My Orangeman pre-race really started back in 2006 when I had just done my first half-marathon and began learning more about endurance racing. I read an article about triathlons and was convinced that triathletes were the most amazing athletes ever. I learned about the different distances and thought, “It would be an amazing feat to complete a half Ironman!”
Why the half? I had done a half marathon, so I think that seemed within the realm of possibility, but still an extreme goal to reach for. The following spring I bought a bike. The next summer I took swim lessons. A year later, I signed up for a beginning tri course with Joby and did my first sprint triathlon in September 2008. Then life became busy and before I knew it, three years had passed, but I still had this lingering hope of one day becoming a triathlete and doing a long course. So this year, I got back on the path, got in touch with Joby and headed towards Orangeman.
Leading up to the race, I had some ideas about possible paces I might hit. I had my “at-least pace” and my “wishful-blazing-fast pace” all worked out. But above all else, I wanted to complete this race and enjoy every minute of the experience I had been looking forward to for so long.
Two weeks before Orangeman I completed the San Diego Classic International Triathlon. Before that race, I was nervous about my gear. I spent hours going through the race and transitions in my head. I realize now that all the mental work I did before that race was really preparing me for Orangeman. I was definitely anxious about completing my first long course, but my focus was on the pacing and distance rather than the logistics of transitions. Coming off a great race in San Diego helped me feel confident and prepared for race day at Orangeman.
We arrived in Dana Point on Friday evening. Our hotel (the Doubletree) was a convenient two minute walk from transition. On Saturday, we walked through the transition area, scoped out the ins and outs, the racks, etc. We drove Ortega Highway and it was about what I expected. It’s incredible to think that only three months ago, I was scared to death to climb and even more to come down a hill that looked like Ortega Highway. Thanks to Joby’s help and a few GMR rides, all I saw when driving Ortega was an upcoming, gorgeous ride.
Race Timing – 47:57:00
Garmin Data – Distance: 1.41 mi, Time: 47:40
As we stood on the beach and looked out over the buoys, I commented on how far the distance looked. I’m always intimidated seeing the distance all stretched out – so different than lapping back and forth in a pool. Luckily Bill was standing next to me and said, “Just keep on swimming, and when you hit those hills on the bike, just keep on pedaling.” Those words stuck with me throughout the day. Just keep on going – no problem.
We headed out into the swim. I took off strong to get past the breakers. The ladies were all around me and suddenly, I felt a sharp tug on my ankle. We’re talking serious clawing nails. My first thought was, “A fish is trying to eat my leg!” Luckily it only took me a second to get my head straight and realize it was just some woman being grabby. I laughed at myself for a moment and then got into a rhythm.
Not too long after the start, I found a mix of cap colors around me with folks from waves ahead and behind mixing together. Before I knew it, we were turning to head back. I picked up my stroke speed a bit for the way back and headed on in feeling great.
Race Timing – Time: 4:01:26, Avg Speed: 13.9 mph
Garmin Data – Distance: 55.59 mi, Time: 3:59:00, Avg Speed: 14.0 mph
The first ten miles or so of the bike felt great. La Pata was a fun climb, and I got into a nice rhythm heading up. Although they will need to mark the speed bump on the way down better next year. We rode by a competitor who took a nasty fall coming down. I am sending good thoughts of recovery into the universe for him.
Between miles 15 and 20 I began to feel a knot in my right hip. I’ve had this problem once before while training, and it resulted in my hip completely locking up about two miles from the end of my 45 mile ride. This was the only point in the race where I felt slightly concerned about my body failing me. Luckily, the kink worked itself out and all was well.
I settled into my granny gear and headed on up the climb. The views were breathtaking, and it felt like such a luxury to be out there. Right when the hill started to feel endless, I made it to the turn around. My legs recovered on the downhill and I picked up the pace for the final flat miles.
Race Timing – Time: 2:56:05, Avg Pace: 13:26 min/mi
Garmin Data – Distance: 13.49 mi, Time: 2:57:00, Avg Pace: 13.07 min/mi
I took off on the run and started to feel the heat come on. Then we hit the sand portion of the course. The jolting of the first couple of steps sent some pain into my knees, so I thought I’d better play it safe and walked through most of the sand. Now looking back, I can’t help but think, “I bet I could have run that,” but I suppose you have to trust you made the best decision given the moment.
I got to the pavement, threw some ice down my shirt and took off again. I had a ton of fun on the loop section of the run course. I cheered for everyone passing by. I looked for my FC teammates. I “got to know” others along the course and we smiled and cheered every time we passed one another.
I may not have been the fastest out there, but if they were giving awards for the person who smiled the most, I would definitely be in the running for the podium! I switched into a run walk and kept the cold water and ice going to keep my core temperature down. (Thank goodness Joby advised me on that; it was a lifesaver!) I smiled for ten miles straight and was the happiest girl ever crossing that finish line!
And now I’m an Orangeman! Yahoo!!!
Overall Time: 7:56:31