Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Longhorn 70.3 Recap

There is so much I could write about the race this past weekend. My race report is on BT too, so I'll translate most of it here and add as I need to do so. But, let me first say, thanks to everyone for your support and encouragement! I am so glad I found this sport, and more importantly, the people that I've met in the sport! The Race Report format is from the BT race report.
Total Time = 5h 09m 26s
Overall Rank = 234/1929
Age Group = F25-29
Age Group Rank = 8/90

Pre-race routine:
Friday after work I came home to find my friend Jen from South Dakota that was coming down for the race. We ate dinner, packed up the Explorer, and took the dogs to my friends. We headed to Austin, got to our hotel and hit the sack. Went to the Jack and Adam's free pancake breakfast (awesome job J&A's and Austin T3) and met up with several BT'ers and my best friend Blythe. Then Jen, Blythe, and I had coffee--there we were--1 Navy grad gal, 1 Air Force grad gal, and 1 West Point grad gal!! Then it was off to get our bikes ready, packet pick up, lunch with Steve and Marcy at Macaroni Grill, and bike drop off. Got a little swim and run in at the park, and then it was back to get clean and go to a great BT dinner at Romeos. Went to bed at a decent time and actually slept pretty well. Woke up at 0345, ate a banana, got dressed, ate my PB&J waffle sandwich and drank a 20oz bottle of NUUN. Loaded up my stuff in the car and then met up with Jen to grab her stuff. We headed to the race site and got there right as the first buses were pulling up. We were on the second bus to the race site. Got there, got bodymarked, got transition set up. Went to the porta potty a couple of times, saw some of my BT friends, one gave me a hug of encouragement that I really appreciated. Got re-bodymarked cause my sun lotion took off the other body markings. As I did, the bodymarker lady told me, as she marked my arms "Dang, you've got guns"--of course I do--I'm an Army gal! ;) Went to the bathroom a couple more times--all necessary. Back and forth to transition. Talked with lots of folks, like Blythe, saw several other BT'ers...heard the girl that got 1st in our AG at the end of the day talk about how she got her '08 Clearwater slot at BSLT (I actually asked her if that was her cause I thought it was)...saw more friends. Walked to the swim with Jen and put on the wetsuit. It was JUST wetsuit legal. Some think it was warmer, eh, works for me!

Event warmup: Several trips to the porta potty maybe? My warm up for swimming is typically some pretty speedy time for me, so I just saved it for the race. Ate a GU Roctane 20 minutes before start. Saw two West Point cadets and told them hi and good luck. I was amazingly not very anxious. I was getting into "race zone mode" but not anxious. It felt great to taper, and I was ready to go at it...let the games begin!!

Swimming :00:29:02 1931.21 meters 01m 30s / 100meters
Age Group Rank: 24/90
Overall Rank: 557/1929
Performance: Good
Suit: WetZoot Fuzion Sleeveless
Course: Inverted triangle counter clockwise.
Start type:Wade Plus Waves
Water temp: 78F / 25C
Current: Low
First 200M Performance: Good
Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good
Drafting: Average
Rounding Buoy: Good

For the swim I put myself out front on the right hand side. Right before we started I linked up with a BT friend (Jenny) and that was perfect as she and I would see each other a lot over the rest of the day and that would help me out! I got up front as I figured I'd rather have people swim over me and break up their stroke than me have to swim over them and break up my stroke. We were wave 6, and it was probably the most contact I've had in a swim yet. It stayed pretty tight up to the first buoy, and so while I wasn't on a set pair of feet, I drafted in the pack to the first buoy--my sighting was GREAT and I rounded the buoy well onto the long leg of the swim. The wind was blowing from behind us (a tailwind) and gave us a "current" as we went. For a long time I looked for feet to draft off of, but there weren't any. I passed lots of people from previous waves and just focused on doing my stroke well, sighting well, breathing well and keeping my form. I stayed nice and straight and picked up some feet about 300m from the last turn buoy. I held onto those a bit. I knew I was doing well because my watch was set to beep every 15 minutes and I had only heard it beep once...nice! THEN, it got way crowded again and I had to swim over some guys from the blue wave (sorry boys) and then everyone was standing up way early, and I just swam through them and out of the water I went. I went running up the chute, but not as hard as usual as I knew it was a long way up the hill and didn't want HR too high (still was). The swim was short--probably 200m or so, but even if I had that time, it would've been a FAST swim for me and beat my goal swim time. So, very happy with this swim. Didn't gulp in much water, didn't get pummeled, and only had to swim over a few folks.

What would you do differently?: Nothing except maybe catch feet better and just get faster in the water. I think I sucked in a little hydrilia. My OWS, sighting, navigation, all of it has improved SO MUCH this year I cannot even begin to tell you! This was a GREAT swim for me. My legs actually felt a little heavy in the middle, but that went away. I didn't overheat--a little warm, but nothing that affected my swim.

T1: 2:37
Okay, got out, across the chip timing mat and started running up the hill, immediately, before goggle cap removal, got my suit down to my waist, got the cap and goggles off, and then actually rolled my wetsuit half-way down my butt...then I made the mistake of thinking I overshot my transition area, stopping, then seeing numbers and moving to find my spot. Actually got the wetsuit off quickly, did a really quick wipe off of the bottom my feet. I didn't worry about some grime on my feet--at the Austin Tri I had grime on them and it didn't phase me. Got my helmet and glasses on and off I was at a full run towards the mount line. OH, we did have to wear our race # on the bike...so like I did at the Austin Tri, I wore my race belt with # rolled up under my tri shorts under the wetsuit, that way, I didn't have to worry about it in transition. As I ran to the mount line with the bike, I just reached back and pulled it out.

What would you do differently?: Get something to more clearly mark my spot. I haven't missed it often, but this was a HUGE transition area (2300 racers). Of the top 10 girls in my AG, I had the 3rd fastest T1, so I'm happy about that considering the mishap--take that away and I might've had the fastest. I've become pretty adept at my transitions this year!

Biking 02:42:57 56 miles 20.62 mile/hr
Age Group Rank: 5/90
Overall Rank: 335/1929
Performance: Good
HR Data: 157 AHR; 184 Max HR
Wind: Some with some gusts. I think I've just gotten used to it and don't notice it too much.
Course: 1 loop, multiple turns, variety of road surface, rolling hills.
Road Condition: Dry, rough and cracked in some spots, smooth as can be at others
AVG Cadence: 93
Turns: Good
Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good
Hills: Good
Race pace: Hard
Drinks: Just right

Not the greatest bike mount, but not the worst, got started feeling pretty good, but heart rate was way high and figured it would be, but the beginning is a lot of rolling up and down and I got my HR down some. I then hear a friendly hi/encouraging word and there is Jenny, right with me. It was pretty packed for at least the first 15-18 miles. We didn't want to draft, and I could tell that everyone was trying to stagger, but it was more like the tour de Austin there at the beginning and we were joking about it. But seriously, that group no one was sucking someone else's wheel just to get a draft. Sure, we were too close, but there was nothing you could do about it. That is when Jenny and I started leap frogging and I think I even mentioned "I bet we do this all day." I did pass a lot of women at the beginning--I'm typically beat out of the water, but my bike fitness has improved IMMENSELY this year. Anyhow, I hit 21 miles right at the 1 hour mark and didn't feel like I was pushing it too hard, in fact, I felt comfortable. There was some tailwind in that first 20 miles. I started the bike with 1 GU Roctane and took in Infinit every 15 minutes thereafter. I was glad to see the road cracks well marked. The first time I rode it I just wasn't used to those things, but this was time 3 and it wasn't bothering me. PLUS, you could tell that the race directors had gotten a lot of it filled in some. It was around 21 miles that I was dropped by Jenny and the others she was with. But, I kept my cadence, and kept on going. At each water station I grabbed a bottle and refilled my aero bottle then chunked the bottle. I only carried the one aero bottle and Infinit the whole time--no need to carry extra weight on the bike. I did great with the bottle hand ups and each time pointed to the person that I wanted to hand me the bottle and yelled what I wanted. I was still feeling good, though around 35 or so there were some steeper short rolling hills and some headwind, and I got a little pooped--seems to happen in the middle of all of my rides--but then I got it back. I hit mile 40 still going over 20 mph! I was so stoked!! I was passing guys left and right. Though, one of the Team Iron Mex guys about knocked me over in a turn, that was slightly scary. My nutrition was working great and I never felt hungry, and then I think it was around mile 45 or so that I caught back up to Jenny and the leap frog started again. The last 15 miles was when I felt the wind more in that it moved my bike a little, but the road surface was smooth asphalt at that time, and it didn't affect me much. I've grown accustomed to Central TX wind. I just stayed aero and kept on going with a good cadence, and occasionally I went into the 100RPMs in the wind, keeping good speed, but also keeping the legs from working too hard. I was still feeling good, and Jenny led up the hill to the intersection. We were pretty close and as we neared "Quadzilla" she asked if I was ready--I'm not sure what I said, but I shifted my gears just right and made my way up that blasted hill and actually passed her. I took that hill on with vigor! I took that right on that downhill/flat toward the last right turn to the finish--at the middle of that stretch I got my feet out of my shoes, and then did the last little uphill to the dismount with my feet on top. I took in another Roctane about 5 miles before the end.

What would you do differently?: Nothing I would've done differently. This was an awesome bike. Leap frogging with Jenny really helped me with the time, and I knew if I was near her I must be doing well cause she's is solid. I took in good nutrition, I did take Excedrin half-way through--keeps my lower back from hurting after the bike. I probably should get a different cassette for hillier courses. The one on my race wheels is an 11-25 I think...it's great for flats, but I should probably have a 12-27 on it. I had a BLAST on this bike course. Nice and fast--there was wind, but I have trained with it this year and learned to mentally overcome it. That was a huge help to me!

T2: 1:14

GO ME! FASTEST T2 time in my AG!! I didn't really do a flying dismount, my short legs make this really hard for me, BUT, I did get off in a very smooth and controlled fashion and ran my bike straight in (long run), quick rack, helmet off, Newtons slipped on (no socks), grabbed my visor and fuel belt and off I went.

What would you do differently?: Nothing. I did this great, in fact, I did it the best in my AG. I'm happy. Big transition--I love being able to run without socks. Wouldn't do that for an IM, but HIM or less, no socks--I get blisters under the toenails with or without, so might as well just go without!

Running 01:53:34 13.1 miles 08m 40s min/mile
Age Group Rank: 7/90
Overall Rank: 290/1929
Performance: Average
Heart Rate: 170 AHR 183 MHR
Course: Two loop up and down rolling course with about 4+ miles on dirt trails.
Keeping cool: Good
Drinking: Good
Started off too quick, but caught myself and got my HR into Z2/Z3. Jenny passed me not too long after and she was just flying!! Saw several of the pro men and women heading in--Michellie Jones, Bree Wee, and Pip Taylor was finishing about the time I was starting my run. I just felt pretty solid for the first 1/2 and then after the first time up Quadzilla (big hill, same one as the last big hill we biked up) I started feeling it...but I knew I had no need to stop, so I just kept on going. Loved passing the BT Tent and there were several others on the course cheering for me. I grabbed sponges at every chance I could and soaked my head with cold water. It was much hillier than I had anticipated actually, so I tried to let the downhills take me, keep my breathing good, and took a Roctane every 3 miles. I sang several things to myself, I kept repeating the verse "I will run and not grow weary" and kept reminding myself how much better I felt compared to Buffalo Springs and how much I knew I was going to RUN this entire course. Saw Blythe and lots of BT'ers on the run: Tommy, Bonny, Marcy and more. Knew other BT'ers were cheering for me outside the fences that were watching, and if I didn't acknowledge you, I'm sorry, I heard you and it was AWESOME, but I was in a zone. Liz and Joe cheered for me too, thanks y'all!! I thanked lots of volunteers, slapped hands with the volunteers in the super hero costumes at Quadzilla, and drank my GU2O and NUUN as needed. I occasionally grabbed some water to drink, and often dumped it on my head. I stuck to my nutrition of a GU every 3 miles, though did the last one at 11 before my last trip up Quadzilla. Grabbed a sip of Gatorade at 12...besides that, all my own nutrition and no extra stuff. Never felt sloshy or too thirsty. I kept looking at my overall time on my watch and when I was still in the 4 hours with just 2 miles left I KNEW I was going to CRUSH my 5:18 best possible goal. I was so excited and just knew I was going to keep on running all the way through and figured I'd be somewhere between 5-10 in my AG. I came across the line with my arms raised in victory, cause it was! My clock read 5:09!!! I COULDN'T BELIEVE IT!! WOW! What a PR day for me--5:52 at Buffalo Springs at the end of June and 5:09 now! I RAN THE WHOLE WAY!! This was so much better than Lubbock was in June. I was hurting some, yes, and I definitely slowed the second loop. This was much hillier than expected. I think it was almost constant up and down. I would love to see what I could do on a flat course. The aid stations were great, but I didn't want to try new things out there and didn't need to do so. In Lubbock I wanted to try whatever I could to survive, for this one, I knew I was good. I had some lower moments where I was tired, but I also had moments where I got a 2nd/3rd/4th wind. Supporters were AWESOME! THANK YOU!

What would you do differently?: The run was MUCH better and stronger than Buffalo Springs. I just lost some gas on loop 2. I need to get where I can stay constant the whole time...my HR was much better loop 1 as well. The heat wasn't killing me at all, but definitely felt it more that second loop--as well as the hills were starting to get to me some. Quadzilla the second time was much tougher than the first time. I need to be stronger off the bike--I didn't blow my legs up on the bike, I just need to get stronger in the run off the bike. I think I can get this to an 8 minute pace with good training--that might get me a Clearwater slot somewhere if I can.

Post race
Warm down: I almost tumbled onto the volunteer chip taker offer--got my towel, water, and banana and got my finisher picture taken...as soon as I got through there, Jenny congratulated me, and I congratulated her (she did a 5:02!) and we chit chatted some. She was a constant that whole race and really motivated me! I saw Jessica and she congratulated me (I had given her a high five earlier that day I think). I then wandered around a bit, grabbed my plate of food and stumbled over to the BT tent with so much happiness and adrenaline. The BT supporters got me settled into a chair and I ate, and talked to everyone there--we cheered on folks. I went back and forth...I had some "hopes" maybe I could get a roll down Clearwater slot if others took off early. Not this time around, but it was fun to watch the awards, and maybe someday. Actually, if I had been in the 30-34 AG I would've podiumed in 3rd place! Chatted with lots of friends at the BT tent (so many awesome triathletes and people--fun to spend time with them) and then made the LONG trip back to the parking lot with SD Jen and Julia (4the in AG--she and I have gone head to head in the Austin tri's lately)...it was great to talk with her, and found out she's going to do Boston in April as well.

What limited your ability to perform faster: More training...more experience...more base. It was my first tri season, and I couldn't be happier to finish as I did. I have done well at building lean muscle this year, and trimmed down some, but I can get faster if I get lighter. I'm not saying I'm fat--so no one read into that--but I do know that my ideal race weight is less than what it is now. So, that's something to work on as well. Probably should've done more hill repeats in prep for this race as well, would've helped with the course.

Event comments: Last year I was in Iraq, had never done a tri, and only had done 2 ten-miler races and one 1/2 Marathon...I was new to the BT.com site and I loved reading the TX forums and everyones excitement about Longhorn before and after the race. I read ALL the race reports, and I wanted to sign up AS SOON as it opened. I would end my first tri-season with the Longhorn HIM. This race didn't disappoint. This race and the activities, food, hype, volunteer support, spectator support, schwag, all of it was heads and tails above what I saw at BSLT 70.3. I felt like an important athlete out there. I loved the spectators on the course, the costumes, the signs, the individually #'s racks and just the personal touches of it all. Kudos to Keith Jordan and Endorfun Sports. Doubt I'll do the full HIM next year due to it's proximity to when IMFL will be, but if my coach lets me do the Aqua Bike or something like that, I will. I WILL be back at this race in the future years. Thank you to EVERYONE that was out there cheering on, both racers and volunteers and spectators. It was great to meet so many BT'ers are the pre-race dinner and the tent.

I can hardly comprehend how far I have come in a year from dreaming about Longhorn to finishing it in stellar fashion! I saw an All Army woman triathlete out there (she was something like 5th woman overall--fast and strong) and I'll be honest, that's something I want to shoot for sometime in the future. I have some hard training ahead of me, but I have some great motivation for it. Wish I could grow longer legs, haha! I am definitely getting an Army tri-suit for next year--need to represent!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Longhorn 70.3

More to follow as far as race report, but here is the laydown:

Needless to say, I'm a VERY HAPPY HALF-IRONMAN! The swim was short--I'm not that fast, somewhere around 200m...but I still would've had a swim PR and crush my race goals. More to come, but yay for LONGHORN!!