Where do I begin with this one?! I flew to Portland, Maine on last Friday and was picked up by my good friend Anna and her daughter Ava. We headed downtown and enjoyed some Shipyard Summer Ales and seafood at Portland Seafood Company. It was so nice to hang out outside without humidity and the searing hot sun, especially in August!
Saturday was race prep day in Old Orchard Beach. When I first saw the ocean at OOB I thought, “wow it looks perfect for swimming, can’t wait to get in!” and then I put my feet in the water after donning my wetsuit and re-thought my prior expectations, “oh shit, this water is cold!”
Water temp: 62 degrees
I dove in and couldn’t catch my breath. My feet, hands and face hurt from the water so I just tried to acclimate and get a couple of strokes in. It took me a while to get into a rhythm but I made it to the first buoy and turned around. After getting to the beach, Ava came over as I was bending over with my hands on my knees trying to catch my breath. I was in pain!
After regaining feeling in my limbs, I went to the expo to pick up my rental QR and race packet. Rev3 did a great job of organizing packet pick up along with our timing chip and race swag. I got a quick ride on my rental and checked the bike in right when it opened. I was happy to see that they don’t use metal stands but rather boxes to hold the rear tire. Come race morning I found the girl next to me didn’t show up so I had even more room to spread out!
The three of us walked around the expo, had our picture taken as lobsters in a boiling pot of water and watched Ava go through the blow up bounce house. (Free picture too!)
With race prep done, we headed to the beach and the Brunswick for some music, volleyball and drinks. I ended up laying on the sand, enjoying the beach without sweating. Of course, all of my Maine friends thought it was so hot and humid! Ha, they don’t know humidity!
Race night dinner was at Roadhouse where you can throw the peanut shells on the floor. We were a loud, large group with three kids under 7 years old. Ava just celebrated her birthday so we surprised her by having the waitresses sing to her and put her on the saddle. It was so cute!
As we headed to the race, I wasn’t nervous or anxious. It helped to have Anna there to make me laugh. She dropped me off so I could set up my transition. As I unpacked and went to put my water bottle on the bike, I found out it was too large for the bike! I had brought a large one so I would only have to use one bottle but the QR was an x-small frame so the holders were close together and tiny. I called Anna and had her stop at the expo for a Rev3 water bottle. Phew, close call….or so I thought. She brought it over and it was too big also! Oh man, not a good thing to deal with on race morning. I had no way to carry a bottle on me and knew there wouldn’t be any fluid on the course. As I fretted and thought, a girl across from me offered me her bottle and said not to worry about it. Such a nice person! I was so relieved and told her to look up KickStart so I could repay her someway.
With that solved and everything ready to go, I put half of my wetsuit on and made the walk with Anna and Ava about .3 miles to the beach start. The water looked great again but as I did my “warm up” I knew it was going to be a rough swim. The current was nice and the water was clear which normally would have been a great swim but I couldn’t catch my breath again and couldn’t keep my face in the water. I said my goodbyes to the girls and ran to catch up to my swim wave.
Water Temp: 60 degrees
As we entered the water, the water was shallow for quite a ways so we were all walking and talking. Typical women’s wave! As we started, I kept my head out of the water but my arms and legs felt so heavy and the course looked sooo long. As I neared the first buoy, I pulled off to the side and treaded water, trying to catch my breath. I wasn’t freaking out or having a panic attack, I just couldn’t get my heart rate and breathing down. I chatted with a lifeguard on a paddle board, watched the next wave of racers approach, and truly debated turning around. I couldn’t imagine turning around and walking out of the water but I also couldn’t think about going through the race course feeling the way I was. Eventually I told myself I would get to the next buoy and make the turn and see how I felt.
Long story short, after many self doubting conversations, I ended up doing the backstroke the entire course. It was the most difficult swim I have ever done. My feet and hands hurt but I was able to keep my breathing regulated and seeing the sun helped also. I ended up being in the water for 45 minutes and swam 1.05 miles. Certainly no PR but I was glad to get through it.
As we left the water, I walked the beach transition. Something I’ve never done in a race before but I just couldn’t feel my feet. As I got to the street, I was able to jog which got the blood flowing. I got to my bike, took the wetsuit off and chatted with Anna. I was really not in much rush to get through transition! She told me later how cold my hands were when she handed me a gel. I was a popsicle!
The weather couldn’t have been more perfect as I headed out on the bike. It was a rolling course of hills as we headed out of town towards the country. It took about half the bike ride for my legs to really work properly. The first 5 miles took me over 19 minutes!
About half way through, I was in the aero position going down a downhill section when I hit a big bump and of course, that nice girl’s water bottle went flying out! As I cursed out loud and knew I couldn’t go back since the hill was steep, I forgot about gearing down to get back up the hill. Just as I met a group of people at the transition of the hill, I suddenly had no momentum and couldn’t pedal. “Oh no, oh no, oh no”. I was barely able to unclip before I toppled over on the hill. I ran with the bike up the hill and thought, “seriously, is anything else going to happen!”
Fortunately the rest of the bike leg was uneventful and I was even able to enjoy the scenery. The breeze felt good and I was barely sweating when I got back to transition. A quick change of shoes and socks and I headed out for the run. The run course was very nice and rolling like the bike. I walked up one hill with some other runners but the rest of the time, I was able to pass people and even some girls in my age group. The last mile before the turn around was on a shaded trail. Cruising back into town, I enjoyed seeing the crowds and enjoying the fun signs people had. As I rounded the corner, I saw Anna and Ava and was able to take Ava and run down the finishers chute with her! Its something Rev3 makes an important part of their races, the opportunity to finish with your family.
While this race was certainly not a PR, it was definitely an important one mentally. During the swim, I was constantly thinking about Lake Placid and wondering if Mirror Lake was that cold and how I would have to dig deep to get through the day there also.
Post race was awesome. I had the best race food ever; street tacos from a local vendor. No fruit or bagels here! I even got to try out the Normatec compression boots which inflate tightly around your legs and help flush the lactic acid from your muscles. I felt great afterwards!
The rest of the trip in Maine was great and I had a wonderful time catching up with Anna and her family. I really want to come back and try this race again maybe in 2015. If you get an opportunity to do a Rev3 race, I highly highly recommend it! Such a great organization and it was refreshing to have things run smoothly and meet friendly people.
Swim: 47:42 (17/18)
Bike: 1:27 (14/18)
Run: 57:54 (12/18)
Total: 3:23:05 (11/18)