Who needs to feel their toes, anyway?

It was a late season decision to finish up with a late season race.  Beach to Battleship 70.3 was my first half-ironman distance race last, ever, last year.  I wanted to go back to the same course and see what I could do.  This year, Justin wasn’t able to join me because of his ship’s schedule and his duty schedule so I solicited the services of my good friend, Renee High, to fill Justin’s race sherpa shoes.  As a professional athlete and dear companion, I knew I could trust Renee to take good care of me before, during and after the race… and she did NOT disappoint. 🙂

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Here we are, ready to roll, for our girls’/race weekend!

On Friday, the day before the race, I took my bike for a test spin prior to checking it in to T1.  The test spin did not go well.  My back tire shifted after only a few pedal strokes so that it was entirely jammed up against my bike frame.  I got off, readjusted the back wheel and tightened it, tried again, same result.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  I should have immediately gone to the bike mechanic at T1 but, instead, I called my coach in a panic and fought back tears while he told me to go see the bike mechanic at T1.  haha.  So, I went to see the bike mechanic at T1! 🙂  He immediately recognized the problem, said that the spacer screws had shifted.  That was distressing since they had just been readjusted after Vegas 70.3 and before that after Nationals.  Anyway, it was super nerve wracking and it took a lot of effort to calm down after that.

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Renee, ever the optimist, assured me that my bike was A-OK and that I need to pose with some ‘tude in front of T1.

Race morning was CHILLY!  I spent a lot of time Friday night thinking about my clothing for the bike.  It was going to be in the 30’s early on race morning and I estimated it would be in the mid 40’s by the time I got on the bike.  I decided to dry off well after the swim and then add a vest, arm warmers and gloves with the finger tips cut off.  First, though, I had to make it to the bike!  The swim start was frigid.  We had to be bussed there and spectators were not able to come out that way until they walked or biked.  Much to my surprise and absolute joy, my friend and riding buddy, Bill, showed up near the swim start with his car (heated seats and all)!  He invited us to warm ourselves for the more-than-an-hour prior to the race start in his vehicle.  Image

<3!  Thank you, Bill!  My buddy, Tom, and I took full advantage of the lovely heated seats! 🙂 I’m still donning my trash bag and fleece in this pic!

Last year’s Beach to Battleship participants enjoyed a rockin’ current.  I mean, I friggin’ flew through the swim with terrible technique and a small bit of panic.  This year, I was terribly grateful for the improved technique because there was only a bit of a current, primarily a slack tide.  I felt confident throughout the swim and I sensed that I was toward the front of the most massive part of my wave, which is a big step up for me.  Thankful for the hard work of my swim coach, Juliet!  Finally got my sub-40! Toward the end of my swim I noticed that my toes were almost entirely numb.  I tried to wiggle them to get back some sensation but it was futile.  There was a long run from the swim exit to T1 and the timing mat was somewhere near the T1 entrance rather than the water exit so I’m not sure of my exact swim time but my split reads somewhere around 36 minutes.  I didn’t wear my garmin for the swim so… the world may never know.  Also, the splits were off because of a failure within the athlete tracking system so I’m not really sure of my exact splits but I know my T1 was a bit long because I made such an effort to dry off and put on all of the layers.

My clothing for the bike worked out perfectly.  The only discomfort I experienced was in my numb feet.  I accidentally pulled my shoe strap out of the loop when I was trying to fumble my numb tootsies into my shoes so I had to stop for about 15 seconds and thread it back through os that was annoying but I think I fixed it rather quickly.  The toe covers on my bike shoes weren’t quite enough but there was nothing to be done.  I also started to feel a bit uncomfortable on my saddle toward the end of the bike leg, which has been the norm for me lately so I’ll be going in for a bike refit soon.  There was a headwind building up as I headed out on the bike.  It wasn’t too bad early on but it seemed to pick up the longer I was on the bike.  It was a struggle to maintain more than 20mph.  It was discouraging because I did so much better on the bike last year but I reminded myself that the conditions were very different from last year’s race and that I had no idea where I was placement wise compared to the other women.  I shook it off and I focused on getting in my nutrition.  I knew I would need to be ready for the run.  The last 20 or so miles, there was a lovely tailwind and I cooked along at about 23-24 mph but it just wasn’t enough to make up for more than 30 slower miles.

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I got out on the run and I just KNEW.  I felt great; great enough to give a big smile and a “hang loose” to Renee when I passed her near the end of the first mile.

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Feeling good as I headed out for the majority of the run!  Great job with the photos, Renee!

My watch was a little off because I wasn’t sure exactly where the transition matts were and I was sort of randomly switching through my multi-sport settings.  Also, T2 required running through the convention center and going indoors had my garmin grasping for a signal.  I wasn’t entirely sure of my splits but I knew I was running sub-8s and felt strong.  I wanted to pick it up some but I knew I still had a long way to go and a lot of miles on my legs so I decided to just hold a steady pace.  Out on the run course I had the pleasure of passing by several other Virginia Beach athletes.  Fellow Final Kick Tri Club member, Joel, took 3rd place over all and I snagged a high-five from him on my way out and his way in.  I also passed our friend Scott who placed in his age group, as well.  I was along for most of the run, though, and was super excited when Bill and his friend showed up, again, on his bike to offer some encouragement!  They looped back to me a few times and I really enjoyed it!  I ran past Tom and we high-fived, though I was tired at that point and it was the sloppiest and most painful high five I’ve ever given anyone.  I can only hope that it wasn’t so uncomfortable for him! lol  Only a few miles away from the finish line and I knew I was going to PR, even if it was a close call.  I actually had to reign in my emotions because I was so thrilled to have finally held it together for such a solid run that I was beginning to cry.

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This picture shows the scrunched up face I had crossing the finish line.  I had to assure the gentleman volunteer that I was actually just emotional and not in need of medical attention. haha

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An accomplished smile!  No, not as fast as I had wanted but quite fast for the conditions and a true reflection of my training!

I was just over the moon.  After the rough season I’ve had, this was a fantastic finish.  I was 18th overall female last year and this year I finished 9th overall female.  I also moved up from 3rd place in my AG to 2nd place.  I’d love to say I’m going back next year for this late season fun, but since I don’t know where I’ll be or for whom I’ll be working this time next year, that decision cannot be made just yet.  We’ll just see how it all plays out but I’d love to go back!

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At the awards ceremony with my race support crew! Btw, She happened to have a fan-freaking-tastic 16 mile run that morning.

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On the podium, 2nd in Age Group for the 30-34 women.

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Another pose for my race support/sherpa/photographer!

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And, as my Coach Dai says, what a difference a year makes!  Cheers, folks!  I’m off to fatten up a bit (at least for the next week) before commencing my winter training.

ADDENDUM

Official results were just updated.  Looks like I was 7th overall and my splits have been corrected!  http://setupevents.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=event_results&id=3892

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