Monday, September 13, 2010

I Don't Mean Rhinestones!

"Time rolls on,
And youth is gone,
And you can't straighten up when you bend.
But stiff back
Or stiff knees,
You stand straight at Tiffany's.
Diamonds! Diamonds!
I don't mean rhinestones!
But diamonds are a girl's best friend."

--Jule Styne, "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend."
(From the Broadway musical "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.")

DiamondMan Half IronMan: Abby’s First Race Report is too long.

Executive Summary:
1) Rain and cooler temperatures are much better for a triathlon than 100 degrees and sunny.
2) Mandi Leissoo is an amazing friend and cheerleader.
3) I had the best race of my life.

Bear, Delaware: Where is that?
Bear is 2 hours from DC. I chose DiamondMan for my first HIM because Bear isn’t that far, the race was towards the end of the season (sadly, the same day as Nation’s, but we all make our choices!), and the course is relatively flat. I wanted to set myself up for success, which I totally did, and now I want to do more challenging HIMs. If I had done SavageMan as my first, I would be running screaming from this distance. We drove up Saturday late afternoon, checked into the hotel, drove past the race site, got some dinner and were asleep by 10:15. Perfect.


Race Morning: Rain, rain. The story of the 2010 season.
Wake up call at 5 AM. Raining. Ate, packed, got to the race site by 6:10. Set up my transition. Soaked. Chilly. THRILLED that the race was wetsuit legal. No time to dally; DiamondMan is a small race (only 281 registered) and there were two (yes, 2) swim waves. Men 49 and under at 7:15; EVERYONE ELSE at 7:20.


The Swim: Best of my life!
The floor of Lums Pond is very soft silt. You get sucked in up to your thighs in 2 steps. The start was about 200 meters off shore, and I got on my belly immediately to avoid the silt and to get my face in the water. I hyperventilated at both Columbia and IronGirl, so getting calm in the water and starting slowly are key for me. I swam out to the start very easy, and by the time I got there I heard the gun from the shore. I stayed wide and to the back for a couple hundred meters, found my stroke, and then found 5th gear. The bright yellow buoys were very easy to see against the brown water and grey sky, so I moved to an efficient line. I’m not a fast swimmer, but I’m strong, and I pulled my way back into the pack. I felt good (rare for me in the water), so I started pulling harder, reaching farther. I thought, “I don’t need my arms after this. GO!” The next thing I knew I spotted the ramp, and suddenly I was back on my feet. Watch: 41:30. WHAT??????

There’s a 1/3 to ½ mile run from the lake to the bike transition, so I found my shoes and started running. I saw Mandi, and she said “You weren’t supposed to be done for another couple of minutes! WOO HOO!”


Goal: 45-50 minutes
Actual: 41:30 in the water.
Official time including run: 45:17


The Bike: Who needs a computer?
I hopped on my bike after a relatively fast T1, pounded a gel, and chugged some water. Because of the rain there was no body-marking, so I had no idea who I was chasing. I looked at my computer: 00.00. CRAP. I thought, well, this is my sign that I should just listen to my body. I wanted to be on the edge of pushing hard so that I was going fast but saving something for the run. I am pretty chatty on the course, so I regularly asked folks who I rode with what their computers said… Every single time: “21.5” or “19.8” or “20 even.” WHAT? My goal was 18mph, but I felt good, so I kept going, the whole time thinking “You have to run 13.1 after this: don’t MASH your legs.”



The bike course is fairly flat and straight, so the rain wasn’t a huge factor. Reedy Point Bridge is a long but not particularly steep climb, and I didn’t touch the brakes on the way down. Right before the bridge is a metal grated bridge, and all the volunteers were saying “GET OFF YOUR BIKE AND WALK!!” I wasn’t planning to, but a guy wiped out about 20 feet in front of me and dislocated his shoulder, so I quickly clipped out and walked. Not worth the risk. This course is an out-and-back, so I did the same on the return.



I was definitely by myself for a lot of the ride, but I expected that and enjoyed it for the most part. Most people were really friendly, so we chatted as one of us passed the other. One woman on a Cervelo P3C informed me that I was “such a strong biker; you’d really be fast if you had a tri-bike!”

Thanks! Have $4000 for me?

The most amazing part of the whole ride was seeing Mandi 4 times. She drove around and would find me, then park ½ mile in front of me, hop out, ring a cowbell, and snap pictures. Probably my favorite moment was climbing Reedy Point Bridge for the last time with no one (car or bike) in front or behind me, and Mandi driving along side me for at least 4 or 5 minutes. She informed me that the car’s speedometer said 12 or 13 mph. HILARIOUS!



I ate an Odwalla Superfood Bar, two Espresso HammerGels, and an entire pack of Lemon Lime Cliff Shot Blocks. I drank one bottle of diluted Gatorade and 2 bottles of water. I executed my first successful water bottle exchange at mile 22. I didn’t need to exchange at mile 42.

Goal: 3:00. 18 mph.
Actual: 2:55:21. 19.1 mph.
Minutes saved for not stopping to pee: 3-4.**
Minutes spent scrubbing my bike shoes with a soapy brush when I got home: 10.


The Run: Planning for the crap out.
I left T2 with 3:47 on my watch and started running through the campground with a GIANT smile on my face because I knew I had 2:13 to make a sub-6 finish. I felt good; perhaps a little hungry, and I got a lot of “Hey 212! Great smile! You look strong!” as I ran. The majority of this run is along a canal, on dirt/sand, and nowhere near people. Only the first and last 2.5 miles are on the road. There is a giant downhill at mile 2.5 to get to the canal, and I said out loud “Wow, that’s going to suck on the way back!” to which a course veteran replied “And it does!”

I saw the first woman when I was the 4-mile marker (so she was at 9 miles) and told her she was in first; she replied with an enthusiastic “Thank you!” so I continued to count the women as they passed. I stopped counting around 15, and I was only about a half-mile from the turnaround. I knew I was right around 20th at that point. I passed one woman at mile 8, and I held 19th position across the finish.

I ate my last gel at 6 miles, but it was a little far from the aid station at the turnaround, and I should have waited a little longer. I walked 10-15 seconds through every water station, making sure to get a decent drink. I never craved or asked for Gatorade until mile 12, but I am sure I wasn’t sweating as much because of the low temps. At mile 9, when I looked over my shoulder to gauge whether the person behind me was far enough away not to notice the “water” running down my leg, I figured I was probably well-hydrated. Yes, Mom: I peed my pants on the bike AND the run.

I was doing a lot of complex math while running, as in:
“Well, if my legs crap out now, I only need to do 10-minute miles to finish under 6 hours… if my legs crap out NOW, I still have an hour to finish the last 5 miles… or if my legs crap out NOW…”
You get the idea.

I allowed myself to power-walk up the hill at mile 10.5, and it felt good to use different muscles for a couple of minutes. When I got to the top, I challenged myself to blast out the last 2.5 miles, and when I saw Mandi at the 11-mile marker, I joked that I was “running too fast.” I passed her at about 5:26 on my watch, and at that point, my legs disconnected from my body and I started cruising with a giant smile on my face. When I got back to the campground for the last mile, I had to remind myself that it wasn’t time to cry yet—there was still one more mile to run. I got a lot of “Looking strong, 212!” cheers from the crowd, and when Mandi started running with me the last quarter mile, she said “Give it all you’ve got!!” I replied “I don’t think I have much more!” and she said “Well, you are running pretty fast!”


I turned the corner and saw the finish line, and shouted “NO WAY!!!!!!!” The tears started to roll.

I got my medal, hugged Mandi, and asked, “Am I really done?”

Run goal: 2 hours.
Actual: 1:58:30. Pace: 9:03.

Total goal: 6 hours.
Actual: 5:44:08.

AG place: 8/15 (damn competitive 30-34 age group!)
Gender place: 19/65 (my lucky number!)
Overall: 114/236



Conclusion:
1) DiamondMan was a GREAT first half. Small, well-supported, flat.
2) All finish lines should have more gluten-free options.
3) I’m totally doing that distance again!!!!!



**Peeing on the bike is a badge of honor in triathlon. If I had to go #2 I would have stopped. :)

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