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Iron Girl Sunday

I departed Cat Maudy at dockside at 4:30AM, still wiping pixie dust from my eyes. After all the media hype, reading up on nutrition, endless days of multi sport training, running 5K races, hours of studying bike technique (yes Lance – it IS about riding an expensive bike)…it all boiled down to getting your girl on for Iron Girl Sunday 8/23/2009.

With Hurricane Bill dumping buckets of suds late Saturday – it was not looking like the weather would be friendly for Sunday. Jill, Holly and I racked our ‘spensive (for our budgets) bicycles in the transition area early evening Saturday – during a downpour. Plastic bags covered the handlebars, saddle and chain – and we walked away hoping that our chains wouldn’t turn to rust during the next 12 hours.

Using the power of 2400 women encouraging Hurricane Bill to move on — Iron Girl Sunday proved to be ideal (maybe a bit muggy? but who’s complaining!) for a sprint TRI. The rains had stopped, temperatures cooled to the low 70’s, and the pavement was beginning to dry on the roads. Traffic was completely jammed by 5:30AM. Jill and Holly were the first to arrive into Centennial Park. Seriously, THE first to arrive. I’m pretty sure they received gold stars in grade school for punctuality. Jane, Emma and cameraman Mike arrived next. After 6 or 7 phone calls to somewhat GPS challenged Divina – we found her wandering aimlessly in circles near the porta-potties. At that point I kept a death-grip on our little mermaid swimmer – to ensure she got to the swim start on time.

Next stop…body marking. Jill and Holly arrived at the body marking stage before the magic markers had been issued to the volunteers. When you participate in the Iron Girl TRI – your calf is marked with your AGE, and your shoulders, wrist and other calf is marked with your bib number. This comes in quite handy in case you get lost, and forget how old you are.

True to form, Jill and Holly locked in an early wave start. Just minutes after the pro wave, J&H were grouped with approximately 400 other femmes – the largest wave in the Iron Girl event. Jill rushed to the front of the swimmer wave – to be the first in the water (no surprise here!) , and avoid the mayhem once all of the swimmers began splashing. In record 24 minute time – Jill popped outta the algae green lake – and ran up the hill to the transition area to her bike. Not far behind was Holly – chewing on lake grasses, and glad to be done with the swim.

Jill managed to bike and run at warp speed. So fast, that her timing chip, worn around her ankle – never registered. It doesn’t matter. We know. She completed a personal best of 2 hours and 20 minutes. That’s smokin. Holly completed her first triathlon under 3 hours. Sizzle sizzle! What is more amazing, is that these ladies had the energy to party well into the evening – and score style points on the hula hoop rock climb event in Ellicott City.

Emma, Divina and I were grouped with the very LAST wave of athletes. This gave the sun ample time to rise and crank up the heat. It also gives us lots of time to stand around, mimic Terry’s stretching program, watch the other athletes…and wonder if it will EVER be our time to participate. Divina, having trained for many months…stepped into the water…and FINALLY the LAST wave of swimmers were off. Emma and I took off for the transition area.

By now, most of the athletes had already been out on the bike course, and others were even finishing the run. As I waited for Divina to finish her swim, I quickly scouted out my bike competition. To my right…was a mountain bike. No competition there. To my left…a Cervelo with race wheels. Easily a $6K bike. hmmm. This might be a challenge – but my Ms. Trek Madone bike was ready. My bro even pumped up the tires. That’s a bonus in my world. Here comes Divina. My stopwatch is ready…it’s showtime. I ran up the hill with my bike, and crossed over the transition area. It took a bit longer to get clipped in – since my bike shoes were caked in mud. Eventually, I got clipped in…hit my stopwatch…and I’m off.

Focused the first few miles on breathing, heart rate, cadence (RPM) and the little digital readout on my speedometer. This is my personal motivator, and the feedback never ceases. Needed to keep the little numbers high, and my heart rate low. A bit of a challenge on this hilly course – but the first few miles were critical to “not overdoing it”. Needed juice in the tank for the 4 climbs, and numerous uphill grinds.

Being the last wave to depart, there were plenty of bikers in front of me. Every biker in front of me…I needed to pass. I don’t know why this is. It just IS. I passed approximately 150 bikers in that 17.5 mile route – for an average pace of 18+mph. Stopwatch reads 56 min & 16 seconds. Nearly 2 min better than my prior personal best. Moral of the story – ask big Bro to pump up your bike tires b4 you ride!

As I hopped off of my bike, and ran thru the transition area..I was met by Emma – who was FIRED up for her sprint/run. She had the timing chip off my ankle in record time – and before I could part any inspirational words…she was out of sight! Emma is a marathon runner, and we had talked about her running this 3.4 miles at her personal record pace. I didn’t realize she took this conversation seriously!

Emma surprised all of us, including herself – when she raced across the finish line in a blistering 8:51 minute per mile pace. Our IG relay time took 11th place (out of 57 teams). More sizzle sizzle!

The paparazzi and support team of Chuck, Steve, Mike, Paddy, Terry, Danielle, Donna, Trung, Minh, Lamie, Jannett, Tami & Barry (wow!!) had their hands full trying to keep tabs on their IG athletes. With an estimated crowd of 10,000 and the entire Howard County Police force herding spectators and vehicles — it was difficult to move from one event (swim, bike or run) to the next. Yet somehow, the support team managed to find parking, make us laugh, show up at awfully early hours for this spectacle, cheer us on, snap pictures, and be *just* in the right spot so that we actually heard them cheering for us-when we needed to hear those voices. You guys ROCK!

Looking forward to Tami, Lamie and Minh joining the IG sistahood of Jill, Holly, Divina, Emma & Jane next year. Let the training begin 😉

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