On Sunday, I had the pleasure of my first Rev3 iron-distance experience at Cedar Point, in Sanduky, Ohio. While I had heard a lot of great things about these events, I have to say that I was still struck by what a great production the Rev3 folks put on out there. Organization-wise, Cedar Point truly was the most athlete-friendly iron-distance event I have done in my 51. I just could not get over the fact that everywhere I turned, pre- and post-race, there seemed to be one or more Rev3 team members ready and waiting to help with whatever I might need. And I actually needed a lot of help post-race . . . but more on that in a minute.
Coming off of a pretty big disappointment two weeks ago at Ironman Louisville, I knew better than to expect too much from this race. In two weeks I was not suddenly going to gain back my missing run fitness; the best I could hope for was that I wouldn’t be feeling completely flat by virtue of this race falling two weeks after my last ironman.
The race started off alright; with a separate women’s pro wave of just ten ladies, we could not have asked for a more relaxed and friendly swim start. I love swims like this, although they tend be on the long side when we are really out there on our own. I swam solo to the first buoy, thinking I was out front because I couldn’t see anyone, and then suddenly at the buoy eventual winner Malaika appeared from the far left, ahead of me. I think we were just all over the course! There she was ahead of me , and I thought if I worked hard enough I could close the gap over the course of the swim. I felt fine swimming, but I couldn’t do it.
So I was out of the water second and onto the bike. I have to say this bike course was much more beautiful than I had imagined before coming to Sandusky. It was very green, and took us through lots of cute, small farm towns. I have to admit that I really did miss my annual trip to Madison, but this bike course felt not dissimilar to that, minus the hills!
I was very fortunate on the bike to feel pretty decent the whole time and truly did not have any significant “lows” over the whole ride. It was basically a solo time trial mission and I rode without anyone around for most of the time. Although when Kate and Kathleen caught me, I tried to keep them in sight for as long as possible, even when it meant trying to pick out a moving object a mile down the road. At least it gave me something to chase! Then during the latter half of the bike, I motivated myself by trying to get to the end of the bike under 5:10. My computer did indeed hit 180 kilometers under this time, but I was not at the end of the bike course!
I came off the bike in fourth, having ridden what I felt was the best ride I could have had given my current level of fitness on the bike. All was well, and I strapped on the Garmin to keep me honest on the run. As I mentioned after Louisville when I had felt good running but had in fact been running in slow motion, I was pretty sure that I had done a number on my run fitness during our stint up in Colorado. But in case the problem was just me being a wimp, I decided I’d wear the Garmin and force myself to run under 8-minute-mile pace for as long as I could.
This lasted exactly 7.5 miles.
Then the game became, “just keep the pace under 8:30 per mile,” then 9, then 9:30, then 10 . . . I fell apart like I have never fallen apart before. I love that after 50 ironmans, I am still having new experiences and lessons on the race course. But this is not the sort of “new experience” that I was looking for.
It was the closest I have ever come to being physically unable to run. I felt like my feet were glued to the pavement and with each mile, it became more difficult to force my legs to make a running motion. By the last 3 miles, I may as well have been walking, as my pace was 11:30 per mile. But I have that darn “no walking” rule, so I kept pretending. It was excruciating, but I knew that I just had to cross that finish line and then I could hit RESET.
I did make it to the finish line–and maybe half a step beyond–in 7th place, before I went straight down to the ground. I was just happy to finally get there after what was probably the longest last 10 kilometers in my career. The medical tent staff and my friends Eric Wynn, Simply Stu, and Sue Hutter (who also took all of these pics) were so amazing and took care of me while I was flat-out for about two hours post-race. I could not believe how awesome the docs and staff were; everyone involved in the Rev3 organization really “gets it.”
Now it is time to buckle down and get in a solid training block before one more late-season ironman! The RESET button has been hit and I am excited to get to work.
To learn more about Hillary, visit www.hillarybiscay.com