I am not even really sure where to begin about yesterday. It really was such a great day. It wasn’t cold, but it wasn’t hot. The temperature of the water was 72 degrees, so I had no problem diving right in as one of the very few people without a wetsuit. It was cool throughout the entire ride, but not cold. It did heat up in the run, but it was the afternoon, so that was to be expected. Luckily there were lot of people with hoses on the course.
My biggest thing was having a better run. Well, that didn’t entirely happen. There is just no getting around the fact that after swimming and riding, running sucks and I am wicked tired – mentally and physically. But, I am getting ahead of myself.
The swim…I went to the right of the pack toward the back. Swimming on the right gave me sense of no one else there, because I only saw the river banks, rather than the people around me. Pretty soon, though, I was in the pack more to the left and it was fine. People seemed a little more out of control in their swimming this year. There was this girl who would backstroke in front of me, cut me off and flip over, swim toward the OTHER side of the river and then backstroke again. I finally got passed her, but there just seemed to be more jostling amongst the swimmers than last year. But, that didn’t really stop me and I managed to take six minutes off my time from last year! (Unofficial completed time for the swim was 41 minutes)
The on to the bike…I was out of the water and had a good transition and was on my bike in about five minutes. I felt good when I got on my bike. My legs didn’t feel tired and I was cruising along River Road at a good pace. It wasn’t until that first hill that my legs reminded me that they were there and were a little fatigued from swimming 1.2 miles. I caught my friend and teammate, Amy, around mile 17 and we rode the rest of the ride together. Around mile 41, our other friend and teammate, Dionne, caught us and we rode together the last 16 miles.
Last year, my good friends, Carrie and Chad were on Chalk Hill cheering me on. Unfortunately, this year they weren’t able to be there. I was sad, but every time I have climbed Chalk Hill since last year’s event, I have always imagined them there…Chad running and shouting and Carrie with her cow bell, so I knew I would do that one more time. But, I didn’t have to! The best moment of the ride was as I was hitting the most difficult climb on Chalk Hill, I look ahead of me and see a cyclist riding down the other side. Suddenly I hear, “STACIE SATHER” to which I happily replied, “CHAD CHEADLE!” There he was, right on cue. Was it seeing Chad that gave me the momentum or was it all the training that made Chalk Hill seem easier than it has ever felt? I don’t know, but I will take it.
The entire ride was fantastic…my average speed was just over 16 miles an hour – that is with climbing and everything! I took 14 minutes off my time from last year! (Unofficial completed time for the bike was 3 hours and 24 minutes)
Then came the dreaded run. Getting off the bike I felt fine, but my stomach wasn’t feeling all that great. In an effort to fix what was broken last year (poor fueling being one of them) I made myself eat every 20 minutes – this is fine, except I wasn’t get hungry and I was forcing it. The last portion of my PB&J didn’t go down very easily. But, off we went.
Amy and I started out in the interval we trained at near the end of training, which was 3/1. It felt OK, but not great. (I should also mention here that Amy has bursitis in her right hip, but powered through the event.) We dropped down to 2/1 and eventually 1/1, but sometimes running longer depending on how we felt, and sometimes we walked more too. It was hot and everything on my body hurt – it sucked. We kept talking about if we had done the Aquabike we would be done already…that didn’t help the psyche much, though.
I was convinced that my run wasn’t going to be any better…I felt like I was living a replay of last year. But, I wasn’t. Yes, my run sucked once again; however, I was having a great time. At one point, a runner said, “You two look really happy. That’s weird.” And we were happy…it was a great day and a wonderful event. It didn’t matter how fast we made it to the finish line. What mattered was that we DID make it to the finish line. We stayed together and while I would like to say we got each other through it, I really feel like it was Amy that got ME through it. And, in the end, I took eight minutes off my run! (Unofficial run time was 3 hours and 11 minutes!)
Total unofficial time for the event – 7 hours and 30 minutes. That is 24 minutes from last year’s event! I will take it!
Amy and I had talked about coming in together several times. We joked about whether or not we would link arms or hold hands. Would we skip? Run? How would it look? We are fairly equal in our paces, so it didn’t seem too far fetched. So, it was discussed, but not outright planned. It just worked out that way. But, I don’t think I would have wanted it any other way. Through this training and event, not only did I improve myself as an athlete, but I made a great friend. (I know, that sounds sappy, but I just traveled 70.3 miles in a day without a vehicle and I can be as sappy as I want.)
***Pictures to come soon***