Going to Meet the Man With The Hammer

Paul Fournel’s writing is now on my “must read” list.  Just one quote, heck, one concept I found in random googling really caught me this fall.

I want to go searching for the man with the hammer.

I’ve spent years dialing back my run speed, safely running slowly to increase distance, to increase stamina, to complete half ironmans and marathons, to stay in zone 2 or below, and shockingly enough, my legs adapted.  My pace slowed.  I was able to go further, but even on shorter runs, my pace and turnover became laughable.

This marathon cycle, I realized that the other component of “lots of easy miles” has to be “a little speedwork”.  Just that one day of making my legs move 5k speed or faster for a short amount of time really helped me figure out that I’m not a terrible runner, I’ve just not been training properly to give my legs the speed to go fast.

So, with this awesome base under me for the marathon, now that my legs feel recovered, I am prepared to meet the man with the hammer.

So, way back in the day (hi there, 2010!), I had I set a big scary goal of a sub-2 hour half marathon.  I trained really, really well and mostly hit my paces spot on, but then I got stupidly sick the week of the race.  I probably shouldn’t have run, but I shoved down some behind-the-counter mucinex and got through the race in 2:19, which was about what one could expect on a hilly course, when I was taking cough drops like shot blocks.

I gave the 13.1 distance a-go one more time in the fall, banking on Olympic Tri endurance + 3 weeks of specific training, and got myself a nice shiny 2:08 PR.

I haven’t race-raced a half since.  I’ve run the distance a lot, but it’s either been a training run, off the bike, pacing someone else, just as a fun run, or sometimes, just because it’s Thursday.  I do believe it’s time to change that, if only to have some more recent data for calculations so McMillian doesn’t tell me I should be running a marathon in over 5 hours because my best half in the last 3 years, which was part of a 20 mile run, was 2:25.  Heck, my half marathon split at the marathon was around 2:20 (and that was running pretty comfortably).

So, while I didn’t think I was ready to run as fast as I did during this cycle to chase a 4:40 marathon, I started this cycle CERTAIN I’m not ready to train to run as fast as I need to go to sub-2.

But y’know what?  I’m not sure how fast I’m ready to run.  I surprised myself with by holding 10 minute miles over double digits fairly effortlessly, nailing my speedwork paces spot on, and finding two 5 mile tempos with sub-9 minute miles as planned.  I don’t know where my limits lie unless I go out to meet the man with the hammer.  So that’s what I’ve been doing – spending a short ~4 week cycle doing some stupidly fast (for me) run training, and then toe the line at 3M Half Marathon to see if I can outrun that jerk.

I’ve already signed up, and I’m not wasting a 100$ late entry fee on prancing comfortably to the finish.  I don’t plan on trying to run safe, I want to run for at the very least, a PR (2:08:07).  I want to have photos of the worst pain face I’ve ever made in my life at the finish.  I want to go out aggressively, and see if I can hold on.

A goal – 1:59:59.

B goal – PR (sub-2:08:08)

C goal – to have given everything I have at finish

I’ll be happy with anything, A, B, or C.

Regarding my A goal, 9:09 is a terrifyingly fast pace for my brain for 13.1 miles, but this first race of 2014 is to see what my legs and lungs have got.  That’s what this training cycle and race will tell – how fast the man with the hammer runs, and if I can beat him to the finish line.

Space Coast Marathon – Leah’s Recap

The Before:

This was a fantastic training cycle.  I finally got my run love back, and felt like I really nailed two month of marathon training.  Harder, better, faster, stronger, baby!  Taper took an interesting turn.  My runs were fantastic (as they had been) the week before, to the point where it made me a little worried because normally everything goes to crap.  My last run, a 5 miler with 3 at marathon pace, went so smoothly it was scary.  Then, the normal taper mess started to settle in, and since it was so late in the week, it was REALLY scary.

Thursday, I only ate one big meal and one plate of deserts.  This made my body just a little off.  I also made the mistake of wearing boots instead of more reasonable shoes.  I didn’t figure I would be on my feet much, but I guess it was enough that my feet were cranky after that day.

Friday, due to long security lines and being dumb, all I had was some beef jerky and airplane snax until about 6pm.  After eating a giant (and pretty unhealthy) dinner and a large beer, and heading to the hotel room, I was convinced I was getting sick.  I slept incredibly fitfully.

Saturday, my ankle hurt after my 1.5 mile shakeout run, so much so that I was really worried that I’d not be able to start the race.  Joel kept being all excited, and all I could do was hope he wouldn’t have to race without me.  Around 9pm though, I figured the best thing I could do was shut my brain off, sleep as long as possible, and let my ankle knit itself back together.  And I did.

Sunday, race morning, I woke up, put my compression sox and shoes on before I left my bed, and touched my toes down… still cranky, but much less so.  I would start, at least, I knew that.  I got my bar down and munched on some cereal, skipped my normal starbux (just didn’t seem like it would set well).  We got there, used the portable facilities, walked around, watched the half marathoners start, jumped back in the porta-potty line again, walked around, and then got in our corrals.  My husband was starting with the 5-hour folk, and I filed in next to the 4:40 pacer, and then we were off.

The Good: Mile 1-10

I walked as long as humanly possible.  I didn’t want to feel the hurt any longer than I had to, if I was going to.  Finally, I was about to get trampled if I didn’t, so gingerly I tried and *cue angels singing* my foot was ok.  I thanked the running deities or whatever higher power is up there looking out for babies and drunks and idiot marathoners a lot in the first mile, which ticked over in around 10:35 – under marathon pace, but not too much so to worry me.

I had to decide between the strategies of following the pacer, watching my watch, or running by feels.  Well, the pace bunny took off a little too fast (he was wayyy ahead of me even though I was running under 10:41 per mile), and while my ankle seemed like it was going to hold, my body was definitely a little *off*, so running by feels meant I slipped to around 11s.  So, early on, it was watch-watching, and trying to keep that pace group in my sights and not let the next one (4:45) catch me.

At the turn around (6.5 miles), I saw Joel just a bit behind me, and looking good.  One quarter done.  Right on pace.  Let’s do this.  Hopefully all these niggles work their way out for a while.

I finished mile 10 still on pace, but the hurt never got better.  I wasn’t feeling as if I was pushing the pace too much, it felt just fine aerobically, but I think my gait was just a little off from babying my ankle, so that made things ache differently.  I also really regretted having my handheld because it annoyed me from mile 1, and I was barely even drinking out of it, the temps were good and the aid stations were plentiful.

The Bad: Mile 11-15

I was hoping to get my second wind, but passing mile 10 just made me mentally implode a bit, 16 more to go and I was already in a lot of pain.  I kept going as fast as I could, but I was seeing more 11′s when I looked down instead of 10s, and picking up the pace was harder.  I passed 13.1 exactly on pace (2:20), but just after the mat I pulled over to the side, stopped and stretched out my aching back of my legs, and then tried walking.

Well, the good news is that walking didn’t feel ANY better, so I picked it up again.  Around mile 14, I decided to ditch my water bottle and was struggling with getting it out of the holder, and who pulls up right by me?  Joel!  He helped me get it out and carried it (I told him to ditch it but he held it anyway).  I was REALLY REALLY in a hole then, and was convinced I’d busted my goal down to JUST FINISH SO I GET THE DANG TOWEL AND MEDAL.  I might have done worse if he hadn’t shown up.  He was having fun, enjoying himself, talking to people, having smiles for the both of us, while I tried to not cry and grunted and did everything I could to follow him.

Also, somewhere in there, my mp3 player decided to default to random on my playlist and cut my volume in half, and I couldn’t fix it.  Super annoying.

The Ugly: Mile 16-20

Finally, I had to stop and stretch, I told Joel to go on ahead and  I would catch up with him.  I stretched, walked for about .05 of a mile, and then got running again.  And I did catch him, and decided that I could make it a mile running again before I had to do that again.  When my watch dinged 17, I did the same thing, and 18, and 19.  These miles were slow, but I was moving forward and as I got closer to 20, my mood improved.  As we hit the last turnaround, and then the 20 mile split mat, Joel had to stop and stretch out his knee, and finally, I started feeling better and getting that second wind I was waiting on.

He happened to mention that we needed to pick it up if we were going to make sub-5 hours, and I asked if it was ok if I ran ahead, he said yeah, and I went.

The Awesome: Mile 21-26.2

Something clicked in me that I wanted to get in sub-5 more than I wanted to not hurt.  So, I took off, running as fast as I could reasonably at that point and asked myself if I could make it 2 miles without a break.  Let me tell you, if you want to feel awesome about yourself, run a ~11 minute mile pace around the 5-hour marathon finishers.  It’s a lot of people walking dejectedly.  I passed, no lie, hundreds of people in that last 10k.

I passed mile 22 and found strength for one more.  At mile 23, I felt some major cramping in the back of my body, so I stopped to stretch, walked for about .05 of a mile, and then started the 5k push to the finish.  I told myself that I could slow down for mile 24 if I needed, but I couldn’t stop, and I was just so dang ready to be done, I didn’t.  I finally picked back up to marathon pace, and the mile markers said 25, and then 26, and then I was running faster, and then I rounded the corner and saw the finish line and I was passing people, and in my mind I was sprinting like Usain Bolt and I crossed the finish line.

My garmin said 4:59.

The After:

I got my medal and towel and had about 4 cups of water and then sat down the first place I found space and I think I would have cried if I had the hydration to have tears.  I told Joel that the last 10k was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and even now that the pain has faded, I still think that’s probably accurate.  I snapped out of it a few minutes later and went to go watch for Zliten to finish, and hoped I hadn’t missed him.

I stumbled back over to the finish line and some couple took pity on me and let me sit where they were standing and I waited… and waited… and then I was about to go check with medical (he said his knee was hurting) and I saw Zliten round the corner and cheered my arse off for him as he crossed the line.  Then it hit me, I had finished 18.5 minutes earlier and we were even at mile 20.  Sorry Joel, I wish you would have been able to run it in with me, but I ROCKED that last 10k.

I hobbled over to find him at the finish and then we plopped down and stretched and recovered.  I finished in 5:02:35, and he finished in 5:21:07 (his goal was to at least beat my time from last year, which he did!).  I’m about 1% pissed that I couldn’t have found 2:36 in there to at least finish under 5, and 99% incredibly proud of that last 10k.

I had two post race beers, and was ready to eat right away, so my tummy cooperated with me.  I didn’t eat as many of my chews as I had expected, but I took in gatorade at just about every aide station.  I might have done better if I had more calories in the messy middle miles where the world was ending, or it might have upset my stomach and I’d have done worse.  You never know.

Then, we went and played by the Ocean.

Recovery was not so bad.

Overall – I am happy with marathon #2.  It’s progress.  It’s a 21 minute PR from last year.  I fell apart in completely different ways and places from the first one.  It’s a distance I’m still trying to figure out, and I’m looking forward to more opportunities to do so.  I get the first part, I actually get the end now, I just need to figure out the middle when there’s 10 miles to go and it hurts and that’s just a long time to be hurting.  My training cycle was awesome, and I fully believe that a 4:40 was within my grasp if everything would have gone well, but my A legs didn’t show up that day.  C’est la vie.  I’m not done with marathoning, and my run love is back hardcore, so I’ll get another shot soon.

What’s next?  Well, stay tuned.

Kerrville 70.3 Recap: Leah’s Version

Since it’s almost time to run the marathon (2 weeks 3 days, people!), figured I should post my recap of Kerrville first!  It’s long, so grab a snack and tuck in!

Pre-race:

We slept in a little bit, loaded up our stuff into the beast, and had a nice, uneventful drive to Kerrville.  We got into town around 1, got our packets, and dropped off our bikes at T1 and told their bikes to have a good night under the stars.  We had a typical pre-race lunch of a club sandwich, a few fries (normally don’t have so much fat the day before a race, but I was really craving it so figured my body needed some), and a salad at the gourmet restaurant of IHop.  We drooled over the pancakes but decided against so much sugar.

Then, we dropped the run bags off at T2.  Mine had way too many things in it, but I wanted to be prepared: extra shirt, extra arm sleeves, extra socks, run shoes, handheld, visor, race belt w/number, gatorade bottle, pain spray, and sunscreen.  Just to re-familiarize ourselves, we drove the bike course, and the run course, and then it was finally time to check into the hotel.  We elected not to stay at the host hotel (elected = I waited to long to book a room), and it ended up being a great thing – the room was cheaper and so, so, so much nicer.

Then, we met Brian and drove the course again.  I took pictures and video.  I forgot how pretty it was!   We were going to have dinner with him but it was late and we were tired, so we sent him off to get pancakes and we ate some mac and cheese in the room and went to bed.  I slept fitfully, waking up a lot, but besides that I did get a decent night of sleep (better than normal before this race the last two years).

I woke up around 3am and couldn’t go back to sleep so I ate my first bar (Rise – Pineapple Macadamia) and used the potty and then laid back down and got myself mentally ready and waited for Joel to wake up.  When he did, I ate my second bar (Oatmega PB), drank my starbucks mocha, used the potty again, and dithered around and got going right about on time.  We parked right near the race finish (smart, as both other years its been a PITA to hike the 2 miles back to the hotel) and caught a shuttle to the race start.  More dithering at T1, more pottying, ate half a package of chompies, turned in our dry clothes bags, stuffed myself into my wetsuit, and headed down to the race start to send off Brian and then Joel and then I got in line with my wave and it was time to go!

Swim:

There was no swim warmup (sadface), so I tried to warm up my shoulders the best I could on land.  I really, really had to pee and didn’t have time to get back to the portas, so as soon as I was able to jump in the water….ahhh… sorry women under 39 (I’m sure I was not the only one).  I got myself near the front on the outside, and they started our wave.  Last year, I spent the whole swim just ill at ease and anxious about the rest of the day, so my goal was to NOT do that.  I swam strong and actually found a pretty good pocket and some space (love this race – it’s small enough that it’s not crowded).  My “mantra” when I found my mind straying was “swimmy, swimmy, swimmy in my happy, happy jacket”.  Don’t ask, but it worked.

I rounded the first and second buoys and got onto the long straight stretch and I kept finding myself alone except for passing people in caps in waves before me (that were obviously struggling).  Oddly enough, my mind went to “somehow I’m last in my age group”, but then I just kept repeating my mantra and trying to swim with good form and keep on it and in the moment.  Apparently I passed Joel and Brian around the third buoy (apparently, as Joel told me, I am oblivious during swims), and started swimming for the finish.  My goal was to get there before the last wave of the day started, and I got out of the water, and got to the wet suit strippers as I heard the air horn went off and the announcer said “last wave is off”.  Sweet.

Swim Time: 43:57, 2:17/100m.  Goal was under 45 mins, so I was happy.  I think a little more wetsuit swimming could help me here as it feels different, and I could have pushed a little harder, but it was nice to get out of the water feeling fresh.  Also, 10 mins quicker than last year.  Yay swimming!

T1:

I was a little “deer in the headlights” with the wetsuit, and I got to the strippers fully clothed.  I said “first wetsuit race”, and they took care of me and I was off with my wetsuit in hands in short order – in just my sports bra and my tri shorts (I was scared of the official race pics, but besides my blindingly white tummy, it wasn’t too bad.  No – I won’t link them :D).  The hill was steep, but I chugged up it carefully (no sandals).  Once I got to the top and there was no more carpet, I walked.  I didn’t want to be a wuss, but having had ankle problems all week, I didn’t want to have a little rock end my day so I took it slow.

Once I got to the bike – I put on my arm sleeves, a tech tee, some ride glide (hands down my pants in public is fun!), my bike shoes and socks, and I was off.  I left my garmin and bike gloves on my bike since it worked out at the last race.  As I was about to take off I saw Zliten get up to his bike looking INCREDIBLY rough, but into T1 in a great time for him.  I told him I loved him and I’d see him on the bike (I expected to be passed) and I was off.  I got stuck behind a few relay people, said excuse me, got to the mount line, and got going without incident.

T1 time: 3:25.  Last year – 4:15.  Even dealing with the wetsuit, even walking and being careful, I cut 50 seconds off my T1.  My goal was to be on the bike at 8:35, and I was on the bike at 8:35 exactly.  Solid!

Bike:

Got going, and my first thought was “It’s COLD!”  I forget after long, hot Austin summers that it can ever be cold again, so it’s always a surprise at Kerrville.  I was thankful that I had my sleeves on, and I took the time to put my bike gloves on for warmth.  I started with a gatorade in my aero bottle, a backup gatorade in my bottle cage, and a smile on my face.  Miles ticked away very quickly on the front half of the loop – the cool weather and the nice, slight, downhill stretch for the first 14 miles.  Getting out of the water 10 mins quicker meant I was actually in it – I was very lonely last year on the bike.

I was just… happy.  I just saw the mph climbing, I ended up at the first aide station at mile 17 at 9:30 (15 mins ahead of schedule), and then the back half of the course happened, as did the wind.  I hit the first big hill, and the bump before it, I lost my backup bottle of gatorade.  Boo!  I was looking forward to yummy grape.  Luckily, I got the first bottle grab no problem, my first bottle grab ever *tear*, and a dose of lemon lime endurance gatorade was loaded into my bottle.  Woot.

I didn’t get any less happy, but I noticed I slowed.  I went from 19. something to 18. something, to 17. something, and all of a sudden, I was finishing the first lap 5 minutes behind schedule.  However, before I finished, I saw the BEST SIGN EVER.  I was rolling down a hill, in the middle of nowhere, and I saw a sign that said “the cow goes moo”, to which I moo’ed (not the first time this ride, we went past a lot of farms).  She then turned it around and it said “What’s the fox say?”.  I got out of aero and bike danced and sand “Ring ding ding a ring a ding ding” and thanked her for the awesome sign.  Two zipp wheelie dudeholes passed me and gave me dirty looks, and I lost some momentum, but it was TOTALLY worth it.  Also, this was in my head the rest of the day.

After the turnaround, I got that momentum back and got back on schedule for aid station 3 (mile 30), hitting it at 10:15.  The wind really picked up this lap, I didn’t make as much headway on the way down, but I tried to ride hard all the downhill to gain as much ground as I could.  I also made up a song… “aero bars goes thpththt (my tape was coming off), pedals go woooshhh… what’s the bike say? Ring ding ding da ding da ding ding… what’s evilbike say… hatee hatee hatee ho”.  It was making me happy.  My legs were getting sore but not unreasonably so, and I was really enjoying my day.  I hit mile 40 and realized I had only 16 left to go, and things got a little harder.  The second lap up the hill was harder, but I just concentrated on doing what I could to not lose more time.  I just kept telling myself to tuck in and keep working.

I saw Joel at the out and back, and he said he had been chasing me for 17 miles, and I just sang “what does the fox say” to him because that’s where I was at in my head.  Now I knew he was coming for me, I tried to stay as fast as I could without really taxing myself and made sure not to let up.  Over, up, around, past the horsies and cows and down the highway and up the hill… I kept watching the time of day and tried to keep close enough to the 11:50 I wanted to get off the bike without completely hosing myself.  Also my ankle hurt (the other one, not the one that was hurting all week, and in a completely different place), but I tried to put it out of my mind – whatever would be on the run would be, and there was nothing I could do to fix it at mile 50 on the bike.  I kept expecting Joel to pass me, but I got myself into transition about 5 mins behind schedule, happy, a little sore, but ready to wrap my brain around a half marathon run.

Bike time: 3:22:07 – 16.6 mph.  My goal was to hit 17 mph, over 1 mph better than last year, but I’ll take 0.7 mph better, and a 9 min PR.

T2:

I got off my bike and walked it into transition – it was downhill and a little slippery.  I got to my spot and racked my bike and opened up my T2 bag.  My brain was in a jumble but I removed all the things I needed to remove and put on my run shoes and got my handheld and OMG GRAPE GATORADE.  My plan was to bring it, knowing it would be warm and I’d probably leave it for colder stuff at the aide stations, but after ~40 miles of nothing but lemon lime, and knowing the run course would probably have the same, I took the time to pour it into my handheld and it was like MANA FROM HEAVEN.  I left all the changes of clothes because I was all good, but took the necessary race belt and visor.

I was about to be off, but turned around again and saw what I thought was Zliten heading into transition.   I shouted “Zliten!  I love you!” and jumped up and waved and got going.

T2 time: 3:44.  Last year – 4:09.  I could have been out of there a little quicker without out the PDA, but, whatevs.  25 seconds faster than last year, and I slacked.  I’ll take it.

Run:

Ah, my nemesis.  My Achilles heel for 2013 tri season  (thank goodness I never had THAT injury, knock on wood).  This was my wildcard.  I pegged my swim time exactly, I had a very small window of expected bike time, but I had about a 30 minute range for what I could expect to do on the run.  My best half marathon in the last 2 years was around a 2:15.  My worst effort at BSLT was over 3 hours.  I figured I’d be somewhere in between there, but I had no idea what my legs could do without other mitigating factors (brain, nutrition, weather).

I had this detailed plan about what to do if I was feeling great, good, ok, bad, etc, but I threw that out at mile 1.  My plan became: keep trotting as fast as I could.  It was obvious that my legs were too sore to let me go faster than my lungs could handle.  If I couldn’t trot: walk only as long as needed until you could continue trotting.  Lap 1 went very well.  I got out and my first mile was sub 11, and I was feeling great.  I saw Joel and gave him a woohoo and saw that he was feeling rough but still sticking it out.  Then the uphills came and I felt ok and got through it, and hit the turnaround and was like, lap 1 done, 3 to go.  Then, the same stretch that felt awesome was not feeling so awesome, and I popped the 303s and ate some chews and willed my glutes not to cramp any more and JUST KEPT TROTTING.  I saw Brian somewhere in there and he was behind me (? – I had figured he was ahead) but catching up  – I tried to keep going to keep him behind me as long as possible (he’s a WAY faster runner so passing was inevitable – but it was decent motivation to keep fighting).

I finally walked a little bit up the hill after mile 5, but resumed running right after (no surrender).  I trotted back up past mile 6, past the second lap turn around, and gave myself a mental high five for not bonking yet (I fell apart at mile 6 last year).  Lap 3 was kind of a blur.  I think Brian passed me somewhere in there, and I would have LOVED to pick it up and hang on, but I knew the best I could do was KEEP TROTTING.  It was probably my lowest lap, but I still don’t think a smile left my face – the crowd support was so awesome, the people on course were awesome to talk to (and, holy crap, I talked to people instead of just being in my own little world, since I was limited by my muscular fitness rather than being winded…), I was loving all the volunteers.  I walked at one point because my stomach went all crampy, but when it passed I resumed the running, and I did walk the hill again, but I didn’t. give. up.

The best was lap 4.  Every point of the run, I just said goodbye to it.  Goodbye puffy taco restaurant, good bye aide station 1, goodbye turnaround, goodbye nasty hill, thank you and goodbye volunteers… I did walk a bit through and past the aide station but I picked it back up and only let myself walk up the hill again and then it was time to run it into the finish.  I was watching my times tick away but just kept the math going to make sure I wasn’t completely blowing it.  Ok, 6:30 is gone (middle of lap 2), what about 6:45?  Ok, 6:45 is gone (end of lap 3), let’s get in under 7.  I made my way back to the finish, grinning ear to ear, knowing I had smashed last year’s time, my body held out, and I was soon going to get to sit the heck down.

I ran through that finisher’s chute smiling, happy, full of joy.  This was the perfect end to the 2013 tri season – a celebration of all the good, the bad, and the ugly that went into preparing for this race.

Run time: 2:42:06 – 12:22 min/mile.  Last year – 2:50:29.  8.5 mins better.  I had pie in the sky goals of under 2:30, but my run training has been severely lacking this year.  I really feel I ran to the best of my abilities today after 4 hours of swimming and biking.  That’s a whole ‘nother conversation and plan of attack to improve for next time, but I cannot be disappointed with this.

Total time: 6:55:22.  Under 7 hours!  Yahoo!

Afterthoughts:

I am just very proud at how I kept my head positive about 90% of the race and just kept in the moment and just kept smiling and having fun the entire time.  This is the most fun I’ve had at a race the entire year, hands down.  My thought as I got in the water at the swim was about how your race is a celebration of your training.  Well, I’ve had some rough times out there this year, but I was going to get out there and pop some proverbial bubbly and toast my season all over that course and celebrate 2013.  And I did that in spades.  I loved Kerrville and its volunteers and its spectators and the people on the course that wanted to be happy with me and I had a fantastic, memorable day.  And I knocked 29 minutes off my time from last year.  You can’t not smile when you think about that!

The downer was that beer tent closed by the time we finished.  Boo!  I told them to save me one as I rounded the corner for lap 3 (yes, you are about 2 feet away from the finisher area each lap…) and he told me to hurry.  I thought he was kidding!  At least we prepared a contingency plan well…

I felt AWESOME tummy-wise.  No sickies and had an appetite just about right away.  For two days after, I ate all…

…the…

…things.  I declared the week after “yes week” – all those social events I usually have to say no to, and went out almost every night.  Then, marathon training resumed and my whole perspective on running has flipped over the last 6 weeks, but that’s another post.

Tri Rock Austin Olympic: Leah’s Recap

The whole week before this race, I was really sick with a tummy bug.  I was hopeful, but there was a chance I was going to DNS (did not start) this race.  The night before I wasn’t feeling well at all, so things were rocky even 12 hours to gun time.

However, in the morning, I woke up feeling intact, so I knew I could at least give it a try.  I did the normal half a starbucks mocha and half a peppermint cliff bar (I’m buying a case when they come back at Christmas) and all seemed to be settling well.  I only got about 6 hours sleep, but it was magical healing sleep, and I was incredibly rested from the week of doing barely anything training-wise, so again, all signs pointed to go.  Leah launch!

We got there, set up transitions, walked the bike pump to the car, found real bathrooms instead of porta potties, and ran back as warmup.  We had 10 mins til transition close at that point so we did final adjustments, sunscreened, and got down to the swim start.  I made some changes to normal race procedure in prep for things I’d like to try at Kerrville, so it would be interesting to see how it went!

We saw Brian and Celeste, said hi, chatted a bit, then it was time for Joel to get on deck so we cheered him off.  Then, I thought I had a lot of time before I started, but we’d read the waves wrong, and I was called to double deck quickly, so I went and then we jumped in the water and found a place not at the front but right behind, and then it was time to race.

Swim:

The first thing we noticed was NATURE.  Oh my dear fluffy lord – NATURE in ALL CAPS.  This wasn’t just a patch of plants, this was unending and tangling NATURE.  I was glad I had done an open water swim at Lake Pflugerville just two days before which was also nature filled or it may have really bothered me (the lake zombies hide in plants, right?)  I concentrated on keeping a strong stroke even if I was pulling weeds and making sure not to stay on slow feet and get past them.

I did not like the white buoys – they didn’t show up as well to me as the normal orange or yellow ones, especially going towards the sun, and I got off course a few times.  I also HIT a buoy because I didn’t see it and then had to swim under it.  Also, the fact that they were all white – no difference in color between turn buoys and straight buoys – meant I started to cut the course at one point and had to back track.  At the end, I got trapped behind this large guy in a blue tri suit who at that point of this course I not-so affectionately nicknamed the whale, in my frustration.  I tried going left and ran into people, tried going right and ran into more people, so I coasted a bit behind him until I saw an opening and sprinted a bit to find open water and then I was getting pulled up the ramp wearing a lot of nature (seriously, I got undressed at home and half the lake fell out) and I was off to transition.

While it was not all rainbows and sunshine on the swim, there were some happies.  I felt very strong when I was actually going the right way and not running into buoys.  I passed plenty of people, and I even started pretty far up this time.  I’m getting better at sprinting around slower people and not getting stuck and not freaking out when people molest me (accidentally, of course) in the water.

Swim time: 37:39.  Not nearly what I was aiming for, but 2 minutes exactly faster than last year under worse conditions (lake was much lower this year, going off course, etc).

T1:

Is it really weird to be pumped up about how your transition went?  If so, call me crazy.  I skipped the sandals (I think I may have kicked this crutch) and ran pretty fast barefoot through the huge transition area to my bike.  I worked on paring down what I had to do this time.  Now that I have a bike bottle, I don’t have to deal with the camelback, which is AWESOME.

I tried two more time savers this time – garmin on the bike (no fumbling getting it on my wrist) and stashing my bike gloves in my bento box instead of fumbling with those before I can go.  I did a practice run with getting the gloves on Saturday, and it worked fine, but the garmin was a last minute change.  I did that two years ago at Kerrville Sprint, forgot it on my bike in T2, and haven’t dared since.  My helmet and glasses were propped up on my aero bars instead of on the ground, which is a little risky if they fall off, but they stayed put and quickly I was running my bike out and up the long path to the mount line.

T1 time: 3:43 (almost a minute better than last year)

Bike:

I got out, onto the bike, and going.  Thankfully, when Joel had cleaned and lubed the bikes the day before, he had shifted me down into a lower gear, so that was nice (though I quickly got out of it once we got up the hill).  I did the first loop of the bike without even looking at the garmin, just trying to keep a good, solid, steady effort and seeing what that got me.  That got me 17.6 mph, which was 1 mph better than last year.  I was totally great with that. My pie in the sky goal was in the 18 mph range, and I was pretty close.

Usually on looped courses, I have a tendency to speed up each loop, but a few things were working against me:

  • The wind picked up.  It wasn’t Lake Pf wind, but it was noticeable enough that any extra effort I may have put out went into just maintaining what I had built on lap 1.
  • I finished the gatorade in bottle #1 and due to a mixup, I had citrus nuun in bottle #2 instead of more gatorade (it was still frozen, and I figured nuun would be better than water or risking it not be unfrozen by the time I needed it).  I forgot that citrus nuun is just about the most vile thing on the planet so I sipped sparingly (though, this may have been a good thing because I sucked down the first bottle so fast I thought I was going to have to learn to pee on the bike in a very crowded Olympic race).  This also may have lead me to under-nutrition because I had planned on getting all my calories from gatorade, and I was 130 calories light (and I forgot to eat anything to offset).
  • I think my subconscious told me to back off a little and not cook myself for the run since I had been sick all week.  My subconscious was a smart lady.  I don’t remember ever thinking about backing off, but I definitely kept a nice, steady effort instead of escalating like normal.
  • Also, it started getting more crowded and I got crotchety at people.  I don’t know if that slowed me down, but how many times do you have to yell “On your RIGHT!” when someone would narrowly miss me as I was legit passing someone?  Sigh.

A goal was 1:20, and I noted that I wasn’t on pace to beat that halfway through the last lap, but I had a chance to hit my B goal: 1:25, so I stayed on it and got in just in time.  At that point, I felt pretty good, not overcooked, a little tired, but who isn’t after the bike, right?

Bike time: 1:24:43.  17.6 mph.  I am pretty excited about this one – even with the wind and the gatorade mixup and the dudeholes being jerks, I picked up 1 full mile per hour this year, beating last year’s time by over 5 minutes.

T2:

I don’t remember this one being particularly speedy, but I didn’t waste any time, and resisted transition gravity.  I noticed the heat suddenly ratchet up about 10 degrees and my legs weren’t really working properly, but forward I went.

T2 time: 3:18.  Faster by about 30 seconds from last year.  However, I could definitely pick this up a little more by running faster.

Run:

Got out and going across the grass/dirt area.  Noted that I was was doing very well per the race clock (about 2:09) and hoped I could hold it together on the run.  Tried to let that buoy me up, but I had nothing in those legs and I was already really hot.  At about .75 mile in, I saw Joel turning around and noted that if we both kept pace, we’d both finish about the same time (actually, in retrospect, he was definitely ahead – at my current pace, I needed to speed up) and hoped that also would keep me going.  I ran the first loop just trotting away, trying to stave off heat sickness and the mental demons.

I finished loop #1 in about 36 mins and just willed myself to keep going.  I saw Manu out cheering and that gave me a little boost (thanks Manu for cheering and the pictures!) I passed the finish line and was hot and tired, but ok.  Then, they made us run on the grass through the dirt again.  Something about that just broke me, and I was just getting hotter and hotter.  When I hit the concrete again, somewhere between mile 3.5 and mile 4, I realized there was no shade for quite a while and I had the chills and was feeling yucky, so I stopped to walk.  I passed Joel again just as I started power walking and said “I’m broken” and kept going.  Somewhere in there Brian also passed me, and I had nothing to be able to keep up with him either.

I walked to where there was shade, and tried to run when I hit the shade and it didn’t really work.  I walked to the next aide station and drank every cup someone held in front of my face – 3 waters, 3 gatorades… I had to go back to refill my bottle because I realized I would have nothing for a mile and that wasn’t happening.  Let’s not forget that on the run, I had already downed a full gatorade bottle from mile 1-4, and took water and gatorade at each aide station.  I was doing all the right things, but it wasn’t enough.  Either I was sloshy and nauseous from hydration, or my body wouldn’t function.  This choice sucked.

I ran where I could, walked where I couldn’t, and nothing could get me going fast.  After the week I had, I wasn’t going to push it too hard and risk missing another week or more of training and/or a trip to the med tent, but I can’t deny that some of it was mental too.  My “give a crap” just ran out.  I just watched my run time and pace go from sucktastic to unbelievably sucktastic and tried to at least keep the four letter words under my breath and finally I was up the bridge and down the bridge and around the corner and saw everyone cheering me in and got through the finish and finally, thankfully, it was all over.

Run time: 1:19:02 for 6.2 miles – 12:46 pace.  I’m not sure I’ve ever traversed a 10k that slow in my life, certainly not in a race. :P

Total time: 3:28:32.  2.5 mins slower than last year.  My run was over ELEVEN minutes slower than last year (1:07:56 for 2012)

As normal, Joel won on the bike, Brian won on the run, I won on the swim.  Brian beat Joel by 8 mins, and Joel beat me by 10.  I wish I could say it was all the run, but Joel had a stellar race, keeping almost a 19 mph pace on the bike and only letting me beat him on the swim by 4 minutes.  I would have had to run a 1:09 on the run to beat him, and I just didn’t have that in me, mentally or physically.

My final thoughts:

I am really happy with my gains in swimming and biking this year.  Beating last year’s swim time by 2 mins and bike time by 5 mins even after being sick all week is pretty awesome.  Imagine what I could have done on a perfect day!

I got 90 free seconds this race just by being better at transitions, that’s 15 seconds per mile on the run!  That’s pretty awesome!

I’m considering skipping the July/Aug/Sept hot summer races in 2014.  This year just broke me.  Maybe a sprint here or there, but nothing longer.  I really just have no fun walking the thin line between racing and heat sickness over and over in the dog days of summer.  The training is not really that fun for me either.  I think spending the summer going FAST (5ks, speedwork, shorter sessions) might be the way to go next year.  I feel a sense of JOY getting out for a long run when it’s 60 degrees outside, whereas I feel a sense of DREAD when it’s 80 at dawn and climbing.  Biking and swimming aren’t so bad, it’s just distance running over the summer sucks.  A lot.

This weekend is Kerrville 70.3, and the temps look to be much milder.  I’m hoping that the last few races not being optimal for me will culminate in an awesome A race for me this year!  Stay tuned!

Jack’s Generic Triathlon – Woman vs Nature

While I’ve loved the TX Tri series the last two years, I think I’m going to have to cut the ties next year.  It was a cool, fun goal to finish 6 triathlons in a season, but I really don’t need the motivation to finish that many (this year, we were/are signed up for TEN).  Also, at first, I thought it pushed me to do some races that are outside my comfort zone, and that’s cool and all, but I’ve decided that there’s outside your comfort zone, and there’s stuff you really just don’t want to do.

2013-08-04 06.39.44

Racing an Olympic distance tri on August 4th in suuuuuuper hot weather starting after 8am?  Put this on the latter list.  It’s not that it was all terrible, but the memory of that run will haunt my dreams for a long, long time.

Pre-race:

  • Shakeout bike that AM, easy 35 min spin trying out our new speedfill aero bottles
  • Food the day before: pasta w/meat sauce + salad + bread, and a random smattering of snacks like brie and pita later.
  • Spent time with my parents, and had a mostly relaxing day and evening
  • Got TONS of sleep (for a race night), at least 7 hours where I didn’t budge.  Felt super rested in the AM.  Totally different than last year, where I was falling asleep standing up.
  • Thought I was getting sick, but ended up just being allergies from them burning crap in Mexico.  Stupid people burning crap messing with my head, but thank the dear fluffy lord of triathlon that it wasn’t actual illness!
  • Had an oatmega bar, and about half of a starbucks mocha.  Tummy was a little off with the infusion of dairy and caffeine but settled quickly.
  • Got there early-ish (6:15?), but not early enough to get a prime spot (it was totally fine though, Pflug transitions are great).
  • Got a warmup run and legs felt decent, hung out with Zliten and B and B’s mom and then got a warmup swim.
  • Ate my fruit punch sports beans and then it was time to get this show on the road (I was in wave 4).

Swim:

This was going to be a different experience.  First of all, they started all 89 ladies in one wave, in a tiny narrow corral, and it was a beach run start.  The horn went off, I ended up towards the middle/back and inside, and we ran towards the water and the ladies in front of me kinda stopped and walked.  Hellloooo, it’s a race, I thought, and I high-kneed my way around them until I got into deep enough water to dive in and start swimming.  Then, I ran into more ladies swimming slowly, and I shoved and kicked and fought my way to a patch of clear water just to find my goggles weren’t sealed super well and I had a decent amount of water in the left one.

I had a lot of words going through my head at that point and none of them were nice.  It was pretty high-combat.  On the way back to the beach I finally got my stride, but was dreading that stupid beach run.  It was about 100m across a pebbly, rocky beach, and I decided to brave it barefoot (that was me putting on my big girl panties this race).  I swam until I touched rocks with my hands, got up and out and started the run.  Oddly enough, it wasn’t that bad!  I went fast enough to pass people, but people passed me too.  I ran into the water, stepped on a jagged rock, said “OW FUDGE” (…but not exactly that) loud enough I think some people giggled, and I dived in again for lap 2.

This one was great.  I was regularly passing caps in waves before me, the water had thinned out because the sprint waves hadn’t started yet, and I just generally felt calm, peaceful, productive, and fast in the water.  I think I came out wearing some weeds but otherwise emerged pretty happy with my effort.  Definitely better than expected, and ABSOLUTELY better than I expected about 100m in.

Swim Time: 23:47 for 1000m with 100m beach run.

T1:

My sandals were nowhere to be found, so this was another moment of my big girl panties on display here, as I ran to T1 just fine in bare feet.  Note to self – I’m much less tenderfooted during a race than I expect with the adrenaline going.  All went as expected, and it was REALLY REALLY nice to not have to worry about putting on the camelback because I had my new speedfill bottle waiting on the bike!

T1 Time: 2:43 (10 seconds faster than Pflugerville – yay!)

Bike:

Got out on the bike, had troubles clipping in like a noob, and found my bike in trainer gear (all the way hardest it can go) going up an incline.  Ooops.  Noob, noob, noob mistake.  After costing myself about a minute being dumb, I got going and drank and ate.  I looked at time of day and it was two minutes earlier than expected.  Splendid.  Legs felt good, I felt speedy, and though the zipp wheelie boys with 10k$ bikes were blowing by me, I was passing people too.

Figured out early on my garmin was off again (it must not like tracking distance at Pflug), and just turned it back to HR and time of day screen and worked on ticking off the miles as quickly as possible.  I stayed in aero a LOT (the bottle helped), and climbed the modest hills pretty well, mostly, and I kept pretty close to my goal of 18mph.  I completed the first lap of 12.9 miles in about 42-ish mins and figured if I could hold on and do another 42-3 I’d hit an hour 25 which would blow my anticipated pace out of the water, and I usually get better on lap 2 so I started that one really excited.

Everything was going well and then… I hit a wall of wind on the south section of the course (the longest straightaway, of course).  It was BRUTAL.  There was enough wind to notice the first lap and have to fight a little harder, but it REALLY picked up on lap 2.  I kept losing time and losing time and then all of a sudden, I was coming in and it was later than I wanted.  I lost all that time I banked on the swim and more.  I had another noob moment dismounting my bike on the wrong side, but got it together quickly and over the line and into transition.

Bike Time: 1:31:06 (17.0 mph.  Not what I wanted, but pretty decent considering the wind…)

T2:

Went as expected.  Last time it wasn’t hot enough to need a handheld though, and this time it was, so I dealt with that.

T2 time: 1:29 (Pflug was 1:19 – so there’s that 10 seconds I gained on T1 – lost here tinkering with my handheld.  So, total t1 and t2 time – exactly the same as Pflug 2 months ago… hah!)

Run:

On the bike, as I kept losing seconds, I reminded myself I still had a shot at a sub-3, but I would have to push the run as hard as I could.  That wind dissipated, the clouds burned off, and it was just me vs THAT RUN.  The feels like was already in the 90s, and this course has ZERO shade.  I had yet to see either Joel or Brian the whole race, but on the first stretch, Brian blew right past me.  In a different universe, I would have tried to hang on and go with him, but he’s definitely a faster runner than I any day of the week and it was early, so I kept clicking along.

I stayed on time of day because I knew it was hot enough that pace would make me mad.  My handheld melted, I saw Joel, I passed Joel, I hung on, and kept clipping away around 11 min miles.  Something happened though, once I passed the finish line for the second lap, I broke.  It was SO HOT and I wasn’t quite doing what I needed to do to hit my sub 3 (I needed to be more like 10:20s), and I could barely keep pace, let alone speed it up.  I told myself to get it together, but it didn’t work.  I then decided that if I didn’t feel better by the bridge, I was going to walk to rest and regroup.

Dumbest decision ever, because OF COURSE I wasn’t going to feel better, so I “broke the seal”.  I walked.  And from there, all I could manage was powerwalking to a point, then running.  Drinking at aide stations until I felt nauseous, running until I felt overwhelmed and light headed.  Powerwalking, then running.  I couldn’t find a sustainable pace at all.  Joel passed me again clipping along sloooooowly, and I may have given up and just walked the darn thing in except I decided that he wasn’t going to finish before me.  So I’d run to catch him, then walk.  Run, then walk.

The last aide station had ICE (glorious ice) and I drank a bunch and it lowered my core temp enough to give me some oomph, I walked until my tummy settled, and then I ran the last half-ish mile.  I blew by Zliten, I passed other people, and kept going, and suddenly there was the finish line.

Run: 1:12:20 (12:03 pace – UGH JUST UGH)

Total Time: 3:11:28

Post race:

Once I was through it and they gave me water and I turned around and Joel was there right behind me and I said “lake” and he said “med tent” (just for ice) and we did those respective things.  We sat in the lake with Brian and his mom, we ate pizza, and we kinda just ranted about the heat.  As per usual, I won the swim,  Joel won the bike, Brian won the run.  Brian finished about 6 mins before me, and I finished 6 mins before Joel.

I wish I had more on that run.  61 mins for the 5.8 miles I tracked is TOTALLY doable for me in a race situation, and that would have gotten me in at 3 hours.  66 mins which should be a WALK IN THE PARK for me would have beat B.  Instead, I just gave up and thank goodness Zliten was there to be my rabbit this time or I might have done worse.

All in all, not my finest race, but I’m very happy with parts of it!

Couples Triathlon – The Hound

Pre race: normal stuff, this is a Decker lake course so nothing too scary about getting there or getting set up. It was nice to get to rack next to Leah since we were in the “married, under 70 combined” division. The only thing that went wrong was I had put a gel in my tri top back pocket to eat about 20 30 minutes before race start, and I forgot about it when I got into the water for a warm up swim. So somewhere in Decker lake is one of my favorite mint gels. Could have been much worse. We did get to see Brian and Elle before the race so it was nice to see people we knew.

SWIM: 23:13:00

We started together, but after about the second marker on the swim course I didn’t see Leah again until the first turn around of the run. She way flying in the water but I just kept swimming my pace.

I think I did good at this race by staying right in the thick of the washing machine until I was out on my own. I certainly didn’t feel like I was in the back of the pack for the swim portion of this race. I had issues with my sighting and probably added an extra 50 – 100m on the swim. I went far out on the last turn marker and the volunteers had to yell for me to come back in a bit. This is probably why my swim was 1 minute and 13 seconds longer than last year. Although, last year I remember getting out of the water and feeling just dead. This year I had it in me to run up the hill!

T1: 3:21:00

I am not sure really what took so long here, It was 37 seconds faster than last year, but I really should not have taken the time to talk to the guy that was on the ground putting his socks on. It is still a good T1 for the Decker Lake location for me.

BIKE: 40:28:00

Great ride, especially compared to the same ride at Rookie just a few months before. Almost 4 minutes faster than May, and it was about 2 minutes faster than the same ride at Couples last year! I have surely gotten stronger on the bike this year. 16.6 mph is respectable for this course. I expected to pass Leah at some point on the ride here. I was holding such a great pace and didn’t think that she was that far ahead of me. I beat her on the bike by a little less than 2 minutes, but she had at least 2 minutes on me from the swim.

T2: 1:46:00

This went OK, I did have an issue where I had too many things in my hand. My visor, hand held water bottle, race belt and number, and I ended up dropping my water bottle and having to run back and get it. Not a biggie, I just need to practice with the handheld for my T2 more.

RUN: 34:00:00

Again, not as fast as last years run, slower by 34 seconds. I am not sure where it was that I lost it here. I felt strong the entire run, I even saved a little bit of extra oomph to get up the hill at the end and as much as I could to sprint it in once I saw the finish.

The best part of the run was getting to see Leah at the first turn around of the run. She was only about 2 minutes ahead of me when I saw her. Our run times were only 2 seconds apart, and I went faster on the bike, but with the super fast swim time she posted vs. my slower swim time the hound never did catch the rabbit.  Maybe next year.

POST RACE:

We waited a few minutes for Brian to finish and he smoked us both overall, but yet again, I was faster on the bike, Leah was faster on the swim and he was faster on the run. Maybe there is a relay in our future at some point.

Went home, had some bubbly and fell asleep on the couch watching IronMan videos. So, overall, a great race day for a “C” race.

 

Couples Sprint Triathlon – The Rabbit

Only one more race report to go to get caught up – and that’s from this past weekend and I’m still writing it!  Below is my recap for Couples Sprint Triathlon (July 14th)…

I had a pretty frustrating race here last year – while I love TRAINING with Joel, for me, racing side by side with someone is just not good times.  I really internalize, get into my head, focus… and Joel likes to talk to people, feed off the scene.  We both pace ourselves differently at different times.  And there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to race hard… and then have to wait for someone… and then have them outpace you 5 mins later… and then they have to wait for you…  We enjoyed starting together in the same wave, but said “never again” about trying to pace each other on the race.

Couple that (hehe) with the fact that while the knee is (slowly) getting back to normal, I was still feeling the effects of the lack of fitness from missing training, and I was only 14 days out from beating myself up hardcore for seven and a half hours at BSLT 70.3, and this is on my least favorite course pretty much in the world (Decker Lake and Walter E. Long Park… sorry, it’s not me, it’s you…), I didn’t expect much from this race.

This little airplane did have a few goals:

  • Swim in the same zone where I felt at Pfluger.  It’s my last sprint swim, let’s go hard!
  • Bike fast, and with the confidence I felt at BSLT.  Carnage is not a thing compared to that switchback at mile 35, but just to state the obvious, not getting off the bike and walking up that stupid hill.
  • Run smart.  Keep as fast a pace as possible while keeping my knee happy.  Run up that dumb hill instead of getting all angsty and walking up it like last year.
  • Keep my head in the game at all moments.
  • Beat Joel – if I can.  We will be racing head to head this time…
  • A Couples PR would be nice, but if I put together all the other goals and it doesn’t result in a PR, that’s ok too.

How did I do? Stay tuned….

Day before:

We had a fun day of packet pickup, queso and veggie tacos at Magnolia Cafe (questioned whether that was good pre-race food – but since it’s just a sprint, we went with it because it sounded good), saw Pacific Rim (AWESOME!!!), more errands, grabbing a turkey sandwich for dinner, batch cooking for the week ahead, packing up tri stuff, laundry, random other stuff, and all of a sudden it was 10pm when we went to bed. Badness.

Plus, I had to make sure and rest every hour or so when my butt muscle started to get sore so my body certainly wasn’t completely rested from the day before.  We definitely overdid it a bit.  One great thing about out of town races… you can’t do errands all day.  You are forced to just sit in the hotel room and have downtime.   Next Austin race, we’ll strive to do a little less (how often do you get to say that?).  10pm bedtime wasn’t as tragic this time because transition didn’t open until 6am, but I would have liked to be in bed an hour earlier and lots more relax time that day.

Morning of:

Got up, emptied well.  Yay poop!  Had a coconut chocolate cliff bar (yum), skipped my normal tea and just split Zliten’s energy drink with him, and got to the tri about 15-20 mins after 6.  We got a pretty awesome spot on the “Married” rack (you rack by division, and the divisions are by who you’re partnered with), and did our normal walking around (bathroom, car again, finding our friend B, other dithering around) and got down to the race start in time for the pre-race meeting (which we ignored, sorry Couples, I’ve raced Decker like 5 times now, I’m cool), and chatted with Brian and caught up on the happs since Pfluger.

We were able to get a pre-race swim, and I got in and, holy crap, it was total bathwater.  I MUCH prefer bathwater to freezy water, but it definitely was a contrast to 2 weeks ago in that gorgeous spring-fed 74 degree lake.  It was at least 84, the announcer pretty much said it was a million degrees and no wetsuits allowed period.  I got my stroke dialed in on the way out, did some race pace on the way back, and on the way out, stepped sideways and tweaked my knee a little.  SPOILER: this is the last time I’d think about my knee this race, so while that made me nervous, my body held it together.  Hooray!

Then, the race got going with the national anthem, cheering off the first wave, chatting more with B, eating chompies and beans (which I shared with Joel since his gel fell out while swimming), and then we BOTH were on double deck, which is nice (usually, every triathlete and their mother gets to do that, and then, I get in line), because “married, combined age under 70″ was wave 5.  We lined up, I earplugged up, got in the water, hugged and kissed Joel good luck (looooooove that part of this race!!!), got up in the middle near the buoys (figured, let’s go for it), and then the countdown started.

Swim:

The airhorn blew, I dolphin dived (first time, it just felt right) and got to hurting.  I swam over dude right in front of me, next person in front of him (apparently I should have started closer to the front), and kept that pace for a bit until it cleared and I was gasping.  I did my best to settle into uncomfortably hard (like PF), and concentrate on long, lean strokes.  The problem I had with amazing sighting skillz from BSLT “plagued” me here as well, but today it was a boon.  Since I wasn’t swimming with M dot people, I’m much more competitive against the local tri folks in the lake.  Before the first 1/3 was done, I swam over (sorry) caps from the previous wave (and apparently I swam over Joel too, oops), and I had convinced myself I was doing awesome.

I hit the turn buoy and all of a sudden, the concept of how to do a efficient and effective catch part of my stroke became completely transparent to me.  *Angelic Choir*.  I did not get swam over, nay, I passed about a billion people on the 2nd part.  I saw lots of caps from the previous wave (4 mins), caps from the wave ahead of them (8 mins), and I caught my first pink cap (12 mins).  I had to be on pace for a record setting swim (for me).  I didn’t see ANY of my cap color around and I decided to believe it was because I was way ahead of most of them.

I turned around turn buoy #2 (for the last third of the course), feeling pretty strong, and felt that thing that triathletes never ever ever ever want to feel on the swim… someone knocking my timing chip loose in deep water.  I grabbed my leg and tried to refasten it, and it just came off in my hands.  Well… crap.  At least I still had it.  I wrapped it around my right hand as best I could and swam.  Forever and ever from now on, I’ll use a safety pin to hold it on.

I won’t use it as an excuse, but I definitely felt the difference in my catch, which had just clicked a few minutes ago.  I felt like a one and a half legged woman in an butt kicking contest.  I did my best, still surrounded by caps of the waves ahead of me, only getting passed once, but I still left the water feeling stoked about the first 2/3rds and a little frustrated about the last 1/3.

Swim Time: gonna say 19:25 for 800m.  Since I didn’t have my chip on my foot, it didn’t record a swim, but a REALLY LONG T1.  I subtracted last years T1 from the total time of 23:23 (3:58) and got that.  It was under 20 for sure, and that’s at least TWO MINUTES better than last year.  I was hoping for closer to 16 when I entered the water, but that was unicorn and rainbow dreams on par with pool time pace.  If I had to guess, I think this course was a bit long (both years).

T1:

Jogged my butt up the hill, did my normal stuff, got out, and noted I was definitely “the rabbit” and I was going to lead the chase.  Joel’s bike was there, and I didn’t see him the whole transition or hear his name, so I just got out on the bike as quickly as possible to prolong the time until I would see him again. Mounting went fine, and I was off.

T1 time: estimated 3:58.  I don’t know, so I’m claiming last year’s time.

Bike:

I’m sure the “shoes on your pedals” trick is good for some people, but some lady on an expensive bike pedaled past me, then she struggled to get her shoes on, and I passed her, and I don’t remember seeing her the rest of the time.  Equipment and trickery only counts for so much.  I chomped a chomp, and got in aero and got going.

This course can be described, in a nutshell, as RIDICI-hilly.  There are very few flats – you’re either going up or down.  It’s only 11.2 miles, but there’s nothing easy about it.  After some mild uphills and downhills on the front of the course, you turn onto the side road (at the time – my average was about 16.5 mph).  You get more of these, and I did my best to a) pass everyone I could and b) stay in aero, since my little crutch of riding the drops didn’t work as the tape was falling off and startled me every time I touched it (note to self: FIX DROP TAPE and don’t ignore it like you have been for months).

I worked on being prepared for Carnage (sharp right turn into a stupid steep hill) by dropping down to little left gear and accidentally went down to little right gear too.  I started the hill with less momentum than intended, but after BSLT, I know what I had to do and just worked up it without the fear I’ve had each time in the past of falling over, and though it was crowded (out of my mouth came: : “on the…middle?” while passing two people) I made it and recovered and got up the next one, no big deal.

I leveled up a bit more in holding aero.  I spent a lot of time there as I have lately, but I also rode down quite a few hills in them.  I maxed out at 32.3 mph, which is usually Freaky Friday speeds for me.  Even with Carnage, about at the 2/3 point, I was at 17.5 mph. Super solid.  I kept looking back after this, figuring it was any minute that Joel was going to come up and fly by me, but it never happened.

However, the last few hills killed my pace.  I made it up double hill feeling pretty strong, and quad buster, but I think I just lost it a little bit from the last hill to the dismount line.  I just couldn’t get my legs going again and I think I mentally psyched myself out after being SO FREAKING DEAD on the run at the 70.3 two weeks ago, and I saved too much and spun too easy the last half mile and up the last little hill.  My speed at the dismount had amounted to just a 16.2 on the garmin, which, really, is not horrible, but I know I can do better.  It was a few seconds better than last year, so I was happy.

Bike Time: 41:56 (16.0 mph)  Better than last year by about 15 seconds.  I think I held back a bit because I was so scared of being as drained as I was off the bike in BSLT, but I’m pretty ok with this overall. I don’t do well on this bike course, and this is the best I’ve done here, I keep taking seconds off every time I ride it, and considering I’ve ridden my bike twice (indoors) in the last two weeks, I’ll take it!

T2:

I felt a bit of ye olde transition gravity here, got my stuff on (this time was an added degree of difficult – it wasn’t just put on the shoes, but also put on the visor and the race belt since I was running with my handheld and 3 things is officially too much to deal with in my hands), and got out.  I thought I might have seen Zliten on the bike coming in as I ran out, but still being the rabbit, I didn’t want to stay to find out.

T2 Time: 1:54.  10 seconds more than last year, but accounted for because of the handheld shenanigans.

Run:

I had felt pretty good on the warmup run (sans garmin, so no idea if my “I’m going fast, wheeee” was 11s or 9s), but when I got out, I was in the 9s and 10s and the legs and lungs were feeling ok.  The head seemed to be into it too.  Aight.  We’re all here.  Let’s party.

The problem with this course is that a) it’s just about all sticks and twigs.  I have a recovering knee injury.  Any jostling side to side last year would have been uncomfortable.  This year, it could be potentially race ending and b) I’m pretty sure they figured out how to rack up about 3x more uphill than downhill on this course and gave it to us triathletes on a course as a present with a bow.  Smiley face.

At this point, my run fitness was nowhere.  I didn’t have it.  Tyler’s not here.  Tyler gone.  All I can do lately in races is run by feel, pay very little attention to pace so it doesn’t piss me off, and keep my heart rate up where it should be.  I know that if my average HR is 178, I’m giving all I can, no matter what speed it is.  I pushed up, and then down the sticks, onto the grass, up the hill, and then on the down, I saw my pursuer the first time this whole race.  HE WAS SO CLOSE, like a tenth of a mile away.  I dug in and pushed with every ounce of run-up-the-hill I had.

I got into the woods and just knew he was going to pass me with that stupid grin on his face (which I love, obviously, but this is a race, and I’m competitive…) and be going a speed I couldn’t match.  I wanted to prolong that as long as I could with every fiber of my being.  I wasn’t going fast (remember: fitness gone) but I wasn’t letting up.  I hit mile 2 and I wasn’t caught yet (looked over my shoulder at least 10 times as people came up behind me), and got some good momentum on the downhill (though I did go slower than I might have before the knee thing) and then I hit the turn which started the part of my course that infected my nightmares.

I turned, threw my visor down low, and started chugging.  It wasn’t nearly as bad as I remembered.  Then I looked up and it was the turn before the turn, and I was running away from the race course.  Ha!  Pushed my visor up a bit, turned the NEXT corner, and then it was go time.

This was my test.  This is a huge, about half mile, extremely steep run hill.  In most race situations, I’d justify walking this.  However, how can you justify walking on a 5k (nevermind it was preceded by a 800m swim and 11.2 hilly ride)?  I chugged.  And chugged.  And chugged.  I had almost convinced myself that walking would be better until I noticed that I was passing all the walkers (some in my age group) and that it was PAIN LIKE THE FIRE OF A THOUSAND SUNS but somehow I was able to take it and keep going and didn’t die.  And any minute, Joel was going to pass me anyway because he’s better at hills, so I kept working at it like a bike hill.  Walking equaled unclipping.  No unclipping here.

Somehow I emerged at the top and hit pavement…. ahhhhh, delicious pavement.  I went from the 13-14mphs I was doing up the hill to 9-10s as my feet FINALLY got some traction and I saw the finish line.  I was not going to let Joel beat me here, so I ran, then sprinted (ok, so real standalone 5k pace in the 8s, but OMG FELT LIKE SPRINT) through the finish line.

Run Time: 33:58 (10:57/mile). 30 seconds slower than last year but also WAYYYY more consistent splits (11:20, 11:09, 11:30) and also not nearly as slow, in comparison, as Pfluger this year (2 mins slower).

Total race time:  1:41:13.  All my goals for this race are met.  1.5 minutes faster than last year, and my brain was in a much better place the whole time.  The rabbit was never caught, as I cheered Joel into the finish a minute and a half after I crossed.  I’m back, baby! :)

 

BSLT, Or How Training in Austin is Great!

lilbslticon

 

We made it!

2013-06-30 16.07.59

Here is the long recap of not just the race on Sunday, but the time leading up to and back from the race.

Thursday: We had everything packed and in the car by bedtime Thursday night. I had worked a long day and knew that I had a ton of work to squeeze in Friday. Once it was all packed and loaded in we went to bed, nothing too exciting but it is strange to get everything race ready 4 days before a race.

Friday: Work was crazy as I anticipated, I had way too much work to do, and not all of the deliverable s to me, It was also a “half day” of work and the other half was our fun day at the new driving range across the street. So for as aggravating as the first part of the day was the second part of the work day was nice. It was a catered lunch, then we sat down and played a board game with some co workers (It was Betrayal at House on the Hill), Then we went out and hit 20 or so golf balls each. It was a fun driving range, each ball was chipped and you swiped your player card at the tee, so it knew what ball belonged to what person. The monitors would show where your ball landed and score your shots.

Next we headed back to the office to get my pain killers, since I had half a root canal just a few days before. Nothing crazy just Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen over the counter.  We got in beastly hit up a gas station and filled him up, grabbed 2 big cold waters and got going. We stopped at a DQ near gold-withe and had a chocolate cherry blizzard. We stopped in Post to use the bathroom. It looked like a nice little Texas town.

Once we got to Abilene we found the hotel, checked in then went to red robin where I ate my favorite burger of all time, the banzai burger! I also might have eaten a basket and a half of fries… So fat feeling but awesome by the end. On the way back to the hotel I saw a used game store and stopped in, picked up a new dance game and a movie quote type game. Then I had us take 1 more stop at the Target right across from the hotel, to walk around and help the digestion. Thankfully we did since we found sunscreen on sale and we needed some.

Back at the hotel we dorked around a bit with the tablets and talked about going to the hot tub. When we got up the guts to go hit the hot tub it was a bunch of teenagers in it. It wasn’t the warmest and it had some sort of brown growth at the bottom. Needless to say we got out, I showered then we attempted to sleep.

2013-06-29 11.16.05

Saturday: There was breakfast included at the hotel, so I grabbed some eggs and french toast sticks of doom, loaded up Beastly again and got back on the road. I took a wrong turn and we got on the wrong highway, for about 10 minutes before we figured it out. So we went back and got going the right way. This part of the drive was very pretty, lots of clouds, some lightning and lots of rain. We stopped for a bathroom break in Post, then kept on going to Lubbock.

I was a little anxious to get to packet pickup and then go check out the course, it was about 1 when we got to the packet pickup hotel, and it wasn’t the nicest hotel, so glad we didn’t stay there. Also packet pickup was supposed to open at 11, but it got delayed until 1 so there was a good line to get everything. After getting all the stuff we walked around the expo. I found the tri top I wanted, and it was 25% off, so I bought it. The booth was from Lane 4 Swim, that is just by our house back home, but I never thought to look there for tri gear. I know for next time. We went to the official booth to look at the finisher shirts and the hats and asked if we got a hat at the end. they said no so we ended up paying way too much for the official visors. But I will wear it proudly for a long time so I guess the price is ok.

Next was driving the course, we got to the park entrance but didn’t go in yet since we didn’t want to have to pay to go in before driving the bike course. We had it printed out and I wrote out turn by turn directions for us, but that didn’t do anything to keep us from not getting lost. We got very lost, dirt roads abandoned farm houses, super steep hill that I was thankful to have the Xterra for, because I think the Prius would have just laughed as we rolled back into the ravine.  So yeah driving the bike course took almost 2 hours.

We then went down into the park to where we thought the transition was going to be, we were on the wrong side of the lake :) We didn’t realize it right then so we found a parking spot, went to the porta pottys and changed into swim clothes. then walked down to the beach to get it. It was so crowded that there wasn’t any way we could get a swim in with the way they had it roped off. So we put our feet in, decided it was warm enough and headed back into town.

Stopped at a grocery store and picked up a bottle of bubbly for the next day after the race and anything that looked like it would be good for a post HIM stomach. Once we at the hotel, checked in and had all our stuff in the room we ate a big dinner of mac and cheese, then I washed and lubed up the bikes. Finally to bed, sleep didn’t come very easy to me that night, I woke up dozens of times it felt like just waiting for the alarm to go off.

Sunday: Once I finally just gave up on sleeping and got up the alarm went off and it was a nice and early 4:30 am, I used the facilities, showered, got into my clothes and sat at the couch watching bad MTV and tried to eat breakfast. Once Leah started to get ready I took the bikes and transition bags down to Beastly. It was raining good when I took the first bit down, but it lightened up to barely a drizzle by the time we left. We got on the road probably at 5:30… Way too late, but the day before it only took about 10 min to get to the hotel from the lake so at this point I wasn’t too worried.

Next was the drive to the park, from where we were yesterday to the hotel only took about 15 minutes and transition didn’t close until 6:15 so no problem getting there. As we got on the highway there were other cars with bikes on the back or trucks of the like. The sleepy town of Lubbock had not woken up yet this early on a Sunday. Once we get to the park entrance there is a small line of people having to go past the ranger station, where they are making sure to get fees from any spectators. Then they tell us how to get to where we are supposed to park. Strange to me, it wasn’t where I thought we were going from yesterday. Well there ended up being a huge long line to get into parking, it was a little bit crazy. We got parked with about 15 minutes until transition closing, but still had to put the wheels back on the bikes, air in the tires then take the bikes into transition for safety check and body marking. Where we ended up parking was all cactus and prickle bushes, so We carried our bikes about a quarter mile to the main road, along with at least 40 other people. It was a mad house. Once we got onto the road we had to walk the bikes down a very steep hill to the bike start. This was the 8.9% grade hill we bike up and down later. I was doing what I could to not run down it, and Leah was taking her time walking down it as to not injure her self. At about the time I saw the body marking people I heard the announcer say that they were closing transition in 5 minutes. I was a bit worried, but thankfully all racks had assigned areas, so I was able to find my exact spot and lay everything out. (Good thing I practice laying it all out.) The only snafu I had at transition set up was the guy next to me asked if I could turn my bike around on the rack to make more room. No biggie.

 

Swim: 51:10:00

Made it to the swim start before the first wave went off!  It was a running swim start from the shore and I haven’t ever had to do one of these before, but it sure made it more interesting. I gave Leah lots of hugs and good luck, then I got up on double deck. I talked to the guy next to me, he seemed a bit nervous, but so was I. It was his second triathlon ever, His first being a sprint the month before. I wonder how he did.

So running into the water once the horn goes off, I notice that there are a good number of older guys in the wave with me and that way too many of these people are walking in, instead of swimming in once it got deep enough. Oh well Ill swim over them and get out on the course. So swim swim swim, I figure most of the pack will leave me by the second marker, and I wasn’t far off of that since I had swam over the slow guys. There was a guy with a snorkel I had never seen before, it let him breathe with a snorkel while swimming back stroke. Very very strange looking.  He ran into me about 3 times during the swim, and each time was snorkel first.

As I rounded the 2nd turn marker, the first Ladies wave caught up. I ended up getting pushed under water as a rounded that marker with 1 lady on each side, super fun! Its OK, I got a little revenge with some elbows as they went by. The next few hundred meters was just swim, sight, swim. At the 3rd turn marker I passed one of the wheelchair racers with his life vest. He was struggling, I didn’t see that guy again until I was finishing the bike, then again when we were driving out of the venue as he was finishing his bike. Those athletes are champs!

Between the 3rd and 4th turn marker Leah ran into me, and we got about 5 seconds to say hi to each other as she swam over and past. At that point I was also getting passed by the faster people from the last wave in the water, and started to think the swim would never end. Then I took a chance to look behind me and noticed a whole bunch of other yellow caps back there and knew I wouldn’t be last in my division. At the 4th turn marker I started to feel like I was swiming strong and that I could go much further. Perfect time for that kind of feeling to kick in with the last 200m of the race to go! So up and out of the water and head into T1!

T1: 5:09:00

As I ran into T1, I saw Leah just about ready to leave so I shouted a goodby as she walked by my spot in T1. I spent longer here than I would have at any other race distance, but I knew I was going to have at least 3 hours of bike time and I wanted to make sure it was as good as I could do, so I took extra time to make sure to apply sun screen all over, since I figured most of it got washed off in the swim just prior. I also doubled up on the chamois creme, I wish I would have tripled up on it though. I put my socks on, bike shoes, helmet, gloves, sun glasses and camel back. Had a hit from my inhaler as per my doctors direction, then walked out to bike out!

 

Bike: 3:40:22

Knew I was a few minutes behind Leah, so pushed because I wanted to catch up to her by the first Big hill. I passed her on the first big hill, then only see her again on turn around. I was flying at this point, at least in my mind, we turned North Into the wind just before a old house that had a huge Domo painted on the side. It made me think about happy domo’s running in a field. Just past the Domo house was the first turn around and I got to see Leah, then we got to the next long north stretch against the wind. My average speed went from the 20mphs to 15mphs. Down the big hill and back up the other side. Some guy asked if my age was in the 300′s because apparently thats what it looked like as he flew by. A few miles later we turned right onto the chip seal road. I was still doing great at this point, I was eating a gel every 30 minutes and drinking my fluids on a regular basis. After a few miles on the chip seal, we turned down another hill, and at the bottom of this hill was a beautiful wooded road that you turn out of into a switch back hill going up.

I was quite terrified of the switch back hill, it was steep and it looked intimidating. People had written motivational messages on the road, so that part was nice. This is the spot where the title of the post comes in “Or how training in Austin is great!” because I started to pass people going up this hill. Many people, people on better bikes. I know Austin has some hills, but this really helped confirm that what I consider a hill, really is a mountain compared to some of these people I race with these days.

At the top of the switch back hill, I started to laugh UN-uncontrollably. It was just so easy and I was expecting the worst. As we hit the more flat areas and people started to pass me again, I got some strange looks for sure. Up to the next turn around I was just giddy, a great feeling to have on the bike at about 30+ miles in. There was a turn around and then I saw Leah, probably about 7 minutes behind me, I said something like “I love that hill and you and how are you doing?” and whoosh we pass. All I heard from her was “OUCH MY CROTCH!”, so I know she is doing OK if she can still talk. I rode the breaks hard going down the switchback hill and then turned into the uphill with the wooded area and the slightly steeper uphill after that. I started to sing a song. ” My crotch your crotch our crotches hurt together.” Over and over at this point. I hit a bump that had made me kinda hurt, and my chamois cream was wearing off and I was getting some unconformable rubbing in the nether regions. Going up this hill I think I was down to about 5.5 mph, I saw a scorpion on the side of the road and at that point I really thought it was going faster than me.

At the top of that hill we got back to the chip seal road, and I ate and drank more and just road out these next half dozen miles in crotch pain. About mile 47 of the 56 I ran out of fluids, but I didn’t want to stop at the rest stop to fill up, so I just kept on peddling to the finish. Once in the park itself there were 2 more hills that we had to tackle and I ended up passing at least 5 people in that area. At the very last hill there was a nice lady standing at the top yelling at us that it wasn’t that hard and we could go faster. Thanks to that lady I was flying into the bike finish.

T2: 6:39:00

Once into T2 I figured Leah was only a few  minutes behind at this point, so I took my time getting things ready. I thought it would be lots more fun to run together than have her blow by me at some point. That and well my legs didn’t quite want to get into run mode right then. So I took off the camel back, gloves and bike shoes. Switched to my running shoes, handheld and hat. I looked around for Leah and she still hadn’t gotten in yet so I grabbed the sun screen and fully re-applied everywhere I could reach. Again I looked for Leah and didn’t find her so I dug through my bag and tossed a few more gels into my handheld and number belt, ate one of them then decided to head out. As I was getting to the back end of transition I saw Leah there ahead of me, and what do you know, we got to start the run together!

Run: 3:03:41

We ran together well walked together. I had to use the bathroom, porta potty 1 2 3 4 no tp. Leah had the good idea, take the ice cold paper towels they were handing out at the water stops and improvise. So I did, at mile 4 rest stop the hula themed one. I made some loud trumpeting noises, apparently so loud that the volunteers out there started laughing. that got my spirits up even more, and got back on the run, caught back up with Leah, then we went up big hill #2 before energy lab. I couldn’t just walk it like Leah was so I jogged/ran up the rest of the hill, hit energy lab and started trudging away. Leah passed me at some point here. I started to talk to a random lady who was going to do the Tahoe IM as her first full, wished her luck and went on. Talked to 2 guys that just called me Austin, they were some Dallas tri club. I passed them and saw them again at the turn around but they had just started walking the next time I saw them. Finished up Energy lab, with Leah in my sites, I saw her slow down at one point and start an angry looking walk, but only for a few steps then she was back at it.

After Energy Lab, there was the downhill that just recently before was the uphill, and this is the only part of the race where I started getting down on myself for some reason. I could see Leah just ahead and for some reason in my head I was singing we could be hero’s. And I got all emotional, it felt like my shoes were melting (because the road tar was melting) I was very hot at this point and starting to hurt and really all I wanted to do was be running in the shade where I saw Leah running. I realized that I had not eaten in a good 3 or 4 miles and slammed down a gel, picked up in probably 2 minutes then took off down the rest of the hill to catch up to Leah just before the mile 9 stop. That stop just so happened to be the hula stop again, I got my hat filled with ice, way too much so I shared some with Leah, then I put ice down my shirt and pants and went up the next hill. staying within talking distance of Leah.  At the top of the hill I started to cramp up and realized I needed more food/salt and that with about 3.5 miles left to go I was going to be hurting bad. Leah took off and I said see you at the finish, I didn’t see a way I could keep up right then. After a few more minutes and 1 loud and obnoxious truck almost running some of us off the road, that a cop did go pull over yay. I remembered I had my emergency second surge gel, its a chocolate gel with 100mg of caf, and that is a lot for me. I ate it and drank the rest of my water on the way down the mile 3 hill.

Next water stop I filled up with what ever sports drink they had and was thankful for every shady bit I could get to and the caf started to kick in. Once we got to 2 miles left I caught up to Leah again, she had been run walking, and I was just jogging slowly. Once I passed her I didn’t stop, I couldn’t I didn’t think my legs would work again if I walked, so I just kept my super slow jog. I passed probably 10 people in this last stretch, people that obviously were in more pain than I was. But the best pass of the day was about 200 feet in front of the finish, the guy was in my age group and he just stopped when I went by. I saw him finish a few minutes after me, but I guaranteed that I didn’t DFL there.

Finish: 7:46:59

A minute or two after I finished Leah crossed the finish line, then I walked up to the med tent so I could get some ice. My leg was twitching something crazy and I wanted to ice it down. I asked if I could get in the ice bath, but they said that was only for people with heat sickness, so instead I reclined on a cot and they brought me an ice pack and a few cold towels. It felt wonderful. They did the same for Leah and it was a great way to cool down and relax a bit after the race. We were surrounded by people hooked up to IV’s getting some quick hydration back. But really it was in the 80′s maybe low 90′s not bad at all. We had come out to this race expecting to end the run in the 100′s.

Post Finish:

We went to get Leah’s shoes from the waters edge at swim start then to the transition area to pack up the stuff, slowly. We trudged the bikes up the hill. Then I left my bike with Leah at the top and went and got get Beastly and drove back to where Leah and the bikes are. We took the 10 minutes or so to pack it all up and headed out. On the way out of the park we passed the last wheel chair contestant who was just finishing his bike portion. I still wonder if they let him do the run portion.

Drive back to hotel:

Sonic, burger tots and cherry lime aide and cheese sticks. Had 2 cheese sticks, and it hurt my mouth, so I just drank the lime aide. About an hour or two later I ate the burger, but I couldn’t do the tots, fried food was hurting my mouth.

Recovery:

Once back at the hotel we hauled everything back up to the room, then I took the cooler of ice I had filled the night before and made myself an ice bath. Seriously cold, but at the same time it felt great. This is going to be part of my post long race recovery from now on.

I ate the burger from sonic here and had a beer, then laid down for a nap. I might have dozed off, not too sure I was so sore I don’t think I really slept much. When I decided to be conscious again I put on cartoon network and played my game-boy in the hotel bed for a few hours. Oh yeah I also made some mac and cheese and ate that.

Drive home:

We got everything packed up and in the car by about 10am Monday morning, and we were on the road by about 11. The drive was ok, I had us stop in post again for some drinks and snacks, then we stopped at some old BBQ place that served me up 2 lbs of meat for their lunch special. It was great. We got home earlier than I expected, and we had time to un-pack, then head out for El Mercado since that is what Leah was craving. Once we finally went to bed that night I slept amazingly.

Buffalo Springs Lake Triathlon 70.3 – I Didn’t Die!

Leah here.  More catching up on race reports, this one is only about 2 weeks old at least!

When I first targeted this race I had all sorts of goals.  Then, I read horror stories of how HARD it was with the hills and the wind and the heat.  And then, I went and got injured, so I had 6 weeks of real training before the race to go from running 1.5 miles to 13.1 after an already long day.

I’m actually quite pleased with the day I had, considering the circumstances, and hit almost every one of my goals.  Let’s get to the recapping, shall we?  Settle in, this will be a long one…

Friday:

We had a company fun day at the driving range, which was bad because everyone was getting drunk and we had to be teetotalers (hehe), but great because we got to get on the road much earlier than expected.  For lunch I ate a full plate of veggies, salad, some mac and cheese, and a few bites of beef and salmon.  After we got in the car, it was calorie infusion time (as I’ve been operating at a debt, I don’t want to go into a race underfed), so I nommed on some pretzels and sesame sticks, we split a small DQ chocolate cherry blizzard (that made me feel a little sick, WAY more sugar than I’m used to), and when we got to our stop in Abilene, I ate a chicken burger and a TON of fries at Red Robin, to the point where I felt overfull.  It could have been healthier calories, but mission accomplished.  We chilled for a bit, hit the hot tub, and I slept well.

Saturday:

We drove the rest of the 2.5 hours to Lubbock (if we knew we would have been able to leave early we would have done the whole drive Friday, but it was fine).  We rolled into packet pickup around 1 (and they delayed opening it until 1 so it worked).

Got our shirts, bought some visors (they weren’t giving them out at finish, rude), Joel bought the tri top he had been looking for but couldn’t find for 25% off, and then we headed out for some lunch.  We hit up Baker Bros Deli, and I got a santa fe turkey sandwich and a salad.  The same meal, essentially, I had at Play Tri that worked really well.

Then, we set off for adventure – driving the bike course, the run, and swimming at the lake.  We started out, things didn’t look so badly (one killer, but manageable hill), and then we took a turn and HOLY CRAP we got sent off pretty much a rollercoaster chute down (and then up) a horrible, gravel, unstable road.  We both started freaking out until Joel took the map from me and looked again.  I sent us in the wrong direction.  Oops.  While one hill actually haunted our nightmares (it was about a mile of steep switchbacks), it was nothing like the gravel monster that we were both looking at and ready to pack up and go home.  We counted the hills – one up/down/up out of transition, one canyon, the canyon coming back, the switchback of doom, the long, steady, kill-your-quads climb, and then the last “screw you” hill for the last half mile before transition.  6 hills.

Then we tried to scope the run course and couldn’t find the exact route out of the lake area, but knew it would be a STEEP hill, and then saw the massive down/up getting to energy lab II, which was a nice, flat stretch near a power plant, with no shade, where we did about 3 miles out and back (then, back to the steep hill, down the killer hill into the lake area, and then back home).  3 killer hills.  I knew it wasn’t going to be a fast half marathon, but I was way more concerned about the bike.  We tried to swim, but there were so many boats out on the lake, we just put our feet in, noted it was lovely, and then took off.

This all took many hours to do, so we didn’t get back to the hotel until way too late.  We made our organic mac and cheese and Joel lubed up the bikes, and we got all our pre race stuff together and settled, and headed to bed at 9, falling asleep at 10.  Considering parking opened at 4:30am, and we had a wakeup call at 3:30am, this was also way too late.  However, my brain did a good job at turning itself off quickly, I just asked my body to hold it together tomorrow, and zonked pretty well.

Pre Race:

Woke up at 3:30-ish, groggy, and really wishing for many more hours between then and the race start.  I drank my tea, ate my mint oatmega bar, had a good use of the facilities, dithered around, unpacked and repacked my transition bag, did some other stuff and holy crap, it was 4:45.  We got our stuff in the car, I ate my second Rise bar in the car, and got there around 5:20, and sat in line for ~40 mins to park.  Woah.  We are usually at transition at open, and while we expected that we were running later than normal for us, we didn’t expect to be rolling into transition to get body marked 10 minutes before RACE START.

Let’s just say my nerves were running at 110% at that time.  I didn’t have time to do anything but rack my bike, take 2 minutes to lay out my stuff (thank goodness it’s second nature by now), and get out just before they kicked me out.  I kinda wanted to try and use the portas one more time, but there was no time.  We got down to swim start just as the pros were off, and I realized that swim exit was on the other side of the lake – no time to get my flippie floppies over there so I just ditched them on the beach, gave Joel a kiss and sent him off to his wave, and I just tried to breathe and center myself.  I really, really, really was nervous and rolling into the race so late (no warmup run, swim, potty, second chance to check transition stuff, etc) was not helping but I lined up on the beach (my first running start), they counted down, and then it was go time.

Swim:

I got somewhere in the middle of the pack, high kneed my way in and started swimming as soon as I hit thigh deep water.  There was a little jostling but it wasn’t too bad.  The one thing I had neglected to really analyze was the swim course, so the little plastic castle (buoy) was a surprise every time… and we were swimming into the sunrise.  Stellar.  Actually, I did a REALLY GREAT job sighting, so great, in fact, that I got swam over EVERY TIME the front pack of a wave decided to make a break for it.  M dot events – much more full contact swimming than I’m used to.  I had some stray thoughts of “I don’t belong here” but when I did get relief from the mob, I really felt like I was swimming strong at minimal effort.

About 3/4ths of the way through, I smashed my hand into someone and looked up to take a breath and thought, that dude has Joel’s goggles.  I breathed again to that side, and it WAS Joel I ran into.  We smiled at each other a few more breaths and swim-waved, and then I took off ahead.  First time actually bumping into him in the water.  That made me happy.

Since I hadn’t studied the swim course, I wasn’t sure after the next turn if we were done – I saw a big round orange buoy ahead that looked different than the other ones, which made me think it was over, but I remember there was some sort of zig zag in the course that I wasn’t sure we hit yet.  I swam towards it and lo and behold, it was swim exit.  I was almost sad to be out of the water, both because I felt pretty good in the water, and because I was not looking forward to that big hill out of transition.

Swim time: 42:30 (1.2 miles – 2:22 for 100m pace).  I’m jazzed.  I knew I’d beat Kerrville’s time of 53:55, but I wasn’t thinking it would be by 11 minutes and 25 seconds.  Also, I know next time I can give it a little more.  I probably had a sub-40 in me, but I knew it would be a long day, I was undertrained, and I just wanted to finish.  Very content with this.

T1:

Not having my sandals sucked.  The concrete was rocky and hurt and transition was BIG, so I had to walk the whole way to my bike.  I was even walking so funny a volunteer asked me if I was ok.  I missed my rack, found it, and then did a nice slow, smooth, methodical transition.  I tried to get a little bit of sunscreen on my body and apparently did a crappy job, but I didn’t want to take enough time to suncreen up completely.  I was walking out and I heard Joel in transition say he’d see me on the bike, which made me happy.

T1 time: 4:44.  A little slow, maybe, but not offensive.  Pretty much the same as my last 70.3.

Bike:

Got out to the mount line, got on my bike (almost fell over just being dumb next to the railing), got going, and steeled myself for the first hill.  I felt like how that hill went would set the tone for the bike, and it kinda did.  I put my head down, spun through it in an easy gear, and emerged at the top… sorta fine.  Then we went down the rollercoaster, and I rode my brakes a bit and was scared, headed over a bridge and then got to work again on the second part of hill one.  Oddly enough (to me, I’m sure this is old hat to anyone else that’s been riding a bike for more than a day), getting in granny gear and just chugging up hard hills works.  I got to the top feeling a-ok about the day, especially because I knew the flat we had here would last for a while.  It dawned on me then I’d forgotten my ride glide (or any sort of chafing protection anywhere), but nothing I could do about that now.

My goal was to eat something every 2 miles.  This didn’t quite pan out, but I got quite a bit of nutrition down (about 3.5 packs of chomps – 700 calories total).  I also took a little more caffeine than normal, topping out at about 2.5 cups of coffee equivalent on the bike, which for this lady is a LOT (I drink one diet coke or iced tea and I’m wired for the day).  At one point, I took a caff chew and my stomach twinged a bit, so I moved to the half caff and no caff ones.  I got down about 3/4 of a camelback with one lemonade nuun in it.  It was still pretty cool (probably mid to upper-70s on the bike), so I didn’t feel dehydrated through the race at all, which was nice (considering the expectation of the possibility of the bike ride starting in the upper 80s and the run being in the 90s to 100s like last year).

Back to the course, I spun easy and conservative on the front part of the course – I knew I hadn’t trained to push a hilly 56 mile course and I didn’t want to be too cooked on the run, so I kept with my ~3:40 per mile pace.  Oh yeah.  Another thing I forgot to do with the time crunch was set my garmin to bike mode – so it was giving me run pace on my bike.  Oops.  Killed some time trying to figure out what pace = speed though, so there’s that.  I screamed (literally) down the downhill at 10 (hill 2), and got to work on the mile uphill at 11 feeling fine.  This picture did not do it justice, it was pretty steep.

Right around then I heard Joel come up behind me, pass me, and work his way up the hill just a little faster than me and I never caught him again, he stayed about 3 minutes, give or take, ahead of me the entire time.  Then, we went back to what I thought was flats and saw my speed keep improving.  Killer!  I might kick the crap out of my Kerrville bike split!

Then, we hit the turnaround and I realized two things – 1) tailwind is nice, expect when you have to head back into it for 10 miles, especially when you didn’t notice it on the way out and just thought you were doing well, and 2) false flats only suck on the way up, which is the way I was heading.  So mile 18-28 or so was just slightly uphill and into the wind (minus the return of the up and down screamer, which sucked worse into the wind – hill 3!)

Around that time, the lack of ride glide and the lack of training, plus a dose of chipseal road into the wind, made me hit a pretty bad low on the bike.  Everything hurt, I was only halfway through, I still had the evil switchback road, and I whined to myself a lot.  After I realized I was down, I stuffed a few chomps in my face, and then hit the really pretty 2.5 mile downhill part of the course through a little canyon and trees!!! (the only shade of the course) and I felt better.

Then, we headed down the road to the switchback, which I neglected to remember was also uphill (grrr), and then got to work on hill #4.  I got in granny gear again (a little too early, oops) and chugged and chugged and read the chalk writing all the way up (I especially liked the “Shut Up Legs”) and passed some people and then holy crap – I was up it.

I approached the turnaround and saw Joel and we exchanged the conversation of:

Me: “OW MY CROTCH!”

Joel: “something something wonder day love something something”

Apparently I gave him the seeds for the “crotch song” which went something like “My crotch, your crotch, all our crotches hurt together”, which he sang for the next 10 miles.  Oddly enough, I didn’t have much of the delirious moments this ride like normal.  After mile 30, every time I caught myself out of aero position and hurting I told myself “everything hurts, get fast and it will be over quicker”.  I spent a lot of the first half on the drops because I felt more stable, but the second half, minus some position changing for relief, I stayed in aero almost exclusively to the point where the muscles holding me in aero hurt.

The nice long downhill on the way up wasn’t even that bad until the end (hill #4 – around mile 40), and then we hit flats and then the chipseal again, which I expected to be miserable… except this time the wind was at my back so I got in aero and just cranked as much as I could.  I kept thinking to myself “I am so ready to be done with the bike” and then for some reason had to clarify to the universe that I meant I wanted to be done with the bike at mile 56, in transition, not on the side of the road wrecked or flatted.  I did this clarification each time, probably about once every mile and twice once we got to the 50s.  I know what happens when you are not specific with your wishes.

I still saw people going OUT around mile 28 as I was coming in at mile 48.  It was nice to know I wasn’t dead last.  I got off the chipseal, around the corner, and thought I was back at the park – NOPE.  A couple miles to go.  Everything was hurting, and I was SO SO SO READY to be off the bike (which I had to keep clarifying with the universe).  As I headed in, the wind hit me head on and miles 52, 53, 54 went SO SLOW (not in terms of pace, but each minute took at least 5 in my head, I swear) and I was getting really, really, down, I just wanted to cry.  My body was over it.  Finally, I hit the screamer downhill, the bridge, and the crazy half mile uphill right before transition.  A spectator really helped me and talked me up it, and then all of a sudden, I was riding my brakes into transition.  I dismounted a little before the dismount line, and the lady told me I could go a little further and I said “NOPE, I’m ready to be off the bike, like, about 26 miles ago”, and walked it over the dismount line and into transition.

Bike time: 3:45:46 (14.88 mph).  I would have loved to be closer to the 3:31 I did at Kerrville, but it was a WAY harder course, and I was WAY less trained this time.  I’ll take it.

T2:

I was definitely out of it after that bike.  It took a lot out of me.  I did my thing, made another half-hearted attempt with the sunscreen, and got going (walking) and got halfway to run exit, and then two things happened simultaneously. First, I noticed I still had my dang bike gloves on.  Second, I heard a “LEAH!!!” and there was Joel next to me.  Well, I wasn’t going back to drop my gloves, so I stashed them in two of my tri suit pockets and did everything I could to make with the quickness and head out of transition with my husband as they announced our names.

T2 time: 4:29.  This was incredibly slow, but I was incredibly out of it.  I sort of wanted to sit down for a bit, maybe take a nap, maybe sit in a corner somewhere and rock back and forth.  I did none of these things, so I’ll call it a win.

Run:

Joel started jogging slowly out of transition, so I did everything I could do to match pace.  It was SO, SO good to see him, but we kinda tanked our first couple miles running together.  Instead of inspiring each other, we both walked whenever the other one was feeling weak, so the first 5k took us something stupid like 40 mins.  This was before the first giant hill, which we had planned to walk, but we were wimping out on the rollers.  Joel stopped to use the potty, I walked so he could catch up, and then he caught me and wanted to run, but we were almost at said gigantic hill, so we walked.  At the top of the hill, he wanted to run, I wasn’t ready, so I just sent him off.  I walked about 100 more meters than he did, and we turned onto energy lab II (named because it has a power plant, and it’s almost a perfect replica of the stretch of the same name at Kona – hot, flat, boring, no shade).

While he was in the restroom, I finally popped my 303s (herbal muscle relaxers).  I had 2 with me on the bike which I resisted, but I.just.hurt.so.bad on the run and I wanted to not suck so bad at running anymore, so at mile 4, in they went.  Around energy lab start (mile 5), they kicked in, and I decided I was going to run until the hill at 9.  Ambitious, because the most I had run without stopping so far was maybe half a mile, but on I went.  I passed Joel, and I was cooking down the street at 11-ish minute miles.  And I didn’t stop at mile 6, or 7… I walked .2 before mile 8 because my stomach did a belly flop after taking two chomps, but then it went away and I picked it up.  Joel was behind me close enough I could hear him talking with other people and saying delirious things, but I needed to just ZONE on the road ahead and play the quiet game, so I stayed ahead.

Mile 8.5 found the epic downhill (which was the epic uphill before), which I ran down in the 9s (wheeeee!), until my shoes started melting and sticking to the pavement.  Seriously.  That’s what I thought.  Actually, it was TAR that heated up and stuck to my shoes, but it made every step feel like I was walking in gum once I hit the flats.  HOLY DEMORALIZATION, BATMAN.  I stopped at the bottom to rinse off my shoes, and then I decided it was walking time even though I wasn’t to the hill yet.  Joel caught up to me there and we talked and got water and ice and powerade in the hula station at mile 9, and then hiked up the half mile hill.

We then did our own thing.  Joel was running pretty steady at 13-14 min/miles, I was run/walking – 11 min miles when I could muster it, and better on downhills, but anytime I hit an incline, my legs shut down and I had to powerwalk, so we kept ping ponging.  Finally, he got a bit ahead of me the last 2 miles (always in my sights, but I could never catch him), and then I ran into the finish and tried to do a silly little jump, but my legs weren’t working, so I’m sure that didn’t turn out.

Run: 3:04:15.  Yeah, that bad.  This was easily one of, if not the most challenging half marathon I’ve ever run (even standalone), coupled with the fact that I’m so under-trained, and it kicked my hiney.

Total time:  7:41:44.  This would be 17 minutes longer than Kerrville, but y’know, I’m stoked to finish and not die.  Six weeks before this race, I couldn’t even run and barely bike, and Sunday, I did a half ironman that was SO much harder than my first, and only missed my time by 17 minutes.  My HR wasn’t the limiting factor either – it was average low 150s on both the bike and the run.  I just hurt too bad and my brain died.

Post race:

I went with Joel to the med tent, he needed ice for his knee that seized up, I took some cold towels to cool off and some electrolyte water, but I was remarkably… fine.  The rest of the day involved hiking our friggin bikes up that stupid hill out of transition to the car (one last leg of the tri…), a stop at sonic for a burger and some tots and a diet cherry limeade (I wanted nothing sugary after all those blox), and then climbed into bed and drank beer and ate mac and cheese and tried to nap unsuccessfully (too much caffeine during the race) and watched cartoons.  It was lovely.  The next morning we packed up all our stuff, ate BBQ, drove 6.5 hours home, ate tacos, drank a margarita, and relaxed.

A few other thoughts:

  • No post race sickies.  I felt awesome.  Total win.
  • Soooooo sunburnt.  Time crunch = no sunscreen application before, and I tried in both transitions to sunscreen but it was a big fail.  I caught a bit of my arms but that was it.  I look like a dumb triathloning lobster.  It’s hilarious.  My age is sunburnt into my leg due to bodymarking.
  • It is pretty clear to me what I need to work on before Kerrville, in which I actually care about the time, but we’ll get to that later.
  • I gained SEVEN lbs of water weight between Friday AM and Tuesday AM’s weight.  Crazy.  The first half of the week after the race, I was peeing like every 5 minutes and everything felt swollen for days (though I was back to normal weight by the second half of the week).  Though I did enjoy the diet of crappy carbs, the aftermath sucked.
  • I took a full week off after, and my body appreciated it.  Now, I’m really fired up for the second half of the season and the July/Aug/Sept training plan!!

Thanks for hangin’ in there, if you’ve gotten all the way through this!  This race was killer, but I don’t regret doing it at all.  It helped me whip myself back into shape after being injured, and was a great mental toughness training day.

Lake Pflugerville Sprint Triathlon Recap: Leah’s Version

Last year, the Lake Pflugerville Triathlon was all rainbows and unicorns.  I surpassed even my A goal by a minute and ran a solid, speedy race.

This took my nerves and expectations to a new level because what should have been a fun little local triathlon to sharpen my speed skills 2 weeks out of my first 70.3 of the year grew to this behemoth of “this is what I’m going to measure myself against” somehow by Saturday.

I realize this was stupid.  I’m glad I was able to let go of that before I heard the airhorn go off to start the race.  The fact of the matter was, this was not an A race for me, there is no magical self worth by PRing this specific course, and it certainly isn’t going to do anything for me going into BSLT.

Last year I was doing tons of speedwork, sprint/olympic distance workouts, and at that point was completely healthy.  This year, I’m at the tail end of cramming a last-minute base build coming from almost zero real training for a month of being injured, with a knee that is sketchy at higher speeds and a newcomer to the party, an angry lower back/butt muscle on that side.  So, totally, the same, right? /sacrcasm

How did I fare?  I’m making you read the whole report this time.  So settle in for the tale of the morning of Sunday, June 16, 2013.

Day before:

hunger-grumps

We did the normal steak/veggies/salad/bread food for lunch and played cards with my parents in the afternoon.  We did the not so normal thing and bickered the whole way home (seriously, we never fight).  Joel was annoyed at some things and incredibly hungry, and I was in MAJOR pain in my glute/back and also incredibly hungry, so I finally told him we needed to just shut up and stop it and resume after we ate.  Dinner was mac n cheese and pb toast, and I snacked on some watermelon, and then we got over ourselves and were just fine.

Then, we got back to normal and practiced our transitions, packed everything into the Beast, drank sleepy juice, and headed to bed and I slept pretty well (though I only got about 6 hours).

Pre Race:

I woke up around 3:50am (10 mins before alarm) and iced my back and knee and rolled and massaged to get everything in as solid shape as possible.  I ate my normal oatmega bar and sipped tea and did not have any moving movements, which is the WORST before a race.  Sorry, but if you come here to the AIT, we keep it real with our poo-talk.

We got there a little past transition open at 5, but still got a good spot on the rack near the front near bike out.  I love this tri because it’s open racking, so you don’t get stuck somewhere weird that you hate because you’re in a certain age group, and that Joel and I can rack together. I also love that it’s the tri where we usually see the most of our tri friends.  R and his wife run the transition here, and it’s always awesome to see them all morning.

I forget what all happened where, but there was indeed some moving movements that made me so happy I almost tweeted about it but decided against it as I’m not sure everyone else on the internet is as excited about my pooing as I am on a random Sunday at sunrise.  Then, we did a warmup run, set up transition for real instead of just claiming a spot, almost forgot my cap and goggles in transition as it was closing, and then logged a warmup swim.  This was the longest swim warmup I’ve done, probably about 400m, which I believe would ultimately be a good decision.

We hung out with our buddy Brian and his mom for a while, and then sent Joel off to get in his wave and cheered loudly for his start.  Once Brian lined up, I went to swim out and waited for Joel.  It was hard to judge his time since I couldn’t see a race clock and the later waves got delayed due to a buoy malfunction (which apparently he was just crossing as it floated away so he was even involved), but he got out looking pretty winded like he swam his butt off and I guessed and told him about 13 mins (good guess, he was 13:07).

Since Brian was starting right about the time Joel got out, I waited around and cheered him in too.  I also saw Jean, so I stuck around and cheered in her husband Jack.  After that, I realized I just had a little longer to wait, so I sat down for a bit.  The nice thing about cheering people in is I didn’t have a whole 40-ish minutes to get into my head, so I felt relatively calm.  Between all that as well, I ate one cliff caffeinated chomp and a whole package of sport beans.  Eating right before the tri last time worked out well for me, and this time things were even settling better today.  Good deal.

So, FYI, there is a lot of pre-race here because I WAS IN THE EFFING SECOND TO LAST WAVE of five million waves.  I actually can’t wait to get older next year to move up to 3rd to last.   I’m just putting that out there.  It’s an extra degree of difficulty on this tri for younger women, so that should probably give us an overall bonus somewhere in the scoring…

Finally, finally, my wave was up, I lucked out with a spot on the inside about 2 back, the horn went off, and the swim was on.

Swim:

I really suck at sprint swims.  I really, really don’t feel like I can even get going for the first 300-500m of a swim and guess what?  That’s a sprint.  I took a two pronged approach to fix it this year – a) longer warmup, though it being an HOUR before my wave kinda sucked, and b) just planning to HURT.  I went out fast and hit 100m gasping for air.  The goal was to hurt, not to drown, so I dialed it back just a little bit and my breathing got better.  I couldn’t tell exactly, but I thought I was in a decent position for my wave.  I passed my first pink cap (the wave in front) just a bit before halfway, and kept passing them so I figured I was doing pretty well.

The second half, I settled into a good pace and just tried to keep it in the uncomfortable zone.  I didn’t get passed by my first white cap (the last wave) until about 450m in and only a few got by me.  I swam until I touched bottom, got up, high kneed my way out of the water, and headed out to transition.  The timing mat was further away than I remembered last year (it’s about a tenth of a mile from shore to the stairs down to transition and it was almost at the stairs this year).

My biggest victory?  I didn’t break my stroke if anyone jostled me, I swam continuously and pushed the pace hard, and I sighted incredibly well.

Time: 11:45 (2:21/100m).  Shows as 9 seconds longer than last year but considering how much Joel and I both have improved in swimming and we were both longer than last year, I’m going to entertain the thought that the buoy malfunction caused the swim to be a little long and/or the timing mat was further out.

T1:

All went as expected.  I felt a lot of that transition gravity but I fought it pretty well.  Having Jean cheering me on helped hurry me along.  I’m beginning to think I might want to go without some of my creature comforts on a sprint (camelback, gloves, put garmin on bike not on wrist, etc) but the miraculous thing?  Exact same T1 to the second from last year.  Apparently I have my system down.

Time: 2:53 (same as last year)

Bike:

I got going as expected and had no problems clipping in.  I had even remembered to set my bike in middle middle gear like you’re supposed to on a sprint with a pretty nice flat start, and put a chew in my mouth as I checked time of day.  I was exactly on pace to hit my 1:30. Then, I said “on your left” for the first time.  I would continue to say “on your left” at least 300 times.  You see, starting second to last wave, behind all the older gents and ladies, means you have the majority of the race to pass.  Morale boosting?  Sure.  Aiding in motivation to push and go fast and giving you time to just crank and zone out?  Not so much.  When you are dodging and weaving around so many people, it’s hard to keep pushing, to not tuck in and take a rest.  Sometimes you HAVE to tuck in just when you got your mojo going because it’s either slam on the brakes, hit the lady on a huffy bike riding in the middle of the lane, or get hit by a car.

A few miles in, I realized something was REALLY wrong.  The wind was fairly brutal, but I was pushing hard, and passing the crap out of people, and I looked down and my garmin an it had me at an average of 15 mph.  What what whaaaaaaat?  How am I sucking so bad?  I checked my gearing and I was where I normally ride, I forced myself to get extremely comfy with riding around obstacle in aero to cut wind resistance, but the number wouldn’t budge.  I mean, Joel and I ride 15mph easy rides on the hillier parts in worse wind.  I decided then it was time to ride by feeling, and that feeling had better be pain.

Just in time, my knee started hurting when I pushed real hard.  Brilliant.  Not the pain I was looking for, not at all.  So, I just resolved myself to have the worst bike split of my sprint tri career (ignoring the first one on my old Schwinn), and figured I was just going to push myself just to the line my knee tolerated, pass people, and practice aero.  I rode one stretch of approximately 1.5 miles completely in aero, jammin out, passing at least 20 people, finally feeling like good things were happening.  Then I looked at my garmin.  14.7 mph average.   What. the. what.

I finally noticed a few things: a) we were a lot closer to bike in than I expected b) the mile markers seemed way off, I saw mile 12 and my garmin said 10 and c) time of day agreed with me – I wasn’t nearly as far off the mark as I thought.  I rode the last 2 miles in as hard as I could saving my knee and dismounted (another slow flying dismount) without incident.

Time: 46:27.  18.1 MPH.  Oddly enough, instead of my worst bike split ever, it was my second best (and my best was on a super flat, zero wind, perfect temperature course and only .3mph better).  Would I have ridden so fast with a working garmin?  Or faster? Good question.  However, I’m sure my head may have been a little more positive with one.  To do better next time: more eating.  I ate 4 chews total because of all that shenanigans going on.  I finally just sort of put the honeystinger chew bag in my mouth around mile 10 while I rode in aero and got a few out and had to say twice with my mouth full “on your left” so I just gave up.  Who needs food in a sprint anyway? :P

T2:

Just wanted to get out to the run as fast as possible.  At this point, I still had a shot at a PR, even a sub-1:30 depending on which legs showed up, and I was going to give ‘em the best chance possible by not dilly dallying.  Again as T1, exactly the same as last year.  I’m not sure how I could do much better, I have this one down to the bare minimum.  True flying dismount leaving my shoes on the bike?  Running faster?  That’s about it…

Time: 1:19

Run:

The legs I wanted did NOT show up (I kinda got the hint when the knee started hurting on the bike but I hoped for the best).  I got up the hill and started going and wow, everything hurt.  My back, my glute, my knee… so I immediately made the call to switch from pace to my EFF IT screen on the garmin (time of day, current and average heart rate) and run that way.  I didn’t want to spend the whole run looking at my limits, I wanted to push them as far as I could without injury.  Slowly, things started to feel better.  My back loosened up.  My knee just felt tight not hurty.  It got tolerable around the mile 1 marker, so it was time to see what I had.

What I had was not as much as last year.  I still haven’t looked at the splits, but I know what my HR was 178 average over that run.  Once it got over 180, I’d pull back just a bit.  Once it got to 175, I’d speed up.  I got to that really uncomfortable place where I just had to turn my head off as much as possible and keep going.  It helped that I’ve run this trail like 100 times, so I know exactly what’s next and how close I am to the finish.  I didn’t save anything, I just kept running steady, trying to do math with time of day, and in the home stretch just accepting it was what it was and ran into the finish strong.

Time: 30:18 (10:06/mile).  It was a little disappointing to be 2 minutes slower than last year, but considering last year’s run was almost an out of body experience and this year my injury was definitely a limiter, plus no running speedwork to speak of since 10/20 – I’ll take it.

Total Time: 1:32:44.  Last year was 1:32:12.

At first, I was a little miffed that I missed last year’s time by so little.  Could I have found 33 extra seconds on that course Sunday?  Maybe.  If I ignored my knee twinges, but who knows how badly that would have ended?  If I had a working garmin on the bike?  If I started in the earlier waves (it was less windy on the bike and less passing people)?  If I pared down my T1?

However, let’s think about it this way.  Last year, this was the race of my life – my best put together race all year, the one of which I was most proud.  My head clicked.  I executed.  Many other ones, I completely fell apart at some point, so this was a huge victory.  This year, I’m less than a month back from being cleared to run 1 mile, and in 2 weeks, I’ll tackle the beast which is BSLT, which has kinda been the focus of my training, not PRing a sprint.  I’ve put together some solid mental game for each and every race so far this year.  The sole reason I did not smash this PR is that while my knee is just fine with long activities, it’s just not ok with speed.  Give me that 2 minutes back on the run I had last year, which I absolutely had in April, and I’d be talking about how I just missed breaking into the 1:29s.

My placement (besides that run) was much higher as well.  I was in the top 1/3 of my gender, top 1/2 of my age group, and just missed top 1/2 total.  That “terrible” bike split got me 8/33, or top 1/4 in my age group.  If I could have done that 1:30, I could have moved up to about 8th overall out of 33, and 1:23 (out of my reach right now, but give me a year or two…) would have got me on the podium.

All in all, a solid race.  Again, same as last year, I put together efforts I was proud of on all 3 legs, plus you can’t get any better than the same transition times to the second.  I would have been overjoyed to have this 2013 race in 2012.  This year, I’ll nod and smile a pleased smile instead of jumping up and down about it, because from the moment I crossed that finish line, I’d be saving my energy for BSLT 70.3, and jumping takes a lot of energy.

WordPress Themes