As I sit here at the Pittsburgh airport, tired legs and all, I have to say this is a crazy day for me, not only with racing, but with trying to get ready to leave all in the same day! I didn't want to miss the race though so some things just can't be helped.
I only have a few minutes before boarding so I'll give it a good shot!
Our day started out at 4:45am when the alarm brought our nice slumbers to an end. We headed down to transition arriving at 5:35 or so and everything went very smoothly! This is a small race so transition is rather small. I thought this would HELP me find my stuff...more on this later.
Once set up, I did my usual warm up (10 mins or so of running) and since this was a NON-wetsuit legal race (I guess this warm weather brought the water temp up around 82 degrees) I got into my skinsuit which Kyle kept yelling around and telling people "hey..look at this girl here, she's putting on a wetsuit" He even had his camera and interviewed me as I was trying to get this SKIN tight thing over my body. I think it shunk 4 sizes since St. Croix. It felt soooo small! Not sure what that was about... too many cookies probably. Anyway, the swim start was crazy as usual and there were probably around 150 women or so in the heat (all age brackets). I felt I sighted pretty well up to the first yellow bouy where we were to turn around and head down stream the opposite way to the finish. Everything was going very well, although I never seem to find any feet to hang on to. The best I can do is try to avoid the slower men in the other heats before us as I make my way through the masses! At one point it started to pour and I thought, "huh.. this is different. I'm already wet so o well!" I came out of the water feeling decent and like I might (no clue, even now) had a good swim. The reason I have no clue is because my watch decided to change to some other setting right before the race and I couldn't get it back to the right mode to have stop watch & heart rate. I chose heart rate.
I came out of the water to a VERY long transition run uphill and then found my bike and headed out. It was very slick on the roads and I was worried about this particular course in the rain. It is all uphill in the HOV lane out of Pitt and then a very fast downhill on the way back, you do two loops. I was heading up hill and passing both men and women with my heart rate in the 170's. My speed was low - 14.0 or 15.0 mph, but I was passing every other minute so it kept things interesting. I like hills so I just tried to keep my turnover high and keep moving.
On the way down I hit a number of bumps and I noticed that I could hear my bike wayyyy... more than usual. I wasn't sure what was up, but I was having scary thoughts of how I put my bike wheels on myself and visions of the whole back wheel just disengaging while I was riding. The magnet seemed to not be on right in the front so it made a whomping sound every time it passed. There was definitely something going on with my back tire, but I thought it might just be rubbing or something, maybe I putt it a little too close to the bike frame when I locked it in... Ummm.. NO.. much worse. Didn't find out until after though!
I'm just rounding the stadium when I get passed by another women, I try to respond and feel like I am standing still. What is up I think, surely I should be able to at least keep her in sight!! My heart rate is climbing and I am wondering if I should just get off and check the bike. I decide against it, it seems to be working, nothing fell apart on the downhill, I'm sticking with it.
I head up the HOV lane again, working hard, but seeming to gain little ground on the passing women or the men in front of me. I work harder, I don't get much back. Doubts are filling my head about what kind of shape I am in, "maybe with no speed work I just don't have much in my legs, maybe I wasn't ready to race, I just felt like I was, but I wasn't." I just keep trucking but I saw at least 3 girls ahead of me at the first turn around during the first lap. Geezz.. lots of people up there to catch, but that's good, makes for a fun run.
Even going downhill, I'm pushing, but guys on huffys seem to be passing me easily, that's right, I said guys on huffys. Listen, I have nothing against, huffys. Heck! I think I even had a huffy in my younger years, and my bike isn't anything amazing, but it certainly should be keeping up with these guys WHILE I'm pedaling on a downhill!! I'm aero for the love!
As I pull into transition I am generally kind of out of it, but determined to get some people back on the run. Wait, I can't find my towel. I thought I was in the right row...I see Kyle on the side of transition (yes, 5 rows of transition and I can't find my stuff) and he's yelling, "right side, right side Kim!" I know I'm going to get the "rookie move" lecture after this race... yipppee.
Kyle also tells me I am 5 down so I "better run hard" as he gives me a perplexed look about why I biked so slowly! No time to explain now, on to running hard like he said! My legs felt rather good so I tried to push each mile and I ran past the first three women within the first 1.5 miles, I passed the 2nd place girl around the 3 mile mark and I could see how far back I was to first because it was a turnaround course. It was VERY hot and muggy, but I was determined to do as well as I could on the run to make up for the bike situation. I wasn't gaining on the first place women so I settled in to run the last mile hard and push it in. When I finished, I felt good that I had crossed the line with a good hard effort.
After the race was over I saw Kyle and we talked about what might be wrong with my bike, I explained that since I put it together myself, it could be any number of things! Finally, when I checked the bike out it didn't take me long to see the back tubluar on my 404 Zipp was flat as pancake. I thought "well, I guess that explains that!" Men around me were looking at what I was looking at and one said, well, I guess that answers it, you can ride on a flat tubular for 15 miles or so... I said, "yeah, in some cases." My wheet didn't appear to be damaged, but I'm going to take it in on Thursday to have someone check it out. I will also be getting new tires immediately. It was already on the docket, but I should have done it wayyyy before now!
All in all, it was a good day and nothing to complain about. I raced hard, overcame some adversity and I was thankful it didn't happen during a half ironman that I had to travel 7 hours to, and instead happened right at home in Pittsburgh during a small not as important race. My final time was 2:23 and I have no doubt I could have gone faster if I hadn't had a bike incidence. I had a huge cheering section from my fellow masters swimmers that weren't competing and it was AWESOME!! Thank you guys!! I kept feeling like a celebrity when I heard my name, it surprised me as I came out of the water and I almost feel over!
This week I'm in Philly for a food show and I just got done with my first 5 hour floor shift. It's a good thing I don't have a lot of training today because between the race & standing, my legs are not in great shape. Tonight, our Super Bakery party is on tap with 2000 of my closest friends... and a person dressed up a donut costume... are we weird, probably. I don't think you could pay me enough to stand in that thing all night talking out of the donut hat!