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!


everybody's entitled said...

YOU DID IT! Hooray!

F said...

I was going to call you today, glad I didn't. You might have been asleep and that is too precious! I was so happy to be there and so amazed at how cool you were. Like your mom said, you DID it. I cried! It was beautiful.