Here’s my little saga about Magic Mountain Man 70.3
As I was getting ready to head off to Magic Mountain, CA for this race, several things went through my head: I hope the weather holds up, I’m so excited, I will finally finish a half-Ironman, the climbing is going to kill me.
As funny as that seems when I re-count that, I could have never known what was to happen on-race day.
My boyfriend and I arrived at the race spot around 3 p.m. Everything seemed fine. The weather was nice and in the high 70′s to 80′s upon arrival. We got our race packets and really dug the course! It was beautiful. You could tell it was going to be a small race. Transition was small, the expo was dead, and parking was a-plenty! We then took a drive to see the course. Here’s where it gets good….
I knew from the website that there would be 6 significant climbs totalling over 6800ft. gain in elevation. Ok, hard but I can do that. 56 miles, no prob. I can do that too. Run 13 mi. no prob. I can do that also. It does help me when it’s not hot though. I really perform poorly in the heat.
Ok, that being said, we are driving along the course. I know that the first climb is 7 miles. That’s 2 miles further than my training rides but still do-able. It wasn’t incredibly steep, just long. Ok, so keep going to one of the turn around points, oh shoot, you mean I have to climb back UP that 7 miles???? HOLY MOLY! I guess at least there’s the downhill for a little recovery… Ok, still doing well mentally. I realize these two climbs are a significant part of the race and that’s really OK, I can do it. Then we proceed up more climbing and a small downhill, beautiful. Now, get to the base of Pyramid Lake, another 5 miles each way of steady climbing. Very small though. I’m thinking, this is where I’m going to start losing it. It’s just long and hot, and my legs will be tired after the two other long climbs. Ok, well, just get through it. Keep hydrated and mentally in the game. That brings us to climb number 5. Holy mother of god, this one is steep. It’s not long…just steep. Well, if I haven’t lost it mentally yet, I probably would now. I know, I know, I’m not sounding very confident. Keep going, one more climb left. The last one is just to let you know that yes, this race is called the Mountain Man. It’s not much of a hill but it’s still there. Then you get 7 miles of pure, unadulterated downhill speed fest! Yahoo! Cool, back to the lake and run two laps around the lake. Done, no-prob!
Well, this is how the race really went….As we were driving this course, I was so excited for the first two climbs, then I’m pretty sure I got really quiet. As I was thinking out loud about how difficult this would be and wondering, why the hell did I choose this race? My boyfriend made the comment that he will not be pulled of a race. Yeah, yeah, I know. I don’t want to either. It happened last time and it was horrible. The horrible feeling only set in afterwards because on the course I felt great. Anyway, I digress. So, mental note taken, neither of us wants to get pulled. I don’t care what excuses people make; it was hot, it was hilly, I was cramping, etc. etc. You either finish or you don’t.
So, we got some food, gorged ourselves on carbs, went back to the hotel showered, stretched, and fell asleep. Well, actually I slept, the boyfriend kept watching TV. He doesn’t sleep much. At 1:09 a.m. I woke up thinking about the race. I started to calculate how fast I climb hills, compare them to how long these hills are, and averaged in my downhill time, and realized that I would not make the 5 hr. cut off. I wouldn’t miss it by much, around 15 mins. But, It was so close that I didn’t want to take the chance. So, I stared at my boyfriend, willing him to wake up. Finally, around 2 a.m. he moved and grunted. Yes! Perfect opportunity to wake him up and discuss my dilemma. I said, ‘babe’, I’m not going to make the time cut-off! He said, ‘yes you will, go back to bed’. LOL, No…really, I’m not going to make it and this is why. So then he gets out his calculator and we must have run calculations for 10 minutes. I can tell he’s frustrated thinking, just go out there and do it! But I don’t want to shake my confidence again with a DNF. So I suggested that we do the Olympic distance. After much back and forth, he says o.k. , ‘I think that’s a responsible decision.’
So, now I lay awake thinking about that decision and how I feel about changing my mind at the last-minute. I mean hey, you can’t do that at Ironman. Anyway, so two-hours later, our alarm goes off and we shut the alarm off. We’ve just saved ourselves about an hour in the morning. We get up and start to get ready and I’m kind of in a funk. I’m not happy about my decision but I think it’s the right decision. George can tell I’m nervous so he keeps trying to cheer me up and insist that this is just a training day and to HAVE FUN. The competitive side in me can’t just have fun. I want to win. I want to battle my own personal goals and beat them. As we set up our transition and get down to the water I’m feeling a little more comfortable. The water is really nice. The air is cool and I’m hoping it will stay in the 70′s as I thought it would. I’m looking at the swim course and it looks short, good! I’m not a strong swimmer so I decide just to try to get through it.
The swim goes off and I’m making good time, it’s a nice swim, and then after I turn the first buoy I start to lose it mentally. I’m getting passed by Clydesdale and I’m not enjoying that! So I try to regain my focus, and when I get to the next buoy I start to kick it into high gear to get out of the water. Boy I felt slow! Then I started looking back seeing if there was anyone behind me. There was, but not many
Off, onto the bike. I don’t know what I do in transition, but I take a heck of a long time. I think I was really just trying to catch my breath! I realized later in the race that I gulped so much water on the swim, I had a massive air bubble stuck in my stomach which wreaked havoc down the road. So I’m biking, and biking and climbing and climbing. And, it’s ok. It’s hard but it’s nothing I haven’t done before. The issue was and always is my speed. I’m looking down at my computer and I’m at like 3 mph on some of the climbs. Oh hell no! At this point I don’t even care, I just want to finish climbing. I must say, the highlight of this bike portion was biking with my boyfriend. He as always trying to keep me positive. We stayed together as a team; people called us team USA because we were wearing USA jerseys. Those were very special moments for me. My previous boyfriends never even attended any of my races much less did them with me. My boyfriend is an Ironman who is VERY good. Strong, fast, mentally very strong. So for him to stay back with me, slow, fast, hurt, strong, whatever…it really meant a lot. The next best part of the bike portion was flying down the mountain at 39 mph. I think that’s the fasted I’ve ever gotten! A team of about 3-5 riders passed me on the down hill, I was being unusually cautious, and finally I just let it out and took off. It was a great feeling to just let go, let it be fun, make it feel like a regular training day. George got to have a little fun too. He HATES getting passed by people because he knows he’s fast. As a matter of fact, when he was waiting in transition for me, the monitor tells him, ‘you know this is a race right…’. Hahaha, he thought George was just chilling, killing time or something He said, ‘I’m waiting for my wife.’ Awww, we’re not married yet so it was very cute!
Finally on to the run! Yes, the running…That’s the part I like and am actually good at. Well, there was a monkey wrench in that plan…I had the most enormous gas bubble in my stomach. It hurt so bad to run. We’re running along the first three miles and I have to walk a little bit. We’re trying everything to get this gas bubble out. George is pushing on my stomach, trying to give me the Heimlich, telling me to stick my fingers down my throat. It’s really comical looking back…Anyway, we hit the turn around point and it’s HOT, I’m miserable, but I keep running. Finally, I say, ‘I have to puke’. So we pull off and I let out the LOUDEST 4 burps anyone has ever heard. It sounded a lot worse than what it was actually. I felt SO MUCH BETTER! Omg, right there I took off. I was ready to run and finish this thing. I must have sounded really bad because this lady ran up beside me and asked me if I was feeling better. Everyone was SO supportive and nice. Yes, I was feeling awesome. As we were running, I told George ‘This is the best moment of my life besides having my kids.’ I meant every word of it. At that moment, I could take it all in. I was elated, the endorphins were pumping, and I had the man of my dreams by my side, coaching me, staying with me, and I could finally enjoy our first race together. It was truly awesome! At this point I’m fighting recounting the race in my head because all I really want to do is analyze it. As we come through the finish I’m elated. Instead of a DNF I had a t-shirt and a finishers medal. More importantly, I had the best day EVER doing the first race together with George. I’ll talk about my post-race plan tomorrow. Today, I’m savoring this awesome race. Pics to follow…..