I finally finished it. Barb's Race is over...it was a LOOONNNGGG road there...and now it's over. I still can't believe it's done and I have to move on now. My life is no longer defined as "training for Barb's Race." Now I have to set my sites on other goals and figure out my next move...but for now I'll just post my race report so I never forget the moments I had at this race...it was a whole different world out there.
The entire trip was amazing...I had a blast...and I hope to never forget it. We left on Wednesday morning...early. We drove up to a good friends house in Vacaville and stretched our travel weary legs. I tried to go on a short 30 minute jog and wound up calling Bryan in a panic. It was ridiculously hot there and I suffered way more then I was used to. Bryan gave me some good tips on how to deal with the heat which involved slamming even more sodium and water then I already was. I felt like a bloated cow but hoped it would all pay off on race day.
The next day we relocated to Santa Rosa and our fantastic Motel 6 with Bex and Randi. We went on a "short" 11 mile ride that was supposed to only be 30 minutes...but we got lost...go figure :) We followed that up with a 1 mile run and called it a day. Bryan had suggested we take an ice bath...so we did. Um...let me just say that this was my first ice bath ever. OWWW!!! It was pretty painful up until the point where my lower body went numb. After 5 minutes I was out of there...and my legs felt pretty good.
On Friday we drove over to the swim start and met up with a bunch of TCSD'ers...the feeling of being surrounded by our "family" helped me calm down and feel more at home. After a very short swim we rented some canoes with the Lewis' and paddled around like idiots...it was perfect. Mike and Jason played on a rope swing overhanging the river...it was pretty funny. If we hadn't had a race the next day I know Bex and I would have joined in the fun...but the last thing we needed was to get hurt. From there we drove to the expo at Windsor High School. It was hot and crowded there as we checked into the race, set up our T2, and listened to the pre-race talk. They showed a short video from the previous 10 years of Barb's Race...the emotions got to us as we all had tears slipping down our faces...we were in bad shape. I also realized I was one of only 5 cancer survivors racing Barb's Race this year...kind of a special feeling as the whole race is centered on raising funds for cancer research. Barb herself was there to welcome us and say a few words. It was nice to know we were racing for a reason. We went to Applebee's for dinner and slammed our last pre-race boost powder and yet more water. Bex and I shared some steak, riblets, and carbs...and then it was off to pack and sleep. Before I went to bed I said a few prayers and spoke to my Grandma (who died with I was 7). I told her that when I felt a calm wash over me on race day that I would know she was with me...
The next morning I woke up in a complete calm state of mind. I knew then that Grandma had heard me...I was ready. I ran into Bex's room and started jumping on her bed. I was so excited that in less then 12 hours this journey would be over!! We got ready, packed up, and left for the river. I had preloaded my iPod with pre-race music and I listened to it all the way there. It really helped keep all my nerves at bay. When we arrived I was overwhelmed at the race atmosphere. People of all shapes and sizes surrounded us. So many Ironmen and women...I was in awe!! We set up our T1 area and began our preparations. Sunscreen went on, bodies were marked, porta potties were visited, food was consumed, stretches occurred...and it was time to say goodbye to our families. With a few last words we entered the water. I had been calm up until then...but all at once a wave of panic hit. I focused on Grandma and Breezy (Mark's daughter that was killed in a car accident in May...we had her bracelet on and her name on our calves)...and I was calm again.
The water was warm as I did a few warm up strokes. Then without any warning the horn went off. I was caught by surprise but quickly put my head down and started swimming. It was beautiful. I felt strong and confident. As I went I dodged people from the previous waves and just kept going. My hands hit bottom a few times but before I knew it I was at the turnaround. I never actually looked at my watch until I exited the water. Not bad...36 minutes...just 1 minute over my target time. Awesome! I ran up the ramp to the wetsuit strippers...they are the best things ever!!! I wish we had these at every race! My suit was off in a flash!! I shoved it in the bag and ran over to my bike. I saw Mike there and gave him no warning and threw the bag and wetsuit at him...I kind of took him by surprise...but he was a trooper and continued to encourage me. I ran out of T1 and tried to get on my bike...but the hill got the best of me and I ended up running my bike up to the flat area....
The bike is usually my worst of the 3 sports. I have always called myself a slow biker, just barely hanging on. This day was different. I felt strong out there...and I was having fun! The rolling hills kept me busy as I constantly shifted gears and had to focus on the turns and other riders. I passed way more riders then I thought I would. I was having a blast. It was 32 miles in before I even glanced at my watch and realized I was on time for a fantastic bike split (for me). I flew up Chalk Hill (well flew in my terms)...and as I descended my bike started to make a horrible sound. I didn't feel anything different except the brakes were a little off, but they still worked. I could see that I hadn't flatted...so just kept rolling. The whole time I was promising Bella (my bike) that when we got home I would give her new tires and give her the best bath ever if she would just get me through the last 10 miles and into T2. She heard me and we sailed into T2 with no problem....total time 3:09...only 9 minutes slower then my "pie in the sky" bike split goal...and I later figured out the noise was someone's race sticker had gotten stuck between my brake and my tire...whew!
I set off on the run feeling amazing. I had consumed all of my Infinit (one double batch with 600 calories) as well as some Sharkies and Sport Beans. I was a little behind on the water but figured I could make it up. The first mile flew by around 7:15 min/mile (wayyyyyy too fast to start out)... When I realized this I slowed down as I came into the first aid station. I took 2 cups of water, one for my head and one for me. I felt ok but I was starting to slow down already. My face was feeling really flushed as I headed into the first hilly area. About 3 miles in I knew I was in trouble. I had originally planned on shooting for 8:30's for the first 5 miles, 8:15's for the next 5 miles, and sub 8's for the last 3.1. I knew I was totally capable of this...but now I was struggling to stay under a 9 min/mile. In that moment I realized I was not going to be able to get a sub 2 hour half marathon this day...and I simply adjusted my expectations. Instead of beating up on myself and being disappointed I just thanked my body for what it had already done for me and asked it to just get me to the finish line in under 6 hours. I looked at my watch and quickly did the math...I knew that unless I bonked really hard I could get in around 5:55 or so. I was so happy with this I didn't even feel bad that I wasn't going to make my original 5:30 goal (a goal that could only have been made if ALL things had gone perfectly...but this is real life...and it's not perfect). I struggled for the rest of the run. The heat, the hills, and my inability to get in enough water really did me in. I later realized I had taken in way too much Infinit without enough water during the bike and now my body was feeling it. I was bloated and cramping. I did what I could to get down 1.5 GU's and some water and Gatorade. I took every opportunity I could to get wet and there were plenty of spectators to help...lots of hoses and water guns on the course. It was great. I saw my family as I headed out on my second lap and their support was exactly what I needed to complete the last 4.4 miles. I also saw Bex, Randi, and Kara out on the course...knowing we were all suffering together made it bearable. As my watch beeped to let me know I only had 0.1 miles to go I felt a feeling of elation...and then felt awful because I still had 0.1 miles to go...until you have been there you don't understand how far that really is! I rounded the corner to the finish line and could see my mom and Mike there. I heard my family yelling my name and I lost it. I crossed the finish line and fell into my mom's arms as she put my medal on me. Barb (of Barb's Race) place a purple orchid lei around my neck as I was the first survivor to cross the finish line. Mike and mom held me up as I was crying and had a hard time walking...I was done...so so done. I found my family...sat down...had some water...poured some more water over me...and began to wait for the rest of my girls. My family was so proud and their love and support was overwhelming...I can never thank them enough. Total time 5:56.
I was there when Bex crossed the finish line to put her medal on her (being a survivor has it's benefits)...and we hugged...and cried. We waited for Randi and took some photos...then we went back to the hotel. I was spent. I was sore, hot, tired, and hungry. But I felt so accomplished. We went to Applebee's again for dinner that night...our table was absolutely covered with food. I have never seen so much food on one table...we had to keep explained that no we weren't crazy...we had just finished a half ironman (as if our race shirts didn't already tell the story). I slept like a baby that night and woke up refreshed (might have been the ice bath...who knows). I really enjoyed the rest of my vacation and am well on my way to recovery now.
It has been a few days since my race and I am still so happy with how I did. As my girls start to sign up for more races I am forced to ponder my future in this sport. Randi is going to embark on her first Ironman journey next year and I am so happy to standby and watch...and cheer. Bex will compete in another 70.3 in New Orleans next April...and again...I will standby and cheer...and support, and encourage. But I won't be joining them. Not for a while. After talking with my family and my coach I have come to the decision that I will be focusing on short races for the next 2 and a half years until my daughter goes to kindergarten. Not only will this maximize my time with my family until both of my children are in school and I can train while they are gone anyway, but I can focus on speed. I am entering my 4th season of triathlon and I have yet to set foot on a podium for my sport. I would really like to spend some time up there. At Solana Beach I realized I have the capacity to be fast and go even faster. I have the mental toughness to push my limits on the short circuit...and I'm hoping that these next few years of training will increase this toughness to allow me to push for longer. The girls I look up to in this sport rocked short course before they started rocking longer distances...and I hope to follow them. My Ironman is not over...just put on hold for now. I know I want to go to Clearwater...and eventually Kona. But for now I want to kill it at shorter races. I want to focus on half marathons as well...Boston will come later. I really want to see what I have in me...find my extra gears...and really use them. I want to race with the big girls...watch out ladies...here I come!!!
But all joking aside, I am hopeful for the rest of this season and the next few ahead of me. But first I have to thank all those who helped me get here. First, my family...mom and Mike and my kids. They have given up so much to help me reach my crazy goals...and I am forever grateful to them all. Without them I never would have accomplished a sub 6 hour half ironman on my first try. Thank you all...I love you. To my friends who have gone without my company for a while...thanks. I know I have been MIA...but I'm back. I promise...wine nights, family bbq's...the works...let's plan it. To my training partners...thank you for pushing me to my limits...you have made me the triathlete I am...and I look forward to still training with you all when we can...and to cheering you on in the meantime. You are all amazing athletes and I can't wait to see what you accomplish in the future. And last, but not least...Bryan, Rehab United, and Catalyst Endurance Coaching...thank you, thank you, thank you. You have helped me reach the potential I am capable of at this point and I know that you will help me do great things in the future. You are an amazing, inspiring coach and I look forward to many more years of fabulous, crazy coaching from you. You were the luckiest thing I stumbled upon this season and I am so grateful I did.
As I finish I just want to say another thanks to everyone that encouraged, inspired, and pushed me to get where I am now. Everyone has helped me on my journey...I am looking forward to the future...I love you all...