Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My Ironman Adventure #9 – A Race Recap of Ironman Maryland

Getting My 5th Place Award!
I recently completed the inaugural Ironman Maryland. It was a great race that had a course that suited my strengths.  I tend to perform better and place higher in my age group in moderate or hot weather with a flat course.  Maryland was all of that and more.  We had a slight amount of wind on the bike course, beautiful weather and a beautiful course.  Each course seems beautiful in its own way because I seem to say that about all of the races.  Most people who were doing the race said the weather was too hot for them but for me it could have been a little warmer. It was in the high 70’s and I trained most of the summer in Vegas with most of my brick runs done in 100+ weather temperatures.  I took the red-eye to Maryland, which in hindsight I am not sure was the best idea to do a few days before a race.  I basically missed one night of sleep because I didn’t sleep on the plane.  My friend who was also racing had a hotel in Baltimore so he picked me up and I was able to go there and get a few hours of sleep before we made the drive to Cambridge to pick up our packet. The next day, which was the day before the race was spent putting my bike together, dropping it off, attending a pre-race meeting, and doing a practice swim.  I had a slight headache most of Friday, which was the day before the race.  I was so busy I didn’t get to hydrate like I normally would which is why I thought I had a headache.  I woke up race morning only to find out I had my period, which was 2 weeks early!  This explained my headache the day before and now cramps the morning of the race and no tampons with me.  This is not the ideal thing to happen race morning and I didn’t come prepared for this. I took some advil and hoped for the best.  Now race morning in Cambridge Maryland we had to find tampons.  Cambridge is a very small town and everything shuts down early and nothing was open as we made the drive to the race.   It’s not like Vegas where you can get just about anything at anytime.  We were on a quest to find tampons at 5am in Cambridge.  After a few tries we finally found a gas station that was open and they had some.  I had a friend racing and my boyfriend was spectating. We both got settled and were ready to go.  This was it, and it was race time!  The swim was a rolling start rather than a mass start.  We seeded ourselves with other people who planned to finish between 1 hour and 1:10.  My friend Christian and I did a fist bump before the gun went off and we were off.

Christian and I before the swim
My swim was one minute over what I thought I would finish in.  My Garmin clocked the course a little long and it took me about a mile to get into some kind of groove.  For the first time since I began racing I got my goggles knocked off (I was able to fix them) and I had to give someone the side elbow because he wouldn’t get away from me.  Usually if someone bumps you in a swim they will move away but this guy kept on and on hitting me.  Finally I gave him a hard elbow that I know connected to his side. That was all it took to get him away from me.  Once in my groove I felt really great in the swim.  With all the people in the water it made it pretty choppy hence the name the Choptank River.  The current kept pushing me into the buoys and I like to swim a little away from the buoys to avoid the packs of people.  With the rolling swim start it was great because you get to start the swim with people close to the same pace as you. 

The Swim
I was off to the bike and considering my longest training ride was 120 miles it didn’t seem so bad riding 112 on this day.  I was hoping for a 5:30 bike split.  My fastest previous bike split was at Ironman Texas and it was 5:35.   I hit the halfway point at 2:35.  I was pleased with that plus that included a stop at the porta-potty, which took about 90 seconds to 2 minutes.  The end of the second loop started getting a little congested on the bike course as the faster people were lapping the slower people.  I had to yell to some of the slower people that I was coming from behind because they were riding too far to the left (which is really annoying) .  As I would come up I would say on your left and in most cases they would get over.  Keep in mind on a flat course I was averaging at times 23-25 mph.  These slower people were going maybe 15 mph.  As I came upon this one guy I said on your left.  He didn’t seem to respond after I said it several times then he yelled I HEARD YOU!  I said if you heard me then GET OVER!  For the most part there are great people racing but every once in a while you encounter a real idiot!   I finished the bike in 5:13 and that was 22 minutes better than my previous best bike time.  I was feeling great about that going into the run.  My boyfriend was keeping me posted on my position in my age group.  I think coming off the bike I was 1st or 2nd in my age group.  I had one of the best times for the bike portion of the race in my age group.
Empty Bike Racks, Soon To Be Full

Coming off the bike I felt pretty stiff but loosened up quickly.  I kept a good pace through the first 6 miles feeling pretty good.  I started to slow a bit for the next 7 miles but still was on track to have a marathon of 4:15, which was my goal time.  I started feeling pretty fatigued about the halfway point.  I was trying to take in some fruit chews and coke to give me a kick.  About mile 23 a bug flew into my mouth and hit the back of my throat.  I think when it hit it stung me.  Instead of thinking how bad it would be to have my throat swell up, I thought how bad would it be to have my throat swell up at mile 23 and not be able to finish because of a freaking bug!  It didn’t swell only stung a little bit. At mile 20 my knee started to hurt pretty bad.  Not ever having knee trouble I knew it was coming from my hip and IT band.  I was sure my hip and IT ban were so tight pulling on some of the tendons leading to my knee.  I tried massaging the side of my leg without much help.  I hobbled the last 6 miles to the finish with a marathon time of 4:28.  Even though my marathon time was slow my bike time was much better which led to an overall PR by about 15 minutes.  I finished with an 11:02 total time and 5th in my age group.  My goal time was 11 hours and I had hoped that would give me a slot for Kona but as it turns out the leading time in my age group was 10:45.  My quest for Kona continues and I will decide what my next race will be to try and qualify. 

My mother and a few other people seem quite confused as to why I continue racing and they don’t seem to understand why anyone would put their body through something like this.  My mother said to me don’t you think enough is enough.  It is very hard to explain to someone who doesn’t race why we do it.  I enjoy seeing what I can do and I am amazed that as I get older I am getting faster.  I enjoy the feeling of achieving things that many people could not even imagine doing.  I enjoy the feeling of being successful at something.  I enjoy the competitiveness of the sport.  I love the people I meet and old friends I continue to see at races.  I enjoy inspiring other people to take up the sport of running or triathlons or even and Ironman.   I enjoy pushing myself to my limit and sometimes over my limit.  I don’t know if I can be faster than an 11:02 but I probably said that about my 11:18 last year!  I have gone from placing 10th, to 7th, to 5th at Maryland.  If I keep plugging away at it I will get there! 

Well deserved beer and pizza after the race!
Ironman Maryland was a great event.  It was an awesome course, we had perfect weather and it was well run.  They are changing it to be a little later in October next year.  I would have considered doing it again if they would have kept it in September.  Any later in the year and it will be too cold for me but for the average person it will probably be fine. I prefer warmer weather. 

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