I'm one of those freaks who likes to arrive when transition opens. It was about a 2/3's mile walk to the transition area from where we parked, and it was dark -- we joked how we probably should have brought headlights because it was so dark.
I got into transition and my bike was still there (Yay!) and I got my gear laid out. I was pretty calm, I kept wondering, "Why am I so calm?" Setting up was completely uneventful and went smoothly. I didn't forget a thing. Yay!
It was cool that a lot of us BAMmers who were doing the 70.3 were racked closely. I got the chance to meet Christy, a local triathlete, who I met at the 2010 Redman during my post-race breakdown (LOL), but under much better circumstances this time! :) Last year she was volunteering when they ran out of shirts after I had just completed probably the hardest thing I'd ever done aside from child birth! Later, weeks after the race, she found my blog; we became *virtual* training buddies and started following each other's blog ever since. It was awesome to meet you Christy! You're super. You can meet Christy too -- here's her blog.
After everything was laid out, I took care of "business." My stomach was a bit nervous. I ate my breakfast 2 hrs before race start and chilled on a piece of sidewalk. I laid down and just focused on what was ahead of me. I really felt positive. More positive than any race I've done so far, this was kind of ironic considering all of the challenges over the last 18 weeks of training.
In what seemed like no time, they were corralling everyone for the swim it was time to get the wetsuit on and meet up with my fellow athletes. We watched each swim wave start. It was kind of funny watching everyone enter the water, because it had gotten so muddy, people were sinking up to their knees. It did make the swim start and exit a little more challenging than expected, not to mention an extra 200 yard "jaunt" to transition because the lake's water levels were so low.
Finally it was my wave's turn. I headed out to the water and went up to the front third of the wave. The gun went off, and we were off. There was more activity at the start than I remembered from last year, and I took a few hits, but nothing terrible. There was also some confusion over some buoys that had blown off course. We were supposed to keep the course buoys on our left and ignore the others, I thought, but saw people going around the ones we were supposed to disregard. I just wasn't sure anymore. I chose to keep the course buoys on my left and continue on. Generally I navigate my swim pretty well, but today I felt like I was drifting off course a lot. There were athletes around me for the whole first length of 900; I was never alone it seemed and it took a long time for me to find my rhythm.
My goal for the swim was to stay focused and not drift off into nowhere land; it's easy to do on a long swim. I made the first turn on the back stretch and my arm/hand started falling asleep. I swear this only happens in races only! Not sure what that's all about, but I can swim with it. It's more annoying and diverts my focus. In the last stretch of 900, my stroke started to feel better... guess I just needed a 1000m warm up!
I was the 3rd Athena Master out of the water; there was :12 between me and the 2nd Athena Master and 10 in our group total. 1st was one of my club friends who came out in 33 minutes! I had been hoping for a 2:20/100m pace, but I finished instead with 43 mins for a 2:15/100m pace. Needless to say, when I saw the results, I was thrilled to hold that pace for 1.2 miles! 2 years ago I was swimming a 3:30 pace for a sprint tri! Last year I swam a 2:35 pace for Redman -- so I'll take it! Getting up stupid-early for Masters paid off!
Exiting the water took a little longer than I wanted. I just kept swimming as long as could; until I was scooping mud in my hands and saw red muck before my eyes. Only then did I stand up. It was a long "jaunt" to transition, but I made it and got suited for the bike. I gave my frozen Perpetuem a good shake and took a swig to make sure it was ready to drink, and I was on my way. I really didn't try to rush here, as 56 miles on the bike is a long way to go if you've forgotten something. 4 minutes and 12 seconds later, I was outta there and on the bike.
|Perpetuem... yum. :P|
I was almost relaxed to get on the bike. My goal here was to stay focused again and ride my plan, which was to ride by a heart rate of 140. I knew this would be a challenge given the rolling hills and the few steeper climbs, but I would do my best. I actually enjoyed the course. While it was still a challenge for me, it didn't seem as bad as I had thought it would be. I quickly gained some confidence when I saw that I could still make some decent time AND ride my heart rate.
I loved the long gradual climbs and the long fast down hills. It made it fun to ride. When I started out, MC passed me (she was doing the full distance), and then about 20 miles in, I saw OC (he was doing the half and in 2nd place overall!). The course was nice, in that you were never alone. There were always athletes coming and going. It made it more fun, even if I was being passed up. :)
The aid stations were placed well, I thought, and I took fresh hand-ups of water whether I needed them or not. I only missed one, when it fell out of the volunteers hand. I have it down though: I point and make eye contact -- "I got you!" Then there's no mistake, they are ready!
My only complaint was the 8 miles of bad pavement. It was about a 4 mile stretch that you hit again on the way back. Man, it was bumpy and full of pot holes, however they were well marked. Lets just say that on the new race wheels, the girly bits were not very happy. LOL :P
I made it to the turnaround and ironically enough (or not really), I started coming up on and passing the people who had passed me. Not a ton of them, but some -- mostly those who probably went out too hard. At about 40 miles in I was passing some athletes I wouldn't have suspected I could. It all helped me to stay positive and know that my plan was working... I just had to stay with it.
About 45 miles in, who do I see on the side of the road? My Training Buddy, who had been sick and quarantined to his hotel room the day before. He and J came out to cheer us on!!! Another pick-me-up.:)
|Finishing the Bike|
As I neared the end of the bike course, I realized I felt pretty darned good and I was getting excited. I don't display my speed on my bike computer, because it only makes me lose focus on what's important (for my plan). By the time I looked at time vs. mileage, I saw I only had a few miles left and I was 3:10 in, I was thrilled... and then maybe got too excited. I rode the last 3 miles around 145. Ooops! I'll blame it on that last climb up to the Damn. That was cool riding up there, being able to see the race site. I dropped to #7 out of 10 Athenas on the bike.
On my rides at home, with pancake terrain, I average around 17, so I was hoping to average around 16 given the hills. I finished the bike in 3:26 for an average speed of 16.3 and average HR of 144. Last year I finished in 3:47, with an average HR of 157 and average speed of 14.8. Huge improvement! I'll take that too.
Rolled into transition hap-hap-happy. I got ready for the run and my legs felt fantastic. I just couldn't believe it. I did have to take a moment to pee (a good sign!) and mix my Perpetuem for the run, but 5:10 later I was out on the run… Smiling! If you know me, I never smile on ANY run... that is until, “Crap! I left my Garmin on the bike!” Oh well... it is what it is. A mistake, but I'd manage.
I can honestly say that out of all my races, probably more than 50 by now, I have never felt as good at the start of a run. I just could not believe it! The course was 2 10K loops that followed Lake Hefner. Most of the course I had company, but the back end can get a little lonely. Anyhoo, you're only there for a couple miles, I'd say it's a decent course for the 70.3 distance. Not sure I'd feel the same doing 4 loops on the 140.6 distance though.
My goal was to run aid-station-to-aid-station. Again I started seeing my club friends on the course and it was lots of fun. First one I passed, in the opposite direction, was OC. He was finishing! About 2 miles to go for a 4:37 finish for the 70.3. Wow! He wound up winning 2nd overall for the 70.3!
So in the end my run wasn't stellar, but I could tell I had made great progress compared to last year in so many ways. I held at number 7 in the Athena Master group with 3:34:57 for a 16+ min pace on the run, vs. last year's 3:54 for the same 13.1.
So with that I made it to the Finish at 7:54:06. Last year's time was 8:36:55! 42 minutes less than last year, and a Personal Record for the 70.3, since I beat my 7:58 in Galveston!
When I crossed the Finish, the first person I saw was J, a friend, who was volunteering and then Christy, who was so thoughtful. Evidently they ran out of womens shirts again this year (they're sized so small that everyone takes a bigger size, then they run out by the end). I was lucky though. Christy hooked me up with a mens shirt (until they get more womens shirts which they'll send to the finishers). She said she told them there was no way I was not getting a Finishers shirt. Again, so sweet! Thanks Christy!