In 2008, I was part of a relay team, which was *supposed* to be me (swimmer), DH (biker) and my BIL (runner). My BIL got injured and couldn’t run, so I took up the torch and became both the swimmer and the runner. It was a hot day and I was undertrained for the run, so I was hurting big time by the time it was over. I swore swore swore! that I would NOT do that again…and yet, come Oct 1, I was chomping at the bit to sign up and this time it was for the whole thing…
Over the fall/winter months I was battling hamstring/Achilles issues so had to stop running for a few months. In addition, my shoulder started to hurt and was finally diagnosed w/a partial RC tear and a labral tear. Yeesh. But I worked with my doctor and PT (who ended up being my coach) and started healing up. I was able to swim w/o pain and started running again in February. I was building up and following my plan and things were feeling good. Hamstring was doing well, shoulder was feeling better (might have something to do w/the PT and the two shots I had, but I digress). Unfortunately, I re-injured my leg during a 5K race at work and it would plague me the rest of the summer. It now became a *game* to manage the injury and still get adequate training in so that I could finish the run.
I was fortunate that Suzy and Cheryl took the plunge with me and we were in constant touch throughout the training process – offering support, tips and encouragement – not to mention the great training rides we were able to do together. Thanks ladies!!
Felt good to taper – while my hamstring felt better, the pain had now moved to the outside of my leg and was affecting my ITB, so I really needed to rest and pray that my leg would hold up during the race…I was diagnosed with bursitis on the outside bursa so once the race was over, it would be time for rest, recovery and PT.
My kids were signed up for the Timberkids Adventure Run, so they were excited and ready to go. We met up with Suzy and Cake at Suzy’s house and started the caravan up to NH on Friday afternoon. We decided to drive the new part of the bike course, to get a feel for it. They had added a *jog* to the return portion of the course, to avoid crappy pavement, but in doing so, the RD added another short hill around mile 40 or so. Yeesh.
We went straight to the Gunstock Inn to unload and clean up the bikes before we headed up the street to the Expo for packet pick up. We dodged most of the rain on the way up, but a few T-storms came through while at the expo and everyone was huddled in the vendor tents. Packet pick up went well and we did some shopping. Headed out for dinner and the wait at various places was insane (50+ minutes) but at that point, we decided to wait it out and had some great food and service at T-bones.
I can’t say enough good things about the Gunstock Inn – the Inn keepers are wonderful hosts and are very accommodating to the racers. They provided us with late check out on Sunday and had the breakfast set up prior to 5:00 am on both days so we could fuel up before heading over to the park. Chrissie Wellington and the Hoyts stayed at the Inn along with a slew of other race support personnel.
Saturday am I took the kids to the pool and organized my bike stuff so that I wouldn’t have to take a ton of things with me come race morning. We headed over to the park for the kids race in the early afternoon and to rack the bikes. The kids had a great time. Rachel was a bit nervous not knowing what an *adventure* run would be like, but she loved it and wanted to do it again after it was done. It was low key, no times and the kids went off every 3-5 seconds. There were kids of ALL ages, from 3 year olds to 13 year olds. So cool to see them this excited and having a good time. They had goodie bags for the kids, but underestimated race day sign up and only had enough for the first 130 kids. Whoops. We headed back to the Inn to relax while Suzy and Cake went back to the Expo to meet up with some other friends. We met back up with them at the carbo load dinner and stayed for the race meeting which covered changes to the race course, number of aid stations and drafting rules. Nothing new, but always good to hear it again.
We met up with our respective husbands at the Inn and my family and I headed over to a friend’s house for a little while. They just bought a condo not 10 minutes from the race site…hmmm, something to keep in the back of my mind. Back at the hotel, finished up some last minute packing and crashed.
Met up with Cheryl and Tom at breakfast and caught the shuttle over to the race venue. Saw Bob, Suzy’s DH, at his volunteer spot. Uncovered my bike and started to set up transition…pulled my sneakers out and CRAP! Left my orthotics in the room! Panic sets in…how the heck am I going to run now?!?! Grabbed Bob and called the Inn, asked them to put a note under the door for DH to bring them with him. Ok, deep breath, hopefully this will work out. Back at my bike, continue to set up and see Colette (another WW). She’s here from NY racing with a group called “Moms in Motion”. Snap a quick picture and a hug and we go back to setting up. Still a bit panicked about my orthotics, so ask Bob to call my husband at 7:30 and tell him to get my orthotics and give them to a volunteer who can then put them at my transition spot. Best I can do, keeping fingers crossed that it works out.
Now reality is hitting and I am starting to feel sick…race is delayed due to an accident on the bike route…so it gives us a bit more time. Meet up with Suzy and get our wetsuits on…head over to see Cheryl, a few more photos and we head over to the swim start. Get a bit of a warm up, but the race is ready to go, so we have to get in line to cross the mats. Once in the water, high five Suzy and get towards the front on the right. We don’t quite hear the “Go Go Go”, so they have to repeat it, and then we’re off. Get going but start having a small panic attack, can’t breathe, wetsuit feels tight and generally I start to freak (ok so *this* is new). Breaststroke for a bit to calm down, get mental with myself and everything calms down. Get back into the groove and am able get my face back in the water and continue. Use my coach’s advice to not sight too often and look for feet and caps. Works pretty good until I almost swim into a kayak (again!), but keep doing this and it works for the rest of the swim. I concentrated on form as I didn’t want my back to tighten up (does that for some reason) and stayed relax. Swam until I hit bottom and I was up and out. Swim: 38:43
Up the ramp and over to the wetsuit strippers…that was cool! Ran over to my bike and decided to throw socks on, grabbed my glassed and helmet and I was ready…I was right near bike in/out, so that worked out well. T1: 3:16
Out on the bike, I remembered the mantra that Mike (coach) told me…”Bike so you can run”…”take it easy on the 1st 10 miles, cuz what you do on those miles will come back to haunt you later on in the race”. In the middle ring and spinning up the hills…kept cadence high (85+) and was happy to be on the bike. Stomach wasn’t too happy though (lake water?), but I knew I had to start eating and drinking otherwise I would be in big trouble. My stomach really didn’t settle down until after the 20 mile mark or so and then I was fine. Weird. At mile 10 is the “Marsh Hill Monstah” and everyone slows down on that – got in my small ring and spun away as best I could. Devil Lady from Mooseman was there and so was the camera(s). Yeesh. This hill is the worst on the course, so it’s nice to get it done and over with. Had fun on the rollers and then out onto Rte 106 for the long out and back (~32 miles or so)…about that time, my back decides to tighten up and so does the outside of my right leg (dang it!), but I keep to the plan, high cadence and no heavy pedals. Relaxed into my aerobars and that seemed to relieve the back, so kept that in mind. Fortunately, we had cloud cover; otherwise, it would have been brutal out there. Hit the turnaround point and just for yuks, decide to check out my speed, 18 mph, whoops! Started the return trip, continued w/my nutrition and high cadence. Started looking for Suzy and Cake, but never saw them. Saw quite a few people w/flats, and prayed that I didn’t get one either. People were very friendly and we all joked about the “police” on the course and make sure you pass in 20 secs, etc…one thing though, not enough people (mostly guys) would say “on your left” before they passed and quite a few flew by with little margin, so that if I had swerved to avoid something, there would have been a collision. Rant over.
Enter the new section of the course, and the pavement is saweet! But dang it another short steep-ish hill…right about then, I would have liked the potholes! Lol. Down shift and dang it! drop my chain…get off, get it fixed and up I go. Back out on 106 for a short time and then onto Leavitt back to 107, this time *down* the Monstah – yikes! Fun but scary at the same time – hit 42+ mph and guys were PASSING me! Turn onto Frank Bean and start that small hill. Climbing to the left of one person, who moves to his left to avoid something, so I move left, only to find that I am blocked by a guy from behind who is starting to pass me, I try to move back but there is nowhere to go. Can’t slow down or speed up to get out of there, so get crowded out and pushed over. Slam right down on my left side, with my elbow taking the brunt of it. Several strings of curses go thru my head and some out of my mouth and I just stand there trying to regroup and take stock. A volunteer tries to come over, but there are so many riders climbing right now, that he can’t get through. Everyone is asking if I am ok, and I just stand there (tears are flowing now) and nod my head. Haven’t a clue how long I am standing there, but finally get it back together and check my bike – looks ok, but dropped my chain again, so fix that, get in an easy gear and find a place to blend back in. My elbow is a mess, stinging like crazy, glasses are fogged (from the tears) and yet all I can think about is get going and get this time back. Fortunately, there is only ~8 miles left and those go by uneventful. Bike: 3:16:23
Into T2, praying orthotics made it – don’t see them at first, but then find that they are in my sneakers…thank you!!! Throw on my fuel belt, some chapstick and out I go. I am on the opposite side of the run out and the chute is long too…so it feels like I ran ~1/4 mile just to hit the timing mat! T2: 2:28
Mike told me to run out of transition and then walk once I hit the road to let my body regroup and get acclimated. Did just that and took it easy. My goal was to do the run in ~2:15 or so based on my last long run and thought that would be feasible. Walked a few minutes and everything seemed good, so started running. I kept everything to 6/1 intervals and it was working. I drank at every walk interval and at every aid station (there were TONS!). It’s a two loop out and back course, so you see people everywhere. It had started to warm up and had gotten humid…joy. But stuck with the plan and finished the 1st loop feeling good. High fived the family as I went by – so cool to see the kids and DH. Started on the second loop, up an incline and all hell broke loose. The heat finally hit me…so slowed down and decided to walk up the majority of the incline and then start again. ITB was holding up, but was starting to act funny, so I knew the downhill’s would be dicey. GREAT – NOT! Now I was in management mode and kept plugging along. Grabbed some snow from the aid station courtesy of the local hockey team and poured water over my head – oh much better…able to run on the flats and in the shade, but the hills, it wasn’t happening. Saw Suzy, Tom and Colette several times – they were all looking great!! Hit the turn around and got some inspiration from the locals – they were great and included and acapella group. Very cool – got squirted by some kids and hosed down by others and was able to pick it up again to my 6/1. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long and was walking more than I was running, but at this point I was in double digits and on the home stretch. Was able to run the last mile or so and was never so happy to turn into that finishers chute! High fived the kids again and ran it in. Heard Cheryl in the chute and smiled (at least tried to). Run: 2:28:35
Overall time – 6:29:23 Mike had given me a goal time of 6:40 and I had a secret goal of 6:30 or better. Had I not imploded on the run, I would have even come close to 6:15.
I collected my finisher’s medal, cold wet towel (nice) and water bottle. Headed over to the med tent for my elbow and then went looking for Cheryl and my family. Cheryl looked good from her swim & bike and she was cheering everyone on and waiting for her husband, Tom. Found my family on the other side of transition and went and sat in the lake. It felt good, but wasn’t cold enough and I started to feel really crappy. All I wanted to do was lay down in the shade. DH and the kids helped me with my stuff and we headed out. I tried to find everyone to wish them well, but couldn’t and I was fading fast. I started to hurt everywhere and I knew I needed a shower and A/C bad. Kids were great and found me ice and cold water and that helped enough to get me back to the hotel. It took ~3 hours for me to feel good enough to eat anything.
Lesson learned – I am NOT a long distance runner!!
Overall a GREAT experience and a great race! Thanks go to Suzy and Cake for slapping me upside the head when I started whining, for being sounding boards and great training partners. Thanks ladies!