Tammy Metzger, Kristin Madl and "furface" (Kristin's awesome dog ) and myself drove up to Kansas together , dropping the dog off at Denton with Kristin's parents with whom we stayed with the first night. Thanks to Tammy's friend AJ we got free entries to this race, which wasn't on my radar till Tammy contacted me about going. Thank you Tammy !!!
We had a really low key trip, that went by very quickly and was really enjoyable. I was pleasantly surprised that even though i didnt know Tammy and Kristin really well, they happened to be the best gals to be taking this trip with. Tammy had to tell me to stop saying Thank you a thousand times, because i was truly grateful of how it was all turning out.
It was my birthday on the Saturday , the day before the race, and while facebook celebrated my birthday :), we didnt . The girls and i decided that i should feel like i am racing on my birthday, and i could also properly celebrate after the race with my annual margarita. So Saturday was the expo, and movies in the hotel all day. I was so enjoying just being there , that for the first time, i didnt think or worry about the race. I actually got an amazing nights sleep, just happy that this is where i was on my 29th birthday , and grateful for the life that i am living right now.
Below is the one of the balloons that Steve sent me along with some flowers for my birthday. The balloons read "Boom ba ya" , which we love saying after we watched it chanted on a Mohammed Ali documentary before his big fight. RACE DAY:
As we were waiting in the chute to go off, i started to chat to the girls around who looked super nervous, Aswell as two gals that were very confident, and had a little swagger going. I recognised both of them. One of them won Longhorn 70.3 last year and the other just won Ironman St George and beat most pro's. I asked them why they hadn't taken their pro card yet, which both had earned, and both replied that they had qualified for Kona as Amatuers and wanted to give it a shot to try and win Kona as an Amatuer. I thought - Great ( sarcastically ) , 2ndly - there are only two of them, meaning i can still try get 3rd , hoping there weren't other Kona contenders out in the field. So - in my mind , pressure was off. "Just have fun" i told myself, knowing well that they could also both blow up.. I knew that today was out of my hands....
What was weird and great was that i was not nervous for the first time. In the past i alwasy fear the worst - foggy goggles, swimming off course, getting hit in the face, the list goes on.. And all those things have happened in the past , but have never been race breakers, or really gotten me up in arms. So i think i am to the point where i realize there is no need to be afraid, And just go out there and deal with whatever happens.
The course was a perfect rectangle, and the water was pretty calm, so i had nice low key swim. My goal on the swim was to try to get into a good rhythm without having to work too hard, knowing i needed to save it all for a good bike and run effort. As soon as i felt i was starting to breathe heavy, i would back down.
Came out in 32 min - about a 1:40 per 100 m pace. Which for the effort i put forth on the swim, i was happy with , and i was even happier coming out and feeling as if i hadn't even swum. The real race was about to begin......
The Bike Starts at the bottom of a canyon, so immediately you start climbing. Now have i mentioned i LIKE HILLS, which there were plenty of - basically up and down the whole way, and it showed that day.I started passing girls immediately, even though my legs hadn't come to life yet, but it got better from there. I was keeping my eye out for the two "Kona bound " gals that i chatted with , knowing that if i can get close to them, i have a shot at a good race . I passed the one gal who won St George almost immediately, i actually flew by her, and was extremely surprised, and i must say , put a big smile on my face...But immediately I wondered how many more girls were ahead of her and then put my game face back on to go on the hunt.
One guy came by me early on , but never got far ahead. And from then on , we played tag for the rest of the bike course, literally, he passed me on the climbs and i passed him on the downhill and flats, calling out "Tag, you're it , come and get me " . We were having a good time out there and would always spur each other on when we passed each other AGAIN...
Finally a turn around came , i saw 3 women ahead of me , one of them "Other Kona Girl". I was so excited and pretty shocked since we were the 3rd women's wave to go off. I immediately put my head down with the goal of getting to the front by the end of the bike without killing myself in the process. i knew i had to run a fast half marathon if i was going to reach my goal. I ended up passing the other 2 woman almost right away but that one gal was still ahead and i was definatlye getting ALOT closer, but i wasnt going to catch her today. I just stayed in control for the rest of the bike, knowing i was coming in as 2nd woman off the bike, and had a good lead on the rest of the pack.
The things that went through my head on the bike - "Have fun , its your birthday", " God ordains everything and is in control", and " drink, eat, drink, eat"...
I feel i nailed my nutrition plan . Even needed to pee, which i am proudly saying i did for the first time on the bike, those poor spectators.. ( yes TMI, i know )
i then prayed for a "cramp free" run -- here we go..
Thanks Mom for my big South African legs, that have obviously helped my biking abilities..
Came off the bike feeling good about my position and lead on the rest of the field. I knew the girl ahead was a collegiate runner, and so my hopes of catching her were somewhat slim, but you never know. i was going to give it my best shot.
Immediately i started feeling my quads start to cramp up .I didnt panic and took a few salt tablets and a gu right away to hopefully stop them from getting worse. It actually helped! I could still feel my quads, but not enough to stop me. I could take alot of little steps and would be fine, but no attempt at really lifting my legs was going to happen, i've been here before..
Run was going great, i actually tucked in behind some guy that was 6ft something tall , and had the same stride rate as i did, and so got into a great rhythm behind him. We ran 3 miles like that and were going at a comfortable 6:30 pace. Then HE cramped up. Crap i thought, my wind blocker and pacer was gone.. now i got to go it alone. I kept my head down and thought "Light , quick and Tall" and it really helped. When i get tired i usually get super heavy on the feet , and this little mantra ( Thanks Tammy ) was helping. I managed to keep all my mile splits around 6:45 for the next 5 miles or so, and at this point was just counting the markers down and praying that at every mile i would look down at it would stay under 7's.. that didnt happen..
At mile 2 and again at mile 9 we climb the one hill, the first time i climbed it it was no problem, however the 2nd time -- i could probably have crawled up it faster. Needless to say , i never held onto that run pace. I was chug chugging along, slowing way down, and all of a sudden Chrissie Wellington comes runnin towards me. I immediately perked up , not wanting to look bad and all, and she gave me a "Hook em horns sign " and said " Go get her " since i was still in 2nd at this point.
That - as you can imagine, seriously perked me up and i started getting a 2nd wind going, and running "tall, light and quick". Miles were counting down and i was getting closer and closer to my goal...
At about mile 10 i needed to pee so badly,but didnt want to stop.. i thought this was a great thing since that meant i wasn't dehydrated and got excited about the prospect of being able to pee while running. So i did.. yes, you can pee while you run.. but i wouldnt recommend it .. why ? while my bladder was lighter, my shoes were so heavy. i know - ew ! but luckily i was wearing zoots which have little holes in the bottom to handle any "water" issues.. ( My husband , Steve, wanted me to write that "he does not approve this message" ) But , it was apart of my run, so i wanted to record it and laugh at it when i look back at this when i am 80.
To finish off, at about mile 12 there is turnaround and there was one girl closing in very quickly. To not have a "Cap Tex" moment again, and get passed in the final meters, I picked it up as best as i could and felt like i was literally sprinting the last mile. She luckily never passed me, and i came to see that when i ran in towards the finishing chute , she was headed out for her 2nd loop. Phew...
I crossed the finish line and looked at my watch excitedly. 4:41. I didnt care if two girls beat me, i thought, i had just had a Personal best time by 16 min, so i knew i was on my way to reaching my goal of turning pro, if not today. It was all out of my hands.. As soon as i stopped two Navy volunteers rushed towards me , and i fainted right as they got to me so they luckily caught me then carried me over to the medical tent. I came to almost immediately and had this huge grin on my face , which i think they prob thought was weird since i was in obvious pain.
I sat in the medical tent, eyes closed and thanking Jesus for the experience i had and for being with me every step of the way. i almost got very charismatic on everyone, but with me being delirious, my eyes half open and not being able to stand up, that wasnt going to happen. haha.
What a day....
TIME - 4:41.03
3rd Overall Amatuer - Pro Card Qualification !! YAY !!
And got advice from Chrissie Wellington, who as you all know, is the nicest ( for lack of a better word right now ) person and someone i wish to emulate as an ambassador for this sport that gives us so much, and can do so much for others.
Kristen, me and Tammy post race.