Friday, November 1, 2013

My Austin 70.3 Recap

So, most people don't know this but I lost my Grandmother on the Monday before the race.  She was always such a strong supporter of sports and athletic programs and I dedicate this race to her.

We (finace, Ryan) drove over on Saturday morning and went straight to athlete check in at the expo center.  Lines were not too long - we were there around 12pm.  Got through all that and drove straight to the bike drop off.  The lines for cars there were longer.  Dropped off my bike, ate some food, relaxed in the hotel room and laid out my stuff for the following morning, ate some more food and early to bed.

I got up before the alarm went off (I have that weird skill) and threw on some running clothes and went for a slow jog on the treadmill to wake up.  Worked.  Got some coffee and hot water which we stayed at the Hampton Inn and they were nice enough to have some hot coffee ready along with bottled waters, bananas and muffins.  Ate my loaded oatmeal, woke Ryan up and off we went. 

You arrive to a long line of cars (we entered the line around 5am, transition opens at 5:30am) and then are escorted to the parking lot via traffic directors. At this point, there was some lightning in the skies and it was raining a little, so it was a little cold for this Texan girl, but quickly dropped tied my run bag to my spot on the racks and got on a school bus (wow been a while since doing that) and was driven to the first transition spot at the lake.  I had plenty of time to set up my stuff considering transition was available until 7:15am.  Now while there, the announcer said that the morning clothes drop off will be available until the last wave goes in the water.  Ryan was off running somewhere so I needed to check my stuff but it was a little chilly so I waited.

Now what I hate about Ironman branded races is that you can't have your shoes on the bike clipped in already.  Unless you are a pro.  And of course my bike was racked on the complete opposite end of the bike out spot.  And it was raining and a little muddy.  They had some mats out but those only help so much.  

I was in the wave with other 30 - 34 females and we were scheduled to go off at 8:30am, an hour after the pros started.  They delayed the start 15 minutes.  I was standing at the top of a hill, conveniently located next to the port o potty ;), watching the waves go off, waiting for the first male pro to go to transition.  I noticed them starting to grab the morning clothes bags and put them on trucks and then they made an announcement that you have 20 seconds to get your stuff to the volunteers or your morning clothes will not be checked.  So I hurried over there and dropped this off.  I was still kind of cold at this point but knew it wasn't more than 20 minutes left so I put the bottom half of the wetsuit on and then heard that it was first call for my waive so I shuffled on down the hill to the water.  And then got a mud bath for my feet while we shuffled forward until it was our turn to get in the water.

The water was definitely wetsuit legal.  I need a new wetsuit.  I have the base TYR model and it does all right ... but I am like gear obsessed like everyone else.  Anyways, my last half ironman swim was sad to say it honestly.  I swam 47 minutes.  Swimming and I are not friends.  I do many laps in a pool but mess it all up in the race.  I need someone to fix my open water skills and all of the other things that need fixing.  I am not a natural swimmer. 

This is the first time too where I have not worn a watch in the swim.  So all day, I had no idea what my race time was until the finish line. :)

We get in the water and I position myself in the front right (bouys to the left) and 3 - 2 - 1 GO! I went out pretty fast for me and then about 100 meters in, I was kicked hard in the face.  Caused a slight freak out/pissed off moment and then got over it and found a groove.  Ya know, even though I swam some 4,000 yards days in the pool, this silly half ironman swim seemed to take forever.  Need to work on my mental game for the swim...and my shoulders don't like my wetsuit.  So the whole time after the last turn, I was obsessing with finding that last orange buoy.  Anyways, land ho or whatever and I get out of the water.  39 minutes and some change.  While I thought I improved a little more, I will take my 7 minute improvement.

This was the most interesting run to T1.  Up a hill.  So not bad enough that I am a bad swimmer but now that you made, it swim up the hill. Quickly put the salt in the pocket, sunglasses and helmet on, grabbed my shoes and bike and ran barefoot to the line.  Glad I did that.  All these people were running up to the line and then causing congestion due to trying to get the mud out of their cleats.  Would have made sense for everyone to have the shoes on the bike....anyways I stopped right before the line, balance my bike and strap the shoes on and off I go.  Saw someone wipe out at the line. Avoid them - check!

Set up my garmin 910 that morning to be ready on bike mode.  Amazed that the thing will stay on for 3 hours with no use and still have plenty of battery life.  Austin is a hilly town with some crappy roads.  Wow. I have never seen so many ejected/dropped bottles in my life on a course. Which brings up my next point.  All of my nutrition was loaded into one bottle on the back of my bike. And I set my garmin with an alarm to go off every 20 minutes to remind me to take a shot of the bottle.  Well 20 minutes in, I reach back and no bottle!  Crap.  I felt like crying and hey not ashamed, I did.  I was so pissed at myself at that point.  My goal for this race was not really a time goal as I knew I was going to PR but to race the best of my ability with no mistakes.  With that, it wasn't going to be my dream race I was hoping for.  So they had four aid stations and this meant I had to get calories at all of the stations as I need like 300 calories an hour.  Found this out the hard way in Ironman Texas...  All I had left, due to the nutrition being ejected, was water on my bike and salt in my pocket.  So I get to the first aid station and miss the Gu but got the Perform and water.  And then I reach back to take my salt and the bag goes flying.  Just rolling my eyes now. 

Hey, I actually got to use my small chain ring.  Wow hills.  Living in Houston is not a good preparation for this.  I am glad I don't live in Austin..those roads were rough on the shoulders.  There was a lot of passing and hitting bumps.  In fact, on the process of passing yet another guy, I didn't even know this was possible, but my front bottle in my aero bars, flew out.  So now I have a pretty naked bike like 20 minutes in.  In all the aid stations I managed to get 2 GUs, 3 Performs and 2 water bottles.  And hey, lets open the bottles first.  The last few miles were pretty much no passing zones or pass at your own risk as they coned off a small section of the road on the left.  At one point, a guy goes to pass me and says "slow down" jokingly.  And then what does he do? He slows down.  I had to wait a while to pass him, trying to not tail him for fear of a drafting penalty, figuring my luck. Up the last big hill, round the corner and to transition 2 I go.  Last bike was 2:49 on flatter terrain.  Today was 2:40.  Thought I was going to be faster but with the hilly stuff I encountered, I'll take it!

I ran past my rack.  Even though in the morning I walk where I rack my bike, I never seem to get this right.  I have done this 3 times this year.... find my spot on the rack and rack the bike, rip open my bag and put on the socks and shoes and manage the rest in my hands.  Gu was in this bag so woohoo for calories.  As I am running out of transition, I am putting on my belt, visor and garmin.

The goal was to run 7:45 per mile pace and then speed up the last lap with whatever was left.  Well that went out the window.  I am the type of person that finds a pace and stays there, well minus on the hills!  There were two pretty substancial hills out on the course and we had to do three loops. Nice.  So a consistant pace was not possible.  So I look down at my garmin, 7:11, slow down, running up a hill 7:49, run down a hill 7:22.  Jeeze.  So I run on perceived effort.  First two laps I did stay fairly consistent for average pace.  As I run the loop to start my third lap, I think to myself, let's make this hurt! So I pick up the pace a little bit and then a little bit more and then a little more.  And then I come up to the exit to the finish line, see two girls who looked to be in my age group in front of me and then give it all I had for the last 400 meters to finish inside.  Pretty cool.  The clock said 6:02 and I barely noticed it.  I just ran a new PR for the half marathon in a half ironman.  Previous PR was 1:43 and I just ran 1:36.  Nice.

I get my medal and water and round the corner.  Run into my coach who was way more excited that I was at that point as I just wanted to complain about my issues and then I ask her my time and she points out I did 5:02:25.  Nice.  My other half iron race one year ago almost exactly I did 5:55 something.  A 53 minute PR.  So then I am curious where I rank. 13 in my age group.  Not rolling down that far.  If you would have asked me a year ago if I thought I could post this time, I would have smiled and said maybe but thinking um no.  Well over the course of a year, I have improved my mental game with staying my zone and telling that voice that says this is too hard or you can't do this to shut up.  And then tri on.  Which this is an expensive sport.  Anyone want to sponsor me? :D  To chase my further goals, changes and further sacrifices will have to be made!


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