(Note: new pictures uploaded, below)
We were standing on the shore of Lake Heffner, and it was 7:00 am.
I was staring up at the sky, muttering to myself "get lighter. get lighter". I did NOT want to swim in the dark. Under my feet, the shore was thick, red, Oklahoma mud. I liked the way it squished between my toes. It was cold, and I was anxious for the swim to start, because I'd heard the water was 70 degrees, and the air we were standing in was in the upper 50's or lower 60's, and windy.
Sweet Baboo gave me a kiss before walking toward the front of the swim start, ready to head out on his adventure to do his first full iron distance race.
BANG! The shotgun went off, and we started walking - some running - the 100 yards to begin swimming, because the shore area was so shallow, and then it was another 100 yards swimming out to the first buoy.
The water was surprisingly choppy, and the waves were high. I had to start breathing on the left - thank Good I'm good at bilateral breathing, - because every time I turned my head to breath on the right, a wave would smack me in the face.
The current was strong, and I veered off course several times, but not too far. Every once in a while, someone would cut across-directly perpendicular, mind you-my course, backstroking or something like that. I heard later that one guy in the half was out there for three hours before they finally pulled him from the water, blue with cold and disoriented, and took him to the medical tent.
As I swam toward the shore, others in the full were already headed out on their second loop, and I knew Sweet Baboo was one of them.
Deducting the time I spent walking to and from the first buoy, my swim time was around an hour or so, pretty much on target. I swam and swam until I noticed people walking next to me, and then stood up in waist-deep water, walked through the thick, red mud and started pulling down my wetsuit. Karen or Rich, with whom we were staying, took these pictures of us. They were awesome.
I pulled my wetsuit down to my hips, and then plopped down on my butt for the wet-suit strippers to finish the job.
On the swim, my S stood for Slapped in the face by waves.
I trotted over to my bike, feeling good. I had a sweet, sweet transition spot. I was in the first rack right in front of the bike entrence and exit. I hung my wetsuit over the rack, and then pulled on my bike shorts. The other two Athenas were there, geering up and headed out. I would never see them again, not till the next day at the ceremony. One of them, along with her husband, was doing her first ever triathlon. She did awesome.
I headed out directly in the wind. It was about 3 miles around the dam and then out onto the boulevard, half of which had been blocked off for us. After that, I never knew again how fast I was going, because my speedometer stopped immediately after leaving the dam around mile 3.2
The roads weren't as bad as I'd anticipated. Somehow, the constant rolling and small potholes at 45 miles per hour in a Honda weren't as bad on a slow bike. The wind, however, was now up to 25 miles per hour with 40 miles per hour gusts. I tried reframing it - first it was refreshing, then challenging.
At the first aid station, around 3.2 miles out (I had just passed a sign that said 10 miles) a volunteer guided me to a bathroom and held my bike for me. I fiddled with the speedometer cable and magnet, but it was not to be. I was in the porta potty for a long time. This is part of the puzzle I'm still trying to put together, because upon reflection, it appears that every bit of hydration I put in my system all day Friday and Saturday passed right on through. I just didn't realize at the time.
Around mile 3.2 (the sign said 20 miles) I stopped at another aid station to get some water for my bike. I tipped the bottle a bit to get some room for the Nuun tablet that would be dissolving in there, and then watched in horror as some of the water went into my little container of electrolyte tablets. Fizzzzzzzzz.
I worked hard to get the water out of there, but after that, they were pretty much glued together.
The countryside was great - green, green trees; red, red, mud, sunflowers, black birds. Very autumnal, peaceful, and of course, the ever present WHOOSH in my ears from the wind, that was gusting from the northwest.
In all, I drank about 6 bottles of water on the trip. I thought that would be enough.
I was wrong.
At mile 3.2 (40 miles, according to the sign) the wind had become disouraging. still, I was only 18 miles away and feeling pretty good - my legs weren't tired, I wasn't particularly tired, just pissed at the wind. Sweet Baboo says it's pointless to get angry at the wind, because it's nothing personal.
How wrong he is!
It's in MY face.
It's wasting MY energy.
It's holding ME back.
It's very damned personal.
Race officials and directors did a bang up job of controlling the cars bent on heading for a Saturday at the mall so that we could have a closed lane to ourselves. The ride back to the dam was largely uneventful save for the couple of cars that ignored traffic directions and then stopped, bewildered.
in my lane.
as I was coming.
A policeman ran up and banged on the guy's back trunk lid, screaming at him to move, and he finally did.
On the bike, my S stood for Sunburned, because my nasty sunburn stopped at the top of my bike shorts, not my running shorts (see below)
In T2, I changed shorts and hit the loo, grabbed my race belt and trotted out onto the course. I was feeling pretty good but noticed that I was going much slower than my anticipated 12-minute pace. I couldn't seem to speed up, and I didn't understand it; my legs weren't tired, and nothing hurt,
I felt tired.
I muttered and sang to myself, and took a few walk breaks, but I wasn't drinking much because the wind was so strong that I didn't feel hot.
I did a great job of loading up my bra top with ice chips. I was afraid that if I gulped any water, I'd get a side stitch, so I just focused on cooling myself down.
That was my mistake.
Turns out that getting hot is your body's way of saying, "we're thirsty; drink NOW."
I also poured water over the top of my head, further confounding my body's temperature sensors - and further convincing myself that I was not thirsty.
Slower, slower, and still slower. By the turn around on the half marathon I sat down, sipped a cup of ice water with an electrolyte tablet, sucked down a good, stretched, and felt better. Duh. That should have been a clue.
By the time I reached mile 9, I knew that I wasn't going to do any better than 3rd place (there were only 3 Athenas) and wasn't going to make my 8-hour cutoff
Let it go, man, I said to myself. Just finish.
But I was just. so. tired.
I didn't get it.
What as going on?
I tried walk breaks', nothing was working.
I felt cool and comfortable. Chilly, even.
Around mile 10, some medic volunteers passed me in a golf cart, looked back, and then turned around to look at me.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm just tired."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes!" Geeze, did I look that bad?
Frowning, they drove off.
No muscle soreness.
So, why am I so slow?
Why can't I go faster?
Shit. This is taking forever.
I'm so tired. Why am I so tired?
Maybe I need another goo.
I pulled into the next stop and one of the women there frowned at me. "You have cold bumps," she said.
"I know, I 've been stuffing my bra top with ice chips."
She frowned again. "Do you feel okay?"
What was wrong with these people?
"Yes, I'm just tired."
More trudging. Slower, and slower, and slower.
this is crazy. If I can't do this, how am I ever going to do a full ironman?
Maybe I'm not cut out to do this. Maybe I'm a sprint kind of gal.
I wonder how Sweet Baboo is doing.
I wonder if I'll finish.
By mile 10, I was starting to imagine rest stops where there weren't any. I wouldn't call these full blown illusions. I was a little disoriented.
Also, I didn't realize it, but somewhere probably before the halfway point, I'd stopped sweating. completely.
It wasn't just that the high winds were cooling me off, I was running, albeit slowly, and the usual places weren't getting sweaty the wasteband of my pants, the band on my bra top, etc.
I noticed that I was kind of wondering on the path.
I passed Sweet Baboo at mile 12.5 - he was on his way out on the first half of his marathon for the full. Big kiss. Then he was off on the first of his 26.2 miles.
When I finally shuffled into the finish area, there was a long gate and people yelling. Yes! I was finally done! I was a - what was I? Half an ironman?
When I came across the finish line, I cried, sobbing into Karen's shoulder as she - someone - put a finisher's medal on my neck. then walked me over to a table, where I was handed a finisher's T-shirt. 8:59. Fully an hour past my goal time. Yikes.
My S stood for Stubborn now.
The a lady at the T-shirt table said, 'Are you cold?'
Again with the frown.
"Yes, it's cold out here, isn't it?" After all, she was wearing a jacket.
"Yes, but I didn't just do a half iron triathlon."
I thought about it some more, and Karent said I was "white, really, really white"
and wondered over to the medical tent.
they took my temperature: 95.6 degrees. I got my very own foil blanket. Turns out I was pretty dehydrated. They put an IV in me, and about a liter of fluid.
"When was the last time you went to the bathroom?"
"um... um... about 4 hours ago.
"do you need to go now?"
Again with the frowns.
"Do you feel dizzy?"
"I feel kinda drunk."
"Well, let's see if we can sober you up," said the nice medic guy.
I spent 45 minutes in the tent, until my temp came back to normal, and my O2 sat improved, and even then they made me walk around until I could prove that I was able to do it on my own.
Then I got a nice message at the message tent. That's when I realized how sunburned I was. Ouch.
1. I had a nice, meshy top I could have worn over my sky crop, if I wasn't so in love with the wind on my skin and all that crap. Wind on your skin means sun on your skin. Sunburn. I also had sunscreen. Why didn't I wear it? I don't know. But it's another reason I'm now a "redman."
2. When I went up to collect my 3rd place award (Athena) we were invited to select something from the prize table as well. I selected a nice, wide fuel belt.
Next time, I will hydrate, even if it means spending more time in transition and/or drinking on the bike until my stomach is ready to burst. I really believe that, had I been fully hydrated, I could have pulled this off my goal time of 8 hours.
3. The training really paid off. All the rollers I was worried about when we drove the course were no big deal. Today, two hours later, I have a bit of muscle stiffness - mainly in my quads - but nothing near the soreness I've had in the past. I feel great.
4. Whatever problems I had with my hydration, I got the electrolytes right. Not one single cramp, not even a tiny one.
5. The sexy black toe socks were awesome. Not even the hint of a blister. Of course, I was dehydrated, and not sweating, but I'd also done a 6-mile or so run the week before in them. They are great. so were the Highly Technical Underpants. Get them, and make sure you have a nice big toe box in your running shoes, too.
6. Bilateral breathing is really handy to be able to do when you can't breath out one side, either because you have a very spashy person swimming next to you or waves slapping you in the face.
7. Now that I've realized my mistakes, I'm ready to try a couple of full marathons, a century or two, and maybe my first full ironman in late 2007. I think I could do it. I may even come back to the Redman, since they don't pull you off their course. one guy finished after midnight; they closed down all the aid stations and followed him in a golf cart/portable aid station so that he could finish. Awesome. OKC rocks.
8. OKC Redman: Highly recommended! They cater to you. They fuss over you. They are the best stocked aid stations I've ever seen: veritable buffets with goo, enduralytes, gatorade, water, boiled potatoes, ice, etc., and the most enthusiastic volunteers. They block traffic. Safety is their utmost goal. when you finish, you get a finisher's medal and finisher's T-shirt, which is bright red and says, "finisher" on the front and "TRIATHLETE 70.3" on the back. At the awards ceremony, you get a full breakfast and beverages.
Today, my S stands for Stupendous.
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