Warning: There is a gross picture at the bottom of what my screwed up feet look like after all this racing. I was just going to post it at the top here because #realtalk, but trigger warning, you guys.
I raced Santa Cruz 70.3 (formerly Big Kahuna) yesterday, mostly because Steve was racing it and I’d already be there and I needed to get a big weekend in for Louisville in five weeks. But holy shit I wasn’t excited about it.
I was really not excited after we had a fog delay and stood around for an hour. Like, I don’t know how everyone else’s pre-race pumping-up goes, but mine basically peaks to a frenzy until I can barely get to the start without throwing up, and then when instead of starting we stood around for an hour chatting, well, it crashed hard.
Ultimately, we swam 750m or so into the fog instead. It looked like this (except we were women):
Shortening the swim from 28 minutes to 12 minutes shouldn’t have drastically changed everything for a 4+ hour race, but it did.
Everyone swam fast and furious all-out, vaguely towards where we felt like there should be a buoy. I actually felt OK about it — ‘just swim all out until someone tells you to change directions’ feels like a Hillary instruction — except for the getting kicked in the face part. (Today, I literally thought, ‘Huh, why do I have a cut by my eye? Oh, right.’) And then we had to run the 1/3-mile to transition and, while I was still trying to catch my breath, I lost 30 seconds in that run to the eventual 1st and 2nd place women. Basically, it was insane.
It let up some on the bike, but not really, because everyone was closer together than usual, so everyone went harder than they should have to keep it that way. I get really stressed about legal bike groups because I’m convinced I’m going to screw up and who even knows how far 12 meters is exactly and I don’t want to get a penalty and have everyone hate me. File this under ‘things I need to work on.’ My goal was actually to bike hard, just go for it. And I did, more or less. I went back and forth with a few girls, eventually fell off. Rode for a long time back into the wind by myself, re-caught some girls. Steve caught me (from his rolling start like 13 minutes back) as we turned back into the neighborhood near the end.
And then I only had to run 13 miles.
I don’t have any photos because I am not famous, so people don’t just take high-resolution pictures of me. You’ll have to use your imagination instead.
The legs didn’t feel good, and I was worried I had over-biked. Then I ate a gel. Every time I thought, ‘this is awful,’ I ate a gel, and I never really crashed as hard as I thought I would. It’s not as easy a run course as you think it will be, hillier than it seems and pretty rocky trails in the middle (also pretty — biking back along the coast through the fog I did *once* look over and think, ‘huh, it is pretty I guess’). I kept running and thinking, ‘if you just keep up this pace you’ll catch people,’ and I caught two girls. Then I thought, ‘there’s no one near you, just hold it together,’ which turned out to not be true at all — there were quite a few girls within the couple minutes ahead and behind me. (#racing) My legs started to do the buckling and giving out thing the last few miles, but I only had three miles left not 12, so put that under the pro column in the 70.3 v. Ironman debate. I got caught by one person when I could see the finish down on the beach, and then I ended up in 10th.
It’s hard to say if this was better or worse or the same as other races. We’ve gotten to the point where it’s rare for something to be definitively better or worse — courses are different, fields are different, days are different. I felt good about it though. I went all out. I’m getting closer. I think. Obviously, I think that, or I wouldn’t keep at it. And I feel unbelievably terrible today, so bad, so that seems like I must have buried myself. Weird how you never know while you’re in the middle of it. You never know.
The one thing that doesn’t seem to have held up to the racing so close after an Ironman is my feet. Toenails are coming completely out of their beds, and the ones that aren’t are dead anyway and just going to catch on something and rip out painfully at some point. This is what racing this much looks like: