Going into this race 5 weeks after Lake Placid and 2 weeks after Timberman I knew this was not going to be easy! My body was not feeling fully recovered and I had a few issues with my achilles and my hip that were bothering me. I remained optimistic and determined that I would succeed and be mentally strong no matter what the race threw at me.
Race morning went smoothly. I headed down to the swim start which was a 15 minute walk and had a good chat with a few guys on the way. I was very calm and not nervous at all which was weird as I was up all night with a very high heart rate and the jitters. I was pleasantly surprised to have ony a few minute wait for the porto-johns....its amazing the small things that can make you sooooo happy.
At 6.45 the pro's were allowed into the water for a very quick warm up. I had tinted goggles on which was quite funny as it was still dark out and I was really battling to see. The gun went off promptly at 6.50 and I felt I had a really good start putting me up in the middle of the pack behind the fast guys. After about ten minutes I was swimming alone and I swam until the turn around by myself and then I hung wide to try get a bit of the current coming back. I caught up to two girls ahead of me and decided to swim closer to shore and stay behind them and not work as hard...I was happy with the decision when I came out of the water around 1.02....my best non wetsuit swim and in 7th place.(timing mat was a minute up making the swim 1.03)
On the bike I felt a little fatigue in my hamstrings but I knew it would work itself out. The first 25 miles are flat and fast although the east wind slowed things up a bit. The wind definitely made things a little more challenging later in the bike. I hit the out and back section, a ten mile very fun loop with a few big ups and downs. This was a slower section but you got to see how far ahead your competition was. At this stage I was still in seventh place and watched Hillary, Elizabeth, Heather and Bree Wee pass. Marie and Mariska were not too far ahead so I was excited and probably pushed the hills a little hard to make up a few minutes. Once starting the two thirty mile loops I saw Marie Danais and pushed to pass her. What was wierd about this race was due to the time trial start only a few amateur guys passed me on the bike. I kept waiting for the groups but they never came. The second loop would be a little more difficult as we were now spread amoungst alot of age groupers on hills riding side by side. It became a yellow line ride, and around the 75 mile mark I passed Mariska. We went back and forth a bit, where things got a little hairy as we were trying to pass legally, follow the drafting rules yet were jammed in between some slower riders. All the time I was trying to pay very close attention to my nutrition. One or two sips concentrate followed by water. I carried all my calories with me and picked up water at most of the water stops. Some of it I would drink but as the ride went on I would dump alot of it on my head and legs. With the wind at my back I could really feel how hot it was and my head was baking in the LG aero helmut I was using. I was happy to see the second loop turn which would mean some welcomed solo riding for the last 25 miles. As I approached the turn, it was jammed and I had to come to a complete stop as the referees almost took me out by turning right in front of me while I was heading straight. I pushed the last section back but could really feel the heat and it was hard to hold the watts. I rode conservatively the last few miles back into town. I could not wait to get my aero helmut off andmyback and shoulders ached!
A very quick T2 and I was off on the run. The only problem was my running legs were left in T2 somewhere. My legs felt very stale and I noticed instantly that I had made a bad decision to race in my training shoes. I had felt prior that they would give me more cushion. The shoes felt heavy and after a few dunks of water over my head my shoes were squelching and holding onto ALOT of water. I felt like I had weights on my feet. I think each shoe eventually held about two pounds. What was I thinking! On the out and back which are the first 2 miles on the bridge( which was actually pretty cool) once again I got to see where some of the girls were. Mariska was only maybe 2 minutes and Marie maybe 10 minutes behind. Somebody shouted that I looked great better than any of the girls up ahead. That was motivating and I instantly got lighter on my feet for a few miles. But the miles were slower than usual from the start and as much as I tried to convince myself that my legs would kick in they wanted no part of it. I would end up running whatever I could. I watched my miles progressively get slower and my heart rate increase. I tried to grab alot of fluid at each aid station but it was not enough. Mariska had passed me by mile 4 and she was moving. At the 10 mile mark the leader was 13 minutes ahead but I could not move any faster. I watched Elizabeth stop and throw up, Heather running but not moving at her usual speed. Hillary was going slow and Bree Wee had pulled over and had stopped briefly. I continued on accepting that it was going to be slow run but hoping that somehow I would have a miraculous turn around. Marie would pass me by mile fifteen and I still could not respond. I just knew that I had slipped from 6th to 8th place and I had to hang on and keep running.I saw Bree Wee at sixteen and she was walking fast and talking away. She kindly cheered me on as I passed her and I moved back into 7th. I thought boy I would love to walk too but I pressed on all the way back and managed to pick up the pace the last few miles. It was incredible all the guys walking out there. It really looked like everyone had come from a battle and they were just doing everything they could to get home. It was HOT and dehydration was everywhere. It was a great feeling to see town up ahead , the turn around and the streets filled with spectators bringing you home. I was thrilled to finish my tenth Ironman. It was once again such a test of my tolerance to discomfort and my will to succeed. I came across the finish in 10 hours 26 minutes placing 7th pro women and actually 45th overall which was by far my highest overall placing.
I am amazed at the conditions I have had to race in this year. Just when I thought things couldn't get tougher than Lake Placid and Arizona......I am so glad its over! next up KONA! YaY!