On Sunday morning, shuttle busses took us to the race start. In this race of 1200+ participants, women make up only about 10%. The reason I mention this is because the morning before the race, the athletes always have to make those port-o-potty (chemical toilet) stops. Well, at Ironman Brazil they have separate men and women port-o-pottys, so there was never much of a wait for me. What a nice way to start the race!It’s the little things that count!
We lined up at the beach for the start. A man next to me said, in broken English, that I should be ready to go. There is no national anthem, no countdown 3..2..1.. Just a horn. And right about that time -- the horn!! We were off and running down the beach into the water to swim. Yeah! The washing machine just hit spin cycle. Everyone was thrashing around like crazy, and South Americans have no personal space. The Americans in our hotel have been joking about it all week. Their idea of waiting in line is just to push up to the front. So the first part of the swim was really uncomfortable. I just told myself “this, too, shall pass”.
And it did. Things smoothed out and I got in a rhythm. The swim was shaped like an M, and we started at the right of the M and worked our way to the left. The first part of the M was longer than the second. We had a small section of running on the beach and I checked my watch -- 33 minutes, that’s good. The second loop of the swim would be shorter so I was on target.
Ken Glah said that the currents usually run with the swim, but not today. The current was very strong and becoming quite a problem. It was like swimming in an Endless Pool. I just told myself it was like biking into a headwind, I didn’t want to expend too much energy fighting it so I just tried to keep the effort steady and keep chipping away. Finally I made it to shore, out in 1:11. That second loop took me 38 minutes, not 20 something like I thought! A PW for me by far! Oh well, before the race my coach told me to not worry about the swim time, it could be fast or slow so I didn’t worry. Just movin’ on. I just hoped I wouldn’t set any more PW splits today!
The bike was two loops and really fun. Lots of flat sections, down in aero position, just hammering away. This is what triathletes love. That is why we spend so much time and energy on fast tri bikes and aero positioning , disk wheels and aero helmets. Put the head down and go. It was a blast. There were 2 significant hills that we went over out and back on each loop, but the hills were a nice change to sit up, put it in the small ring, and spin a bit or stand up for a stretch. There were also 14 - 180 degree U-turns -- kinda crazy. I had my nutrition divided up in three bottles -- 2 bottles were on my bike that had all the calories I needed, and one bottle at Special Needs in case I dropped a bottle. Well, coming back from the first loop I hit a bump, and off the bottle went. No worries, I stopped at Special Needs and got my reserve bottle. First time in a race that has ever happened, but I’m glad I was prepared.
I was off the bike in 5:35, not a PB but definitely close to it so I was pleased. Now it was time to run. This is the part I had been a little worried about. I haven’t been running pain free for about 3-4 weeks. Up until 2 days ago I was still feeling twinges of pain and limping a bit when I ran. I just hoped I could run the marathon. The first loop of the run had some steep hills, but not too long. It was easier to walk up them with long strides than run them, and I was walking up faster than anyone who was attempting to run them. The downhills were no fun at all either, and I gingerly ran down because I didn’t want to kill my quads for the rest of the run. A girl from my age group passed me at the 10K mark. UGH! I couldn’t stay with her and I didn’t want to blow up so I stuck to my plan.
Two shorter loops of 10.5 K to go then to the finish. There were no mile markers and I was a little confused trying to figure out the kilometer/mile conversion. This is not the time for complicated mental math. At this point in the race I wasn’t thinking too much, just putting one foot in front of the other, ticking off the miles, or kilometers, or whatever. Coming down the last mile stretch to the finish “portal” the sun was setting, and it was a beautiful sky with a few clouds, bright pink, orange and gold colors. I told Michal before the race that I wanted to finish in the daylight, so there was my challenge. Get down that road to the finish before the sun set. It was a great way to finish and I did it -- barely. Marathon time 3:55, a PR for the marathon split. Total time 10:50:23. Not a PR but it sure would have been without that long swim time. 4th in my age group. No Kona slot rolled down to me, but that’s the way life goes. I had a great race, and a great experience. Brazil was a blast.