I had only two goals for this race: don't freak out during the swim and finish before the cut off. No time goals at all. Oh, and keep up with my nutrition because I struggle with that when it's hot.
Saturday morning started early, around 4:30. I ate a bowl of Cheerios and made a peanut butter/honey sam for the swim line. Our condo was super close so we were able to get there right as transition opened at 5am. We got marked, set up our stuff and headed over to the start.
Brian and I watched his wife, Heidi, jump in right after the pros. My wave wasn't for another hour so I wandered over to pier and plopped down, going over the swim portion in my head.
Now y'all know I worried about the swim. I spent a lot of time visualizing and praying. I kept waiting for the nerves to set in and they never did. It was kind of surreal, standing on the pier with dozens of other wetsuit clad women my age, all wearing the same bright orange swim caps, painted toenails tapping to the rock music. As I stood on the edge of the dock, waiting to jump in, Cake started blaring from the speakers. She's going the distance. Yes she is. I.Love.Cake. And I knew, everything was going to be okay.
And it was. No panic, none! At 71 degrees the water was almost 20 degrees warmer than my previous lake swims. Salt water + wetsuit makes for one floaty Pink Nutria so I just concentrated until the gun went off. Then I deliberately swam my swim, held my space and made my way buoy by buoy. Lemme just say, it looks a lot farther than it feels in the pool! And 1.2 miles sounds a lot further than 2000 yds so I went with that number in my head. Eventually, I saw the exit. Everyone around me was walking but I remembered two things my coach said: swim until your hands brush the sand and don't walk, there are oyster beds in the shallow end. Thunk, I hit carpet, stood up and relieved, ran to see a stripper. As I was exiting the water I was so stinkin proud of myself for not panicking! I thought, "TPN, you've been through so much worse than this. This was a cake walk!"
And yet, I was never so happy to get on my bike. (so excited I put my helmet on backwards - thank you Brian for letting me know!) Bicycling is fun! I ate part of a Clif bar in transition to hopefully soak up any salt water I swallowed during the swim. Note: salt water makes for very chapped lips.
There it is folks, the Texas Gulf.
The flat, windy ride was uneventful. I wasn't really sure how fast I could go and still have legs for the run, so I rode much slower than I should have. Lesson learned. I got passed by everyone. I counted three people that I passed. Three. Yet everyone was so encouraging!
The bike course went up and down the Seawall so the crashing waves were always in sight. Every now and then I'd glance over at the ocean and remind myself how lucky I was to be participating in this event! (and really lucky I swam in the bay and not the ocean proper - those waves were big!) Also, I got really bored so I sang, out loud, as I cycled. You know what? Turns out I can only sing along to pop music if I have the song playing. I don't know all the words! So I sang Beatles' hits. Yes, people would be passing me and I'd be declaring that eights days a week were not enough to show I care. Poorly and loudly. That's what we pink nutria do on the bike, sing.
On the bike I ate: several tums, two Clif granola bars (one package), a handful of Pringles (thank you Karen) and a few Clif shot Bloks. No, this post isn't sponsored by Clif. But I do love their products. Especially the white chocolate macadamia Clif crunch bars. Even when they are soaked through from being in my sweaty jersey. Nom nom nom.
When I racked my bike to run it felt like every bike but mine was back in transition. I'm not used to being in the very back of the pack; it was humbling for sure. But I'm new, its okay! (for now)
Heading out for my first of three run loops. So excited to run!
Immediately the run felt hard. It was 80 degrees and 88% humidity and I was tired. But I managed to keep at 11 min pace alternating with walking. Then I met Noelle. She'd been injured on the bike course in a crash and was really hurting. I walked and talked with her a while and finally decided to stay with her and I'm glad that I did. The day was about finishing and if I could come alongside someone and encourage her, that was worth more than cutting 15 minutes off my run! Plus, she was interesting to talk to! (hi Noelle!) Pace thrown out the window we just wanted to be done. The run course was a little short. The finish line surprised me - I wasn't expecting it for another 3/10ths of a mile! Before I knew it they were calling my name. It was over.
I did it.
Startled by finish, I didn't have a chance to gussy up. Sponge still stuck in my bra, top not zipped up. I'm a hot mess.
I had an amazing time and I can't wait tackle this distance again, next time really racing! I have to say, Ironman puts on an incredible event; they thought of everything. The volunteers were FANTASTIC! I am so thankful to the little guy who put sunscreen on my ears, for the bike course volunteers who squirted me with water, to the kids with the cold, wet sponges, for every last volunteer who stood out in the hot sun and hollered their heads off all while being such a servant to all the athletes. Y'all ROCK!
I'm tired but not sore. That's a testament to how slow I went. I'm rocking an ugly sunburn and my appetite hasn't returned just yet. But I'm smiling from ear to ear.
My number is sunburned into my arm. Ah, souveniers.
And yes, I've already registered for #2.
Pink Nutria fo life!