Right into a headwind! I couldn't believe it.
There was one small downhill section where I got to fly and then the flat bit at end as I returned to transition but other than that I fought the headwind the whole way down.
So, the bike was quite a bit tougher than I'd anticipated, but I was proud of myself for powering through it anyway.
Also, I had decided to carry 24 oz of Ultima with me on the bike and 6 strawberry Shot Bloks (I ran out of time to experiment with whole foods fueling prior to the race so didn't want to risk it). I consumed all of this pretty steadily over the course of the bike leg and I think it worked pretty well! Even though the bike leg was hard, I never felt thirsty or light-headed.
As I approached transition, I was alarmed to see spectators lined up right at the edge of the little path leading to the timing mat. We were required to dismount and trot our bikes across the mat. I couldn't stop off the path because of all the people and was afraid that if I tried to stop on the path, I would fall over and take out a bunch of cyclists who were coming up fast behind me.
So, I stopped off the path just up the course from the first spectator. I managed not to fall over, and trotted my bike the rest of the way in, keeping far to the right to let other cyclists pass me, explaining apologetically to anyone who gave me a funny look that I'm really bad at stopping and didn't want to take a bunch of people down at the mat.
My official bike time: 52:22.2
TRANSITION 2 (T2):
I crossed the timing mat and returned to the transition area where, again following the written instructions I'd left for myself, I racked my bike, drank about 4 oz of Ultima, changed from my bike socks and shoes into my running socks and shoes, donned my race belt to which I'd pre-attached my race number, removed my gloves and helmet, stuck a packet containing three strawberry Shot Bloks in my gel pocket, drank another 4 oz of Ultima... then jogged off to the not-that-proximate porta-potties for a quick pit stop before jogging back to start the run.
As no other participant had a T2 time even remotely approaching mine, I can only assume that I was the only person in the whole race who required a pit stop. I hadn't timed dinner and breakfast correctly, though - my only real logistical error - and I feared being waylaid by GI issues on the run if I didn't make the stop, so whatever.
As I was changing shoes and socks, I noticed a long blister forming on the back of my right heel. I couldn't feel it once I got my running shoes on and just hoped it wouldn't be a problem once I hit the run trail.
My official T2 time: 7:09.9
My pit stop had allowed my heart rate to fall a bit and I started the run feeling pretty good... until perhaps 50 or 60 yards in at which point I suddenly couldn't breathe. The wheeziness I'd experienced in the latter part of the swim had returned only now I my inhalations as well as my exhalations were constricted. This had never, ever happened to me before and I could feel myself beginning to panic, which only made the problem worse.
I stopped running and stepped off the trail to get out of everyone's way and spent the next two or three minutes taking deep, long hold yoga breaths in order to calm myself down and return my breathing to normal. Soon I was good to go again but knew I wouldn't be able to run continuously, so set the timer on my watch and did 2 minutes run/1 minute walk for the remainder of the run, which did turn out to be sustainable.
There were four aid stations on the run, a good thing as by now it was quite hot. I ate one Shot Blok at each of the first three stations and washed it down with 6 to 8 oz of water and again, my fueling strategy seemed to serve me well.
I was running behind a man and a girl I took to be his junior high aged daughter. As we came around a stand of juniper and were about to head up a low hill to the second aid station, they stopped abruptly. The man took the girl by the shoulders and steered her to the left side of the trail. At first I thought that maybe she had cramps or was going to vomit, but then he turned to me, signaling with his hand that I should stop, and shouted, "Ma'am, there's a rattlesnake, get to the left!"
I stopped and moved to the left of the trail and sure enough, right there on the trail, not too far in front of him, was a snake. Luckily for us, it was already on the move. It slipped into the long, dry grass to the right of the trail. I warned a man coming up behind me to keep to the left due to a rattlesnake and he, I hope, warned the people coming up behind him. In any event, at the awards ceremony there were no reports or rumors circulating of any runners felled by snakebite, so I think the snake must have decided to seek shelter somewhere where there was less commotion.
The man and his daughter and I continued up the hill to the second aid station where I noticed that my right toes were starting to feel a little numb. The numbness progressed as it always does once it starts and by the 2 1/2 mile marker, my right leg was totally asleep. This hadn't happened in weeks but I chalked it up to three nights sleeping in a lawn chair in the kitchen with a very sick kitten followed by four hours of driving and a night sleeping in an SUV, all compounded by inadequate stretching.
On the other hand, I couldn't feel, and hadn't felt even before my leg went numb, the blister I had noticed at T2, and anyway, whatever. By now I knew I was definitely going to make it and was just psyched that I would soon be crossing the finish line. I kept up my 2 minutes run/1 minute walk strategy and almost before I knew it I was trotting across the grassy field and into the finish chute.
My official run time: 43:21.3
I heard them announce my name as I entered the finish chute, but I was so exhausted that it didn't even occur to me to raise my head and look at the display to see my time. It turned out that that would have been my unadjusted time, anyway, I think. My official time was that time adjusted for my wave start which was about 20 minutes after the gun for the first wave.
My official time: 2:03:48.7
I had thought that a realistic time finishing time for me at Danskin would be 2:15:00 or thereabouts. The swim at Danskin would have been a little longer, .5 miles as opposed to .5 kilometers, so I felt like my 2:03:48.7 was pretty much in the range or even perhaps a bit faster than I had expected.
I went back to my vehicle and then to the washrooms to clean up a bit before the awards ceremony. At the ceremony, S. Baboo and GeekGirl very kindly came over to see how my first triathlon had gone. I told GeekGirl about the wheezing and told her I didn't know if that an altitude thing or a little bit of exercise-induced asthma or what. She advised me that caffeine helps prevent wheezing, so I guess I need to experiment with drinking (even) stronger coffee in the morning or figure out a way to take in caffeine on the course. Gels would be the obvious solution, I guess, although again, that sort of conflicts with my dream of a whole foods fueling strategy for future races.
Anyway, in spite of a few mishaps here and there I think I had a great first race!
And now I can't wait to do another one! :)