Sunday, September 5, 2010

After a miserable Olympic last year I somehow made myself feel better by signing up for my first 70.3, the Vermont Half Journey at Lake Dunmore. Of course, I had to pick one in hilly Vermont! I found and booked a cottage shortly after registering, booked the week off work and planned to get to Vermont (a 12-hour drive) on Friday the 27th, race on Sunday the 29th and then have the rest of the week as a vacation with my family.

The location was spectacular. Honestly I don't think they could create a better venue. Jerrod Rushton, who runs it, was always approachable and helpful and the wonderful volunteers were ... well, wonderful. I truly love the volunteers at all the races, and I even get choked up when they're thanked at the end, because my own thanks are so heartfelt.

Anyway, back to the race. I knew going in that my training was not as great as it could have been, but also that it would be adequate for me to finish. If I looked at my best times for each event (minus transitions) I would end up somewhere shy of 6 hours, but seeing as I'd never done the events together and seeing as the terrain was hillier than I was used to, and seeing as it was going to be a hot, hot day, I figured I'd be happy with 6:30, but secretly hoped to be closer to 6.

The swim was fine, as always. I really feel the swim is not ever adequately long for these events, and that's as someone who doesn't swim all that often and certainly does not train enough in the water. Honestly, it's not too tough to wing it, which is unfortunate for an endurance event. My swim was 34 minutes.

T1 - transitions are never my specialty, and I'd told myself going into this race to take as much time in transition as I felt was necessary. Mine was 2:18. Not bad, for me.

The bike was a pretty nice route, mostly on a not-too-busy highway with great paved shoulders. The one direction was a little more uphill but with the wind at the back and the other way was more downhill but facing the wind, so I guess they were fairly even in difficulty. The worst part of the whole bike was this hill after turning off the highway when I thought it would be smooth sailing back to transition, and this unexpected hill just knocked me out. Honestly it took all my willpower to get up it, and it really wasn't all that huge. Finally did make it up after lots of positive talk to myself, and then it was an easy ride into T2, but to be honest I was feeling pretty beat already.

T2 - 2:02 -- this was the first triathlon my husband had ever been to, and he was a little worried about me, asking if I should stop. Of course I didn't!

Run -- here's where things got tough. Finished the bike and said to myself "okay, now you just need to run a half-marathon!" But really I didn't find the distance too intimidating. I repeated to myself: "It's just two hours. You can get through anything for two hours." It ended up being longer than two hours, but there you go. It worked.

The run was really quite hilly. I live in a hilly area, but it's a different type of hill. My hills are anaerobic hills; you power up and then go down. These were longer, aerobic hills that wear you out. And the heat made it worse.

I really worked at staying positive through the whole thing, joking to the volunteers about whether they had a beer instead of Hammer gels. The last three miles felt like 12 miles. They were not even the hilliest, but they were tough. I felt throughout the run like I was just plodding, and began to re-think my time. Maybe if I come in past 6:30 it would be okay. I knew with the swim and bike I was a little under 4 hours, and I figured I would be at least 2:30 on the run. Lots of people were walking or walk/running at this point, but I felt like if I stopped running I'd never start again, so I just kept going.

Finally reached the finish line and saw 6:15. Yahoo! By my calculations that means I did it in 6:09 (because of waves) although my official time was 6:11:11. Honestly at that point I was so happy simply to have completed the race I almost didn't care about the time. Then I slowly became quite happy about my time, and then the results were posted and I found I'd won my age group!

So this was my first 70.3 and my first 1st place at any distance. What a day!

Almost immediately after the race my son told me he figured I'd now be doing an IM in two years. My first reaction was to tell him there wasn't a chance, but he said "you trained for this one for what, eight months? Now you have two years to train for an Ironman!" and now I'm thinking "hmmm..."

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