I, Laurence, just completed my first 70.3. If you told me a year ago I'd do a 70.3 I would have laughed. Now, I can't wait to do my next one.
This race, more than any more than any other, was about believing in my training and the base I had set up since joining Purplepatch half a year ago (crazy!). Not only was I still recovering from my ankle injury (longest I had run was 50 minutes easy) but I had been suffering from bloody diarrhea (for three weeks) and vomiting blood. A trip to the hospital and several antibiotics had me feeling decently well the Sunday before the race and Matt and I decided to just go race and have fun. I was itching to compete!
Honestly, the fact that I had been sick and hadn't been running didn't daunt me. I have 100% confidence in my coach Matt and I knew that if he believed I could compete then there was absolutely no reason for me not to. Through this past half year I have pushed my body and mind farther than I knew possible - a 5(ish) hour race wouldn't be a problem. Plus, racing is just so darn fun.
Galveston is gorgeous and yes, hot and humid. The day before the race there was a Tornado warning and the weather was absolutely insane. I went out running just to have buckets of rain doused onto me 3 minutes in - this storm was no joke. But, it was the perfect excuse to relax indoors and trust in the preparation. I was excited!
Race morning came and I was pumped. It was hot and humid (surprise surprise!) and much to my dismay the water temperature was 77 degrees Fahrenheit: the race would be wetsuit illegal. Well, I was totally unprepared for this.
Day before (after announcer declares it could be wetsuit illegal):
Mom: "Did you hear that? No wetsuit?"
Me: "Oh mom, I'm sure the water will cool off over night. I'll be fine. Everything will work out." (internally -- ummmm...crap, I am totally screwed if it is wetsuit illegal - I do not have a speed suit and my shorts will fall off. Whatever, it will be fine no use worrying now).
Me: (to random dude in-line for porta-pottie) "Do you know the temperature of the water?"
Porta-pottie dude: "77. Wetsuit illegal. Lucky for me my speedsuit is 3,000 miles away"
Me: "Oh no." (crap....Crap...CRAP...where is my mom...)
Luckily I was in one of the last waves (18 of 21) so my mom (bless her) finagled her way into buying me a speedsuit - it's the little things in life :). Thank you mom!
After my mother's miracle work I no longer had to worry about my pants falling off (whew!). As one of the last waves the swim was interesting. I quickly took the lead and then attempted to swim through a sea of 2,000 heads. After running into several people I decided to just go to the right off the madness which in retrospect was not smart.
I ended up swimming on the outer periphery where the kayakers are to make sure you don't stray too far. In retrospect I should have gone to the left of the buoys (where barely anyone was) and come in to make left hand turns. You live and you learn!
The bike course was awesome! I just went hard and sustained and it was great. I was super lucky to have Marcy, a great family friend and nicest person you will meet, cheering for me at mile 20 and 40 (no man's land) which helped tremendously!
At about mile 43 I really felt the fact that I hadn't been able to train properly for more than a month (diarrhea) - I was struggling to push 200 watts but my spirits were high even though my legs were not really responding anymore.
Well, this was a killer. I started off feeling pretty good and then the heat hit me. All of a sudden the sun decided to come out and everyone's pace went up dramatically (I went from low 7 minute pace to high 8 minute pace). Yes, I admit I had a small moment where I thought oh crapola I really haven't run this much in forever. But, I quickly brushed it aside - I'd already completed 2/3rds of the race! This was nothing.
I was lucky that Sarah Piampiano, a fellow teammate and pro athlete who has done the course before, warned me to kept my body temperature down even if that meant walking the aid stations. And boy did I walk those yelling "Ice! Ice!". I would put it down my top, hold it in my hands, and put it against my cheek. Thank goodness for volunteers. Seriously.
It may have been a "make it to the next aid station" run but hey, it got me through! Quite honestly I didn't care who passed me and I stopped looking if "that girl" was in my age group - I was in survival mode (definitely something to work on...). We all get into those "dark places" and it is up to us to learn from them and improve our mental edge. What did I do to get out of it? I hit every sign that said "Punch here for extra power" - yep, the perfect remedy :).
Be prepared - bring extra things (like your speed skin) even if you don't think you'll need it. If you aren't prepared think logically and don't panic. You will be fine and hey, if your pants fall off it'll be a good story :)
Look at waves before you - if you are a later wave use the time to watch the waves before you. You'll get a sense of where's where, what the masses are doing, and reduce stress.
Trust in your training - I may not have been in the best shape but I trusted my previous training and I'm pretty pleased with the results. Don't let sickness and injury get you down...you're body know what to do :)
Huge thanks to my mother who decided to join me - it was so awesome to have her there helping me out (buying a last minute speed suit - wups), making sure I was fine ("Don't forget your timing chip!"), cheering, and even following me in the car when I decided to bike during a brief "lull" during the storm (not the smartest decision).
Not only did I have my mother there but our family friend Marcy graciously opened her beach front home to us. In true Southern fashion she came, despite missing her son's swimming banquet and water polo tournament, to show us around, cook amazing food (post race meal? Steak. Yah, I know, dang), and cheer for me. It was more than I could have ever asked for.
Without these two woman I would have never been able to race so well and would probably be lying in a ditch somewhere in Galveston Texas.
Thank you to my coach Matt Dixon and all of the purplepatch community for believing in me and to my sponsors Freeplay Magazine, Nature's Bakery, Huub, Salming, Rudy Project, Fluid, and Temple Coffee. You make the racing easy!
Austria here I come!