Still in my sweaty run singlet, Aaron and I then headed straight to dinner with Eve, Annie, Conrad, Katie, Annie's parents, and the genuinely missed Dan Schremmp who is interning in the optometry department at Shopko in Boise this summer. That guy is hilarious. It was a great way to relax, chow and enjoy (?) some excessively loud live music. If you're an Idaho voter with interest in the senate race, LaRocco is all about "change" and has a really loud rock cover band supporting him. For what it's worth.
Then it was time for all of the obligatory last minute race prep, which wasn't too difficult given that we had already set up our bikes at the Lucky peak reservoir and dropped off our run gear bags. Eve, Annie, and I did, however, need to ensure that our neoprene swim caps were in good working order. We're still waiting for Triathlete magazine to come begging for a photo shoot.
Race morning was cold and windy, and being on the western end of a time zone, the sun didn't come up until it was nearly time to start the race. I got a ride to the start with Conrad, Eve, Annie, and Katie, who was a champ shuttler/supporter. Being with responsible sorts of people, we were there very early, and I found myself wandering aimlessly for a long while. Lots of time spent dreading the cold and increasingly choppy water.
That's me wearing my neoprene swim cap underneath my hoodie for extra warmth and protection from the wind.
I really did not enjoy the swim. Not only was it very cold, but there was serious chop on the water and my brand new goggles leaked the whole time. With my whole body immersed in ice water, I at least wanted my eyeballs to stay dry. No such luck. Heading out to the first turn buoy, I considered for a second what it would be like to stop, raise my hand, and be saved from the discomfort, but I pushed on knowing that it was merely that. A remarkable thing happened during the swim however, and I was actually surrounded by a handful of women for a while. Even though I felt like my whole body was discoordinatedly flopping, flailing and essentially not going anywhere, there must have been others in a similar state of stagnation. A few times, I stopped to empty my goggles and had no trouble catching right back up to the others. Then, my only regret of the race happened. A girl with whom I had been swimming mostly side by side made a move for the group ahead, and I had to make the split second decision of whether or not to go with her. In the end, I was a coward. I was already feeling so distressed by the cold and my eyeballs that I make the decision not to push the pace and fell away from her feet. Then I decided to re-empty my goggles. For this act of un-bravery, I was rewarded with the view of that woman swimming ahead to two women ahead and I then watched the three of them pull farther away with each buoy. I won't pretend that the outcome of the race would have been remotely different had I tried to stay with that girl, but I do know that I need to become more comfortable with being uncomfortable in the swim.
The photo below isn't terribly interesting except for the fact that there are actually women behind me exiting the water. I think maybe they were even on my feet the whole way? The picture also does no justice to the chop. Even the top swimmers' swim times were five minutes slower than would be expected.
My goal for the race was to push myself on the bike, which is something I haven't been able to do so far this season. That is likely due to the fact that only now do we have enough (marginally) decent cycling weather behind us for training, and partially due to the fact that my legs haven't been feeling terribly spunky on the bike so far this year. It was a good goal to have, because my legs felt great on the bike. I wore a heart rate monitor for the first ever time in a race, and I learned that I race at a much higher heart rate than I even knew was possible for me on the bike. Very interesting. Regardless, it went really well, and I thought it was a fun course. Fast without being completely flat, and open enough to be able to see my competition (another first). I moved from 13th to 8th place on the bike and my bike time was very much on par with the top elite women, so I was thrilled with that. I was passed by one woman named Teri Albertazzi who had a crazy fast bike split and who additionally turned out to be a super-nice person. That is always fun.
The run course was pretty fast with the exception of a few tight turns and hairpins that were a bit awkward. I loved the support on the course and there were some really scenic bits along the river though Boise's green belt. I felt really good on the run and just tried to run a consistent pace that would score me a sub 1:30 run split. The weather was probably in the upper 70s and overcast with brief sprinkle sessions. Perfect. Even though Boise is 7 hours away from Spokane, a lot of Spokanites made the trip to race and to support. It is always special to hear my name shouted by people I know at an "away" race. Katie, Natalie Gallagher and Steve Kramer were notably awesome. Thank you for your support and vocalizations guys. Steve snapped the picture below. I love that it captures some of the awkwardness of racing. Normally, somebody would have to pay me to run through orange gatorade (and to litter!), but with four miles left to run, who cares?! Did I mention that the aid station volunteers were fantastic?
In the end I held that 8th place position, but had no idea until the finish line that I had been so close to the rest of the field. When I saw Kate Major, Desiree Ficker, Linsey Corbin, and Teri Albertazzi still milling around in the finish area, I realized that they hadn't finished much earlier. It's was a bit gutting to learn after the fact that I was only a minute away from 5th place and $1000, but I was happy with my race, and that's priceless, right? Right? Oh, I barely got my sub 1:30 run split (1:29:38). Annie, in her first ever 1/2 ironman ran even faster, which testifies to her athleticism and potential at the distance.
Aaron's wave started WAY after mine, so I had time to get my post-race massage (awesome), change my clothes, and to catch up with Annie and Eve before heading back to the finish line to cheer him in. The timing was great, and he PRed his run and overall 70.3 time (without a ton of focused training, I might add). Everyone I know was happy with their respective races, which made for smiles all around. Less than a week after a nasty bike spill, Conrad finished 5th in his ultra-competitive age-group, Annie finished 9th pro in her first ever 1/2 Ironman, and Eve won the entire masters division in a sprint finish that involved flying elbows. Very exciting.
After crashing Eve etc.'s hotel room for showers afterwards, Aaron and I had to hit the road in order to be back to the Can in time for work/school etc. on Monday. We made a last minute decision to take the scenic route home, which is technically 100 miles shorter, but over an hour longer due to the narrow and windy roads. It was a fantastic choice and I recommend the route to anyone travelling that direction. The landscape was stunning and the stormy conditions and late day sun added phenomenal texture. It was so much more exciting than driving through the Tri Cities! The only low point was trying to find somewhere besides Subway to eat in Pullman at 9:30 on a Sunday night, and then proceeding try to eat a Subway sandwich while driving a stick shift home. I think Aaron will be finding peppers and cucumbers in his car's various crevices for months. Molly, can I join you in the "Subway'ed out" club?
All in all, it was a fun race. My "it" was intact, having Aaron along was immensely enjoyable, Spokane represented in a major way, and I am feeling happy and grateful to be healthy heading into this Ironman Coeur d'Alene. Fourteen days, yay!
Many thanks to Steve Kramer for the pictures and encouragement, and to Katie for the pictures and all other kinds of associated race support. She and Conrad are now officially engaged, so congrats to them!