Monday, September 13, 2010

A Rush Of Blood.. To The Heart - Rev 3 Cedar Point

Do you ever feel like you are right where you are supposed to be? Like your heart is filled with so much happiness and joy it might just spill over....well...It's a pretty rare feeling, but when it does happen, it's pretty darn cool. I had one of those weekends at Rev 3 at Cedar Point's Half Ironman this weekend. The week before, once my body was finally done trying to fight off some virus, I was able to really relax and enjoy a small tiny little taper! I felt calm and relaxed. Best of all, I felt excited and ready to test myself at the half ironman distance again. I didn't feel any pressure to get some place or some time. I didn't even look up who was racing, I just decided to only worry about my heart rate, my nutrition and my pacing. Nothing else.

On top of it, I had a partner in crime with me, Kyle, so that was really fun. We celebrated five years of being married on Friday and then traveled to Cedar Point (a short three hour drive from Pittsburgh) to the race venue. Let me tell you something..

Rev 3 knows how to get it done. These people are ON top of it. Everything from start to finish was first class, easy, efficient and fun! Thanks Rev 3!!
I checked in my bike on a very windy overcast Saturday and we had a quiet dinner. It was perfect pre-race! I was hoping the wind calmed down a little on Sunday though. It was pretty rough out there on the water on Saturday. I didn't swim, but that's just what I heard!
The Full Rev waves were going off at 7:30am, and the Half Rev ladies weren't until 8:40 (really late for a half ironman!). I thought about sleeping in, but once the first door slammed in the morning at our hotel, I was up and awake - 5:00am. Time to race! Transition was dark!
Finally I met up with some friends - Rich & Jim are from my YMCA and were also doing the half ironman. It's so fun to see familiar faces out there racing. I love it!
Then the women lined up, and it was time to roll. I lined up in the second row right behind Beth. If I ever can swim 30 minutes then I guess I will line up in the front. Either that, or I should just force myself to do it.
Not a fan of the running start, especially when the water was SO shallow we had to run for like 30 seconds before we could dive in!! It seemed to take forever!
It was choppy out in the lake, but not terrible. I got a tad bit nauseous from the up and down of the waves and people all around me, but I just tried to focus on good form and making it to the beach!
Finally, I was there and running out - swim time 34 minutesish (not my best, but what can you do)!
The bike was a nice rolling course through the fields of corn and some little towns. I really enjoyed the bike course, it was just hilly enough to keep it honest and it also had some false flats. With the wind, it was a little tough at times, but I had a few girls around me to go back and forth with and that kept things moving along.
The time passed pretty quickly on the bike and my nutrition was spot on! I was feeling great - cadence ended up being 91 and my heart rate was behaving as well. I was hoping when I got off the bike my legs would be there for the FIRST time this season in a half. Thank the Lord (literally, I'm thanking him), they were. I was so grateful. Final bike time: 2:34
Out of transition I couldn't wipe the grin off my face. I was running with another girl for a mile or so, but I kept looking at my Garmin. I was thinking "6:45, 6:50 pace - is this too fast??" My heart rate was good so I just went with it!
I'm smiling to big here because Kyle went and hit amongst the aid station workers and told them all to "cheer for Kim" so I had my own personal fan crew at mile four! It was awesome to be coming up and hearing your name yelled by everyone! Thanks K!
It started to get tough around miles 9-13, but I think that's true no matter where you are in a a half ironman run - great day or not so great day. The weather was PERFECT for running, and the course was generally flat so that made for a fast course. The volunteers were just awesome, so encouraging and even the other racers who were coming the other direction were cheering for me and I was attempting to cheer back at them!! It really made for an exciting day. Every man that I came alongside running said "great job" or "looking strong," after so many times this season of NOT feeling that way, I was almost overwhelmed with joy to be having this type of day. I wanted to stop and tell them how hard it had been feeling like my run just didn't seem to come together, or that if they were having a hard day.. don't worry, it will come around! I didn't have the remote energy to do so, so I left it at a "You too & thanks!" At this point I had passed many girls and had been getting updates from Oscar, Beth's husband, and Kyle. I knew I was in second and about 2-3 minutes down on Beth. If she was running the way I knew she can, I probably wouldn't be catching her today!

We saw each other a few times and cheered and I was so thankful that we are the type of athletes that can race together and support each other. She is a class act, and I have always respected her so much for her amazing attitude, as well as, her talent! So, if someone had to take home the win besides me... well, I'm really glad it was her!! Way to go Beth!
Coming up the finish line I was so overwhelmed! It was the day I had been waiting for - a 15 minute PR and a final time of somewhere around 4:45-4:46 (there is some debate about this, but whatever, it's somewhere in there). I tried to make the Ballou Skies heart with my hands, but I was just overcome with so many emotions I couldn't really do it!
Two college cross country teammates after the race - 1 and 2, a pretty great day if you ask me!
My friend Rich (in his all muscle tri suit) had a great race too and I was SO proud of him!! He, like me, has sort of been waiting for it so I was just elated to see it happen! Way to go Rich!
They even had ice baths! Which I did partake in! Coach - are you proud??
Then I didn't have access to a shower so we came up with this plan.. I'm pretty sure the ladies who were taking tickets right there had never seen a girl use soap & shampoo to take a shower right there. It was COLD! I was so happy to be clean though!
Beth, Me and Anna - first three ladies in the half

A HUGE thanks to Kyle for supporting me before the race, during the race (hence, all these amazing pictures), and for just being a great husband. I couldn't ask for more...
It was so wonderful to be able to represent Ballou Skies once again.. Ryan.. We DID it.. we freakin did it!
I look happy, but I am really just showing off my "rollercoaster" face to come. With two free tickets to the race included we just couldn't pass up the chance to ride! I made it on three of the four coasters. Even the green one.. so I thought that was pretty good after racing 70.3 miles! It was a blast!
All in all, it was just an awesome weekend and one that I will not soon forget. Congrats to everyone who raced this weekend at IM Wisconson and Rev 3!! Sure, it's nice to cross the line a little faster than I ever have and all, but it doesn't change why I do it. I was emailing back and forth to a friend who just did his first Ironman this past weekend - Congrats Steve - and we were talking about racing and what it means to each of us. Somewhere in that email, I wrote this..
"I guess I relate all of my training / racing to life and how you look at things. Maybe most people will never understand why "we" do what we do, but I honestly do think, with balance and moderation, it makes us better people, husbands, wives, mothers, fathers etc. when we can dig deep and it reveals parts of our character and the "why" of our lives than any other time. When you're out there in so much pain, it really peels away the onion of your soul and helps you understand much of what Christ must have gone through and I think its the time I feel closest to him in those moments.. I laugh, I cry, I'm thankful, I'm alive, I'm open to anything, I'm praying..and sometimes I'm just quieting my mind, listening to if he has something to say that I just can't hear any other time. It's a very spiritual experience for me when I race, and I guess that's why I keep coming back!! If it helps me, and inspires a few people, and I meet even MORE awesome people through doing it, it can't be bad right!!"

A huge thank you to the big man upstairs for allowing me to be healthy enough to do this and use my talents for his work, Kyle, my family, friends and all of you on Facebook & the Blog who lift me up and make me feel so good!! Thanks to Ballou Skies for letting me be a part of this team doing so much good work to help boys with MD, Top Gear bike shop, Super Donut, Powerbar, Findley Business Solutions, and my coach, Justin, with Vangard Triathlon. You have all been a part of my journey and I couldn't do this without you. Thank you for everything!

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