We arrived in Hunstville around dinner time on Friday, checked in to our hotel and then went off to Deerhurst to see if we could pick up our race kits. No go on that as we needed our third member. Kit pick up would have to wait until Saturday. We went back to the hotel and unpacked then went off to find a place for dinner. We went down to the river, thinking we'd hit up the pub right on the water. Turns out it's become a Boston Pizza. It was in a perfect spot on the river and it had a huge patio. So of course we sat outside. They had a guy playing live music who was actually quite good and really set the tone for a perfect summer evening. And it wouldn't be Friday without a #beerstagram.
While G and I were eating, I got a text from Irina asking if we were staying at the Comfort Inn. I replied yes and found out that they were there as well. We then started texting back and forth, only to find out that they were literally across the river from us at another restaurant. When they finished up, they came and joined us for dessert. Which I didn't snap a picture of. It was so much fun. We parted ways and G & I went to my friend David's to hang out for a bit. It turned out to be a fun evening.
Saturday morning Irina, Zin and their friend Louis, joined myself, G, David and Heather for a short pre-race ride. I did about 50 minutes and that was enough for me. I didn't want to tax my legs too much.
|Pic courtesy of Irina|
Our friends Heather and the other David were staying at Casa Lamy so we all got together there for dinner. David's parents were great hosts and dinner was awesome. We called it a night around 9:30 and made our way back to our hotel. We didn't have to be at transition too early so we at least got to sleep in a bit. We packed up the car and made our way over to the shuttle bus parking. We got on a bus quickly and were in T1 getting body marked shortly thereafter. We found our swimmer and made our way down to the water. Of course there had to be a team picture.
G and I watched a wave go off and then made our way back up to transition. We saw some of the male pros come in and the first female pro. G went into T1 to wait and I stood outside cheering people on. The relay wave was last so we figured we'd get to see everyone we knew that was racing. I saw all my friends come in except David L. G and I were estimating that Kiki would be anywhere between 30-35 minutes. She's a good swimmer but she hadn't been swimming in weeks, which I think she was a bit concerned about. I saw the first relay swimmer come running up in about 26 minutes, which is insane. She looked like a swimmer. Her cyclist took off and we waited and watched. A few more relay athletes came in. And then a few more. Then I saw a familiar face. Kiki was booking it down the mat into transition. I didn't know what her exact time was but I knew she was under 35 minutes. G was ready to go as soon as he saw her. He grabbed the timing chip, fastened it around his ankle and ran out of transition. Now I had some time to kill.
Kiki and I went to find some coffee and then we sat around for a while a chatted. We checked results and she had come out of the water in 32 minutes and was in 17th place out of 74 teams. Not bad. I started sorting things out and getting myself ready. We checked the athlete tracker and I saw that G had gone through the first 35km of the bike with an average of just over 33kph. He was cooking. I figured he was on pace for a 2:45-2:50 bike which on that course is amazing. I got myself sorted and went out to do a warm up run. My glute felt a lot better but there was still a bit of nagging tightness that slightly limited my mobility. I ran about 2km and then made my way back into transition. It had gotten really hot. Not Eagleman hot, but it was definitely toasty. I did some drills and worked at stretching out my glute. I made my way into transition and Kiki stood waiting outside. I watched the first team come in. The cyclist was completely spent. The runner took off and a bunch of us watched in awe. He had perfect running form. He looked so strong. About 5 minutes later, another cyclist rolled in. The runner, a girl, took off. She looked really strong as well. A couple of minutes later another cyclist came in. I could feel my adrenaline starting to build. I wanted to start running. There was another cyclist almost right on his heels. That was 4 teams out on the road. Then I saw the socks. G had put his Ironman socks on and I could see them underneath a bunch of trees. I ran over to the rack and waited, jumping up and down. He got to the rack, racked his bike, I grabbed the chip from him and kissed him before I took off. He brought us up to 5th position with his killer bike split. He was just over 2:46 on the bike. I now had people to chase. I figured there was no way I was catching the first two people. But I figured I might be able to get us up into third.
I started booking it. I could see the 4th place relay guy about 700m or so ahead of me. I worked at reeling him in, slowly but surely. I was averaging between 4:25-4:30's which I felt might be a bit too fast for my current level of ability for that distance. But I was determined to catch the guy in front of me. I kept telling myself to watch my form - with every step I said chest out, knees up to myself. If I didn't do that, I could feel myself slipping into my old form. At the 4km mark I was passed by a guy in running shorts and compression socks. I figured he had to be in the relay if he was dressed like that. But since his calves were covered, I didn't know for sure. Drat. Drat. Drat. I kept my pace. He was in front of me for a bit but then seemed to be fading. Just before 7km mark I caught him. 2km after that I caught the 4th place guy. Now, all I could do was hope that I didn't get caught by a super fast runner. There were two guys that were doing drills in transition that looked like serious runners. I had no idea how far behind they were, I could only hope that I put enough distance on them that they couldn't make it up. I chugged along, hi-fiving and cheering on several friends that I passed along the course.
The run course makes is way from Deerhurst, along highway 60 into some residential areas, then back out in to downtown Huntsville. I knew David's family and his partner Elyse would be there cheering and sure enough I saw them as I was running up yet another hill. I gave them a wave and a a bow as I rounded the corner. I was stopping for fluid at every aid station. This one happened to have ice so I grabbed it and dumped it down my top and my shorts. I was totally overheating. I was almost at the half way point. My legs weren't feel too bad which was surprising. I was still running between 4:35-4:40's. I had hoped to come in around 1:40. I felt that was reasonable given my complete lack of speed or hill work this year. I had seen David and Lauren earlier and was curious to see how much closer David had gotten to me. I hit the turnaround and saw him not too far behind me. Shit. I didn't want him to catch me. We high fived as we passed each other. I made my way back into town. Saw the Lamy cheering section again and made my way through town.
Much to my dismay, I saw one of the runner type guys absolutely cooking just before I hit Main Street. He was flying. I didn't know how long I'd be able to hold him off. I pushed the pace. It took him just over 4km to catch me. He caught me at 15km mark or so. And he blew by me like I was standing still. We had now dropped down to 4th. I couldn't let anyone else pass me. I didn't want to negate G's hard work on the bike. So I busted out the proverbial shovel and dug deep. At about the 18k mark, the hills had taken their toll on me. My legs were screaming. Only 3 more km. Less than 15 minutes. You can do anything for 15 minutes. Suck it up.
And then I saw her. The girl from the second place relay team. She was running but not as fast as she had been when she left transition. That gave me a burst of energy and I caught her and said Nice work relay, as I passed. We were back in third place! I could smell the finish line. That last climb up the road into Deerhurst just about killed me. I actually slowed down to a shuffle up that hill. It was horrible. Once I made the turn onto that road, I knew I was almost home free. I was going to leave everything I had left out on the course. I chased down two guys as we made our way down hill. I could see the crowds around the entrance to the finishing chute. Then I saw G, Kiki and a few other familiar faces. G was yelling at me to chase down the guy in front of me as he was apparently a relay guy. I didn't think so but I pushed the pace anyway. My lungs were burning. I made my way around the finishing chute. An older gentleman saw me coming and sprinted hard to the line. He crossed just in front of me. I glanced down at my Garmin and saw 1:38:45. WHEW. I wasn't sure if I'd make it in under 1:40 with the way I was feeling around the 18km mark.
I collected the team medals and then went to get our shirts and hats and was greeted by Irina who congratulated me. It's always nice to see her smiling face. G and Kiki made their way into the finishing area, G grabbed himself an Erdinger alcohol free beer but I took a pass. I wanted water. And a shower. I got both, courtesy of the lovely Margaret Menzel who had a condo that she was staying right at Deerhurst. After I showered, we went off to get some food and G admitted that he ended up having a lot of fun that weekend. I don't know that I'll be able to convince him to do another relay any time soon but at least I know it's still a possibility at some point in the future, ha ha.
I checked the results and the guy that blew by me like I was standing still ran a 1:19 half. 1:19!!! On those hills. Seriously.
It turned out to be a super fun weekend. Unfortunately we weren't able to stick around for the awards so we didn't get any hardware, which was a bit of a bummer. Doing the run leg of that race has officially affirmed that I have ZERO desire to do the entire thing.
This Sunday I'm racing in Bala Falls again. Hopefully it doesn't take me almost 3 weeks to get THAT race report up!