>I know what you’re thinking – She’s alive?!?! She’s posting again?!? All my prayers have been answered!!!!
Well, get ready because this has potential to be the longest post ever!
It’s true folks, I’m back after a brief sabbatical. Alot has happened since September 24th. I went down to Charlottesville and manned the Bald Mountain aid station for GEER this year. It was nice to not have to run, especially since it was another rainy and cold year 🙂 And, it’s always good to be able to give back to this sport which has given me so much.
But enough of the sappy stuff. Where the heck else have I been? I admit, I have been pretty unmotivated lately. From February until IM Louisville, I was racing frequently and was having a pretty baller year. After the Ironman, I had some weddings and nonsense to partake in, and I knew that my next race wasn’t until the middle of November. I didn’t really want to keep training hard for another 10 weeks, so I took about 3 weeks off for a break.
Then after the 3 weeks, I found it really difficult to get back out there and train. Fall had come, the temps were lower, and it was getting darker earlier. I was wishy-washy for a couple weeks, maintaining my fitness but not really putting in any super hard efforts anywhere. I felt out of shape, even though I knew that wasn’t the case.
So I did the only thing I knew to do – I signed up for a race. I did the Mountain Madness 50K up in NJ. My thought process going into the race was this: it’s a good long run before JFK, it’s in NJ – will probably be flat and fast, it’s a loop course, maybe I can get a PR. As I am driving up to NJ the morning of the race, the sun is rising, and I slowly start to realize where I am going – to the sister mountain range of where the North Face Endurance 50 Mile was held this May, in Bear Mountain, NY. Shoot. Apparently RD’s mean “mountains” when they use that word in the name of their race!
My other misconception was that it was a loop course – turns out it’s not. I have no idea where I got that idea. So there I was, prepared for a completly different race than it was going to be. I had even made drop bags accordingly! I found myself without a nutrition plan or a race plan anymore, but it was perfect weather for an ultra, and I was itching to be out on the trails. I looked around and decided there were some dece runners but that I could compete, cut my losses and agreed to myself to make it a good training run if nothing else.
We went off, and sure enough, the trails were just as bad as at NF. Technical is an understatment. But I decided early that I wouldn’t let these trails hand me another DNF. I think the first 8 miles took me something absurd like 1:30, to give you an idea of the difficulty. I took one wrong turn early, but only lost about 5 minutes on that. I also took a hard fall early, ripping my sweat CXW tights that I love! I got to mile 14 and felt pretty miserable – my legs were tired and my stomach was iffy. I ran into Brad, who had decided to drop there about 45 minutes prior. Shoot. I need to finish now! So I left there and about 30 minutes later….I was back. WTF? I must have missed a turn, but I wasn’t the only one because some guy I was a couple minutes behind did the same thing. We hooked up with a group headed by a “local” who showed us the turn we missed, and I just kept running. I ws able to get my stomach back under control, and my legs started to feel good too. My feet were still hurting on all the rocks, but that’s no surprise. I think the last 3 miles of that course were the longest I’ve ever run, and I hit the finish line in just over SEVEN hours – definitely not a PR!
But anyway, it was a good race because I was able to get back into racing mode, pick myself up and be ready to get into it for one more month and two more BIG races. And then I realized that one of these races is the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS. woops. I had not swum, nor had I biked outside once since Louisville. My bike wasn’t even in once peice. Operation “uh oh” began. I got back on my bike (once!) and started getting up in the mornings to get to the pool. Then, wouldn’t you know, I get a call one day from the PR company for Ironman. Would I be willing to interview with the Baltimore Sun? Photo shoot? Heck yes! I had no idea what that would mean or where that would lead, but I was all in. Long story short, I ended up with a sweet story on the front of the sports section in the Baltimore Sun, as well as the COVER and article inside the “B” newspaper. Oh, and they would film me throughout the race for the possibility of a TV spot! It was pretty darn cool. Now I had my family and friends, as well as the entire city of Baltimore behind me for this race!
Now I will fast forward to the race. Arrive in Clearwater Thursday evening and am greeted by strong winds and a rough looking ocean. Yikes. Friday morning brings a little more calm, but the swim is still moved to teh harbor side instead of the ocean! This is awesome news for me, as I will no longer have to deal with rough waters or a wave beach start – a huge help for a weaker swimmer! I put together my bike, relax at the pool, do some shopping at the expo, and get a nice Italian dinner. Oh, and HULK HOGAN and his daughter Brooke was at dinner a table away from me! If that doesn’t say “you’re going to have a sweet race, I don’t know what does.”
Saturday morning: the alarm goes off at 4:45. Do the usual of eating oatmeal and braiding my hair. Start getting anxious. Go check on my bike one last time (the tires are still full, so no more problems like at Louisville, woopwoop!). I head down to the start with my dad, only to find out they are about 25 minutes ahead of the projected wave start times due to the TT start. I say goodbye, yank on the wetsuit and jump into my wave. Standing in line waiting for my start, I had my “Miley moment”…
‘Cause all I see are (cervelos)….
I guess I never got the memo
My tummy’s turnin’
And I’m feelin kinda homesick
Too much pressure and I’m nervous
Holy cow, what was I doing. I wanted to come here? Look at these girls – they are German! They must be quick! But then …
And the DJ dropped my favorite tune
…Calll on meeeeeeeee, call on meeee, calll on meeeeeeeee……
MY JAM! At this point, there was only one thing to do….
So I put my hands up
They’re playing my song,
And the butterflys fly away
Noddin’ my head like yeah
Moving my hips like yeah
And boom, I was in the water! Not gracefully of course as it was mad rocky and shallow so we all had to do a buttslide off the dock. But there I was, basking in the sunrise in Clearwater, FL, swimming 1.2 miles. It was over pretty quick…I swam the usual 36 minutes and change. The ramp up out of the water was super steep and super slippery it was weird. Ran into transition, they had professional wetsuit strippers, went into the changing tent, through on my helmet and bike shoes and went off on my bike. This bike course is notoriously fast, and it proved itself true with my race. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get into a group of any sort (yes, drafting is illegal, but if you can’t beat ’em…join ’em). But either way I knew I was still moving pretty quick, and had the wind my way for the second half. I started calculating my splits and didn’t really think I was doing the math right until the end, when sure enough, 2:38 was my split! Wow…10 minutes faster than Eagleman! I knew a PR was well within reach, but it was getting hot and I still had a pretty tough run ahead of me. This run boasts 4 large hills….one bridge you cross over twice (back and fourth) that has something like a 5.6% incline or whatever. Who knows. It was a long hill, and there was no shade. The volunteers were awesome and kept the ice, sponges and cold coke coming. I struggled a bit miles 4-6, and I think that was mostly because I wasn’t covering my hydration or salts for the heat that was there, but I caught it early and was able to bounce back, finishing the 13.1 miles in 1:51. Not to shabby – a 5:11:41 finishing time, 8 minute PR!
Again, the race was a spectacular experience. There’s no other sport where I would have the opportunity to race against the best in the world…and they really were out there last weekend – winning time was somewhere around 3:34 which is CRAZY! I was able to enjoy another couple days on the beach and see Bryan and Emily who recently moved down there! All in all, a great experience, and one I probably won’t be fortunate enough to qualify for again until I’m like 65.
Now it’s on to JFK in two days, until 2009 races are over. The field out there is pretty competitive and its going to be great weather for the race, so some fast times should be dropped!