- I cover myself with towel and wiggle out of bike shorts into running shorts.
- Manage to avoid disqualification for nudity.
- Change from bike jersey to sleeveless running shirt.
- Glide, Gu, water, running belt.
- Let volunteer apply sunscreen.
The first three miles were tough. I got a side ache and in general felt cruddy. A guy running by me said, "Try the coke. You'll feel better right away." He was not referring to the drug, but rather to flat coca cola available at each water station. I took his advice (why not? He seemed friendly enough!) and I did feel stronger and less queasy.
The day was mild, mid-70's, and sunny, so while it felt warm in the sun, it was not overwhelming. I stuck with my plan to stay as wet as possible. I put ice in my bra and in a pocket formed by my race belt and shorts top, dumped water on my neck and pony tail. I am soaked in my finish line photo. I found one flaw in this plan - my electrolyte tablets dissolved in my race belt.
The course begins with a pretty difficult hill - most people were walking. The middle portion is two loops around the Whirlpool campus. For a couple miles we were on a walking trail - paved - shady - nice!!!! I loved the run - plenty of people to chat with - many encouraging each other. At the end of the Whirpool loop is a very steep hill - you do this twice. Each time I connected with another athlete and we chatted our way up. Great distraction.
Before the second loop, I saw a young male finisher lounging on his bicycle. "A little part of me hates you!" I yelled. He laughed and said "You are doing great. Keep going!"
My quads start protesting by mile 10, but I know I am going to finish.
Spectators frequented the route, applauding and exhorting. This was one of the best surprises of the day. Pockets of spectators on difficult bike and run hills enthusiastically called participants to persevere. I tried to thank every group I saw. I have been at the tail end of smaller triathlons and it is a discouraging and lonely experience. This was anything but. My spirits soared throughout.
The volunteers amazed me. Every drink stop was well manned with adults and children. These kids were sweet! I cannot believe they stayed out, cheerful and helpful, for so many hours. The race started at 7 a.m. - pro bikers were on the course by 7:30 a.m., then running a couple hours after that. I was running through 12 - 2:30 p.m. Others did not finish until after 5 p.m. That's a long day for a huge number of helpers and spectators. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Down the long starter hill, around a corner, across a beach bridge, down the chute (again, lined with spectators), and the announcers voice congratulating each finisher by name. "Congratulations to Ann Baker!" YAY! Arms extended overhead, I must have been yelling as I crossed the line, because the pictures are pretty funny - massive face contortions. Nice smile once I was across - I'll have to remember that for Ironman Florida.
7:13, and I couldn't be happier!
Found Mom, who had left the finish line area about five minutes earlier. She was disappointed.
I started to worry about Barry. I thought maybe he had passed me on the bike and I missed identifying him. Mom had not seen him, so I knew he hadn't quit the race. Barry finished in 7:17 - struggled with nutrition so pooped out on the run, his strong leg.
Great after party, like everything else at the Steelhead 70.3. The only difficulty emerged after we had eaten, cleaned most of the grime off at the beach bath house outdoor showers, and started the walk to parking.
When you are tired and accompanied by an 87 year old woman, the parking is WAY far from the start. I envied the participants who rode their bikes out - we had a cooler and chair and Mom. Barry could not carry his pack due to back pain, so I balanced his on my handlebars and backpacked mine. Mom was carrying her bag and cooler. Finally, we found an open VIP parking space and dumped it all and Barry walked to the car.
Recovery wasn't too bad, though I pulled some intercostal muscles and they fired up late in the post-event week. Barry pulled a calf muscle, but is back to running now, training for the Marine Corp Marathon.
All in all, a FABULOUS experience. I am blessed. And since Barry and I are each 1/2 an Ironman, together we make a full Ironman! Good mojo for November!
Get out there and swim, bike or run - or simply walk. But get out there. It's a beautiful world with a lot of great people.
Click to read Part I
Click to read Part II