Monday, July 14, 2014

2014 Ironman 70.3 Muncie Race Recap! *WARNING!! SUPER LONG*

Its been a while since I've done a formal race recap.  Since Boston, I completed the 76mi route of the Horsey Hundred, the Triceratops Tri, and the first leg of the Oldham County Grand Slam 5K series.  I'll get those updates done and put in the right order (hopefully soon).  Thanks to facebook and twitter, I've been photo documenting (as always) my training and racing, but I need to go back and put all the thoughts and photos together into nice recaps.  With Muncie being this past Saturday, I wanted to jump on it and get everything out while it is fresh in my mind.

Muncie and I have a history.  It is creeping up there as one of the most repeated races of mine.  Crazy because it is one of the longest races that I do, and it just blows my mind that this is the FOURTH time I have done it.  2011 was magical because it was my first Ironman brand event AND my first trip away from my kids overnight by myself, and it was back before smartphones and navigational systems in the cars so I had a whole slew of new things to stress about.  Like just getting there- with a huge pile of printed google map directions.  2012 was a huge disappointment.  It was the hot year where it was shortened and then I got pneumonia days later.  2013 was initially supposed to go so well, but then I crashed in May, and racing and finishing was a victory in itself.  So, 2014 was going to be my year, right?  Third time's a charm (for the 70.3 distance).  I have wanted to go sub 6 in the half iron distance for pretty much as long as I have been doing this, and I have gotten pretty close.  2011 was 6:06:50, and only my second 70.3, then last year after my crash, I still managed to come away with a 6:08:54, two minutes off my PR and that was with all the issues I had with my crash.  I've gone under 2 hours on the run at Racing for Recovery, but that was it, and it usually came down to needing a sub 2 on the run to make it since my swim isn't so good.  I really didn't think I would come back to Muncie this year, but then when some of my friends got to talking about it, and Ryan's good cycling friend Austin signed up for IM Wisconsin and decided to do Muncie as a warm up, everyone jumped on the bandwagon and we signed up before Christmas to take advantage of the early bird pricing.  I had a good crew of friends from MI that came down.  Valerie, Austin, Bill, Eric, Christine (not Cristina), and Dicron (Chad's dad) were all racing.  Maria and Mindy had both entered and did not race, Maria due to injury and Mindy due to a crazy hard adventure race next weekend.  Plus, there was a huge crew of Landsharks that raced.  I found Elise, who I have been riding with, plus Linden, Nick, and Geri all before the start.  Plus I met Lindsay, who is a Betty Designs ambassador and good friend of Valerie's and everyone from MI. 

The whole family drove up to Muncie on Friday.  We took the tour of rural Indiana route, which I took last year.  Its not too bad, and it avoids all the construction traffic on 65N and the cities.  Thankfully we didn't get stuck behind too many slow moving trucks. 

When we finally got onto more of a civilized road, we ended up passing Elise and her husband!  We texted back and forth during most of the remainder of the drive and arrived at the expo together.  They moved the expo from the Horizon Convention Center to the reservoir, and thankfully our GPS had the coordinates in it from previous years.  Google maps just plopped you in the middle of the water, so Elise was thankful she had us to follow.  Elise and I got a couple pictures after check in near the finish line.

We checked our bikes the night before at the option bike check in.  I hadn't ever done it before because in previous years, I didn't go out to the reservoir because its a little drive from the city of Muncie with all the food and hotels.  Valerie was driving me to the start so Ryan and the kids could stay in the hotel longer, so it was best that the bikes were already taken care of.  We found Valerie, who introduced us to Lindsay, and the three of us attended the 5pm athlete briefing together before dinner at Noodles (my favorite prerace place).

That evening, back at the hotel I got everything situated.  I wrote my name in my new swim skin with permanent marker so that it wouldn't get mixed up in transition.  I wasn't too worried about my wetsuit getting mixed up, but I went over my name again in permanent marker  just in case.  The swim last year was wetsuit legal, so I was hopeful it would be again this year, but prepared for either case.  Before bed, I shaved my arms (which I have only done before IMLou and as a child playing with a razor).

We got up CRAZY early.  Initially, Valerie thought I was crazy when I said I wanted to leave the hotel at 4:30, but then I got a text from her before bed saying to meet at 4:00 to get loaded and roll out at 4:15ish.  They had also bought a reserved parking spot on a homeowners lawn to be ensured a close parking spot.  Lindsay rode with us too so her husband and kids didn't have to wake up so early.  The bike check the night before made it easy to fit everyone.

We arrived and as soon as I went to set up my gear, I realized that I didn't have my helmet sticker.  Ugh.  At my last tri I had forgotten my bike sticker, so I thankfully I knew it wouldn't be that big of a deal.  We just needed to find someway to label it non-permanently.  A staff member grabbed a marker and walked me over to a huge pile of blank number sticker sheets and we made a new one.  Boom, problem solved.  I also got a pin for my chip strap that I also forgot, and got everything else set up.  They announced that it was indeed wetsuit legal, so my arms and swim skin prep was for naught.  There will be another race I'm sure where I will use it.  I was racked next to my Coeur teammate, Nicole.  This was her 10th race this distance, and hanging out with her instantly put me at ease.  We got a picture by a banner.

Coeur also had 3 pros racing and 2 other ambassadors (than me).  We were able to get this group shot right before the pro start (note this picture is out of order because it is clearly very light out).  Beth Shutt was the only one missing.  There was also a great preview on the Coeur blog here
Me, Kate Bevilaqua, Jacqueline, Nicole, Malaika Homo right before the start

Then, it was time to track down the rest of my crew and wait for the start.  I found everyone after the national anthem.  (these are all out of order because they loaded by file name)
 Bill, Austin, Maria
 Christine and I
 Eric and I
 Geri and I
 Me and Austin.
 Me and Elise
 Me and Linden
 Me and Mindy
Nick and I.
Valerie, Christine, Lori, Me, Adam, Mindy, Eric
Valerie and Kent

I had Nicole, Christine, and Lori (also with Level) in my wave for the swim.  While I get stressed about swimming, it isn't like I used to.  I felt very relaxed the whole time and didn't have too much traffic.  I got hit in the head a couple times, but nothing terrible.  It was overcast so sighting was a TON easier.  I thought I would have a faster swim time than ever, but no, it was an average swim for me.  I really need to work on my swimming more!!!  I would have liked to have a bit more cushion here for the rest of the race to go under 6!!!

Swim: 49:14

I saw my friend Kathy right as I exited the water.  She was there supporting Greg, who is a physically challenged athlete who does not have the use of his legs.  There were wetsuit strippers to pull of the wetsuits, and then I ran into T1.  They have carpet to cover the rocks and I passed several people on the carpet from the water to the bikes.  I got situated and headed out for the bike.

T1: 3:32

The bike course was so much better than last year, except I would describe the first few miles as "technical" because of the pot holes.  They were mostly marked and to be honest, they weren't anything worse that what I am used to riding on here in KY after this winter (or MI all the time), so it really didn't bother me at all.  It was still so much better than last year's rough section.  It was a bit crowded on the way out, but I figured it would thin out before the end when I would hit these again.  I figured I should try to average between 18-19mph and it wouldn't be too difficult to run but still be fast enough to allow enough time for it.  The first loop was quicker.  I was entirely self sufficient from a nutrition standpoint on the first loop, and had 2 gels and 2 water bottles.  At the halfway point I ate a bonk breaker bar and 3 clif blocks.  My water was getting low so I stopped to get a new bottle 2 times.  I had thought about refilling all my waters at 1 stop, but figured it wouldn't really make that big of a difference in the long run.  I also had another 3 clif blocks on the bike.  I debated having 3 more right as I was finishing, but with the roads not being as smooth and me getting somewhat sick of being on the bike, I figured I was more coordinated to eat clif blocks while running than biking, and waiting 5 minutes wasn't going to be deal breaker here.  I made sure everything I wanted from my bento box made it into my pockets.  With the bike being a set of two out and backs (for 2 loops), you get to see friends a lot, which makes it nice.  I never felt like I was completely alone.  A few times I felt like I struggled to pass people in a timely manner.  For a while there was a lady in my age group that would pass me almost every time I passed her.  I was finally able to pass her for good in the last couple miles of the bike that were on the rougher roads and more uphill.  I was just tough because we were fairly evenly paced.  Then, as I finished the bike course, I saw Ryan and the kids.  Yay!  I wasn't sure how early they had planned to get there.  However, we knew that Austin, Bill, and Eric would rock it out and finish quickly, and he wanted to see them finish too.  I hoped they wouldn't get too bored waiting for me to finish the run.

Bike: 3:03:20

Hoping off the bike and getting into T2, I wanted to walk quickly but didn't quite feel ready to run yet.  However, as soon as I was ready to run, there were slow dudes in front of me with their bikes.  I politely asked to pass them and was able to get around.  While I was in the process of switching my gear from bike to run, I realized that a woman named Shannon, who is a friend of Erika, was there.  She had told me to say hi to her if I saw her, so I took this opportunity to say a quick "hi" and was off.  I think I popped my final 3 clif blocks in my mouth as I was running out of transition.

T2: 2:43

The run.  Oh boy.  I looked at my timex that I had started at the beginning of the race.  I was just barely under 4 hours at the start of the run.  I didn't need a sub 2 hour run to get the sub 6, but I could try for both.  It was actually not super hot.  Today is my day.  I just kept telling myself that.  I had a couple really nasty longish training runs where I had wanted to stop the whole time due to humidity and heat (and fatigue), and I didn't, so I just told myself to be careful, pace myself, and no walking unless I was drinking at an aid station.  I was NOT going to fall apart this year.  This was MY day.  I was extremely focused on not going out to hard, and making sure it felt easy in the beginning.  I walked a few steps at every aid station and just tried to keep track of my pace.  Not too fast, but not too slow.  I enjoyed watching the pros and other fast people on their way in.  I saw Eric and Lindsay on my way out, plus a few other people.  I was just trying to keep everything nice and easy and stay focused.  Push a bit on the uphills but not too hard, and relax and loosen up on the downhills.  The course profile is more downhill on the way out and more uphill on the way back.  I got to the turnaround in less than an hour and there is an extra aid station there so I took a few seconds to walk/drink again and then got running.  There was actually a cool breeze.  It was amazing.  I caught a few of my friends that I saw running ahead of me on the way back.  When I had 5 miles to go, I was still staying confident, but I felt like it was too soon to say that my sub 2 run/sub 6 day was going to happen.  But when I got to 4 miles left, with 40 minutes, I knew I could do it.  I just keep checking my time each mile and even each half mile.  With 2 miles left and 20 minutes, I felt a burst of energy and confidence.  I knew I could do it, I just had to keep going and be careful on the uphills so I didn't cramp up, but just keep going.  I could visualize where I was at home and know how much time it would take.  I did start worrying about Greg. He was super worried about making the bike cut off because swimming and handcycling for him is a lot slower than your average able bodied athlete, but the pushrim wheelchair is a LOT faster than a runner.  I think I had gotten to mile 12 before I saw him, and that was a huge relief to me.  That last mile I felt like I really pushed myself.  There is a big uphill and then I sprinted to the finish.  I couldn't believe I had finally gotten my goal of under 6!!!

Run: 1:58:14

Total 5:57:03!!  Huge PR!  Almost 10 minutes and both goals obtained!  Yay!!!

I nearly fell down when I crossed the line and stopped.  I probably should have just gone to medical right then and there, but my MOM was there!  I had called her earlier in the week to see if she wanted to just drive over from Ohio for the day, but she never got back to me.  I got my chip taken off and hobbled over to the Level Multisport tent where Eric, Kent, Mindy, and Adam were.  Ryan met me there and Soren melted down because it started to rain.  I felt really awful and laid down.  After several minutes of still feeling awful, Maria decided that I should go to medical for an IV.  Eric had already gotten one and was good as new.  I had Maria bring me over there and it took them a little while to decide to give me one.  They stretched me out, brought me a banana, but my stomach felt horrible.  Then they gave me an IV.  I felt a lot better after that and was able to move around again.  Maria had gotten Ryan so she, Austin, and Bill could head out.  We said our goodbyes and Ryan walked me back to the Level tent so we could find Valerie, who had finished with a huge PR too!

We got a few post race pictures, and then it was time to head home! 
 Austin, Valerie, Bill
 Eric, Christine, Me, Valerie
 The family!  Me, Ryan, Keira, and Soren
 Me and my mom!
 Me and Valerie
 Ryan and Austin
Support Crew!  (I really hope my mom was with the kids at this point.  Ha!)
It was so awesome to have so much support at this race.  Had I not had so many friends here, it would not have worked for Ryan and the kids to come because there is no way we could have had the kids at the race that early.  This is actually only the second time he was able to see me finish a 70.3 because of the logistics.  Having my mom come out was a fabulous surprise.  I'm sure it made it a lot easier on Ryan too for her to be there.  Plus, it is just so much fun to race when friends are racing.  Really, if it wasn't fun, I wouldn't be doing it.  Having so many friends there just makes it way more fun!

Its funny, I told Maria while in medical, that last year, I thought I was done with Muncie, and now that I have finally hit my time goal, that maybe this time FOR REAL I am done with Muncie and will pick another race to try (or focus on running more instead).  Now, two days later, I am not sure.  I looked up all my other race times and realized that while I had PR overall, none of the 3 disciplines on their own was a PR.  It was just a matter of having a decent day all around, and not ruining one discipline with another being overdone.  It also makes me think that I should be able to do even better than what I did, right?  Seriously, I have GOT to work on my swim.  I keep saying that I should be able to take 10 minutes off of that alone, and have yet to do it. 
The medal.