To say the Rev3 Half Full was inspiring would be an understatement. But first, let me tell you about my friend Ford. In middle school, he was the top runner for one of the schools in my hometown. In 8th grade, he threw down times that rivaled the best runners at high school cross country meets. People claimed he was the next Louisiana running prodigy. I didn't know anything about him, other than the fact that he was transferring to my school the following year and I'd have a fast running buddy to chase after. That never happened.
That summer, Ford got cancer and would have to have surgery, an above-the-knee amputation that would save him but destroy his running career as he knew it. The following year, he came back to high school, in a wheel chair but he'd soon learn to walk with a prothesis. By his junior year, he was on the swim team in the fall and a manager for the track team in the spring. People would gasp when this one-legged skinny kid would climb up on the block and then go on to whoop other kids in his heat. Despite everything that life has dealt him, he's one of those people that just SHINES regardless of the situation. I don't think I'd admit this to him, but Ford's perseverance was my inspiration for toughing it out on a really tough and cold, cold day.
At one point around mile 12 on the bike, when I was having trouble breaking because my frozen fingers couldn't tell how much pressure I was applying, I sat up, looked around at the puddles on the road and felt the wind cutting through my kit and thought to myself, why on EARTH am i doing this to myself?
And you know what I decided? because I can. And because if Ford saw me being a baby, I have a feeling he'd tell me to suck it up and keep pedaling.
And with that, I snuggled back down in the aerobars, said a few prayers that I'd stay rubber side down for the rest of the bike and continued to hammer onward. Apparently the self-torture worked because I managed to sneak myself into second place overall, meaning some nice Rev3 medal swag and decent splits at an interesting distance (.9 swim, 32-mi bike, 6.5-mi run) on a hill-acious course.
But before I get into this, I have a confession: my training the past four weeks has been, ahem, subpar. Let me break it down for you:
- swim: 2-swims since 9/9: three days and one day out from race day (had to remember how to swim this past thurday…)
- bike: two dismal trainer rides and two 2-ish hour jaunts outside
- run: whenever I felt like it! including a random 17-miler in san francisco and a 5k PR on Wednesday
Now top that off with way more junk in my system in the past 4 weeks than probably over the last 4 months (including a late night on the town on Friday… oops) and now you know just how not-race-ready I was going into this. what can i say, I was travelling a ton for work and was still in a post-Vegas funk.
Running around like a Madwoman
The theme of my morning was: LOST. got lost trying to leave Virginia. Got lost en route to Columbia, MD. Lost my timing chip. sprinted around between transition and my car and the timing stand and my car before booking it down to the swim start. Maybe a warm-up does me well, after all...
Before the race, there were also some very moving comments about the Ulman Cancer Fund and the amazing work they do, including a new partnership between Walter Reed and Ulman to continue to support cancer patients. What a cool, inspiring race for such an amazing cause. Regardless of the weather forecast, I hope to come back next year. :)
The Warmest Part of my Day: The Swim
Let me go on record to say that this is the only time i've ever looked forward to getting into the water as soon as possible. The swim wasn't pretty but that was to be expected. We started with a time-trial start, which was nice, until I started bumping up against earlier waves and trying my hardest not to swim over people. I felt a little clueless and zig-zaggy on the swim and came out of the water unhappy with my time, but that was clearly my own fault.
Biking on Antartica
The only saving grace of my day was my set of Pearl Izumi arm warmers. I had ordered them a few months ago and clearly haven't used them before this but they were the best choice I made for an otherwise very poorly planned race outfit. They didn't slide at all and my forearms were very toasty. The best part was that I cuffed them up so that I was able to do all the rolling-up-the-sleeve action while getting started out on the bike course.
Per usual, started out hard—way too hard—and was convinced I was burning way too matches on the hills given my undertrained self. And by "too many matches", I mean the whole matchbook. Somewhere around mile 25 I questioned whether I would even be able to run without crumpling.
Out on the bike the roads were slick and my hands were freezing and I was struggling to keep control at times. I also failed MISERABLY with nutrition: other than the one powerbar gel I got in very early on, I managed to drop the two others thanks to my useless fingers. Also, when brave enough to reach for the bottle, I wasn't able to squeeze the water out (my hands were just not working) so was mostly running on empty.
Somewhere about halfway through the veryfast/strong girl I had been chasing took a big spill on a wet curve. I hadn't seen anyone else ahead and had a feeling I was somewhere in top three at this point (in reality, there was only one girl ahead). The name of the game then turned to: don't let her catch you. That, paired with chasing down all the youngins' from the collegiate division, was the biggest motivator in keeping power on the pedals. Plus the prospect of getting warm.
Not MY speed necessarily but rather how fast the 6.5 miles seemed to tick by. it may just be because my last race was a half-marathon death march but today's run just seemed incredibly quick. I managed to redeem myself from Vegas and didn't even break stride zooming through the aid stations. Two sections of the run were winding trails through the woods, which for some reason reminded me of home (Louisiana) and helped keep things fun.
What I did not expect, however, was the massive cramping issues that started about 2-miles in. I've never really cramped before—on a long long run, sure—but never in the middle of a race. After one particularly aggressive downhill, I started to truck back up a hill and both my quads seized up. I had a mini-panic, backed off some and then was able to continue running mostly cramp-free. This struggle continued for the remaining 4.5 miles. Now i finally get it when you see people on the side of a race trying to stretch out a cramp...
I continued running scared but the only girls I saw were a handful of collegiate women I passed early on and two way up ahead of me that i just couldn't bridge the gap with. Only one guy passed me the entire run, which I consider either a testament to my strong run, or perhaps just the result of of my bad swim :)
Came up to the shoot, couldn't be happier to be done, hurried back to the car to change into dry clothes, continued to shiver uncontrollably for the next three hours but then was still able to enjoy the two other highlights of my day:
#1 a nice wheat beer while Normatec'ing
#2 seeing lance finish with two of his girls (and Kiersten's daughter!)
In all, a FANTASTIC race with an experience that interestingly enough mirrored its name. If I were to look at today with a negative attitude, it was cold, rainy, uncomfortable and would have probably been better spent snuggling under the sheets. But since we're all Half Full around here, it was a great experience, great race and a great testament to how much my pre-September fitness has managed to linger around. :)
Now i'm off to watch the Saints game, y'all. I took a massive nap earlier just to prepare for this. if they disappoint me (and the dome on a home game) yet again, I just don't know what i'm going to do...
Finally, a big thank you to Rev3 for giving me the chance to race with their age group team and to Pearl Izumi for the most comfortable racing gear around (including those arm warmers - seriously, get yourself a pair). To BlueSeventy for a fast swim and TRISLIDE for an ouchless one. And while i feel bad for dropping two perfectly good gels (and my favorite double latte flavor at that!), couldn't have done it without some PowerBar goodness. Lastly, thank you to Normatec for the best recovery tool ever - whether at home or in the Normatec recovery booth after the race. Thanks to all - seriously, a dream come true.