When Saturday morning rolled around, we had already committed to heading east, and so we did, driving through plenty of rain. The negative thoughts continued to roll around in my head, even as we pulled away from the storms. By the time we reached the desert, it was actually gorgeous - dramatic clouds and light, but not raining. It seemed that all of my doom and gloom and worry about the weather was for naught! I met my coach there and we ended up riding one loop of the course, which is extremely flat. Then I traded bike shoes for running kicks and took it slow and easy for about 10 minutes. I was not feeling confident about the run at all and even broached the subject of how to prepare to walk the marathon in an Ironman with my coach (I'd been reading up on it, and there is plenty about a run/walk strategy but not much about a walk strategy; no doubt she was thrilled to be working with someone who just broke down physically so easily - sigh. Add to that, the fact that I fell right in front of her on my bike because I couldn't unclip. Seriously, it's been YEARS since that has happened - how embarrassing!).
Despite the slow run, I felt good about having a practice ride/run, and we spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in Palm Springs, which is kind of a weird place. Maybe CA is just full of strange places? I'm not sure, but it ranks up there in terms of a strange combination of people. Plus, who would have come up with the idea of the desert as a great place to build a town/city? And populate it with golf courses that need tons of water?
After dreaming on Saturday night about only completing one lap of the run because I was so slow (nice anxiety dream), I managed to get up and get all of my gear and other crap together, making it to transition with plenty of time to spare, or so I thought. There would have been plenty of space on the rack except that some people were taking up a luxurious and ridiculous amount of room. What the hell?! Also, a bunch of port-o-potties ran out of TP, which was kind of funny because then it was obvious who just needed to pee and who had other "business" to take care of.
Fortunately, I did take care of everything and by 7:30, I was down at the start, waiting with the other pink-capped ladies for my 7:42 wave to go off.
Photo - Thanks to Beth Walsh
And we were off! I actually enjoyed the swim - the water felt great, there wasn't tons of contact, and when I popped my head out of the water, I could take in the desert - it was a pretty course! I wasn't very fast but made reasonable time, and, after struggling a bit to get my wetsuit unzipped, I was soon on the bike!
I knew, from the day before, that it was a flat, flat, flat course, which does not favor me (I kind of like hills to push up and then cruise down). Since my running was shot anyway, the plan was to really push it on the bike, something that I have NEVER done or tried to do. Armed with my handy-dandy heart rate monitor, I focused not on MPH but on heart rate. I can't say that I enjoyed the ride all that much, especially considering the packs of people drafting off each other, but I felt good about the fact that I stayed focused!
Finally, the run - never have I dreaded a run so much! I hadn't thought about it too much on the bike, but managed to at least start out running. And then I hit mile 2 and then mile 3, rounding out the first lap while slowly chugging along. On almost any other occasion, my splits would have sent me into a frustrated state, but I was just happy that I was still running (or jogging) and that the miles were actually sub-10. Amazing! I started the second lap, fully expecting to slow down and walk, but somehow, my leg tightened up but never to the point of pain. I even picked up the pace on my last mile and cruised over the finish line, a far happier camper than I had expected.
Photo also thanks to Beth Walsh
My overall age group ranking is nothing to write home about, but this race bolstered my confidence way more than I had anticipated, and I was grateful to be outside, swim, bike, running in a really beautiful place. There wasn't much more that I could have asked for, at the end of the day!