Saturday, May 01, 2010

Race Report: Ironman 70.3 Texas

This is a bit overdue... you can blame work for that.  And look - I finally got the name right.  I still prefer Lone Star or Galveston.  "Texas" is so generic.

This race is a 2-day festival with the sprint and oly distance on Saturday and he 70.3 on Sunday.  This is the first year that this festival had was wrapped under the Ironman logo.  I did the Quarter IM last year and had a good time (except for the run) and was looking foward to the HIM this year.  Plus, this was a good confidence builder for the Boise 70.3.

We headed down to the island for packet pick up - got there about 4 PM.  Check in was definitely more complicated that other races I've done.  First you show your ID and USAT card - the volunteer at the desk marks your hand with an X and hands you 2 waivers to sign.  Go to table #2 to sign waivers.  Go to table #3 to hand in waivers.  Proceed to table #4 to get your goodie bag and packet, plus you got a wrist-band with your race number put on your wrist.  Proceed to table #5 to get your t-shirt.  Except, they were all out of my size, so I was asked to put my name on a sheet of paper and they'd maybe send me one eventually.  We also got a pretty decent white running hat.  No water bottle, which was odd.  We toured the Expo tent, and it was a disappointment.  The year before, there were local vendors, but I guess with the M-Dot branding, only "the" Ironman vendor or sponsors were allowed in.  pffft.  We checked out jerseys and stuff, but the "Texas" stuff was blah.  We decided to hold off until Boise to buy race stuff, mainly because Boise is more unusual than Texas.

They had you rack your bike Saturday, so we headed back to the truck to drop off the goodie bag and get the bike.  Racking was by number and they were pretty generous with the spacing.  I was the 3rd row from the swim in / run out, which meant I was pretty dang far from the bike in entrance.  I hate running in my bike shoes, so this didn't please me.  But since it was assigned, there wasn't much to do.  My row was super easy to spot, though, as it was right next to an open gap in the rows which contained 2 porta potties.  Couldn't ask for an easier way to spot my row.

After getting the bike set up, we ran into my swim team friend C (who I stayed with for Gateway).  We decided to head over to the swim finish to check it out.  Pretty much the same as last year - carpeted ramp out of the water and a wide spot for the wetsuit strippers.  I told C about the shirt issue, and she said that hers was ridiculously small.  Turns out the race people ordered gender-specific shirts, which was different from last year.  Last year I got a medium which was huge, so this year I ordered a small.  Which turned out to really be a ladies small and actually fit a 7 year old.  Sooo, not getting a shirt wasn't a terrible thing, since I went back after packet pick-up closed and got a mens small which mostly fits.  After checking out the swim area, it was time for the race meeting.  Pretty standard stuff, except they seemed VERY serious about penalties for drafting (there was even a penalty tent!). 

After all that, we headed over to our hotel and checked in. Apparently, I registered for a smoking room, which is a fail since I've got asthma (and smoking rooms are icky!!!).  And they were over-sold.  Somehow, I worked my magic (I think whipping out my inhaler helped) and we got a non-smoking room.  And then everyone checking in after us was screwed, since that was actually the last room open in the hotel.  Craziness.  Feeling very fortunate, we strolled up to our room, which was pretty nice.  I didn't really do much thinking when I booked our hotel.  I really wanted to stay at the race site, but it sold out in December.  So I really just wanted to stay close by at a non-ghetto hotel.  We stayed at one of those Suite hotels (Holiday Inn brand) and it was really nice!  It had a full sized refridgerator, which was awesome since I had to mix up 1 gallon of my Infiniti for the race, a stove, a sink.  It was pretty much a studio apartment.

After getting settled into the room, we went to a greek restaurant on the seawall for dinner.  I got "safe" food.  Hummus and pitas, roasted chicken and potatoes.  Not exciting, but safe.  Then we ran to Target to get bottled water (the tap water was icky and I did NOT want to take a chance race day) and got Will snacks for race day.

The rest of the night was spent picking through my race gear and setting everything up at least 3 times.  Asleep by 9:30 - alarm set for 5:30 AM.

Morning pre-race
For a change, we actually slept decent.  I normally don't sleep well in hotels for races, which results in lots of me yelling at Will for snoring.  Not good for a marriage.  So this time I bought a cheapie white noise machine and that seemed to do the trick.  Woke up, cracked open my traditional pre-race Coke Zero to wake my GI system up.  Got my drinks set up in containers, got dressed, and hit the road.  Got to Moody at ~6:05.  Easily got through body marking and to my rack by 6:15.  Then I had to pour my bike Infiniti into the profile and aero bottles, put on sunscreen, and get set up.  Probably could have used an extra 5-10 min for milling around because I did feel rushed.  Managed to get set up and out 5 min before transition closed, so I suppose I was ok.

I was expecting them to have a special needs area.  They gave us a "morning" bag, which I mis-interpreted as special needs, but nope, that was for AFTER the race.  Irritating.  I was hoping for special needs on the run, to store an extra bottle of Infinit, socks, and Body Glide.  Then in the confusion with the morning bag and walking to the swim start, I lost Will.  So when I should have been calmly eating breakfast, I was slightly panicked looking for Will.  I managed to find him by a palm tree not too far away from the start.  Lesson learned to coordinate meeting points for next time - especially when there's 1600 racers.  I then started to eat my breakfast of a protein bar and 1/2 a chocolate milk.  I was worried about eating late, as I fnished by 7 AM and my wave started at 8:05.  But I didn't want to eat at 5 AM and by 6 I was busy, so this seemed like an ok-ish plan, at least in terms of making sure I had nutrition in me to carry through the swim and the first part of the bike.  I then had time to do some yoga and put on the wetsuit.  Got to watch the pro wave go, which was cool, then I milled around some more.  They weren't announcing wave numbers very clearly or the time, so it was hard to get a sense of when you needed to be lined up. I got a quick pep-talk from my coach (who was also racing) then realized my group was almost to the end of the pier!  Eeks!  I kissed Will goodbye and boogied over to my age group on the dock.

I know several people in my AG and a few behind me, but I saw no one I knew.  I managed to befriend a few people as we stood around (from Wyoming and Colorado) and then my friend A showed up.  Finally someone to share nervous energy with!  Then it was time to line up, jump off the dock and swim to the starter buoys.

The swim was a trapezoid shape and while from shore the water looked ok, when you were in it, there were suddenly waves.  And the long back stretch was into the wind, which made things not very fun.  As we waited for the countdown to start our wave, there wasn't the jostling for position that I noticed last year.  Everyone seemed pretty respectful of everyone else's space, which was nice.  I hate the jostling just before you go.  Then the countdown started, I floated my feet back and up so I was ready to go, and then the race started.  I had a really hard time getting comfortable, mainly because of the waves.  It seemed that either side I breathed, I got wacked in the face with a wave.  And to add insult, the jetskis were zipping around VERY close to us and throwing wake.  My coach and I decided that I should not go all out on the swim, to help save energy for the run, as I've had energy deficit issues towards the end of my AquaBikes.  So I just tried to maintain good form, stay loose, and just swim.  More than once I had to tell myself to kick (annoying and dumb on my part), and more than once did I learn that chocolate milk and sea water do not mix.  (I literally told my stomach "not again" as I nearly got sick twice on the swim.  Ugh.  Need to eat earlier for sure next time).  Sighting and navigation was ok.  It was harder on the long back stretch, probably due to wind/current, and I had a hard time sighting with the waves getting in the way.  Oddly enough I had space around me for most of the way, but I knew I wasn't going fast, or at least as fast as I should be. Form felt good, I didn't have any of the annoying wetsuit arm fatigue that I've had in the past, and I was catching up to the waves ahead of me.  Turned the last corner buoy to the finish and sped up a bit, which was hard given the crowding.  Managed to draft off of a few people,  pass a few people.  And I managed to line myself up with the exit ramp perfectly.  I came up out of the water easily, stripped my wetsuit down past my hips while jogging before I came to the strippers.  I had two high school girls as my strippers and they had NO problem at all whipping my suit off the rest of the way.  I jumped up and jogged into transition.

Ok, the swim was not fun at all.  Which says a lot, since the swim is my favorite thing in tri's.  I was worried about being super slow, but to my relief, there were a TON of bikes on the rack.  In January when I got my bike tuned, the techs put yellow bar tape on my bike.  I really didn't like it because it wasn't a good match to the bike paint, but let me tell you, those yellow bars JUMPED out to me from the row of bikes.  I now love the yellow bar tape.  My stomach was suprisingly ok and settled quickly and I got to work getting ready.  I started putting my socks on, but had to stop myself to stay on plan.  "Just slow down and do this right", which meant sitting down and doing a good job body gliding my feet and toes, in preparation for soggy feet during the run.  Once that was done, I got everything else on and ready, then started jogging to the bike start.  I'm still not very confident clipping in quickly, but according to Will (and verified by his photos), I got over to the bike start and clipped and moving VERY quickly.  Hooray for me, since I've really been trying to get faster at this.

My goal for the bike was to stay in upper Z2 heart rate (mid to upper 150s) and keep the cadence high (for me) and to not burn my legs up.  I was expecting a headwind on the leg out and was very happy to see I could easily maintain 15 mph and had high hopes for sweet tailwind on the way back.  The bummer part is that I was being passed a TON.  I don't know if this was because I was just slow, if people had better bikes/wheels than me, or if people in IM events are just more athletic than me.  I stayed on plan though and kept at my pace.  Turns out the training ride on the course last month was a good confidence builder, as the winds weren't nearly as bad. About 10 miles into the ride, I saw the pros coming back on the other side of the road, which was really cool to see.  About mile 15, my stupid inner thigh was speaking to me, so I decided to stop and stretch really quick.  When my leg gets tweaky, my power goes away, so even though its annoying to stop for 2 min to stretch, its well worth it in the long run. 

I made it to San Luis Pass 15 min quicker than I did on the training ride, which was great.  As I got to the Pass (which is actually a bridge) I noticed that the winds were shifting.  Boo.  On the far side of the pass it was really pretty.  Race coordinators shut down the road on the far side so we had no traffic - just blowing sand.  Made it to the turnaround and started making my way back.   Sadly, there was no sweet tailwind, as the winds had shifted to a true cross-wind.  All of us women were unhappy, to say the least.  At mile 34, I noticed I was running low on fluids (my 28 oz aero bottle and 40 oz profile bottle), so at the rest stop, I decided to stop, use the bathroom, stretch again, and fill up my aero bottle with my reserve bike bottle.  This was an accomplishement for me, because on all past long rides, I haven't drank near enough of my Infinit, which results in a pretty good calorie deficit.  For this race, I set my garmin to beep at me every 15 minutes to drink.  I refer to this as my "drink, bitch!" alarm.  But it worked - maybe too well as towards the end of the ride I was a bit bloated.  At mile 48, I decided I wanted some water, so I successfully did a water-up (my first).  By that point, I was pretty done with being on the bike - feet were going numb, lats were sore.  So I started with the little mental games we all play to get us through.  Every 5 miles I promised myself I could unclip my feet to get feeling back in my legs, come out of aero to stretch my back.  Just a little reward for 30 seconds or so to keep me going.  I was passing some people which also helped - they usually commented in suprise that I had energy to pass them.  But overall, we were all done with the wind.

Finally I came up and over the seawall and I knew I was close to home.  I also remembered from last year that there would be a photographer on the seawall, so I tried to gain some distance on people so I'd have the shot all to myself.  I could now see the traffic light which was the turn to Moody and there wa the photographer.  I decided to put my serious face on for the picture and cranked away.  Made the turn to Moody, was wacked in the face with winds (just like last time), but it was ok because I was almost done.  Wound my way back to Moody, saw Will, managed a smile and a wave.  Made it back to the bike line, unclipped and jumped off my bike and jogged back to my bike rack.

Not much sense of urgency here, as my bike was 10 minutes slower than my expected "slow" time.  I also wanted to ensure that I grabbed everything I needed to for the run since there wasn't a special needs area.  And I was fairly beat from the ride, so I just wanted to keep my wits and set myself up for the run as best as possible.

Starting a half marathon at 12:30 in the afternoon in 80+ degree weather and full sun is not optimal.  I started out of transition at a good run - my legs actually felt really good.  All those bricks for the past 2 months paid off as I had none of the typical calf cramping or leg discomfort.  I blew through the first aid station that was right at the start of the run and saw Will cheering for me.  As I headed around the turn into the heart of the couse, a volunteer cheered for me by name and I really had to work at not tearing up.  I was about to complete my first 70.3.  Wow - what a cool realization. I hit the second aid station and decided to walk through it, get some water as think I had too much Infiniti on the bike and I just felt very salty.  Back up and running, legs felt good - repeated this cycle for the next 2 aid stations.  Completed the first loop, walked through the loop start aid station, past Will and OnUrLeft cheering me on and off I went.  I ended up mostly running the first 1.5 (of 4) loops and then my heart rate was creeping up into zone 4 and I was getting the "I'm hot and miserable" vibes.  My friends that I saw on the course earlier who were pushing said that they were pretty tortured and most everyone on the course was unhappy.  In fact, most people around me were walking.  I had 2 choices: push more and be very cranky or walk/run as I was comfortable and have fun.  The net time difference in the two options were 30 minutes, but considering that my swim and bike were slower than I hoped, I knew I wouldn't be making my goal time even if I pushed it.  So, I decided to back off on the pace and make some friends along the way.  I tried to run between aid stations as I felt like it but decided that it was better to finish happy than fast. 

I continued to drink water at every aid station, plus pick the ice out of my cup and cram it down my top.  Also got 1-2 iced sponges and either tucked them into my top or kept them on hand to dab on my arms or face to keep cool.  I was drinking Infinity every 1 mile, but just a tiny sip or two, as opposed to 2 ounces, which is my normal run consumption rate.  Early in loop 3 my legs started feeling dead, so I had 1/3 of an espresso hammer gel.  Warm espresso gel washed down with warm orange Infinit is not a taste sensation I need to repeat anytime soon!  Not sure if the gel was a good idea, because 10 minutes later I got a decent side-stitch. 

I really thought doing 4 loops would be annoying (2 loops last year was VERY annoying) but actually, it was pretty nice.  I knew when to expect the aid stations and where the wind was better/worse, where the course was boring and when I'd have distractions to occupy my mind.  The fan support was also amazing - several people cheered for me by name on each loop, which was so incredibly nice.
inally the last loop was here and I was ready to push a bit more.  Mainly just to get the dang thing over with!  Fortunately, the side-stitch went away by this point and my legs had energy to burn, so the gel turned out to be the right thing to do.  I was pretty much by myself for this loop (or had 15-30 seconds of space between people) so I just kept moving along.  As I came to the final stretch along the water I kicked up my pace, fixing my fuel belt so my water bottles were towards the back so they wouldn't show in my finisher photo.  Then I was rounding the corner tothe finish chute.  There was Will and OUL cheering me on, I heard the announcer call out my name and I sprinted through the finish line, putting my hands up and smiling the whole way.  I finished strong and HAPPY.  I met Will and OUL at the finish for congrats and pictures and then it was time for food.

The food/drink options sucked - cold cheese pizza anyone??? We still had some pizza but then Will suggested ice cream. Ben and Jerry's on the seawall was the best. idea. ever. Then we drove back home. Which is when I discovered I was severly sunburned and was wondering which would hurt worse: sore muscles or sunburn (sunburn hurt worse). Apparently my uber waterproof sport formula was not wet-suit proof.

Nutrition Plan
I think my nutrition was about right - if anything, I maybe had too much, but only slightly.  I will definitely eat earlier pre-race to avoid issues during the swim.  I'm very happy with my bike nutrition.  And my run nutrition was good.  I made good adjustments and choices during the run and avoided GI issues.  I had good energy the whole race, which was the goal.

Not at all speedy, but here they are:
Swim: 45:57
T1: 5:12
Bike: 3:41:14 (15.19 mph) 0-28 mile split: 15.03 mph, 28-56 mile split: 15.35 mph (see - windy both ways!)
T2: 3:15
Run: 2:50:42 (13:02 min/mile)

No comments: