WILDFLOWER LONG COURSE
Half Ironman (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13 mile run)
May 1, 2010 Lake San Antonio, CA
2010 got off to a rocky start, with January and February consisting of (besides buckets of rain! And cold!), getting past having the metal pin taken out of my tibia in December, unexpected dental work, including a tooth pulled, and not one, but two colds (thank you Noah)! Struggling to regroup during March and April was tough, as our wet and cold weather continued…
Now, mind you, this is going to be a looooong year, with Barb’s Race at the end of July and the Big One, Ironman Florida alllll the way in November, so I know will be a price to be paid for getting too excited too soon into the year. But I was nervous, anxiety-ridden, even, going into Wildflower. Kona last October was pretty much a once in a lifetime experiment in calculated stupidity, and finishing was absolutely the ONLY goal. Which, on some small level, was a little demoralizing, after finally feeling the least bit competitive with anyone other than myself in 2008. Don’t get me wrong, I savored every minute of it. It was just weird in that way. Wildflower was going to be the test of truth….how much was actually lost last year, strength and speed wise? Would I ever be able to “race”, even in the loose sense I use that word? Only the clock would tell…..and it wasn’t gonna lie.
Having an 85 cat Tri-Valley Fix our Ferals clinic the weekend before was both good and bad. Added stress, yes, but also a place to channel all that ridiculous energy of taper week; there are 85 fewer breeding cats in the world AND my CD’s are alphabetized! Excellent! Taper week was tough this go around. Turned out none of my friends were able to make it to the race this year, so we decided to turn it into a camping adventure and Dan and Noah would accompany me. Knowing the logistics of Wildflower, we reluctantly decided to leave Lance at Club K-9 in an attempt to all make it home alive, unharmed and still married. So Friday, after the traditional pre-race brick workout and tucking in the masses of animals for a 2 day stint of self-management, we picked Noah up from preschool and headed out. We arrived about 5pm, and the campground was looking pretty full. We found a bitty spot right next to where I had camped with Lori and Ray 2 years ago, and set up camp. Beggars can’t be choosers, so our site had a definite, shall we say, “slope” towards the lake, and Dan tried to do some relandscaping to prevent any of us from taking an unscheduled swim. The best part for Noah (and ultimately for us) was that there was a kids play structure about 500 feet from our site. The best part for me was a bathroom at about the same distance. Tents were pupped and off we headed to registration/check in. Bike set up, clothes and transition bags set out and off to bed….
Knowing the Wildflower madness I was at the shuttle boat launch with my bike and bags 2 full hours before my start wave. Good move. Set up my transition area and had lots of leisure time to stretch and listen to my Ipod and contemplate the port o potties before squeezing myself into that wetsuit. Being old now, and a girl, my start wave was the very last one before the Relays—9:25 am. The water was cold when we got in, but not troublesome once the horn went off and we were into the open water. My swim is…well, my swim. I survive it as best as I can and hope against hope to balance bettering my last time with having enough energy to do the rest of the race. Did my darndest…my swim has been the bain of my existence as of late—turned in a time of 48 minutes and change (5 minutes slower than my 2008 time—what are ya gonna do?). Ran up the ramp, saw Dan and Noah, had a very good T1 (faster than 2008) and onto the bike. That Lynch hill right out of the gate is simply an insult to all things good and right in the world. And before you get there, you have to navigate, no!, survive, getting around all the people heading onto the mountain bike course. Made it onto the top of Lynch hill and off we went. The bike course was, and this is my favorite way for it to be: fairly uneventful. Worried that I have had no barometer of my returning (or not returning—you be the judge) cycling strength/speed, I just wanted to keep steady, stay absolutely focused throughout, and give it what I felt to be my 100% while not trashing myself. Some sort of karmic balance between pushing and spinning (thank you computrainer for your faithfulness and tempo workout feedback these last months!). One bathroom stop—darn aging process!—2 minutes lost—I TIMED my bathroom stop as I STILL can’t pee on the bike! And it’s just not something you want to, well…practice. Being in the last wave, and being a really BAD swimmer and relatively strong cyclist, I had LOTS of people to pass. And pass them I did, which was the first time THAT had happened in awhile (like about 18 months, to be exact) and I started feeling like a rockstar with the ensuing optimism. Time: 3.26.28. 2008….3.18.19. I’ll take it! As will I take a faster T2, by 6 whole seconds, thank you very much.
And now for the test of truth…the “run”. I didn’t really have a plan, per se, for the run, beyond eating a gu every 3 miles. My usual best case scenario/personal rule is run as much as you can, but any time you have a paper cup in your hand you are allowed to walk. So I headed out in my newfound shuffle-pace and thought I’d just see what happened. Pretty soon my obsessive thought pattern turned to the last year…more specifically how much WALKING I had had to do in the past year. I had to train for the whole flipping Kona Ironman marathon at a walk….on a flat bike trail….in Danville…in the summer. I decided that I never, ever wanted to walk again as long as I could run, and by mile 2 I decided as long as I was alive and breathing, I’d be running. By the massive hill about mile 4, I kept thinking about the first doctor I saw after breaking my leg who told me I’d never run again. Well, then I HAD to keep running. Mind you, my run was little more or less like a jog at best, but I kept it going….with or without the paper cup!! At WILDFLOWER! Toughest half run I know of. I just kept plodding along, thinking I was just happy not to be walking….like the at least 3 MEN I passed by---with M-DOT TATOOS ON THEIR CALVES!!! HA! Take THAT ya stupid horse, and you, even stupider doctor! Not knowing what to expect from this race at all, I knew deep down in my overtaxed heart that I’d be thrilled with anything under 7 hours. My 2008 time was 6.41.54. I always wished to beat it, but I was realistic. I saw the magic time come and go…but I was about half a mile away from the finish. I mean that in an “ONLY” half a mile kind of way! I was indeed going to make it in under 7 hours: 6.50.06 to be exact! As I ran down the finish chute, so thrilled with myself, about 500 feet from the finish line, Dan heaved Noah under the snow fence barrier like a torpedo and he scooted out, took my hand and ran to the finish line with me. It was indeed a very sweet victory, personally. I checked my actual times on the website Monday morning to write up my race report and looked at my run splits. 2.26.45 on Sunday. 2008: 2.32.44. Oh, my gosh, I’m the six million dollar woman! Is it possible that they put it back together STRONGER and FASTER?!?!? I have to go send another thank you note to my orthopedic surgeon now.