There is still, to me, something so WRONG about something with the word "flower" in its name being so painful. That is how I got sucked into this whole thing 12 years ago! Wildflower? It sounds pretty, and nice, like a flower! What a completely deceptive name for what I believe is the hardest Half Ironman race within driving distance. And, as usual, it lived up to the expectation, once again.
I knew going into this one that most likely I wasn't going to PR, which made it hard to get myself psyched up for this race this year. I had put in the training, but my focus has just been "off" somehow, lagging. My nutrition this year has been less than exemplary and I had a feeling I was about to have a very expensive, very visceral lesson on why holiday eating should end with the holidays (in other words it should end with Christmas, not Easter).
I've done Wildflower under so many different circumstances. The old days with the TS Tri Club. Days with friends, be it many or a few. The year I did the Mountain Bike Course less than three months after having a baby and a blood clot in my lung. The year I came out of the pit on the run course to see my friend Nancy on the way down, swearing like a truck driver about how she was reconsidering our friendship altogether for my having gotten her into this thing. Years it rained, years it was ridiculously hot out there. A year I missed due to lack of motivation and a year I missed it because I had a broken leg. Ah, Wildlower. Let me count the ways I love you. This year, having no friends to speak of, and knowing it wasn't going to be a performance worthy of uprooting a husband, six year old and large dog with cancer, I opted for the Jiffy Solo Mission. By the time I got packed and got my animals all set up on Friday, I didn't leave until 3:30 Friday; I arrived at Lake San Antonio with just enough time to get to check in before it closed and get my sleeping bag set up before dark. Got my bike and race stuff ready, ate my pre-prepped dinner, and settled down with my headlamp and book for a cozy sleep in the back of my car. Luxurious.
Up at 7:00, downed my thermos of coffee and took off for the transition area, fueled as always, by oatcakes and the Days of Thunder Soundtrack. It wasn't windy when I got there. But by the time the Old Woman division went off about noon (oh, ok, it was 9:25), there was a darn good chop on that water! The kind where if you try to bilateral breathe and come up on the choppy side, you are now gasping and sputtering for air. My new Zoot wetsuit is still great (although tighter than it was in November), and very bouyant on the waves (waves on a lake?) that were now forming. Very bouncy swim! So much for my under 45 minutes I was looking for in the only sport where my lardass wasn't going to be a defining feature....48.46 (compared to 48.17 last year...aaaaaa!). On to the bike and the goal there is ALWAYS the same: stay upright and alive long enough to get past the people doing the mountain bike course--their course starts out the same and then veers onto the trail about a mile in, right as the hill out of the lake to the ridge hits you like a ton of bricks. Made it through the sketchy masses of beginners and mountain bike people, up the bad, bad hill, and to the crest where we were met with...a...giant...HEADWIND. By the ten mile mark I was pretty sure this ride was going to be no land speed record. At the fifteen mile right turn in Lockwood it became a sidewind--the kind that seems to want to scoop up my aerodynamic (from the front at least) bike frame and sweep it inland a few miles. That always scares me and makes me a little cautious, especially knowing I had done this trip solo and there was going to be NO one nearby to claim me from the hospital. Lots of ambulances going to and fro with sirens blaring on the course, more than usual, although I never saw an actual accident like I have in years past. When we finally turned back towards the Lake about mile 35, to head towards Nasty Grade, I wouldn't exactly call it a tailwind, but it was at least less noticeable, which was nice, but also made it feel warmer. The temperature wasn't near unbearable; my best guess is that it was between 75 and 80 degrees. I'm here to say Nasty Grade isn't any flatter than it was last year. And I will admit to feeling a little tentative on the big descent given the wind. Hobbled back in with a 3.32.47 for the 56 miles (compared to last year's 3.26.28--an increase in time contributing to a mix of wind and ass fatness). Into T2 not feeling thrilled about the run, and just telling myself I was "just going out for a little 13 mile run". That run is so much more brutal than any other half, with the hilly trail! Off I went at my little jog. My new goal, since last year, is to just keep running (I want walking to be a thing of the past). I wish I could have made it faster and will admit to a bit of tentativeness due in part to knowing I was going to have to drive home right after I finished, but I did at least jog the whole thing. It was hard to be motivated too much beyond that, knowing my PR was not going to happen that day and I wanted to keep myself in one piece. 2.34 compared to last year's 2.26, and I almost felt guilty that I felt a little too good when I was done. Total time: 7.06.22 (the sub-6.30 was not to be this year. Someday.) Last year: 6.50.06. 2008, pre-broken leg: 6.41.54. And with that, I pronounce a ban on all cookies and baked goods during Christmas 2011.
Took a shower, threw my bike in the car and was out of there by exactly 6:00pm lastnight. Home by 10, just in time to crash into bed and spend much of today catching up on things and watching all my recorded shows about the Royal Wedding!