Friday, May 21, 2010

Return of the Hugo

Bike Wars and The Hub Strikes Back were other considerations for the title. Tomorrow will be the second time that A and I head out east and do the Hugo Road Race.

The first time was back in 2005 and it our first road bike race. Back then, we had these silly notions that a long road race (~65 miles (The course is longer this time at 78 miles. )) would be easy, since we were triathletes. This was even before we started doing Ironmans, so our longest time spent on a bike while racing was 56 miles. We didn't really know that a strong sustained output means very little when you are in the middle of a pack. Fortunately, we were used to riding with packs, but not packs that go very slow for a while and very fast the next moment. Anyways, getting ahead of myself.

So, we drove to Hugo, get our numbers, warmed up a bit and headed our separate ways (don't remember who started first). Since we weren't on a bike team, I felt a bit surrounded by all the team kits.

The race started and everyone settled in for the first bit at a pretty mellow pace. I at least knew to ride in the first part of the pack in case it split. What I didn't know is how easy it is to move from the front of the pack to the back of the pack, if you're not paying attention. I swear I went from 20th place (good) to 85th place (not good) in about 5 minutes. 85th wouldn't be all that bad if the pace was steady, but we had a nice accordion effect going on over every little rise. At one point we went by a crash that had occurred in the one of the groups in front of us.

I think I was able to move up a bit before the first turn, but it didn't matter much as I was not ready for the sudden acceleration up the first decent sized hill that occurred there. Instantly, I was losing ground. By the top, I was able to get up to better speed and started gaining on the main group. A few riders were able to get on my wheel and after a bit we started working together towards the group.

And then, the back of my bike started making bad sounds with lots of friction. I stopped and tried to figure out if I had broken a spoke. Nope, the spokes were fine, but three of them had come out of the cracked hub. I looked at my computer and realize I was half way into the race course, lovely. I also hadn't seen the follow car (which had stopped for the earlier crash). So, I started walking. About 10 to 15 minutes later, the follow car came up and I was able to get another wheel. With the new wheel, I headed back by myself, getting passed occasionally by other groups. Felt pretty lonely. I ended up 90th out of 92nd, so much for being a studly triathlete.

A ended up 10th out of 20 or so. She dropped chain at the first corner and lost the main group on the climb.

Now (five years later), we're headed back to Hugo. A little bit faster and a little bit wiser. Still expect to suffer, but hopefully no broken hubs this time.

Peace Out,

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Deer Trail Road Race report

This last Sunday, I did something a little crazy: I did a bike race only 2 weeks after an ironman. In my defense, the plan was to get in about a 2 hour ride of moderate intensity anyways, I figured I could sign up for the race, ride in the pack, and work for my team mates as needed, either pulling, attacking, or blocking.

There were 6 of us SW4 (senior women, category 4, beginners) racing for GS Boulder Trek. Four of us live in Boulder. I have a station wagon that fits 4 people and a rack on top that can take 4 bikes, so I volunteered to drive. The plan was for the other 3 to all meet at Tasha's house, I would pick them up there, and we would roll out at 6 am since we had ~1.5 h to drive and an early start time. I have been avoiding coffee to try and fix any potential problems with not sleeping after my IM St. George race week was so out of whack, but decided to have a travel-mug's worth today since it was a race. Good call! E makes the BEST coffee, it was perfect. It made the early timing of our plan seem very manageable.

The plan got a little interesting when I was ~5 min late (still the first to Tasha's house), then discovered that the 4th bike tray on the roof rack was stuck and didn't want to secure latch onto the last bike we were loading. We had just gotten a new tool kit for the car, but it was still so new it was zip-tied shut. Then as Tasha was getting me the kitchen sheers to work on the zip-tie removal, Ninety, the cat, escaped from the house and hid under the neighbor's car. The three of them coaxed Ninety out with some string and a few cat toys while I "persuaded" the skewer lever to turn and tighten with a crescent wrench. Then we loaded up and rolled out, only ~10 min later than planned.

As we left Boulder, Tasha called Jacqui, who we were meeting at the next exit. She was driving solo to the race and we figured we could send one of us over to ride with her to enliven the ride. Soon were were pulling into the Conoco station, our meeting place. Jacqui was not there yet, so I topped off the gas (I had this weird sensation that we were driving way out into the boonies and should have a full tank of gas to start the trip). Still no Jacqui. Virg ran in to use the restroom. Still no Jacqui. I went to use the restroom. Still no Jacqui. Shortly after that, though, she rolled up, we redistributed passengers, and we were off. The rest of the drive was uneventful.

Once we got into Deer Trail, we followed the signs to race parking, then snagged two spots on the street, right up-road from the start line. A foot race for the two porta-potties ensued between Tasha and Virg, but neither won as both potties were occupied. I was the last of our group over to the toilets and by the time I got there, there was quite a line. It was moving slowly, so I ended up standing there for about 20 minutes. A query of the other racers informed us that there were more toilets a few blocks away at registration, but only another 2, so I hung out in line. I was getting ancy though, I still had to register, pin my jersey, dress, spin out the legs some and try to warm-up, and get to the start line early.

I eventually made it to the toilet, was quite productive thanks to the long wait, threw on my kit, quickly got through registration, pinned both my numbers on with ease, and discovered I had no race socks, just pre- and post-race socks (long, wool). Our parking neighbor lent me a pair (what a sweety, thanks Jen, you are a great stranger-turned-new friend). Then I threw on some sunscreen and headed to the start area, there had not been time to warm up! Ugg.

At the start, we rolled through town (about 3 bocks, including one 90 degree turn), bopped under the interstate, then headed out to the course. The course is a big L-shape and we were riding the bottom line of the L first heading East, then turn back and do the back of the L heading North, then turn back and repeat the bottom of the L, ending about 4 miles from the corner of the L after a third 180 degree turn around. All of it is pretty good road surface, but filled with rolling hills. And it is open prairie, so there can be great wind out there too.

E raced here last year and told me that his group still was in a big pack at the first 180 degree turn, causing him to have to slow enough for the turn that he had to unclip from a pedal. He warned us to try and be at the front for that first turn to avoid the same thing from happening. Jacqui and Lorna took that to heart and made a small break from the pack once we got out on the main roads. The pack let them go for a bit. I was sitting dead center from front to back and tucked away on the right. Soon I was ancy to get closer to the front so I could cover any attacks and see how everyone was riding. I had no thought of getting to the front of the pack with my girls up there off the front, but I also wanted to be up closer to the front and where it was more open and safer. Soon a small gap appeared on my left and I merged into the middle line, then again out to the left when a slot opened. With a bit more work, I was sitting 3rd row back on the left - perfect. We had a slight tailwind and were rolling along nicely.

There was a solo attack that we let go. She was soon absorbed back into the pack, and Jacqui and Lorna remained in front. Then a girl from Pro Design moved and the leaders moved to cover. Before long, we caught the two GS Boulder girls out front, but they seamlessly swung into our group. We rolled along. Somewhere before the first turn the pack split and I was in a group of 10-15 (we had a field of 53 starters) at the front. Our group would change leaders, some of the taller and bigger girls were naturally coming forward on the down hills and the better climbers would lead the uphills. I took a few pulls at the front to do my share, but was not in the mood to do too much work yet. Then when the first turn came in sight, I put in a bit more effort and made it to the turn first for a nice, clean swing around the orange traffic cone.

I looked over my shoulder and realized I had intentionally dropped the pack coming out of the turn. We were now going down hill so I soft pedaled and let them catch me. I did not want to do too much work yet, and we had a bit of a headwind in front of us. As we rolled onward, I tried to pull, then back off. I found myself working on the front more than I wanted, but the legs felt pretty good, so I went with it. After one of the harder uphills, Jacqui rolled up on my left and asked how I was doing. I felt pretty toasted at that exact moment from the small climb we had just summitted, but I panted out "I'm doing OK" and we rolled on.

The bit right before the corner of the L is a false flat that is actually downhill. I was pulling here and very aware of the fact that we were going pretty slow. I felt good, and no one wanted to come around as the wind was shifting to the north and I was providing a great block to anyone wanting to echelon off my rear wheel. To minimize this, I was riding right in the very middle of the road, but there was chatter of feeling great and not having to work going on behind me. I figured I'd pull to the corner, get through that cleanly, then let the others take their turns (I had just been in front for my "turn").

We made the turn and I tried to fall back. This sort of worked, but I was always near the front somehow. I was good at finding excellent draft pockets, though, even off of the tiny girls, and I used them fully. Then, as we rolled along with no-one really committed to working and trying to keep the pace up, I glanced over my shoulder and saw that the follow car was right behind us, and behind them was a chase pack of another 10-15 girls. We were about to get caught. Virg was in this group and it sounds like she had then echeloning and working together as champs. She soon rolled to the front of our group and tried to get the same system working, but either no one got it, or no one cared enough to take their turn and the front and use the power of the group to battle the leftish headwind (NNW) that was slowing us down. It was a bit unorganized.

I took a self evaluation and realized I felt good, I was riding strong, and I might have a shot at placing well by the finish. So much for helping out a team mate for this race! Sorry guys. I began to plot where/when I should make my move to try and drop the field. I knew my advantage would be in a longer lead out rather than a field sprint, so I figured I should go somewhere before the last 90 degree turn and last out-n-back, so with about 13-15 miles to go or so.

As I mused on this more, we rolled up to the second (of 3) 180 degree turns and I executed it the same way as before, only this time I put my head down, stood up, and made a small surge before the turn to get some clean space on the road to do the turn.

A glance over the shoulder after the turn told me I had a gap, and in a split second I decided to go for it and see if I could hold this all the way to the finish. A few things told me this might just work: 1) I felt really, really, good and had been able to cover any moves made already by the girls in the race, 2) we now had a tailwind, so riding in the pack became a smaller advantage to me being out front solo, 3) they were NOT organized, 4) I had Jacqui and Virg in the pack and knew they would not work to catch me, 5) I had 20-22 miles to go, that is about an hour of hard riding, I can do that! I was also testing them to see if they would try and work together and chase or let me go. If they caught me, then the game would change, but if they didn't, I was free to ride hard, stomp the hills, use my weight on the downhills, corner cleanly, and hope to high heaven that I did not blow up.

One girl did bridge up to me, but the pack seemed to let us go. I pulled her for a while, then she took a pull, then I went to pull again and dropped her. She was breathing very, very hard, so I let her go. The draft had been nice, but waiting for her would only get me caught. I used the hills and tailwind fully and tried to find a line with less bumps (this was the only bumpy section of the course). I also knew that the finish would be into a cross-head wind, so I tried to save something back for that section, where the pack would have an advantage on a solo rider.

All was well until about 2 miles before the last 180 degree turn when I saw another solo rider approaching. She caught me quickly and then just kept going. I was fading slightly , missed her wheel, and she was gone. She did re-light my fire, though, and I stepped on the gas and tore it up to the finish. In then end, I was ~1.5 minutes back from the winner and another ~1 minute in front of third. Two more small packs (4th through 7th, then 8th through 11th) rolled in about 1.5 minutes later. Virg ended 8th, Jacqui was 13th, and Tasha, Lorna, and Janey were back a bit further. All in all, it was a great day for GS Boulder SW4s and GS Boulder overall (another 2nd and 8th in the SW1-2 and a win in the SM4).

We rolled back into town, changed into dry clothes, checked results, picked up awards (3 random bottles of beer and a single Lara Bar), and tried to get milkshakes at the Dairy Hut, but they were closed. We wanted to support the town for hosting the race, but weren't up for waiting for Brick Oven Pizza, so we hit the grocery section at the gas station then headed back to Boulder.

Once I dropped everyone off, it was time to start thinking about our second, easy ride for the day. E and I spun up to Niwot and then out onto 95th. It was a great evening ride, the mountains were gorgeous and from up there you get a great view, and the legs needed an easy spin.

We had been planning an easy spin into town to check out a new pizza restaurant, Basta, but decided to BBQ some chicken at home instead and then go out on Monday night. This was a good call since Basta is currently closed on Sunday's, according to their website. In the end it was a great idea, though, very, very yummy! We'll be back, and next time it will likely be by bike.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Race Report Follow Up

Hi. I forgot a few things yesterday. Here goes.....


Thank you to those who read this blog! Your interest and support is priceless. Thank you to my parents and to Sunny, the first two phone calls I got after finishing. It was great to talk to you 3 and share some thoughts and feelings while they were still fresh. Thanks for your love, your support, your belief in me (and E), and your understanding at how silly I must have sounded after nearly 12 hours of movement. Thanks to my two sisters, too, who were interested all along the way and kept me grounded in reality with your phone calls, emails, and facebook updates. Thank you to E, my love, my biggest fan, my supporter, and my training partner. It was neat to share another IM (training and the race) with you.

Thanks to coach J for keeping us focused and getting us to a May 1 IM after a snowier-than-normal winter, while keeping us challenged, and full of joy at the lifestyle this sport has given to us. Thanks to Kerrie for the neoprene caps: no ice cream headache for us during the swim. Thanks to Wolfgang and Curt (and my awesome lanemates) for good challenging swims every week. Thanks to Izzy-dog, a great run partner.

Things that went well:

Clothing/shoes/gear: I wore my new 2XU tri shorts and Oomph top (lots of compliments on the green stripes during the run) and they worked great all day. Full sleeve wetsuit (duh!) and neoprene cap (little bit of neck chafage from one of these, but not noticeable until the day after), speedo vanquisher goggles: all worked flawlessly. Regular bike shoes with toe covers and smartwool socks (slower than tri shoes, but my bike shoes are more comfy and that mattered for a 112 mi ride), aerohelmet, big Rudy Project sunglasses (the mono-lens, but good optics and wind protection), cheap socks as arm warmers, knee warmers, and gloves: I was bundled up and less aero, but never overheated nor got too cold, I was just ready to get down to work and ride my bike. I shed the gloves, arm and knee warmers, and changed socks for the run. I also wore my Nike Lunar Glides (training shoe, not racing flat, but a good call with the pounding downhills on that course). Visor, fresh sunglasses, and fuel belt and I was ready to rock the run. I really liked having my hands free as I often carry a hand-strapped water bottle for water and ice if it is hot.

Bike: my bike (Javelin Lugano) rocks right now! It fits well, rides solid and fast, and is comfortable. I was geared well for the climbing and was able to descend in the crosswinds with no issues. All thanks to the great fit from Ryan Ignatz and Colorado Multisport! Wheels were 50 mm rims, no disc and rode well on that course.

Peeing: It is an ironman, it happens. I peed once in the water before the start, once during the swim, 4 times on the bike, and once while running. Now you know.... And now you know why all volunteers wear disposable gloves at an ironman.

The finish line: crossing it is amazing (a bit of a blur this year, but very satisfying), but coming back to it after a shower and some food and watching the people who finish near midnight is awesome. I always get very excited for them and a bit emotional at the whole experience. This time was no exception.

Nutrition: Carbopro-nuun (concentrate) for calories, water on the bike and run courses, and some addition of nuun (regular concentration) to my front aerobottle during the bike. 2-3 salt capsules on the run and one cup of Gatorade with less than 3 miles to run. Worked the best yet of anything I have tried, but there is some room for improvement here....

Things that still need work:

Nutrition: Despite following practiced timing for water and calories, I still had a bit of a sloshy/gasy tummy at the end of the bike and start of the run. This held me up a bit every now and then as my run pace slowed to allow me to maintain control of my innards without using a porta-potty for a pit stop. It all ended well on that count, but I want to run without the water-belly someday. It is just weird to hear yourself sloshing. Weird. I also want to not gain multiple pounds during an ironman. Yup, MULTIPLE pounds. This time it was only 5.5, not the 8 I saw at the last two IM Canadas and IM AZ (April 2008), but that is extra weight to lug around AND calories/water that is not getting to my muscles. I was getting into a bonk the last 2+ miles of the run, yet I had gained a little weight during the day. My stomach was acting as gate keeper and had decided to close down that boarder crossing for the day. I have tried everything osmotically possible to keep it processing fuel and fluids, and was regularly peeing throughout the race (a good sign of progress), yet I still was fighting this frustrating problem. After I finish an ironman, things start to work again and I will have to pee every 30 minutes until my system is back to normal (a few hours, normally). This year I was back to normal sooner, but still, I need to figure this out and fix it. Any thoughts? Anyone? I'm doing about 200-250 kcal per hour with ~24-30 oz of fluids (normal strength nuun mostly or straight water) on the bike, same calories with 1-2 cups water at each run aid station. This is not excessive.

Race anxiety: I'll be honest, I think I'm fixing this, but I'm not so sure that is true. I never, ever had a problem with this until I was doing my second IM in 2007 at age 29. I have been racing since middle school and at a high level since high school and college with no problems. In 2002 I raced age group worlds in Cancun, no problem. Since 2007, all "big and important" races will cause me a moment (or longer) of panic. I am sure that is why my sleep was disrupted for so many nights before the race this year. I even slept poorly our last night at home before our trip even started. This time the whole thing was subtler than some of my full-blown panic attacks of the past, but it was VERY annoying, seemed to streach on FOREVER, and was not conducive to good race prep. Self-talk of "it is just a race" and "getting nervous only makes it worse" and "RELAX!" did not change anything, not for a moment. Any help on this one from blog-land? How do I get my confidence in check (and not get cocky) so I can keep from being my own worst enemy?

OK, I knew I forgot a few things yesterday as soon as I hit "publish post" but I think that's all for now. Let me know if you have any suggestions for my "needs improvement" items...


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A's race report: IM UT 2010

Where to start? After all, this is an ironman race report, and an ironman is a fairly epic day. Then again, it is also just a race (sorry, just started to read Three Cups of Tea and it is hard to take a silly race to seriously with that as a counter reference). Anyways...... I'll make this a race report to me, again, so I can continue the learning process.

This race I have had trouble sleeping, and only got one good, solid, over-7-hour night of sleep in the 5 nights before the race. I was feeling fresh and fairly rested, but was slightly unnerved by this unusual turn of events. It is something I'd like to prevent in the future, and may even consider OTC sleeping pills if it happens again. Normally, once my head hits the pillow, I'm sweetly dreaming nearly instantly.

Race Morning:
Anyways, when the alarm went off at 3:30, I was not as fast to rise as I might be with better sleep, but soon I was dressing in my chosen race apparel, sloshing on the first layer of sunscreen, and donning my warm, warm, warm warm-ups while downing some instant oatmeal, coffee, and apple juice. I pocketed a large banana and a peanut butter packet, and grabbed my transition bag, which was already loaded for the 4 drop-offs I needed to make: special needs bike, special needs run, T2, and stuff for T1. Luckily, I also remembered to stuff my wetsuit in there the night before, it had almost been left neatly hanging in the closet.

We got onto our school bus, got a seat together near the front, then were moving out into the dark morning on the ride out to Sand Hallow State Park. I was a bit wound up and the chatter of the other passengers was making me a bit nervous, but soon the bright lights of the transition area came into view and we were unloading into the cold morning air. Bathroom, air in tires, bottles/fuel on bike, more sunscreen (including sharing some with a QT2 girl and Beth) and it was time to shimmy into the wetsuit and drop off the morning clothes bag. Then we joined the other racers and moved towards the beach.

As soon as we were able (shortly after the pro start) E and I waded into the chilly water and swam a few strokes away from shore. It was cold, but we soon adjusted and swam some more to further acclimatize and warm up. By the time we had 5 minutes to go, we moved to the second row of starters, all the way out to the left, by the blue kayak. All was well until the guy next to me decided to tread water using a breast-stroke kick and clobbered me with every whip of his feet, I moved left and avoided him. Then the cannon fired and we were off.

The swim: 1:06:14
The course was a counter-clockwise rectangle. My swim was uneventful for the first two sides of the course, but then I seemed to want to veer right (outside of the race course) on the 3rd side. There was also a light chop here coming from the front/right side during this section. By the time I was nearing the island we swam around I had to pee, but try as I might that did not seem likely to happen. Then, as I rounded the island and was leaving it for shore, I was finally able to find some relief, and warmth in my suit, as my bladder relaxed enough to empty itself.

T1: 6:29
Up the carpeted boat ramp, through the wet suit peelers, grabbed my bag, and fast baby steps on my Popsicle feet into the women's change tent. It was already crowded! I glanced at my watch somewhere in between setting out my socks, shoes (already wearing their toe covers), helmet, and glasses and saw 1:11. SLOW! Oh, well, time to try and force the tight knee and arm warmers onto my wet skin and get moving. I got a volunteer to help in the tug of war with my clothing and she even helped me don my full-fingered gloves before I stuffed my feet into my bike shoes, clipped on my number belt, and tossed the aerohelmet and sunglasses onto my head. Then I was running toward my bike. The volunteer there to grab it for me was not ready, but since I was the first bike on the rack, right by the isle, I just grabbed it myself and kept moving. After the mount line I tried a flying mount (practiced all fall during cyclocross) but only managed to knock off my rear water bottle, which I needed for later on. I retrieved the potential escapee, mounted successfully, and rode onward.

The bike: 6:25:38
I got on the bike and started to motor. I felt good, but very chilly in my still-wet race top and shorts. I was safely and legally passing lots of people, and trying to get in some liquids. Soon I found my rhythm and we were out of the park and onto the roads into Hurricane. I tried to settle in and find a strong steady pace since were were in for a nice hard bike ride and I wanted a chance at a good run afterwards. E passed me while we were on the frontage road to I-15 at about mile 20 of the bike (right before starting to climb up Red rocks Parkway). This was earlier than expected, but I had a slower-than-normal swim, so I tried to not let it get in my head and just tried to keep him in sight along with a girl from my age group that had just passed me and was keeping speed with him. They slowly pulled away from me, though, and soon I could not spot E's race suit up ahead. She would come back to me, he did not. Onward we motored.

I was fueling well and my the aid station in Santa Clara I was dropping bottles and picking up water to fill my front bottle and mix into the rotation with my concentrated nuun-carbopro solution. By the time we were passing the village on the Indian reservation I had to pee again, and luckily there is a downhill right after that where I was able to do so.

The remainder of the first loop and the entire second loop were not too eventful. I survived the 4 cattle guard crossings in each loop, picked up a bottle, or two, of water at all but one aid station each loop, took in the right amount of calories every 30 min, got warmer, got chilly, got warmer again, did not grab my special needs bag, and bombed that lovely downhill as fast as I could. We did not race on the disc wheels, and that was likely a good call with the crosswinds on the decent, but the rest of the course could have gone either way, nothing was very, very steep or excessively bumpy (I did not like the bumpy patched sections, but they were no worse than CO-36 between Boulder and Lyons). The most interesting parts were 1) when an older male racer passed me going uphill and exclaimed "you make the scenery even better," 2) climbing the steep, but short, hill after Gunlock and having another racer say "this must be the wall" to which I replied "Oh no, no, no, just wait, the wall is loooonger," and 3) looking at my Garmin at one point and trying to do math which had me figuring on being lucky to break 8 hours on the bike (I biked slow, but not THAT slow).

T2: 3:33
The end came quicker than I expected and I ended up leaving my shoes on my feet and running with them into the change tent. My volunteer was awesome. I tried to pick up my bag of gear as I was running through the isles of transition bags, but she already had it and carried it for me into the change area. I forgot to take off the knee warmers before tying my shoes but was able to bunch them up and get them off in one quick motion. I decided to run in my training shoes (Nike Lunar Glides) and to tie the normal laces rather than using elastic race laces because they fit better and don't move that way. I grabbed my visor, fresh sunglasses, fuel belt with one concentrated bottle of carbopro-nuun, and ditched the heart rate monitor and strap since they weren't reading and since I didn't want them for the run. Then I was off and running.

The run: 3:58:36
I had some goals for the run: run the whole thing (no walking), nutrition (and no potty stops), and set a PR. I did all 3! I also wanted to run between 3:30 and 3:40, that did not happen this time, but I gained some major confidence which will roll with me into the next race where I hope to tackle this last goal. I started out thinking of light feet and finding a rhythm for the first 2 miles. Then I just kept plugging away. At the turn around on the first loop, I felt good, and just focused on holding steady back into town and running, not shuffling. I was hot most of the first loop and grabbed plenty of ice-cold sponges at every aid station and drank a cup or two of water at each, too.

At the ~11 mile mark, as I was heading into the Ford Inspirational Mile for the first time up in the golf course parking lot, Sully (Eric Sullivan) passed me on his way to the finish (and an AG overall win) and proclaimed "today, we are LIONS!" With that thought in my head, I soldiered on, strong and fierce.

As I moved through special needs at ~12.9 miles, I grabbed another fuel belt bottle and left the extra clothes. At the halfway point, you swing intoxicatingly close to the finish line as you run a circle around a round-about in the road, then you head back out for lap 2. All was proceeding as planned, and a quick glance at the watch told me that if I held the same pace, I'd break 4 h and PR for the run. With that happy thought, I found my focus and began to slay the final lap of my marathon and my ironman. It hurt. A lot. There were times when my sloshy stomach slowed me a bit, but as soon as I could, I picked it back up. And my body, and mind, let me do it this time. I started to get COLD and stopped taking sponges. I considered the chicken broth, just for warmth, but passed that up in fear of botching my still-working-just-fine-thank-you-very-much nutrition. I passed a lot of people out there, and was passed myself by faster racers, too. I saw E, Beth, many of the women's pro field, Sandy Cranny, and offered encouragement and cheers where I could. And I focused. I knew I was moving much slower than I had hoped for, but I was moving, and did not stop once, not one step, to walk and let my tummy settle. I ended up taking in 2-3 salt pills between miles 18 and 23 as I noticed some crusty residue on my clothes, and I felt good, just tired and sore up until mile 24, then I was getting really cold, tingly, and my arms got stiff and my hands stopped working.

Just before mile 24 I grabbed a cup of Gatorade, then nothing more for nutrition until after the finish line. The turn and hill up to the loop in the golf course parking lot was not too bad the last time through, but the decent back to Diagonal Road and the long straight away to Main Street were PAINFUL. I was progressing to zombie status and knew I needed to get to that finish as fast as possible. I was glad Diagonal road was all a gentle downhill and I tried to pick up my feet and float down hill as fast as I could. The turn onto Main Street was blissfully sweet as the finish line was now in sight and the grade became steeper, almost letting the road propel me there with no more effort required. As I headed into the finish chute, I pumped my fist twice in triumph of a race executed as planned. What JOY!

Total: 11:40:30
After crossing the finish line, all I wanted was a massage. My lower calves were trashed and my back was uber-tight. My catchers asked for my t-shirt size and I said "small" which has worked 5 times before, but this time they were giving out synthetic-fabric shirts that are sized smaller than the normal cotton ones and a small is really, really, really small. I think it is women-specific in cut, so I should probably have a large. This one might be going to my nearly 2-year-old niece for dress-up, as it won't fit on any adult I know. Then I walked on towards massage and food. I got on the massage list and grabbed two pieces to cold pizza (I thought it would be hot, it was not, ugg). Then I spotted E and I melted. The day was done. I was tired to the core (and wondering how all my gear was getting back to our hotel, a mere 3 -4 blocks away).

We eventually made it to the hotel, dropped our stuff off (and made a mini-tornado in our room, at least that is what the evidence suggested), showered, and headed to Nielsens for Frozen custard Concretes before they closed. Best. Post-race. Food. EVER. Especially the chocolate-almond concrete (like a DQ blizzard, but WAY better). Then we headed back to the hotel and I napped lightly while E puffy-panted in the NormaTec MVP.

He told me I was 7th in my age group, less than 12 min out of third, and I started to get sad. Could I have gone harder? Should I have biked faster? Could I have "given it" more on the run? Luckily, I have one more chance to go for it at Lake Placid in July.

It has been over a week now and my recovery is going well. I bounced back faster than average for every-day-feeling-good kind of activities, but still detect an endurance cap on my run and cycle fitness. My swim is going well (maybe even faster than before the race?) and the run/bike are coming around, I just feel no need (nor have any need) to go very fast right now, at least for another few days.

And that, my friends, summarizes my race pretty well, right down to the after-effects of elation, then self doubt, then motivation to go "no holds barred" and give it my all at Lake Placid in a few (10.5, but who's counting) weeks.

Finally, St. George was a great town, with great people, for an Ironman. We have planned to take a break from Ironman for a bit after 2010, but both agreed that we would be willing to race here again. It was fair, hard course, and we both felt that we have some unfinished business with the course and want another chance at the challenge it offers.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

E's IMSTGUT race report

First off, everything on the 5287 different things you could buy with the IM logo on it called the race Ironman St George Utah. So, IMSTGUT seems like a good acronym for the race.

Leading up to the race, the weather forecast looked great. Barely no winds (<10 mph) and a high temp in the mid 60's. Honestly, I was hoping for snow to freeze all of those from warmer states.

Pre-race went pretty well. We got up especially early due to the required bus ride out to the swim start and had breakfast in our room although our motel started their breakfast at 4 am just for the race. We then walked the couple of blocks from our motel to the buses. The bus ride was mellow and we had plenty of time to get the tires pumped up and the sunscreen on.

Once the pro's went off, A and I headed into the water although we first had to break through the ice. Okay, it wasn't that cold, but it cold enough that I needed a few minutes to get my breathing to be normal. We waded out towards the start line and could see a lot of people hanging out on land. We could barely hear the announcer but the 15 minutes between the two start seemed to take about 30. Eventually, we got a warning that the start was imminent.

Swim: 1:09:55
The swim started pretty brutally, but that is to be expected. In a couple of minutes though, it cleared up around me. I enjoyed that for about another minute until it got very congested again. That was the general theme for the first half of the swim. The worst was when somebody's watch or something cut my foot. Fortunately my foot was half numb from the cold and it didn't hurt much later, but it still hurt like hell at the time. Also got a good kick to the goggles, but was luckily a glancing blow. Sighting to the first turn was pretty easy, but then we turned directly into the rising sun. That section was pretty short and then we turned onto the longest section. Felt pretty good for the first part of that section, but then got into a funk. My goggles started giving me a headache, my head was too hot, my feet were too cold, etc. Made my way past the island and to the final turn. I tried to start kicking more, but having numb feet didn't help much. Got out and saw the timing sign say 1:24 or something. I really hoped that it was still on the pro's time (which it was). So, another 1:09:XX swim. 415th place for the swim suggests that it was a "slow" swim since I have been in the 600's or 700's for similar times at Canada. Going to the excel spreadsheet shows that A has been 268th for the swim at IM AZ '08 with a 1:03:11, 261th at IM CA '08 with a 1:03:35, and 236th at IM CA '09 with a 1:01:3
and 263th at IMSTGUT with a 1:06:14. I'm going to stick with it was a slow swim.

T1: 6:39
That was one crowded change tent. Putting on disposable arm-warmers (cheap socks from Target with the toes cut out) was slow, but handy.

Bike: 6:03:48
The bike starts with a nice little cruise back into town. I passed a lot of people and got passed by some people. I was surprised to see A on the way into town, but she said that she had a bad swim. The last thing you can do on the first 25 miles of the race is fall asleep. The road is bumpy, there are about 72 turns and the speed differentials between the riders made it pretty interesting. Once out of town and onto the country roads, I settled into my pace. The road surfaces on the climb were pretty bad, but the scenery and varied slopes were good distractions. On the steep little climb up the reservoir, I noticed one guy really struggling to get any turn over and informed him that he was still in his big ring. His reply was "Just trying to stretch out the legs." Yeah, right. At the pie shop, we got a nice little tailwind and much better roads. At the volcano, we got a nice little downhill. The crosswinds kept me pedaling for increased stability (hit 49.8 mph at one point).

Got back into town to start the second loop and felt some soreness in the legs, so I decided to back it off a notch for the second loop. I think the winds picked up a bit, but still wasn't too bad. The second loop went by very similar to the first except the field was even more spread out. Very little drafting observed, but even less officiating. There was a little group of guys ahead of me that were switching off drafting and even crossing the yellow line with a official watching them. Still, much better than at Canada. The lack of traffic on the roads were a nice change from Canada as well.

The downhill on the bike was a little more sketchy as there were riders on their first lap who were taking it nice and easy on the descents. Headed into T2 by taking it pretty easy.

T2: 4:06
T1 was full (at least 100 guys?), 2 guys in the change tent in T2.

Run: 3:51:54
Tried to stay relaxed for the first climb out of town. Picked up the pace on the rolling section at the top of the course but still kept it under control. Hit a little energy low about 4 miles in, but got some calories in and felt better pretty quickly. Hit the turn around and headed back.

Of the two little side loops, the first (and shorter?) one was worse as you just run up to a parking lot and head back out. The other at least is on this cool little trail.

Didn't expect that the uphill on the way back as hard as it was, but the downhill into town was fun although the legs were hurting pretty well by that point. Hit the turn around in town and headed back for round 2.

On the second loop, it was nice to know that the higher of the two mileage markers applied. There were a lot more "runners" on the course which wasn't a problem most of the time. I did get a snarky reply when I asked two guys to move over when they were blocking the way on the first side loop, but I let it go knowing that it wasn't worth giving any reply. Felt pretty good although I had a few more energy lows and started to slow a bit.

Fully ignored the pain heading back into town for the last time and picked up the pace. Finished all alone as there was a minute between the guy in front of me and a minute to the next guy.

Finish: 11:16:23
Well, it wasn't a PR so it must be bad. Just kidding. I'm proud of the effort I gave and raced decently well. Maybe I should have been more conservative on the first loop of the bike, but I don't think it would have changed my time much. I fueled well. I hydrated well. I thanked a lot of volunteers during the day. I raced honestly. I finished. On to Lake Placid.

Monday, May 3, 2010

E' quick update

A and I are on the way home from the race. In general, we are both satisfied with how things went and are excited to get ready for Placid. Both of us thought that we would come back to St George, if we get back into IM racing. Not sure how many actually started, but since only 1634 finished, the course isn't for everybody.

Brief thoughts:
The swim was cold and I again swam a 1:09:xx. The bike course was hilly and pretty technical from the 4 cattle guards, many turns, rough surfaces, and cross winds. I went out with a stronger effort on the first loop thinking that the way back into town would be good rest, but the legs didn't feel that good at the start of the second, so I backed off a bit. For the run, tried to maintain a steady effort, but had a couple of lulls in energy. Slowed a bit on the 2nd loop, but finished well.

Although I have my issues with IM branded races, the finish line near midnight is something worth being a part of, so A and I went back after cleaning up and having frozen custard. It was great to see the crowd still there after such a long day.

Anyways, we're on the way home and I couldn't sleep anymore because of my legs, but A is up now, so it is time for some breakfast.

Peace out,