Saturday, July 27, 2013

2013 Tree Farm Relay Race Recap

Team Tutu Bellas completed their 5th consecutive Tree Farm Relay!  We did this race last year too, although I realized I don't think I ever did a race recap for it.  It has been really fun to keep our same team over the years.  This is another one of those "races you always do races".  It has really grown over the years.  It used to be a given that we would place too because we could easily beat the Hella Bellas.  Last year we narrowly took 3rd, mostly because a team ahead of us on the final lap had a girl go down catastrophically and break her face in the crater, causing a DNF.  That wasn't how we wanted to do it.  It is just a fun race though, and between my crash and not training, Michelle not training, and Cristina riding mostly her TT bike, we were just in it for fun.    What we didn't realize until the very end would be how tight this race would be. 

Ryan was able to get on a team this year too.  They started advanced, and his parents opted to keep the kids with them all day because it was overcast and it had rained the night before.  We had hoped Mindy and Eric could be on his team, but they needed a bigger training day.  They did hook Ryan up with a team, though, from Level Multisport.  Ryan was on a team with Adam, the owner, Janelle, an employee, and Steve, a customer.  They had a really strong race and finished 4th in the co-ed division.  Ryan did have a slight conspiracy theory as to why they were only 4th and not third.  Looking at the lap times, it only looked like the 3rd place team's girl went one lap instead of two, since there was only 1 lap that was different than all other laps.  Usually there are two laps that are slower than the others that are the girls.  Also, we know some pretty fast ladies, and knew for a fact their lap times, and this team had 7 splits way faster than our fastest friends and competitors.
As always, the advanced riders started first.   I don't have a great picture of their start.  I did get a picture of me and Stephanie.  She was the only lady I knew that rode advanced.
 Ryan prior to his first lap
 Me and Ryan before his first lap
Ryan finishing his first lap,
 The handoff to Janelle:
 Me before the start and Ryan after his first lap.
 So great to be able to enjoy a day of racing with my man!

They changed the start a little bit.  I had asked to go first, because I tend to do better when I have more riders around me to help me push the pace.  This was sort of cancelled out by the fact that they had us do a wave start, with sport men first, co-ed second, and women third.  This is the co-ed start.  It was the most "colorful".

I only started with 4 other ladies.  Not a lot of people. 
 I managed to start in second after the lemans style start.  I held onto my position until a tricky switchback section where I unclipped and got passed.  Then I just couldn't hold onto the pace of the ladies in front of me.  I knew I was being a bit tentative, but I didn't crash.  I did have a little trouble with a couple hills, but nothing terrible.  I think this was my worst ever split for this race historically speaking, but considering all things, I wasn't that unhappy.  I did slow down a couple times to let advanced riders pass, and I did pass a few of the co-ed riders

We also learned that there should have been 7 teams that started with me, not 5.  Thankfully we got that straightened out and they added 5 minutes back to the first lap time to account for them starting in the wrong wave.  We jostled back and forth between 2nd and 4th depending on who was riding.
My camera battery started to die, so we didn't get pictures of all the exchanges, but I have a few of them.

The finish was crazy!  The first place team came in smoking fast.  Then, the second, third, and fourth (us) place teams all rode in within 21 seconds of each other!  So crazy that a race that was almost 4 hours long came down to such a short margin!   All of us felt like we could have done 5-10 seconds faster somewhere!  The good part is that it was just for fun.  I do have a lot of work to do for iceman.  I am not sure exactly how to train for it best in KY, but hopefully my overall endurance will be high enough that I'll be OK even if I am not used to being on the mountain bike that long.  It was also my third weekend in a row of racing!  I can't believe that Muncie was just 2 weeks ago still!  It was also really fun to meet Ryan's teammates.  Level Multisport opened after I moved from MI.
Also, being tree farm, there were costumes aplenty!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Oldham County Grand Slam Race #2- Oldham County Festival 5K Race Recap

This race was one of the deciding factors for me on whether or not I would do the series.  It was an evening race, and I really wasn't sure if I would be able to do it, due to an appointment earlier in the day.   Thankfully, things worked out and I was able to make it.  Also, my new Team Aquaphor singlet arrived the day before.  I had selected a run kit as my selection this year, and the top was way to big, so I sent it back. 

It was a billion degrees at the start of this race.  Well, not really, but it was 94, since it was a Friday evening race.  It was great that it didn't mess up a ride for Ryan on Saturday.  When I signed up, I realized that Soren's soccer coach and director of the soccer program were two of the people in charge.  Soren is not a fabulous soccer player.  If you can picture a skinny tiny version of Jack Black (or maybe even Kung Fu Panda) playing soccer, he might resemble Soren.  It is a little frustrating to Ryan and I that he plays around so much on the field, so you can probably get how excited I was to show the soccer folks that I did have some amount of athletic ability.  I was even more motivated to do well today.

I had two of my tri friends come out for this race.  Julie, who was turning 50 the next day, and Terri, who was racing as part of her work's team.  Julie is hoping to go to Kona, and Terri did Ironman with me last year.  It was great to see them and not be alone at this race.  Our bishop had to go out of town unexpectedly, so he wasn't using his entry, and no one else from church had signed up either.

This was a tough course.  All of these OC races seem to be.  We ran downhill for a bit, flat for the middle, and then uphill at the end.  I had horribly ascending splits.  Oh well.  It was good enough for 3rd Female overall, which received an award, and 1st in my AG (which I was not awarded due to having the overall award).  Julie also won her AG too! (sorry for the blurry iphone picture).

It is funny how Oldham County seems to be biased towards runners.  I got my picture in the paper after my first race in the series, in color and everything!  Yet when I did the Ironman last year, no mention.  There is a lot of contention between the residents of OC and the triathlete/cyclist community.  Yet they seem to LOVE their runners!  The course of this race had us running from a church off of 146 and a side road, over to Commerce Parkway, up 53 to Main and to the finish.  They had one lane of 53 closed for us, PLUS Main street!  WOW!  You will get hit at the intersection of 146 and 53 on your bike if more than one bike tries to go through the 4 way stop at the same time, so it felt pretty nice to be running up that street with a whole lane.  People actually came out and were cheering for us! 
Here is the picture from the newpaper for the first race:

Also, I am in second place for the series after this race.  I felt like I wasn't quite as far behind the first place woman in the series (she was second OA at this race, and the winner skipped the first race), so maybe I have a shot at the series?  I don't know.  I am about 90 seconds back.  That is a lot for a 5K.  I am not sure who else is in contention for the series either.  With these races not chip timed, results aren't readily available.  Since the OC does love its runners so much, I will be able to get them from the newspaper, and that is really fun.  Here is a shot of the results from this race:

Finally, I do not love these running shorts from an appearance standpoint.  I really prefer to have a compression short either by itself or under a skirt for racing.  However, these shorts were amazingly dry!  Everything else was soaked and dripping, but the shorts seemed to wick the water and dissipate it into the air very quickly!  I don't know if I will wear them much for longer races, but they are OK in the heat.  They were free, as part of the team package, and that's the only reason that I have them.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

2013 Ironman 70.3 Muncie For Real this time!

As many of you know, the 2012 Muncie 70.3 was shortened to a 37.2ish last year.  It left an odd feeling with me.  I didn't know what I wanted to do about the race.  My friends were about 50-50 on it in terms of going back next year.  Some of them wanted redemption, and some never ever wanted to go back again.  I didn't really need redemption (or so I thought), since I had completed the race the previous year.  I also didn't have the cash last year to sign up for it using my coupon since I signed up for Ironman Louisville and used up every last bit of money I had in the race department.  I wasn't going to do another full Ironman any time soon, but doing a 70.3 is still a big deal, and you can't treat it lightly.  With my initial plan for the year having 2 intense centuries and a marathon, I thought surely I would be ready for any half Ironman I could think of.  As a result, I didn't have a set training plan laid out.  Then I got an infection in my foot and wasn't swimming as much as I should, and then I crashed my bike and was just not getting in the riding.  I was just having trouble getting excited about anything.  I had almost signed up for Muncie the night before the crash, so you can see why I would be struggling with the decision.  I signed up for Triceratops to see how the swim bike run felt and because it was my favorite tri.  It went well enough.  I looked at the calendars searching for another race.  I briefly thought about Steelhead, but since all of my MI friends were going to Muncie, it really didn't make sense.  I thought about REV3 Cedar Point, but it was so far, school had already started, was the same weekend as the mini tri, AND I wouldn't even be able to ride any rides afterwards!!!  I also didn't want to stay and do the Cardinal Tri here because it was just very disorganized last year, and I didn't want to swim in the Ohio.  I don't really need to do that ever again.  Muncie it would be. I couldn't get in a 60 mile ride like I wanted to, but with 2 weeks to go I spent the big bucks and signed up.  I had my hotel reservation and my babysitter lined up for months. 

Babysitter?  What?   The funny thing about it was that Ryan was working his tail off at work, so I had to arrange for my mom to come out to watch the kids.  Ryan was going back and forth trying to figure out if he would be able to come.  Eventually I told him not to worry about it because we needed two cars (my mom's and mine) to avoid having everyone at the race at the same time.  This is why I went by myself in 2011.  I had hoped my mom could just watch the kids in KY, because she initially asked me where she should watch them.  Then it turned out of the two weeks out of the year that she was working in her retirement, Muncie was the day after her final day.  That meant she wouldn't be able to watch the kids in KY because I wanted to leave around noon to get there with plenty of time to find everyone check everything out, eat, get into the hotel room, ect.  When I went out the first year, I arrived in the evening, and I didn't get the right Ironman bag.  I couldn't let that happen again!  Plus, my mom wasn't arriving until late, and I knew everything would take longer with the kids in tow.  There is a children's museum connected to the convention center that I also thought would be fun to do with the kids.  Since this was my third trip to Muncie, and it might be the last (really, how many times do I need to do this race???), I wanted to make it feel like a vacation for the kids.  Ryan's work was crazy busy, so aside from our trips to MI and OH to see friends and family, we really hadn't had an official vacation. 

I was getting really excited for this race in the days leading up.  I was glad, because it showed me how much I wanted it.  It felt great to feel a fire again.  Last summer when I was down with pneumonia, I just had this passion and this feeling of loss for everyday I didn't train.  I didn't quite feel that this summer, mostly because the crash was scary, and I got what I wanted out of last year.  I was going to have quite the crew out there, and too.  Again, another social event.  I was really looking forward to seeing Cristina and Kari again.  Plus, Mindy and Eric signed up.  My neighbor, Chris, was going with one of his pros from Maverick Multisport and trying for a Vegas slot for himself.  BDD would be there, tons of Landsharks including my friend Sonja, Mike from Aquaphor, and several other people that I had met through the Ironman last year.  It was the place I wanted to be, and I was just so thankful that after everything that had happened this year, that I was going to start.  Mindy and I would be racked near each other too, just like in 2011.  I really felt a good vibe going into this race.  AND, the water temps were looking wetsuit legal.  WHAT???  After water temps being in the 80s the past two years, being wetsuit legal was just craziness, but I was going to be taking my wetsuit for sure!

I felt like such a mom this weekend though.  I have written about my Chick Fil A addiction many times, and it just so happened that Friday before Muncie was Cow Appreciation day.  This means that if you dress like a cow, you get your food for free.  I was trying to figure out how to work this into our plans.  I really wanted to go to "our" CFA, and not find one on the road.  1.  The people at mine know me. 2.  I didn't want to have my usual CFA lunch as my lunch the day before the race, and I didn't think I had the willpower to turn it down.  The kids were all excited about it, though.  Thankfully for them, they woke up at the crack of dawn as usual, so I put them to work making their cow costumes.  Valerie had given me the idea last year when we missed it and I saw her pics.  We made our costumes out of construction paper and wore white shirts with spots.  And, we just happen to have plenty of cowbells here...I had a neighbor ask me where they came from- Boston and Ironman.  She was amazed that I just had a collection of cowbells.  That is an endurance athlete for you!  We had our free breakfast (I got a bagel and OJ, very safe), and then got packed up and on the road.

We got into Muncie around 2:30 or so, and packet pick up went smoothly.  I amazingly did not get any weird looks from the volunteers with the kids in the athlete only area.  They were a lot more friendly than IMKY last year.  Perhaps because it was more obvious that I didn't have anyone else with me to watch the kids.  Soren did have a melt down about walking, and the SRAM folks gave him a light up yo-yo.  So far, I was the first one my crew to arrive.  I decided to take the kids to the museum, even though we could only stay for about 2  hours.  It was $6/person, so it wasn't going to break the bank, and it wasn't terribly big.  I don't think I would have wanted to spend much more than that there anyway with them, and it was a way to support the local economy.  There were a few other racers with families there, but I was the only mom racing.  Eric and Mindy met up with me at the museum, but didn't officially go in.  I was really happy to see them and it was great to hang out for a little bit.  They had another hotel far from the race site, so they wouldn't be able to join me for dinner.  As you can tell from the pictures before, we did NOT wear out cow costumes on the trip.

When the museum closed at 5, I headed out to the prerace meeting with Cristina and Kari.  I was glad I went to this.  They bike course was changed from the 2011 (and 2012) course.  It was an out and back, with a section of narrow road of no passing each direction, and a good chunk wasn't the smooth as glass Muncie road I had loved before.  Also, they said that an announcement for the wetsuits would be made in the am. 
These pictures were taken outside the Muncie Children's Museum.  I absolutely LOVE the second one with just the kids.  I need to print it and frame it.  It looks awesome as my cover photo on facebook right now.

I took the kids and headed to my usual prerace dinner spot of Noodles and Co.  They even had a coupon available at the expo!  Then off to the hotel to unpack the entire car, and then repack it for the morning.  My mom wouldn't be arriving until around 9pm, and it was a lot harder to do this on my own than I thought.  Thankfully I was able to park right by the door to the hotel, and we were fairly close to an entrance.  The kids were very good in the hotel room while I brought in all of their things, including their booster seats.  Then I divided up my stuff between what I needed for the hotel and what could go back in the car.  It was really quite the process.  I put my bike back together and repacked the car with it entirely assembled.  I got the kids ready for bed, and then got myself ready for bed, and then my mom arrived.  Whew.  What a day.  Thankfully the kids went to bed better than usual for a hotel.  I think it helped that I shared with Soren and my mom shared with Keira, so the kids weren't able to touch each other or bother each other.  Here's my cap, number, and sticker sheet for tomorrow!

At 3:15am I awoke to a thud and a whimper.  It was Soren falling out of bed.  I scooped him up quickly and he fell back asleep.  I didn't.  Oh well.  I think I was up at least this early before Muncie in 2011.  I was able to get ready and navigate myself to the race easily because I have left the dark ages and I have a smart phone now, and we have a Garmin GPS for the car.  I got my stuff set up and then set out to find people.  Probably the craziest thing was the I ran into an old friend from OSU who I hadn't seen since 2000ish, Fred.  He had seen from my fb that I would be here, and tagged me on twitter so I would know, but since I don't have a clue how to use twitter, I was super surprised.  It was awesome though!   It was  great to see him.  He was a former swimmer, so he thought my projected swim time was hysterical- because it is so slow!!!  I found Mike, Sonja, Cristina, Kari, BDD, and Mindy all before the race very easily.  I also met Ryan's coworker Joanie.  She is amazing, and is 51, and has been to Kona and Worlds several times in recent years.  I can't believe it took so long to finally meet her!  I also saw Mark from TIA/Alekos and lots of familiar Landsharks.  Mindy and I both signed up late and are the same age, so we were racked with only one number between us, which meant we were essentially next to each other since the bikes alternated directions with each number.  It was just like 2011, except wetsuit legal.  My bike and Mindy's below
 Me and Sonja.  She is my friend from Louisville (actually, Austria, but lives in Louisville)
 FRED!!!  I was so surprised.  It was awesome.  I shouldn't have been surprised, but that made it really more fun to see him.  It had been close to 12-13 years since we had seen each other!!!
 Me and Dr. Mike.  I swear, I am standing in a hole or something.  He is really tall, but I still think I was standing downhill or something.
 Me and Cristina with the Ironman truck.  Kari took this one, which is why it is framed better than the one of the three of us below, that someone else took.  The whole truck wasn't in it.
Me and Joanie, Ryan's coworker from Ford

BDD!  He thought if he closed his eyes, no one would recognize him.  I wished I would have checked this picture and retaken it.

Mindy and I

This time around I had both Mindy and Cristina in my swim wave.  Kari was the odd woman out this year.  Right as I was getting ready to get into the water, Jennifer spotted me and wished me luck.  I was so happy I was able to see her before the race start.  She was on superfan duty.  I never did get to see any of her pictures though.  She took one of Me, Mindy, and Cristina before getting in the water.  And then it was time to start.

Swim- The swim went great.  I made sure I didn't have any wrinkles in my kit this time around to bother me under my wetsuit.  I had a little trouble staying on course, but nothing terrible.  It felt long, but I never felt stressed or uneasy.  It was my fastest swim ever, thanks to no not freaking out and having a wetsuit.  I passed several people running up that super long carpet to transition.  I saw several people I knew though.  Great crowd support as always for an IM race.

T1- Bring on the strippers!  Wetsuit strippers that is.  They got my wetsuit off in a matter of seconds.  Amazing.  No lost time this time around due to being stuck!  My bike was pretty close to the swim in, so I had a little ways to run with it.  I passed a few people in transition since everyone passed me in the swim.

Bike-  I felt like I went out really strong.  Things felt great.  My arm was sore.  It was no longer an open wound, so I didn't bandage it for this race.  It went great until we got to the first no passing zone.  I got stuck behind a couple people behind a really slow rider, and we had a few people pass us illegally.  That was frustrating.  However, it was not as frustrating as one it was over and the road condition got worse.  For about the middle third of the ride, it was just not good road!  It was chip n seal or very similar.  I hated it.  I just couldn't wait to be to the halfway point and counting down the miles until the road was nice again.  I felt slightly nauseous with all the vibrations, and it just made my arm ache like crazy.  I felt like I couldn't go very fast as all.  The second time I hit the no passing zone, it wasn't so bad.  I had managed to pass more people so there were fewer people that were going slower than me but still ahead of me.  On the way back, I looked at it like a forced recovery period.  As soon as I hit the smooth road with 1/3 of the race to go, I hammered on.  I was able to end up with 17mph average.  Not quite as good as 2011, but I hadn't crashed then either. 
Kevin Brooks took these, and I'm pretty sure it was bike in, not out, based on the side of the street the houses are on, but I could be wrong.

T2-  I learned from my mistakes at triceratops and it went more smoothly.  I picked up as much stuff as I could and got it situated on the move.  I was watching my race time and I was able to set off on the run with just 2 hours to go for the sub 6 that I had initially wanted.  The good swim had been offset by my lackluster bike.

Run- I had 2 hours to go to go under 6.  I set off on pace, and I could tell that it was going to be too fast to hold onto.  It was sort of a repeat of 2011, where the first half went fabulous, and then the second half was cruddy.  It was just hard.  I walked more this time around on the second half, but finished with my run split only 2 minutes behind my run split from 2011, and my overall time was 2 minutes slower than 2011.  The crazy thing is that I saw Mike on the run providing medical care to another racer.  He was on the fence about coming to this race despite being signed up.  I had sent him a message the day before saying that I didn't want to tell him what to do because I don't know him well, but I would feel a ton better knowing that I had a friend who was a Dr there.  I had sent him all my crash photos earlier.  I did tell him that Jennifer, an NP, would be there for me if I did need something, trying to not apply pressure.  Turns out he saved his man's life!  He was suffering from heat exhaustion/stroke and in bad shape.  Muncie is so far away, it took 30mins for the ambulance to arrive.  Mike was there for that reason I know.
My mom took some fabulous pictures at the finish.  They were better than the professional pictures because I was looking right at her.  This is my favorite:
Here is the picture of me when I saw my mom and the kids.  I think it is awesome

I finished with a time of 6:08:53.  I wasn't really disappointed with my race at all though.  Yes, it would have been cool to PR, BUT, I was coming off a big crash, missed training, and was just thankful to be out there racing.  I got to see a ton of my friends and a lot of them had awesome days.  Mindy was 4th in her AG, and turned down a Vegas slot.  Eric also rocked it out, finishing just ahead of her.  Chris was 5th in his AG, and took a rolldown slot for Vegas.  Kari finally got that 70.3 finish that she had been wanting.  My mom held up ok with the kids, and they were great for her.  They had their ups and down while she was watching them, but they made it through.  It was great to have them there for me.  I had secretly hoped Ryan would be freed up and surprise me at the finish, but he was stuck at work the entire day.  I think I made it home to KY before he made it home from work that day.  We hung out quite a bit before packing up and heading back.  I don't know why I don't have a picture with me and Kari.  She finished strong and earned that 70.3!
 My Ironman 70.3 Support Crew:
Me, my mom and the kids

Me and Cristina!  Finally doing Muncie 70.3 together!
Me, Jennifer and Chris.  I think Chris looks very pro in his team polo.
Me and Jen
Mindy, Me, and Eric.  They'd been done so long they were totally cleaned up when I saw them.  Not really, but they had changed before I got done.
Sonja and I after.  She will be doing Ironman Louisville as her first Ironman this year!  Yay!
My mom took this while I was still out on the course and I thought it was funny.  My little buddy needs some more cowbell!  He wanted to know why I was taking so long!!!!
I was really impressed with the profession photos this time around.  I know I said I liked my pics of me running into the finish from my mom better, but the race photographers put themselves in some really nice areas to make Muncie look way more scenic that I remembered it.  Example one.  When did we go by boats?  I know we swam in the reservoir, but there were several pictures that it looked like a really cool place to race.  I actually emailed them to tell them how impressed I was.  All I remembered on the bike was going by fields and rough roads!  There were some cool run photos too, but I didn't "steal" those yet.  I'll likely order them once I get a coupon.

Since the reservoir is out in the middle of no where, we couldn't really get food as a group aside from what was provided.  I packed up my car and drove to my mom's car to get the rest of our stuff, and we parted ways.  We ate at the same subway we did last year, only I felt a lot better this time around since I wasn't on the verge of being bedridden with pneumonia.  It was funny, I had felt almost disgusted with my Muncie experience last year because it was totally not what I wanted it to be.  I wasn't really proud of my huge medal because it wasn't a half Ironman.  It was such a huge medal but seemed so meaningless.  It was almost hidden away on my rack.  This year's medal was special, and it actually made me feel better about last year's race.  Maybe I did need some redemption after all.  It was fun to look at the three years of Muncie medals once I got home.  Each unique and with different meaning.  2011 was so just amazing to be doing my first Ironman brand race.  2012 was short and just so miserable.  2013 was just a blessing to be a part of.  I don't know.  Maybe I will be back in 2014.  Its pretty cool to have completed every year that Ironman has been a part of this race.