Intimidating. Overwhelming. Just want to finish. My deep roll down spot at Worlds...
When I got the roll down spot for Worlds, I laughed. After all, it was the same weekend as IMMD for which I was training - my nice flat full Ironman. Joking about whether I could do Worlds and come back for IMMD, Coach Tim Delss said, 'You can always defer.' I asked if he was for real, as I didn't yet appreciate what the opportunity meant. After all, being a middle of the pack AG athelete forever, I was naive to the splendor of these races for which faster athletes qualify. But pretty quickly I was convinced that this was a unique opportunity (my Covid silver lining) and I was all in. Then I got really excited. Then I joined the FB group and started reading about the hills. And the heat. Panic set in and I spent the next month training on every hill I could find and trying my best not to miss a workout.
When I arrived in St George my new fear was the heat. I drove from Vegas with no AC to start acclimating and I worried about how in the world I was going to manage - especially since IM had to combine the men and women's races into a single day and put the ladies after all the men, so I wasn't even starting the swim until 9:30 AM - I'd be running in the full heat of the day! I did a test run at 3pm one day. I confirmed my commitment to just finishing - 'someone has to be last'
I soaked in the new Worlds sculpture, the Women for Tri breakfast, and the intensity of the other athletes. I shopped at IM village. I worried about the race and for the first time, really spent time visualizing the swim, the transitions, the bike and the run. I drove the courses; I did not, however, test ride the course the day before the race, as some were doing.
And then, the weather predictions of a cooler race day came true. Carried in by a storm. I felt it with about 200m to go in the swim - suddenly my arms were cold as I brought them out of the water for my strokes, and I was getting splashed in the face. And I wasn't moving very fast anymore. Pushed through and got out, not realizing that the people behind me were about to get very scared and need to be pulled out by boats for safety.
Up in T1, some bikes were on the ground, having been blown off the racks, and the volunteers were huddling under shelter. I didn't quite register what was going on - just focused on getting ready to be on my bike. Socks were soaked almost immediately, wind made me nervous but they had said once we turned left the wind would be at our backs. And indeed it was, so as we climbed our first incline, it didn't seem that bad. Overall the bike was manageable except for the cross winds on the final descent which was scary and I just kept repeating 'I'm OK' 'I'm' OK' as I held on for dear life. Oh and that Snow Canyon climb was really tough but I kept reminding myself that I had trained for it and knew I could do it.
The sun came out for the run, and I was still feeling determined, so I did pretty well on the first 3 miles up hill and caught the very entertaining Jim Libecco in his speedo cheerleading for the runners. I had a weird breathing issue on the first steep downhill - felt like what an asthma attack must feel like, not being able to get enough air, so I faltered a bit. And then I realized how tired I was getting, so mental fortitude was required for the 2nd lap. Overall, I managed to make myself jog but did take more walking breaks and tried to keep my HR in some kind of manageable zone so I didn't keep having trouble breathing (which happend once more). By that point, I wasn't trying to hit any specific time and I just wanted to finish.
My final push got me across the finish line with a time of 7:02 and I felt pretty out of it - really had to be directed by the volunteers of where to go and what swag to pick up. This is in the range for me - and in fact was 18 minutes faster than my qualifying race at Blue Ridge in June. I'm grateful to have had the experience and I am utterly in awe of the athletes who finished 2 hours ahead of me in my age group and Lucy Charles-Barclay for her 4:00 win. Amazing to have raced the same course on the same day.
My goal for this year, as I turn 50, was to have a big race and this certainly fit the bill. I want to be doing this when I'm 70. Good foundation, good coaching, great team support. How lucky I am to have found Tim Delss and the BSquad!