This was the third year in a row I’ve done Muncie 70.3. I enjoy this race…the location (corn fields!!), that it’s well run, and it’s the one place I’ve broken 5 hours (2015). It’s also a race near where my parents live and they made the journey to join us.
Before the race I was getting a little “lost” and not staying in the present. My coach gave me some well chosen words to bring me back to the present, and a few great phrases in my race plan that I used several times during the race.
It was an early morning wake up call so I could do the 45 minute drive and be there at 5. Upon which I ate breakfast in the car and then got ready to take everything to transition. Carlos and my parents would arrive later. No need for all of us to wake up at that early hour!
I knew when I did it, it would be trouble, but I put my run water bottles in my run belt for the walk to transition. And of course I dropped one…somewhere. And I didn’t notice until I was at my spot. I did look around doe it after my warm up run, and when I returned to the car to drop off my wetsuit (wasn’t wetsuit legal), but never spotted it. I wasn’t worried as I rarely go through both bottles as I supplement with water and coke as I like the taste of coke at that point, but it was a mental hurdle I had to still work through. I knew it wasn’t a big deal. I did look through Carlos box of cycling “be prepared for anything” and we had gone through the extra gels and stuff he keeps. Dang. Then I found an unopened gel near someone’s car. And that became my emergency plan C (plan B being water and coke). New low? Maybe. But it settle my brain.
On my warm up run I found a permanent Porta potty just away from the main race Porta potty grouping. I used this. In fact, I stayed there until after the race start, cycling through and just staying away from the chaos. I know if I am in the chaos I start to compare and doubt myself. So usually I stay away, but within earshot, to keep calm. A few fellow triathletes, in search of a place to go tot the bathroom found my secret and we bonded while chatting in our very short line. It was actually quite calm. We let those who had early waves cut. I was in no hurry, and biding my time.
Soon I headed to the practice swim, and at 7:30 got in and did a short swim. And then headed to the swim start. I found Carmen and Sami….playing with a baby….Erica and Brent’s little girl. Erica was there too. We all chatted and then headed to swim start. I just followed Carmen. I know, after last year (thanks to Stacy) to line up at the front. Not that I hoped to be close to Carmen’s time, but it was just good to have someone near me at the start.
And soon we were in the water. Count down on, and…we’re off!
I knew this would be a slow swim….but when I saw the time…ugh. Yeah. I was really putting in an effort, and didn’t swim too far off course. I was good with my sighting. I felt good…I was at a strong pace. More work to be done. Of course!
Overall the swim was uneventful. I started strong and never had the tightness in my chest I sometimes get (but not usually if I do a warm up swim…which is why I do them). I started semi in the fray of things but soon crossed from the left to inside of the buoy line and stayed there until the turn. For the top straightaway I was near the buoy line and sighting well. And after the second turn the sun is in your eyes. I wandered way inside the buoy line, sighting off the bath house. But that actually takes you on a straight shot in. Mostly. At least compared to how I normally swim.
Soon I spotted the swim end arch and was pushing it in. I saw the time as I hit the transition mat and thought “damn” and “I should have checked last years swim”. I knew breaking 5 hours with a swim time like that would mean everything went perfect from there in out. Things didn’t go bad but….I guess it just wasn’t going to happen. But it gave me something to push for.
The thought of breaking 5 hours didn’t re-enter my mind until the run. It was time to get on my bike.
I ran up the swim ramp. I spotted my mom, and then Carlos and my dad, smiled and kept running. No getting lost this year. Grabbed a couple of gu chomps. Helmet, shoes, and I was off to the mount line. My parents and Carlos made it to see me off.
My legs didn’t feel great but…usually the first 15 minutes they don’t. No worries. I started with my word for the day: left.
The course is a short (~5 mile) out and back with a double loop at the top of the out and back. You’d think with a late wave, and double loop the course would feel crowded but it didn’t. Much to my delight. Also, I didn’t see anyone in a deliberate peloton, which can happen on crowded courses despite the no drafting rules. Some courses are just so crowded it can be a hard rule to enforce. This one seemed pretty easy going. There were groups, but it was a fact of people passing and in small groups for a relatively short time. Or so it seemed to me.
The outs had a decent tail wind, and the backs had a strong headwind/cross wind. On lap 2 I actually grabbed my base bar for a minute or two due to the cross wind. But most of the time I know I’m more stable in aero and maintained my position. I also spent most of the day in my big gear.
I actually enjoyed the head wind as it let me take my cadence to the lower end of my race cadence and use my strength a bit…even up and over the small rollers.
I played back and forth with a couple of people for short bits but for the most part, especially lap 2, was in my own.
As I headed out I saw Thomas and made it a goal to not get lapped by him. Sami, who started his swim after me, passed me in the way back in on lap one. But I didn’t see Carmen until the turn back in for lap two.
Carlos and my parents had a spot about 1 mile from the turn around, and I saw them each time, smiling at my cheer squad.
Outside of a few “lefts” said In a voice that probably didn’t win me any friends (with the wind, there was ambient noise and so I wants to be heard!) it was a calm ride. All u-turns performed with “expert” skill. Meaning I stayed clipped in easily.
On lap 2 I saw a woman from my age group pass me. Not used to getting passed on the bike! She got second, and turns out to be from my home town! Ok…yes that’s ego speaking.
I was watching my heart rate and watts, but my race plan was rather loose, and so was remembering more what Matthew said than the numbers…to just go for it. My watts were still lower than the range we planned, and I felt them drop a little coming in, but I still felt strong. I took to heart racing won’t feel good, but I’ve got the strength and training to back it up and not worry. And I kept saying that to myself, among other positive phrases.
As I neared to turn to head back in I was still positive talking myself. Don’t worry about the run. You’ve got the strength. Remember Florida 70.3. It’s not supposed to feel “good”. You’ll be more annoyed with yourself if you didn’t try. And more.
I took my feet out of my shoes a little early but no issues from that. I hit the dismount line and was running in.
T2 was slow. It should have been faster. At this point I have no explanation. I didn’t even have sunscreen this go round. I think I set T2 up poorly and spent a few seconds looking for things: sunscreen, the extra gel…where’d they all go (as I write this I realize I’d been “smart” and put it in my race belt. Dumb. Needs to go in my jersey pocket)? I also noticed ants on my transition towel and other places. Seriously…there should have been no thinking: short and sweet. I noticed my stomach felt off but thought ” no excuses”. I also messed with my bike garmin…something I normally don’t think about. I was like a distracted dog in T2: “squirrel”. This was about the only time I lost my race focus. And I paid for it with time. But I eventually made my way out. Good grief. I did notice I had 1:48 to break 5.
I put on my hat, race number and hydration belt and was off.
As the run started I had no specific guidelines. First 3 miles to find my legs and then up a level. And one more the last 3. Despite the time splits….I actually did this. I refused to fall in to the negative run trap I fell in at IMTX. Fine.. My legs didn’t feel great. They shouldn’t. But…it will be fine. Stay present. Your running. You can do this. Lots of room in the heart rate spectrum. It’s fine. Go. Give it a whirl. Don’t walk and sure as hell don’t give up!
Positive talk all the way through. I looked for a rabbit but…like Texas I didn’t talk with many people at this race. I’m not social but have been surprised at the random comments/quick chats I get at many races.
Despite all my puttering around in T2 I still managed to screw up hitting “lap” on my garmin and for the entire run it was on t2. I knew the cumulative time and so after realizing this at about mile 3 just went with it. Fine. Whether that was good or bad I can’t say as I wasn’t clear in pacing, but was going by feel. And I couldn’t let myself back down. Or I didn’t want too. I knew I would be fine. It just wouldn’t feel great.
Actually…it was pretty good. After mile 3 my legs had some effort in them. I felt good. At almost every aid station I took ice, water and coke. I didn’t drink from my hydration very often (as I said earlier…that’s why I wasn’t too worried in the morning). But I know if I take coke, I need water too. And I did. I poured the ice down my shirt and shorts, and would grab ice from my bra and had it. As it melted I put it in my mouth to suck it and drink, while grabbing more ice from my sports bra. Ok. I know it sounds disgusting but it’s my own sweat. And I just go with it. It works.
Nearing the turn around I saw Carmen and cheered her. She didn’t hear me. I hit the turn around and headed in. The way out has more downhill, and in is more uphill. And I was feeling strong. My run pace, per the race website,slowed coming back in but I felt strong, and was putting in more effort: working the downhills and uphills more than on the way out.
I was hitting my stride and was pushing, finally. I knew I had it and kept going. I turned the corner and was soon in the last mile. I was not stopping. But rather pushing. Where was this 10 miles ago?
And soon I was coming in. I looked at the time and knew I’d miss 5 hours…again. But when I was told I missed it by 3 seconds… Argh!!!
I walked around, looking for Carlos and my parents. When I found them I was frustrated but happy. More happy. They told me my official time and place. That mollified me a bit. Ok.. I am writing with hyperbole. I need to find my groove earlier in the run but I stayed strong and never went negative. I accepted the discomfort and trusted what. Could do. I can’t ask for too much more than that. It’s getting there a bit faster and not getting distracted with details In transition I must work on.
But overall, after Texas, this was a great race mentally for me. I avoided the pitfalls I fell into at Texas here. Granted, a half IM is not a full, but it’s still great practice. And I will keep practicing as I head in to Louisville.