What can I say about SORT? This was my third Half Iron Distance event and the second time I have completed this particular course. I have been calling this a catered training day all summer, so I really didn't put a lot of thought into planning this day or strategizing. My goals for this day were simple:
* Better last years time for this course
* Try not to be DFL (That would be dead freaking last to the uninitiated, yo)
* Get an idea where I need to expend the greatest effort in the last 8 weeks of training for IMoo.
This year, we opted to stay in Janesville and commute the 80ish minutes to the expo and the race. It was cheaper than staying in a hotel getting nervous, we didn't have to leave our home vulnerable to the big ideas of teenage boys home alone on a weekend, and we got to sleep in my own bed instead of tossing and turning in a cruddy hotel bed. Although it made for a lot of time in the car, overall I think it was a good move this year. Except for the nearly an hour we spent in a traffic jam outside Alpine Valley caught up in concertgoers for the Dave Matthews Band, that was a little rough...
The race itself? Overall, I'm feeling pretty good. The swim was point to point with the current, so it felt really fast. In Google Earth, it measured 1.1 miles instead of 1.2 miles, but whatever - it was close. it will be tough to compare to last year because last year there were fog and cold issues with Lake Michigan an the course was moved in at the last minute and was way short. this year, it took off farther up the beach and ended further down the beach, so was longer than last year. The buoys were placed close enough to shore that it was about waist to chest deep through out which prompted a lot of people walking instead of swimming.
My swim wave was huge, and I mean GINORMOUS! They sent off a group of women that included all women 35 and older and Athenas. We counted up from the results that that meant our wave was over 250 women. It felt like a mob scene and I actually had to stop and collect myself 3 times when I got punched (PUNCHED!!!) in the face by other swimmers. I swam over people and swam over myself. At one point I took a forward stroke and ended up punching another lady square in the crotch.......that couldn't have felt good.
actually, i think this was a good experience because it was good practice for the in-water mass start for IMWI known affectionately as the "Washing machine." I now know I ca take a solid punch and keep going.
The Bike? I felt awesome on the bike. Sweet Lucy didn't let me down at all. I remember last year thinking people were crazy for calling this a flat course, and this year I really did fl like it was a FLAT course. There were just a couple of hills to conquer. I stayed in the big chainring the whole time and just hammered it as fast as I could.
The drafting packs I saw coming at me from the previous waves and fast riders were pretty ridiculous. I can't imagine if you got swallowed up by one of the peletons it would be easy to break free as they were big and fast. Being more toward the back of the pack, I had not a lot to worry about from a drafting POV. I lost time at the 45 mile water station when i stopped to pee, but it had to be done. Pulling up sweaty spandex bike shorts is no easy feat!
The Run? Here is where I identified my weakness as if I didn't already know. Once off the bike, i could not motivate myself to make my legs hurt enough to run. Could not make myself do it. First I was going to just walk a half mile and start running, then it was a mile, then I would take a couple blocks of running and peter out. I saw Jen Brady pass me early on starting her second loop and she was running like a freaking gazelle. I watched person after person fly by me as I tried to muster the weakest of shuffles. I knew at some point I would pass Alison, and then Mike, and then Phil so I tried to run until I saw them so they wouldn't see me walking. What happened in actuality was as soon as I saw them in the distance, I would start to run and then I would stop for a "walk break" that lasted until I saw the next SWATtie coming along and then the fake out would begin again. Pretty sure I was fooling no one but myself, but whatever.
This is a double out and back half marathon course, much like her big sister IMWI. For those that don't know, you go out a quarter of the distance, turn around and comeback a quarter of the distance, go to about 50 yards of the finish line and turn around to start the second half of the half marathon and do it all again. It.totally.sucks. Last year, I got all weepy at the turnaround by the finish line and this year was no different. I cannot express how heartbreaking it is to see the finish line and know you are only HALF done. And to make it worse, people are shouting "you're almost there" and "way to finish!" and any number of encouraging finisher phrases because they don't know you are not headed to the finishers chute.
This is where I wish I had family or friends that were actually interested in spectating these events. it would be such a lift to have some say "you're doing great, we love you, and we can't wait for you to get back here!" or better yet, to be out on the course (which is decidedly sparser once most of the field has finished their second loop) and offer encouraging words that are meaningful.
I go to a very dark place on these second lonely loops. You see a lot of people you don't know saying things that sound trite and disingenuous but are intended to be encouraging. it really does the opposite to me. I hear someone say "Looking good!" and I struggle to smile and have to stifle a "Bite me."
Once I got to the the second turnaround for the final 5K, I begin to count the number of people who are behind me and calculating a) whether I would make the cutoff time and b) how many runners were behind me, who looked like they would have started with me or after me on the swim (basically old women, fat women, and old men), and how likely they were to catch up to me and beat me to the finish. I counted 11 people behind me. That doesn't mean they were slower than me necessarily as they could have started later, but they were behind me at any rate giving the illusion of besting them.
So, the run was mostly a walk. I knew Phil was walking up ahead of me about a mile ahead after the first 5K, and I tried for a while to catch up to him, but since he is about 10 feet tall with legs up to his neck, i just could not get it done.
*On the run, I stopped to use a potty at an aid station. I opened the door to find some tall guy standing at the urinal with his pecker in his hands. I shut the door quick and then had to stand there and wait, then look him in the face when he came out of the john....... Had I not been so tired I would have been able to come up with something funny to say, but honestly WHO doesn't know how to lock the door behind them in a unisex portapotty??
*one of the things I chanted to myself on loop 2 was "You can all kiss my double out and back ass." Like a mantra, over and over. In hindsight, inappropriate and kind of weirdly funny. Glad there was no one around to hear THAT!
* On my last pass through the aid station, a teenage girl held up a huge tray of Oreos. I grabbed some in both hands said "I LOVE you!" and pecked her on the cheek. Pretty likely she thought I was crazy.
What comes next:
*I was not DFL. But I definitely need to spend some time on the run miles. Apparently, not running more the 5-10 miles a week since a half marathon in May did not prepare me to run a half at the end of a HIM. Who knew?
* Ride that IM course several more times. Learn where I can turn it on and where I need to conserve myself.
*Figure out the nutrition thing for going long. I didn't eat nearly enough and had no plan for meeting my calorie needs which had a lot to do with running out of gas on the run. I wasn't bonking, but I was not fueled right either.
last year: 37:25 (1219/1379- 88%)
this year: 34:17 (1107/1206- 91%)
net effect: 3:08 faster
last year: 3:32:52 - 15.8 mph (1363/1379- 99%)
this year: 3:17:29 - 17mph (1108/1196- 92%)
net effect: 15:59 faster, moved forward in the pack by 7%
last year: 3:15:29 - 14:55 min/mi (1362/1379)
this year: 3:22:30 - 15:28 min/mi (1174/1176)
net effect: 37 seconds per mile slower, lost 7:01
last year: 7:37:50 (1367/1379)
this year: 7:22:58 (1164/1176)
net effect: 14:52 faster overall improvement, but improvements on the swim were cancelled out by regression on the run.
We got work to do - Toughen Up Buttercup!