Janee and I were both racing Mountain Man Olympic, and we got up ridiculously early to head over to the start. When I got out of bed, my first thought was not about the fact that I ran a half marathon the day before, so that’s good! Usually my legs would have reminded me right at that first step. We got there and did the usual pre-race setup and got ready to race. I had a very good/surprising experience doing this race last year after the half marathon and was looking forward to a solid race.
I got in a pretty good swim warm up and lined up a little bit more in the thick of things than I normally would, near the front right (first turn buoy was a right). The start was just fine, and I liked being able to feel the water, rather than having the wetsuit completely mask the feeling. This race was wetsuit legal, but I went without after trying it out in the pool a few days before and feeling absolutely awful in it.
I came out of the water in 25:06, slower than I swim in the pool, as usual, but much closer than normal to my pool pace. I started getting pretty cold toward the end of the swim, but figured if I got going aggressively on the bike, I’d get warm quickly. Well, that didn’t exactly happen. I was freezing the first 8-10 miles and I could not, for the life of me, get my heart rate up to where it should be. I’m not sure if this was the effect of being cold, or the fatigue from the day before, but not being able to increase the intensity definitely hindered my race. I hate to admit it, but my attitude during 90% of the bike leg was horrible. I was angry and pissed off I couldn’t push it and really race. My average heart rate for the bike was 145 – for reference, that’s the same heart rate I averaged for Ironman, and 8bpm below what I averaged for Buffalo Springs 70.3. The only good thing I can take from that is I averaged almost 25mph at such a low HR. I passed a handful of people during the bike and split a 1:00:00.4 (haha, .4!). I honestly thought I’d be looking at sub 57. In the late miles of the bike, I managed to improve my attitude a little bit and just get ready to do as much damage as I could on the run.
When I got running, it was a similar situation as the bike, minus being cold. I should be able to hit a heart rate of 170 right off the bike, which will usually put me at 5:30-5:45 pace, but I was struggling to hit 160bpm and I was running around 6:00 pace. It was like I was on beta blockers or something! I climbed the huge hill to half way at what felt like a trot and hit the turnaround in 20:33 with an average HR of 157 at that point. After seeing the guys ahead of me on their way down while I was on my way up, my competitive drive finally set in and my main mission was to catch whoever I could. The first person with a target on his back was a Tri Scottsdale guy who I think is Brandon Sullivan. I got him a little quicker than expected, judging by how far ahead he was, so that was a boost. Next up was Peter Ney. He was WAY ahead, and I really doubted I’d be able to catch him, but I was going to give it everything to try. He kept on getting closer and closer and I was able to bring the pace down to 5:30 when I caught and passed him with maybe a half mile to go. I can’t believe I caught him! It just goes to show not to give up. It also shows to stop worrying about what you can’t control and focus on something else. Once I focused on competing with people rather than why the heck can’t I dig deeper?!, I was able to perform the way I thought I should.
I finished in 5th overall in 2:05:39 for 1st in my age group. My run split was 38:26, most likely one of my slower runs on this course, but I’m very proud of how the second half went (17:54 for 3.15mi).
I was upset with my overall performance immediately afterward, but it quickly went away when I saw Janee cross the line, absolutely ecstatic, in a 7-minute PR of 2:38. She’s been stuck around 2:45 for a few years now and she wanted a breakthrough like that for so long and it was fantastic to see her crush it :D. She ended up 2nd in the 20-24 and 17th overall female.
I’m not sure if I’ll be doing the Feats of Fortitude Challenge next year. A large part of me wants to race the half iron because I’ve never done it, plus it’s on my home turf and I’m better at the distance. We’ll see!