marker! And then all of sudden Sam was right there yelling encouragement, and that’s when I almost lost it. I really was going to not only finish this, but absolutely blow my goal out of the water.
The biggest lesson I learned was about my nutrition. I was absolutely under hydrated on the bike. I didn’t even get through 2 bottles on the bike. I did try, but the nausea got to me. It took me until Tuesday to feel like I was caught up on fluids from Saturday. I did take my blocks on the bike, although I think I missed one 45 minute interval. When I got to the run, it was like I just forgot I was supposed to do that. I did Gatorade, ice in my cap at almost every stop. I did oranges at probably 4 or 5 of them. But I did not, even once, take a blok or a gel. It didn’t even cross my mind. In fact, I didn’t even realize I had done that until Monday! I don’t know how much difference it would have made, but it sure wouldn’t have hurt. Even when I started to feel hungry on the run, it didn’t occur to me to take some bloks.
I have known since I started this that the mental part would be my biggest challenge. I had some tough spots with the first 100 of the swim, grabbing the kayak towards the end of the swim, and many places along the run. The only real negative thought was in the first 100. The other spots were just places that I let my body decide what I was doing rather than having my brain make my body do what it should. It also took me way too long to realize that the aid stations were not exactly at the mile marks. That made it tough when I got to the aid station, and several minutes later, saw the mile sign. Next time I will know not to count on the aid station being at a certain distance and only count on the signs.
Good points from a mental standpoint—looking at my watch getting out of the lake was sheer joy. On the bike (and even a time or 2 on the swim), I used every person I passed as a positive reinforcement. During the run, even when I did run-walk, I was able to pick up to a run over and over again, and I did climb the last hill at a run with a sprint finish.
I don’t know what races I will do next year. But I do know that I will hydrate better, count on my mile markers and not my aid stations, doubt myself less, and hopefully, learn to leave it ALL out there.