Monday, October 26, 2009

Longhorn 70.3 Race Report

Finished! In 8:43!

I had written out my race plan and followed it about 95%. Up at 4:45, waffles and load up the car, out to the Expo Center by 5:30, drop off Special Needs Bag. Quick bus to the park, set up transition- very crowded and dark, then wait almost 2 hours for my wave. It was 65 degrees and overcast- cool, but not cold. One cool thing- they had two skydivers, one that dropped a huge American flag from his pack, and then they sang the National Anthem as he descended. Awesome.

The word for the swim was STEADY. I tried to start a little harder to find someone to draft off of, but wasn't able to until some of the men in the final two waves came up behind me- it was almost like ride the back side of a wave when they came through. I managed not to get kicked in the face, but still a little scary when much bigger people than I was used to came up on me. I did see a fully dressed scuba diver in one of the lifeguard boats- they were prepared! Finished and had the T3 welcome in, Coach Maurice did my wetsuit zipper and reminded to go hard on the bike, and I avoided the muddy wetsuit stripping, and on in to transition. Quickly changed, but then had to pack up the dirty wetsuit and towel into the small bike bag, so it took longer than normal.

The word for the bike was STRONG. Coach Maurice had advised me to go harder on the bike and not save too much for the run in order to have a chance to finish before the cutoff. And the first half was perfect. I had ridden parts of the course many times, and driven it times, plus last year's Aquabike (though the course was different this year), so I felt like I knew it. I knew where the aid stations were, and planned my breaks. And the first half was right on target, 15.1 mph, mostly in aero, staying positive and reciting my mantras and songs. It was about 75 degrees and overcast, which was very pleasant.

And then the wind picked up. We hit some open farmland, plus probably turned into it a little. I tried to stay positive as I watched the average MPH on the computer fall. The worst was the last section on 969, going 10 mph on a flat into 20-25 mph winds. Ugly. I managed my nutrition pretty well, Sustained Energy, Cliff Blocks, peanut butter crackers, water handups into the aerobottle. The one thing I would have done differently is get a Gatorade at the second stop, and not wait.

So the last 15 miles were tough, I was continuously working the times, trying to figure what I'd have to do on the run, and switching from the 8:18 avoid the cutoff goal to the "Go the Distance" goal. And at the same time trying to believe I could do it. I was out there doing it! And lots of encouragement from people passing, of which there were a ton because the three waves behind me were Men 30-34, Aquabikers, and Relay- all fast. I did pass three women total out there, so I knew I would not be the last biker in!

In to transition 2, continuing to follow the race plan and changed into tri shorts and relubed with Chamois Butter in the ziploc baggie to wipe it on the shorts without getting my hands on it- worked great. Left foot a little numb from the bike, and had to walk through transition, but then out through the arena where the 6 hour finishers were finishing. There was a huge crowd in the arena, and it was so energizing to see the finishers and crowd, and at the same time demoralizing knowing I had a long way to go to get back there.

The word for the run was STEADY. I had two options- run until you get to a water stop every 3/4ths of a mile, then walk, or run 5 minutes, walk 1 minute with the watch timer. Nancy ran the first bit to check up on me after I passed the T3 tent. Lots of encouragement and activity, and lots of runners out there. And I was plodding along, going the 5:1 and feeling okay. I tried to keep my splits, but missed a couple of mile markers. I was going about 16 minutes per mile, which was above the time I would need, but since the bike went long, the 8:18 was pretty unreachable and I was "Going the Distance" anyway.

Lap 2 I found my parents and cousin Frances and that was a great encouragement. Originally my dad was going to run with me, but then the race meeting said that any spectators running would be considered a pacer and the triathlete would be disqualified for receiving aid. But at that point I figured I would be disqualified anyway for going over time, and the official that Dad had talked to said it would fine now, so he changed into his running gear to meet me on the third lap.

There were a couple of water stops that had hoses and super soakers, which felt great- it was about 80 degrees, partly cloudy and breezy. I got super soaked at one, and realized that the water on my shorts, mixed with the copious amounts of Chamois Butter, was creating a foam. I was horrified! I was foaming at the crotch! I tried wiping it away, and luckily the next stop had cold sponges and I got two to try to dilute it and that just made it worse. For about 20 minutes on that lap I was wiping away liquidy white foam from my shorts. Once most of the water was gone, it slowed down and then quit, but just gross!

At the turnaround for lap 3, Dad, Karen, and Elizabeth all joined me. They were walking while I kept up the slog jog, but keeping a pretty good cadence. Coach Maurice joined for a minute to tell me they were keeping the finish line open for me to be the last finisher, but I would have to run. I told him I was running as fast I could! But that was encouraging- it is good to know the people who know the right people! And with the posse, I caught up to the next runner, a Trizoner named Nicole who had passed me on the first lap, but was hurting and walking at this point. We just swept her up and they all walked while I jogged. I walked the uphills and aid stations though, and was keeping it together. My stomach was a little sloshy, but not bad, and soon we were into double digits and getting closer. Our posse passed three women out in the park, and later learned there was another guy about 5 minutes behind us, plus the one guy ahead by about a minute we could never catch, so we weren't even the last on the course.

Finally back into the park, Coach Charles and Natalie joined us, and then it was less than a mile. They all peeled off at the last turn to meet us in the arena. Nicole started to jog and went ahead of me, but I knew if I went any faster, I would puke. And the final run by the team tailgating area, I started to get teary. I was really going to do this!

And into the arena, with the fishhook turn. Nicole finished, the guy ahead, and then me. And Coach Logan was announcing and I was just so overwhelmed. I cried as I finished, then got all my finisher gear and then crying and hugging all the T3ers and my family. There was just love and encouragement everywhere! And I was done!

Surprisingly, I felt pretty good. Worst were the feet- water and sweat made them raw and painful, though no blisters. My dad bought me Longhorn gear, then on to collect the bike, bags, and cars, and then home for a wonderful shower! And again, surprisingly good- small areas of chafing that burned in the shower, but really, my feet were the only things that were painful enough to make me hobble and after some Aleve, pretzels, and Gatorade, I was good. Out to dinner with my aunt and uncle at Chili's- I wanted a big burger and fries and a coke! Then saw my parents off to drive back to Dallas, and then home. And again, feeling surprising good. The only real problem overnight was the combination of feeling so jazzed about finishing, and the cokes at dinner, I really didn't sleep. I dozed, and then got up at 5 with the thunderstorm, piddled around the house and unpacked the bags, then back to bed for the first nap of day, where I did finally sleep.

So, overall a fantastic day. And just a conglomeration of everything good- family, teammates, effort, fighting through the wind, a little luck and pulling strings to get an official finish, and then the overwhelming feeling of finishing. A year of training and intention to get here, and I did it!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

My times are in your hands

I trusted in, relied on, and was confident in you, O Lord. You are my God. My times are in your hands. Ps 31:14.

I have an evening devotional book from Joyce Meyer, and this was one of the passages a couple of months back when I was having some work anxiety. It is always helpful to remember that I am not in control of everything. I can let some of it go and this passage reminds me of that.

Last night, I came across it again, and the double meaning came through. "My times" are what I have been worrying about with this triathlon. But I have done all the training I can do, I have prepared as best I can. I have to let go and let God.

Yesterday was packet pickup, expo, seminars, and race meetings. It was good and I got to see some teammates out there, plus pick up some last minute tips. And most exciting, the race shirt fits! And it's not because they changed the size or design. I'm losing weight and inches and it is showing up in the clothes. Of course, this taper week of no exercise is messing up my momentum, but I think I've finally figured it out! And when this shirt fit, I went back into my closet and found all the other race shirts that haven't fit and got about 10 new/old ones to add to my workout shirt drawer. Yay!

I did buy a race jersey, even though there is the rule of if you don't finish, you can't wear it. But at the last event, they sold out of the jerseys before I finished, so I didn't get one. And then I rationalized that there are relays, and aquabikers that get finish gear even though they don't do the whole distance, so if I finish after the cut off time, I'm still going to wear the jersey. If I finish before the cut off time, I'm going back to the store and buying everything that says Longhorn on it!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Swimming in the dark

All the preparation is coming together. The hard workouts are done. The practice races are complete. I'm organizing all the gear and putting it in piles ready to go in transition bags. My family is coming in the afternoon to support me, which is fantastic. There are only a few minor details left to be worked out, mainly due to the cooler weather. I am going to wear the arm warmers and shoe covers on the bike. There was one thing a teammate had advised me: put on a dry shirt for the bike. Normally I wear a tank top style tri top for all three events. During the Practiceman, I realized how cold it is at 60 degrees to be wet, with wet shirt on, and riding a bike. This isn't a problem when it's 90 degrees! And she said to just wear your sports bra and tri shorts under the wet suit. Well my sports bra is not a pretty stand alone kind. It's the super support kind. And I am not the type that is comfortable wearing it alone. It would be so much easier not to have to wrestle with taking off a wet shirt, and I am a little pressed for time here. But would it rub or chafe? I would have to test it before race day.

So that's why I was at Barton Springs at 6:30 this morning. It's still really dark then, and while I used to go swim with S in the winter evenings, they have lights on then. There are no bright lights on in the mornings, just the telephone pole lights. So it is really dark in the water. And there are weeds and rocks that look like sharks. So while I can rationalize there is nothing in there to get me, I barely made it half a lap before calling it quits! The sports bra only worked well though. But how do people swim in the dark? Sharks!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Week #15 Longhorn Training

Start of taper! Hard week at work, so it turned out pretty well, considering.

Swim 2; 1.5

Bike 3; 1

Run 2; 0.5

Core 0.5; 2

Total 7.5; 5

Long bike 25; 12

Long run 30 minutes; 30 minutes.

And Practiceman was on Sunday. My legs were still sore from the Personal Training Core with N, but I felt good on the climbs and kept up within a minute of the two girls in front of me through out the whole bike. The main problem was frozen feet! 60 degrees when I'm wet and on a bike is COLD! I'm going to tweak my race day clothes to try and avoid that. Right now, weather on Sunday is predicted to be sunny with a low of 55 and high of 80- not too bad at all!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Go the distance

I have been struggling and stressing about the Longhorn time limits these past couple of weeks. Here are the rules from the Longhorn website, with the anxiety producing part in bold:

SWIM: The swim course will close one hour and ten minutes from the start of the final Swim Wave. All athletes who have not crossed the timing mat at the swim exit by the cut-off time will be disqualified and will not be permitted to continue the event.
BIKE:The bike course will close five hours after the final swim wave start. All athletes still on the bike course after the cut-off time will be disqualified and will not be permitted to continue the event. Also, any athlete not reaching the third aid station at mile 36 on Hogeye Road by 4 hours from the last wave start will not be allowed to continue the bike. The athlete will be removed from the bike course and transported to T2.
RUN: The run course will close eight hours after the final swim wave start. Runners still on the course after that time will be disqualified and given the opportunity to unofficially finish the race. Further, any athlete not making it to the start of the 3 lap by seven hours and thirty minutes from the final swim wave start will be disqualified

So I have calculated from previous races and think I will finish in 8 hours, 30 minutes. I had hoped to improve my speed during the training, but it hasn't happened. But I have really improved my endurance and feel pretty confident I can complete the distances. I was waiting to find out the swim waves, because that was really important. If I got an early wave start, I could have up to an extra hour to finish because with so many athletes, it can take 60-90 minutes to get everyone in the water. If I got a late wave, I would be pretty screwed. But I did have a back up plan, as I can race age group or in the Clydesdale/Athena category. This category was created for the big guys who are fit, but can't compete against the smaller guys, and just another way to hand out more awards. So it's for men >200lbs and women >150. I figured I could just change my registration as soon as the waves come out to the category that went earlier

Turns out I'm pretty screwed. I am wave 12 out of 16, which is women 30-34, and Athenas. It's the last women's wave. There goes my original and back up plans. And it's 20 minutes from the last wave start. So if my predicted time is correct, I will be 10 minutes short of the cut off, and will be disqualified. I can still finish unofficially, but still, what a letdown.

So I have been really worried, thinking of all the possibilities and all the times I should have trained harder, gotten faster, lost more weight. And that is not good for the brain or spirit! I figured out the times I would have to hit to make the cut off and they are faster than the last Olympic distance triathlon I did, and I just can't see how I can go twice as far, faster. And then thinking about not taking the time to change shorts or take bathroom breaks. And that's assuming I don't get a flat tire or cramp or whatever.

So after too much mental energy spent on this, I have decided to let it go. I came up with the mantra of "Go the distance" and that will be my goal. I will do what I need to do to be comfortable, like take the time to put on sunscreen, change shorts, go to the bathroom, or take a walk break. And when the officials come to disqualify me for going over time, I will be okay, because I am going to go the distance, even if has to be unofficially. It still makes me tear up thinking about it though. But I will make peace with my abilities this year. This is where I am right now and what I can do right now, and that's all I can do.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Week #14 Longhorn Training

Back spasm on Wednesday at work, so took off Thursday and Friday. But good long weekend!

Swim 2.5; rain and lightning- cancelled on Tuesday.

Bike 6; 4.5- all long bike.

Run 4; 4:45- homemade hill run, and long run.

Core 1; 2

Total 13.5; 11.25

Long bike 70; 50

Long run 13; 14

No day, but today

It's been a little rough around here the last two weeks. Saddle sores, bad training days, back spasm, hectic at work, bad weather, and only three weeks to go! But I am back in the saddle, literally and figuratively, and feeling pretty good.

This weekend's training was pretty important as it was the last chance to get the big miles in. I'd missed the first chance- rain, and the second time- memorial service. So this was it before Longhorn. And after last week's meltdown, I was a little nervous that my mind would work against me, so I prepared the fighting words I would have if I started to get negative. And what worked was the song from Rent that goes "There's only us, there's only this. There's just one road, there's just one way. No day but today." And that helped.

So Saturday had forecasts of rain, and this was an out and back course out Fitzhugh Rd, which will eventually get you to Johnson City. I debated about carrying my enormous rain jacket, and when I noticed no one else was carrying theirs, I left it in the car. I have never ridden in the rain, and was a little nervous about it, but I would rather practice it before encountering it on a race day. I did a 5 mile warmup out to the Veloway (and also to use their bathroom!) and then we were off. Dropped by William Cannon again, but I was happy to stay in my comfort zone, spin up the hills, drink out the new aerobottle, eat my nutrition, and stay positive. The plan was to turn around at 32.5 m to get the 70 in, but to turn around at the first drop of rain. So I was feeling good, even though this route was a lot of rolling hills. My back was fine. It was cool and overcast, which was very pleasant.

I was getting close to the 30 mile mark, and I could no longer pretend the water I was feeling was coming from the splashy aerobottle. But I was so close! But there was a big hill coming up, so I turned around. In hindsight, I should have turned around before then. The drips turned into more of a spitting rain, which was actually pretty nice. It kept me from sweating so much, and cooled me off. Then it turned into a light rain. Still okay, not sweating at all now, and I could ride up the hills much more strongly- the heat dissipation was helpful. I figured out how to dry off my brakes before I needed them. And I was going slower, and safer, on the descents.

And then it started to get into a pretty heavy rain. Where the rain drops feel like pins hitting your bare skin, and face, and eyeballs. But you can't wear your sunglasses and you can't close your eyes. And the water sluices up from you tires on your butt and legs and down into your socks. Okay, now it's not fun anymore. I never got really cold, but I was definitely chilled. I was feeling for the poor girls wearing sleeveless jerseys and not having any insulating body fat.

I was promising myself that I would call for help when I got to the gas station on 290, which meant I had 20 miles in the rain, though it would mean cutting my ride 20 miles short. But I was ready for this fun to be over. And then I saw J and I was saved! J and N were sweeping the ride route for soggy cyclists like me, and they were a godsend! I jumped in his car and was so relieved to be off the bike. Only one other rider was still out there to pick up, the others had gotten other rides in, or had sucked it up to finish. But I was so grateful to them, and grateful to be on a team that looks out for one another. Back home, I took a shower, ate some frito pie for lunch, and then prepared for my ritual after exercise nap. And then I realized how chilled I really was. I could feel cold spots for about two hours afterwards.

So then Sunday was the long run- 13 miles planned, though I did 14 because I like even numbers better, I'd never gone past 13.1 and I wanted to make up for the shorter bike. It was 80 degrees and 98% humidity, which was pretty soggy. So today I was begging for rain, and there was none! And that frito pie came back to haunt me- 3 bathroom stops! And I was drinking water and gatorade at every opportunity and still was down 4 lbs due to dehydration. But I finished it- the longest run to date!

So I finally was able to get the long weekend in- not perfect, but enough. And I stayed positive. And I can feel the core classes are helping. Only two more weekends to train- a long brick next weekend, and then the Practiceman the following.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Week #13 Longhorn Training

First week of intensity build #2. This week ended pretty crappily and I was dreaded posting the numbers.

Swim 2.5; 1- rained out, then committee meeting. Did do an OWS at Barton Springs in the wetsuit- need more time there.

Bike 5; 2- one spin, one 12 m long ride. Saddle sore.

Run 3.5; 3- 8m long run from last week, then 3 m meltdown at Decker.

Core 1; 3- did well here.

Total 12; 9

Long bike 60 * brick off the run 20 minutes; 12

Long run 11; 8