Monday, September 12, 2011

10 Things I Learned from My 70.3 and This Season

I have learned a lot about my abilities as an athlete and a lot about myself this season. I had a great season! It finished far better than I could have imagined! My triathlon season is over with 1 half iron, 3 sprint triathlons, 1 olympic distance, and a couple OWS races but these are the top 10 things I have learned.

10- I LOVE the sport of triathlon- I have found my new athletic love. I enjoy the competition I enjoy the goals I enjoy the drive and I enjoy the finish! I also have found that I love how accessible the pros are in this sport. I met Cait Snow at Timberman and walked right by Chrissie Wellington setting up her transition. It is amazing how much they are just like other racers on race day and how much they appreciate age groupers.

9- Trying out your gear is key and knowing chafe spots! After spending more than one race nursing back some nasty cherries under my arms from chafe spots I now live by the train in your gear. You can't keep them from happening all the time but it sure helps- I also now put everstride under my biceps and anywhere else I tend to chafe.

8- Wet suit strippers are awesome! As I said in my Timberman Race Report they are the best. No more evident than my sprint this weekend where I wore my wetsuit but had to get myself out of it :( I missed my wet suit strippers.

7- SOCKS (and cut toe nails)!!! I learned my lesson at my first Olympic distance tri that it is worth the couple seconds to put on your socks for longer distance runs. I still have a scar on each ankle from the holes I wore into my feet. I also learned this past weekend the power of trimmed toenails. Even tho it was a short run and I didn't wear socks, I still ended up bloody thanks to a long toenail. PEDICURES are key!

6- I enjoy endurance racing. Honestly I am starting to think fast twitch muscles are just not my thing! I think I need to train more to learn the differences between going all out at a sprint and the speed and endurance for a half iron. But for now I just enjoy the longer stuff.

5- I need to work on my run speed. I am by no means a fast runner. My PR for a 5k is just under 28. I need to work on getting a faster turnover and then work on maintaining that for my runs. I plan to work this one in the off season!

4- I need to work on my bike speed. I am not a fast cyclist. The goal of this season was to make it so that I could do the distance of a half iron. I was no where near the time cut offs but I want to get faster. I am a fast swimmer- I come out of the water at the top of my age group without really having to work it. I want to work the other two parts of the race to bring them up to my swim.

3- I CAN DO IT! and I DID IT! I set my mind early this season for a goal that I didn't know if it was possible. I worked hard to train for it and I DID IT! I learned a hell of a lot about what I CAN DO! I am pretty determined and I will push myself to do it. And know this now DON'T TELL ME I CAN'T! That is what my road ID says and it is what has driven me through a lot of things in life!

2- Fuel/Food. I am apparently a freak of athletic nature. I can and enjoy working out with a full stomach. The only times I have ever had issues with racing nutrition wise- are when I didn't eat ENOUGH! I have never had a race where I said man I shouldn't have fueled that much. I thought that might happen at the half iron especially when my coach warned me about fueling with solid food but I NEED that heavy stomach feeling. I get sick without it! I guess I am just a freak in that way- sok apparently my Dad is the same way.

1- Weight/Body Image. Those of you that know me, know I am not a little girl. I am 5'10" and somewhere in the area of 170lbs. I know I do not look like the women on the cover of triathlete magazine. I also have come to realize that athletes come in many different shapes and sizes. My nutritionist actually made it akin to the dogs of the world they are all different sizes and shapes but they are all dogs. I have noticed that triathletes- mainly females- come in many different sizes even pros. Most are very well built bean poles but some are not. Even the great Macca says he can't race well when he is thin- he actually strikes a balance with his weight to get the best performance.

All that being said I know I may not look like what you think can finish a 70.3 but I know I DID IT and NO ONE can take that away from me! So I may not be a fitness model anytime soon but I think I am okay with that. I would rather have 70.3 Finisher on my resume!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Race Report: Timberman 70.3- My First Half Iron

When this season started I decided to take on the biggest goal I have attempted athletically yet- FINISH a 70.3 Half Ironman. I chose Timberman since it was local. Training became my life outside work and spending time with D. The weekend of my race quickly came and with lots of anxiety, nerves, and excitement we headed to NH. I took Thursday off from work to do final race preparation which included packing and cooking all the food I needed for the weekend. Friday we packed up the truck and headed to NH.

I checked in at the race expo. I was really surprised how small the expo was- check-in, an ironman store, and probably 5 vendors. Got my wrist band, packet, chip and t-shirt then I hit the ironman store. I wanted to get myself some things. I got an awesome shirt and poster from the race that had the typical ironman M-dot with all of the participants names. I also had to get a coffee mug.

I tried to sleep in Saturday but it didn't work out too well. We got up and watched my friends finish the sprint and headed to the expo again. This time I ran into my USS Swim Coach from High School. He was racing too and introduced me to Pro triathlete Cait Snow. She was really sweet and had some great words of encouragement for my first 70.3. I can't thank either of them enough for their comforting and encouraging words!

After racking my bike on Saturday and having my pre made corn pasta dinner, Saturday night I laid out all my gear one more time to be sure I was ready for Sunday. I sat on the floor of the hotel chatting with my mom, dad and D. It was a perfect relaxing night pre race. Alarm was going to go off early so off to bed.

I actually slept! When the alarm went off I went right to work- made my 2 eggs, GF bagel and packed up the rest of my food and drinks for the day. We headed to the parking lot to get a prime spot for transition to open at 5. I set up my transition area met a new friend or 2 and tried as best as I could to stay calm. I knew I needed to eat 2 PB&Js before the start and get my hammer gel in 15 min before my start time.

As I was pulling on my wetsuit and eating my gel we saw my coach and my friend Kelly. Coach had some pointers for the wet suit strippers and just like that I was giving D a kiss and heading for the water.

Now let me tell you... a race plan for just wanting to finish a race is pretty cool. There are no existing marks on the wall its just FINISH being the goal! My plan for the water was to save some energy and not try to have an insane swim split. The bike was to keep in aero as much as I could and to EAT and drink. The run was to just keep a steady pace and keep fueling.

Swim- 36:52 (official split- D said I was outta the water at 32)- I had a good swim. I felt good in the water. It was nice to pass some other colored caps and know I was keeping a good pace.

T1- 3:16- one of my slower T1's- but I wanted to take my time no need to race through it. They had wetsuit strippers this was a first for me. I did my best version of the Night at the Roxbury- you/me- and this guy ripped my wetsuit off pulled me up and sent me flying to the middle of transition area. Let me tell you I LOVE WETSUIT STRIPPERS!

Bike- 3:35 (avg 15.6mph)- I can't complain. I thought I wasn't going to make the bike cut off and I made it by close to 2 hours. The hills were tough but I was so glad I knew the course from riding it with my coach. I stayed in aero as much as I could through the straight a ways and made sure to stay on my fueling plan. I knew when I was getting close to the 1/2 way point and there was a time cut off there of 11:15, I switched my watch to time and realized it was only 10. Holy crap I was 25 miles into this and I was going to make it. I started to cry realizing that swim was done I was going to make the bike cut offs and I was actually going to finish this. Gave myself the pull it together man talk and kept riding. I was starting to have a bit of a sugar rush so I went for a banana at the 3rd aid station and at the 4th I went for a banana and another water bottle. Somehow I had lost one off the back of my bike.

T2- 3:27- yet again slow- the bike from across had fallen off the rack and I couldn't get to my stuff. I worked as best as I could but also didn't want to rush. Somehow I ripped my number- I ALWAYS DO! and headed out on the run high five-ing my family, friends and D as I left.

Run- 2:51:57 (OUCH SO SLOW!) let me just say that little hill coming out of T2 kicked my butt. It took everything I had to get myself running. I gave myself the talk of run and you can walk the aid stations. I grabbed water and coke at the first few and stuck to water or gatorade at the rest. The cold/wet towels and sponges were the best! The run was hilly and to be honest I don't really remember much other than just keep moving. The run was a 2 loop 10k- D had told me to think of it as 4 laps. I was on number 3 when a golf cart pulled up to a girl in front of me to ask what loop she was on- they told her they would let her finish she was on loop 1- SIGH OF RELIEF. I crossed the mat of lap 3 and was heading back to the finish line- I raised my arms and smiled big. The volunteer said "we'll see you next year." I told her we'll see. haha

I got maybe a half mile up the street and a fireman told me they were going to close the course in 30 min. There was a horrible storm coming. My brain raced- 30 min on a good day if I hadn't just done a 1.2mi swim and a 56 mi bike the last 3 miles would be a push in 30 min. Then I convinced myself he was lying to me but I was going to keep moving as best I could in case he was right. Soon a golf cart pulled up next to me, he told me as long as I kept going they were going to keep me out as long as they could. So I pushed- I mean for how I felt at that point I was pushing as hard as I could. I stopped eating since that meant I would slow down. My splits for the 3.272mi were 42:28, 42:57, 45:52 (yuck), 40:37. Can you tell they lit a FIRE under my butt?!

I was within a mile from the finish when some old woman on the sideline goes "don't let the bus catch you." I wanted to PUNCH HER! I have never been so angry at a spectator!

I came toward the finish chute and there was D right at the edge of the road. He ran on the other side of the fence with me the whole way. I cried! I cried hard! Hard enough that I had to tell myself outloud to stop so I would be able to breathe and cross the finish. D cleared a thigh high fence and screamed at the people crossing the finish chute that were in my way. He also screamed my name so the announcer would call me out as I crossed. And I did it I crossed the finish line. With tears streaming down my face I got my medal and my hat.

It was pretty amazing to have my parents there when I crossed and my coach and my friends. My friends even made me a half ironman tiara. The best was to hug D when I crossed. He told me "I AM SO PROUD OF YOU! I AM SO PROUD OF YOU!" All I could say was "I DID IT! I actually DID IT!" I cried so hard while I hugged him I couldn't believe that I actually finished what I started months and months ago!