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Running with Santa

Does a 5k warrant a race report? Probably not. But since it was a costume-friendly 5k filled with Santas, I thought I'd share for just the photos alone. photo3

Let's see... woke up way earlier than I would have liked to drive up to Reston, VA in freezing rain. Naively, I thought "hey, maybe I'll do well overall since this rain will probably scare people away." Nope. Showed and up got myself in the packet pickup line pretty early, at least before the line of Santas started to round the block.

After a nice and easy two miles for warm-up, I opted to brave it in tee shirt, shorts and my favorite Pearl Izumi arm warmers. This ended up being a great idea because even in the 40-degree weather, I was toasty by the end of mile 1. And that's why the arm warmers are so great - just ripped them off and rolled them up in my hand.

And then it was your typically terrible and much harder than expected 5k race. I basically felt like I was redlining the entire way (note: this also doubled as my run test so the perfect opp). In the end, it was so uncomfortable that I'd almost rather run a half-marathon off of a HIM bike leg then suffer through another! Finished in 21:15—bummer because I had hoped to break 21-minutes, but not terrible for the sort-of-off-season.

For a cool down, I then jogged the course backward and got a good look at some of the hilarious costumes. Plenty of Santas, elves, red and green tutus, as well as a random penguin. Next time I guess I'll have to plan my race day costume a little better...

 

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Ride Like the Wind: Rev3 Florida Race Report

What. A. Race. It’s nearly three days afterwards and I’m STILL having trouble walking normally. I don’t think i’ve ever been this sore/stiff in my life!! A large part of that may have been the impromptu 11-hour road trip to Louisiana, but it may have also been the fact that I had a killer bike split, followed by my first solid half-ironman run that included NO WALKING WHATSOEVER, not even in aid stations (my usual run-time killer)!

It was supposed to be a quick trip, with a flight into Florida bright and early Saturday morning and a midnight return back to DC. Instead, thanks to Hurricane Sandy messing up the entire East Coast, I ended up driving back to my parents’ house in New Orleans (where I’m attending a wedding this upcoming weekend) and am currently alternating my lululemon pants and bike shorts as my only “pants” for the week (wedding shopping required but TBD).

But before heading up the Eastern Seaboard, Sandy brought some fun to Southern Florida, including lots of crazy winds and big surf. When I arrived in Venice, this was the scene:

After checking out the sand and surf, I listened to the tail end of the pro panel and caught up with a bunch of other Rev3 peeps, including ChloeElaine, Jaime, JordanJoel and John for dinner, where we all speculated on whether or not the swim would go on.

The next morning, the swim was cancelled—but for very good reason. with rip tides and crazy waves, Rev3 definitely made the right call… which means I still haven’t gotten my ocean/gulf swim experience… guess I’ll just have to sign up for Rev3 Florida 2013…

With so many races in October, and with the simplified bike-run format, I was very relaxed going into it: simple transition prep, bottles prepared, all ready to go. we watched the pros start off with a 1.5-mi run for their run/bike/run duathlon before lining up single file by bib numbers for the time trial start, where we would be sent off one person every three seconds. Turns out as lucky #100 I was the first non-relay age grouper! Not only did this mean clear roads and no fighting for space on the road, it also meant this was probably the closest I’d ever come to experiencing the “competing alone, against yourself on the bike” feeling that so many pros mention in their posts.

And so I rode scared. With no one else to gauge effort against, I just put my head down and PUSHED. Ten minutes in I thought to myself, ‘this is not sustainable’. Thirty minutes in I thought to myself, ‘this is really REALLY not sustainable’. But then a girl passed me and I didn’t want to a) be passed and b) worry about drafting so I fired up the cylinders and repassed to retake the lead. Again, I kept thinking to myself that I’m either setting myself up for an epic blow-up or a fantastic bike split. My watts were through the roof and (with the help of a killer tailwind) I was coasting along at 24-26mph on that first stretch. I love riding fast and this was fantastic.

This was also one of the busier parts of town and I have to pause here to mention that the Venice volunteers were AMAZING! Despite some old-fogey jokes cracked at their expense at the athlete briefing, the volunteers were out in full force on Sunday – it felt like every single stoplight, intersection and driveway had a volunteer or a cop car helping protect and cheer the riders. Almost all were cheering while on volunteer duty, which was a huge boost along the bike route. What’s even more amazing is that most of these volunteers didn’t know what a triathlon even was! I met an older gentleman volunteer who used to do triathlons “back in the old days” (his words not mine) and he was joking about how clueless the volunteers were before attending the volunteer check-ins/meetings. This is GREAT news for the sport and I hope the volunteer enthusiasm means that there will be an even-more-awesome Rev3 Florida in 2013!

And then we turned into the wind. At this point I was getting as low as I could into my already extremely aero-bike fit (thank you Josh Frick and CycleLife) and trying to find the smoothest sections of the road to ride along. a few of the men started to pass me but otherwise it was empty road for miles. It turned into a game of “how many laps of Hains Point do i have left?” for non DC-folks, Hains point is a flat, flat, flat and WINDAY 3-mile loop in the district frequented by cyclists.

The last twenty miles took a toll on me mentally: every time I saw an intersection, I pleaded to the course gods that it was a turn taking us back to T2 and out of the headwind: no such luck. It wasn’t until the last three or so miles that we got a brief break zooming back into transition.

I do want to pause here and say that unfortunately I had a bad experience with a pro triathlete that left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. But first: I HATE drafters and I hate drafting. In fact, I’m reckless when it comes to passing because I would rather blow steam getting past someone than worry about keeping three bike lengths between us. I hate the mental aspect of triathlon and would rather be in the zone and focusing on my bike than what someone else is doing around me.

That being said, with about fifteen miles to go, I passed one of the pro females who had started 15-minutes in front of us. I did it quickly and built up a large gap because when we came around a final U-turn with ten miles to go, she was nowhere to be seen. Out on the run, when she repassed me, she started to say “good job“, so I gave her a thumbs up as she passed. I then realized the “good job” was only sarcasm as she proceeded to make a really nasty comment about all the “drafting I was doing”. Shocked, I responded with “are you KIDDING me?!” and then “[stew] you too!

As promised in my somewhat obnoxious/dramatic tweet, here are my splits/watts from Sunday that seem to indicate very little drafting was going on. Let me also remind you that was the very first age grouper to start, meaning that it’s doubtful I even had that many opportunities to draft out there. Anyways, whatever. Maybe she should have focused more energy on her own race because she ended up dropping out halfway through the run.

The out-of-control blow up I had been waiting for in the back half of the race surprisingly never came. As long as I kept tossing powerbar gels down the hatch and a few salt pills here or there, I never felt terrible. I did wonder how on earth I was going to be able to run though…

bike - 2:28:41

I rolled into T2, grabbed my run gear and set off running. Oh boy, this did NOT feel good. The little voices kept telling me to walk but I was determined not too. Game on. Even though I started my watch, my splits were never right: I accidentally started in bike mode and switched over about a mile in but never quite synced up with the mile signs on the course. The only numbers on the watch were low-to-mid 8:00s so I wasn’t feeling too happy about my run performance for most of the run.

On the first loop, there were pros to watch and two manatees swimming side by side in the canal alongside the route. On the second loop, the winds picked up and I tried to keep myself moving by throwing as much Coke and Gatorade down the hatch as possible. With three miles to go, I took a step and it felt like someone jabbed steak knives through the soles of my feet. I had felt hot spots developing on the bottom of each foot but for some reason my blisters decided to peak simultaneously and in full excruciating force (and they now cover approximately 3/4 of each foot, meaning the only footwear i have been able to comfortably wear are swiftwick socks and my dad’s house slippers… sexy.).

The only thing that kept me going is that with the 2x out-and-back course, I could tell that no one else was making much headway on the deficit I had built on the bike (other than thealways-speedy Tara who flew into second for a 1-2 Rev3 podium – holla!!). Knowing this, I went into survival mode and gutted it out to the finish.

run = 1:42:04

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/52411444]

Also: Joel has a great race report from Florida that describes the bike and run a lot better :)

I was so happy to be done and once i stopped puking back up the massive quantities of Coke and Gatorade i had swallowed, I hobbled over to the ocean, dumped everything in a pile on the beach and started wading into the water. Once I got over the OW OW OW as the salt water stung my blisters, I dove headfirst into the chilly water and it felt amazing… until both legs cramped up fully,  another wave pushed me back down and I struggled to doggy paddle back to the shore. Great, i thought to myself, she wins a race and then dies trying to go for a dip in the water afterwards

In all, a great race and a fantastic way to end my season. In some ways it was a reassurance of my performance at Eagleman, redemption for a miserable day in Vegas and a great motivator for 2013. While I was bummed with the cancelled swim, I already know that my swim needs work so why not end 2012 on a high note? So happy to have competed and shared the experience with the entire Rev3 family.

i mean, where else do they cheer on and celebrate the final finisher with as much gusto as if the finisher had just won the entire thing, regardless of cut-off times and time limits? This truly says it all:

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Rev3 Anderson Race Report

October has been a bit of a wing-it and see what happens kind of month. The shortest time I’ve ever had between races before is something like 3-4 weeks and this month I’ve managed to squish three races into three of the four weeks in october all in the name of “fun”. As a result, I came into Rev3 Anderson knowing that it would be an interesting test of my physical and mental toughness just one week after Half Full.

But it would be even tougher mentally than I initially imagined: the day before the race, a few hours before i set off to Anderson, my dad got the call a parent never wants to hear when they have a son serving overseas. My mom and I could hear it over the phone speaker, “I have bad news….” Thankfully, the situation turned out to be much better than the initial phone call seemed to imply and my brother will certainly make a full recovery but Saturday was one of the most terrifying days of my life. I think the only way I got through the day was all of the amazing support from the Rev3 team, from family friends and from random (some not-so-random) people on twitter sending thoughts and prayers my brother’s way. After some back and forth, I decided to hop on the road and head to anderson to race.

What follows (triathlon-wise) is basically a what-no-to-do the day before the race. After a nerve-wracking morning, some crying in the car and a blown/flat tire in the first 5-minutes of the drive, I was still a complete mess by the time I arrived in Anderson. I made it to packet pickup with 30-minutes to spare and was totally lost trying to navigate the two-transition set-up because I hadn’t been able to attend the (mandatory) pre-race meeting – oops.

After finding my hotel, I realized I didn’t want to get back in the car and that I really needed a drink… so with KFC the only restaurant within walking distance, I had the disgusting pre-race meal of macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and a biscuit as I stayed up way too late to watch Pete Jacobs crush the finishand Leanda Cave overtake Caroline Steffan at Kona. I went to bed knowing that I trashed any hope for a good race the following day. Even my mom told me over the phone, “don’t beat yourself up if you don’t have the day the want.”

In the morning, as I took the shuttle from finish to the swim start, I felt calm, like the day before hadn’t happened. But then when Charlie gave me a big bear hug and Sean English asked for thoughts/prayers for my brother at the start and the crowd cheered, I couldn’t help but cry. Not necessarily by what happened, but by just how close it was to being much much worse.

[Side note #1: interestingly, the experience was kind of like racing at Half Full the weekend before - very inspiring because whatever you're going through in a race is absolutely nothing compared to what others have gone through.]

With the later start at Anderson, everyone got to watch the pros and the Half race go off and then still have plenty of time to warm up, get in the water to swim some, etc. More races need a late start like this! For the swim, I lined up directly on the start, which I was surprised by but the women seemed much less agressive than the two college waves and the men that had gone off before us.

We were sent off in the water and for the first time in a race I was able to keep tabs on where I was relative to the rest of the wave. I swum in third, in no-mans-land for much of the way, until we started running up against the waves in front of us. At this point, my lack of swim fitness started to kick in. One of the girls behind me passed and I used her move as an excuse to pull back some on the swim and just follow her feet. My time getting out was U-G-L-Y but given that it was still one of the faster(ish) ones of the whole race, I’m betting that the buoy placement (moved after the half swim) might have led to a slightly long swim—my Garmin said 1.4-miles!

But I got out, trucked up the climb to T1 and then got out on the bike course and the legs just were. not. there. I was playing cat and mouse with two other women for the first few miles until finally they both pulled away. Overall this was a fun course but my speed just wasn’t there, which I found confusing given my watts were right on target. I kept wondering whether a brake was rubbing but was too stubborn to get off my bike to check. Finally, about 45-minutes in, when the rubbing because much more obvious, I got off and just opened up my rear brakes, got back on and…. yup, FLYING. Serious dumb blonde moment aka what I get for not doing my normal S-B-R pre-race shake-out routine to catch mechanicals like that. I probably could have found my way to the podium if my back wheel hadn’t sucked a ton of power… oops. Passed back one of the girls that had passed me earlier and started hunting down more and more of the college kids on the course.

[Side note #2: I really wish my college had a triathlon team when i was there but DANG some of these kids had nice gear – bikes, race wheels, aerohelmets and all! I certainly know I couldn’t have afforded all of that before working 9-to-5!

Biking in, I didn’t feel great. and my legs were toast and I (thought I was) way back in the overall standings so the fire just wasn’t there. But since I knew quitting was the last thing I could do, I slipped on my Pearl Izumi ISOs, grabbed my racebelt/gels/visor and got trucking. And once I got going, the run didn’t seem so bad. Of course, it helped that Rev3 made an interesting course… it felt kind of like cross country on a paved course:

Even with all of the curves, turns and loops, I tried to zone out and move through the run as quick as possible (honestly, mostly just to get it over with), but a few memorables stood out:

  • Charlie high fiving me just before the turn-around with some kind/motivating words
  • extra loud cheers from Carole and others on the run course
  • the military camp set-up near the turn-around, complete with tents and humvees and supply trucks—honestly, it was startling seeing them there. I was torn between wanting to run over there and thank them and just crying as I moved forward on the run.

I came into the finish, happy to be done but mentally and physically drained. I ended up 4th overall and 1st in my age group but honestly could not care less. The race on sunday was more about digging within and making it through and enjoying the entire experience rather than any placement or podiums.

Finally, the support from the Rev3 family was so inspiring and the number of hugs and messages I got from everyone gives me hope that the world truly is a good place despite some of the evil out there. A part of me knows that things truly do happen for a reason and, if anything, events like these are a reminder to everyone—not just those affected—to live everyday to the fullest and to do things that scare/excite/amaze you, because one day you will no longer be able to do them.

Here’s to living life to the fullest.

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Rev3 Half Full Race Report

To say the Rev3 Half Full was inspiring would be an understatement. But first, let me tell you about my friend Ford. In middle school, he was the top runner for one of the schools in my hometown. In 8th grade, he threw down times that rivaled the best runners at high school cross country meets. People claimed he was the next Louisiana running prodigy. I didn't know anything about him, other than the fact that he was transferring to my school the following year and I'd have a fast running buddy to chase after. That never happened.

That summer, Ford got cancer and would have to have surgery, an above-the-knee amputation that would save him but destroy his running career as he knew it. The following year, he came back to high school, in a wheel chair but he'd soon learn to walk with a prothesis. By his junior year, he was on the swim team in the fall and a manager for the track team in the spring. People would gasp when this one-legged skinny kid would climb up on the block and then go on to whoop other kids in his heat. Despite everything that life has dealt him, he's one of those people that just SHINES regardless of the situation. I don't think I'd admit this to him, but Ford's perseverance was my inspiration for toughing it out on a really tough and cold, cold day.

At one point around mile 12 on the bike, when I was having trouble breaking because my frozen fingers couldn't tell how much pressure I was applying, I sat up, looked around at the puddles on the road and felt the wind cutting through my kit and thought to myself, why on EARTH am i doing this to myself?

And you know what I decided? because I can. And because if Ford saw me being a baby, I have a feeling he'd tell me to suck it up and keep pedaling.

And with that, I snuggled back down in the aerobars, said a few prayers that I'd stay rubber side down for the rest of the bike and continued to hammer onward. Apparently the self-torture worked because I managed to sneak myself into second place overall, meaning some nice Rev3 medal swag and decent splits at an interesting distance (.9 swim, 32-mi bike, 6.5-mi run) on a hill-acious course.

But before I get into this, I have a confession: my training the past four weeks has been, ahem, subpar. Let me break it down for you:

  • swim: 2-swims since 9/9: three days and one day out from race day (had to remember how to swim this past thurday…)
  • bike: two dismal trainer rides and two 2-ish hour jaunts outside
  • run: whenever I felt like it! including a random 17-miler in san francisco and a 5k PR on Wednesday

Now top that off with way more junk in my system in the past 4 weeks than probably over the last 4 months (including a late night on the town on Friday… oops) and now you know just how not-race-ready I was going into this. what can i say, I was travelling a ton for work and was still in a post-Vegas funk.

Running around like a Madwoman

The theme of my morning was: LOST. got lost trying to leave Virginia. Got lost en route to Columbia, MD. Lost my timing chip. sprinted around between transition and my car and the timing stand and my car before booking it down to the swim start. Maybe a warm-up does me well, after all...

Before the race, there were also some very moving comments about the Ulman Cancer Fund and the amazing work they do, including a new partnership between Walter Reed and Ulman to continue to support cancer patients. What a cool, inspiring race for such an amazing cause. Regardless of the weather forecast, I hope to come back next year. :)

The Warmest Part of my Day: The Swim

Let me go on record to say that this is the only time i've ever looked forward to getting into the water as soon as possible. The swim wasn't pretty but that was to be expected. We started with a time-trial start, which was nice, until I started bumping up against earlier waves and trying my hardest not to swim over people. I felt a little clueless and zig-zaggy on the swim and came out of the water unhappy with my time, but that was clearly my own fault.

Biking on Antartica

The only saving grace of my day was my set of Pearl Izumi arm warmers. I had ordered them a few months ago and clearly haven't used them before this but they were the best choice I made for an otherwise very poorly planned race outfit. They didn't slide at all and my forearms were very toasty. The best part was that I cuffed them up so that I was able to do all the rolling-up-the-sleeve action while getting started out on the bike course.

Per usual, started out hard—way too hard—and was convinced I was burning way too matches on the hills given my undertrained self. And by "too many matches", I mean the whole matchbook. Somewhere around mile 25 I questioned whether I would even be able to run without crumpling.

Out on the bike the roads were slick and my hands were freezing and I was struggling to keep control at times. I also failed MISERABLY with nutrition: other than the one powerbar gel I got in very early on, I managed to drop the two others thanks to my useless fingers. Also, when brave enough to reach for the bottle, I wasn't able to squeeze the water out (my hands were just not working) so was mostly running on empty.

Somewhere about halfway through the veryfast/strong girl I had been chasing took a big spill on a wet curve. I hadn't seen anyone else ahead and had a feeling I was somewhere in top three at this point (in reality, there was only one girl ahead). The name of the game then turned to: don't let her catch you. That, paired with chasing down all the youngins' from the collegiate division, was the biggest motivator in keeping power on the pedals. Plus the prospect of getting warm.

Speedy Gonzales

Not MY speed necessarily but rather how fast the 6.5 miles seemed to tick by. it may just be because my last race was a half-marathon death march but today's run just seemed incredibly quick. I managed to redeem myself from Vegas and didn't even break stride zooming through the aid stations. Two sections of the run were winding trails through the woods, which for some reason reminded me of home (Louisiana) and helped keep things fun.

What I did not expect, however, was the massive cramping issues that started about 2-miles in. I've never really cramped before—on a long long run, sure—but never in the middle of a race. After one particularly aggressive downhill, I started to truck back up a hill and both my quads seized up. I had a mini-panic, backed off some and then was able to continue running mostly cramp-free. This struggle continued for the remaining 4.5 miles. Now i finally get it when you see people on the side of a race trying to stretch out a cramp...

I continued running scared but the only girls I saw were a handful of collegiate women I passed early on and two way up ahead of me that i just couldn't bridge the gap with. Only one guy passed me the entire run, which I consider either a testament to my strong run, or perhaps just the result of of my bad swim :)

Came up to the shoot, couldn't be happier to be done, hurried back to the car to change into dry clothes, continued to shiver uncontrollably for the next three hours but then was still able to enjoy the two other highlights of my day:

#1 a nice wheat beer while Normatec'ing

#2 seeing lance finish with two of his girls (and Kiersten's daughter!)

In all, a FANTASTIC race with an experience that interestingly enough mirrored its name. If I were to look at today with a negative attitude, it was cold, rainy, uncomfortable and would have probably been better spent snuggling under the sheets. But since we're all Half Full around here, it was a great experience, great race and a great testament to how much my pre-September fitness has managed to linger around. :)

Now i'm off to watch the Saints game, y'all. I took a massive nap earlier just to prepare for this. if they disappoint me (and the dome on a home game) yet again, I just don't know what i'm going to do...

Finally, a big thank you to Rev3 for giving me the chance to race with their age group team and to Pearl Izumi for the most comfortable racing gear around (including those arm warmers - seriously, get yourself a pair). To BlueSeventy for a fast swim and TRISLIDE for an ouchless one. And while i feel bad for dropping two perfectly good gels (and my favorite double latte flavor at that!), couldn't have done it without some PowerBar goodness. Lastly, thank you to Normatec for the best recovery tool ever - whether at home or in the Normatec recovery booth after the race. Thanks to all - seriously, a dream come true.

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vegas 70.3 world championships: the house always wins

okay, i caved and decided to write up a race report. TREAT YO’ SELF 2012 was officially declared over yesterday when i realized i had one too many P.S.L.s and the excess sugar was making me feel crabby and miserable. or maybe it was the back-up of crazy emails and other requests in my work inbox driving me nuts, but that’s another story. vegas…. vegas, vegas, vegas. something on sunday gave me the itch to go for it and take a big gamble – maybe it was being around all the slot machines and poker tables, or maybe it was the blaring “world championships” signs adorned everywhere, or maybe it was me feeling inadequate about being around so many fit, perfect, body fat-less people. anyway, i made a big gamble by pushing too hard in the first half of the bike and, well, learned the hard way that the house usually wins.

the house this time was the blazing hot las vegas desert that sucked up every ounce of water in my system and spat me out somewhere around mile 40 where i had a meltdown of epic proportions. but before we go to that dark, dark place, let’s back-up some first.

let's get it started

i woke up bright and early as the 3:50am wake-time felt late given i was still mostly on east-coast time and had crashed about 8pm the night before. it was a quick drive to T1 and a rather anti-climactic set-up of transition. thanks to the transition bags, all i really really had to do was put my bottles on my bike and pump up the tires. transition closed at 6am; my race didn't start until 7:50. as a result, the next two+ hours were spent sitting cross-legged on a blue carpet around a ton of other anxious athletes. surprisingly, people were friendlier than expected and got to chat with quite a few other participants and cheered on the pros as they ran past us and around the monstrous t-1. after what felt like an eternity, my wave finally started to line up and get corralled into the water.

the waiting game

i should have known i was in for a thrash-fest when even the swim to the pre-start area was rough. each wave would basically get set in the water for several minutes while waiting for the wave prior to go off. and since i didn't feel like treading water for 10-minutes, when our wave entered, i beelined for the pilings that surrounded the bridge we were starting under. i managed to get there early enough and seat myself on a ledge to avoid exerting more energy than needed. a few girls clung to kayaks but for the most part we were lined up along the shore and on the bridge.

when the wave ahead of us was sent off and they announced 3-minutes, people SPRINTED to secure a good line on the start. i was slightly ambitious and went farther right than normal to line up with the buoys and got pummeled a few times before the (what seemed like) interminable wait for the gun to actually go off. they gave us the 30-second countdown and girls were inching forward about a meter every 10 seconds. by the time they finally sent us off, the course had nearly been cut to a 1.15 mile swim...

getting violated in lake las vegas

and we were off! i got jabbed in the ribs, an elbow to the face, some girl insisted on continuously shoving her hand up in my biz-ness. SERIOUSLY? i was NOT having this swim. it was a much faster pace than used to for the first 500-meters or so but that was the only way i could keep with the pack and avoid getting swum over completely. maybe i just need to toughen up but these girls were mean - i accidentally/barely grazed the foot of a girl in front of me and she kicked the daylights out of my left hand - so hard it's still sore four days later. sheesh.

somewhere around the final turn back home, i lost the feet of the fastish main pack i had been tailing and instead spent some time swimming off the shoulder of another girl until she slowed down and i decided to forge ahead alone. the only thing that kept me sane were the evenly spaced buoys every 100 so i knew exactly how much suffering i had left. near the end all i could think was GET ME OUT OF THE WATER! and i actually found myself looking forward to the terrible, terrible t1.

t1

i say terrible and here's proof: the swim exit is on your right. transition is on your left.

when i took this photo, i was standing on a bridge that has more elevation than on the entire eagleman course alone. you had to run out of the exit, run up and over this hill, down through some smushy grass destroyed by the 2,000-plus people that had exited before me, before you ran down into the racks to find your bike. but, wait.... there's more! once you found your bike, you had to scale a mountain that was so steep it required not one but two switchbacks to get up it. may i remind you that you're hauling a bike and either barefoot or wearing clunky-ass bike shoes? yeah, not fun. okay, rant over.

biking on mars

my HR was out of control coming out of transition. i knew about 400-m in that the bike was not going to be a pretty affair. something just felt off - either in my bike fit or in my ability to generate any sort of watts at a respectable effort. despite the ominous feeling at the start, i put on my best poker face and attempted to bluff my body -- deciding that i may as well stick to my initial goal watts and soldier onward. (might i add that my "goal" watts were self-inflated heading into this since i hadn't had my quarq for about two-months thanks to some pesky battery issues so i might as well assume that my numbers had improved, right? apparently wrong.) 

let me describe the scene to you: imagine mars. now imagine mars got knocked out of orbit and was, say, somewhere right between mercury and venus so it was a billion degrees. that was the bike course. of course i'm exaggerating slightly since it i felt like death out there but see for yourself here:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rimk6m1eaFk] so somewhere around mile 20 or 30 i must have blacked out. that's really the only explanation because i went into the valley of death with enough gels for 3-hours of biking and managed to come out with two extras despite thinking i was very on top of my regular nutrition. i don't remember people passing me - although approximately half my age group passed me somewhere out on the martian terrain (not really - it was "only" sixteen people - but i did feel like i was moving backward).

i also almost forgot to add that the road was VERY narrow given the number of cyclists out there and, no, it was not closed. a lot of the traffic was boat traffic as people went out to enjoy lake mead. one truck pulling a boat, in particular, did not realize that the boat he was towing was wider than his Ford-something-or-other. as a result, the boat was about five inches from hitting my bike. i screamed, swerved out of the way and one of the women behind me was like "HOLY S&!T are you okay?!" obviously i was but, man, was that scary.

the implosion, followed by crying in a desert

at approximately mile 40 of the bike, i imploded. i could barely hold my low Z2 watts and was sure i was going to careen off the next corner, no one would find me and i would die a slow painful death in the desert. seriously though, i did worry about passing out on my bike, which is one of the most unpleasant feelings when you're alternating between going 40mph down crazy windy descents or crawling back up them at .08 mph.

i may or may not have had a moment of ugly crying where i was like "W.T.F. IS WROOOOONG with me?!?" simply put, i have never felt that bad (or weak) on the bike. my back was killing me, my saddle was rubbing in all the wrong places and i started having trouble holding aero. the last 15-miles were terrible. my pace says it all: 13.94 mph. ouch. the only people i had left to pass were those also eligible for medicare. i have never wanted to get off my bike and throw it into a sane dune more than last sunday.

t2

i don't know what happened in t2 except i ran around in a few circles because i had no clue where to get my bag or where to go next. the chair in the women's tent was so cruel - you sit down to change your shoes and then try to get up... but that's the last thing you want to do. but i peeled myself off of it, tunnel visioned toward the course (missing the sunscreeners - d'oh!) and joined the parade of carnage that was the three-loop run course.

running with zombies

riding past the running zombies as i biked into t2, i questioned whether i would be forced to shuffle-walk the entire 13.1 mile course and hate every second of it. that's why when i emerged from the changing tent, i was so surprised to actually be running. the first and last miles of this course absolutely were the saving graces of this run course. i was able to get moving and rediscover that, yes, my legs still (kind of) worked. loops one and two were decent but nothing to write home about. basically, you would do a segment at a good clip on the downhill, but then you'd have to go back up wherever you came and then i'd spend the entire uphill frantically searching for that damn turn-around (three loops and i could never figure out where they each were) or the next aid station.

at the mandatory meeting, they had promised aid stations "oh, definitely every mile or so." THEY LIED. there must have been a few magical aid stations i missed because there were only three on the 4-and-change mile run course, meaning there were some stretches with nary an aid station in sight. but even when they *did* appear, my late wave and pitiful bike meant three things: no ice. hot water. hot perform. do you know how nasty it is slurp down sticky hot perform? i do.

 dicking around in aid stations

the only upside of the dearth of aid stations was that it kept me from wasting more time on the run as i have the horrible HIM tendency to take my sweet time making my way through the aid station. so even if i was clipping off mid-7-minute miles, i was chucking all that time away as i walked through each aid station like a college kid at their first open bar. water. perform. coke. water. perform. perform. perform. water. at about mile nine or so, i managed to grab an entire bottle of hot perform and forced myself to chug that stuff on the run, meaning i didn't have an excuse for walking through the next aid station.

magical final mile. 

lap three was probably my best because the end was near and i knew i would finish without ending up like one of the many people doubled over puking in the bushes. or laying sprawled out on the concrete. or sitting in a lawn chair with 3 bags of ice on them to cool down their core body temp. at that point in the race, as it was 100+ degrees and on a furnace of a hot hot blacktop, about 1/5 people were probably walking. yes, i definitely felt like death - but at least i could see the light at the end of the tunnel finish line.

i passed a lot of people in the final loop, including at least several of the 17 girls i would re-pass during the run.

the last mile or so is downhill and you can basically see the finish line that you've been oh so cruelly forced to pass two times before thanks to the three loops. once i made it to the top of the hill, i decide that i was going to run until i blacked out. i opened up my stride and demolished the downhill. seriously, my last mile was averaging 6:11/mile.

i came into the finish with a grimace and collapsed as a volunteer held me up. i was completely incoherent and felt like my legs were going to give out so the volunteer was basically strong-arming me to keep me up and moving as someone ripped off my chip, they threw medal/hat/tee at me and then put me in this giant stuffy tent with food that only made me want to vomit. some people were, mere feet away from the trays. i fetal positioned next to a stinky trashcan before i realized that the tent was only making me feel worse.

i got up, stumbled and lay down on the concrete outside the tent for quite some time before i realized i still felt terrible and dizzy so i went to the med tent for ice and water since there was none to be found elsewhere. thankfully no IV but just peeking inside the med tent gave some serious perspective on how miserable the conditions were out there.

final thoughts

i debated whether or not to even bother with times but for the sake of full disclosure, i struggled through the following:

  • Swim: 33:59 (non-wetsuit)
  • Bike: 3:15:16 (OUCH - 45-min slower than my last race)
  • Run: 1:57:38 (again, not that pretty)
  • Overall: 5:53:06

i never expected to PR on such a hellacious course but to be a full hour off of my best time was certainly discouraging. if you couldn't tell from the novel above, it wasn't just the time but my overall performance that left me feeling so crummy. i continued to be a baby about it and cried on my walk home back to the hotel. i had left my phone in the car back at t1 (honestly, logistical nightmare) so i showered and dialed my parents from the hotel.

thank god my parents are more sensible than i am because they reminded me that this was only my second 70.3 ever and that i've only been racing for two seasons—which meant (in my mind) that most of the other girls likely had years and years of endurance to rely on. in all, i ended up 31st in my AG, or in the top 50% of those who qualified, which does leave me feeling slightly better about sunday's performance.

i'm looking forward to having fun in my next two races (rev3 half-full and rev3 florida, see previous post) and then spending the off-season building up strength and endurance so i can head into 2013 stronger and faster than ever. onwards and upwards!!

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