A long race report because, well, it was a long freaking race! I'll put up some shorter posts about some of my favorite parts and people in the race later this week, but for now, here's how it all went down...
4:00 am... Oh man, this was early, but eyes opened without much hesitation and my body was actually up and ready to go without a fight. I guess Grant knows exactly what he's doing having us do a 5am swim each week. I promise not to complain (much) at the next Monday morning swim.
Next, off to catch the shuttle from Bend up to Cultus Lake. I just missed out on catching the pimped out charter bus and had to settle for a freezing cold (my window was broken and stuck open) school bus for the ride up. Unfortunately, our bus driver wasn't too familiar with the route and we ended up getting crazy lost in the mountains and taking back roads to find the lake. Only a few of us brought our phones and even fewer of us had any cell reception up there. But we managed to piece together some gps activity and found our way to the lake... and it only took us an extra 45minutes on the bus...
3 minutes after the pro men started, we were off in the oh-so-calm fashion of long course racing. I love this by the way. Not having to sprint for your life and blowing up your arms is such a great way to start a race. Nobody punched me in the face, nobody dunked me head as we fought for position. It was great. We all just moseyed on toward the other end of the lake. I swam the first 200-300 with a couple other girls but then I decided to throw down some tactics! Bam! 30 second acceleration and they were off my feet! Clean water, nobody drafting, this is my kind of swim! I swam through few small groups of the pro men, did the run-out-turn around, and headed off onto the second lap. At about 3km, I was feeling awesome. My stroke felt great, I was pulling water, my body position was exactly where I wanted it. Today was going to be a good day.
|Checking out the Bike Course on Friday! So Cool!|
The bike was pretty freaking amazing. I mean, beautiful beyond comprehension and the roads were so fun to ride. We only had one out and back the whole bike and that was in the first 30 miles. So I got a good glimpse of where everyone was at and how much time I had on the field. The whole day was a crazy experience. I'm used to getting off the bike at mile 24. But at this point in the race we still had over 110miles to go! I was so excited to be leading the race and I knew I needed to hold myself back and not push too hard but sometimes you just have to let your legs go after it. I felt awesome out there. There were a couple dark moments and some aches and pains but with 140 miles of riding, you have time to work this stuff out and move on. Between mile 70 and 90 was my darkest bit. We were on the back side of the course and it was absolutely desolate. I couldn't see anyone in front of me and nobody behind me. There were moments I was worried I wasn't on course, but then another milage sign would appear and all would be ok. After that first out-and-back, I never saw another pro women until the run. It was lonely, boring, and strangely calming out there. I'm still undecided whether I liked it or not. I think I did.
|A strange set up for a strange race!|
After about 16 miles of descending, it was time to finally get off the bike and head out for a half marathon. Now, you know me, I love my bikes. I love riding my bikes and anything do do with cycling in general. But I have to admit, I've never been so happy to be off my bike than coming into T2. That was, until I had to try and run after riding that much. I think I'd rather get back on the bike...
|Still 90 miles to go at this point in the race....|
First off, the run was brutal. The first half is pretty much all uphill with some serious grades to deal with. My legs have never fought me so hard than while trying to get up and over some rollers along the river. Then we had to do this massive out and back which unfortunately let a few of the pro women behind me see that they were gaining. I tried putting everything I could into those middle miles and hold onto the lead as long as possible. By mile 9, the hills had gotten to me. Both calves cramped up, my pace slowed to a crawl, and it was full on survival mode. Over the next 4 miles, 3 of the other women would get by me and I was able to hobble my way into the finish line in 4th!
This race was pretty spectacular for me on so many levels. It was my first long course race. And despite not really being a long course race because it was only a half marathon, I think I got a pretty good taste of what it's like to race for 9+hours. And strangely enough, I think I like it...
But I do have to say, I'm really proud of this race. I put everything out there and raced my strengths. I followed my game plan and took care of the small details. I lost it in the last 4 miles but I was closer to the W than ever before. There was a lot to learn out there and I'm stoked to sit down and start planning out the future. More run work, obviously. But also a whole ton of new options for racing, training, and working.
And yes... I got the BIG belt buckle!!!