The best thing about racing is that you can see some really great places from a completely different perspective. I raced last weekend in Puerto Rico at the 70.3 Half Ironman. My training leading up to the event was great considering we are doing an Ironman in April I was ready to go for this Half. We took the red-eye Thursday night to arrive Friday in Puerto Rico for a race on Sunday so it was going to be a quick trip. I started feeling a bit congested as we headed for the airport. I shrugged it off as allergies. Once on the plane my throat was getting sore and it just went downhill from there. By the time we arrived in PR I was feeling really bad with chills, aches, congestion and sore throat. I don't know for sure if I had a fever but I most likely did. I was disappointed because I knew even if I could race Sunday it wasn't likely going to be my best race. I got to the room and went straight to bed while Michael went on a tour of the race course and to dinner. I was in bed from 2pm until the next morning at 7am. I woke and still had a horrible sore throat but the aches and chills were gone. I took some cold medicine and forced myself out of bed. I began putting my bike together and came to the realization that I just wanted to race and finish. I was going to try and enjoy some of the beauty of the island. Before going to bed I took Nyquil and upon rising I took Advil cold and flu. Race day I actually felt pretty good except for the fact that the cold medicine left me slightly dehydrated. I didn't expect to qualify for Worlds at this race because it is very competitive. When I checked results from the previous year the winner in my age group had completed it in 4:55! My best time ever was Miami at 5:18 so even on my best day I probably wouldn't qualify for Worlds. I signed up for 70.3 at St. George because I figured that was my best chance to qualify and that race is in May.
The water temperature was great and we were not allowed to wear wetsuits. There was a slight current that made it a little challenging as we turned to go back to the swim exit. You had to be careful so the current would not take you too far left. I was able to draft, which rarely happens in the swim however the person I was drafting off did not account for the current and took us a little to far left. Note to self ......if you draft keep sighting because the person you are drafting off of may not be paying attention. I am usually really great swimming perfectly on course. This may have cost me less than a minute and is a lesson learned. I exited the swim in 34 minutes which was not my best and not my worst time.
I knew the bike was mostly flat with some wind and I expected to have a good bike time. We encountered some rain on the bike course and it was slick at the turnaround but I managed to stay upright! For most of the ride the wind was not a factor, I averaged over 22 mph. and was on my way to a personal best bike split. I actually went very conservative the first half because I was not sure how I would feel on the run. Once I realized I might be able to do a 2:30 bike I picked up my pace. Then we had about 12 miles to go and we hit a nasty headwind. This slowed me down to 18-20 mph so 2:30 was out of the question. I did still have a personal best on the bike with a 2:38. I must say it was one of the most beautiful bike courses I have been on. Part of the ride was on the coast and it was pretty amazing.
As I finished the bike I knew we had a hot, hilly run course ahead of us. Of course it wasn’t raining anymore and the sun was shinning brightly! I knew I was feeling pretty good and would be able to have a decent run if the heat didn’t get to me too much. The first aid station I grabbed as much water and ice as possible. I poured cold water over me and put ice down my sports bra and held the rest of the ice in my hands hoping to keep me cool. I also kept re-applying sunscreen (on the bike and run); I carry a small tube with me. For someone as pale as me this is critical during races in this type of environment. Every aid station I took the opportunity to pour cold water over my head, grab ice and hydrate. The run course was hard but had some amazing stuff to see. We ran through Old San Juan to the San Juan Fort and then along the coast, it was pretty spectacular to see. I was pretty consistent with my pace averaging about a 9 minute mile. At mile 11 I got a really bad side cramp, which slowed me down slightly but I kept pressure on my side trying to get it to go away. Finally after about a half mile of agony it disappeared. I don’t understand why those come on like that but they can bring anyone to a standstill. I finally came to the finish in a time of 5:18:08 which is about 30 seconds faster than my previous best time for a half. I was really happy with my time but still didn’t think I had any chance of qualifying for the 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas. I knew they only have two slots in my age group and figured I didn’t do well enough get one. I waited for my boyfriend to finish and then we went back to our room. When I turned on my phone I had a bunch of emails saying congratulations on placing second! I thought maybe they were wrong so I checked online for the results. Sure enough I was second in my age group. Wow I was pretty shocked. Now I had to go back to claim my slot. This meant walking the mile or so back to the stadium which I quickly did…..its amazing how you can suddenly bounce back from your post race tiredness. My boyfriend opted to stay at the room and I don’t blame him. I rushed back to claim my spot only to find out they only took cash or check neither of which I had. I found that really strange because at Panama when I qualified they only took charge. This meant going all the way back to the hotel to the ATM to get money! I think in total I added about 3-4 miles onto my Half Ironman just trying to claim my spot and get my award.
My next adventure takes me to South Africa to do the Full Ironman. We have two heavy weeks of training ahead of us. Hopefully there are no bumps in the road for that one but that would be unusual. There is always something to learn from every race.