This was something like my 100th race since I got back off the couch in 2000. Not exactly, I've lost count, but that's close enough.
I had a fabulous weekend spending time with friends in Wilmington, NC, and sharing time with them and marveling at their fabulous performances (particularly Iron Holly's first Ironman finish and Training Buddy Dave's massive 12:57 iron PR and Shawn's first half iron finish) was the real highlight of the weekend. I'll only tell my own race story here for brevity, and let them tell their own stories - and just put this one in writing so that I can refer to it in the future.
Setup: Most of the day before was spent on getting ready for the race - a practice swim, checking out the two swim start areas, attending the expo, racking bikes, etc. Very time-consuming, difficult logistics for this particular race without any sherpas along.
Summary: Post-race I'm ambivalent about my performance - it was originally supposed to be the full iron distance, but fortunately (much to my relief) I was able to drop down to the half Ironman since my training wasn't going well. The swim and the first half of the bike were fantastic, but I lost a lot of steam on the second half of the bike and never found my stride during the run.
SWIM 1.2 miles
We were concerned about the cold water temps but that turned out NOT to be a factor with a long-sleeved wetsuit. Got up too early - about 4:00 AM for an 8:50 race start - so that took a little energy out of me to start.
The swim was fantastically current-aided and as soon as we started this weak swimmer felt like Dara Freaking Torres. I felt amazingly comfortable the entire way. I'd sight for a buoy 200 yards away, put my head down and in a few strokes I was there and sighting for the next. Local resident Ron Steve had given superb advice and I stayed completely out of the fray and in the center of the channel in the strongest current. Sighted on the tall building at the exit, I climbed up the ladder with some assistance, stopped my watch, and trotted toward transition.
Watch time at water exit: 32:56* (1:33/100 yards) (faster time than my Olympic swim PR!)
Chip swim time (after showering and ~100 yard run): 34:25* (136/163 women)
I trotted the whole way through this very long transition - kind of fun at the time going between two rows of applauding fans like I was in the Tour de France! The T1 bags were located by the bikes and NOT by the changing tents for the half Ironman triathletes, so it didn't really work for us unless we wanted to add considerable distance and effort on our transition. And I didn't. So I pulled on bike shorts over my thin wet running shorts (and got considerable chafing from later, unfortunately). Had to take a little extra time to stuff wetsuits into the bag, too, and a very long trot out on bike cleats to the exit.
Watch T1: 10:11 (swim exit to bike exit)
Calc T1: 8:42 (estimated from timing mat to timing mat)
BIKE 56 miles
Once we got through some tricky roads exiting T1 and through town (lots of cars going in and out of business entrances at unmonitored intersections) we got out onto nice flat roads. A 12-mile section down the Interstate was delightful - fast and easy (speed often well into the 20s) on smooth straight concrete. Then off on a 4-lane highway. Turning off of that onto a rural road I took a wrong turn when the volunteers didn't direct us, but they yelled at me and I stopped and turned around. By that time I was getting chafed and achy and irritable. Down some rural roads for an out-and-back, and then a very long sluggish stretch straight into the wind on the homeward leg. That was slow, particularly on the final two huge bridges going into transition.
My hydration and electrolyte intake was pretty normal for training rides - 3 to 4 bottles with Motor Tabs, 2 Poptarts, a bag of margarita Clif Bloks, and a couple electrolyte capsules. I overdressed a bit with a windbreaker jacket, which I ended up tying around my waist the 2nd half of the bike. Should have just worn armwarmers with my tri-top.
Chip bike + T1: 3:36:24 (122/160)
Calc bike: 3:28:42
Odometer average speed: 16.1 mph
Calc average speed: 16.1 mph
Fairly uneventful. My rack spot was all the way at the end of transition so I had my 2nd long run with bike cleats on. The transition bags were at the rack spot in loose dirt and gravel, and the changing tents were back about 100 yards, so it made no sense to go back to use them. Quickly put on a dry clean shirt and stuffed my bike gear in the bag. I forgot to take off my bike shorts and had to take them off outside of transition and throw them over the fence.
T2 Chip time 4:54 (114/157)
RUN 13.1 miles
Coming out of T2 I was 9:11 into a PR (compared to Eagleman 2007). But that all went away extremely quickly. My first 3 miles up and over the huge bridges were shuffling and slow, and I never was able to pick up my stride. Then at Mile 4 suddenly my left quad locked up quickly enough to make me stumble, so I quickly switched to Damage Control Mode and took some more electrolytes. My muscles remained twitchy and uncomfortable-to-painful for the rest of the run, so I just hung on and completed it the best way I knew how, alternating running and walking, grazing on grapes and oranges and getting Coke at the frequent aid stations. I think this was my 40th half marathon run in a race. It's always a great thing to see friendly familiar faces out on the course, and with the full Ironman going on at the same time I had lots of fun opportunities to greet friends on the way back to the finish.
Run: Chip time 3:17:54 (148/156)
My 5th half Ironman, 2nd fastest (for events with a full swim)
13/16 women 50-54 who finished swim, 13/15 finishers
142/163 women who finished swim
Fun day. But I can do better. Onward.