Wednesday, August 19, 2015

2015 Mini-Tri "World Championships" Race Report

While I usually wouldn't bother writing a race report for a Mini-Tri, Dr. Z. was sherpa-ing since he raced the day before and photos + wearing a number = RACE REPORT.

Mentally I wasn't into it at all heading there thanks to some other issues I have going on right now (that I may or may not end up talking about). I packed up my stuff after work and just hoped that once the gun went off I'd find my racing happy place.

Totally unplanned superhero pose.

Set up my transition and got in the water almost immediately after putting on my wetsuit because after what was a cold, rainy week last week has turned into blistering hot, sunny weather.

Right before the gun - found my smile.

The gun went off and I actually immediately found feet - a true rarity for me because I swim so slowly. I actually was with a group the entire time. I wish the feet I found had been a bit faster but in general was happy with my swim, especially when I came out of the water right behind my friend Bill. As it turns out I swam a 10:08, which was okay but I really thought I had broken 10 minutes.

T1 went really well - my wetsuit didn't stick (for once), I didn't lose my balance trying to get on my shoes (for once), and I was out of there in a smoking 71 seconds, making for a very happy IronHobbit heading out onto the bike.

The bike course was different than usual thanks to construction on River Road. Instead of doing the usual loop from 86-River Road-73, we went down 86, turned around right at the construction on River Road, and climbed back up the Three Bears. Ooof. I felt great for the first half despite the legs not feeling very spunky and thought I was holding my own, but at the turnaround I saw that Bill was right on my tail. I've been beating him on the bike this year, so that's when I started thinking my ride wasn't that great after all. We hit the Bears and that's when I REALLY feel the effects of basically sitting on my ass for three weeks straight. I get passed by a group like I'm sitting still.  When my friend Anna (Bill's daughter) passes me on the bike on the way to T2, I really feel that I had a lousy ride since she's a runner who usually smokes me on the run after I crush her on the bike. As it turns out, I still rode under 39 minutes, which while it's hard to judge because of the changed course, I was second AG  and top third women for the ride. (I would find out later that Bill and Anna both had breakthrough days.)

LOL at this expression. 

So I hit T2 and although I THOUGHT I was really quick, my time was 37 seconds, which is slow for me at this race. Still - a total of 1:48 for both transitions isn't too bad - I try to keep the total under two minutes.

Heading out to the run was really ugly. My legs felt like crap. I just told myself "run as slowly as you need to, just don't walk) - a fine strategy that will still get you a good split in an Ironman (or even Half Ironman), but not in a sprint. Although I beat Anna out of transition she flew by me right away (totally expected even on a good day), but I had hopes I could catch Bill, which I usually can if I don't beat him off the bike. (For the record, Anna is not in my AG and Bill obviously isn't even the right GENDER, but I like using people as "carrots" during sprints to get myself to hurt as much as possible.) I finally see him near the turnaround, but I haven't really put any time into him. I'm so happy to see that cone because the way back is almost all downhill. I'm able to pick up my speed, although I don't pass anyone, but never even SEE Bill. I cross the finish and am SHOCKED to read 1:16 on my watch. Bill usually comes in around 1:20, so I was thinking I had a very slow day.

Just finishing. (Actual run pics were all blurry because of the low light.)

After nearly collapsing (as usual), I drink my Osmo while cooling my legs in the lake. Chatting with Bill, I found out that he "felt good" today and as for Anna, she had a major breakthrough ride. Good for her - her entire FAMILY are amazing triathletes. Unfortunately although it was my second-fastest time ever, my age group was really deep and my always-slow swim cost me a podium spot. (3rd place girl was less than a minute ahead but out swam me by a whopping-for-400-meters two minutes). A time that would usually have me second or so landed me 4/6 for my AG. Hat tip to all you fast ladies!

All smiles post-race.

And with that, the triathlon season comes to a close. I can't complain about a season that saw me PR all distances I did - Olympic, the Mini-Tri (by a HUGE two minutes), and Ironman by nearly an hour.  Next one will be the Florida 70.3 in April. (And if you think I'm terrified of a first triathlon of the season that's a Half, my first OWS of the year, and probably not even wetsuit-legal, you would be correct. This will FORCE me to work out my swim problems.)

Next up, the Mohawk-Hudson marathon. Fall is is for RUNNING!

Monday, August 17, 2015

IMLP Race Report - The Run

So I head out on the run and although my stomach feels awful, my legs feel....amazing. Ridiculously so. Unlike last time where I had to mostly walk the first couple miles, I'm immediately able to break into a trot and hit my target HR.

I do walk through the first aid station, still in troubleshooting mode and going to my "Upset Tummy" nutrition protocol: Water and pretzels. Unfortunately the pretzels really dry out my mouth and I can barely swallow them down even with the water. However, I'm able to keep on running despite knowing the bill will come due, and those first 10km go BRILLIANTLY.  I'm hitting my HR (except walking through the aid stations trying to fix my stomach), and the mile splits I see are making me happy indeed. I see a SUB-TEN mile at one point.

Unfortunately I start slowing down after the first River Road turnaround. I manage to make the first loop in under 2:30, putting me in place for a big IM marathon PR, but things have gotten UGLY. I spent the first three or four miles or the second loop mostly walking while literally holding my stomach.

At mile 16 I stop at the medical aid station and ask if they have anything they can give me. All I end up with is Tums (which I had on me anyway, but I took theirs since they hadn't been in the sweaty back pocket of a tri top all day). The Tums didn't help much, but I meet this IMLP's "Ironman Run Buddy." She's sitting in the tent with stomach issues of her own after crushing the swim and bike, we get to talking, and decide to work together to minimize the carnage.

We talk about everything, run when we can, walk when necessary. Peeks at my Garmin (which thankfully wasn't showing pace) tell me that any HR over MAF-5 is tummy no-no. I keep trying different foods and drinks at the aid stations - the chicken broth literally makes me gag, the acid from the orange slices makes my stomach hurt more. (All things that had fed me well and gotten me through my first Ironman marathon.

We see a lot of other walkers while we're going - not too unusual at this point, but I see people who I know and usually finish in sub-12, and several people we speak to are usually Kona finishers but having too many stomach issues to run. So I'm not going to "blame" the water, but there were definitely more stomach issues this year than in other years.

At the last turnaround on Mirror Lake Drive, I have been almost all walking when I look at Garmin again and realize that if I run the rest of the way I'd still get a marathon PR. I manage to run at a walking pace and it is probably the hardest couple miles I've ever jogged.

I really am there with my Ironbuddy about to do our last out-and-and back on Mirror Lake Drive

I hit Main Street and it's time to take the right into the Oval instead of the left to do another lap - just like last time, it doesn't feel like I can already be done. I get this stupid huge grin on my face and we entire the Oval of Magic. My run buddy runs ahead and I can't keep up, but it is still the most magical 200 meters of my life. I see the lights and the finish arch and start pumping my fists as Mike Reilly calls me an Ironman for the second time.

Heading to the finish - realizing a marathon PR is in reach.

At the finish line, I just have nothing left and collapse. I am immediately put in a wheelchair and wheeled to Medical. My friend Hannah, whom I haven't seen since she was in single digits, is working the finish line and sees me to the tent. The doctors in Medical are amazing - they check my weight, take my vitals, and give me a prescription anti-emetic which allows me to at least start drinking a Sprite again. They didn't think an IV was necessary, which was fine by me since I have lousy veins. After a while, I'm feeling better and my legs are cramping up painfully (immediately lying down after Ironman = OUCH), so they let me sign myself out. I assume I've been in there for 15 minutes or so, but Dr. Z., who has been waiting outside, informs me that it's been closer to an hour. Wow.

After that, I am happy but completely wiped, so unlike 2012 when I stayed and partied at the finish line, I miss my first late-night finish line since I've moved here and just go home. And that's the story of how I managed a 51-minute Ironman PR despite the heat and as one friend so awesomely put it, "being poisoned."

Although a bit disappointed that I didn't meet my "A" goal of sub-15, I am very happy with how I never gave up trying to troubleshoot my GI issues, even though they started early in the day and I fought them for a good 13 hours. I feel like it shows how much I've grown as an athlete. After 2012, I swore I was a "one and done" bucket lister, but while Ironman is definitely NOT on the books for next season, I can see myself coming back in a few years to give it another try with the run I know I have in me.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

IMLP Race Report - The Bike

So I fly down Colden and then just try to settle. I see people out of their saddle climbing up Cascade Pass, and I think to myself, "They do know there's 110 more miles, right?" I keep my watts on the low side the entire first half of the first loop. And by "low side" I mean 20 watts below target. Sounds crazy, but with the back half of each loop being 20 miles of climbing, I want to play it extra conservative. I'm passing a lot of people and feeling good and "in control" - a rare feeling in an Ironman. The only issue is that my stomach isn't very happy. Not nauseated, just a bit queasy and super not interested in eating. I usually look forward to that break every 15 minutes to sit up and soft pedal a bit, but this time I kind of groan when it's time to eat.

All smiles starting the ride.

When I start climbing up from Jay, I'm definitely happy I kept it so easy the first half of the loop. I make it up Papa Bear with my cheer squad going nuts, and stop at special needs with a blistering (for me) 3:43 split for the first loop. However, I know that I'm in trouble with my stomach. As it happens, my friend Jeff is working Special Needs and I get to wave my tampons all around him fishing out my Pepto tablets, which I'm SO SO glad Coach Jenni convinced me to bring. (I usually don't have GI issues, so don't carry them as a rule.) I decided against the Pringles, figuring that since they don't sound any more appetizing than my usual wafers and chews I might as well stick with what I've been using in training.
Bombing down Colden to start the second loop.

I go around the Hot Corner by Lisa G's where they're blasting "Shut Up and Dance" (i.e. the song I've been playing on repeat this training cycle) and between that and my split I'm feeling pretty happy despite the Thunder Down Under in my tummy.

I nail the Cascade Pass descent even better than the first time. (I found out later when I looked at the data that I hit 44 MPH. Holy CRAP.) This makes me very happy as I am a descending wuss usually, but today I fly by people both times.

When I hit the flats from Keene to Ausable a second time, I'm definitely not feeling as perky. I've been on the bike for 4.5 hours, still have another 20 miles of climbing after I finish this section, and in addition to having to force food down it's getting really hot.  I start spending a lot of time up on the pursuit bars, my watts are going down, down, down, instead of the original plan to raise them up to target power, and in general I'm quite miserable.  I'm so relieved every time it's time to stop at an aid station for ice cold water down the back and in my Aerodrink.

A little blurry, but definitely not quite so happy here.
My stomach is getting bad enough that I switch to water - I just can't stomach Skratch anymore, and my eating is getting further and further apart. I finally give up at mile 90 as I don't want to puke while climbing and hope I can get calories in on the run. In addition, I don't even want to think what's going on in my shorts. The whole plan of Magic Bike Shorts and chamois cream didn't take dumping water all over myself into account and there is Major Chafing.

Those last 20 miles definitely have a lot of tears. My friends Darci and Billy scream up a storm for me while I climb the Wall, which definitely helps. By the time I finally cross the timing mat, I just burst into tears. Again. My friend Diana is working transition and gives me a much-needed hug and helps me to my bag. (This is why I'll always do IMLP despite the insane bike course - being a local is amazing.)
Coming to the timing mat. About 10 seconds from bawling. Ironman is HARD.

Bike: 7:51 (45 minute PR), 86 AG, 501 Woman, 2009 Overall.

In T2 I change into my run shorts and get out of there pretty quickly, as always ever so grateful to be off the bike. Although I still put on my Fuel Belt with my Skratch and gels, I already know I'm probably not going to touch it at all.

T2: 5:42 (Whopping-for-transition 4 minute PR thanks to my complete mental breakdown barely making the cutoff last time.)

Friday, August 14, 2015

IMLP Race Report - The Swim

Alarm went off at 4:00. I slammed down my first cup of coffee and got dressed, my kit carefully laid out the day before, of course. Because of all my OCD prep work, it didn't take long to be ready to head out the door, special needs bags, pump, swim gear, and breakfast in hand.

First stop was body marking. Just like 2012 I ate while the dude got busy with a Sharpie. I may or may not have spilled more than a few grains of rice on his head. 

Next stop was transition. This took approximately 234,029 times longer than it should have because that short valve on my rear tube was just not cooperating. After multiple tries that resulted in deflating it entirely, I finally got it up to 90 PSI and was good to go.

After that, I met my good friend Wes near the beach. We started together in 2012 and although he would be seeding himself further up than me in the new "streaming" start, it was good to see him before the race. He does the race every year and his calmness definitely helped me.

Pre-race is always better with a friend.
After kicking around and chatting for awhile, it was time to get in the water and then line up. I took one last photo with Dr. Z., gave him a kiss, and dove into the sea of people massed around the beach.

This IS his happy face.

I waded into the water and while the temperature was just fine, I got an inkling of the first major issue of the day. The water was completely contaminated from the fire the night before. They had tested the water that morning, but it was brown and had a scary chemical taste. I went right into troubleshooting mode but the only things I could come up with were "Rinse out your mouth with Skratch the second you get on the bike" and "Try to swallow as little water as possible." I was unhappy, but didn't freak out, which is a big step for me.

My massage therapist Tim managed to find me in line (I have no idea how he did that), and I got one last friendly hug before the wait began. The cannon boomed and...


I had seeded myself near the front of the 1:45-2:00 group, and we didn't even move for the first five minutes or so, which seems an eternity when you're waiting to start an Ironman. After 15 minutes we finally hit the water, and it was the most insane battering I have ever taken in a race. I was also having trouble getting into the right mindset. I was totally over swimming before we even hit the first turnaround. Yes, I was near the buoy but I just couldn't find a good way to get around or away from people.

One thing I love about the IMLP swim is that you can slowly hear Mike Reilly's voice get louder and louder as you get closer to shore. I was so happy to finish my first loop but also not looking forward to having to do a second one. I wasn't tired or anything, just mentally not in "GRRRRR" mode and sick of all the contact, not to mention the disgusting water.

The second loop I tried to put a little more "Oomph" into my stroke and find feet, all part of my race plan, but while I "dated around" I never did find any feet that really worked for me.

When I finally hit land again and saw 2:03 or so on the race clock, I was horrified and pissed. Although it turns out I had PRed by a few seconds, I had misjudged when I got in the water and thought I had swam a 1:50.  Swimming about the same as 2012 was still very disappointing giving my open water times in training.

Matters weren't helped when my wetsuit got stuck and even the peelers had trouble, which used up more time. In fact, the band of my lap watch (which I was using for race time) got messed up, and since it was no longer displaying the race clock properly anyways, I handed it off to Dr. Z. as I ran towards T1.

I look pissed off (I am) and 50 (I'm not).

Swim: 1:46:18, 96 AG, 593 Women, 2208 OA. (Yes, I know. One of the last out of the water.

So grabbed my bag and ran into the change tent. This year I decided take the time to wear the Magic Bike Shorts and use chamois cream in hopes of being more comfortable and minimizing damage to the undercarriage. It made for a very slow (for me) transition, but my helper was awesome and got me out of there as quickly as she could. Unfortunately I did have to wait for my bike a bit, but soon enough I was rolling. Quickly rinsed out my mouth as planned and on my way for a little 112 mile spin.

T1: 7:53 (The only split I DIDN'T PR.)