Monday, June 6, 2011

Racing for Recovery Half Ironman Race Recap

Yesterday I completed the Racing for Recovery Half (Ironman) Triathlon in lovely Monroe, MI. In the beginning, I sort of looked at this race as a "practice" race for Steelhead, but with Steelhead now out due to school scheduling conflicts, this race took on more importance. I had 3 goals for this race, first was to finish. Second was to finish under 6:30, and third was to have something crazy happen and be under 6 (as a math person, I knew this was highly doubtful when adding my training numbers). I wanted to be under an hour on the swim, under 3.5 on the bike, and under 2 on the run, and hoped that my amounts "under" would be long enough for me to transition.

Here it is:

On Saturday, Cristina, Mary, Robbie, and I all drove down to Monroe for a practice swim. I also needed to get my registration settled out since I was just on a list of Todd Crandal's, and not officially entered due to a computer problem of mine. I got that straightened out easily enough and they were expecting me. I also chatted with Meredith and Dave, who were also getting their packets picked up and doing a swim. This was my first OWS of the season, and was less than excited about it. It was a check the box sort of exercise. Cristina suggested we swim way further than I wanted to, going out and back diagonally instead of swimming in the shallow water parallel to shore. Whatever. Cristina knows what she is doing and if that is what she felt she needed to do, then I should probably do it as well. The water was cold, but very calm. Still, I did not like swimming and was stressed. I didn't really "freak out", because all of my OWS sort of suck like this and I still did it. Mary helped me out by staying with me. Whew, that was over, and the open water swim before the race was over. Sweet. I could go home and stress.

I was sort of crazy the rest of the evening until the kids went to bed, making sure I had everything. I did make an emergency run to REI to get a bigger bento box, which I probably should have passed on, as well as solved a series of 2 variable algebraic equations to know which mile I needed to be on when I was done with my third loop of the bike course and head back in. Yeah, I was FREAKING OUT to say the least.

I did get some decent sleep, and I woke up on my own a half hour early, which was a good thing. I used all that time to be able to get packed up without rushing. I feel like I can never be early enough to a tri, there is so much to do before the race! There is no sitting in the car listening to music just to kill time because you arrived early just to get a good parking spot like at a big marathon or half!

Cristina overslept, on the other hand, and made it down pretty late, but still on time. We got a few pre-race pictures. A big thanks to Kari M who took many of the pictures I am posting (stolen from f/b).
The Aquaphor Ladies (Cristina, Me, Becky)
Some of TIA -Robbie, Me, Cristina, Bill (we were missing Mary, and Rick wasn't racing for TIA today, well, Cristina and I weren't either..., but we didn't find either of them on the beach)
Cristina and I on the beach before the swim
The swim itself was not very fun. I did not drown, stop, or rest on a kayak/buoy, but it was hard. I didn't feel relaxed at all on the out and back portion (course went out and back, and then along the beach and back). It was supposed to be shallow enough to touch on the parts along the beach. Not for shorty me, though. I could not touch at all, not that I was planning on it, but it would have been a bit comforting to know. I did so much better from a stress standpoint on the parts parallel and spent more time really swimming instead of floating or elementary backstroke.  I did have a less bad swim than Cristina, because I was just slow.  Turns out, she got kicked in the face and got a bloody nose. I was one of the few ladies to finish after her, but was amazed that I was not the last one out of the water.
Time : 52:50
I took the transition slow, I just didn't want to mess anything up and make sure I had everything I needed for the bike. I had a cup of water and got on the bike. My only biking picture was just getting going and I am fiddling with my food that was stored under my seat. The bigger box didn't work as well as the smaller box, and I ended up emptying its contents into my pockets and turning it around. It looks like I am picking at my crotch!
The bike was very safe (slow/conservative). I felt pretty good, and at no time did I think my head was going to fall off like I did on my first 60 miler on this bike. However, I did get tired of being in aero so much, and I felt the lack of riding on this bike towards the end. My left hip flexor bothered me for much of the ride. It was at a constant pain level, where it didn't really get better or worse regardless of what I did, so I did my best to ignore it and hoped it wouldn't bother me on the run. I did notice my friend Rick (who races for Racing for Recovery) pass me, but not Cristina. I got a little worried, especially when I NEVER got lapped by her. It was a lollipop course, with 3 loops before coming back. Becky passed me and hadn't seen Cristina either (Becky was 2nd out of the water and had a strong bike). I am guessing Cristina must have been just about to pass me as I finished my second loop and she finished her third. I wasn't a huge fan of this course. It was flat, but windy, and the condition of the road was not nearly as nice as the Horsey Hundred. I scrapped the top of my mouth with the straw of my aero drink a few times since the road was so bumpy. I also stopped at the aide stations, 2 of the 3 times, to refill my aero drink from bottles they were passing out. Had I been more coordinated, I could have tried to grab one and refill it while riding. However, I felt very unstable as I approaced the aide station the first time, and just figured stopping was safer and may have been faster than trying to ride and refill at the same time. I did not refill on the second lap, and did not use my spare bottle, because I had just run out in the aero drink before hitting the station the third and final time. I probably should have, as it was starting to get hot. I felt pretty decent most of the bike. I didn't really get uncomfortable (aside from the hip) until the last few miles, when I just wanted to be done. My helmet was pushing on my sunglasses, and it was making my nose hurt. I was also thinking about how fun it would be to run after this. I am serious here, it was sunny and nice, and I was pepping myself up for getting to do a long run on a nice sunny day, just hot. I was comparing it to my long runs that I did in blizzards, and how this would be better than that. I also learned that I should have opened my gu chomps before the race. They were hard to open on the bike without making a mess or crashing. I was only able to get about half of them out of the bag. I opened it and put it back in my pocket, and then ate them out of there. Not the best, but it helped. I also switched my gu plan from miles to time. It was taking too long to get to the miles I wanted, so I just switched to gu every 45 minutes, with the chomps at the end, plus a final gu before the run. I think this worked well, I felt a little hungry on the bike, but never really had any stomach issues.
Time: 3:23:04, 16.4 mph I was pleased with this, although with more time and training, I should be able to improve. Transition was slow, my visor wanted to stick to my hair and not go on my head, and I had a tiny rock stuck to the bottom of my right foot the entire bike that I wanted to wipe off before running.

The run started out great. Once I got out of transition, I felt like a rockstar, and was running really fast! My first mile was under 8. Whoa, SLOW DOWN!!! The first 4 miles or so when really well. I did get a bit worried when one of the water stops only had heed at this point (which I poured most on myself instead of drinking, ugh), and then one had water but no more cups. When I got to a stop that had cups, I just kept it. The 5th mile had some walking, and was my first mile over 9. I actually ended up running the second half of the my first loop with some faster people's second loop, and since running is my thing, I actually was passing a lot of people, which was a big moral booster.  I was finally in a situation where I felt competitive and I was finally not all alone!  I ran into Cristina as she was passing me on her second. We ran to the next water station which was just a few feet ahead together, and she told me what happened on the swim. I couldn't stay with her for long after the stop and she was off. She was third female even with her horrible swim! I passed Rick before he finished while I was on my first lap, and I could hear them anounce his name over the PA as he finished the race and I was just starting my second loop. I still had to do this all over again! The BEST part was that I saw Ryan and the kids here. They were at the finish area, and got there in time for Cristina to finish, and see me start and end the second loop (and finish).
Here I am so happy they were there to cheer me on!
The second loop had a lot more walking in it than the first. There were not as many people, but thankfully they had replenished the water stations with more water and cups, so I did not have to worry about that anymore and could stop hoarding cups.  I had 3 at one point in time!  When I got down to the last 5K, I really wanted to run the whole thing, but did a bit of walking. It reminded me of the last 3 miles of Detroit when it was hot and I just wanted a PR under 4. This time is was get the half done under 2. If I got the run done under 2, I was going to be under 6:30 by 10 minutes, so I still had some wiggle room if I didn't quite do it. I started counting down tenths and doing splits. I was very happy that I got my act together on the final mile and ran it in 8:31. I also caught one lady in my age group right before the end to gain one spot overall.  I am a little bummed that I didn't run with Keira and Soren across the finish line, but I didn't think about it until I saw other people doing it in pictures after. I didn't even think to mention it to Ryan beforehand. Since it was not an IRONMAN brand, they allowed this. I am just glad that they came to the finish. It is not easy to watch them at a race.
Run time: 1:57:53- HECK YEAH!!! My run was faster than 2/3 of the people there, women AND men! I was pretty pleased with that to say the least. I think Cristina and Meredith were the only people that I knew well that had faster run times than me. Go ME.
Finish Time 6:18:21
I just needed to lay down when I finished. However, I needed to get out of the sun and the kids needed me. They were ready to have Mommy back, and Keira needed to go to the bathroom a couple times. I finally got my stuff and we didn't stay for awards or the raffle. The kids and I were ready to go home. It was a great day, and while I am happy with the way I did, I know that I can make improvements, which is also good. My swim and bike have a LONG way to go, and I know I have a better run in me. As far as placing goes, well, I didn't do so well. I was last in my age group on the swim, but there were 10 people that I was ahead of (men and women). The bike I was 9th out of 12 in my age group, but I was 5th in my age group on the run. I was 9th in my age group overall, and was 26th out of 42 women. 

Here are a few final post race shots:  Me and Cristina, and Meredith and Me.
I was really glad I had so many friends there. Kari did a fabulous job cheering everyone and getting some great photographs. Kristel came out and did the sprint race, her first tri in years after being plagued by injury. Colleen and Anna came out to cheer on Mary, who did AWESOME, placing 3rd in her age group and going sub 6 in her first half. Meredith did great, and you can read her recap here. Robbie finished a little after me. Bill, unfortunately crashed his bike and is going to be out for the next 8 weeks with a broken collarbone. Ouch! He broke his collarbone last year too, but in a different spot.

It will be interesting to see how I fair in my next event, a sprint tri. I know I should be able to kill the run at least, and hopefully do well on the bike. The swim could be a crap-shoot, especially since I doubt I will get to wear a wetsuit or have another shot at an OWS before it.  I am not sure if I want to do the "elite" start or not. After this race, I am not feeling very "elite", but my time from last year has me qualified for it. Decisions, decisions. I need to see how I feel over the next few days and hopefully get that figure out.


Richelle said...

Nice work! I want to do a tri someday, but I don't think I'd like getting kicked or hit by the other swimmers. What if I got knocked out?

Anonymous said...

Congrats! Great job on finishing. It is such a great feeling.

fancy nancy said...

Great job!!! I think anyone who does these are amazing!!

Leah @ Chasing Atalanta said...

Congrats on great race!

Big Daddy Diesel said...

Congrats on your first 70.3!!! YOu freaking rock!!

Colleen said...

Congrats on a great first 70.3. Hey, it was PR day! :)

Meredith said...

My first 70.3 I was scared to death. And now I've done 4 of them. You learn so much with each triathlon you do and find ways to make things easier. I think you did a great job!

Some things I do to help me on the bike...I always bite my straw so that it doesn't scrape your mouth. It's pretty cheap to replace your straw when you need to (from biting it). Also, I always take my gu chomps or whatever nutrition I'm using and I put it in snack-sized ziploc bags. It makes it easy to open and eat out of. Some things that have helped me, anyway.

Great job Melissa!

Anonymous said...

Incredible race. Your doing great!