This was my third year going to Tinman. I set my standard distance PB there in 2009, then had a pretty pants race there in 2010 (which was a pretty pants season overall). So I was keen to participate in some way, shape or form, even though I wasn't keen on a swim (with the risk of a good kick to the belly), and I haven't been able to ride a bike (except Penelope Cruz-er, sort of) for quite some weeks!
I asked Mike if he was keen to put in a team to do the sprint, and he hooked us up with a swimmer (Tom, who did the bike last year when I did the swim in Rotorua), and Team 3.5 was good to go!
The day was grey and a tiny bit chilly; a nice change from previous hot years. We arrived at transition at about 6:45am, got Phil set up, then met my fellow team members to kill some time before it was time for the swimmers to "(wet)suit up". I didn't quite know what to do with myself for a bit while Phil warmed up and the others mucked around- I realised doing the run in a team was sort of the worst of both worlds, spectating and racing. Lots of waiting around, but not necessarily able to be in the places I wanted to be in.
Fifteen minutes or so after finding Tom post-swim I headed to T2 to kill time there. I figured Mike would be back between 30 and 40 minutes, and wanted to make sure I was there for him. I wasn't very sure of the timing, but after awhile I decided that I had time for a quick pee break, as it was taking people a reasonable amount of time to get their bikes in. Unfortunately, Mike has his speedy shoes on, and when I came out he was looking around the transition area, bike racked and transponder off. What a fail! Despite wandering round with nothing to do for ages, I managed not to be in the ONE place I needed to be at the right time. I'm not sure how much I cost us, but T2 was 1:48!
Bladder emptied and guilt fuelled, I started off at a cracking pace, about 11km/h, though by a few hundred metres in, I'd settled into a slightly more realistic (flat) run pace of more like 9.5km/h! It was fun to feel like I was "running" again- however slowly! Of course, that didn't last long. But I kept running along the Mall, with plenty of cheers the whole way. My hips started to ache a little before I made it to 1k, but I wanted to make it to the Mount before I walked, so just slowed my pace some more and concentrated on my gait.
I walked the hill at the beginning of the Mount (and OMG, that was such a treat- I've run that bastard so many times in races and always resisted the urge to stop; last time only because a certain paparazzo was waiting for me...), and then started thinking about my strategy for getting around. Eventually, I settled on a run 2 mins: walk 1 min system, which I tweaked a bit depending on where the hills came in. I took a look at my average pace and realised I could aim to do 5km in 40 minutes, but the course is long so I wasn't actually sure I could finish in that time.
It was strange having people passing me the whole run. I'm a decent runner, and usually run at a sensible pace, so I only usually get passed by speedsters on double lap courses. There were no speedies with me this time (the lead men ran me down at the end of the Mount)- it was just middling to slow team runners who were burning me off! What I found particularly weird (and what my ego found damned annoying) is that none of these passers could see that I was pregnant unless they took a good look at my profile as they passed. One girl actually ran "with" me and chatted for a few hundred metres and didn't say anything to suggest that she'd noticed. My poor wee ego just wanted to shout: "I'M NOT JUST FAT! I'M NEARLY SEVEN MONTHS PREGNANT, OK? And if I weren't, I would be SO much faster than you!". Luckily, I do have some manners.
Walking up the second "hard" hill on the Mount (those familiar with races on the Mount will recognise it as the one where the second photographer always hides), I was caught by a guy with one leg, who was crutching up the hill like a machine. Dude was a total legend- swam, picked up his crutches to get to T1, one-pedalled it the whole 20km, and then crutched his way around the run course. He called out "pick it up, you don't want to be passed by the one-legged guy" and I replied "you think one leg's hard, try four?!" (yeah, not my best work...)
I did end up passing him, and temporarily passed another couple of walkers too. By the end of the Mount, I was still averaging under my goal of 8:00min/ks (...and to think it would usually be 8 minute MILES...for a 10km... off the bike...), and I was motivated to run the length of the Mall to the finish.
I didn't get quite as many cheers on the way back- the men's winners had just come through ahead of me, and Mr One Leg was closing the gap behind me. Quite often I'd hear a "Way to Go....." that would trail off and turn into "Oh my god, look at that guy go!"
It was very strange not being able to pick it up at the end- I was "working", but there is a limit to how hard I will push with Chip on board, so I was not only slow but also pretty relaxed, and some of the walkers who'd been conquered by the Mount streaked past me on the final straight. However, when I saw my teammates cheering, and realised that my Garmin had ticked over 39:00 as I approached the chute, I confess to digging in just a little bit more.
I stopped my watch at 40:04, Garmin time, satisfied that my official time would squeak under 40. As my Garmin distance was 5.27km, I was pretty pleased.
It's not every day a PW feels so good. But my hips have had enough of this, and it's time to focus on yoga and swimming, and to start really thinking about getting this body ready to bring Chip into the world in 2-3 months time!