Wildflower 2006 Long Course - Event weekend
I arrived down at Lake San Antonio on Friday, so I could get my campsite setup and pick-up my registration packet. One of the things that worrying me was swim, after a truly awful experience on the practice weekend, so I went down to the lake with a couple of my team mates and for a quick swim. The water was much warmer than it had been back in March and that made all the difference, this was a good confidence builder for the race.
All the TNT teams from across the country gathered for dinner we had a couple of speeches from Honorees. The speeches were very inspirational a women described her continued fight with Leukemia and despite the fact she was still undergoing treatment, she was there to do the Long course along side everyone else. Then coaches gave us some final advice on the race.
After dinner there was still one thing I had to do, learn how to change a tire. I had some how managed to avoid changing tires the whole season, but it was on my list of things to do. I came prepared with a spare wheel to practice on, I was taking no chances with my race bike. I took a while but I figured out how to do it best, a good tip never take the tire completely of the rim :-)
I got very little sleep tossing and turning, brimming with anticipation and nerves.
5:30am up for breakfast
6:00am start the long walk down to lake with my Tri bag and bicycle.
7:00am I was setting up my transition area getting all gear in place.
8:00am On swim ramp watching the first wave start
8:15am My swim starts!
I managed to start the race without getting concussed in the mass start, I kept my swim pace steady, a triathlon is not won in the water (not that I was planning on winning). Swimming and sighting, swimming and sighting, swimming and sighting, it was monotonous and seemed to go on forever. My arms were tiring towards the end and desperate to be out of the water, I saw the final buoy and then turned towards the finish, I came of the water looking like I had drowned.
Once I was out of the water I started to run towards the transition area to get on the bike, there were many of my team mates over were racing the next day there to cheer me on. I got out of the wetsuit and in to my bike gear and started to walk my bike out of the transition area. At the mount line I jumped on to my bike, but a small slip made for a very painful land on the saddle.
I took the start of the ride easy, there are sharp turns, pot holes and steep climbs at in the first few couple miles. Sooner than I had thought I was up at the top of Beach hill and there were some crowds and couple people cheering "Go Team", this spurred me on and I speed up as I left the park. I went past the first water stop which was at the corner of Interlake and Lake San Antonio Rd and headed along the rolling hills. I past a few people as I went a long and every so often, I was past by some much more expensive bikes with experienced Triathletes upon them.
I got some good speeds going along Jolon Road, then it was on to "Nasty Grade". It didn't seem nearly as bad a practice weekend, when I got to this point on the course there were many people bunched up all struggling up the hill, it is true misery loves company. I even managed to pass a few people going up it. After "Nasty" all I had to do was keep it going the next 14 miles, the downhill was fun but I knew I then had a lot of climbing to do as I went towards into the park.
Back in the park there were people cheering again as I headed down Lynch hill, I kept my speed down for safety and arrived back in the transition area. One of my coaches was there we spoke about something but it was pretty a blur. I headed out on the run hard determined run the course the way I had on practice weekend, this was a mistake....
There were a couple of important differences between practice weekend and the actual event, firstly I was doing the run right after the cycle, not the next day and secondly the weather was around 15F degrees hotter. I powered towards mile 4 and past a few people going up the big hill, however as I got closer to the top, I was burnt out. Going down the hill I was walking and everyone who I past was flying by.
Now on to the flat and exposed area I felt like I was melting and having serious stomach issues, one of my team mates flew by and said "Why aren't you running?", before I could curse, I mean answer he was in the distance. The next couple miles were really tough but then I caught with Berend, a mentor on the team I had run with a lot over the training season. I joined with him until we reach the campsite at mile 7.
The best moment of the race was passing through the campsite seeing all my team mates who doing the Olympic course the next day. They played the "Chariots of Fire" theme tune as I ran through!
This gave me a burst of energy for the next mile, but when the campsite was out of site, I couldn't keep up the pace. Berend continued on, I need to stop on the mile 8 rest stop get food and water.
The last 5 miles are indescribable, one thought that came to mind was "I should off raised far more money for the LLS to endure this kind of pain". There was the long decent and accent in and out of the pit to contend with, I kept trying to run but to the untrained eye it looked like I was walking :-)
The last mile was down Lynch Hill, I let gravity do it's job and carry me through. All I could think about was not the finish line but putting my legs which were burning, into the cool lake at the end of the race. As I turned the final corner, I could see the finish line!
It was over and I was still alive, even though I felt like I could drop dead at any moment. I made my way towards the the lake to soak my legs, there were a number of stairs leading down there, which proved to be quite the challenge as I very slow made my way down, a stranger someone offered to help me, this was much appreciated. I soaked in the lake for about 15 minutes then headed back to the finish line feeling slightly restored to cheer others in.
Final Time: 6 hours 42 Minutes
I had told myself and others that if I completed a Half-Ironman, I would attempt a full Ironman next year, and so the story continues....