Dinner at the Erickson's last Tuesday night -
Me - You know I'm signed up to do Rockman 1/2 IM on Sunday.
Scott - You prepared for that? You haven't been doing much. Is there anyone you can race with?
Me - NO, there's no one I can race with. And, no I'm not prepared to race but I am prepared to just finish. The tri-mates are camping the night before, is that ok with you?
Scott - Camping? You camping? ....
And so the choice was made. I would do Rockman.
Saturday Afternoon -
The hubby and kids dropped me off at S.I.'s right around 1:30 p.m. Me, Michelle, Laura and SI packed up the car, hugged our families good bye and we were off.
We are about 3 miles from the state park and packet pick up. The radio starts making that weird high pitched Meep, Meep, Meep -oooooooo. Then - warnings are announced about bad thunderstorms, high winds, hail, and tornado's in the area. Hmmm.
Get to transition. Check in. The sky starts to turn dark and the wind picks up. We rack our bikes. I go to the end. Don't want to interfere with anyone racing. As I'm maneuvering the bike onto the rack I hear this very soft, "Mrs. Erickson". Is someone calling me? Is there another Mrs. Erickson here? Why wouldn't they just call me Pam? So I look up and I see a group of boys standing at the end of transition with their dads. I kind of smile and wave. No one looked familiar. I even did the corny thing of tilting my sunglasses down to get a better look. Then one of the men says, "It's Dr. B...." And an immediate "OH CRAP" rushes around in my head, and almost out my mouth. Luckily I got some kind of pleasantry out and I hear him say, "Ok, see ya in the morning." My mind was RACING. My trimates knew I was just doing this and trying to get the spark back how would I explain this to my kids pediatrician. It took me a while to calm my thoughts. I just reminded myself that it really didn't matter.
Shortly after my anxiety attack we met up with some more tri mates and we were joking (but serious) that we were going to camp on their hotel room floor. We got to the car when the sky opened up and dumped a lot of rain down.
Saturday Evening -
Jeff and his daughter, Craig and Amy came to visit the camp site. Jeff ate with us. Scott made steak, pesto pasta salad, and grilled vegi's. It was so good. Then Laura whips out these rice crispy/chocolaty/peanut butter bars. I know, without a doubt I could have eaten the entire container. I ate one. Can't look like a pig in front of my tri-friends. :)
Finally the rest of the group got to the camp site around 7:30. Geez I'm thinking. They are Lolly gaggers. While the guys were eating their dinner Tom R. tells us that about a mile from the Rockford exit his bike fell off the back of the car. Oh man. The bike is in pieces. Thankfully no one was hurt. Tom is amazing. Truly. I would have been inconsolable. As luck would have it, Laura's husband was coming up the next morning to watch the race and agreed to bring up Tom's road bike. Tom didn't like the bike but it was better than nothing.
After all the tents were set up with air mattresses (thankfully Tom brought an extra for me) Gil and Ed left to rack their bikes. 20 minutes later Gil calls saying the race director can help Tom and Tom needs to go to the RD's house and check out a bike. What a great guy to lend Tom his bike. Laura, Michelle and I just laid in our tent listening to the wind in the trees. It's about 10:30. Scott and Tom are back and laughing. We could hear them saying something about the bike. Soon he had all of us laughing. And I'm thinking, no way, tomorrow Tom will be riding a pink bike.
Sunday Morning -
Sometime around 12:30 it started to pour rain. Laura closed up her window and then Michelle closed hers. Luckily the back one and the one next to me could stay open. The rain stopped eventually but we were under a tree that just kept dripping onto our tent. I ended up putting the pillow over my head. I know I slept about 2 hour hours cause the next time I looked at my watch it was 3:48. Ok, good. 4:30 came and it was time to get up. None of us really slept but the mood in the camp was a good one.
Thankfully Ed brought bagels, peanut butter and banana's for everyone. Good thing, I packed for a week but forgot breakfast. The rain started up again. I brought the rain ponchos from our trip to Disney. Just Tom's luck - he picks one sized for kids. He wore it.
Drove to transition and the nerves were starting. The drive was short and quiet. We had about a 1/2 mile walk from parking to transition. Of course the pink bike helped ease the nerves. I saw a lot of people from the club and past club members. Everyone was excited and ready. I love this feeling and hate it all at the same time.
On the way into the water I see Dr. B. again. He was smiling and looked ready. I apologized for not recognizing him a day earlier. Let's face it that blue lab coat he always wears is enough to change anyones appearance. You know just like Bruce Wayne/Batman. I almost said how I was doing this for fun and then stopped myself. Why bother. Wished him luck and went to the very back of the pack. Sang the National Anthem. There was about a minute I had my chance to get out of the water and just cheer my mates on - then the horn blasted. Oh well, to late.
Took my time on the swim. The seaweed was still a problem. Luckily I didn't get completely tangled in it. Was about 2/3 done with the swim when I saw a woman swimming next to me. She was doing the side stroke. Wow I thought, she's doing really good. The side stroke and she's right next to me. Um, how slow as I actually going? Obviously to slow. Started to breath every 3rd stroke and kick a little harder. Couldn't believe I actually swam up next to SI. Recognized his wetsuit. Would have to ask if he knew I swam next to him at the end of the race.
Out of the water in 50 minutes. 50 MINUTES! Settle the mind. SI slaps me on the shoulder on his way to T1. We high five. I take my time. Turn on the Garmin. I was racing with my heart. Completely with my heart so I figured the Garmin wouldn't hurt. Used the PAP. On my way out of T1 they were announcing that there were only 10 swimmers left in the water. UGH! Just go I told myself, have fun and go.
Rick didn't know it but he came with me on this ride. I figured his spirit was about the only thing that could pull me thru this mentally. Keep in mind, since Ironman I was on my bike twice before this,20 miles in September and then 27 miles 3 weeks ago. Much to my surprise, coming right out of transition is a guy riding a bike just like Rick's :). I was smiling and soon I passed him. Hey, wow, what ya know. As rode I was thanking volunteers, the police and the sheriffs. Saw Craig 1st on the bike. Checked the Garmin. He was about 20 miles ahead of me. And then started seeing everyone else. It was so uplifting seeing them. At the turn around point I thanked God for keeping the weather so nice for us and putting a lot of wind at my back.
Around mile 30 I saw Laura's husband. Cheering and video taping. Just after that the sky turned dark. Around mile 33 the rolling thunder and then lighting. It's going to pass I told myself. Then the wind and finally pounding pouring rain. I started to pray the Lord's prayer. I said it so many times and then started Hail Mary. It was still coming down. I then I was talking to God asking him to keep everyone safe. I knew to many people out there to start naming names. I prayed - "Please God keep us all safe from harm - please keep me safe from harm" over and over and over.
A short time later the rain stopped. Ah, I did my climbs thru the tough part of the ride. Was about 7 miles from the finish and in a flash the weather turned again. This time winds. Winds like nothing I have ever experienced. You know the scene from the Wizard of Oz, where the witch is pedaling and then she's in the air? Hmmm, maybe E.T. would be a kinder choice for describing this. Well, I felt just like that, not once but twice. I had no control over the situation, which is a terrible feeling. Just minutes before a truck drove by and asked if I was ok and if I wanted to stop - I said no. If he had been there at that moment I would have said yes. I'm glad he wasn't there.
I made it back to transition in 3:38 minutes. Just about what I planned on. Coming in I saw vans and cars leaving. I was hoping one of them wasn't Dr. B. I didn't want the crappy weather to spoil his experience. Then I thought - ut oh, what if they are cancelling the race. I told myself to ignore them. People kept going thru the Chicago marathon. I was going to finish no matter what. Turns out some people were quitting. Which I completely and totally understood. The weather had been miserable and turned bad quickly. It was sunny now but 5 minutes from now, who knew. But I had to keep going.
I started the run by walking with Tom N. out of T2. He left me at the bridge and on just the otherside I see Craig. I was calling Scott to let him know I was starting the run so couldn't say anything to Craig but the look on my face said it all. He was just finishing. Man, he's fast!
I wanted to keep a 10:30 pace on the run. Ended up averaging around 10:45. I was thrilled to see Laura and Michelle around mile 6. They told me that a tree had fallen in the road by our campsite. We couldn't get out. Nice. Thank God no one was around when it fell. Then my phone rings. Of course, it Dennis. "Hey, ya done?" I just started laughing. "No." I told him, "I'm on your favorite hill." He did this race last year. "My battery is dying, I'll call when it's over in about an hour and 10 minutes." "Yup, call me", he said. He convinced me I have to do this just to get me moving again.
Coming into the finish Laura's hubby was at the bridge, right were I left him. We ran in together and talked about his plans to run Boston. Oh, they are going to have a great time out there. Then he left me and told me to finish strong. I almost started crying, which was fueled by my tri-mates at the top of the hill cheering. I attempted to look at them and smile but couldn't. It would have been all over at that point and I was just 200 yrds from the finish.
I did it. I had a great time. Well not a great finishing time but a good time none the less. I would have had huge regrets not doing it. I loved hearing about how everyone felt out on the course during the crazy winds and rain. Gil knew I was praying. He was praying too. :) The pink bike helped Tom finish the bike leg with a smile on his face. I don't think I'll ever look at a pink bike the same way again. Dr. B. finished, I checked his time (of course -I had too), he was well ahead of me. And Michelle raced with Laura who finished her first 1/2 IM. Again, she has reached another milestone in miserable, crappy weather. She has a lot to be proud of. SI missed the middle of the pack award by about 30 people. Bummer. He's so even tempered about EVERYTHING!
I know a great group of people. They are my trimates and my friends. Life is blessed. :) Life is good. :)