We got in the water 20 minutes early so that gave ample time to swim around, get cold, swim around some more, get cold and on and on till they blew the horn. The swim was an out and back and pretty uneventful. Before the first turn buoy I was with quite a few girls, swapping positions. Once we turned I was all alone all the way to the finish which was nice because I didn't have to swim guarded from arms/legs. I grabbed my bike and accessories and ran up the hill with my bike out of transition where I saw my fabulous support group cheering me on. I had no idea what position I was in but my rack was full of bikes so I figured I was in a good place.
The bike course starts out uphill out of the resort and makes its way out to the National Park. On the first uphill I realized something was wrong with my rear derailleur because whenever I shifted into the top half of my cassette it made this awful grinding noise. I just accepted it and freaked out anyone I was passing since I sounded like a bulldozer. Once in the open desert it was climb after climb. I caught some girls and was taking in my nutrition well. There was definitely and increase in temperature when entering the park and I could feel the heat sitting on my back.
Terror struck when I was flying down a hill and all of a sudden my pedals stopped. I couldn't move my feet backward or forward. I tried to shift out of the jam but my chain had fallen outside of the smallest cog on my cassette and I realized I would have to get off of my bike to fix it. I got aero to take advantage of the rest of my down hill speed then pulled over. I clipped out, almost fell, tried to fix the chain but couldn't until I fully dismounted my bike. As I am placing the chain on and shifting my front chain ring people are just flying past me. I finally got it all back in place and took off. I had been working on chasing down 2 girls in blue from my age group but they were now nowhere in sight. I told myself to just get on with my race and forget about it. This plan went well and I was right on top of my nutrition until about mile 35 when the chain fiasco occurred AGAIN! This one sent me to a bad place. Once I got going again I only had thoughts of dropping out, hoping for a flat and wishing I was 75 so I could go slow for the next 45 minutes. I finally, with 10 miles to go on the ride, shook myself out of the depression, got my nutrition back on track (which I had been majorly neglecting during my drama queen moment) and tried to finish the ride confidently with the idea of dropping out once in T2 because there was no way I could complete a half marathon in my current state. I was tired.
Once I pulled up and saw my family I got a surge of motivation and made it out of T2 with my running shoes on and the gait of a large hippo awkwardly bounding towards the water stops. My legs finally fell into a nice rhythm and woke up from the bike ride in time to face the first 2 hills. At each water stop I took in perform, then water, then more water to drink and more to pour on my head. I also grabbed the cold sponges whenever I could get my hands on them. Each lap I got to see my family and LHA twice which was wonderful. LHA reminded me to take in my salt sticks and this could not have been more important. I took one every other water stop and after missing a few I could feel my kidneys getting angry so I got back on track. The run was a roller coaster of feeling crappy and feeling like I could finish. I did get pulled out of stomach cramps when I drank some Coke. It was so good! I took that in for the next 4 miles then stopped because my stomach was revolting again. I loved the 3 loop set up in the end though because the last loop was so very exciting. I chased down a girl from Germany the last up hill and took the last mile downhill as fast as I could manage so she wouldn't catch me. I crossed the finish line very happy! I had no clue what place I had gotten till my family told me I had come in 5th.
With this I was very pleased considering all of the ups and downs of my race. I have raced quite a few times now and not once have I had a mechanical issue on my bike. For this I am thankful. It is entertaining when this happens because anyone that passes you before or after you just want to yell "I had bike problems! I did!" to justify your position. I have no idea if I could have gone faster without these issues because they did give me a little break in the pedaling. I would like to think not entering the negativity cave would have been a time saver for me but who knows! I am definitely looking forward to trying to qualify again this coming year so I can tackle the course again. It was beautiful and a wonderful challenge to have completed.