I can only say that maybe IMLF was that difficult and I just don't remember but this one in on the books for me as the scariest (physically)-like the scary kind of am i really doing damage here on my body or could I die in this heat kind of fear.
So here's how it went:
I woke up with a ridiculously sore throat and congestion, took some sudafed-that seemed to help. No other symptoms. Hartley and I got up early, did our morning bagels, ensure, coffee for me and decided to leave around 5:45 since we had later waves. It took about 25 min to walk to the race site. Our bikes were already there-I liked that part-no lugging bikes in the morning. When we got there, we started hearing "transition closes at 6:45-no exceptions" Well, they had said in the pre-race meeting that it closed at 7:15 so I was pissed. We had literally 30 min to get all our stuff ready and find air for my tires. That sounds like alot of time but it's not when you have all the little doo-dahs to put in your bento box,race number belt and bike helmet. Vaseline on my run and bike shoes and baby powder in each for a smooth transition..I got out of this very huge transition area (about 2000 athletes) just under the wire. I couldn't find Hartley at this point but finally somehow ran into him. We got to hug and say good luck-his wave went before mine. Mine was last! I thought that would be bad but i think it was actually nice to know I probably wouldn't get passed by another wave behind us. The swim takes place in Tempe Town Lake-temp was around 70 degrees-you jump in, tread water and boom! you are off! it was a rectangle course, the second half was directly into the sun-guess they thought us old women could take the sun and heat so started us last..I could see nothing but thrashing arms in the sun portion and just kind of followed them. I felt like I was swimming pretty well-not fast but not slow. At the end, this really big guy hoisted me onto this block step to get out. I almost lost my balance as I tried to stagger out of those steps-that was tricky. they stripped my wetsuit for me, then was about a 100 yard run to transition. All in all my swim time was 44 minutes-which was slower than I thought I was swimming. I read on one forum that the swim was long-that's what I'm thinking. I was 2nd out of 16 in my AG in the swim, which is great but sucked later when 5 women in my AG passed me on the bike.
T-1. I just whipped out of there and did it in 2 min, something. Jumped on the bike after running forever it seemed-had my shoes already on the bike. Wasn't quite the pro start I wanted but I did get into the shoes eventually and took off. The bike course is a neat little urban 18 miles loop that you do 3 times. The roads were closed-it was awesome! Lots of turns, a couple of "hills" (are they kidding-go check out Elephant Butte). All in all a great course. BUT-one by one 5 women in my AG passed me on the bike. You can tell by the age numbers on their calves. This started to discourage me but also spurred me on to go faster. I was pissed!! These women were bigger than me, for the most part and I thought -"shouldn't I be faster here?" Well, I never saw them again except one I passed on the run-tee-hee...
Total bike time-3:05. My personal best by about 25 minutes in a half. I am thrilled and do thank each and every 50-54 woman that passed me now! It was starting to get hot near the end of the bike, bu nothing really noticeable. I forced myself to drink and eat because I knew it would be hot later and I needed reserve. That all went well. I saw Dread Pirate on the bike stopped with a major bike problem and waiting for help. I felt really bad for her because I think it had something to do with the wheels I sold her..I ran into Duane on the bike and others. It was fast and alot of folks on that bike course..My legs were screaming by the end, I was pushing so hard and I began to wonder if I had pushed it too hard..I was trying to catch all those women!!
T-2. Another fast one. I can brag that i did have the fastest transitions in my age group-something to be proud of. Coach Mico taught me that. Even if you are slow,even the slowest, you can make time up in transition..and I do..
THE RUN: Now here is what separated the men from the boys, so to speak. And I am not sure that those of us that finished are necessarily smart or sane, but I did....finish.... As I I headed out to run, I noticed right away it was HOT! I mean REALLY hot! The internet said it was 97 degrees. There was no wind at this point-I was saying to myself by mile 2-"there is no way I will finish in this heat" I have never thought this before in a race. I felt at times running faint, nauseated, chilled-these are all signs of dehydration, probably sun stroke-I told myself. I started walking out of fear. There were ALOT of aid stations-at least every mile and at each one they had water, gator ade, pepsi, ice, etc..It was so well supported. At each aid station, I drank water, poured water on my head, put ice on my chest. I alternated drinking water, pepsi, gatorade. After awhile I think I was delirious because I forgot when I had taken in goo or salt tabs-I did take about 4 I think. I took 4 Ibuprofen. My legs were cramped and feet numb the first 4 miles. I had to stop and take my shoes off, rub my feel and put my shoes on looser each time. This happens to me often in the heat..I think it is the swelling after the bike. Anyway after about 4 miles and my "walking the aid stations" idea was clearly not working-I needed a new goal. OK-I can walk 60 secs./run 60 secs.. I do not race with a watch so I counted-probably out loud, who knows. But that seemed to work for awhile. There was an out and back loop at mile 4 that seemed like forever. Everyone looked like hell. I still wondered if I would faint and die out there. I wondered why there were not more bodies on the course-really! But somehow I finished the first lap. I still did not know my time but I knew if I did the walk/run thing-it would probably be about a 3 hour run and I could break my 7 hour goal. I saw Geek Girl at the 7 mile aid station and she said she wasn't going to make it..i understood that for sure..i was about to join her. About mile 7 and 1/2 I saw Hartley in a sag wagon-OH NO!! I thought. He told me he pulled something in his leg and was going to the medical tent. I was really bummed now-he wasn't going to finish his first half IM! I felt like crying. Then I re-focused and started the walk /run thing again. I met Russ, from San Diego and we walked/ran/encouraged each other for the last half of that very long hot run. My voice was hoarse by now-I could barely talk. The breeze actually started on the last 5 miles, which helped a bit. I no longer felt like I may die and knew I would finish at about mile 10 of the run. I met another guy that told me I would make it under 7 hours with time to spare (I wouldn't let him tell me the time-it psyches me out). Russ and I continued to jog and somehow the last mile and a half, I got a burst of energy and just blasted in. It felt so good to run the pace I wanted to run the whole time and at the finish line-there was Hartley, cheering me in and limping along...I felt tears in my eyes as I realized I had my PR and he didn't finish. He had pulled his Achilles Tendon (we think)..
Final run time was a miraculous 2:52.
Final time: 6:47-my PR by 27 minutes...I finished 6th out of 16 in my age group. 684 out 881 overall.
We went to dinner with our friends Michael and Michi and had Sushi. Hartley was a good sport even though he was bummed. We swapped wars stories of our battle of the day in Soma. We iced Hartley's leg after dinner..I slept like a rock! I am not hoarse this morning..
I woke up this morning and still cannot believe I finished that race.. It was pure determination and stubbornness this time, I swear. I am tired but not too sore. We are drifting around this morning, eating breakfast and relaxing at the hotel before the long drive home..
Afterthoughts: I was really thinking during this race-why do we athletes do this? What is the driving force behind all of us pushing ourselves that way? Is it for the accomplishment? The completing of goals? Are we just insane? I mean we don't get more points in heaven for finishing a half IM in blistering heat..what drives us? It seemed like deep questions at the time but may have just been heat stroke..