Saturday RACE DAY!
|Profile of todays bike ride|
The alarm went off super early today as the race start was at 5:30 instead of the normal 7 am due to the extreme difficult nature of the course. I put my bags and nutrition together and headed down. The race start was going to take place before sunrise so the far swim buoy was all lit up. As soon as the gun went off all the kayaker light safety flares to light the way. It was a strange feeling swimming in the dark. I couldn't see anything in the water and I couldn’t see the swimmers around me. I only knew someone was there if I bumped into them. I would go long stretched without hitting anyone and when I would make contact with someone it would startle me. After the first loop run got out of the water and ran along a dock before getting back in. The sun was starting to come up as I head out for my second lap. It still wasn’t light out but it also wasn’t pitch black. On my second lap I came up on what my have been Frances Olympic gold medalist breast stroker..... or I'm not that good of a swimmer.... He was going just as fast as I was. Initially I thought he was just taking a break from freestyle, but he wasn't ;( I could now just barely see my hands and I could see white bubbles from my hand entry. I was like I was falling through space and the white bubbles were the stars..... it was a pretty cool swim. Both my laps were consistent and I exited the water in 1 hour and 13 minutes. It was now off the the 200 K bike ride with well over 15 000 feet of climbing.
|Far buoy all lite up|
|Taking off into the dark waters|
I headed out on the bike expecting about an 8 hour ride time.... around 2 hours longer than my normal ride. The hills started almost immediately and they just never let up. I made the first climb and thought I would have passed more people with how far back I was in the swim. I only passed a few and was passed by a different few. The next stretch was some of the scariest of the whole day. It was steep switchbacks on rough roads and sections of gravel. Anyone who knows me knows I am a decent climber but a complete pansy (I call it being cautious) on the downhills. This decent was like my worst nightmare. I was slow, really slow. I think most of the field past me on this section early in the race. It was also freezing and it takes me forever to warm up after I get really cold like this. It is still very early morning and this side of this mountain is still in the shade. I made it to the bottom and was grateful to be climbing again. Here is a video of my day on the bike. Use this LINK to Facebook
The climbs seems to go on and on and on. Later in the day I was like Jeckle and hyde. When I was climbing I wanted to be descending and when I was descending I wanted to be climbing. Good thing there was plenty of both. If you could descend well you could make up some time from all the slow goings on the climbs... but when you descend like a four year old girl on a tricycle it makes for a long day. I kept thinking how well my friend Jess would be as he loves to bomb down the mountainsides. Up and down, up and down I went ALL damn day. 4 hours, 5 hours, 6 hours, 7 hours..... I wasn’t going anywhere fast. The good news is I had tons of time to take in all the views. The Pyrenees were incredible. This is one race I would love to put together a tough group of friends and come back to experience on not so tired and time crunched schedule. As per usual the video just doesn’t do it justice. It was cool to ride the same road as some of the Big Tour De France names of the past. You could see the names of the great (dopers) written on the roads on the way up up up! Super cool moment for me!
|This is an awesome shot of she of the climbs|
8 hours, 9 hours..... come on! No way I thought this ride was going to take me this long. I took in cookies and candies at the air stations but relied mostly on my bottles. I eventually burned through all my bottles, both special needs bags and was past the last aid station and was out of water. I had fueled perfectly to this point but was now out of liquid. I knew I had about 30 minutes left. I just hoped that I had enough in me to get through the end of this ride. The last section was fairly flat but as luck would have it was right into a nasty headwind, and why wouldn’t we be! 9 hours and 53 minutes later I once again found the transition area. This ride was one of the best experiences I have had on a bike. I felt strong throughout and feel that I paced well for a 10 hour ride knowing I had a tough marathon to run and another Ironman to take down in a weeks time.
|Not me shown, but this is the top of the monster!|
I made a quick changed, grabbed my fuel belt and headed out onto the run. The run course started out flat through the treed camping area, out aver the dam crossing the lake and then up the first big climb of the day (which we would end up doing this stretch two times.) We ran back past transition and then up up up into town. I was feeling ok fueling with my liquid shot along the way. I had to walk some of the hills and wasn’t interested in really pushing the pace after the already long day of work. I was in preservation mode with long term big picture in mind. I kept running, but nothing impressive. Once through town we had a MONSTER climb which I walked every step and then down the back side down to another lake and the far turn around (we only had to do this section once, thank goodness). So back up from the lake I went and then down the monster. We ran through town and back to the camping area and transition and back over the dam. On my way back to transition I missed a turn and added about 1 km to my run. Just what I needed after such a big day!
|The view from the run... Transition is down by the water and we ran around to the other side. Legit marathon here boys.|
|Swim Course the day before|
Steady steady I kept telling myself. One foot in front of the other... come on now. I didn’t bonk and I ran it all the way home. In the last 5 km I passed back a few athletes who had passed me earlier in the day. Today was truly a full test of endurance, both mentally and certainly physically. You had to have and execute your nutrition to perfection. With no tummy troubles and the entire day done on First Endurance products I truly think I have found an awesome product that really works for me! I crossed the finish line in sixteen hours and 35 minutes. What an amazing day. The winner came through in just over thirteen hours and with no real cut off the last finisher of the day managed to come in right around 20 hours. All day long I was cheered on with the chants of ALEZ ALEZ and Alez courage. (go go and go with courage)
|So happy with my finish I did a little dance on stage.|
I felt awesome and was super proud of my day! I enjoyed a post race sandwhich and an awesome massage. It was way later than I had anticipated and with the help of race director Peter and his English speaking girlfriend Molly I secured a couch to sleep on in the referee’s hotel. Much needed and definitely appreciated .