Race weekend was finally here. I carpooled up to NH with some friends on Friday morning - we left about 4 hours later than initially planned (my fault), made alot of bathroom stops along the way (we were all obssessed with getting ourselves properly hydrated for the long day on Sunday), stopped at my parent's place for dinner, and finally made it up to Bristol, NH twelve hours after we started the drive - 11pm on Friday night. The cabin we stayed in was right on the lake, it was great, as were the people we were staying with. We slept in a bit on Saturday morning, had a leisurely breakfast as we waited for it to warm up outside, and around 9am we put on our wetsuits because we were all going to swim out to the little island and back. It was sooo cold at first, and I really didn't enjoy the swim out to the island. But the swim back was really great - the water was so clean and clear, it was chilly but I was used to it at that point so it was actually enjoyable, and it was really easy to get into a rhythm. I decided that I would definitely need to get in the water on Sunday before the race and swim, just so I would be more comfortable at the start. Then we all jumped on our bikes for a 30 minute ride - we ended up over at the race site during the oly distance race so we biked up and down the run course, cheering people on. We saw lots of Team Zers, it was so much fun. Then it was back to the house for a 15 minute run. It was such a hot day so we cooled off in the lake afterwards. I don't really know where the rest of the day went - we cleaned up, went to packet pickup, thought about all the stuff we needed to do that night to be prepared for race morning (clean up the bikes, rack them, get hydration and nutrition stuff all set). I really came to realize that triathlon is perfect for Type A personalities and just a hassle for the rest of us - I am completely not Type A. That's what I love about running races - you eat pasta the night before, roll out of bed and grab a bagel the next morning, grab your running shoes and race number and get yourself down to the start line. With triathlon there is so much other crap to think about - your water bottles, filling up your bento boxes, do you have all of the clif bars you want, what flavors, how many packets of jelly-beans to bring, did you remember a towel for transition, is your bike not falling apart, is it clean, is it greased, where the heck will you put your spare tube, buying the wrong CO2 cartridges, how much Perpetuem to put in the multi-hour bottle, getting to the race site hours before race start so you can set all of your crap up and eat a few more times. I think there's a good business opportunity to create a company that sends people to get a non-Type A triathlete all prepared for race day - they take care of your bike, nutrition, etc. All the non-Type A triathlete would have to do is simply show up. I need one of those people.
But, I digress. Because of my frenzy of bike cleaning and last minute preparations, I didn't get to bed until 10:30ish and about 20 minutes later I realized that my air mattress must've sprung a leak because I was suddenly laying on the hardwood floor. I ended up (literally) curling up on the loveseat in the living room, legs hanging over the end of the armrest, and just slept there the whole night. Strangely enough, I wasn't nervous about the race. Race morning came around and I still wasn't nervous. I ate oatmeal and a bagel, drank some water, got ready to go pretty quickly, and still wasn't very nervous. We made it to the race area, bikes in tow, got a prime parking spot, got body marked, racked the bikes, and went to hang out at the Team Z tent until race start. It was really great having everyone around, hanging out with everyone released alot of tension and helped us all forget that we were basically going to be beating ourselves up nonstop for the next six hours. Six hours is a long, long time. Anyways, we got suited up in the wetsuits, went down to the water for some practice swims, and then headed to the start line.
The swim was perfect - perfect water temperature, it was totally clear water so you could see all around you - the swim ended up being my favorite part of the race. Because I could see where everyone was around me, it made it very easy to avoid getting kicked in the face. The race was off to a good start.
Swim Split: 38:40 (such an improvement over swims in past years!)
The bike was pretty good too. It was a slightly rocky start because my bike cleats got full of dirt/mud when I was running through transition with them on so I had a hard time clipping into my bike at first. But once I got them cleaned out I clipped in just fine. The bike course was really pretty - around the lake and into some small New England towns. The fifty-six miles went by quickly, I felt pretty good during this part of the race, my legs weren't tired and I wasn't feeling like I was going to die. The only bad part was because it was so hot and humid out (95 degrees and something like 80% humidity, I was paranoid about dehydration so I drank a ridiculous amount of water. And promptly had to pee as soon as I passed the bathrooms. I was hoping the urge would go away, but it didn't and I made a pitstop. And went a little easier on the water guzzling.
Bike time: 3:24:15 / 16.5 mph average
The run was pure hell. I'm a runner so I always look forward to that part of the race because I figure if I go conservative on the bike, I can catch people on the run. That did not happen in NH. As soon as I started running, I felt off and the heat and humidity hit me and I spent the rest of the race wondering how the heck I was going to get through the 13.1 miles, telling myself I was never going to do a race like this again, and even considering getting a refund on the full iron-distance event I had signed up for later in the year. I'm really hoping it was just the effects of the heat and humidity, and not every race will feel that bad. I did a pretty fair amount of walking during the race. I really didn't want to run. In fact, I just wanted to jump in the lake and say forget it to finishing. I was hating pretty much everyone and everything by the time the race was done. I've never felt so negative about a race in my entire life. I really think it was the heat and humidity - I just felt bad all over, cramps, my stomach was staging a revolt, it was misery. BUT, I finished, managed to force down a hot dog later that afternoon at the Team Z tent, and was feeling good by the end of the day and no longer hated life or triathlon.
Run: 2:08:34 / 9:49/mile pace
Overall time: 6:16:02 - 16/34 in my age group
The race weekend was really great overall, minus the crummy run and finish to the triathlon. All of us went back to the house and zonked out like zombies in front of The Princess Bride for a few hours that afternoon before heading out to a late dinner. Then Mel, Brian and I left for Southern NH so they could catch early flights out the next morning. I am already looking forward to the next big Team Z half-iron race!