Yesterday was my final (5th) and longest (olympic) tri of the season. When I was planning my races, this was to be my "A" race, hopefully my best of the year. But as happens so many times, the best laid plans don't always work out.
I have been having major problems with my right piriformis, which in turn affects my hip, glute and hamstrings. But the hip/piriformis is by far the most troubling. It's something I have dealt with on and off for several years. It was even a little bit of a problem last year, but I don't remember it bothering me as much as this year. Maybe because I raced more often this year, as opposed to less but longer races last year.
Anyway, it was really bothering me on Thursday and Friday, so much that I contemplated not racing on Saturday. But, I knew I would be able to complete the race, so I decided I would head up there and try.
Waking up at 4:00 a.m., while not something I look forward to, is doable. But for this and one other race, wake up was 3 a.m. It's about a two hour drive to Niles, and they are on eastern time, so we also lose an hour. The race started at 7:30 our time.
Jerry drove, and we had a couple blips on the way there--we've been there 10 times, but still managed to miss a couple turns. We arrived about 15 minutes later than planned. I pre-registered, but packet pick up was a little crazy. There is race day registration, which adds to the chaos. They were also having a super sprint race in addition to the olympic, which means a lot of first time racers. I ended up "racking" my bike next to the garage building in the transition area (which is behind the fire station). It actually worked out nice, since I always seem to have trouble with those racks (me and my bike are small in height). Anyway, after a lot of crazy pre-race issues, the olympic race started--men in the first two waves, all women and relays in the third wave. The super sprint followed the olympic racers.
I wore my wet suit, and for the most part had a pretty uneventful swim. Sighting is hard on the way in because the sun is right in our faces, but I got out of the water in about 31 minutes. Not my best or worst time, but I was OK with it.
Coming out of T1 some young lady ran into me when I was mounting my bike. She felt really bad, I told her no worries, things happen. Have a good ride. The bike course is challenging--very little flat, mostly rolling with two tougher hills, one of which I had to get out of my saddle. I knew I wasn't riding as fast as I could--in fact, the first seven miles were really hard. I just wasn't feeling good. I realized later I had nobody to ride with to push me. I passed quite a few people, but no really good, fast riders. The last time I did this race I set a bike PR, and I was riding with a 35 year old woman for about 20 of the 25 miles (I dropped her at the big hill). I started feeling better after I had my gels around mile 11. I'm sure I negative split the course and what's funny is the two big hills are on the way back. I passed a 28 year old girl going up the hill--found out later she finished 2nd overall woman. (Our ages were marked on our calves.)
My bike time was really bad--somewhere between 1:14 and 1:15. (The race was not chipped time, so the splits are not really accurate as they include transition.) My time on the course in '07 was 1:09. Yikes, to say I was disappointed is an understatement. Plus, at Evergreen I rode 1:12. Oh well, it was time for the run.
As I was running out of transition, a lady passed me who I recognized--I remember her passing me in 2006 in the last mile of the run to finish 1st in our age group. Well, I figured if I was lucky I would get 2nd again this year, provided none of the others in my age group passed me on the run. I had no idea how many ladies there were, but I knew it wasn't a lot. (Turned out to be 5, I think.)
I had the worst 6.2 mile run of the entire year--I'm talking about since January, outside, treadmills, you name it. My stomach was fine--but my butt really hurt every time I took a step. At mile 2, I really wanted to stop. But, I knew I could finish. My original goal was to do under 2:50 (my time in 2007 was 2:39). After four miles, I knew this was not happening, so I decided under 3 hours would be good. I felt a little better at mile five, and two 40+ guys passed me and commented on my cycling abilities. Now I thought I could break 2:55. Final time was 2:54:19. When I was in my 30's, I would have loved to break 3 hours. But now, well, I was very disappointed, but knew that I did the very best I could.
I have to admit I played a lot of mind games with myself on the run, something I rarely do. This race was more mental for me than any race I've done in the recent past.
Jerry informed me that the winner of my age group finished in 2:43. I wasn't surprised at her time, and I was happy that I finished second.
I spoke with Kathleen--she was the age group winner and she's only 53 so I'll have one year without her in my age group if I go there again--she was sooo nice. She's headed up to Canada to do a half iron race next weekend. It's really fun to talk with the "older" ladies because while they are competitive, they're also very gracious in both winning and not winning.
Turns out that the overall winner was a 49 year old--2:29. And that 28 year old I passed on the bike up the big hill at 20 miles took second overall. Third place was Kathleen--which meant they took her out of the AG awards and I got first place. Ha! How funny was that. They gave away really nice plaques that had a printout with our name and time on it. (Now I have to look at that crummy time for a while.)
Yesterday I realized that after the bike portion of the race, I was in second place of all the women. Yes, it was a small race, but still that is kind of exciting. However, that good thought is outweighed by how bad my run was. Oh well, there will be more races (I hope).
Another thing I try to keep in perspective is that there is a point in time when I won't always get better. I'm starting to think this is that time. Maybe if I can stay healthy and not injured I still have a PR in me, but those are big ifs right now. But all in all, I'm pretty happy with my season. I have some goals for next year--drop a few pounds (which will definitely be the most challenging) and do one or two halfs next year, hopefully something new.
For now, I'm going to enjoy some rest time, which means swimming, riding and lifting for fun. I think I'll rest from running until my hip is better.
Congratulations to everyone who raced this weekend, especially Waddler and Sharkie, who did amazing at their half iron race. You ladies ROCK!
Hope everyone is having a great Labor Day weekend.
Until next time--God bless!