Sunday, March 30, 2008

Lonestar Race Report - the Long and the Short of it

Maybe I should have titled it the short and the long of it...cuz I'm gonna give you the short race report first. For those of you who want to cut to the chase and see how I did. WARNING to those of you reading on for the long's gonna be long, so find a comfy chair.

Before the race, I had mentally set a stretch goal time of 2:45. I guess I shouldn't even call it a stretch goal, because I didn't set any other it would be my only goal. I have a tendency to do that...set my sights on something that is a wee bit out of my comfort zone and try like hell to reach it. I was pretty close today. I had broken my stretch goal down to a 21 minute swim, an average of 18.5 mph on the bike, and a run pace of 8:30/mile. Add in a couple transitions and that worked out to a stretch goal of 2:45. As you can see above, the only part that fell short of those goals was the swim. And darn it, I knew that was a possibility. The swim was the only part that I allowed myself to have a couple of other goals in mind. 20 was a great swim, 23 was a good swim, and 25+ was a not so great swim. So, I was right on with a good swim. I'll take it. Given my constant battle with the swim, I was pretty darn excited with that swim time. More excited by how it felt and how I got through it than anything. I have to give a lot of credit to Greyt for helping me, though. She spent time last night walking me through the swim course (mentally, of course) and talking me through my objectives for each part of it. What was my strategy, what would I be focusing on, etc. I couldn't have done it without her support...she's the Greyt-est!

The Swim - I had a long wait between the time transition closed and the time my swim wave went off. Since Greyt and our fellow TRI Racers were doing the HIM, I had to wait all alone for my swim. It kinda sucked, but I think it also gave me the chance to focus on what I needed to do. About 45 mins before my wave was to take off, I put on my wetsuit and went for a quick warm-up swim off the beach. This was a very good idea. I got in the water and started to swim out a ways and started to feel that panicky, omg-I-can't-do-this feeling. So I stopped and just let myself float in the water for a bit, reassuring myself that the combination of the wetsuit and the salt water would keep me afloat with zero effort. That helped calm me down. Then I started to swim again. And I felt good. That gave me the confidence I needed. I got out of the water and proceeded to stand on the dock for another 30 minutes till my wave started. All the while repeating in my head, "I can do this, I've done it in practice, I can do this."

Finally it was time for our wave. We all jumped off the dock and swam to the start (yes, it was a deep water start). The start of the swim was hectic, as it always is. I had to stop a few times to figure out where I could go without getting kicked. I found a little space and started to swim. Battled a little anxiety at first, but just kept focused on the things Greyt and I talked about. After the first turn, I settled in and found some relatively open space to swim. Got my stroke going, my breathing was under control. I was good. Made the last turn and saw the swim exit ahead. I was HOME FREE! Man did that feel good. I had no idea what my time was, but I knew I had passed some people (including a few from the wave before us!!) and I was gonna make it in. I was completely stoked!

T1 - The wetsuit strippers ROCKED. I had my top part of the wetsuit off by the time I reached them, made eye contact with one of the strippers who pointed at me then to the ground in front of him. I flopped my butt down, lifted up my legs and that dude had my suit off before I could say please. It was sweet. Got to my bike, threw my wetsuit over the rack, put on my sunglasses and my helmet, remembered to send off a quick text to someone anxiously awaiting word that I had not drowned, grabbed my bike and I was off. I mounted my bike with my shoes already clipped into the pedals, and that went off without a hitch. Bring on the bike!

The Bike - It felt awesome to be on the bike. I think I was riding a lot of adrenaline from finishing that swim so I was flying. Once we got out on Seawall and had a lot of open road ahead, I was hitting 20-21 mph easily. My legs felt awesome. The wind was sort of a cross-wind, so I felt it against me but it wasn't bad. I passed A LOT of people on the bike. Some of them were quarter iron people, some were half iron. I got passed by a couple of those guys with the disc wheels and funky teardrop helmets, but I figured that was ok. I paid attention to how much tech drink I was taking in. My coach wanted me to finish off two bottles of tech drink on the bike, with the majority of it in the first half. So I worked my aerodrink bottle and kept the hammer down. Hit the turn around hoping for a little tailwind, but it was nowhere to be found. It was pretty much the same wind I had the entire way out. I let my speed slip a bit down to 19-19.5 for the second half. Still passing quite a few people along the way. I got the chance to see the fellow TRI Racers out on the course and yelled out encouraging words when I saw them. That made me happy I got to see them. It was a good bike.

T2 - I took my feet out of my shoes as we approached Moody Gardens so I was ready to dismount my bike without my shoes. Pulled into transition and got off very easily. Ran in my bare feet to my area, racked my bike, threw off the helmet, sat down and put on my sock biscuits, slid on my shoes, grabbed my hat, race belt and power gel and I was off and running. Quick and easy transition. Sweet!

The Run - The beginning of the run is always tough till you get your legs back. Once I did, I still felt very slow. I thought I had a chance at my 2:45 goal, but I just felt like I couldn't quite pick it up enough to get it. The first two miles of the run felt like they took forever. I was starting to question my ability to get through this run without walking. But I got through a couple aid stations, had some water, and started to feel better. I picked up the pace a bit, even though the course seemed to be dragging on forever. I came around the turn to come into Moody Gardens and I could hear the announcer at the finish line calling out names as the finishers crossed the line. I was almost there. Then I started to smile. And I smiled the whole way in. Gave it a little extra rounding the corner to the finish line (had to beat the chick in front of me, of course) and then it was over. 2:46:10. Only a minute shy of my stretch goal. Not too shabby if I do say so myself. ;)

After I finished I took advantage of the free massages offered to the athletes then went and got some food and a monster drink. I saw Greyt coming in to start her first loop of the run and got to cheer her on and give her a high five. That was awesome. When I saw her come through to start her second loop the race officials were starting to allow some people into the transition area to get their stuff so I ran over there and got in line. They were only letting a few people in at a time as there were still some HIM cyclists out on the course. After waiting about 30 minutes, they opened transition to everyone and I was able to run in and get all my gear, including the camera!! I was able to get some awesome finishing shots of all four of the girls.

All in all, it was a great race today. Not only for me, but also for Greyt. Check out her race report. She rocked the bike and got that monkey off her back. Way to go, girl. Tomorrow we're vacationing, then we're headed back to Iowa with the trailer on Tuesday. Yeehaw!!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Armadillo Hunting

FINALLY! 19 hours later, we are here. We had a brief stayover just south of Dallas, but have pretty much been driving the entire time. It's been a really fun road trip. Greyt tells the story in her latest blog. Check it out.

We got to swim some in the bay today. The water was C-H-I-L-L-Y. But not as bad as I had expected. 67 degrees is by no means warm water, but it felt good given we were wearing wetsuits. I felt OK in the water. A little panicky at first because I haven't been in open water yet this season, but I settled in and did about a 500 yard swim or so. Maybe a little less. I would like to get in tomorrow again if I can, but if not I think I'll still be ok. Just gotta keep swimming.

Ok so the one thing I have to see before I leave Texas is an Armadillo. Yes, a true LIVE armadilla (quesadilla). Greyt claims there was a dead one on the road in Oklahoma, but I don't believe her. Everything down here has an armadillo mascot. Billboard after billboard, armadillo this armadillo that. Even our race logo features an armadillo. If these darn things are popular enough down here to be the only thing Texans want to use as a mascot, then where the heck are they hiding?? Shouldn't they be running around the streets like stray cats and dogs???

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Road Trip!!

Our journey starts at 5am tomorrow morning. Greyt has the trailer all loaded up with everyone's bikes, I'm all packed, got some good audiobooks downloaded...we are ready to roll. Hopefully all goes smoothly...but if it doesn't, you'll hear about it! Check back here for pictures and updates throughout the weekend!!!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Race Day Dilemma

So the race is officially single digit days away. Last night I got an email from the race director with the swim wave times. They have the half iron participants go off first, then the quarter racers go off 30 minutes after the last half iron wave. I'm assuming that is so the majority of people can get past the point where the quarter racers merge with the half iron swim course.

My dilemma is this. Transition opens at 5:30am. I'm kind of anal and like to be there when transition opens for a race. I like to have the freedom to choose my transition area rather than being forced to find an open spot or squeeze in where I can. The transition area closes at 7:45. So that's 2 hrs and 15 minutes of set up time, warm up time, freak out time, whatever. I can usually handle that much time. But here's the deal. My swim wave doesn't go off until 9:00am! And everyone else including Greyt, goes off earlier at like 8:00am. So I have another whole hour and 15 minutes, BY MYSELF, to wait before my race starts. Ugh.

So, do I go to transition later to cut down on the waiting time? Or do I go to transition early, then go back to the hotel and relax for awhile before going back to the race start to warm up? Or do I just hang out at transition, supporting my fellow TRI Racers and just deal with 3 hours of waiting? Most likely it will be the third option, because I want to be there for Greyt and the others. But 3+ hours is an AWFULLY long time for me to sit and stew. And use the kybo. And stew. And use the kybo.

The good thing about this entire situation, though, is that I most likely will get the chance to cheer on Greyt as she comes out of her swim. I know she'll be out in plenty of time before my wave starts, so that will be cool. But still...three and a half hours is a heck of a long time to wait for a race...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Time flies....

....when you are having fun, right? Then these past few months have been one big party for me because Galveston is all of a sudden right around the corner. 10 days. Wow. Part of me wants to panic. That's what I do before a race, I panic. About the swim, about not being prepared for the swim, about not finishing the swim, about possibly drowning. Yeah, can you tell what part of triathlons are the most challenging for me?

But not this time. I'm not panicky. I think I'm actually kind of excited. I KNOW I can do this swim. I am comfortable with the distance, I've done it several times in practice (and in pretty good time for me!). I am comfortable that I will not drown (thanks to the fact that this race is wetsuit legal!). For the first time, I am ready for the swim. Completely ready.

Bring it on, Galveston. Bring. It. On.