The weekend started with a four hour drive from Harrisburg, PA to Morgantown, WV saturday morning. I arrived at the expo to pick up my race packet and tee shirt. The start/finish is at a park downtown so, in a college town, there were lots of bars. We decided to go to a bar for lunch but not before a quick dip in the river. I did a quick 12 min swim out to the first marker and back. Then went to the bar.
It was a microbrew pub so we got to sample some of the local beers. Had some apps and decided we should probably drive the bike course before checking into the hotel. Bad idea.
The bike course for the 1/2 Ironman was three loops of 9ish miles out and 9 back. The first mile or two was taking out out of town. Then the first hill came. "Not too bad", I thought. Then we turned off onto the back roads and we started heading down. At the bottom of the hill our friends in another car pulled off and stated that we should be almost there. I looked at my odometer and said we only went 3.3 miles. Then we started up the hill... and kept going, and going and going. Not even a false flat to catch your breath. The hill was just over 2 miles long. There was about a mile of flat and then the Olympic turn around sign. This is were things got shitty. It was up and down, up and down, up and down about 5 more times in 3 more miles. Not a good sign.
We found our hotel and checked in to our room before dinner. We were there for about 30 minutes before we drive the 5 miles back downtown to have some italian for dinner. Not a bad place. Went back to the hotel and set my alarm for 5am.
Woke up the next morning to several text messages that my twin sister had a baby! So the day started off on a good note. I had a quick breakfast of a honeybun and coffee from the hotel lobby. Drove over to the park and started setting up my transition. I went over and got body marked and got my timing chip.
There were four different races going on, five if you included the dualathon. The woman's only race was about 1/2 a sprint, the sprint, olympic and half iron. We started last.
Almost 8am came around and we were finally called down to the dock. Everyone started by jumping off the dock after walking over the timing mat two at a time. The course was two laps and with the water temp at 76, pretty warm for a wetsuit. I still wore one, though. Swimming smooth and long I came out of the water in 39 minutes. Ran to transition and got my bike. Then the fun started.
I've talked so much about the bike course to friends already that I'm tired of it. The first look took about 1:10, followed by the second around 1:20 and the third lap around 1:25. The two mile hill just kept getting harder and harder. I was either going up the hills at 5mph or screaming down them at 45mph.
I felt suprisingly fresh after the 4 hour bike and ready to run. I ran with two people for the first mile. My time was right about 8 minutes. The sun went away and the temp came down a few degrees. I was having some chafing issues on my arm so it felt like I was running with a chicken wing sticking out. The run course was again a 3 lap out and back of 4ish miles on a bike path. I really only saw one person that had a smile on her face.
Each mile kept getting slower and slower and I was averaging around 9:30 miles nearing the last lap. I hooked up with an runner who was walking and decided to walk with him. Not that he slowed me down but I really didn't have the motivation to run. I was getting bloated by all the water, coke, and infinit they had. They had pretzles but with a dry mouth, they were really hard to get down. I also had to make two stops at the port-o-pot to try and make some room for the liquid. I was on my third lap and he was only on his second. We ran/walked those four miles and I left him at the turn around. I ran another .25 miles and finished in 7:03. A terrible time but considering my 14 mph average speed on the bike, not too bad.
I checked my time and to my suprise I was actually 3rd place for clydesdale! But the bad news was they were all out of awards! I wrote my name down and they are going to ship it to me.
I went over to the post race food and was dissapointed. From what I can remember, they had carrots, grapes, trail mix, pretzles, oranges, apples, watermelon and PB&J sandwiches. I filled my plate but wasn't hungry. I had two slices of watermelon and a coke and threw everything else away. Nothing seemed good to me. We packed up our stuff and started to four hour drive home. About 20 minutes in we did stop at Wendys and that's where I got my hot, salty food that I craved.
My thoughts on the race? I knew it wasn't a big race but it fit my schedule so I did it. I understand WV is hilly but I wasn't expecting all the hills. The elevation map didn't do it justice. I guarantee I'm not going back to defend my 3rd place finish next year!