Race start: 7:00am – I was in wave 30 of 34. I figured the latest I would be in the water was 7:45. Boy was I WRONG!!! I was not in the water until just after 9:00am. We ate breakfast at ~4:30am. Oh well. I reminded myself that I need to make sure I eat my gel and my shot blocks on the bike and I need to finish my bottle of Hammer. I got in the water and I loved every second of that swim. No, I am not kidding – I LOVED IT! I didn’t swim particularly fast, but I swam faster than I anticipated. 2:07/100yds (actually slightly faster as I swam a mile according to my Garmin). My goal was to take it easy and save my energy for the bike and the run. Mission accomplished. I came out of the water feeling like I could have taken another lap and maintained my speed! Love that. And to top it all off based on my Garmin map – I did a pretty good job sighting!
Map of my swim - supposed to look like the Washington Monument
On to the bike. Transition was fine - threw my swim gear in my bag, dried my feet enough to slip my socks and shoes on, gel and shot blocks in my shorts, helmet on, bike off rack, and I was off to the bike start. It was a bit of a cluster at the bike mount line, but nothing to complain about. Off I went and my legs felt FRESH! My watch beeped at mile five – 19.6mph average for the first five. I’ll take it. I kept my pace and tried to save some energy to hopefully have some of my last miles be closer to 20mph. Mile 10 my watch beeped again – I maintained an average of 19.6mph. I was happy! I thought I can definitely maintain this for another ten and then try to get 20mph for the last 5. Mile 12.5, I approached the start of lap two and the bike finish line - kept left for my second lap. About a minute later I realized I had a flat. I had a moment where I thought I MUST be imagining things. This couldn’t be happening to me – I was having such a great ride!
Anthony and me race morning
I pulled off the course and grabbed my spare tube, tire levers, CO2 cartridge and inflator head out of my saddle bag. I proceeded to flip my bike over and take my front tire off, I was thankful it was my front tire. I struggled for far too long getting the tire off but I eventually succeeded (after a photographer came and made small talk while he photographed my struggle…Anthony is anxious to see those photos…) Tube out, new tube in, and tire back on. Ok. Now for this CO2 cartridge…well I’ve never done this before, GREAT! I failed. It got some air in, but mostly it just didn’t work. That was my only CO2 cartridge. LESSON: ALWAYS HAVE AT LEAST 2 CO2 CARTRIDGES!!! I was at a loss. I needed to find a way to finish!
I saw a man and his kids standing at a corner – next to him was a bike and it had a hand pump… I walked my bike down to the corner and asked if that was their bike – nope. CRAP. Then a magical volunteer asked if she could help – I told her I needed a pump or a CO2 cartridge. Her bike was right across the street and she had some cartridges – she jogged across the street. She came back with two CO2 cartridges and a pump. If someone recorded me and her struggling, they probably could have won some money on AFV. Ok so one of those CO2 cartridges may have gotten wasted and exploded everywhere… One more chance – we made it happen! HOORAY! I had a bike with two fully inflated tires. SCORE! So, yeah the race day volunteers get some major props from me… you were AMAZING!! I literally couldn’t have finished without her! THANK YOU!
And I was off again, but mentally I wasn’t in the game like I was 15 minutes earlier. Miles 10-15 average speed was 17.6mph and my last ten miles averaged 18mph. Overall average moving speed was 18.6mph. Oh, did I mention I only drank about half of my Hammer bottle, half of my H2O bottle and I did not eat a gel or any shot blocks. Well, that was stupid. I got to transition and Anthony was there – that was a surprise! I complained about my flat while I hung my bike, swapped my helmet for my visor and changed my shoes. He had a water and a Gatorade for me – I chugged a bit of each and jogged out to the run start… Anthony jogged for minute with me and reminded me I was doing great - he’s the best!
I had no idea Anthony was in the transition waiting for me and snapping pics!
Uh Oh. WHY DIDN’T I EAT ON THE BIKE?! I was really angry at myself. I tried to think positive. I was passing everyone in front of me, but I was running SLOW (for me). I made a point to get some Gatorade at the first aid station and threw a cup of water down the front of me. It was HOT! I was so uncomfortable on the run. I was trying to stop all of the negative thoughts, but then all I could think was I had to go to the bathroom…why are there no porta pottys? “Just keep moving your legs – get through the first 3 miles and then try to start trucking,” I thought. Mile 2 another aid station.. threw a cup of water on myself to cool down. At about mile 3 there was a porta potty – yes! I ran to it – it was like a nasty sauna, but so worth it! I was happy again!
I walked through the aid station at mile 4 and had some water. Time to pick it up – well kind of… I was really paying for my terrible lack of nutrition earlier. So I managed to just break 9:00/mile on mile 6 and pulled a 7:30 pace out for the last quarter of a mile… Average pace for the run was 9:18/mile. Everyone was struggling on that run – it was so hot, I did my best to motivate those around me and remind them they were doing awesome, especially for how hot it was! Between the mental toll from a flat and the lack of nutrition, my run was just not strong. But I learned a lot. NUTRTION IS NO JOKE!! I ate breakfast at 4:30 am and consumed maybe about 150calories of Hammer on the bike. That puts me pretty far in the negative by the time I started the run at about 11:20am. Finish time: 03:16. Goal time was 2:50-2:55. Epic fail. When I saw Anthony at the finish and told him I had a bad run and that my average pace was 9:18/mile his response was something like “Oh, yeah you didn’t have a good run.” Well at least he knows what I’m capable of! Either way, he was proud – like I said earlier – he’s the best!
Post race pic of the swim course
Overall it was a great race. I had a blast, learned a lot, and gained a TON of confidence with my swimming! Nation’s tri, I think we will be back next year, and I hope you are kind enough to let me get through without a flat!