Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Saved The Best For Last! Austin 70.3 Race Report



Plan your race - Race your plan! Never more have these words meant so much to me.  I did a lot of research in planning my race in Austin.  I read numerous articles and looked at a lot of training programs before writing my own program for my race.  A couple of my friends are triathlon coaches, I conferred with them and they thought my plan looked sound.  My friend Becky kept saying over and over, "You're going to rock Austin!"  Guess she was right!

There is something nice about having three or four months of workouts planned out nice and neat.  Pinned to the little cork board that holds our keys.  I didn't miss very many training sessions, the only thing that I wasn't the best about doing was the on/off intervals during my long runs.  Other than that I pretty much stuck to what I wrote.  3 swims, 3 rides, 3 runs.  One long, one interval, one tempo.  Done.


The weather in Austin for the days leading up to the race was warm and humid.  But on Friday before the race the temperature was dropping by 20 degrees!  Making race morning in the 40's and the high for the day in the low 60's for the half marathon.  The run was going to be perfect!

We arrived in Austin on Friday around 1:30 and went straight to Athlete Check In and the expo.  Lesley and I had to go to TriBikeTransport with our bikes and it was set up just outside the expo.  We'd both rented Zipp 404's for the race and we needed to get our wheels switched out and get in a test ride.  While our wheels were getting switched we all cruised the expo and bought a few race souvenirs.


Saturday was bike and gear check in, so after a quick ride and run we loaded up the cars and went to get everything dropped off at the transition areas.  There are two transition areas for this race, so it takes a little more planning than the usual race.  Luckily just before we went to drop the bikes off a friend of mine who was also doing the race gave me some important information!  That we should carry our bikes from the cars all the way to our racks in T1.  Apparently there were a lot of stickers all in the grass, and several people got flats even before setting up their bikes!

Lesley and Kim
In this race we had bags to hold our transition gear, somewhat like the Ironman, but different in that even though all of our gear was in bags it could be at our actual transition spot not in huge piles on the ground.  Nothing could be left on the ground, it had to be hung from our bike or tied to the rack. So after running up from the swim we had to dump our bags and put on our race number belts, sunglasses and shoes, stuff our wetsuit, goggles and cap back into the bag and tie it up. The bags would then be transported to the finish line area and we could retrieve them after the race. (My friend, Judy did this for me!  Thank you Judy!!) We were allowed to have helmets and shoes on the bike but with the reported stickers we all chose to put our shoes in the bags instead of already attached to the bike.

Deanna and Judy -
Thank you Judy for taking all the great pictures!!
Then we had to go to T2 and do the same thing for the bike to run transition bags and tie them onto the rack where we would eventually hang our bikes before heading out onto the run.  I tied a brightly colored piece of ribbon onto my bags so they would be easy to spot as I was running through the long racks of bags! Hint hint.

Race morning parking was at the finish area so we had to catch shuttle buses to the swim start.  My friend Judy noticed that I was getting really nervous and headed out with me and Kim to the buses. Deanna and Lesley were following a few minutes later, Deanna needed to go check on her "Bike To Run" transition bag so they caught a later shuttle bus - they got into the first transition area and heard the announcer calling that the transition area was closing in 11 minutes!!  They still needed to air up their tires and put their nutrition on their bikes. I was panicking for them!  We waited for them just outside of the area and then Judy and I headed down to the swim start area. My wave was starting at 7:40 - 10 minutes after the first wave.  Deanna went off at 7:50 - Kim and Lesley started 30 minutes after that.  They let the old ladies (me) go in the early waves so that we wouldn't be on the course too long.  I was worried about the fast guys catching our swim wave and swimming over us but the fear was not to be realized!

Brrrrr....
The water temperature was around 71 degrees and the air was low 40's, it felt really good to get into the water.  We weren't allowed to warm up though so I took the swim out conservatively. I swam wide to make sure I avoided the bedlam around the buoys, and ended up with a 1.32 mile swim (hmmm....I don't think I was that far off the line, so the course may have been a little long.)  My "official" swim time was 33:46 or 1:44 per 100 meters.  Time in yards with the 1.32 swim - 1:27 per hundred yards!  I'll take that with a smile!

Out of the swim and through the wetsuit strippers for the quarter mile run through transition. Before the race stuck some "hot hands" under my toe covers on my cycling shoes so that my toes wouldn't become blocks of ice on the bike.  I put on some arm warmers (a fancy blue that matched my Aquaphor Kit!! - got them at Running Warehouse!)  We had to carry our bikes (cross country style) out of the transition area because of the stickers that I mentioned before.  I was giggling because I knew how ridiculous I looked.


The bike course had been described to me as hilly. It was hilly!!  Mostly longer hills unlike the short, punchy ones around Hattiesburg.  I planned to take it pretty easy for the initial miles of the bike and work into a pace later on in the morning.  I followed my plan and rode within myself - never red lined and never really got out of breath.  The scenery was nice and I saw a lot of animal friends on the course.  Saw some cute donkeys, a fat pot bellied pig, and some long horned cattle.  Never was really cold and just held back a little on the exertion because I really wanted to have a good run. At one point I saw my bike average at 18.7 but ended up with an 18.4 average. Happy with that! I followed my plan taking one Crank E-Gel (150 cals per gel) every 15 miles- starting at mile 5 (5, 20, 35, 50). I'd also mixed a multi-hour bottle of Heed to 300 calories and had the bottle marked into thirds, so I drank one third every hour. My front bottle was filled just with water which I refilled at each aid station.  I also took 3 Recover-Ease and 3 SportLegs at just past the half way point on the bike.

Into T2 with a quick dump of my bag and into my running shoes. Grabbed my hat and my gel flask filled with E-Gel!  Immediately on the run I felt my left VMO start to cramp.  Not good, this was definitely going to foul up my plan if my legs started cramping.  Stopped at a port-a-potty at just over a half mile into the run and worked on the muscle a little with some gentle tapotement. I took a couple Endurolytes and started running again - the cramp was gone!!  I had thought of a creative way to carry my electrolytes and Recover-Ease on the run - I stapled tiny jewelry sized ziplock bags onto the back of my race number with the right number of supplements in each bag.  It was SO easy to tear off a bag and rip it open!  And no more of that shaking sound of pills in a plastic container on the run!  If you like the idea Walmart sells 100 little bags for $1.00 in the craft section!  (Thank You Kenny and Sharon for picking them up!)


The run course is three loops just over 4 miles long each. The middle section was hilly and there was also a little hill at the turn around by transition.  I really liked the course.  I got to see my friends several times on the run and looked forward to seeing them on the course.  It went by much faster than I thought it would.  I planned to take the first loop out easy and had to keep slowing myself down.  I planned to pick it up on the last loop if I still had anything left in the tank.  I felt little inklings of cramping in my legs trying to start so I had to watch my step some while running.  The night before the race I taped both of my knees and my right foot with kinesio tape so I had zero pain there during the run!!  Hurray for kinesio tape!!  It was blue and I looked like I was morphing into a smurf!

Thank you Team Aquaphor and
Active Ambassadors, Timex Factory Team
and Team ICEdot!!!
At about mile 11 I knew that I was going to be able to run the entire half marathon and I started smiling.  I rarely smile in a race, but I just couldn't help it.  I was really happy - I felt like Chrissy Wellington with my happy little grin and finally understood why you smile when you have a great race.  I knew my friend Judy was going to be on the little bridge just over where you run into the coliseum and looked for her up there.  She was cheering and snapping pictures like a professional photographer!  Actually got tears in my eyes when I was finishing.  I knew I'd had a really good race.  Everything that I planned fell right into place.  My three loop paces were:  8:47 / 8:56 / 8:46 - for an 8:50 average.  My Garmin had me at a moving time of 8:45 with the adjusted distance and taking out the pit stops.




My friend Gerald Jackson!



I got to celebrate with a good friend of mine from Dallas who was racing in a relay.  Gerald is also a triathlon coach and one of people that I talked to concerning my training program that I wrote.  I saw Gerald at the expo and asked him to say "Shoulders" if he saw me on the course to remind me to keep them back and down.  Think Mirinda Carfrae's running form.  It works for me and the cue "shoulders" is all I need to make sure I maintain good running form.

I placed 2nd in my Age Group at this big race!  I couldn't be happier!!




I had several goals going into this race:


1.  30 minute swim (33:46).
2.  Run the entire Half Marathon.
3.  Finish in 5:30 (5:38:42 - included 3 pit stops).
3.  Finish on the podium (top 5 AG).

I'll take the 2 out of 4!  I had a PR and a great day and enjoyed every minute of it!
 
Austin 70.3 was my last Half Ironman distance triathlon. I saved the best for last!  My poor knees really took a beating with the training.  I want to be able to race for a few more years so the smart thing is to stick with sprint and the occasional intermediate distance races.  I wish I could do it again.


Good Friends Sharon and Kenny!
Thanks for all the miles!

Deanna finishing strong!

Great race Lesley!!

Kim looking fresh at the end of 70.3 miles!
Met Shannon on the run course!
Go Team Aquaphor!!!
Had dinner after the race with my good friend Sheri who
lives in Austin!  Haven't seen her in years!!