Bill and I decided we would volunteer to be a home stay for a professional triathlete for the race. We didn't think anyone would really take us up on our offer and was surprised when contacted to be a home stay for Lisa Nordén
Ummmmmmmmm.......she is an Olympic medalist and her coach is this guy -- Craig Alexander. Bill and I were trying to wrap our brains around the fact that we had an Olympian in our house. The person we watched in one of the most exciting races at the London games! MIND BLOWN!!! However, besides being an extremely talented athlete, she is also genuine, sweet and fun to be around. We talked a lot about the sport (of course), but we also talked about so many other things. There is not one ounce of arrogance about her, but let me tell you she is a beast when it comes to competing. Basically, don't fuck with her. And I LOVE that. She not only WON Syracuse, but crushed it...
Swim: 26:52 Bike: 2:23:52 Run: 1:30:46
Mother nature decided to add an extra challenge for race day by bringing 90+ degree heat and high humidity. The weeks leading up to the race the weather barely broke in the mid 70's, but starting on Thursday the temps were going to rise along with the humidity. We were screwed. Royally. Had to get my brain around it and prepare myself mentally for what was going to be a really fucking hot day.
In the morning, I decided that I needed something to motivate me through what I knew was going to be one of the toughest races I've ever competed in and decided to do my own body marking.
I dedicated this day to the two people who in my opinion are the definition of courage, strength and perseverance; my brother, Pat and father-in-law, David. During the race when it got tough and all I wanted to do was quit, I would look at their names and kept my feet moving.
We decided to leave the house around 5:00 a.m. When I walked out to the car I had my first surprise of the day from my teammates. It wasn't even freaking 5:00 a.m. and they had me crying already!!!!
It was still dark out so it is hard to see, but they had chalked our entire driveway! There were also signs in our bushes! This wouldn't be the first time the chalk ninjas strike on race day.
Get to the park and worked on getting my transition ready. I had a really awesome spot near bike in/bike out and the two people next to me never showed up so I had extra room for all my shit! BONUS!
Coach was there to calm my nerves and talk me through the day. It was already 70 degrees at 6 a.m. and we knew it was going to be brutal. Hydration was going to be a key factor. The mantra she gave me for the day was "nothing is going to bother you today." And I took it to heart. I did not want to waste one bit of energy because I was going to need it ALL for the run. My goal was to stay focused and relaxed.
One quick picture with my coach and teammates before I get ready for the swim.
|More wrinkles than a Shar Pei!|
I knew going into the swim that the first 200-300 yards was going to be a great big weedfest. It was. Nothing like getting smacked in the face by a big crap patch of seaweed. So gross.
I positioned myself to the outside left of the buoy line because I didn't want to be in the mainstream of swimmers hugging the line. I knew this would add extra yardage to my swim, but I rather not be fighting for position. During the swim I stayed very relaxed and focused on my technique. Kept the pace steady and felt really good throughout. The only issue I had was when we were swimming towards the finish. A woman was on my feet!! In my head I was screaming it is a big fucking lake! GET OFF MY FEET. She was drafting and kept hitting my feet with her hands. Instead of letting it get to me, I decided to get rid of her by not increasing my speed, but by kicking really...REALLY...hard. That did it. :-)
Goal: 45 minutes. Time: 44:17
Here we go. What I had been working so hard on for 6 months. I knew that I had to be militant about my pace and to hydrate and eat or else this was going to be a very bad day. It was so mothereffing hot already and it was only 8 a.m. No mishaps getting on the bike after the mount line. Woo hoo!! And headed off feeling really good. Changed my strategy a bit to take a gel 15 minutes into the ride and hydrate by drinking every 10 minutes instead of 15.
On Sweet road which is the majority of the climbing I stayed in the little ring which helped conserve energy. When we hit the part of the course that had hard head winds, I used the little gear. I'd biked smart and it paid off.
My only competition was me and I kicked ass. Yes, I was passed A LOT, but I didn't let it get to me. This ride was about me. My average was 14.1 mph and that is HUGE compared to all my other training rides were around an average of 10-12 mph. My last 10 miles was an average of 18 mph. But the best part was that I did not break going down the hill of death and hit 41 mph!!! Say whaaaaaaaaaaaaa? The girl that shat her bike shorts in LP didn't break?! That's ride. I got all badass on that hill. The other thing! Getting up the wall of the death was cake. This made all the hard work over the 6 mths worth it.
My chalk ninjas really out did themselves on the bike course. I am not shitting you when I say my name was chalked EVERYWHERE on that course. I felt like a celebrity!
Issue for the bike was the water bottles at the aide stations. They were plastic bottles and didn't fit in the water cages -- they were too small and slippery. Bottles were popping out of cages or being dropped all over the place. I was so nervous about losing my bottle. No water for 15 miles in 90 degree heat = disaster. Lesson learned -- slow down, be careful on keeping a grip on the bottle and getting it secured in the cage.
Goal time: 4 hours. Time: 3:55:52
I was so happy to get off my bike!!! For about 60 seconds I felt great and then it all went to shit. Suddenly I felt really sick. Very nauseous and close to just puking all over the place. It was like my body was put in a furnace. This was not good. It was almost noon and the heat index was about 95. Fuck. For perspective, by 1:30 p.m. the med tent was overflowing with downed athletes.
As soon as I got off my bike I knew I would be walking the 13.1 miles. Number #1 priority was to get my core temp down or else *I* was going down. Only thought in my head was to make it to the first aide station to get ice and water. All my friends were there cheering and screaming for me. I had to run by the CNY Tri club tent and there were more people cheering. Words cannot express how much that helped get me through and how grateful I was for all of them.
At the aide station I poured ice down my sports bra, in my hat and down my shorts. Anywhere to get myself cooled down. Drank some water, IM Perform and a few sips of coke. Let me tell you folks, the coke. It works. It settled my stomach and I stopped feeling nauseous.
I get out of the park and it was so brutally hot -- like an oven. I've never ran in such heat and humidity before. Thank GOD, I found Tina a friend of mine. We both clung to each other and stayed comrades in the battlefield called the 70.3 run course. Without her it would have sucked even worse than it already did.
This is one of the toughest run courses on the 70.3 circuit. It is a killer with the hills and there is no shade. What is kind of funny is that a few days before the race, I posted this picture on the Tri Club FB page saying this is what Pallidino was going to look like on Sunday. Who knew that I was spot on.
95% of the field was walking. No shit. It was that bad. Absolute and total carnage on the run course.
For all of us it was about survival. Everyone walked the hills and tried to run/walk the flats. Aide stations looked like something you would see in a war movie. The volunteers were AMAZING and I can honestly say saved lives that day. They were dousing us with ice, ice cold sponges and even one had a spray house. At every water stop we poured ice down the shirt and sponges in our bra, shoulder straps and I put a few down my shorts. When I got home from the race, I took my bike shorts off to get in the shower and a sponge fell out!
|We just passed our own little cheering section. Saint Bill in the yellow shorts.|
We trudged on and did our best. However, Mother Nature had another surprise for us. A storm. A bad one.
Tina and I were out on our 2nd loop when it hit. There was thunder followed by a downpour (felt so good) and lightening. Lots of it. That is when it happened. They called the race because of the lightening. Which was the right thing to do, but at the time we didn't think so because we were 3 miles from the finish.
We were heartbroken. We didn't know what to do other than the one thing we know to do...FINISH. There was NO WAY in hell we were not going to finish what we started.
The storm passed quickly. We didn't know if we would be allowed to cross the finish line. On the way out of Pallidino heading back to the finish I grabbed a sign my teammates made for me and carried it with me for the last 2 miles. I truly thought this would be the only thing I would get to take from the race. I wanted my sign.
|Trying REALLY hard not to cry.|
We were able to cross the finish line and I was sobbing. Total mental mess. My husband, coach and friends were all there as I was just bawling because I thought "it wouldn't count." I would be a DNF. 8 hours of the hardest work I've ever done to be marked DNF. It hurt.
Come to find out that it did count. The race organizers stopped anyone that were just heading out on the 2nd loop or just started the 2nd the loop. Since we were so far out they let us continue to the finish.
Goal: 2:30:00 Time: 3:11:58
Total Race Time: 7:59:53
A friend of mine, Katie is a trainer at a local high school and offered Lisa and I to come in for a recovery ice bath and hot bath.
|Guess which one this is?|
This has been a great journey. I've met so many wonderful, caring, supportive people these past several months. It humbles and touches me to the core that they did so much for me on race day. When I am old and staring out the window of the nursing home I will be wearing a smile because I will be thinking back to Sunday, June 23, 2013. I won't be remembering the pain or the weather, but my friends.
Thank you: Stacey, Helene, Andy, Laura, Katie, Christine, Adrienne, Mary Lou, Tina, Katey, Sara, Deborah, Mindy Lu, the entire CNY Tri Club and most importantly, Saint Bill (my husband).