We selected this event almost a year ago and I had not planned to be coming off of a full IM event 3 weeks earlier. Nor had I realized this would be my 12th Full Ironman since 2009. I always had heard this was a beautiful and challenging course. Last years extreme heat was more of an exception so I was not overly concerned.
We arrived a few days early and were the houseguests of our IM Athlete Services friends. Despite a very long travel day of delays we felt right at home once we arrived and were greeted by 3 super cool dogs. We got dialed in with a great bike shop Vertical Earth and they quickly made some adjustments that were compliments of the sloppy TSA. Did our check in and got a nice feel of the start, finish and transition areas.
Then it was time to get wet. The lake looked awesome and several athletes were getting some yards in. Having heard the water temp was 71-72 degrees I was starting to rethink my full wetsuit. However, with a 6am start I felt I would be more comfortable in long sleeves. The water was super clear and fresh, as it reminded me a lot of Lake Tahoe or Donner and it was amazingly, silky smooth. I did about 1100 yards and my time seemed pretty fast. That gave me a boost of confidence.
We drove the 2-loop bike course and then the reality check occurred. It was stated to be 7,000ft of climbing. Nothing though seemed to steep, nothing like our Beatty Hill. However there were some long climbs but that also meant there would be some long down hills. The roads seemed okay and a good segment was on a 4-lane highway, which would have two lanes for the event.
Transition bags were gathered and dropped on Saturday along with the bikes. Eyed the swim course, which was a two-loop swim and it required you to exit and re enter. Saturday afternoon was the pre race pizza, which is the fuel that has worked, so not time to deviate. Do what works, right?
3:30 alarm came quick. Our friends dialed us in with great logistics for parking race morning reducing some stress. This was the earliest start for an IM race I have had at 6am. All buoys were in and the outline of the swim looked pretty clear. Buoys were located on the left and that is my breathing side!
Swim: I lined up with the 1:16-1:30 start group. Being self seeded you really don’t know how it will play out. However I know that anything faster may be trouble with getting swallowed up. Scott had already lined up with a group ahead. So as I waited with my friend Heather, trying to stay relaxed. Dusk turned to dawn and the cannon fired and the race was on! It took about 10 minutes to get in; having not warmed up I was off dolphin diving in. Trying to stay straight kept eyes down and followed feet. But you need to hope those feet are going straight. It was a choppy start. Bodies, boats and currents were ever present and I was trying to avoid mouthfuls of water. It seemed like I was moving but really had to pull to get over the waves. Made the 1st turn which felt wide and lost site of the 200 meter buoy with the waves. Got aligned and then made that second turn to count down 8 buoys. It seemed like forever to get back to the start and I could see the black arch, hear the announcer, but I was not yet there. Finally got out and ran about 15 yards and dove back in without looking at my watch. Not sure if that was purposeful or being very focused. Much less crowded upon re-entry. More chop and just worked to stay straight keeping tight to the buoy line. Made the 1st turn lap 2 and then the second. Again the last 400 meters seemed forever, getting whacked to the head from a big guy who actually stopped and apologized. WTH? Determined to get done I landed on shore.
Time 1:28:44. 32nd AG/53
Transition included changing into my Folsom Bike Tri shorts and managing my time. Volunteers were great, stripping my wet suit and helping with my T1 needs. I’m ready and time to fly.
Bike: It was already warm and I was sprayed with sun block to avoid the burn. Crowds were all over. Sends chills down my neck! Cheers and screams! Got in areos and off for the 1st 20, which was along the lakeshore. It was gorgeous and serene. Need to focus and stay away from trouble. Got a good cadence and was about 18.5 mph. Made the turn and headed back to town. Closed to car traffic it was great to stay in drops, had some early climbing but not gets out of saddle climbs. Back to town and hearing the crowds I am motivated. Had my friend Jim on the sideline who got my picture and noticed the thumbs up! Ride Happy, Ride Like a Girl! Left town and now headed to the Idaho plateau. All seemed good. Climbing, sweating, downhills, uphills and staying around 18+ mph. Race leaders are already speeding back down. Craze! A couple no pass zones and then freedom. I pushed saw Scott and I was happy as he was to see me. I made the turn around at about 40 miles and headed back to town. Some screaming downs hills in which I was 37-38mph. Back to town and ready for lap two. I was still strong, and about 3:10 ish into the 56 mile point. I was thinking about 6:30 or faster finish, I proceeded, but it was a tale of two loops. The second was compared to sinking in quick sand. The winds were 20-25 mph that is no joke when your climbs were 8-10%. My fitness should be able to endure that but I was slowly reduced down to an average 15.5, not good. I was passed by a gal f in a Green Bay WI tri kit. Seriously there are no hills in GB. I was mentally breaking. Heat was getting to me and I made the turn around hoping that the downhill would get me back to at least 18 mph avg. While peddling hard I almost got taken out by a RWB athlete, who made a bad move to stop dead in his tracks. 30 miles to go and press forward still could be under 7 hours if I could maintain. Did I say 7 hours? That was not the plan but all I could do is manage what I had. Raced back in town and crowds disbursed, was I that late? I am bummed. I passed a lot in my AG and hoped that I was in the mix for top 5 but no idea. Got to transition and they took my bike and I headed to a long transition to get my run gear.
7:05:56 bike—terribly disappointing. 16th AG/53
Run: Stay positive, despite some cramps I need to muster out this run. Not so fast, my GPS watch died again, second race in a row…so discouraged. But who needs a watch, I just need to run. The run was rollers and a little short hills. Flat along the lakeshore at the golf course. It was 3 loops and mentally that is always tough. I then started getting passed by my AG…. not good. I had smileys on my calves so I did get some guy chatter and that helped. I finally saw Scott for the 1st time…. a got a hug and kiss. He was hurting some. The thought of let’s finish together would mean 7 min miles to catch him and he would be walking. Not happening. Made my turn around and back thru some fun neighborhoods of the rich and famous. Great support.
Lap 2 is underway and a lot like lap one but slower. Just stay focused…number 12 finish is in reach and you have 6 hours. No problem. It seemed forever but I saw Scott again and it was comforting. The sky once sunny was now covered in a big dark cloud and it smelled smokey. A big fire had erupted and it seemed close. Some ash sprinkled down. Wow, is this IMLT Pt 2? No one said anything but AQI was changing. Keep running. It was relief the sun was covered and now it was past 12hours…so much for that. I still had 10 + miles. And my thought of a podium had diminished and now it was about finish. Back to town a 2nd loop completed and I heard a guy say Dairy Queen closes at 9pm I still have 2 hours. So I knew it was around 7pm and 13 hours in…let’s get this done. I made the turn around and hung with some local SF young guys…then I passed them. Less than 4 miles to go. Run walk repeat. Then Mile 24 and I said let’s run. And what felt like an 8 min pace, and hearing in the distance you are an IM kept me moving. The spectators, volunteers really kept me moving. Mile 25 placard and I got to get this done and Scott has been waiting. Running hard, and passing a couple in the last mile and the finish shoot was mine, some hand slapping and a big smile and hearing my name. I thought to myself you have come a long way, hating swimming, and doing your 1st IM in 2009 with friends to 7 years later and sharing this journey with my soul mate and my 12 th finish. Crossing that line and standing upright and then the exhaustion.
Run 5:22:26 14th AG/53
Final time 14:12:56 14th/53 AG
The silver lining was having FolsomBikeTriathlon Team getting 3rd place in Tri Club Division V that had many in group!
Thank you Folsom Bike for the support and Proud to Ride Like a Girl!