Sunday, 25 September 2011

Check It Off the List! A 70.3 Race Report

For those of you reading this blog (anyone? anyone? Bueller?), you may recall that 2011 is the "year I would complete a Half-Ironman", only to have those plans scuttled by a 1.2 mile swim that never happened (see below).  After about 2 days of feeling certain that I was done for the season (the run was sooo hard at Steelhead), I signed up for another race at the Rev3 Cedar Point.  Coach Mary encouraged me, thought I would have enough rest in the meantime and was ready to go! The distance was a "Half-Ironman", but because the Rev3 is not a World Triathlon Corporation-sanctioned event, it is not officially called a "Half-Ironman".  So, this race was called a Half-Rev, but the distance goal was the same: 70.3 miles as a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run.

The weekend before the race was totally hairy around my house - with back to school prep in full swing, hosting a family party for 30 people Labour Day weekend, and full-on training continuing. Sure enough, I woke up the "first day of school" with a sore throat and other symptoms of unhappiness.  Sinus pressure, headaches, etc.  I stayed home from work sick on Tuesday and Wednesday, and went to see my doctor that day.  I was diagnosed with a throat infection and potentially a sinus infection. Great.  Fortunately, because I had been feeling kind of infected for about 6 weeks prior and had actually seen my doc before, he figured this crap had gone on long enough and finally gave me some antibiotics.  By race weekend I was feeling much better. Not 100%, but definitely a solid 85%!

After some discussion with Andy, we had decided the family would stay home and I would make the trip solo with my buddy Mary to contain costs and time.  The race was scheduled for Sunday, September 11, 2011, and since Cedar Point is about 2 hours from Windsor, we headed up Saturday mid-day and arrived at the park about 1pm (after a minor detour from our bunk directions - but we figured it out!!).  Parking, expo, packet pick-up, and transition were all close together just outside the entrance gates to the park, and it was a perfect set-up.  Almost immediately we ran into our friends who were also doing redemption races due to the bummer of Steelhead. We puttered around at packet pick-up which was dead easy.  They took a picture of each racer as we checked in, which apparently would flash on the jumbo-tron when you cross the finish line. I should've done my hair, LOL!  Packets included temporary tattoos for race numbers, which went on beautifully and stayed put contrary to other reports I had heard.  We also got a really nice visor and a t-shirt.  We dropped off our bikes in the transition area - and check out the awesome personalized spot each person got!

After scoring some sweet deals in the clearance section of the expo, we attended the "mandatory" athlete briefing (where it appeared that many people did not consider it mandatory) and were quite frankly, pretty bored.  On to the hotel! After scouring the room for evidence of bed-bugs (seriously, I am scared of that shit), we headed to dinner at TGIF's with the rest of the Windsor peeps. Contrary to Steelhead where I took everything very seriously and avoided alcohol for 2 months beforehand, I put caution to the wind and had a beer with dinner.  :-)  Mary and I had some errands to do after dinner, so we picked up a few things at Meijer and Target - tried not to get distracted by the deals we do not have in Canada! - and were in bed by 10pm, latest.  Because we were staying at a Cedar Point hotel, we were 5 minutes to the race site and did not have to get up till 6am - what a luxury!!

Unfortunately I slept really poorly, which seems to be par for the course when I stay in a hotel.  While our location was prime, the accommodations were not, and the bed was super hard and killing my shoulders & back.  Oh well, what can you do?!  Mary and I quietly ate breakfast in our room (we had both brought supplies), me with my usual PB on a white bagel, banana, and small tea.  In hindsight, I think I need to increase my breakfast slightly as I have felt hungry and depleted a little early in these long races.

The morning was gorgeous and the day promised to be warm with sunny periods and light winds. Perfect. We headed off to the race site and were in transition about 45 minutes before it closed.  While some people think I am insane for checking out hotel rooms for bed-bug evidence, I learned from a dude setting up near one of my friends that he got bed bugs just 2 weeks before Cedar Point, while staying at a hotel for a race in San Francisco!! Ok, I will continue my vigilance thank-you-very-much.  Back to the race - no problems setting up transition, a quick stop in the porta-potties where the line was quite reasonable (a smallish venue and crowd = not much of a wait for anything), and off to the beach to watch the Full Rev (or "Ironman" in other words) participants swim and get warmed up a bit.

It was funny to swim in Lake Erie, but from the other side of it (i.e. US not Canadian side).  After a very quick warm-up to get the shoulders loose, we rushed to the start line to realize that - holy crap! - they were starting our race! The first wave was just going, and we got in position to go off in about 10 minutes (both Mary and I were in wave 3 - Females 39 and under).  When it was our turn to line up on the beach, I went right to the front and a bit to the right. While I am not a "fast" swimmer, I am fairly comfortable and like to get out ahead of as many people as possible.  I wished Mary luck, and we were off! The horn sounded and we ran into the water.  It was knee-deep for several feet, but soon enough people were dolphin diving, I did one of those but then figured I would just swim. I hate f-ing around with the run/dive thing in the water.  Although the field was small, there was a lot of hitting.  I attribute this to the water being so black, you could barely see your own hand in front of your face. It was impossible to see if anyone was around you.  Although I got hit a lot on the shoulders, back, hip, leg, etc., I was lucky in that I did not take any blows to the head/face or hands.  I felt a bit sluggish until the first turn, the course was sort of like an isosceles triangle on it's side, and the first section was the short end.  By the time we made a right around the first turn-buoy, it was probably about 500m and I was starting to feel loose and smooth.  I started to catch some people from the 2 waves ahead of me (Females 40+ and Males 34 & Under), which is always exciting.  There were a few dudes doing a very slow backstroke and I had a momentary thought to ask if they were okay, but I'm no lifeguard and there were plenty of those around.  The lingering effects of my cold/infection/whatever caused me to have to cough a few times, but I tried to plan out how I would do that without interrupting my stroke and just ended up letting loose under water as a form of exhaling :-) That seemed to work okay.  I repeated turn/reach over and over in my head as I stroked and kept a good rhythm.  Right before the finish, I hit a leg in front of me, looked up briefly and realized it was my friend Dave! He had started in the wave behind me, but is a better swimmer. I thought it was so funny that we were in the exact same line.  I stayed right behind him for the last few strokes and we stood up at the same time. I shouted at him to get his attention, we high-fived, and hit the beach a few feet apart.  That was fun! After a few steps to get my balance and some breath, I started the run down the beach to T1.  Up a short little incline and under a shower I went, only to find wetsuit strippers there waiting! I did not know about them and was shocked when someone started yelling at me very forcefully to "sit down! sit down!".  Anyway, down I plopped and in about 5 seconds my wetsuit was off, 2 dudes grabbed each arm, tossed me up very easily and off I went into T1.

Swim = 40:06
13/32 AG

This was pretty much my pace personal best in any length race to date. Yay!

As I bent over to start putting on my bike shoes I actually felt a bit dizzy, so I stood there for a few moments to clear my head and get oriented.  I think the up/down/up/down events coming out of the water had me a bit out of sorts. I got all my gear on and headed out of T1, ready to ride!

T1 = 3:06. That's crap considering there was wetsuit strippers.... it includes the run up the beach, but I've got a lot of room to improve here.

I hit my Garmin to start as soon as I mounted my bike and started pedalling fast and loose.  Although Coach Mary's instructions were to start out in HR Zone 2, I found that I was a little jacked up from the swim, transition, etc., and found it hard to settle down.  I did eventually get things a bit more under control and concentrated on getting my nutrition in as planned (which I f-ed up at Steelhead). I took in about 20oz of fluid (both EFS and water) per hour, along with some EFS Liquid Shot to hit about 200-250 calories per hour.  Also took 1 salt tab every 30 minutes or so... I think.... it gets a little hard to keep track! The course was hillier than I thought it would be, with a bunch of rollers and a few steeper climbs that got me out of my saddle.  One spectator was cheering us on and saying - "and you thought northern Ohio was flat!!" She was right! It was all good though, the course was (mostly) enjoyable and took us by some very beautiful country homes.  At one point, I passed by a cemetery that was decorated with many small US flags.  Of course, the fact that race day was Sept 11, 2011 had been acknowledged by many, and there were lots of discussions that weekend about "where you were" on 9/11.  At the time I rode by the cemetery, for some reason I instantly thought of where I was - on my couch at home watching news coverage, 60 lbs overweight and wearing a size 20.  I briefly contemplated how much different things are now - both in the world and for me personally, and kind of became proud of what I can accomplish after losing weight. I must admit I got a lump in my throat for a moment! Nothing much of note happened during the ride... I had some shoulder & neck discomfort, still getting used to my tri bike and had lowered my handle bars a little to get flatter in aero.  It did rain very briefly towards the end of the ride, and the road leading into T2 was a little uncomfortably bumpy, but at least the view was great and there were residents out cheering.  I was hoping to hit 3 hours or less, and when my watch read 56 miles, I was at 2:59, but by the time I hit T2, my watch said 56.5 miles and it had taken me just over 3 hours. Bummer.

Bike = 3:01:57
Avg 18.47 mph
15/32 AG

I had already slipped my feet out of my shoes (my toes were numb! It must have been cool out there) and headed into transition after standing up a little rickety. T2 was pretty uneventful although I did sit down for a minute to put on my socks and shoes as my lower back was killing me.

T2 = 2:35. Man, I am pokey in there.

I headed out onto the run with a pleasant surprise - no stomach cramps! Yay! Super yay! I did have to pee though, and stopped at the porta-potty at the first aide station.  I also felt hungry, like actually hungry in my stomach, so I started eating small pieces of banana at most aide stations, along with some water and salt tabs every hour or so.  I had promised myself that I would put off the urge to walk for as long as possible, and wanted to make it farther than I did at Steelhead before giving in.  Technically, I think I did.  Besides brief walks at aide stations - I just can't seem to eat/drink while running - I kept plodding along.  At about 2 miles I saw my friend Russ heading back in. Yikes! He was almost done and I was just starting :-)  About 4 miles in I saw another friend Dave as he was on his way back. I actually enjoyed the way the run course was kind of zig-zaggy because you could pass by people in opposite directions and see them a lot.  I think I first saw Mary around 5 miles (maybe?).  She was behind me, it seemed about a mile or so.  She told me later I looked like I was running normally, and she did not think she would catch me.  I thought she for sure would because she has been running really well, and has been posting better times this season. We saw each other a few times at cross-over points and cheered each other on.  But then, I hit my wall.  It happened about 8 minutes later than it did at Steelhead, in between Mile 8-9.  My legs did not want to pick up and move, my back and shoulders could not stay upright, my nagging hip injury/whatever it is was hurting, and I was HUNGRY.  I ate almost a whole banana, and walked about a 1/2 mile while it digested.  Shortly thereafter, Mary caught me. I tried, really tried, to stay with her and use her cadence to pick mine up a bit.  But my legs Were.Not.Having.It.  I told her to kick ass and that I would see her at the finish, and then watched her disappear in the distance as I shuffled along :-)  Miles 10-13 were hideous.  I wobbled/stumbled to the right a few times, wondered if I was bonking, took in more EFS Liquid Shot, more cola, more everything.  Finally, sweet mercies, I was back in the park grounds and could see the finish line. Sort Of. I knew it was near a certain roller coaster/landmark and I watched that thing come closer on the horizon.  Finally, I was "running" through the chute, Dave and Russ were cheering for me, I groaned/weakly smiled at them, and kept shuffling along around a trailer where we hit a mat that alerted the announcer to our pending arrival.  A volunteer tried to pass me a US flag to wave but in true Canadian fashion I was embarrassed to decline and profusely apologized for doing so, and there I was, heading towards the finish line where the photographer was gesturing for me to raise my arms in triumph. Oh my god I could barely get them up over my shoulders! I managed to smile and stumbled across the line, where I found Mary waiting for me. What a relief!  I could barely stand up, and sat down for a few minutes before getting myself up to go visit with friends.

Run = 2:50:09 Holy Crap. This is horseshit.
Avg 12:59/mile
24/32 AG

So.  When I started running, I thought I was moving a bit faster than I actually was.  I did not really pay attention to my watch and was running by feel.  Apparently, according to my retrospective analysis of Garmin data, I started off running slower than at Steelhead, which I was really surprised about, because I felt much better. I am not quite sure what to make of this but know I definitely need/want to improve!

Total race time was 6:37:54, about 7 minutes slower than my goal. Although I am slightly disappointed in my run, my swim and bike went very well and the challenge of triathlon is getting all 3 to be perfect at the same time!  I also try to remember that even finishing the event is something I should be happy with, and I am.  I had a good time (mostly!) and accomplished a goal that I worked almost all year for.  Hopefully, I only go up from here!

Right now, I am in the middle of a 3 week rest period and haven't run at all since the race.  Although I have been up to some monkey business on the bike (future post material), I haven't been doing much.  I am thinking about what races I might want to do next year, as well as new goals.  In about a week or two, I will be getting back into it. And I actually really look forward to it!

Looks like I will continue my quest to "tri to balance".

1 comment:

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