My two training buddies and I trained long and hard for this race, and it was as much of a success as it was a disappointment.
SWIM: 1.2 Miles
The swim was great! It was just a big loop in the lake of Tempe Beach Park, and we started at 6:52 am. I tried to keep up with my friend, who is quite a bit faster than me, but since we were swimming into the sunrise, it was impossible to see her, or anything really, after the first 5 minutes. I was really able to find a stroke and enjoy myself, and it was nice to actually swim in fresh water for a change! I still think the salt content of the Pacific Ocean and bays is much higher than Atlantic. For the last half, I had a swimmer that wouldn’t leave me alone, no matter what I did. I just wanted my space, and I think she was trying to race me, but I was just trying to get away. There was plenty of space, but she sure liked kicking me instead. Other than that, the swim was uneventful and I finished a little faster than anticipated: 42:31 (Goal time: 50 minutes)
BIKE: 56 Miles
This was the only part of the race I was dreading. We’d done several long bike rides together, but never more than 20ish miles in a race. It was stressful to think about hydrating and fueling over 3.5 hours on the bike. Not to mention the tushie pain! It was much better than I’d anticipated, though I know now that I didn’t drink enough water (since it was in the 90’s by the last 1/3 of the ride) nor consume enough race fuel on the bike. I learned a lot more about racing in this event. There were lots of tight turns and some narrow, crowded areas. If I let my friend get too far ahead during these times, it would take miles to catch up. It’s not the same in running at all, so it was interesting to see the skill needed, and nice to push myself to stay at a competitive speed. With dozens of u-turns and hairpin turns, I was very pleased with a 17 mph average and 3:15:01 finishing time. (Goal time: 3:40)
RUN: 13.1 Miles
Over my life I’ve run upwards of 10,000 miles, and over 100 races, but I was ready to be humbled by this one. Though my PR for a halfmarathon is a 7:53 pace (1:43), I was hoping for a 9:30-10:00 pace in this type of event (2:00-2:13). But let me tell you, it was HOT. I mean, if I were setting out for a training run in this temperature, I would have turned around after 5 minutes. I think it hit about 97 degrees at the high during the day, which was precisely when we were running. After the first mile or two, I knew this wasn’t going to be an epic run, and I just wanted to finish and get out of the sun. I had 2 cups of water at every single water station, and walked while finishing them. I ate ice, I tried to fuel, but it made me thirstier. At mile 3, I stopped and asked some spectators for sunblock because I forgot to reapply in the transition area. They kindly obliged, and I’m indebted to them for it! Around mile 6 I tried to open my Gu chews but my hands were still slimy from the sunblock and I had no strength to do it, so I asked another spectator to open it for me. He did! Thanks! It was definitely an intense adventure, but I felt strong mentally, and knew that I could get through it, even if I felt like I might hit the pavement at any moment. I ended up with a finishing time of 2:11:17, which is just around a 10 minute mile pace, and still faster than the very first halfmarathon I ever ran. (A struggle in LA in January of 2010 with a time of 2:13.)
Overall, I feel a little cheated by the sun, since I’d been training so much and really hoped to keep up a faster pace on the run, but I was pleased with the rest of my performance! And now, I’ve completed a half ironman!!!! WOOOOO!! It was fun, it was miserable, it was worth it. :) Here are the official results: http://www.ceptiming.com/2011/misc333/11SOMA-AllF.txt