I knew Half Full was just about finishing for me (my non-triathlete husband, who knows me so well, reminded me on Saturday morning that it was just about finishing, not about time). My knee injury was still lingering (but improving), and I had pretty much been in a taper since Cedar Point three weeks prior. I figured whatever happened would happen, and I would give it a shot. I contemplated the Aqua Velo, but had signed up for the full 70 miles and wanted to give it a shot.
Races in Columbia are always like home team events. It is so nice to see so many faces at the expo and on race day (not to mention the Mid Maryland Tri Club tent). This race was made even better because Trakkers and Rev3 timing were there. I got to have a pre-race dinner with Trakkers Teammate Kati and her husband Paul (who knew PF Changs had such an awesome Gluten Free menu?). I saw Krista from Team Trakkers and lots of MMTCers at the expo and transition (thank you to Missie for coordinating the small army of volunteers).
It was c-c-c-cold! My feet were frozen before the swim. I got to spend a few minutes in the Rev3 trailer with Kati, Charlie, and the rest of the Rev3 timing crew. (Thank goodness for their space heater).
Swim (39:45- ouch)
Heather B. and I were hanging out before the swim start, and suddenly realized our wave was all lined up. We got in line, and got ready. It was the most calm swim start EVER. (I really like the time trial start). My swim was slow and steady, but on the last leg I found it hard to stay straight (the finish buoys were smaller than the others). I was all over the place. The swim time was my worst this season, but again it was just about finishing.
My time wasn’t too bad. Kept on the tri suit and just went with arm warmers. Sockless without issues thanks to TriSlide. Came out of T1 with Heather B.
Heather and I leapfrogged the first 6 miles or so, and I felt pretty decent. Shortly after mile 6 (when Bob Reid passed), my left knee started to hurt. Not just nag, but hurt. I had to let Heather go (not that I “let” her go, but I couldn’t keep up). I found myself maintaining rather than attacking, trying to save something for the run. On flats after downhills, where I would normally pedal, I coasted to rest my knee. I didn’t chase down people in front of me like I normally would, just tried to keep going. On the second loop, I stopped to use the porta john. I would never have stopped if I felt ok, but I had to go and knew I couldn’t go on the bike. At least three times during the run, I talked myself into a DNF (and cursed myself for not switching to the Aquavelo). Looking at the results now, I would've been third among the aquavelo females. Go figure! I told myself I could pack it in at Transition, but would finish the bike before I gave up.
Couldn’t run up to the transition area. I told myself I would rack my bike, change my shoes, and be done. I racked the bike, changed the shoes, put on my big knee brace, grabbed my stuff, and headed to the “Run Out”. For feeling like I had nothing left, my T time wasn’t too bad.
The Run (aka the walk) (2:59:10)
I started with a run-walk plan. Made it about three miles that way before the walk became longer than the run. I was passed by lots of people and tried to cheer everyone on as they passed. I got lots of encouraging comments, too. The volunteers were AWESOME. Having your name on your bib is nice, and to a person they pronounced my name correctly (that never happens, and I don’t really care, but I noticed and appreciated it). I got hungry on the “run”. This never happens to me during a race, but when you are mostly walking and it has been 9 or 10 hours since you ate, I guess it does. (You don’t have the elevated heart rate and shunting of blood from your stomach). I was starving, and there was no food aside from Gu Chomps on the run. The support was great…I just could’ve gone for pretzels or a cookie. I continued to try and run. I kept telling myself “You don’t get to DNF against cancer and you can’t DNF this race”. When I got tired, I just kept saying “I am NOT A QUITTER”. I didn’t want my family and friends tracking me to see me DNF, I didn’t want to face my fellow MMTCers and Trakkers teammates with a DNF. I figured a DNF is reserved for serious injury or getting pulled off the course.
So I walked. It was lonely. There was a woman I could’ve walked with, but she struck me as very negative and crass, and I didn’t want to spend that much time with her. I actually mustered up a jog to get away from her a bit. I saw MMTC friends on the course, and Chip who encouraged me (unfortunately my knee had nothing left). I walked/ran until mile 8, and then it was pretty much walking. I knew I could make the cutoff, but would have a time of about 7:30. Exiting Centennial Park, I was passed by Dave from the Challenged Athletes Foundation. He was pushing a challenged athlete in a jogging stroller (he had pulled him in a raft and cycled with a special bike). He asked if I was hurting, and I said yes, but that I would finish. I told him that I thought he was amazing, and he said “I am just blessed”. If that wasn’t motivation, I don’t know what is. So I kept walking. The volunteers all cheered for me (along with the other racers), though I didn’t feel like I deserved it since I wasn’t running. I got to mile 12, the rain held off, and I knew I would finish.
We turned back into Centennial park, and you could hear the finish line. I saw some of Team Fight, and they told me I had to run when I rounded the bend. I had nursed my knee just enough that I thought I could run the finish. My RoadID reads “Finish Strong”, and I didn’t want to do anything but. So I jogged around the corner, and then sprinted the finish chute. Susie was there to catch me. She put my medal on, gave me a huge hug and said “I waited for you”. Then she got water for me. Missie gave me my finisher’s shirt, and Kati was there (just like at Cedar Point) to congratulate me (since she works with Timing, she knew I was walking the run). This was by far the hardest race I have ever done mentally (and a pretty challenging course). I always say I need to work on my mental game, but I think I won the mental game on this one. I couldn’t give up. This wasn’t the fight against cancer, just a race, but a race embodying optimism. Two days later, my knees ache, but I’m so thankful for all the support out there.
I think the Finishers shirt sums it up:
“Half Full is having hope and optimism in the face of adversity. Whether it is a triathlon or the fight against cancer, HALF FULL is having the determination and positive attitude to get to your finish line. One mile at a time, we will finish this race, but more importantly – WIN this Cancer Battle. “