It’s weird to think that eight months ago I signed up for Vineman. I didn’t know how to swim more than 20 consecutive laps, I was completely freaked out at the thought of clipping in and I wasn’t quite sure how to run after swimming and cycling. But here we are, the morning after Vineman 70.3 and I can’t wipe this stupid grin off my face.
But before we get into the race/weekend recap, I want to say a huge THANK YOU for all of your support, encouraging comments, tweets, emails, and texts. Not just from this weekend, but over the past eight months – it means the world to me so THANK YOU!!!
Oh, and P.S., I take back everything I said before about long race recaps. THIS ONE might be the longest ever (and I don’t want to split it up into multiple blog posts).
Friday afternoon I was a mess. Like freak out, oh shit, what’s going to happen, a mess. My right knee had been acting up. It wasn’t a stabbing pain, but rather it felt like the muscles wrapped around me knee were abnormally stretching with every step I took. I got a sports massage the evening before, but was still concerned that everything I had been working for would be washed down the drain. Needless to say, I worried about and babied my knee for the next three days – all day.
Yes, my wrapping skills need some work.
I wasn’t about to back out and instead we made our way to Sabastopol, CA, where we were staying for the race. Have I mentioned that Chicken Face is the best race Sherpa EVER? Well, he is and I’m sure that he might be available for hire.
Over the next two days, we ate, ate, ate some more, hit up the expo (where I paid for an overpriced 15 minute IT band massage), went a little crazy at the Ironman store, and even caught a movie (We saw TED — it wasn’t as funny as I thought it would be as perverted bear jokes get kind of old after a while.)
Must. Not. Touch. Fries.
But it was as soon as that volunteer wrapped the paper Ironman bracelet on my wrist that it hit me: oh crap, this is real and tomorrow you’ll tackle 70.3!
Post-“oh my God this is really happening” freak out, Chicken Face and I headed to the Russian River so I can get a feel for the water and help ease any anxiety that I may have. For those who have the same open water anxiety that I do, I highly recommend swimming at the race’s swim venue to ease your nerves.
I was worried about swimming in a river for a variety of childish reasons: what color is the water? Is it cold? How will the current affect me? But once I hopped in, spent some time just looking in the water, blowing bubbles, and eventually swimming for 20 or so minutes, my nerves were completely at ease. Out of all of my weekend preparation, I think that this was the best thing I did because come race day, I had zero anxiety. I also had a mini bike and run scheduled for Saturday, but I skipped it to let me knee continue resting.
Saturday night was early to bed with usual prep activities, but a special emphasis on icing my leg 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off, three times, and rolling-rolling-rolling. If you can’t tell, I had no idea what Sunday morning would bring and I was praying for the best.
Like clockwork, I was up at 4:45, 15 minutes before my alarm clock was set. I popped an inappropriate amount of Ibuprofen and continued to get ready. My swim wave didn’t start until 8:06, so we had plenty of time to eat, digest, drive and prep for the race.
As we arrived, there were already pros and other age groups starting the bike leg of the race, which was kind of weird to not be there for the official start. I appreciated the waved starts as that meant I got to sleep in a bit more, but I envied them as they wouldn’t be running in the heavy heat. But I suppose that’s just the way the cookie crumbles (QUICK! Name that movie reference.)
T1 was PACKED and my spot was far down one of the aisles: not ideal.
I laid out my stuff and am still baffled at the amount of crap people bring with them in T1. I kept it simple and would later be glad that I did.
I found my way out of T1 and soon found my family that had come in to watch. Best of all, they surprised me with these freaking awesome t-shirts. SO LEGIT. Actually, too legit to quit.
Not only was it the most adorable thought ever, but the logo is awesome. Holy crap, I have a logo! Plus, the bright colors were extremely easy to spot during all three legs and in the midst of transition.
My mom is very proud of the quality of her shirt. So much in fact, that she had to secretly snap a shot next to her t-shirt competition. Niiiiice.
I also saw Aron (thanks for cheering, Aron!) and my friend Jess who was also racing!
It was soon time for me and my fellow orange-cappers to begin. I finished my Gu, said my goodbyes, and, oh shit, was about to do my first half Ironman.
As I made my way in, the water was warm. It was welcoming and I could hear my family doing our iconic “Aye aye aye!!!” screams from the sidelines (I can’t appropriately describe our Chilean call – I’ll have to demo in person).
I did a quick warm-up and fidgeted around a bit. Did I tell you that I was wearing a new tri top and tri bottom that I’ve never used before? Genius, I know. But in 3-2-1…we were off.
I had my own swim goals, but my coach had told me that he thinks I could pull a 30 minute swim, so that was my ultimate goal. With 30 minutes in mind, I knew I needed to push myself; however, I also knew that I needed to swim calm and steady in the beginning to prevent any anxiety. So I swam, swam, swam some more and started to think, where the hell is the turn around? As I questioned this point, I also started to get warm. Note to self: warm water can actually equal overheating in a full-length wet suit. Oh, and apparently, I can’t swim in a straight line for the life of me — I was zig zagging all over the place.
As I finally reached the turnaround point (the course is an out and back in a narrow river), I noticed there weren’t many other orange caps around me. F!!! I started to get quite frustrated as usually there are more than two or three fellow age-groupers around me. The negative thoughts started to consume me as I feared maybe something had happened and I was bringing up the back of the pack.
At one point on the way back, the water gets so shallow that you can literally stand up and walk. Given that I was hitting the gravel, I stood up, readjusted my cap that was falling off and looked at my watch. 19 minutes. Shit, I wasn’t going to hit my 30 minute goal. But within 10 seconds, I was back in the water swimming and I told myself just to keep going.
Thankfully, the way back seemed significantly shorter and I just did what I had to do.
Swim Time: 35:01/ 1:49/100 meter pace
Transition 1 Time: 4:05
T1 at this race is pretty huge as you need to run to your bike (of which I had a crappy spot), then run your bike out of T1 and up a ramp before mounting. However, that was the least of my worries because for a hot second I couldn’t find any of my stuff under my bike – it was gone! I looked around and apparently, someone had thrown my stuff almost a bike and a half over. I wanted to scream, “WHAT BIATCH DID THIS?!?!”
Then, of course, in the toss one of my lenses had popped out of my glasses. So I fidgeted around until I could pop it back in and then made my way out, still worrying that I had totally screwed up my swim. So much in fact, you can hear me shouting to my aunt in the iPhone video, “Was I last?!” What an idiot.
I hopped on my bike and well…I don’t know what happened. There were a few good climbs on the course, but outside of that, I stayed in aero 98% of the time (which I’ve never done) and just pedaled and practically talked to myself for three hours. I literally felt great the entire time – who was this?! In fact, I contemplated yelling, “I FEEL F****** AWESOME!” multiple times.
I fueled, I drank, I watched other people’s bike etiquette, I learned more bike etiquette, and had the best 56 mile ride of my life. I guess when nothing goes wrong it makes for a pretty boring recap.
Bike Time: 02:52:22/ 19 mph pace
Transition 2 Time:1:57
After I got off the bike, I could feel my knee acting up. It wasn’t enough to stop me on the run, but I could definitely feel it. Thus, I decided to take the beginning of the run nice and easy with short steps to help get my body acclimated.
By this point, all the fog had burned off and it was getting hot. Really hot. With only my breath keeping me entertained, I ran as close to the shade as I could and literally just kept looking forward to the next aid station.
Per my coach’s advice, I drank small sips at every aid station to keep hydrated in the growing heat. By this point, I was hungry, but my gut was full of liquids, making for an awkwardly full, yet hungry, situation. I would grab handfuls of pretzels and carry them with me, slowly eating them. I think my brain liked the thought of actual “substance.” Around mile 6 as we were making our way through some vineyards then back out onto the asphalt, I was ready to be done.
Ugh. It’s hot. I’m tired. I’m hungry. I need to pee. Blah, blah, blah, the complaints go on but so did I.
I would get ice from the aid station and dump it into my sports bra, I would dump water on me at every aid station, and peaches at aid stations are my new favorite thing. I’m sure I looked like a jackal over a carcass shoving those peaches in my face. Oh what a sight. My knee would act up whenever I was going uphill so I took those even easier.
When I saw the cones start to become dense, I knew we were on the homestretch and I couldn’t be more ready. I wanted to kick it in, but I was spent so I just held strong and soon saw my friend Jason kick it in. Holy crap – I was there!
I remembered the advice of trying to hold up so you have your own photo, but I literally couldn’t get my legs to do anything specific other than just finish. So to lady in front of me: sorry! As I finished, I heard someone yell, “PAGE!!!” I looked over and saw that my friend Layla was one of the finish line volunteers. I was so happy to see her, I hugged her and mumbled something along the lines of, “I’m so tired!”
Finish Time: 5:20:07
12/84 in my age group, 87/754 female overall
I made my way through to get my medal, finisher’s photo, water, and food. Of course, my mom snuck in the “athletes-only” food area and she kept asking, “What’s wrong?” I had to hold back the tears and she started to worry even more. I assured her these were happy tears because not only did I finish, but I beat my secret A goal. The only person who knew it was Chicken Face as it was hanging in our bathroom: 5:24. I not only achieved it, but beat it by four minutes. I’ve never had something like this happen. My mom hugged me and I knew that it was a good day.
Chicken Face surprised me with the most gorgeous flowers and we celebrated the day in the best way we knew how: In-N-Out and Breaking Bad. Exactly what the doctor ordered.
P.S. I’m never taking off this jacket or my new Oakley Daisy Chains.
Thank you again for all of your support. I have a lot of work still to do for Ironman Arizon and I’m more pumped than ever to take it on.