Tuesday, October 07, 2014

2014 Big George 70.3 Race Report

So. Over a month ago, I raced my fifth 70.3. On what I thought would be a fast swim course (much better sighting and less chop than Tinman), a fast, flat bike course, and a hilly run course. As it turned out, not so much. Except for the hilly run course.

(Ugh, the GOOD races are SO much easier to write about...)

Saturday: So Dr. Z and I packed all our (okay, mostly MY since I was the one racing) in the car and headed down to Lake George. I was immediately put on edge by the hordes of cars and pedestrians in this very much a tourist town for the holiday weekend. Reason #454381 why I don't understand why the race directors moved the race to Labor Day weekend a few years ago. We go to packet pickup (lots of swag - Yay! Cheap t-shirt instead of cute baseball hoodies this year - Boo!), check in the bike (one thing the race does RIGHT - one less thing to do in the morning), and finally check into the hotel. I call Coach Karen and we arrange to pick her up at her hotel and head out for dinner.

For the life of me I can't remember the name of the restaurant we ate at, but it was DELICIOUS! (I'm one of these people that although I have a "pre-race meal" that I always cook if I'm at home, I really CAN eat whatever the night before a race.) After that, we went back to the hotel and I spent the rest of the evening filling water bottles of Skratch for pre-race, bike, and run. Since it was an early start, we went to bed early and I actually slept pretty well.

Pre-Race: We were up at Ugly O'Clock for the 7 a.m. start, even with having everything laid out, bottles filled, and bike checked. I got dressed, nuked my usual eggs and rice that I had brought with me (hooray hotel fridge and microwave), and we headed out to the Dunkin Donuts that was supposedly right down the highway on the way to the race. We finally figure out it's a "Self Serve" Dunkin' in a HESS. Nastiest coffee EVER. THANKS, Google Maps. Lesson learned.

We get there and after some drama with parking, I get my chip (I really wish races would start putting these in the packet pickup packages. Once again, it would be one less thing to do on race morning), and set up my transition area. The entire time, I'm freaking the fuck out because it's windy. REALLY windy. And it's NEVER windy in the morning here, but there it is. While I consider it a minor nuisance on a flat bike route, I'm looking at the lake and I'm petrified of the swim.

I warm up, get some photos with Coach, and it's time to get in the corral.

My coach, ladies and gentlemen. LOVE this photo! LOL!


Swim: The horn goes off, and at first it's not bad. 





For the first 400 yards or so the water's not still, but it's not as choppy as I feared, and for once in my life I have GREAT feet to hang on to. Then, a nasty wake from a powerboat hits me from the side and I freak. I sit up, panicked, losing the feet, and actually start to wave a kayak over because I don't think there's any way I can finish this swim. The swells calm down,  I wave her off, and get going again. By now I'm way behind everyone, especially since my wave was the second-to-last to go off.

At this point, the chop is there, and it is FRIGHTENING. I just keep eyeing all the safety boats around, and knowing I can bail out any time helps me to keep going just a little further, just a little further. I hit the final turnaround on the "U"-shaped course to head back to shore, and a kayaker points out a light for me to sight off. Thank GOD, because even WITH something to sight I kept getting pulled waaaaaaaaay over to the right thanks to the chop. I would have otherwise ended up on the coast of Ireland or something.

A GREAT picture considering what an awful swim I had.
I come tearing out of the water. I have no idea what my time is (and thank GOD because if I had SEEN my terrible time that would have tanked me for the entire race), but I know it's Very Not Good. I run by Coach and Dr. Z. and just shout out "CHOPPY!"

I love that the lady in gray on the right is totally throwing shade my way. Like, lady, I KNOW I had a terrible swim.
Swim: 55:25 (OUCH!) 11/11 AG, 73/ Women, 203/207 Overall.  MAJOR ouch - only FOUR people swam slower than me!?!?!?

T1 - So I tear ass into T1, already exhausted from that swim. I do manage to get in and out of there pretty quickly and get off onto my bike.

Myself and the athlete in front of me displaying fine triathlete speed mounting technique. Sigh.
T1: 1:50 - 5/11 AG, 15/ Women, 55/207 Overall - See, TOTALLY a front of the pack athlete! ;-)

Bike:  Ugh. So I get on the bike, look at my Garmin, and my heart rate is SKY HIGH. Like, 170s high. So I just simmer and try to get that puppy down while in granny gear. And that's the story for the next five miles. Most of it WAS a climb (that I had underestimated looking at the elevation profile), but I was definitely tired out from the swim. It SUCKED. I averaged ELEVEN MILES PER HOUR that first half hour while people passed me left and right and my heart rate just wouldn't come down.

I finally came around after getting on the main flat part of the course and was able to start hauling. Well, hauling for me anyway. Passing people back and feeling pretty good. I get to the first aid station, grab a bottle to refill the ol' Aero, and...the top foam part falls in. I say many bad words, come to a stop, and fix everything. Double sigh.

So everything's going okay until I get to the next aid station at mile 28. I swear to God I thought it was an out-and-back course, and there's no turnaround. I get to mile 29, then 30, and now I am FREAKING THE FUCK OUT. I FINALLY figure out that it must be a lollipop course (which it was), but at this point that's a lot more energy just expended. In addition, my stomach is giving up the ghost and I can't put anymore chews down.



On a bright note, at one point I'm playing leapfrog with a woman and crack her shit up at mile 40-ish by announcing, "My crotch and I are SO ready to get off this bike!" as I pass her.

We come back into town and there's HORRIFIC traffic we're having to weave through. I almost get hit at one point. Not only that, they change the course on the way back so that we have to basically go around the block at the end - no way to keep good momentum going. I come in with one of my slowest rides ever. After a bad swim. (Well, the rest of the ride actually went pretty much according to plan, but 56 miles was not enough real estate to make up those first five miles.)



This photo cracks my shit up - my expression perfectly captures how I was feeling about my race.
Bike: 3:36:42 - 9/11 AG, 62/ Women, 186/207 Overall - Ouch again. Sigh.

T2:

Well I am in a TERRIBLE headspace at this point. My swim was awful (not to mention the scariest I've ever done), my bike was awful, and now my stomach isn't going to let me put anything down. 



T2 - 1:03, but the "placings" have me all in the BOP which is weird, especially looking at the times - other people with slower transitions are showing as better placed. Huh.

Run:

Heading out on the run - I love this picture - I look so FAST.
So the run was changed to a four-loop course a couple days before the race. While I grumbled about it, it WAS a nice way to break it up.

After such a rough first two legs, it was great to have my Cheer Crew yelling up a freakin' STORM when I got started. Stretch stretched out to his full 6'5" glory, put his hand up as high as he could, and yelled "UP HIGH, UP HIGH!" Nearly fell over laughing, especially since I didn't even know he was spectating until that point.

The first loop I'm doing pretty well despite not being able to take anything except water.  Definitely the fastest loop of the day. Unfortunately towards the end of the loop payment is due and I really start bonking. I tell Coach my problem when I start the second loop, and she basically gives me a "Figure it out."

The first thing I have to do is take it down to Zone 2, instead of Zone 3 as planned. Any time I try to run harder than that, I get so nauseated I'm afraid of vomiting. I grab some pretzels and water at the aid station at the far end, which helps a bit, but I'm doing a shit-ton of walking instead of that sweet 9:20 pace I had practiced even on ridiculously big hills in training.

Yes, I became quite sponge-addicted in this race.

I managed to get my shit together a bit better for the third loop - felt faster than the second one. I still sauntered through aid stations though and kept the HR low. I was so happy to get to the downhill at the end and know I only had one loop left to do.

Ever since the Syracuse Marathon in 2012, taking my picture by a speed sign when I'm hurting has become an ongoing joke.
The fourth loop, Stretch actually joins me in my walk-jog for about half of it, which is really sweet of him, especially since his easy pace is like 8 minute miles. At this point I'm just trying to get it done and over with. He leaves me with about 1.5 miles or so to go. Shortly after that, Dr. Z. finds me and escorts me in on my bike. I swear to run the rest of the way if it kills me.

Half a mile or so to go and yes, a 10 minute/mile jog DOES feel like it's going to kill me.

I come through, and as usual collapse in a wheezing heap. And because it wouldn't be a race report without me falling apart at the finish line, here's the collage for y'all:





Run: 2:18:21 - 6/11 AG, not going to manually figure out the rest. Yes, the "auto-tabulated" results ARE screwed up.

Total: 6:51:27 - 9/11 AG (Exactly the same as Tinman. Sigh.), 43/62 Women.


After thoughts:  Well, this was pretty much a shitty race from the start. I have to admit it's been a disappointing season in general, especially after having such an amazing breakthrough season last year. After my THIRD 6:50 Half-Ironman in a row despite training so hard, I'm happy to step away from the distance for a bit and concentrate on Ironman next year.

I'm not saying I won't do Half-Ironmans - they're still my favorite distance - I just need a break from banging my head against the wall trying to execute the race that training shows I have in me. (No, I DON'T think 6:40 at Tinman followed by 6:30 at Big George were unrealistic goals, even in hindsight.)

With that, I was happy to wrap up the triathlon season and go back to my comfort zone - RUNNING!

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