Tuesday, May 1, 2012
< As we went through race day preparations, the wind really picked up and it was blowing everything around. I wandered if the swim might be cancelled or the bike cut short. I tried to stay warm in the tent until I had to head down to the water for a warmup swim. It was still dark out and as I stepped through the huge puddles and down onto the beach I entered the water to find out the temps too had dropped and it was freezing. I went in, did a few quick strokes, could not see a thing and decided that my warm up was not going to happen. So I headed down to the start a little shaky with confidence. I have got hypothermia in a race before and it was not good. My mental outlook right there was the beginning of what was going to turn out to be a tough day and I believe my demise to this race. I had so looked forward to this race, I had envisioned it many time..just not in the cold, rainy, windy extremes that was going to either conquer me or be conquered. The athletes gathered down on the beach and despite the horrific conditions everyone seemed quite relaxed to me. The pro's would start about knee to waist deep in the ocean with the age groupers lined up like angry bulls ready for a sprint down the beach only a short 15 /20 meters away. This is a rule I wish they would change as it is an unfair advantage. When the gun goes off we have literally 5 seconds before the big line backers sprint over us punching, kicking anyone in there way. I will say this would be the second thing to affect my head and keep me on the wrong mental path. The pro girls were engulfed and I was being dunked in every directions. I was no longer thinking about an Ironman race, but about keeping my teeth, nose , head, goggles from being hit. It becomes a bit frantic. The rough, choppy water was not a bother, but the slower I swam the worse the swimmers seemed to get and strokes would turn into breastroke kicks at any time. The first loop took forever and I was disappointed to see a very slow first split. Onto the second loop and I tried to find some open water to swim. But I seemed to be still swimming with a group of fighters. I thought back to the days before the race where we had had the most amazing experience swimming with the dolphins. They came in a pack of hundreds…all swimming next to each other..so peaceful. Why could we not all swim like this!! I was frustrated and between the cold and the stress I think this start to the day played a huge effect on the rest of my day. Exiting the water with my worst IM swim split ever…I was in disbelief and believed that all the girl had to have put ten minutes on me as I could not see anyone besides Natasha who I had swam by. I was already out of the race...but I know this is Ironman and a long day, anything can happen in Ironman. So I tried to regroup and headed onto the bike. I decided in transition that if rainy windy and below 60 I would wear a long sleeve so I would have no excuse of being cold as I have dealt with hyperthermia. I would put my head down and bike hard and hopefully catch up to the girls ahead. I was pushing the watts Coach Jesse had told me to push but I was amazed that the girls did not seem to be getting any closer. As a three loop course we would ride with a heavy crosswind along the coast, a huge headwind out and then an even heavier cross wind section back down to the ocean and the a super fast loop back into town. I found myself wavering mentally. I was biking well but distracted by the effort. At every loop the wind would pick up more to the point where I was riding up out of my bars a lot. I had passed a few girls but just never seemed to make progress. By the third loop my power had slipped drastically, yet my heart rate was getting higher and higher. I was not feeling good. My legs hurt, I had a headache and I was feeling the disappointment of my race already. I could not pull myself out of it but yet as I made the transition I gave it one more push to pick things up on the run. The run too would go from headwind to tailwind. The crowds were amazing and my legs came around on the first loop. Just hit my pace that Coach Jesse and I had spoken about I thought. This would mean faster miles in one direction slower into the wind. I seemed to be making ground but my strength did not seem to be there and I gradually slowed pace. I pushed as hard as I could for as long as I could and enjoyed seeing my mom and daughter and friends out on the course. The last 13 miles I basically just finished the race. When one of the pro girls passed me I had nothing to respond to her. The last lap was brutal and I could not have been more happy to see a finish line than I did on Sunday. I ended up 10th women pro 56th Overall out of 1800 people...I think 400 did not finish...a huge drop out rate! Ironman is always a challenge. Its like life…there are many ups and downs and how you choose to handle them is key. I dug deep but did not have it from beginning to end Sunday. It was a slow day for everyone and I was so impressed for all those athletes who I know had to dig even deeper than me, just to finish. I have never done an Ironman and seen people walking on their second lap or riding 3-5 miles an hour just trying to stay upright. This was truly a brutal race and it proved to much for me race day. I have gone over the race many times in my head this week and will continue to with Coach Jesse to see what went wrong. Was it too much racing prior too, perhaps the lack of strength to handle the conditions, a weak mental performance, a hydration/heat factor….Probably all of these resulted in me having a mediocre day when I was ready and fit for an exceptional day. So happy and proud of World Champion Natasha Badman who continues to inspire me and many others with her commitment and love of racing.