This past weekend two of my very favorite races happened - Ironman Wisconsin and Pumpkinman Half Ironman. Two very different feels - one an Ironman branded race that has all the Ironman bells and whistles, and the other - a local race with plenty of it's own special touches that has an awesome, grassroots feel to it.
Ironman Wisconsin was originally on the docket, but, as discussed in my last blog entry, axed after I caught the plague.
The plague eventually went away and I got back to a tiny bit of training and so, my new light at the end of the tunnel became Pumpkinman. A full distance race didn't seem like a great idea but a half distance race was doable and could make for a great training day/reintroduction into going hard. If you can't do one of your favorite races, well why not do the other!
Luckily, Kat, the Pumpkinman race director, was kind enough to allow me into the race last minute. And right there is one of the best parts of Pumpkinman. It's the kind of race where everyone knows the race director and she's there cheering you up the (nasty) hill from the water to transition and she's there to give you a hug at the end of the day and she's...well, she's just everywhere. For every last participant.
The race itself got a little crazy. It started well with a solid (for me) swim. I spent the first loop of the 2 loop course SPRINTING to keep on some feet I had found (elite men and women start together so I had some feet to choose from!). Then on the second loop those feet either slowed down or I finally caught my breath, and it started to feel easier. We exited the water in just under 28 minutes (27:53 to be exact, for me) and I was pretty pumped. That was about a minute faster than last year. There is no doubt in my mind that I'm swimming better than I ever have, but I have a pretty hard time translating that into open water swim prowess in races. It's a matter of finding feet (which is often not an easy task in the small women's pro fields) and being able to handle the significant oxygen debt from the fast early pace, until the pace slows a little. Anyway, swim was good. Next up bike.
Bike, not so good. Actually, I'm not sure how it was. My power meter was not working right and so I was trying to go off feel and HR. I'm not that good at that. Actually, I think the real problem was a significant lack of bike fitness. I felt great for about an hour, then the last 1:25 or so felt not so great. And long. Like really long. HA! I kept pedaling though and eventually ended up in T2. I biked a good 6 minutes slower than last year but that wasn't surprising. I was ON FIRE last year on my bike at this time. Now, not so much. But you have to (re)start somewhere so after yesterday's ride, I'm one small step closer.
I started off on the run feeling pretty good. I was running a tempo-ish pace that was eventually going to feel hard (probably) but that felt very comfortable at the time. But then things got crazy. First, I heard the men's lead biker tell my lead biker that they weren't allowing anyone else on the run course as there was a BIG storm coming. Huh, it didn't even really look dark anywhere? That was around mile 3. By mile 3.5, I was not questioning whether a storm was coming because I was all of a sudden in the middle of it. Holy. Cats.
It got nasty fast. Wind, hail, branches/limbs/trees coming down everywhere. My lead biker and I continued on. I was mostly thinking how glad I was that I was running and thinking about the poor people on their bikes still. I made it to about 4.5 miles when a police cruiser flagged me down and told me to get in. Race was stopped, everyone was to get off the course ASAP. He was there to give me a ride back to transition.
YIKES!!! I pretty happily hopped in the back seat of his car. Of course I wanted to finish the race but it was insanity out there and didn't feel that safe. I certainly didn't expect to end my day in the back of a police car (he turned his siren on and everything! fun!!) but it was the right call on Kat's part. Safety first. I think everyone agreed.
As luck would have it, the storm really only lasted 20-30 minutes and then the sun came out and the weather was brilliant! This only meant that we could still have the awesome turkey dinner (Pumpkinman is FAMOUS for their post race meal!) and the awards and end the day on a great note.
Takeaways? Pumpkinman is awesome. My cycling needs some work. Half Ironman distance races should always end with 4.5 mile runs (not even sore today!). Police car rides WITH siren included are super fun...assuming you aren't going to jail in it... And I'm super happy to be back on the up and up in terms of health. Feels good to ask my body to do something and it (kinda) listens.
HUGE thanks to Kat, all the wonderful volunteers who stuck around in the bad, bad weather to make sure all the athletes safely made it to transition and to my travel mate Lauren that raced her way into 3rd and then rescued my bike while I was riding around in the cop car!
Next up - a 4 mile running race this weekend! I ONLY have to bring running shoes! :)
|This podium is made up of Wayland Masters swimmers. And we were all at practice this morning (the day after the race) too! Big congrats to Kim and Lauren. Always a pleasure racing these women!|
|You get to start Thanksgiving early if you race Pumpkinman. I was quite concerned the storm was going to mean no awesome post race meal but of course, that was an empty worry. Meal. Was. Awesome.|
|And then I headed home to Boston, which is really starting to feel like home. (notice the perfectly sunny skies after the storm - there has to be a lesson in that somewhere...)|