Muncie was another half that I really didn't want to do. Although I had signed up early, as the race approached I was beginning to feel like all I did was taper for races, compete in races & recover from races. Panic was beginning to set in as I was worried that I might not be appropriately prepared for the full IM in August. After expressing my concerns to Coach Monica, she agreed to exclude the taper/recover period from this race gyration & just put it on my schedule as another workout. With my worries relieved, I soon found myself on my way to Muncie.
This trip started out with a fight with my husband. He & I had agreed upon what time I would leave Friday but as the time approached, he kept finding all these things he had to do that prevented me from leaving. We both kept pushing & when I finally walked out the door, totally stressed out, it wasn't on the best of terms. What a great start to the weekend! Once in the car, I started to unwind listening to some of my favorite tunes on my Ipod & the trip passed quickly. I had never been to Muncie & driving into town I was beginning to wonder where the hell I was. After passing tons of corn & bean fields, I made it into the outskirts of Muncie that seemed rundown & depressed. Pushing onward, I wound up at the convention center in the middle of a very small downtown. Packet pickup went smoothly and I waited for the athlete briefing while reading a magazine. The briefing was a little intense & the head ref was very serious & to the point. I was wondering if anyone ever made it through this race without penalties. It seemed like anything would get you one, including have a messy transition area.
After the meeting, I checked into my hotel, got all my stuff to my room & had a nice dinner at IHOP. This was beginning to become a bit of an out of town tradition as I had chowed on their yummy chocolate pancakes at the Marine Corps Marathon, at the Kansas Half & now in Muncie. After dinner I went back to my room, read a bit & hit the sack. The standard 3 am alarm seemed as early as always the next morning.
After I was up, I had my requisite bagels with peanut butter & hot tea, got dressed, grabbed my "stuff" and headed out to my car to go - or not go. My car wouldn't start. WTF???? I tried repeatedly & actually got it to start once but it turned itself right back off. I clearly wouldn't be getting to the park (30 mins away) with this car. I called Kelly but she & Ben were both racing & didn't have room in their car for me & my bike. I called Monica but she didn't answer. I was beginning to panic when I got a hold of Monica. Saved!!! She totally saved my butt when she & her brother picked me up & got all of us to the race on time.
As you can imagine, I was a bit out of sorts by the time we got to the race start. We got there later than I usually do & there were lots of people & cars. All worked out okay, though, & I got my bike racked, my transition set up & actually had a bit of time to socialize. I even put in a call to my husband where he promised to take care of my car while I was racing.
Once I was ready to head to the start, a huge storm cloud (previously predicted to hit much later in the day) was heading our way. The race officials were moving up all the swim starts in an effort to get us all into & out of the water before the storm hit. They also let us know that, although they would not cancel the race due to weather, if the storm hit we went forward under our own risk. Next thing I knew, my wave was in the water & we were off. This was to be my first non-wetsuit race & I had decided to swim the entire way breastroke. The water was pretty choppy as the wind was picking up but I was holding my own. The course was a big horseshoe shape & on the bottom side, we got this great current pushing us along. Finally I hit the last leg of the swim & as I looked up the huge black clouds were right on top of us. I was pushing it as fast as I could but it was tough with the chop hitting me right in the face. About half way down the final stretch, the clouds opened up and the rain just poured down. Every time I came up for a breath it was stinging my face & making it impossible to see. Shortly after the rain started, I saw a huge bolt of lightning hit down right near us. Another bolt hit quickly after & of course the thunder was ear-shattering. It was really scary & I'm sure it contributed to my best ever swim time as I struggled to make the shore. I was so glad to be out of the water as I ran up to the transition area to grab my bike.
Several people decided to drop out after the swim but I decided to push on despite the pouring down rain. The bike times were a little slower than usual but as the course is straight and flat, navigation wasn't that big of a problem. The rain continued to pour down pretty much the entire bike but after the first hour or so, the lighting moved off into the distance. Needless to say, we were all soaked & there were virtually no fans out on the course. Despite all this, I had a great time out on the bike & I was silently thanking Ian S, the first person to ride with me in the rain. The bike seemed to fly by & before I knew it I was at the dismount line.
After I got off my bike, I had to take off my bike shoes since the transition area was so muddy & knew I wouldn't be able to run in my cleats. I somehow made my way through the quagmire & cleaned off my feet the best I could before putting on my wet shoes & heading out onto the run. Just as I was leaving transition, the rain was ending & the sun was coming out. Who would have thought it?
The run course in Muncie was the hilliest of the three halves I did this year. It was constantly moving up or down & as soon as the sun came out, the air around us heated up. With the heat & humidity the run was definitely not fun. I pretty much kept to running on the few flats & all the downhills & I walked on all the uphills. The way out to the turnaround seemed to take forever, but once I was on the final stretch the rest of the race passed quickly. There were a couple of hills right before the finish line & then I was done! My best time so far...Swim 39:20, T1 4:11, Bike 2:53:20, T2 4:23, Run 2:13:46, Total 5:55:03. This was a great day & despite my initial impressions of Muncie, they put on a great race!
After it was over, Terry G, a fellow racer from Louisville, took me & my stuff to the car dealer that had my broken car & they gave me a loaner. I was able to get home with all my stuff only to return to Muncie a week later to pick up my newly repaired car (for a whopping $1800). I was so grateful to all the people that helped me out over what could have been a very stressful day & I'm hoping that when I return to Muncie next year, I won't have to make another trip to the auto repair shop!