IMLP 2013 The longest day in history

My cutoff was midnight…. or was it?

This year they decided to change the swim start to accommodate more people, er, uh, I mean to ‘alleviate anxiety’. For whatever reason you believe, the swim started in waves (pun intended). We were asked estimate our swim finish time and get into a group with others estimating the same finish time. The faster swimmers started first and if you thought you needed the full 2 hours and 20 minutes, you started last. This way, the faster swimmers wouldn’t run over the slower ones. Makes sense, right?

Since I seeded myself with others planning on finishing between an hour and 30 and and hour and 40 minutes, I started about 15 minutes after the first ones got into the water. The first group got in about 6:30 am and I did about 15 minutes later (which was still before 7 am (the usual official start)). The official cut off times were no longer a set number. For instance, I ‘started’ (by crossing the chip reader at the water entrance) at 6:45 am and I only had 17 hours to complete the course, then I would only have until 11:45 pm to finish. The problem was I had no idea how many minutes before 7 am I started.

Not in my wildest dreams would I have thought about worrying that I couldn’t make it by the 17 hour mark. That is, until I got to about mile 50 on the bike and was only 4 1/2 hours into the day. At mile 50 I was going 6 mph up the hill and only averaging 13.4 miles on the trip so far. So it was before noon and my calculations were pushing me close to a midnight finish already! How depressing! About 12 more hours….. That’s a long time (a really long time).

If my thought of not making it in time wasn’t enough, the guy that won the race PASSED me on his second loop about a mile later. He was already 45 minutes into his marathon by the time I got 1/2 way through the bike. Hows that humanly possible?!

When I finally did get back into town, I got my special needs bag but couldn’t eat much of any of the delicious food I packed. My stomach couldn’t handle much for some reason. So I threw out my yummy jelly and salt sandwich after a bite and took the soon to be famous Fawn’s Energy Bites and put them in a baggie on my bike for my next FOUR HOUR RIDE! I’m tired again just thinking about that….

I saw Fawn as I was leaving the special needs area and told her that the first leg of the bike damn near killed me and that I was already calculating a close to midnight finish. She just smiled and said “That’s OK, you’ll still DO IT!’ Thanks for the tear in my eye… With a big breath, I started my second loop.

There were fewer people in and around me on that second start. The climb out of LP wasn’t too bad (probably because of those Bites!) I got to the first aid station and they still had supplies to hand out… a good sign, I wasn’t that far behind everyone.

I was wearing a GPS from My Athlete in addition to the chip given to me by the race so the people tracking me could see my, er, um, progress. Because of the lack of cell coverage in the area, the GPS dropped out about that time and would find me again about 20 miles later. My dad was one of the ones tracking my progress and could see the elevation map on his computer. Right at about that aid station, there was another mile climb then about a 9 mile decent. Since my GPS lost my signal there, my dad (who was tracking me on his computer at home) thought I just stopped. He told me later that he kept thinking that he wished I knew that if I only went one more mile, I could relax for the next nine. But there was my GPS blinking in the same spot as if I stopped. I’m sure he tried to mentally send me a message.

It turns out, I did keep going and eventually got to nine mile decent (thank goodness). And let me tell you, going 40 mph on the bike is a scary thought until you actually do it. It is a huge rush. Though I did hit my brakes for a bit on that section because the people in front of me didn’t quite enjoy going that fast.

The straight away after that was pretty non-eventful. The good news for me was that I could see a bunch of people in front of me which meant I wasn’t too far behind. I had in my head that the first lap killed me and I was surely among the very last riders out there.

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