Monday, July 29, 2013

A tale of 3 miles

On Sunday I participated in a sprint triathlon near Santa Fe. I figured it would be a good race to do after Buffalo Springs to get back into the racing mode. However, this course is not for going "fast" or PRs, its more of a torturous slog for survival. Just to point out how hard it is, the top finisher's 5K time was only 26 min and avg bike speed was 17 mph. Ouch.

The night before a race is always hard, but this one in particular. I could sleep at all! I think I only slept 3 hours total and could not sleep past 330. So I ended up just giving up and getting ready to go. I left around 445 and was at the turnoff for the lake when I realized I had forgotten my wetsuit. Damn damn damn! I don't like swimming in wetsuits, but they are faster and I need every advantage I can get (there a reason the title of this post is "a tale of 3 miles"). I made the decision not to turn back for it because I didn't wanted to be rushed - transition closed early at this one and I wanted to be able to get a good warm up in. Once I got there, I set up my area. Unfortunately, we were racked downwind from the lake restrooms. It smelled so horrendous! It was even worse coming through transition later! Basically, I set up quickly, grabbed my swim stuff, got marked, and headed the swim beach, which was a 20 min walk (hike) away.

I had to wait 40 min from the Olympic starts until my wave so I got nice and warmed up and even helped some people who saw me swimming who wanted swimming advice :) The swim was actually a little rough. It started into the current and wind with the sun in your face. Awesome. Finally, we were lined up and I made sure to get into the front. Next to me wast a girl in an FSII, and I immediately I knew she was a swimmer. I knew I had to beat her! The swim felt awful! This was the first tri where I actually felt tired during the swim, but I knew I did not want that girl to beat me. It really is a point of pride. I started to distance myself at the 400m mark and just built the last 400m. I came out first, 8 seconds ahead of her.

Since I had no wetsuit, I got through transition fast, but so did the other swimmer. Now, like I said before this course is slow and painful. Right out of transition you head up the boat launch road which is pretty steep (it was actually terrifying coming back down). I knew I did not want to waste a huge amount of energy going up that hill since there were still 11 more miles with more hills to bike after it. She shot out of transition and up that hill and I noted she was in the hot pink helmet. After I got up that ascent, I turned on to the road on top of the dam, which is full of gravel and plants sprouting through along with metal grates. Wonderful. I kept pink helmet in site and kept building my pace. Once I hit the turn around in the loop, I realized I was gaining on pink helmet. I really started to hammer the pace and hit the last hill fast. I entered transition not too long after pink helmet and told myself that she was a swimmer and she probably sucks at running too - maybe I can catch her!

Sweet! ONWARD- let's catch this b****! The run course followed the same as the bike for awhile and we had to go up that same very nasty hill. The first quarter of the hill I was catching her, but then I started to feel nauseous and ended up tossing my cookies on the side of the road (sorry spectators!). Ugh. Instead of doing the smart thing and holding my mental game together, I started to panic. Panicking while running uphill makes it very hard to breathe, so I had to slow down to take my inhaler. Great. So on went this first mile of wheezing, puking, and thinking I couldn't do it. I spent the second mile of the race feeling sorry for myself - I told myself I didn't belong in the race, that I would never be good at running, and that I should just give up since I was going to get passed anyway. Great attitude right? Sure enough, I got passed by a couple more girls. Again I got more frustrated, but then I saw another girl catching me coming up on the last mile and I got mad. I got my s*** together and started to RUN. She didn't catch me. I ran the last mile in 8:30 (still not my best, but for this course and all my self-loathing it was great). I finished hard and I sicked up once more after I was done, but I was happy I finished with nothing left. I regret that I had not just pushed through those first two miles, but I think that is something everyone goes through. It took me years not to be self-defeating in swimming, so I am still learning not to be my own worst enemy in triathlons. I still managed an ok race, even with my horrendous run, but like I said, I was the one who failed the run. Not my training, not my muscles, just me. Regardless, I still got to stand on the podium and enjoy some post race bbq and meet some local triathletes in the area. Additionally, this race marked my 2 year anniversary of my very first triathlon, so it was very fitting to race over the weekend!

                                                    Charm necklace awards? That is new to me!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

I have absolutely no idea how to fix a bike.

This the second time since I have moved to Santa Fe that I have gotten myself stranded in the middle of nowhere on ride. Both times due to flat tires. The first time was because I had gotten a flat earlier in the ride and flatted again soon after and had no tubes left, the second, well it could have been easily prevented for reasons to be discussed.  This was my first big ride since BLST 70.3, so I was actually looking forward to it. I was about 40 minutes into the scheduled 3 hours when I noticed my back tire was riding low. No big deal, I ride with a lot of extra tubes and CO2, so flats aren't an issue anymore. I stop at a place where the shoulder was wider and got ready to change what I thought was a standard flat tire. As I was removing the back wheel, my back derailleur fell off and was no longer attached to the bike. My first reaction was "uhhhh I don't think that is supposed to do that" then "insert expletives" and finally hysterics. I called Logan in tears because once again I was stranded and I couldn't fix my bike - this of course backfired in my face because he couldn't figure out what the hell I was talking about since the extent of my bike terminology consists of "well I had a flat and then I tried to fix it, but then the derailleur thingy fell off the thing that is attached to the bike  -I think there are supposed to be screws in the thing but they aren't there." This, as you can imagine, explained the problem perfectly. Of course, Logan did not see it my way and asked me to send him a picture, which I apparently am not good at either, because after two tries he said he could not see what I was trying to say. Luckily, I was rescued by a mountain biker who was on his way back from the trails and on is way to the bike shop. Diagnosis on bike = two screws that hold the derailleur on had fallen out (I actually knew something!), an easily prevented problem had I been taking care of weekly maintenance and looked for anomalies (insert face palm from both my Dad and Logan here). So now my bike is getting fixed up AND getting a badly needed tune-up. Moral of the story: I will make an effort to maintain my bikes (I will take that bike stand now Dad). I guess the benefit of my ride getting cut short (besides standing on the side of the road for an hour) is that I will be more rested for my run test tomorrow morning...

Monday, July 1, 2013

BLST 70.3 Race Report!

There have been very few times in my life where I have been ok with not winning. This race was one of those times. As most of you know I participated in my first half ironman over the weekend. I had two goals for the race: 1. finish the race and 2. finish under six hours, which I did (5:55 was my overall time - even with a sub par run). Today I have been reflecting on the race and I still can't believe I actually finished and I think the adrenaline is still going! I think the last time I felt this accomplished was winning the mile in college (ok maybe a little when I got my PhD). Moving on to the details:

I can't even convey how nervous I was for this. I didn't want people to think I was slow, I was worried about not finishing, and scared of how bad it was going to hurt. Surprisingly, I was able to sleep the night before, despite the racing thoughts, and I woke up with a more positive attitude. I was told that the way into the lake gets backed up, so I got to the race site early (430 am!). I walked down the hill (the same one we had to bike out of transition), got marked, and set up all my stuff. I started to feel a bit better when I was talking to the girls around me about how this was their first 70.3 too. My parents and Logan got there around 610, so I got to see them before my wave went off at 642. I got nervous again at this point and nearly started crying in front of my mom! Regardless, I got down to the water and started to warm up and get ready to go.

The swim course at this race is awesome! Nice, calm water, warm temperature (74 degrees!), and a current in your favor once you loop back to transition. I lined myself up in the front, so I wouldn't have to deal with most of the scramble and once I heard the word "go" I sprinted my way to the front and settled into a rhythm. Normally I get a sizable lead, but I actually had a girl stay with me. Since this was a big race I did expect it, and I really enjoyed having someone to draft off of. We were together the entire swim and even caught the first wave of men! I am pretty sure I edged her out coming into transition and I split 24:30 which was 2 and half minutes faster than my goal time. I ran up the ramp feeling pretty good and got myself set up for the bike.

First, I will start by saying the bike course was rough. They weren't kidding when they said it was challenging and this isn't the best half for first timers. However, I actually really enjoyed the course. Coming out of transition, you immediately hit your first big hill. Seriously, it was evil and brutal. Right after that one is another big hill. Seriously??!! I just kept telling myself that you have some nice flats coming up before the next canyon. The other part that is annoying, is that you have the men you passed on the swim flying by you on the bike. Eventually, I stopped focusing on who was passing me and settling into my OWN race. Once I did that the time flew by. There were some more big hills to get through, but training here in Santa Fe really helped with those, since all my rides consist of hills, hills, and more hills. I was also focused on staying hydrated and eating regularly, which really helped set me up for the run. I finished in 3:02, which was right on my goal of 3 hours.

Coming into transition was great. My parents and Logan were standing right there getting pictures and I was still feeling good and smiling! I grabbed my run food, salt, and was off for an adventurous half marathon. The first and last 3 miles of this course are awesome. Nice rollers and flats. I started off at my goal 9:30 pace, but it started to creep up. I didn't feel like I was dying, it was more like my muscles just wouldn't go any faster. I stuck to my nutrition plan and began the ascent out of the lake area. Hills. More f-ing hills. Not just steep hills, 9% grade hills. Ugh. I just kept looking forward to miles 5-8 since it was flat, but it was also the hottest part of the course. I knew I was tough enough to get through it, but I was upset that my pace was still off. I started to count down the miles and once I got to the half way point I knew I was going to finish. It definitely helped my attitude and gave me a second wind. I knew I was still on pace to be under six, so I just started counting down. At mile 9, I had to go back up that damn hill, but then you begin your descent back into the park. The downhills were steep enough that I may not have a big toenail soon - I have some very bruised toes and swollen feet. It was hard not to focus on that, but with 2 miles left I heard the announcer from the race site. I could not wait to cross that finish line. Those last 2 miles were the hardest to get through, but just as you want to stop, the finish line comes into view! I saw Logan and my parents again taking pictures and I am sure I look great at that point, but what a thrill it was to cross that line! My run time was 20 minutes off my two hour goal, but hey, I had just finished a half ironman and I was under 6!

Sweet baby jesus, I did it! And now I circle back to my opening lines; I finished 7th in my age group, which is not my best, but I gave what I had on the course and I really don't care where I finished. Now that I have the first one out of the way, I can work towards getting better. Today I am sore and sun burnt (I need to get better sunscreen), and may lose my toenail, but I seriously feel like I am on cloud 9. Additionally, it was really cool to see my friend Liz get her Vegas 70.3 worlds slot. I am also looking forward to cheering on/ironstalking my friends from Santa Barbara who are doing their first half at Vineman in two weeks (get ready for the pain guys!).

                                          My sweet finisher medal!

                                                    Nail polish removed to show the damage. Ouch!