I suppose I should get this done before I completely forget every detail. First and foremost...It was completely frickin' awesome! No really, it was phenomenal.
We stayed at the host hotel which turned out to be a fantastic idea as we were required to check our bicycles into transition overnight and we were able to run back after the event to take showers with a late checkout and then head back down to watch the HIM competitors finish up.
Anyway, back to the main event.
The pros HIM started sans wetsuit around 7:30am. I started at 8:09 or so. I had managed to get everything ready in transition and head back to get my wetsuit and still make it to the start of the pro races plenty early. The swim start is in the Monongahela River and you have to walk down 3 levels of ramps just to get to the docks. The dam was supposed to be shut but with all the rain there was no choice but to leave it open. We of course would have a swim straight into the current. The first pros were out of the water in about 24 minutes, so we new it was going to be a slow swim. I was my usual nervous self when I got down to the docks. I was standing with some fellow CTC chicks waiting for the signal to get into the water. It came all to soon and I jumped in and WHOOO!! It was a wakeup! The water was over my head and definitely not clear. All the women in the oly wave started together so there were quite a few. I was in the middle bobbing around.
They counted us down and started us off with a very loud siren. My heart rate raced in anticipation and off I went. It was a complete cluster. Women were swimming everywhere. The really good swimmers began to pull ahead immediately with those who start out too hard, so basically everybody. Some of the newbies were swimming crooked and others were doing a mixture of strokes to get through the water. I had intended to go out very easy on the swim as this was my first oly and I did not want to blow up coming out of the water. I swam a few strokes and had to sight to navigate around other women quite often for the first few minutes. There were lots of elbows and feet. I seem to be much better at seeing where I am going than most (could be because I am so slow in the water), but I did manage to keep my goggles on and avoid any contact to my face. There were a few people that swam on top of me though thinking I was a dolphin, but I managed to pull myself out of their reach. The swim starts by going down stream and making a left turn around a buoy within the first hundred meteres then across the river and another right turn to begin the LONG swim back up the river toward the flowing dam. Once I made the turn to swim upstream it thinned out and I slowly began working my way past those weaker swimmers who had gone out too hard. I spent a large amount of time trying to focus on my form and relax in the water. It got to the point where I was pretty much alone in the water as I was not fast enough to catch the fast women, but too fast to be with the other women. I began to catch men from the prior waves at this point too. These guys were really struggling side stroking, doggy paddling, whatever they could do just to keep afloat. After what seemed like forever I made the turn to cross back over the river and then another turn to cross back down for the home stretch. I was feeling good. I could tell my swim was slow as my shoulders were starting to tighten. I saw the docks ahead and was relieved to know it was "1 down, 2 to go." Now, there were people on the docks to pull us out, but when I got there they just looked at me. I asked if I could touch and pushed myself under in hopes I would get a boost from the ground to push myself up and on the dock, but no such luck it was over my head. I would have to hope my arms were strong enough to lift me out. I pushed with everything I had and what do you know....I did it. I rolled on the dock and popped up running up the 3 ramps and then about 50 meters down a blacktop path to transition. I knew my time would be long in T1 due to the long ass run. Swim time was 34:20. I had wanted to go out easy, but not that easy. Alas, everyone's times I found out were way off by 2-5 minutes that day with the dam being open.
Transition was smooth. The walrus had tried to get me to ditch the cycling gloves, but I love the padding and my hands get bruised and numb on long rides so wanting to be comfortable I put them on. I was not hoping for some super stellar performace. Today was a tune-up for GCT and to get a list of do's and dont's for long course. Out of T1 and on my bike I grabbed a drink at the aid station, but pitched it fairly soon as I did not know if there were drop zone penalties.
The bike course started off by zipping through the city for a few miles and then leaves town. I was pedaling easy, refusing to look at my speedometer. I felt I needed to go out easy and keep control of my heart rate and breathing as best I could. I was able to still pass a few people here and there througout the first 5-7 miles though. I think only 1-2 guys passed me. They were on fancy TT bikes and like I said they were men. There was this young guy, about 24 or so riding a road bike that was working too hard IMO and we battled back and forth for a few miles as he would pump up the hills, but then I would easily pass him on the downhills and the straights. He was definitely a novice as he constantly hogged the road and when climbing was all over the place like a staggering drunk. There were a few times that a group of us would form and I would get nervous about getting slapped with a drafting penalty when this guy should without a doubt have gotten a "yeah your a novice, but too bad your still blocking!!!" The walrus passes with authority and hammers his bike, but I find that the constant up and down on a bike brings that cardiac drift way too soon for me, so I spent a lot of time between mile 7-13 sitting back and relaxing. Finally, some more difficult climbing started and I was able to shake him. I even managed to catch a few olympic distance women and men in the second half. I grabbed another drink at the turnaround and skipped the bananas not feeling confident enough to maintain a good speed and eat a banana at the same time. I did not find any of the climbs too bad and I only had to get out of my seat one time for about a minute. I was ecstatic my climbing up Fairmount and through the N. Chagrin/S. Chagrin area was paying dividends. I crested the hill and there were a few small rollers and then a big downhill. YAY!!! I moved down to my drops and got a nice little adrenaline rush. The rain was coming down though and the idea of crashing and busting up my grill flashed in my mind. I stayed on the drops though and at ~40 mph rode it out as cautiously as possible. I had to start slowing as the turns became blind and the fun was over. I started checking my speed at this point and forced myself to push until mile 20. I was getting excited because the end was near and I was still feeling great. The last 4 miles were however really, really bumpy and I saw a few water bottles that had been bounced off people's bikes. I felt like a jockey riding a horse the entire way back swerving left and right to avoid potholes. I was pumped when I got back to transition and entered just ahead of the 3-4 girls I had just passed on the bike.
I changed quickly and as I headed out I saw a woman running out the bike transition side for the run and yelling "where do I go?" I yelled, "this way" and began running out the other way. She did a U-turn and we went out together.
The run went 2 miles out on the blacktop path that ran along the river. I started slow as I had been practicing letting my legs get the feel for the run. I saw my teammate running back from her training run as her hubby was competing in the HIM and she turnaroud and ran with me for about a mile pumping me up and chatting about her run. I also saw the walrus coming back and as we passed the Subway KP's wife and twins came running out and were screaming and cheering for me. I waved and smiled. This was soooo much frick'n fun. After my teammate pulled off to go shower and change I continued on passed the first aid station and grabbed some HEED. I did in this time have a chick fly by me on the run and thought..."are you kidding me? She is going to blow hereself up! Just wait it out a little longer then you can go." I let her go. I saw the women coming back shortly and could see only a handful were running at a better pace than me. My plan was working. I was going to be able to run people down all the way to the finsih. Then at about mile 1.5 my shoe which was double knotted loosened up, but the double knot remained. Crap! I pulled off to the side of the road and fiddle with it for about a minute before getting it unkotted and retied. I got passed by 3 or 4 women too in that time. Aaaarrrggghh! I began running determined to run them all down and a few more. I was about 15 or 16 women back at this time. I wanted to try to break top 10. I was energized. I ran 3 women down in the next mile and was almost to mile 3 when my hamstring gave me a jingle..."Warning, I am still soar and pushing any further will result in severe pain and cramping." Shit, here we go with the damn hammy again. I maintained my pace. I went from running confidently and chasing down the competition to worrying if I was going to make it to the finish. I was still moving faster than the majority of people around me so I focused on one at a time ahead of me. I was still doing okay. The pain was subsiding, but I knew Devil's hill lie ahead. I decided to take a gel at mile 5 in hopes it would help me with the hill. I made the turn off the flat blacktop path and there ahead lay devil's hill, which consist's of 3 tiers each one steeper than the last with the final being over 18% grade. We had ridden the course on our bikes yesterday and it was S-T-E-E-P! The good news was we only had to climb 2 tiers. The bad news was there was a guy dressed as a devil standing at the bottom high-fiving sufferers, err I mean competitors. I ran up the first tier and passed the girl in pink that had flew by me in the beginning of the run. She was walking and she was walking slow. I told her to keep going and to pump her arms. I hit the second tier and was not moving very fast. My heart rate had sky rocketed. Screw this, I dropped to a walk. I pumped my arms and pushed up the hill. I caught another guy! Walking with a purpose, right e-speed?! I had recovered a little and began running as soon as I made the turn. There was another uphill, but this was nothing and I hit it with confidence. My leg was still holding and I was nearly done. I ran through rollers for the remainder of the race and could see a girl just up ahead. Ohh! I probably can't get her, but what the hell. I poured it on and I was gaining ground and then .... Damn! There was the finish. Another mile and I would have had her, but I was done. I smiled as I hit the final mat. I had done my first Oly, my hammy had held and I felt great.
Here are my splits...
Swim 34:20 (1500 meters)
Bike 1:18:27 ~19.0 mph (24.85 miles)
Run 55:50 ~8:31/mile (w/ a minute to tie da shoes) (6.55 miles)
Total Time 2:54:04
All I want to know is WHEN CAN I DO IT AGAIN...WHOOO HOOO!!!