We woke up early, like in the late 4o'clock hour! While taking our stuff out to the car it starts to rain! You have got to be kidding me- rain on our longest race of our lives (thus far)! As we drive it rains harder and harder! Should I be surprised? No not really...everytime we do something new the weather definitely does not cooperate and it usually results in rain. Our first tri as a relay- rain and the hubby spilled on his bike, first sprint tri - monsoon, first year doing the Columbia tri together- downpour, first marathon- ice and the first time Orlando has seen snow...so you think we would be used to this. I now actually have people asking which races we are doing so they know if they need to plan for rain! So anyway it's pouring and we decide we may as well set out our bike and tri bags because its going to get wet anyway. I luckily had plenty of room around me as several girls didn't show. After dropping our stuff we went back to sit in the car...while it rained....Eventually after a porta-pottie break light starts to show itself and the rain backs off a little. We decide its time to face it, we are here to do a job, let's just get it done. It sounds easy to say but when you are going to be soaking wet for the next almost 8 hours it's not a pleasant thought.
We head the quarter mile to the lake armed with our caps, goggles, wetsuits, and shoes, yes shoes. They go through some quick directions then its time to start. The hubby was adjusting the spot of his shoes when they called his group into the water, I never got to say goodbye and wish him luck. That was quite disappointing. My wave was to start 5 minutes later. I headed into the water with Suz, my good friend who is very good at triathloning. She has random people wishing her luck. She is that good. We head out the 200 yds through the water to the "start line" and get a decent start. It took a few minutes to get into a groove and figure out where I fit into the speed of things. Swimming is by far my best leg but unfortunately the shortest leg. I use it to my advantage to get a head start on the biking leg. After the first turn I am in the midst of the heat before me. I stick to the inside and head in as straight as possible, at this point when I am on the way back I am finally getting comfortable and picking up speed. I get out of the water and see my friends Danny and Rob cheering everyone on, quickly get my shoes on and start trotting the quarter-mile to the transition area. The hubby's shoes were still there so I passed him somewhere on the swim. This gave me hope I might get to see him still. Some people did this run barefoot and run on the grass. I did it last year and found it quite uncomfortable. I don't run fast so several people passed me on the jog, that's ok it's a long race this wasn't going to make it or break it. I did have one guy congratulate me on a good swim. I think he was impressed he was running next to a girl since we were in the second heat.
In transition I took my time getting my speed-suit (sorta like a wetsuit) off and digging out my bike gear from my new transition bag. Normally this stuff would be laid out but due to the rain I chose to keep it in the bag, yup still raining. I saw the hubby while in transition and that made me happy. We had a quick smooch while walking our bikes to the mount line and then he was off! I knew I wasn't going to be breaking any records or really passing anyone. The next almost 4 hours were me and a bike riding through Delaware. It was flat with the exception of a bridge 20 miles in and then the bridge again at about mile 48. I didn't know what to do with myself. All of my practice rides were with the hubby. I had quick discussions as people passed me, mostly it was people's words of encouragement and me trying to excuse my poor biking by saying "it's my first one" except that I was passed by many people who were also doing their first one...sigh...I tried to sing songs, admired nice houses, got frustrated by people coming out of no where passing me, saw the police bike with the last place person, panicked, cheered on my friends and hubby when they were on the return part, ate, and just kept riding. I ate pretzels, Nature Valley granola bars, and chomps and was still hungry. My crotch didn't hurt like it had in practice rides so that is getting better but I really just got bored! There was no one around, I guessed there were maybe 10 people (if that) behind me. In my own defense it was a small race, I think (hope!) I would have faired better in a bigger race. The rain stopped about a third of the way in so that was good. There was a bridge that had grates where we actually had to get off our bike and walk it across because other riders had wiped out, and had to ride across rubber mats when crossing the railroad tracks. That was annoying too. Many thanks go out to the volunteers and police officers that stood out there until the very last person came through. I was also impressed by the bike support vans that were constantly circling. I felt comfortable that if I had a problem I wouldn't have to wait too long.
Eventually I was able to get off my bike 56 long miles later. I took my time in transition getting my not horribly wet but still damp shoes and socks on to start a half marathon run! I was incredibly surprised at how easy it was to run! I was expecting to be slugging at that time but no I was trotting/shuffling whatever you call my normal run position. Less than a mile in Suz was on the return to finish. I was happy I at least made it out before she was done. She did awesome by crushing last years time and well the entire field of athletes! She was the first female and 8th person to finish!! Like I said she is that good! About 3 miles in I passed my teaching friend LaCorte as he was on the return. Miles 3 to 4 went by quickly, I chatted with Deb from PA who was also supposed to do Diamondgirl (see previous post) and this was only her second time doing this race. Her run strategy was similar to mine, run until a rest stop, get the water, then always less than a mile to the next one. She was a bit faster/more experienced and went ahead after our chat. But she was never too far ahead. Rest stops were a mile apart and manned by some local Boy Scouts. They did a great job and I really appreciated them being out there. The run course was a simple out and back run along a river. Luckily it was overcast, if it had been sunny there would have been no shade! Saw the hubby coning the other direction around mile 4 or 5, he looked happy and asked if I was doing ok and if I was going to finish. Of course I am going to finish! Even if I turn around now that's another 4 miles, may as well do them all I've been out here for too many hours not to finish. At about mile 8 I saw Danny at the top of the hill, ugh someone's watching me go up a hill and taking pictures like the paparazzi! Smile, just smile don't look horrible and crap now I actually have to run up the hill because someone is watching! It was good incentive to keep going when I may have stopped to walk. He stayed with me, amazingly, the rest of the way. It was really nice to not be lonely anymore. Every few miles he called into give everyone an update on our progress. I wish I could say it made the miles fly by but it made them not nearly as painful and much happier and more positive. And he ran while holding a camera and he had run 20miles the previous day! When I got back to the main road I got a wave and a honk from someone who was leaving...ugh....leaving and yup I am still trudging along but the gesture was nice. I was excited to re-enter the park meaning I had about 1.25 to go! I was actually going to finish this, not that I really was questioning it once I got started. Danny still stayed with me, even missing Suz, his wife, getting her award. That meant a lot. With .25 to go we saw Suz cheering us on and then little Paige, LaCorte's step-daughter ran with me toward the end except I couldn't keep up with her, she's 5...but I appreciate that she was there with her momma and waiting with high 5's for me! I picked it up to finish strong! And then I was done!!!!!! That was an awesome feeling well the awesome feeling part sunk in a couple hours later. Instead it felt like the few hundred yards to my bike and gear were another half marathon! I got a finisher medal! I saw Suz and her #1 medal! Another friend Heidi who was doing her first half also got 3rd in our age group! She really rocked it for the first one! I appreciated everyone that stuck around for my finish, especially considering it was several hours later...So my finish 7 hours and 10 minutes after my start but the goal was made I finished! My hubby even got me a finisher's visor!!
It took a couple days for it to sink it I went 70.3 miles on my own body's power! Wow! Now on to the full Ironman right? Well ummmm....this was really long and lonely and can I do double?? We are signed up to volunteer at the Florida Ironman in November and volunteers get first dibs on signing up for next year. Will we do it? Guess you will have to wait and see. Will we do another 70.3? Initially I said "no" but I said that after my first Olympic distance and well we can see how long that lasted...We are starting to look at next year's race calendar and need to find some races to get excited about. This past year it was the Disney marathon and the Great Chesapeake Bay swim. What will it be next year? Stay tuned! I did learn that I totally suck at biking! People came out of no where and passed me! The people who took the longest on the swim passed me! Arrrrg! I have resolved to put my bike on the trainer this winter and pedal away in the big cog and work on my turn over because that was embarrassing! I am also thinking that aerobars would help me read while I am riding this winter. No I am not thinking aerobars would be good for me while I am riding on the road because I am way too clumsy for that nope they would allow me to get lots of reading done this winter. So that's the plan for now focus on biking, I know I can swim, and we trained running last winter so its time for some bike concentration. Hopefully it helps. But for now just call me Half-Ironman-Cindy!