As many as you know, Loren and I (and a few of our boyfriends TIm and Chris) signed up for Timberman last fall. Timberman is a pretty big half ironman, attracting a large pro field and some top notch amateurs hoping to place high enough for the half ironman worlds. I fall into neither of these categories by the way.
After giving up tri training the last few years to focus on qualifying and then running Boston, I sorta crammed for this race. I didn't start swimming or riding until after Boston. While I have deep reserves in these other sports, I was a bit rusty getting ready. Yes things came back but I'd say I wasn't really in top form when I got to New Hampshire. I wasn't really worried about anything, I just felt like I could have been better prepared. But chances are, we can always be better prepared.
We made the drive up on Friday giving us plenty of time to relax.
Funny thing happened, I woke up Sat with sore legs. Sore like I had run a hard speed workout the day before sore. I'm not entirely sure why. While packing up the car, I made a few trips up the 6 flights of stairs to my apt, but I do that all the time. I've lived in a 6 floor walk up for years.
It was really annoying me. WTF. I don't want to start the race sore. I tried to be calm about it, since, really, there's nothing I could do about it. I would either feel better or I wouldn't.
I have done this race once before in 2005. This was before the Ironman corporation took it over. It is now A LOT bigger. This is a wee bit problematic. With the start on Lake Winnipesaukee, there's just not a lot of room to fit so many people. It's impossible to park at the start. We took a shuttle bus from a few miles away. We arrived at the staging area at about 6:30 am. There were 18 waves. Loren and I were in...the 18th wave. We had almost 2 hours to kill and the transition area closed at 6:45 so we needed to have all our crap in order by then.
The good thing about starting so late, is we got to watch the pros start which was really cool. The lead guy came out of the water with over a minute lead. The first woman out of the water, Chrissie Wellington came out not after. Chrissie is the current and 3x Ironman world champ. When she got out of the water and got her wet suit off, one of the pro men stopped in his tracks to let her go in front of him into the bike transition area. She is very well respected by pro men and women. After seeing the pro fields get going on the bike, we headed over to the swim start. Where we still had about a half hour to wait.
We waited as wave by wave, people went off and the crowd on the beach got smaller. At least the water was warm.
And finally, wave 18, women 35-39 were ready to go.
In the Tour de France, they call the last rider to finish the Lanterne Rouge, meaning the red light, the caboose. The end. It's no surprise that as the last wave to go off, we were given red swim caps.
Now if you've never done a triathlon swim let me tell you: it's no picnic out there. This is no leisurely laps in the pool, no quaint paddling around. This is a rugby scrum. Under water. This can be very scary and intimidating to a lot of people. Me? Well, I some how find myself right in the middle of it. Mostly because I, like everyone else out there, wants a good position. I want to be right on the buoys that mark the course so I swim the shortest distance possible. So there's kicking, and shoving, and people swimming over people. It's crazy. After a few 100 meters, it's settles down and I find a nice rhythm. The lake has found a rhythm too, and it's choppy. More than once I come up for air only to be smacked in the face with water, which I guess is better than being smacked in the face with a foot. I don't recall it looking this choppy when the pros went out 90 minutes earlier.
In the last straightaway, I stole a peek at my watch. I wonder if anyone heard me say FUCK under water. I was way off my pace. I came out of the water in 41:28, a good 5 minutes slower than I wanted. I got up on shore and ran past some very slow swimming men making their way to transition. I had a couple of kids pull my wetsuit off (note to new triathletes: if a race has wetsuit peelers, USE THEM! It makes life in that moment so much better) and headed to my bike. It did make me feel better to hear other people grumbling about the chop in the water, it seemed to slow everyone down.
Helmet on, shoes on, glasses on, on bike, off we go.
I consider my self an above average cyclist so I expected to be passing a lot of people on the bike. A lot. Esp. with this late start. I was right. I was to the left an awful lot. Though ya know what? I was lacking in some power. Stupid pre race sore legs. Oh and what's that blowing in my face? Oh that's wind. Oh hey while we're at it, let's have some rain!
I was resenting starting last.
56 miles is a pretty far way to ride, esp. when you have to run 13.1 miles after. Oh and you just swam 1.2 miles. I found a nice groove and just tried to stay there. This is a course with a couple of climbs and some rolling hills. It's very nice and does have some stretches that can be very fast. A lot of that changes when the road is wet however. Wet roads bring out flat tires and bike crashes, 2 things no one ever wants. I hate seeing riders down, I hate the thought that that could be me, it could be someone I know. So far it hasn't been either, but some knows every rider down.
At mile 25, Loren passes me. I know in every race, she's going to pass me. She spots me a few minutes in the swim but I know it's coming, and lately, it's been sooner than I expect. She looks very very strong as she goes flying by. I don't see her ahead of me for long. She's gone. I'm not riding as well as I want. In my head I'm just trying to chalk it up to not a great day. Get met to the run. I'm curious to see how my years off of tri training to focus just on running pay off.
The last 3 miles of the bike, I can see people out on the run portion. There are so many of them! Now I'm really annoyed I had to start so late.
I get into the transition area: Helmet off, hat on, shoes off, socks on (I bike without socks) shoes on, gel in pockets:GO.
Luckily, my bike rack was right near the exit to the run.
I suck down a Clif Shot.
Oh hello legs, why you feel like lead. This should be interesting.
The longer the race, the longer it takes to get land legs. They just feel heavy, I feel slow. I start doing math. Ok, I think a PR is out so let's try for under 6 hours and while we're at it, let's get this run done in under 2 hours.
I hit the first mile in a little over 9 minutes. As I go on, I start ticking off sub 9 minute miles. Not too bad. By mile 4 I feel fairly normal. I'm running with a 25 year old women (we all have our ages on the back of our legs). We're keeping a very good pace together. She leaves me around mile 7 and I pick up someone else who is my age. I'm feeling good.
The run is a 2 loop out and back. I see Chris twice, Tim twice, and Loren 3 times. The last time I saw Loren she was at mile 11. She looked at me and just said ouch.
The run has 1 significant hill which is run twice since it's 2 loops. I run so many hills where I live. I remember doing this course 5 years ago and thinking it was a monster. This time, I knew it was there, but it was no problem. I was passing people on it left and right.
When I hit mile 10, I started to pick it up. Under 6 hours was in the bag and I was feeling really good. Just past mile 12, I saw Loren on the side of the road cheering me in.
While final turn and a grassy straightaway to the finish line. I passed at least 5 people in that last stretch.
I hit my watch: 5:50. Way under 6 hours, about 2 minutes off my PR. My run time was 1:54, by far the fasted run I've ever done in a half ironman.
As I'm crossing through the finishing area, a woman out stretches a medal to put around my neck and says in a British accent CONGRATULATIONS! I look up, and it's Chrissie Wellington. Still in race clothes. She had to have finished hours earlier and here she is, giving out metals to us age groupers. I was in shock. I asked her if she won and she said yes, in the modest tone she's known for. I don't think I've ever been so star struck before, which even surprised me.
Loren met me at the finishing area and we went and sat in the lake. AAHHHH it felt so good on the legs!
After eating ( A LOT), packing up all our crap (A LOT) we headed to the shuttle bus back. It has been about 2 hours since we finished. Off in the distance, I could see Chrissie by herself, carrying all her gear and rolling her bike away. I'd love to see more pro athletes like that.
Ok, let's get to the numbers shall we? The results haven't been totally sorted out but I think there were 141 people in my age group and 2141 finishers.
Me: 5:50:25 35th in age group swim 41:28 (65th in AG) bike 3:08:46 (45th in AG) run 1:54:53 (25th in AG)
Loren 5:31:11 (18th in AG. FIRST TIME AT DISTANCE)
And a shout out to Chris (5:30:38) and Tim (5:47:47) for finishing your first (and not last I'm sure. I don't care what you say Stoia) Half Ironman.