Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Race Report: Ironman Texas 70.3 (2011)

I will start this race report by saying this was really just a long training day, in preparation for IMTX.  Just a day for a bit of pushing and getting the kinks worked out.

Since this race is now run by WTC, I wasn't expecting much of an expo.  I just showed up to get my packet, rack my bike, and maybe attend the athlete meeting.  Packet pickup was a non event, although they RAN OUT of swag bags (really? how do you do that?)  They're the same design as last year, so I'm not really torn up about it.    They had the same oddly sized K-Swiss race shirts as last year, and somehow I was smart enough to order a Women's Large, so it fits perfectly.  Then I went to rack my bike (a non-event).  Ran into my friend C, who had to run up to the hotel to get a sleeveless wetsuit from a friend.  We then went to the athlete meeting (sat in the back) and when the RD came on, we couldn't even hear him.  Then the crowd broke up and I guess the meeting was over.  Hopefully we didn't miss anything important (we didn't).  Then back up to Pearland, where I was staying with my friend L and her family.

I slept ok (was woken up by singing 2 year olds and my own stomach's grumbling - a few bites of a protein bar and I was zzzzzzz).  Got up at 4:40, left the house at 5, got to Moody at 6.  The line into Moody looked long, so I decided to be tricky and go in the back way by the air museum.  Fail.  This resulted in me having to park by the air museum, which was a LONG walk by myself with all my crap.  So much for being tricky. 

Transition set-up wasn't anything spectacular. Got all my stuff set up, said hi to my neighbors, stored by gear bag at a bike shop's tent.  Found C again, and we hung out until our waves started.  Pros left at 7 AM, my wave started at 8:35 and C's was at 8:40.  So yeah, we had time to kill.  We actually watched the pros come in to T1 after the swim, which was pretty cool.  Then we wriggled into our wetsuits, took a bathroom break, and made it over to the swim start just in time to get lined up. 

The water was 72 degrees, which is a bit warm for a full wetsuit.  I brought my speed suit with me and nearly used that, but my coach advised that "anytime you can use a wetsuit, you should".  It was windy, with the wind going away from land.  This meant that we had a tailwind going out, crosswind for the long stretch of the swim, and headwind coming into land.  Fun!  The swim start was uneventful, no thrashing or chaos, just a LOT of people in a small area.  It was choppy and I'm out of OWS practice, which resulted in sighting WAY too much.  My lower back didn't like this and decided to lock up, which limited my ability to kick with any sort of gusto.  In a way, this was probably ok, as my coach is always onto me about kicking too hard on the swim.  My kick this time was an easy 6-beat kick for rotation purposes only.  Once I made the first turn, something clicked and I just relaxed and settled into the swim.  Sure, it was choppy and I had people on me the whole time, but I just decided that this swim wasn't going to be fast, so I should relax and laugh at all the crazy.  I focused on putting my head down (ie not sighting so much) and working on my catch and a high elbow.  The swim felt pretty easy - I wasn't even really breathing hard.  I got up and out of the water, pulled my wetsuit down past my hips pretty easy for the stripper.  Hit the strippers and I was off to T1.

Very much out of practice here, as I just sat and stared at my gear for aa bit.  I made sure to spray sunscreen on my legs, but forgot to spray TriSlide on my toes.  I didn't remember about the TriSlide (even though it was next to my shoes) until after by bike shoes were on, and at that point, I just told myself  I'd deal.  On my way out of T1 I stopped by the sunscreen slathering table - my mission was to not get sunburned this year.  Miraculously, my pedals were set up perfectly for a quick start (I totally forgot to do this, so it was just dumb luck) and I was up and on my way.

So the course is a flat, windy out and back along Galveston Island.  I've been riding in Colorado in the wind and hills, so I was VERY interested to see how I would do.  Winds were ~18 mph from the SSE with gusts of 25 mph, so a bit stronger than last year, however, I was really hoping for a sweet tailwind at the turn around.  My "orders" for the ride were to stay 10 beats below target, but also to push a bit.  I was holding 15-16 mph pretty easily and decided to push a bit more.  This resulted in 2 things: my hamstrings getting tight, which then made my stupid inner thighs get tight.  I have no idea why my inner thighs give me such issues!  I tried stretching them while riding to no avail, and after the first aid station, my speed dropped to 13.7 mph - at mile 15.  Ugh.  So I decided it was better to stop and stretch than to suffer and have it get worse.  After stretching for maybe a minute, I was up and holding my pace again.  I tried pushing a few more times, but I'd get twinges of tighness.  Considering in the past, it would take that muscle one month to heal, it just wasn't worth it to push, as I've got IMTX in 6 weeks.

I hit the turn around and hurray!  I had a sweet tailwind :)  It wasn't a strong tailwind, but hey, better than it swiching directions like last year.  I could easily hold 18 mph on the way back and the last 10-15 miles I pushed it to 19.  I was secretly hoping for a 3:30 time and came in at 3:31 (still a PR).  I thought about pushing harder, but really, it wasn't worth it for the extra minute.  It was better that I come off the bike strong, which was the case here.

I also want to say how LUCKY I was to not get a flat tire.  Around mile 40, some kind soul dumped tacks on the course.  I saw 3 ambulances assisting injured people (presumably from getting a flat and wrecking at speed) and way too many people with flats.  That's crappy on so many levels.

Nothing special.  Shoes off, shoes on, helmet off, hat on.  I did stop by the sunscreen people again for good measure.

So, this was going to be the interesting part.  Last year, it was hot and I walked at least half of the run.  In Boise, I ran the whole thing with a time of 2:39.  This year, I'm stronger but not used to the heat.  My orders were to run the first loop easy (HR of 150) then gradually increase pace by each mile.  Immediately my HR jumped to 170, so I moderated my speed (I was running WAY too fast) and it came down.  I was really concerned about hydration, so I ran to each aid station then walked through, taking a swig of my concentrated Infinit, some water, and some ice along the way.  For the second loop, I pushed a bit faster (10:30 pace?) while still walking the aid station.  I think I took in too much Infinit (a swig every 0.8 miles) and my stomach was a bit crabby.  I reduced my Infinit intake to a swig every 2-3 aid station, which was much better.  I also think I drank a bit too much water, as I had to take a bathroom break in the third loop.  The third loop was the roughest - it was hot (they ran out of ice for the 2nd loop).  My legs felt ok but my overall energy was fading, so I ended up walking proably half of that loop.  The fourth loop I resolved to do better - I ran to the first aid station, then walked more, then did a run/walk thing sorta randomly.  I did push to the finish after the last aid station for a strong finish.  Based on my garmin, I really didn't think I'd PR, with all the walking and the bathroom break.  Somehow, I PR'd by 1 minute, definitely due to living in CO and my IM training.  When I was running, it was a ~10:00 pace.  That saved me.  My feet on the last loop were pretty unhappy on the soles, from being soggy for so long.  Even the texture of my socks (which I wear for every run) was hurting.  Doing double the distance will be interesting.  I think I'm going to get a seond pair of shoes/socks and put them in my special needs bag for the IM run.

I looked back and saw 8:31... I did some limited math and with my 1:35 start after the clock started, that put me under 7 hours (!!!).  I was hoping for 7:10....  I did this race last year in 7:26.   Totally crushed it, even with weird muscle issues and 2 bathroom breaks.  I then hobbled over to the massage tent, then got my  gear, walked to my car, and got a post-race victory Ben & Jerry's waffle cone, in something like "extreme chocolate".  :)

Nutrition Plan
 I think I did pretty good here, but I learned a few things.
  • Pre-race - just right.  Stomach was great for the swim
  • Bike: mixed up 4 hrs of Infinit, I drank probably 3.25-3.5 hours worth.  Also had 2.5 gels (1/2 gel every 30 min).  Supplemented with ~1.5 bottles of water, and also took in 1 salt pill every 20 min.  This was perfect, even though I had to take a bathroom break.  I'd rather have to do that than be dehydrated.
  • Run: Had Infniti concentrated with a 2 hour mix, I probably drank half of it.  For the first loop, I'd take a swig every aid station, but that was too much, so I cut it to every 2nd or 3rd.  Stomach quickly settled when I made the change.  Also took a salt pill at 1 hr and 2 hrs.  Probably could have taken more.  Also took 2-3 gulps of water at each aid station, probably a bit much as I had to make a pit-stop half way through, but I didn't want to get dehydrated.
  • Post-race: who doesn't love ice cream?

Swim: 40:24.  Shocking because I wasn't pushing it and conditions weren't great.  Technically not a PR (Boise was 40:08), but given that Boise was in a lake and smooth, and this was choppy with currents, I'm calling this a PR.
T1: 4:16 (almost a minute faster than my other HIMs!!!)

Bike: 3:31:52 (15.9 mph) 0-28 mile split: 1:54:03 / 14.73 mph, 28-56 mile split: 1:37:49 / 17.17 mph (which included a bathroom break) - PR!

T2: 2:45

Run: 2:38:55 (12:08 min/mile) - PR!

Overall time: 6:58:12  Sub-7 hours and a PR by 28 minutes :)  I had no idea I'd shave off this much time and I'm just super happy with my performance.  :)

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