The taper leading up to the event felt awful! Nothing felt like it should have. Everything was stiff and achey, and even sore at times. Not to mention I had a developing soreness in my achillies tendon. When tapers don't go well, it messes with your head. Its quite frustrating and the day before the race, I really didn't want to do it. I had two major concerns going into my race. 1. How would I fair on the run? I have a history of blowing up half way through the half-marathon and I don't even feel 100% to be running 13.1 miles after a long bike! 2. How would the achillies hold up? I've never had problems with the tendon before and I didn't want to strain it. I really had no expectations going into this race. My primarily goal was to get through the run with out blowing up, and it wasn't looking likely with the way I was feeling.
Friday, I drove down to Williamsburg with these doubts and questions in mind. I got there early, so I decided to drive part of the bike course. The course description said it was flat, and it was. Very flat with a few rollers here and there. I would definately PR on the bike. Later I picked up my stuff at packet pick up. I got a cool gray tech shirt, my race numbers (217), and a couple other things. Then I headed down to Rory's to crash for the night.
Saturday: I didn't sleep very well that night, so I wasn't a very happy camper getting up at 4am. I forced myself to eat a thin bagel with peanut butter. I loaded up my car with my bike and gear, and headed back up to the race site. I got there around 5:30a. Got my race chip, body markings, and got my transition set up and was ready to go by 6a. It was still dark out and the temp was just under 60 deg. My cuz showed up to support me around 6:35 and we pretty much immediately walked down to the water for race start. There was a lot of walking between the parking alot and the water!
SWIM: The water was a cool but comfortable 74 deg. I found a good spot up front and waited for the horn. The first bouy was so far out that you could barely see it standing up on shore, let alone see it from in the water. The horn went off at precisely 7a and we were off. It was tough pushing through the current and it kept pushing everyone to the inside of the course. I don't think anyone swam on the outside of the orange buoys like they were suppose to, but we all did manage to get around the outside of the yellow one where we made the sharp left and headed down to the next buoy. Again, the buoys were so far apart, they were tough to spot and I had to stop a couple times through out the swim and pull up my goggles to see it! I eventually made it through the swim. None of the splits have been posted yet online, but once they do, I'll update.
T1: It was about 1/3 of a mile between T1 and the water. OK maybe not that far, but it was a long run to get there. I made my way in and the cold air was already bugging me, not to mention I was a bit dissoriented from being horizontal for the last 35 min-ish. I did my best to stay calm but stay quick as I placed my number belt, helment, shades, and bike shoes on, and took off. T1 felt strong, but probably not as quick as I could of been.
BIKE: The bike was the hardest part of the day. I was shivering from riding in the mid 60's air temp and while being soaked from the swim. It took me till I got to about mile 15 before I actually began the slow process of warming up. It took that long to crack into the 70's. At mile 20-25, the road was extremely rough. On these kind of roads, your body has to act like a shock absorber, sapping your energy quickly. While all this was going on, the cold temps were trying to cramp up my legs. I could feel my hamstrings and calve muscles getting tight. At mile 40, I hit a low, mentally mostly, but also feeling a bit fatigued. I still had a nother 16 miles on the bike and then I had to run 13.1 miles, and I was already hurting. I thought I was going to blow up on the run for sure. I decided to take a gel and within in the next 5 miles, I was starting to pull out of the slump. The last 15 min felt alright. Couple people that I knew past me on the bike. Holly blew by around mile 12, Craig past me around mile 42-ish, and Paul past me around 50. There was no touching Holly, she was gone, and ended winning overall in the women with a 4:55. Craig looked strong as he passed and with still 16 miles to go, I didn't expect to catch him on the run. Paul also looked good, but didn't get to me until mile 50. I knew I could run him down, but could I place a big enough lead on him to win?
T2: My 2nd transition felt great. I slipped my feet out of my shoes way before the dismount (probably way too early too!) so I could have a quicker time. Ran in, and swapped my helment for a sunvisor, and running shoes for bike shoes. Also grabbed 4 gels to take with me. The real test was on now. How long would I last in the run? How would the achillies hold up?
RUN: The run course it flatter than the bike course. My first 2 miles were both sub 8 min/miles, but they were achey. It wasn't until after mile 2 did I start feeling relaxed. Afterwards, my legs just felt better and better! By the end of the 3rd mile, I couldn't even tell I had been on a bike for 56 miles, it took me completely by surprise! Especially being that I had been hurting on the bike. I got my first glimpse of Paul at mile 4. He had already hit the 1st turn around just pass mile 4 and was heading back to the start/finish where he would begin a second loop. I clocked the time and found he was 2:40 ahead of me and judging by his pace, I felt like I was running a bit quicker. With 1/2 mile to go of the 1st loop, I spotted Craig heading back out for his 2nd loop. I still didn't think I had a chance but I wasnt sure. Soon after, I spotted Paul again. I was slowly catching him. I started my 2nd loop and was still feeling pretty good. I ran down Paul around mile 7.5 and gave him a few encouraging words asI passed. Now all I had to do was create a 9 min lead. Closing in on mile 9, I spotted Craig, and he was walking! He was blowing up and I made sure to also give him a few good words as I passed. Both men had started in the 3rd wave, which was 9 min after my wave. So, to beat them overall, I would needed to cross the finish line 9+ min ahead of them. I kept pushing hard. I was still holding sub 8 min/miles. It wasn't till mile 11 did I begin to hurt. My mile 12 pace had slowed to an 8:30/mile. I made sure to push even harder on the last 1.1 miles and ended up clocking a split of 7:51. I finished with an overall time of 5:23:36 and PR'ed by 36 min! I did the math on my watch, and if I am correct, ran a 1:37 half-marathon...AFTER a 56 miles bike! I was very pleased with my self. Soon after, paul came in. He had beaten me by about 3 min overall. Then, Craig pulled in with a 5:30.
Overall and surprisingly a great day. The achillies tendon didn't bother me, thanks for the prayers everyone! And I didn't blow up on the run! And now here I am, exhausted and can barely keep my eyes open. My bed is calling and its time for a very restful night. I'll update racing splits when I receive them.