Kinetic Half Ironman
Lake Anna State Park, Virginia
The nitty gritty (for those who don't want to read the whole thing)
VERY approximate splits based on when I looked at my watch:
Swim 32 minutes (PR)
T1 3 minutes (PR)
Bike 2:51 (PR)
T2 1 minute (PR)
Run 1:51 (PR open or tri)
Total: 5:18 (19 minute PR)
Average heart rate 169
Max heart rate 190
2nd Age group (30-34)
6-7th overall woman (not sure because of some ambiguous names- preliminary results didn't have M or F next to names)
I drove down with my good friend and triple T partner yesterday and we got to the race site early. Registered and tried to ride part of the course as our 45 minute ride with intervals on the schedule. Unfortunately the course was not marked and the map we were given didn't have the part of the course we were interested in labeled. No one at registration knew it, either. So we basically just tooled around the park and threw in some intervals here and there. Then we met up with blogger Bob, aka Macho Grande and drove the course. From the car it looked to be a very fast course. It was totally new this year because of a bridge being out on the old course, so everything that I had heard from others wouldn't be accurate. After that we jumped in the lake for a quick swim. What a pleasant surprise that was! It was >60 degrees and felt amazing. It didn't hurt that it was 90 degrees yesterday... Then we all drove to our hotel, ate at Applebees and went to bed.
I slept like a rock, which is typical of me pre-race. We got to the race site with plenty of time to spare. And time for some photo ops:
Weather was beautiful. Near 60 degrees and totally clear. Lake temp was up to 65 from the hot day yesterday. Couldn't ask for a better morning for racing!
When we were called to the swim we all expected a pre-race meeting. Yeah, not so much. There was pretty much mass confusion about which buoys we had to swim around. In addition no one knew whether or not we had to get out of the water between swim loops. I finally got it clarified by the official as I was waiting for my heat to be sent off, but there was never an announcement, which I find super strange. Oh well!
A weird thing happened on the beach. All my excitement and anxiety about the race disappeared. Just another day. Just another workout. Let's do this. It was a weird feeling, but I figured that maybe it was a good thing. There's no room for nerves when you're in the zone!
I have NEVER had so much contact at the beginning of a swim. The girls were really aggressive and on average very poor swimmers. Many slow swimmers lining up in front. The first 200 meters were a total mess. When I finally found some open water it started to feel really good. The temp was perfect, there was no sun glare, and the course was very well marked- sighting was never an issue. But when I got to the second turn I absolutely couldn't believe it. 80% of the people in my line of sight totally cut the course at the turn buoy. It was really frustrating, but I figured I'm just racing myself anyway, so I should stop worrying about everyone else! I was feeling strong and I got out of the first loop looking forward to lap 2.
Lap 2 was nice but crowded. I was zig zagging through groups of swimmers from 1 and 2 waves ahead of me. Always a good sign, but it makes for a challenging swim. When I got out of the water and crossed the mat I saw that the big clock read 00:44. Since I started in the 5th wave, that should translate to a swim of around 32. A new PR!
I was pretty psyched about that, and even more excited when a familiar face came by in transition. Tony came out of the water just behind me! Because our last names only differ by a couple letters and the race numbers were allocated by name we were right next to each other in transition. A 35 minute swim is really phenomenal for him and I was really thrilled to see it! I congratulated him and took off to do my first transition with my shoes clipped in the pedals.
It didn't go as smoothly as I would have liked, but overall I like the shoe-in-pedal thing. It is so much easier to run in socks than in cycling shoes. I started off and waited a couple miles to get the shoes on. No need to hurry. Need to get up to a good speed before messing with the feet.
My heart rate was out of control, as always, coming out of T1. When I glanced at it it read 189. I didn't really stress about it and just went by perceived exertion for the first 5 miles or so. Then Tony came flying by me! Having a great ride in his new Felt B2.
I settled down a bit after that; the plan was to ride within 5 beats or so of my anaerobic threshold, so it was going to be pretty hard. The race course is absolutely beautiful. It was also very well marked. The only downfall was that it was all on open roads and it DID get pretty dicey by the second loop when the traffic picked up. I really concentrated on staying aerobic and steady. The only major annoyance was a guy who was making a game of quickly passing people in his aerobars, then immediately sitting up in his hoods and soft peddling. I got passed and repassed this guy no less than 5 times. It was so annoying! But for the most part the athletes were really great and friendly. Everyone enjoying the wonderful course and weather. The course was much harder than I had anticipated. More climbing than I noticed in the car, and also some wind on the way out. All in all one of the best courses I've ridden. Just enough difficulty to spread out the packs.
Paulo's one big piece of advice for today was to pick a nutrition plan and stick to it. So I made sure to drink my gatorade (that I had to bring along with me because they were serving HEED), and 5 Gus. As I turned back into the park I looked at my watch and I was on pace for my goal: to exit T2 by 3:30. Unfortunately there was a lot of traffic coming into the park and I got stuck behind a large truck towing a boat. I used the opportunity to take my feet out of my shoes, and when I was done he nicely pulled over and let me pass. I dismounted without a hitch a ran through T2. I saw Tony there again! He said- see you at the finish! I quickly threw on my shoes and race belt, took a puff of albuterol and was off!
Run: Coming out of T2 I felt tremendous. And then I hit the first hill. Ugh. Here is a quick synopsis of the run:
It quickly turned into a death march. I felt really drained. The first hill was steep enough to really slow you down (and did I mention, LONG). My heart rate was in the 170's, where it would stay for the ENTIRE run. I was breathing hard. And I was very thirsty. I knew that I was going to have to walk through the aid stations and drink copious amounts of coke (yay! they had COKE!) and water. I came out of T2 with another woman (not in my age group) and she looked really great running. I told her as much, and over then next 13 miles we would go back and forth and have short (very short, since I was running in zone3/4) conversations. She was such a great person to have around! Really pushed me, and did it on purpose. "Come on, let's go!". We didn't run together much, but it was always a back and forth. It helped so much! Because I really felt like crap. I just didn't feel like I had any pep. There were a couple miles here and there that felt good, but the long hills were killer! I've never done a run that challenging before. I tried not to look at my watch because I didn't want to get discouraged. I finally looked when I hit the 12 mile mark and it said 5:12. Hmmm, the worst this could be is 5:22. Sweet! So I picked it up and ran that last 1.1 as fast as I could. Definitely helped that it was a downhill portion, but I crossed the finish and looked at my time and it said 5:19 (I started my watch early before the swim). I was ecstatic. First of all, that death march was over. Secondly, if my calculation is correct that run, which felt like total hell, was actually a PR for me! I waited for my buddy to come in, took a dip in the lake, and then watched Tony come through for a big PR for him at 5:45. What a nice day!
Tony and I after the race:
I walked over to look at the unofficial times and my run buddy was there. She counted 5 women ahead of me, and only 1 in my age group. I couldn't believe it! I never thought that I could ever place in my age group at a half. And certainly not go top 10 overall!
I ate some oreos while waiting for the awards and got some pasta. Probably drank about 60 ounces of fluid in the next 2 hours. I was crazy dehydrated. It was super hot and sunny for the whole race. And here are some pics:
Bob and I waiting for the awards (he got 2nd in the Clydesdale division!)
Going up to get my award- A sweatshirt! Much better than a trophy than I would end up throwing out!
And the post race treat:
A Few Good Swims
2 hours ago