DUDE….this race is not easy. Where to even begin?
I wanted to smash it. I trained hard after recovering from CDA. I got uber Grr. I kept to myself, I aimed to hurt in my training. I put in big mileage, hard mileage. I wanted to be good. I tapered, watched what I ate, rested, blah blah blah…etc etc et.
I lined up ready to belt it out. Be aggressive, get some feet, go big. I had my Prerace, I did my two mile warm up, it all went as planned. I tried to not line up next to my teammate Katy even though we were chatting at the start. Knowing she’s a 25 minute swimmer those were not feet I could hang onto and if I tried then KABOOM would happen by the first yellow buoy.
The start was rough. I got banged around but soon enough I got some feet and I felt like they were faster than I would swim alone. The resevour was so brown that I would hit her feet and still couldn’t see them. I couldn’t even see my hands the entire swim. But I didn’t let that stop me. I sighted lots and made it my only goal to keep those feet. Sometimes it required some sprinting to catch back up to them, but she generally led me through the various waves ahead of us and delivered me on the beach with one of my best swims in a 70.3….31:08.
Troy yelled at me that Katy was 5 minutes up. I ran through T1, did all the usual tasks and got out of there. I could hear PIC Michelle at the mount line yelling that I had a good swim. That really helped to hear that. When a swimmer tells you that you swam well, it sticks. T1=1:52
Off and onto the bike, I went for it. Hard hard hard. If I was going to make time up on Katy, who I knew was the AG leader, I had to go hard. I rode about as best as I could have. The watts were high, the effort was high. I was trying out a new nutrition strategy. I had skratch labs in my water bottles and an EFS liquid shot on my top tube. I got through all of my nutrition by the end of the ride and while I watched the watts come down towards the end, I felt solid about the effort.
Towards the end of the first lap there is an out and back which takes me about 3 minutes. That first lap I was hoping to see Katy there, but nope, she was still more than 3 minutes up. Second lap, same thing, no Katy. About that time I realized that she had probably figured out that she can bike much harder than she has been in the past, and she was long gone. The girl is a stud swimmer and a stud runner, so I knew it was just a matter of time before she realized that her engine to ride hard is already in her. I think she’s clear on that now.
I felt really good about my effort and was happy to bike several minutes faster than last years race. I feel like my bike is where it needs to be right now and that I’ve seen some good progress this year. 2:25:14
Coming in off the bike, I ran into transition and put my bike on the rack and then put my shoes on. Humm, that’s odd. My shoes are too small. Like really too small. Wait, these aren’t my shoes. Wait, this isn’t my number. Crap, I’m at the wrong spot. Off with the too tiny shoes, bike off the rack, go find correct rack, put on correct shoes, put bike back, and get out of there. Doh, major doh. T2 = 1:28
Off on the run, Troy told me Katy was 5 minutes up and I gave him the shoulder shrug which is the international sign for “There’s nothing I can do about that.” As I got into my run I could tell something was not right. I was not feeling well. Now, I know that most people don’t feel well on the run most of the time, and I’m right there with you, but I felt just very very “not good.”
My legs were heavy, I couldn’t get my feet cruising, I was just lead. Did I bike too hard? Did I not rest enough last week? These things are going through my head, but I just feel like lead. Every step was effort, but I was talking nicely to myself and just telling myself to “fight.” I said Sonja FIGHT, just FIGHT and you will be okay.
Most of these miles run together. I remember seeing Jen at the out and back. If people in my AG had passed me here I wouldn’t have known it. I was hurting, and my ear kept popping. Like every 5 seconds I had to clear the ear. Then I tried to shake water out of it like I do when I get out of the pool and I almost fell down. I got really woozy dizzy after that and said to myself “No more shaking your head.”
Somewhere in the first lap I remember feeling like my chest was restricted. I tried to pull on my kit top to loosen it up but it just felt so restricting. I race okay in this top when I am at race weight, but I’m not right now and it was too tight. So I took it off. It felt so good, so I removed my HR strap as well. I shoved them down the back of my shorts. That was a good move for me. Also a good reminder that it’s time to start getting a bit more lean.
Next thing I remember was going by Troy at the end of the lap. I just remember telling him “I don’t think I’m going to make it.” Writing it now sounds silly. This coming from a girl who’s run 100 miles in one day. Only 6.5 miles to go and I don’t think I’m going to make it. I was hurting so bad. At about mile 8 I caught up to Jen. From here on out she pretty much got me through the rest of the run.
I told her I felt horrible and she talked me through it. I just focused on staying next to her, she did the talking, and I grunted a little bit. She gave me some salt pills which I have never taken. They helped a lot. And then I started on the Coke. That helped too. The second loop was a lot better than the first but ONLY and I mean ONLY because of Jen.
On the second to last aid station Jen said “I really need this aid” and we got separated. I was still pretty out of it, but I knew I only had 15 minutes or so of pain. I just wanted to get it done at that point.
So I held on. All I could say was “hold on” over and over. (Finish line smile for Troy)
Jen finished right behind me and she told me to go to medical. I said “I’ll come around.” That’s what I always say. But several hours later I still hadn’t come around and so I went to medical where I drank cup after cup after cup of cold nuun (like 14 of them). Then I came back to life. No IV, boo ya. A big thanks to KE for the tent. I did some serious time in the tent trying to come around after the race. That tent was a life saver for me.
My effort was good for 2nd place in the AG…with a 1:38:37 run. One of my worst runs ever, if not ever. My total time was 4:38:19 which was about 3 minutes faster than last year.
A huge congrats to Katy who won the AG and the amateur title in 4:22. Yup, I got spanked nice and good…so good my ass is black and blue. 16 minutes…double that and I now expect Katy to go under 9:28 at Kona….look out for her!!
Obviously I couldn’t have good days or tough days without the help of my sponsors. Kompetitive Edge, PunkRock Racing, Quintana Roo, and First Endurance. I learned that First Endurance MUST be in my bottles for all races. The electrolyte content can’t be made up for with other products. It’s just what works for me. And an especially huge thanks to Jen. She was my guiding light out there and I can’t thank her enough for her support.
So, I have some work to do on my run. It was a disaster out there. I was talking to Dirk about my day and he was like “Some days are like that” and it’s true. I am grateful for 2/3 of a great race, and 1/3 of a tenacious race. Every time I make it to the finish line I am overjoyed (see above photo for evidence), every time. Many times out there I thought about Michelle who wasn’t on the start line and I was grateful for every painful step. I can run, I can walk, my body works, I am lucky, bottom line.