I shut the front door behind me. I didn’t want to wake the dog or Sean, who were both sleeping, so I tried to be as quiet as I could be as I wrangled the bike through the porch door and skipped down the steps. With a sharp intake of breath as the coldness of the air registered on my lips, I wheeled the bike down the front walk and toward the waiting bike rack mounted on my car, parked across the street.
I put down the helmet, water bottle, and my gear bag, and prepared to load the bike onto the bike rack. As I began to lift the bike, I paused, then put the bike down on the ground. I suddenly remembered that there were little glitches in shifting in my last race, and I hadn’t taken the bike in. Better to check and see if it was working well enough now — I still had time to wake Sean up to help me if I needed it. I turned the bike away from the car and threw my leg over it. Headlights illuminated my way, as a taxi turned around at the top of the hill. As the light faded, I rode into the darkness, testing the shifting. I circled back, confident that the bike would get me through the race.
I loaded the bike onto the rack, and smiled as I stepped back, the excitement starting to finally build. I had been anxious over this race. The post-marathon blues hadn’t really abated since mid-July, and I hadn’t trained for this race the way I’d thought I would. I was not at all excited about the race in the days leading up to the event, though packet pickup eased my mind a little. I didn’t know the course, and hadn’t participated in an event from this group before. But it was race morning, and I was determined to fake it till I made it. I didn’t do very much faking, as it turned out.
I loaded the rest of the gear into the car, and saw the time on the clock inside the car: 5:20 am. Time to go. I was leaving earlier than usual, but I figured I’d rather be early, with the unfamiliar location. It was still dark, and there were few cars on the road. As I eased the Audi around the ramp from 62W to 100S, a car went by on Hwy 100 with a bike on the back. I smiled, noticing that almost all the vehicles I saw going south-bound had a bike on the back, or race distance stickers, or both (including me).
I parked the car, and found where I needed to go. I was a little more than 2 hours from my wave start. 2 hours with nothing to do but wait in the cold. I had my bike racked and my gear set up in about 5 minutes. A few minutes later, I had a text from Amy… she was just a few rows away. I chit-chatted with the women racked near me, and talked to Amy for a little bit before she went to find her mom.
I watched the sun rise over Normandale Lake Park. Absolutely stunning. All of my early morning wake-up calls, for training or racing, mean that I get to see the sunrise, which is one of my favorite things.
Finally, they kicked us out of transition, and we waited near the start line, waiting to line up for our wave. Waves were supposed to start every 5 minutes. After wave 2 started, I realized I needed a potty stop, so I went to get in line. After wave 3 started, the announcer said they were going to wave starts every 3 minutes to cover the late start for the race. A few of us in wave 5 asked if we could cut, since our wave was coming up. We made it to our start line, and we were off.
The sun had cleared the horizon and warmed us up as we crested the 1st hill and started to head down toward the trail around the lake. It was a relatively flat course, and I clearly was cold and wanted to warm up, since I finished the first 2 mile run in 23:15! I felt pretty strong, but I knew my test for the day would be the bike.
I came into transition, changed into my Keens (still haven’t practiced enough with the bike shoes to clip in… next year!) for something with a more solid sole, and walked my bike out to the mount line. I could have run, but I wanted to catch my breath. A minute or two makes no difference when you’re in the back of the pack.
I hopped on the bike and set off. I’ve done 30-mile days before on the bike, but that was ride 5 miles, wait 30-45 min, ride 14 miles, wait 30 min, ride 5 miles, ride 8 hours, ride 8 miles. I’ve done 15 and 18 miles on the bike continuously before, but not 22.8. I knew that I could do it, though, if I just kept a positive attitude.
The first loop was hard, mostly because I was unfamiliar with the course and I did not train on hills. Lesson learned. I thanked all the police officers who blocked traffic and kept us safe, and thanked all the volunteers along the way. I finished loop 1 in about 58:30. I did not Gu or drink water in transition 1, so I was really feeling hungry by the time I came through to start the second loop. I stopped at the base of one of the 1st hills on the second loop to take a Gu and drink some of my sports drink. Then I proceeded through the rest of the course. I think the familiarity of the loop the second time through had me going faster: I stopped to fuel/drink for about 3 minutes, but I finished the bike ride in 1:56.13, which would mean another 58 minute loop… but it was only about 53-54 minutes of biking! And now I know I need to train on hills for next year.
Transition #2 was about 3 minutes long, long enough to throw on my running shoes and head out. I walked out again, mostly because my hamstrings were really tight from the bike. I shuffled through the second run, enjoying the warmth of the sun and what a beautiful day it had turned out to be. I could hear the finish line growing closer and closer, and tried to run my run intervals and use the walk intervals to keep me moving. Finally, we emerged onto the trail running parallel to the finish line, and I just ran. There were people cheering on the trail, and when I rounded the corner onto the finish chute, there were even more people cheering. I didn’t have a lot of gas left in the tank, but I saw and heard Mel, and I picked up the pace. I crossed the finish line in 2:53.06. I had earned the title of Iron Girl.
You all know I love to do races for the medals and t-shirts, right? So it’s no surprise that this beauty helped me finish the course!
This happy girl is just happy to be finished with 26.8 miles. I love multisport because it requires different physical and mental skills to get through the run and bike and run again.