|Birthday dinner at the port|
In the week leading up to the race, we did a few swims, bikes, and runs to stay loose, get to know the course, and see the sights. The guy who ran the bar downstairs thought we were pretty hilarious since we were always coming or going in our workout clothes - it must have looked pretty nutty since everyone else spent most of the day relaxing and trying to stay cool. Our runs were limited to the Promenade and the area around the port, which was plenty. It was HOT, with an intense sun and a lot more humidity than we were used to, so we just kept our fingers crossed for cloud cover and a sea breeze on race day!
|Look at that blue water!|
The highlight of the week's training was definitely the cycling. We did a short ride out to the airport and back on the first day just to make sure we'd put out bikes together correctly. Turns out traveling with a bike isn't all that bad (other than the actual transportation of the bike box from location to location), and putting it back together was pretty easy. Special props to Stephen for taking my bike apart and packing it so carefully in the box!
We did another short ride, about 20 miles, along the course on Friday that went along the promenade and through the flat section along the river. It was good to spin the legs and work out the kinks. Katya got a little crash out of her system that left us all shaken, but fortunately only some bruising for her - a lucky landing in the grass saved her from worse!
|Breakfast from the boulangerie|
Out on the town
|Ironwomen can still party!|
|Just some of the Ironchattes at the pasta party|
|Ironchattes, checking in!|
|Me and my support crew!|
Swim - 1:18:52
I was surprisingly calm the entire time, even walking onto the beach. I danced to the music, watched the crowd, and just enjoyed the moment. I walked down to the water with Andie and Dino, and we found our spots to line up for the swim start. I was a little concerned looking at the buoys out on the water because I couldn't tell for the life of me where we were supposed to swim. I knew there was a clockwise loop followed by a smaller counterclockwise loop, but the buoys didn't seem to indicate that at all. After chatting with some others after the race, it seems they all felt the same way, but I figured the kayaks would at least point us in the right direction. FloRida's "Good Feeling" was the perfect song to start to, and would be my theme for the day. They announced 30 seconds to go, I found my spot in the lineup, braced for a beating in the swim start, and we were off!
|And we're off!|
We ran through a series of showers on our way out of the water, but I missed most of them because I was really frustrated with how slow the guys in front of me were going, and I only caught the last one. I ran up the ramp, grabbed my bag, and pulled off to the side to get ready. I didn't change shorts, so I quickly put on my helmet, sunglasses, shoes, tri top, race belt, and chamois cream (Dave Zabriskie literally saved my ass at this race!), grabbed my nutrition, and I was off to get my bike at the far end of the transition area. It was nice not to have to run with my bike, but in hindsight I should have waited to put on my bike shoes until I got to my bike - it was so far! Again, all the guys running with their bikes were super slow through transition, which was frustrating until I realized I could cross over to the other side and avoid the obstacles. So much faster! I grabbed my bike and headed for the hills.
Bike - 7:34:38
Ouch, right? That's a long time to be on a bike! Honestly, though, this was probably the best bike ride I've ever been on -not the fastest, but definitely the best. The ride started with a flat section of about 20km along the Promenade and then up the river from the airport. Most of this section was spent jockeying for position and trying not to get flattened by the slower swimmers who were trying to make up time.
|Grasse - just one of many beautiful towns along the way!|
|Gourdon, on the way up Col de l'Ecre|
|View from the top - see that little road down there? We did that.|
While the "technical" descents were nothing worse than what I'm used to in Marin, I'm really glad that I've gotten more comfortable with descending. This ride would have been SO much slower in a previous year, mostly for that reason. I felt comfortable until I came across a guy sprawled across the road with an ambulance next to him. Fortunately, it was almost the bottom of the descent, so it didn't affect me too much. I felt great for the last ten miles - in fact, I didn't even want to throw my bike when I got to transition! I think I finally managed to connect with my bike, and I'm actually excited about riding more this fall. Crazy, right? I think she's earned a name, too: Colette, for making Col de l'Ecre seem like a little hill!
|Ready to run!|
T2 - 9:46
While I wasn't totally desperate to get off my bike, I was very excited to lose the cycling shoes. Those things hurt! Fortunately, I didn't have the issues this time around that I had in Canada (my time was 22 minutes slower, but I felt good getting off the bike, even after 3000 feet of extra climbing!). I had a couple of hot spots on my toes, but I didn't feel like my feet were falling apart. I took those off immediately and ran for my bag. Shoes, ponytail (OMG, what a matted mess!), visor, nutrition, sunscreen, tutu (of course!), and I was off!
Run - 4:45:44
|On my way out of transition!|
|Just going for a little run along the Mediterranean...|
|To the finish!!!|
- Lap 1: Comfortable, and the legs feel good, but it's crazy hot on the way back with the wind at our backs. Loving the tutu - I really couldn't get enough of the cheers in all languages, but honestly, nothing is better than "Allez, Zhenniferrr! Allez le tutu!!!" (so much cuter in French!!!). The crowd near the finishline/turnaround was amazing, and really gave a good boost on each lap. Lap 1 done, black chouchou on the wrist.
- Lap 2: Hot feet! Stomach starting to act up from the heat and bouncing, afraid to try the port-a-potty for fear that the smell will make me sick. Slight breakdown upon seeing Stephen, but he does a good job of convincing me that I'm running well and that I should just use the bathroom and keep it up! Light blue chouchou on the wrist.
- Lap 3: Steel myself for the stench and finally use the port-a-potty, feel better, make friends with a photographer who runs with me for a good mile, carrying all of his equipment! I was so excited to be on the last lap that I was practically dancing when I gathered my dark blue chouchou from the volunteer I had passed by on the previous two laps. She was equally excited to be handing them out!
- Lap 4: Determination sets in. 1:10 left to complete the final lap. I WILL DO A SUB 14:00!!! In any marathon, this is where I would fall apart. The distance gets to your head even if the legs feel great. I didn't allow myself to celebrate or despair until I got to the 40km mark. 1.2 miles to go. With about half a mile left, Stephen ran alongside the course, telling me it was in the bag. I threw him my water bottle and did my best to pick it up for a strong finish. I was kind of bummed about the woman in front of me, whose daughter and husband had jumped out to cross with her. I'm not sure if I just didn't have it in me to beat her, or if it didn't occur to me at the time, but she was totally in my way for the finish line picture. No matter though, because not only was my run 25 minutes faster than last year, my finish time was...
13:57:05!!! (grrr...if that woman and her kid hadn't been there, I could've had a 13:56!)
|Celebrating with some well deserved refreshment|
Stephen was awesome after the race - he got Katya's bike and bags so she could go get her finisher stuff, and he carried them back to the house too (ugh, what a walk after all that!). Back home, we chowed on some leftovers from the previous night, showered, and then hit the hay. Surprisingly, I slept really well - much better than after previous IMs. I didn't want to get up, but knew I would regret it if I stayed home on my last day in Nice!
|Off to Italy for the afternoon|
|Toasting an epic Ironman experience!|