BRRRR!!! The water felt cold without the wetsuit, but once I started swimming it wasn't bad. I forgot that the river bends so the course isn't exactly straight, I sighted, swam straight, then realized I was off course. Unfortunately, I forgot about the bend in the river until I was about halfway through the swim, so I kept getting a little off course. I did the same thing last year. Other than my slight issue with sighting/navigation I had a good swim, I felt strong, and I didn't feel like the lack of wetsuit was an issue. I remembered enjoying the sunrise last year during the swim, but this year it was cloudy, overcast and drizzly so no seeing the sun rise. I passed quite a few people from the waves ahead of mine (I was in the second to last wave this year). I got to the ramp and the awesome volunteers helped me out, I crossed the timing mat at 46:23 just over 3 minutes slower than last year, that's probably mostly due to lack of wetsuit (of my 8 total half irons this was my first wetsuitless swim), so I wasn't unhappy with it, even though it's one of my slower half iron swim times.
I ran up the big hill into T1 got to my bike and had a really hard time deciding what I wanted out there. I was sorry I didn't wear my arm warmers last year so I planned on wearing them this year, but after the swim I decided I didn't want them. It was still drizzly and I hate wearing sunglasses when they get foggy or wet and I wasn't sure they'd stay in the pocket of my new tri top. So I threw the arm warmers and sunglasses into the bag and headed out of T1. My bike didn't seem to be rolling quite right so I stopped to make sure my brakes weren't rubbing (I have issues with brake rub on my Mavic wheels), nope, both were spinning fine, it must have been the mud in transition. T1 was 3:57 a little faster than last year since I didn't have a wetsuit to strip.
I got onto the bike course and felt good, my lower back hurt a little (the hotel bed didn't quite agree with my back) but I figured it would loosen up in a few miles. I hit hwy 27 and felt the tailwind. The wind was forecast to be pretty strong, and I'm generally pretty awful at riding into the wind, so I really wanted to take advantage of the tailwind as much as possible. My average speed was right around 17.0 mph for the first 12 or so miles until I turned and hit the newly chip sealed road and the headwind- YIKES! Chip seal always slows me down and this was really awful super rough nasty chip seal! I'm also pretty terrible at riding into a headwind, so I watched my speed drop. Coach Jen had given me some tips for riding on chip seal, so I tried really hard to "power through it" but I felt like I was working super hard and getting nothing for it. That road was only 2 or 3 miles but it felt like forever! I had a hard time recovering and getting my speed back, my back was still hurting a little and my legs were feeling a little tired already- not good! I couldn't remember if I had used my Mavic wheels with an 11-25 cassette last year or my Eastons with the 11-28 "climbing" cassette. Jeff thought I'd used my Mavics so I went with those, but as soon as I got onto the 1 steep climb on the course I knew I'd used my Eastons last year! It wasn't really an issue, that steep spot just felt significantly harder than it had last year. I made it up the climb fine, and then turned onto chip sealy, headwindy 173- YUCK!! Then it started to rain on me, between the headwind, the chip seal and the rain, I was NOT happy. I also knew I had already lost any chance at a PR and I really didn't want to go out and ride that loop again. I actually thought about stopping and DNFing, I didn't want to DNF the Texas Tri Series, but I knew Stacy or Dan would give me a volunteer job for my tri series credit if I asked. I made it to the corner where everyone was cheering, I saw Becky, Linda C, Emmie, and Lynn, they all cheered like crazy and were super encouraging! It gave me enough of a boost that I went straight out for a second loop instead of turning into the finish and DNFing.
|I gave Tom a fakey half smile just after deciding I was really going to go out for a second loop instead of DNFing. Photo by Tom Marek|
I slowly walked into T2, still thinking about whether I wanted to DNF or walk an entire half marathon. I started getting my run stuff together and thought maybe I could find June on the course and walk with her (she power walks) walking with someone would make it feel better. I got up and walked out of T2, and saw Bob H. I didn't even smile at him, but he said something encouraging to me. T2 was 4:07, which is pretty fast considering I wasn't trying to hurry at all.
I got onto the run course, saw Betsy & David, told them I had the worst bike ever and I was going to retire from half irons. Then I decided to try running a few steps just to see how bad it felt. SHOCKINGLY, it didn't feel that bad, actually it felt kind of GOOD! I decided I would just run as much as I could, I might even be able to finish before 4:00pm. I had told Kristen I would finish around 3 if I had a great day and hopefully before 4 if things didn't go great. I have no idea how my legs and back could hurt so much on the bike and then feel fine on the run- but I'm not complaining! The run was 4 loops, all my teammates and friends were ahead of me, but because of the loops I got to see all of them. I was really starting to have fun and enjoy this race again! I finished the first loop and told the Tri Zones & TWCC spectators near the finish that I still had 3 loops to go, their reply "Don't worry, we'll be here" That was really nice! People said I looked so happy and smiley, I was back to my normal self!
|This time the smile was real! Photo by Tom Marek|
|3rd loop and still smiling for real. Photo by Kristen Carey|
Overall time was 7:45:09, not my fastest half, but not my slowest either. As disappointed as I was with my bike, I was just as happy with my run- so even though it wasn't the race I wanted, it sort of evened out in the end. Plus I was pretty pleased with the mental effort I put in to keep going when I really didn't want to. Betsy posted on my facebook after the race "Way to keep patient and let your race come back to you!"
|Julie must have gotten all the fast antelope this year. Photo by Katherine Mudge|