Swim (1.2 miles)The swim was my best leg of the day. I got into the water before the race started to warm up and was surprised to not freak out even one little bit. I swam around for a little while then hopped back out when the first wave lined up. I got back in to get ready for my wave and was laughing and joking with the rest of the women instead of thrashing around being terrified by everything I couldn't see. The swim was a bit slower than I expected because there was massive amounts of vegetation on the "out" and the "back" part of the square - which we hit twice, 2-loop swim fail - and I had to stop and untangle seaweed from my goggles, my feet, etc, a few times, but I wasn't scared or panicky, I just dealt with it and moved on. My parents and the poet took about a billion pictures of the swim, and my form looks hot as hell.
Good: 3rd in my AG out of the water. Zero OWS panic. Managed to pee in my wetsuit THREE times, once while swimming. No back problems during or after.
Bad: A bit slower than I had hoped because I spent a lot of time the first loop zig-zagging to try and get out of the weeds.
Ugly: The seaweed and wiping out on the walkway out of the water.
Bike (56 miles)
So, let's get this out of the way. I crashed, 11 minutes into the bike. I had set my Garmin screen to show my only HR and cadence, and I looked down while climbing one of the first little hills and noticed that my cadence and HR hadn't moved. My 310XT has been freezing a lot lately, but a soft reset will usually get it going. I reached down with my left hand to hold the buttons to soft reset, and while I was doing that, came up onto a patch of gravel just as my right hand bobbed a bit on the steering side. As soon as I saw the gravel, I knew I was going down. I was riding pretty close to the edge of the road and I managed to tuck into my right shoulder and throw myself into the grass instead of eating asphalt. I got a round of applause from all the men climbing up the road behind me for my graceful splat into the ditch. The best thing about it was that I didn't hit pavement, I instead hit grass and mud, and I've got some big bruises and a little scrape but it could have been much, much worse. However, I dropped my chain and couldn't get it back on, and then my rear derailer wasn't clicking back and I got completely frazzled watching half the field pass me while I cursed the living daylights out of my stupid Garmin.
I did finally get everything going again and headed out. It looks like I only lost 6-8 minutes on the side of the road but it felt like an eternity. I immediately started trying to talk myself past it - it happened, it's in the past, let it go, but as the ride went on and on, I started to wilt. I never did reset the Garmin, and it couldn't find a satellite (although HR and cadence started showing up again about 30 minutes in) so the only information I had was HR and cadence and overall time. The only mileage check-ins I had were what was spray-painted on the road, and every time I hit one and did the math to calculate my pace I got lower and lower. When I hit the two-hour mark, I calculated what I expected to be my bike split (bittersweet, I was right, to the minute) and just deflated. When I saw 2:40 click past and I hadn't even hit 50 miles yet, I felt done. I had told the poet to start looking for me around 2:55 because I was still really hoping to get that sub-3, and I knew he was going to be worried about me, and when 3:00 rolled over and I wasn't even close to being done, I wanted to cry. I rolled into the park feeling completely ready to quit.
So that's the crash. Some positives on the bike - I nailed my nutrition and HR goals. Except for popping out on some climbs, I stayed exactly within my race plan. I had no stomach problems and took in my nutrition every 20 minutes as planned. I took a sip of water every 10 minutes, although the last hour on the bike was unshaded and getting warm and as it turns out, I don't think I was taking in enough water (this is called foreshadowing). I managed to bottle-grab and refill my water bottle twice without crashing or stopping. I didn't get passed by many people except the 2-3 groups of illegal drafters that flew by (ahem).
Good: Nutrition, HR. My extremely thin race kit did not chafe me or render my lady parts unusable after 3+ hours on the bike.
Bad: Total fail on the Garmin (it ended up clocking 40 of the 56 miles). Crashing less than 4 miles in.
Ugly: Being a headcase for the next 3 hours. Getting slightly sunburned.
Run (13.1 miles)
When I got off the bike, my legs surprisingly felt all right but my head was a mess. I strongly considered not going out on the run. I'm not actually sure what got me through transition but I didn't stop and there I was, heading out.
The run was much harder than I had prepared for because of the weather. The course ran up a big hill out of the park and then turned right onto the highway. You did a long, hilly, out-and-back on the highway, then went back through the park. Twice. The out-and-back on the highway was brutal. There was no shade and it had gotten pretty hot - I heard someone at a water stop say that it was 89º. Not nearly as hot as what we dealt with all summer, but surprisingly hot for the day. There were only two water stops on the loop, both on the out-and-back, and it wasn't nearly enough. Everyone was suffering. I had set my Garmin to only show me my HR zone for the run so I wouldn't check in with pace. I only walked a few times on the first loop, mostly on the hills to get my HR down, and otherwise managed a fairly decent jog, but mentally, I was shot, and I knew that when I got back into the park and saw my family and friends, I was going to lose it. I couldn't imagine how I would possibly be able to leave them and do another loop.
I couldn't even look at them when I ran past. The poet ran up next to me and asked if I wanted him to come with me and I said yes and started to walk, and that's finally when I completely fell apart. I started to cry and told him about the crash, and how hard the run was, and how upset I was about my day going completely to pieces. And we just kept walking and walking. He walked all the way up and out of the park with me, and up the first hill and after about 15 minutes I finally started to pull myself back together. When we got to the turn off for the park, I told him to go back to the finish line and I'd do the out-and-back alone. He left and I jogged to the first water stop. I stopped then and drank 4-5 cups of water and a little cup of coke and kept going. And by the time I hit the next water stop, about two miles away, I was starting to feel better, although my calves had been cramping for over an hour and I was still taking quite a few walk breaks. I stopped again and drank plenty of water and dumped a lot of it over me and took another Gu, and just kept plugging away. I ran until my HR was too high and then I would walk. I made a few friends out there, and we would take turns running past each other and walking and cursing at the heat, and then finally I was climbing the last hill up to the turn for the park. My feet were aching from the hot asphalt and my calves felt dangerous close to charley-horse kind of cramping, but once I was in the shade I felt a lot better and there I was, running over that stupid bridge again and into the finish.
Good: I discovered the next morning that I covered the first loop (6.55 miles) almost entirely in Z3 and in 1:09, which means I actually kind of nailed it. No nutrition issues.
Bad: I'm pretty sure I was dehydrated coming off of the bike and I think that contributed to my overall mental state. I was drinking every 10 minutes but I think I didn't compensate for the surprising heat of the day well enough.
Ugly: I mean, falling apart 7 miles into a half marathon is always going to make for a real bad day.
Nutrition Going In
Not much to say here, thankfully. Liquids only, followed my schedule, zero problems.
Nutrition Going Out
Late in the bike I had a primo downhill and tried to let loose because I knew I'd have to pee once I started running, but nothing came out. I'll work on it. I did stop about 1/2 a mile into the run and peed behind someone's mailbox.
3 minutes and 1:59. I had only what I needed and other than wrestling with my arm warmers a bit in T1, this went just fine. I got to the race early enough to stake out a good spot and had plenty of time to make sure I did everything right. I remembered the fucking ride glide.
What I Wore
My wetsuit was perfect and my SOAS kit was the bomb. I probably could have left the arm warmers behind on the bike and only been a bit chilly.
I've tried to really sit back and draw out what I can from the day. Now that I'm far away from it, it actually doesn't look nearly as awful as I thought. My bike split was 32 minutes slower than the fastest female split of the day, which is actually right where I kind of pegged myself. I wonder if not looking at pace on the run backfired on me - if I had looked at the end of the first loop and seen how well I was doing, I might have been able to pull my shit together. In my mind, I had written off the day and was convinced that it took me 90 minutes to do that first loop. I don't think it's productive to talk about my splits, though, but you all know me and can go look up my times if you really care. I don't. The time on that clock has nothing to do with the kind of athlete I really am, and that makes me incredibly sad.
In the end, I covered the distance. My coach says that to crash and get back up and finish shows the kind of mental toughness I need to complete an Ironman next June, and I know he's right. But what he doesn't know is that I already have that mental toughness. I've shown it over and over again as I've battled through some tough physical challenges, and I'm just tired of it. I wanted to execute a really good day - and some will argue that I did, and I will tell you bitches that THAT is really not what I need to hear right now. I wanted to prove, mostly to myself, that I can do this, I can actually do this a little bit fast, and I didn't want to have a single excuse to fall back on to "explain" the time on the clock. And as soon as I crashed, as soon as that excuse showed up to explain away my day, I was done. I couldn't handle it, and I'm not proud of it. The kind of self-doubt that was going through my head on the bike made me question whether I can even do this, whether I should just give up on triathlon and go ride my bike and be happy instead. I don't know the answer to that right now.