*EDIT - I forgot to hit "post" a couple weeks ago* Whoops.
Currently rocking the recovery week... aka doing NOTHING. So this is what its like to be a normal human being...
First of all, I need to say this - the race ended a week ago and the continued response to my facebook posts has been overwhelming. I am incredibly touched and surprised at the number of phone calls, texts, facebook comments and "likes" to anything race related. You - my dear family and friends - are amazing. Seriously. YOU ARE AWESOME. I can't say thank you enough.
I couldn't do this without you. Self motivation can only take you so far. From my amazing friends that were at the race to the new friends I met there (including a couple SOAS gals!); from my family at home watching my every step from hundreds of miles away and being crazy supportive in the days, weeks, months leading up to the day; from the people that have come in and out of my life that I don't speak to with regularity but took the time to say "good luck" or "congrats" - each of you is important and I hope you know that.
Arrived at Mont-Tremblant after a long ride in the car Thursday evening. Immediately unloaded the bikes and headed down to the little resort area of MT. Its baby Disney World and its adorable - cobblestone streets, matching colored rooftops, people dressed as insects being socially awkward... All good things. The beauty of the condo was the location (it was a very nice place too), about 10 minutes walking distance to everything that we needed in the little town.
Met up with the group at Casey's - a restaurant that would be the meeting area for the weekend. Met new people from DC Tri that were very cool and enjoyed the traditional "American Burger" and a couple of cocktails then it was (finally) time for a "quick" game of headbandz and bed.
Friday morning was a swim in Lac Tremblant. We jumped in from the swim start and swam straight to the espresso pontoon. NO LIE. Most of us sipped on coffee while floating in our wetsuits and taking in the gorgeous scenery. Who gets to do that? It was awesome!
After the swim, we parted ways - Lee was off to get tickets for dinner and pick up Kenzie from the airport while Mark, Chris and I headed over to check-in. The line was SUPER long but it didn't take too long to get through, thankfully. We were official, magic blue wristband and all.
LONG registration line.
I met up with a couple very cool SOAS girls for coffee for a short while, but unfortunately with the lack of phone service, the boys and I were supposed to meet 15 minutes later and I had no way of getting ahold of them to let them know I wanted to stay a bit longer - oh well.
Headed back to condo for a baby brick. Dined on a PBJ and set out for a short 30 minute ride on one of the tougher parts of the course followed by a 20 minute run around the water and transition and back. Everything seemed in working order, other than some goofy neck pain that had been nagging me for a few days. With each day, it was making me more nervous, but it wasn't getting worse, so I tried to forget about it. Took a muscle relaxant and called it good for the time being.
Friday evening found us at the welcome dinner and athlete meeting. It was long. And hot. And entertaining for a handful of minutes, but then you remembered you were still hot and people were still talking and it seemed to last FOR-EV-ER. Afterward, we were back at Casey's for beers and fireworks. I don't care how many times I've seen fireworks - they're magic and awesome and my love for them is fairly intense, so that made me happy.
Saturday morning was a short swim, sans wetsuits (because who wants to put on a wet wetsuit race morning?). The water was BEAUTIFUL - I could've stayed all day... happy place. Most importantly, we had fun goofing around with the GoPro and just enjoyed being out there. We drove the bike course after the swim (got a little intimidated by the hills but the course looked pretty nice). Grocery store. Then packing bags... it makes me SO NERVOUS to pack transition bags and drop them off the day before. Double, tripled checked and crossed my fingers that I had everything I needed. Walked the bags and bikes down to transition, tried to get ART done on my cramped neck/back but sadly, it had just closed.
Lee - NO AWA. Me - AWA superstar.
We had visitors right after - Deb and Andy came to hang out and it was good to see them before the race. It was nice relaxing with the boys and the kids - we got along really great all weekend and the kids were amazing. Dinner was chicken parmesan with good intentions (no breadcrumbs and no baking pan = grilled chicken, pasta, marinara sauce and cheese on top). It was very good and the cookies after were just icing on the cake. 2 beers and a couple of funny rounds of Headbandz followed but eventually it was time to sleep.
By that point, I was getting really nervous and I called a couple of my friends and ended up crying... I was nervous and frustrated for various reasons and I missed them and my family, but talking to them really helped and I calmed down for the most part. I usually don't get stuck in my head like that and it concerned me that I was falling apart hours before starting this race. But finally - sleep. Or valiantly attempted sleep, seeing as the condo was 120 degrees, it was the night before the race and we were sweating our asses off. Woke up multiple times which sucked. I know I slept a little so at least that was better than nothing... right?
3:45 alarm. One snooze and I was up. Ate half a blueberry bagel with peanut butter and double checked special needs bags. I had frozen water bottles the night before and they were perfectly half frozen, half liquid. 2 with skratch and 1 water in special needs, same 3 to put on the bike. Got dressed (LOVE my SOAS kit) and made sure I had everything that I needed in the morning clothes bag. Made a couple of eggs and drank gatorade shortly before leaving at 5:15 to walk to transition. Rocked out all morning to my song for this race - Fight Song - along with a couple others (Hall of Fame, Closer to the Edge) - I was ready!
Got to my bike and found the left brake dangling and the right super loose and swinging around. um... WTF. No, really... WHAT. THE. FUCK. HAPPENED. OVERNIGHT. They were FINE when I left the afternoon before. I was waiting for Lee's pump, but decided to jump in line for the bike guys to see if they could fix at least the left side. Thankfully, 15 minutes later, I was good (ish) to go. I would have to make do with the right brake loose and flipping around but at least it wasn't dangling. Ah... siver linings. It was only going to be a 112 miles. I could make do. Glass half full... just keep swimming... don't freak out.
The boys were waiting for me, Kenzie had left to walk back home with our stuff (she was a trooper for getting up so early with us), so away we went to swim start. Attempted to get in line for the port-o-potties - Mark, Chris, and Stef nearly caused a riot with some confusion as to the way the line was wrapping around so Lee and I stepped out of line because we were running short on time. Yuck. Got the wetsuits on, figured out where to go and bid my friends good luck and good bye. I jumped in (to pee, obviously), swam a few strokes, water temperature was PERFECT, I was happy. Found Deb right away, thank goodness for familiar faces! We chatted and walked at the front of our wave to the water... and continued chatting as we started to wade into the water behind the last mens wave. We got called back right away (amateur hour!) and had a laugh back on the beach.
GO TIME BABY!
Deb and I ran in together and immediately started swimming side by side. After a quick 200m or so, we settled into a nice pace with open water. It was awesome!... for about five minutes until we caught up to the men. UGHHH THOSE MEN! I could see Deb nearly the entire time which was comforting. I know she's a strong swimmer too so I hoping we were on pace for a good time. I got kicked in the cheek pretty hard at one point (why this particular gentleman was swimming nearly perpendicular to the line of sight I do not know) but for the most part I wasn't being jostled around. It was frustrating to weave through the masses - I didn't have this problem at Wisconsin because of the mass swim start (I would MUCH prefer the mass swim start to starting in a wave at the end). Sighting was easy (for once... its hard being half blind) but I lost Deb about 3/4 of the way through the swim - after forcefully pushing her and going full contact swimming (I'm sorry, I still love you, and I have no idea what happened). I had a few openings of clear water where I could speed up and eventually I could hear the announcing and I sped up a touch more. I wasn't feeling tired at all, I felt great and I was imagining a swim along the lines of 1:04 or so. I hadn't pushed it at all, just that short marginally increased turnover at the end, so I figured I was exactly where I needed to be according to "the plan".
Of course, I forgot to turn on my watch at the start of the swim, so when the 0:00:00 stared back at me, I was a little disappointed to have no idea what my time was (running clock was obviously way off due to wave starts). Was I surprised that I did this? Absolutely not. I clicked back to current time while running to T1 and saw it said 7:58. If my clock was actually on time, I had a 1:01 or 1:02 swim. HELL YES.
Grabbed my bag and ran into an empty ladies changing area. The guys were having a fiesta on their side of the curtain but the ladies side was like a morgue - very quiet but full of volunteers so I had 3 of them to myself which was amazing. Didn't waste time, threw powerbar wafers and Bonk Breakers into my pockets, pink helmet, sunglasses, gloves, and shoes in hand. Stuffed a strawberry uncrustable in my mouth on the way out to my bike. Shoes on, was positioned right by the bike out/in so away I went. I was still having watch troubles, I couldn't get it to work for the first few miles and it was frustrating. It would get to a stupid distance of 212 feet or 414 feet and quit measuring anything other then running time. I restarted it twice and apparently it just needed TWO restarts to work right. Whatever watch, you suck.
T1: 6 minutes something
2 loops - settled into a comfortable pace on the bike, was rocking at 21mph or something like that for awhile and I felt amazing. No neck pain, just settled into a good pace and enjoyed being out there. Cruising through the sea of men was pretty good for the ego. I saw a handful of women but it was very much just men that I rode with. They were nailing people for drafting and other penalties so I tried to stay aware of my position in relation to every one else. I felt strong on the hills and had no real issues during the first loop. The end of the loop is a BITCH. Climb, climb, three seconds of relief, climb even more. Holy crap, that was rough! The way down was a blast though, I felt like I was soaring. I briefly thought about the fact that we would have to do that again right at the end of the bike but I was feeling so good that I didn't care... then. I saw Lee a few times and screeched out some kind of cheer along the lines of "Yea LEEEEEEEEEEE" - he was killing it and every time I saw him I tried to speed up. When I saw Mark, I yelled the "usual" - "GO NAVY!!!!!!", but I don't think either of them heard me - or at least didn't want to be associated with the crazy girl in pink. I'm sure the guys around me really appreciated the random, unprovoked screaming but it was fun to see them.
Turn around and it was time for loop two. All of a sudden, IT WAS HOT. Sweat started to pour and legs started to tire. Stopped at special needs for a minute, changed out bottles, ate a couple EL Fudge cookies and chugged half a Mountain Dew (I duly trained this way on training rides for THIS MOMENT). Shortly after the turn around, just before the turn onto 117, I started to feel bad. My stomach was cramping and nausea set in. I alternated between burping/hiccuping and dry heaving. My pace slowed way down and I left all those thoughts of killing the 2nd loop 2:40 bike split out there on 117. This continued for 20-25 miles. I zoned out and just tried to keep a reasonable pace - i.e. keep the legs moving. I didn't want to shoot myself in the foot by not eating so I ate a bonk breaker very slowly over the course of 10 miles. Shortly after the last bite, it came back up. Luckily I was way on the right side of the shoulder and no one was really around, but PBJ a second time is not so tasty. That killed my desire for the other PBJ bonk breaker and uncrustable sandwich - thank goodness for my favorite Powerbar wafers and Gu chomps - I would be dining on those later on. Cruised through the aid stations to get water bottles for the sole purpose of dumping cold water on myself. It. felt. glorious.
Chris passed me around mile 85 or 90 - He said, "Hey gorgeous!" and that shook me out of my fog of misery. He continued on and I tried to speed up a touch to keep up but he was slowly getting away. I re-evaluated the state of my stomach - I was starting to feel better and my nausea was gone so I said - Self, this race isn't over, go get that sexy Aussie! So away we went (Self and I). I started to close the gap and once we approached the awful out and back climb, I really gained on him and I got to surprise him with, "Hiiiiii" (thats all I could muster as my heart rate aproached 6000 and my legs were on FIRE). I hung out for a sec with him and then said, "Byeeeeee" as I crept away from him up the hill. Doing this a second time really freaking sucked, but eventually it was over, got to fly down the hill and shoot straight into transition.
Again, it sounded like a frat party on the men's side and a funeral on the women's side because it was super empty. BUT - multiple volunteers! (thank you again!). I tried to hurry through, just taking the time to throw on socks, shoes, race belt, pink visor and handheld water bottle that also carried my GUs and salt tabs in a pocket. Just a marathon left to go!
A quarter of a mile in, I could tell my heartrate was really high (my heartrate monitor peaced out that morning, so I was just running based on feel) so I slowed my legs down and tried to regroup. It was awesome to hear people cheering in English and French. I loved hearing, "un madame! un madame!" because there weren't a ton of ladies in front of me. I didn't feel great the first few miles, my legs were tired and my sole thought was, seriously, a marathon? Say it ain't so! I started out at an optimistic pace between 8:30 and 8:40. Surely I could hold onto that for awhile and go as slow as 9:00/mile? The heat quickly told me, hell no, you can't do that.
The first few miles were hilly. The legs were a bit weary after the bike and were not at all entertained by the varied terrain. It was hot and I wasn't happy to be running... which is sad because its usually my favorite part. Each aid station involved multiple cups of ice down the front of my top, my back, my head - it was tough to keep from overheating. The handheld water bottle was great though, I filled it as needed around the course. Had the customary GU every 45 minutes, alternating between salted caramel and salted watermelon. Once on the paved trail (roughly 4 miles in), I started to feel better and found my legs for a bit.
Then... I discovered cola. Holy shit. People rave about it and I should have listened when they spoke about this sweet nectar of the gods. Did it make me run faster? Nope. Did it give me something to look forward to in between aid stations? Oh hell yes. I wanted to take all the cola and go into the trees and have my way with it - IT WAS THAT INCREDIBLE. It didn't make my stomach feel all that great after awhile, but my happiness level was dipping fast and unfortunately, cola was the only thing keeping it on the up and up.
I saw almost everyone on the run which was awesome! Ran with Lee for a sec, chatted with Taneeen and Stef for another sec, and even got to run (I sprinted about 10 feet) on the heels of Mary Beth Ellis as she cruised around me to a first place finish. I yelled at Mark, Bryan, Deb as I saw them and toward the end I ran with Darren for a minute.
The last few miles were a blur, I wanted to be done running and the miles weren't passing quickly enough. When I hit that cobblestone street, a sweet feeling of relief passed over me. Then I approached the fork - to the left was the finish and to the right was loop 2. I gleefully took my left and was overcome with emotion. I got teary eyed as I ran down the chute, hitting up some high fives in the process. Jumped across the finish line (because jumping is cool) and it was over.
Finish time: 11:07:02
I got a big ass medal (its a little ridiculous, its like a WWF sized medal without the belt) and grabbed a chocolate milk. I found Octavio and sat with him for a minute. I had no real concept of where everyone else was on the course and I couldn't find the kids so I headed up to get a massage and although I felt absolutely disgusting and my stomach was fairly uncomfortable, it was wonderful and I nearly fell asleep.
Headed onto the balcony to get a better view of the finish and scan for any familiar faces. I found my people and did what needed to be done. There were some medical issues that needed addressing so our group split up and we headed back to the condo.
It felt a little anti-climactic without my family/friends as spectators and without having my phone to track who was left on the course still. Last year, our hotel was too far to go back to so we waited for 4 hours at the finish line and sat around together and recovered/ate/relaxed. However, it was nice to shower right after and feel human again. I wasn't too sore, a little bit of knee pain and a couple toes were sensitive but overall, I felt pretty good.
My phone told me I was 4th in my age group which was completely unexpected. Second after the bike which was unfathomable to me, especially given the issues on the second loop. My run was a mess though and I ended up 4th by 5 minutes.
The rest of the night was awesome - more food and drinks at Casey's - watched the final 15 minutes at the finish line and headed home to pass out after a very long day.
The rest of the trip was amazing. Got an award for 4th AG, roll down for Kona went to 3rd place, I nearly had a heart attack coming that close to Kona at this race that I didn't expect to do well in. While I was relieved, I was also disappointed - how could I not be? It was such a weird mix of emotions in that 1 minute of time that I didn't know what to think or feel. Minutes later, I was just happy with the award, went to have a celebratory beer and immediately dropped the award and broke the corner off. Ehh. Typical.
We had a blast Monday afternoon taking the gondola and walking around, kicking butt on the luge, ice cream, etc. Packing was sad, we had such a good time that I didn't want to go back to real life. I could have stayed in baby Disney World longer, but alas, duty calls.
Looking forward to Louisville...!