Halfmax National Championship

I’m going to do this backwards today. I have to start this out by giving a huge THANK YOU to the peeps who helped make this incredible year possible, Atlanta Bread Co. @ Cherrydale, RS LED Group, www.Trisports.com, Barracuda Goggles, Powerbar, Nuuns, Forrest Fowler, and last but not least…my family and friends. I learned a lot during this year, and especially during this race. The first half of my racing season didn’t go as planned as my “A” race was Macon Half Ironman and it was a balmy 100 degrees that day. I hoped and prayed my 2nd half of the season would end on a better note, but we all know things never go as we want. I got sick, really sick, two different times w/in 8 weeks of Halfmax. I tried to focus all my energy into positive thinking and just told myself I’d be REALLY rested for this race.

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The crew (Jeff, Sarah, Krista, Britain-my cousin/babysitter, and Addison) all met for our drive to Myrtle Beach, and on the way we played a game. The game is guess your times….I like to quiz everyone to see what they think they can do. My turn came and here’s what I wanted, swim 38 to 41 mins., bike 2:53, run 1:50 and a finish time of 5:30 or better. I have a PR at Macon BakinJ of 5:26 so that’s kind of where I got the finish from. I have high goals. I knew the run would be a push.

I’ll skip all the fun stuff prior to the race, but let’s just say we saw someone doing a practice swim the night before the race and he kept stroking but didn’t appear to be going anywhere….that current was strong! Morning of the race I tried to focus, I went over the race in my mind and told myself to take the swim easy…real easy and to concentrate on my stroke. I didn’t want my shoulder/arm to be a factor like it was in Macon. As the swim is about to start I’m standing on the edge of the dock freezing! So I wait 20 seconds before they blow the horn and then jump in and get ready. I have to say the first 1/3 of the swim wasn’t too bad, other than a goggle malfunction, especially since it was w/the current. The rest of the swim just sucked. The current, the sighting, just everything about the swim blew chunks. I even got a little, shall I say….tiredL. I guess swimming once a week isn’t enough. I finally reach the end, get out of the water, look at my watch and am satisfied w/a 40:30 swim. My heartrate (HR) on the other hand was WAY too high. 

My transition is over quickly, and I’m looking forward to the bike and just being out of the water. As I start the bike I realize that if I don’t get this HR down I’m going to be hating life. I also realize the flags are erect, which means this bike is going to be rough. I get my HR down from 172 to 160, but this head wind is making me rethink where I need to keep my max at. I make a game decision to let my max be 160 and to try to keep it below 150 when I have a tailwind. The bike was a 2 loop “T” shape so I’d push and then get a little recovery. I’d see Jeff on the turnarounds, I’d look at my watch and time him to see how far behind me he was. I was well aware I was being chased. It’s all about “beat the girl”, which he has done in 2 ironmen but that’s it. I finish the 1st loop at exactly 1:30, and rather than give up and succumb to not meeting my goal I focused. I had full on conversations out loud. I told myself NEVER give up, focus, it’s your race and no one elses. Everytime things got tough I went back to my conversations of focus, it’s your race, no one elses, this is all about you. The focusing worked. I hit the transition area at 2:55 much to my surprise.

I exit transition and take a look at my watch and quickly do the math to realize if I do 1:50 on this run I could still make my goal, but it’d be right on the money. The run is a 3 loop out and back so I start it thinking, take it one loop at a time. Mile 1 and 2 feel good, I look at my Garmin only once and see the avg. is 8:15. I decide at that point not to look at the Garmin again. This run is going to be about pushing and it doesn’t matter how fast or slow I’m going b/c no matter what I’m giving it my all. I hit the turnaround on the run and it was like running into a brick wall. The wind that was such a factor on the bike is becoming even more of a factor on the run. I see Jeff and let him know that the turnaround point isn’t where we thought and then get back to pushing. I finish the 1st loop just keep thinking positive reinforcement. I’m repeating, I’m meaner than I think and tougher than I know. I get to the turnaround point again and see Sarah walking. I’m hurting at this point, and when I see her, she’s defeated. She’s giving up and its only into her 1st loop, I’m so mad. What do I do? What do I say? I guess the meanness I’d been telling myself about just comes out. I told her this is too early to be giving up, she can run 4 mins and walk 30 seconds but she needed to quit that walking and go. NOW! As I’m running by her I yell NEVER EVER GIVE UP. Little did she know that was as much for my benefit as hers. Some girl said, boy she’s mean….can I run w/you guysJ? I snickered. The run back to finish the 2nd loop was the hardest, the wind was brutal but I just kept telling myself the 3rd would be easier. I finally make it to the start of the 3rd loop and am really digging deep. I’m trying to make it from aid station to aid station, the heat has come and I really didn’t factor it being this hot. I take in as much fluid as I can at every station, salt tabs, ice, the works. Finally, I hit the turnaround. Although the wind is worse, I know that I can do ANYTHING for 2 miles. I see Jeff, he’s gained a little on me but not much. Neither one of us can even speak at this point. He’s literally pushing as hard as I’ve ever seen him push. The last couple miles are a sufferfest, there are times when I literally think my legs may just give up. I’m thinking to myself it’s mind over matter b/c your mind doesn’t matter. The last mile I made it through by reminding myself that the hours spent away from Addison needed to be worth it. I didn’t do all this training and give up all this time to walk and fail myself. I round the corner to see Britain and Addison cheering me on, and am relieved. I cross the finish line, look down at my watch, and see 5:42. 

I don’t care that I didn’t make my time goal. I met a completely different goal, I didn’t give up on myself. I didn’t give in to my temptations or my body, and I pushed to every limit I had. I could not have done anything more at this race. I left my heart and soul on that course and couldn’t have had a prouder moment.

This year has been the most difficult year of racing I have ever had. I have new priorities, new challenges, and a completely different mindset. I got a little glimpse of the old Nicole out on that race course though, and she will appear more often and a little more determined next year. 

Jeff had a PR and finished in a time of 5:31 beating the girl. Sarah had a tough race facing her own battles, but proved she was tough enough to finish and squeaked out 3rd place Athena! Krista had a PR on her run taking 9 mins. Off her run time. Britain learned that chasing a 1 year old is like an endurance event.

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