Back in July, I won a free entry to Rev 3’s Half Full race via a Facebook contest courtesy of DC Tri Club. My “win” was fueled by a throwdown between me and fellow club member Brady Nelson since I dropped him on the last hill during my very first Skyline Drive adventure. With a shattered ego, I like to think that he has spent the last three months preparing for our “battle of the sexes.” Our race was further hyped when the race director moved my swim wave right in front of the men’s 30-34 age group. To make things even more interesting, we both won our AG at SavageMan: me in the half iron and him the Olympic. With this race being the last of both of our seasons, there was no reason to not go balls to the walls.
Then my body decided to get sick two weeks out. Apparently, throwing myself into the hurt locker at SavageMan had compromised my immune system: I had no energy, my throat was sore, upper body ached and I was freezing all the time. And my legs? Dead, dead, dead. Blah. At this point, my workouts went to complete crap. Instead of pushing through like I normally would do, I shut my body down. I had so many days off and drank an outrageous amount of Echinacea tea. All I could do was hope that the cold would go away in time for the race and my body would be ready to go with all the extra rest. Flash forward to 24 hours before the race – I had slept for 12 hours but still felt awful. I even took a mid-afternoon nap before making the trek up to Columbia to rack my bike which took 3.5 hours due to a concert being held at Merriweather. By the time I arrived at my boss’s house in Randallstown, my pre-race food/sleep schedule was so out of whack. Thankfully, my boss is a Pastor in her out-of-office work and her house is magical. I swear, having a boss who has a connection with God/staying at her blessed house healed my body (at least temporarily for race day) and I woke up feeling somewhat refreshed. With her prayers and blessings, I was off to Centennial Park.
With the weather being in the 40s, rainy and somewhat windy, no one in transition seemed particularly pumped to race. Nerves were high in the F 25-29 area about what to wear, the weather, and more importantly, had anyone seen Lance Armstrong yet. I got the pleasure of meeting/racking next to Ellen Wexler (hey girl, we should bike/run together some time!) before finding my race nemesis. Come to find out, Brady hadn’t been feeling well all week either. Wowsers, seems like our big showdown was to see who would be the first person to poop in their wetsuit or tri suit. Until we got into the water, Brady and I hung out like we were besties. It was almost comical how we didn’t stray from each other for the 1.5 hours before lining up for the swim. From bathroom runs to checking out the swim and even having a run in with a black bag filled with poop (yes, some guy shit in a bad, threw it out the window of his car and drove off…didn’t even walk 10 feet to throw it in the dumpster), we stuck to each other like glue. We even came up with a plan of starting right next to each other because that’s what race besties do. Pretty soon, we were pulling on our wetsuits and walking over to the start, shivering in the cold morning air.
And then a race volunteer informed me that my wave was entering the water. Ummmm, no lady…you are surely mistaken. Haven’t you heard that me and my buddy here are kind of a big deal? MUCH bigger than some other dude who is racing here…No? Ok, fine. I’ll cut everyone in line and barely make it into the water on time.
The backwards Columbia swim was pretty uneventful. For only swimming three times since SavageMan, I felt like I was swimming pretty well. I was passing a ton of people and before I knew it, I was heading for home. Due to a bike accident from a few years ago, I can only breath to my right and out of the corner of my eye, I saw an orange cap coming up next to me with an oh-so-familiar silver TYR hurricane design that Brady had on. Due to Brady breathing to the left, we saw each other. Game on! I stayed on his tail and I exited the swim a few seconds back. I spent the very long transition run yelling at the top of my lungs on how I was coming for him. I’m not sure if the look he gave me over the shoulder was a “ha ha” type of look or the “holy shit she’s crazier than I thought” look. Either way, the volunteers and spectators loved the banter and I got a few laughs.
What can I say about the bike? In case you didn’t know, but 56 miles is a long way to go especially with Sunday’s weather conditions. By mile 3, I was numb from the waist down. I couldn’t feel my feet or my thighs. At that point, I became a little distraught and tried to troubleshoot my issues. After a few minutes of brainstorming which left me with no solutions, I utilized lyrics from Ben Folds Five’s newest song: “This sucks, but do it anyway.” And that’s what I did. I just kept pedaling and pedaling. I didn’t know what place I was in, I didn’t know how much time Brady was putting on me, I didn’t know who was behind me. I kept going, almost hit a mailbox going 8 miles uphill while trying to pull out my gel flask with numb fingers, and hoped that my feet weren’t going to be amputated once I hit the finish line.
Three hours later, I pulled into transition and was greeted by Abby and Holli. These girls deserve an award for standing out there in the gross weather! I felt pretty bad that they came out for this “showdown” only to see me god only knows how far behind Brady at that point. However, they did tell me that I was the 4th woman which lifted my spirits. I shoved my numb feet into my running shoes and shuffled onto the run course.
Within the first mile I passed quite a few men who commented on how fast I was blowing by them. With my lower body being completely numb, I was going to take complete advantage of the lack of feeling and hustle my little buns off. By mile 1.5, I caught up to a 51 year old man and tried to make the pass only to have him match my pace. I will admit, this shocked me. Sir, you moving very quickly for your age! I kept pushing, but alas, I could not drop him! At this point, I realized trying to drop him wasn’t going to help me in the long run and I settled in next to him. We made small talk about how we could finally feel our feet again (mile 3), how our Columbia times are similar, and how being a grandparent is way easier than being a parent. Troy (yes, we exchanged names) and I ran around that course like our life depended on it. One man passed us, only for us to repass him a few miles down the road. After that, NO ONE passed us for the rest of the run. Amazing. We joked about how we would hold hands at the finish if we were still together. By the time our second loop started, Abby and Holli informed me that Brady was only 5 minutes ahead of me. Hmmmm, that is just crazy talk; there’s no way I could make up that much ground on him in 6.5 miles considering I didn’t know how much of a lead he had on me from the bike.
Oh second loop of the run…how you destroyed me! My legs were gone and on every single uphill, my new friend Troy would gap me. Bless his heart, he would encourage me to get back up there next to him and I would spend the next few minutes chasing after him until I was at his side – it was like having my own personal pacer during the run. My SavageMan dying animal/whimper noises came out in full force during this loop and I felt so bad for anyone around us. Poor Troy who had to listen to this for the ENTIRE SECOND LOOP. Finally, we entered the park for the last half mile stretch before the finish. That last half mile seemed to last an eternity; we kept rounding corners (which I convinced myself would be the last) only to find more. And then I looked up and there it was: mile 13. We ran up a slight incline and of course, Troy gapped me. But then he slowed down, turned to me and held out his hand. Here he was, practically walking and sacrificing his moment of glory so we could finish together. After 11.5 miles of running together, I grabbed his hand and we crossed the finish line. I honestly cannot wait to see Rev 3’s finish line photo of us!
After some stumbling around, thanking and hugging Troy for pulling me along for so long, I waddled around the finish line area and ran into one of my post-college bike across the country buddies. It was awesome seeing Nick after all these years and meeting his wife! AAAHHH craziness! After parting ways, I made my way up to transition and found Brady. We exchanged race stories and gathered our belongings before heading to our cars to change. We made friends with a fellow racer by the name of Ryan McGrath (hi if you’re somehow reading this!) before going down to the athlete area to check out our times via computer. Here’s the lowdown:
Swim: 26:29 Swim: 24:56
T1: 3:46 T1: 3:18
Bike: 3:02:05 Bike: 2:50:12
T2: 1:34 T2: 1:34
Run: 1:44:28 Run: 1:54:54
Total: 5:18:21 Total: 5:14:51
If you’re good at adding up splits, you’ll realize that Brady had about a 14 minute lead on me coming off the bike. AND I RAN HIM DOWN. I closed on him during that run and he finished exactly 3:30 ahead of me – I made up almost 11 minutes on him during the run. If only I had a few more miles, I would have totally passed him! Lake Placid will be the ultimate showdown between us!
At the awards ceremony, I received the largest medal to date for winning my age group (I also held on to my 4th place overall female) and a free half iron race entry to another Rev 3 event! If anyone has experience with Knoxville, let me know! I’m looking for some hard, hilly early season halfs to prep for Lake Placid! And guess who will be racing at Placid? My awesome pacer buddy, Troy, who ended up second in his age group. You’d better believe I am going to find him on the run and pace off of him the entire way! What a champ!
A big thanks to everyone who helped me win the free race entry! I wouldn’t have been racing if it wasn’t for you. Thank you Rev 3 for putting on a great event even thought it was freezing outside! The cadet volunteers doing push-ups and hooting and hollering along the course made me crack up! And last but not least, thank you Brady for pushing me on the bike this summer. From chasing you on Skyline to almost barfing at T/Th bike workouts, you have pushed me to a new level of hurt that I didn’t think was possible. Though you managed to barely squeak by with a win at Half Full, I will never let you forget how I emasculated you at my very first club ride! Bwaaa haaa haaa!
Have a great off season everyone!