Saturday, October 29, 2011

Austin 70.3

I have been battling with the idea of racing 70.3 all year.  Deep down, I knew I was better suited for the longer distance, but the idea of wrapping my mind around running 13 miles off the bike has always left me with a lack of confidence.   With nothing but a speed background would always take its toll mentally.  I have raced several 70.3's and each time I have come away with the same love/hate relationship.  Love that I have double the time on the bike and run to make up for the time I lose on the swim, compared to the little time I have during an olympic distance.  One can't win a triathlon in the swim, but one certainly can lose it in the swim; I have experienced that a few times this year.  The Hate aspect always comes down to the last 3 miles of the run in a 70.3; They merely HURT!

I finally wrapped my head around racing a 70.3 again after my swim debacle at Hyvee.  Too many times I would come out of the swim sitting mid-front pack or leading second pack and run out of miles to make up for the time lost in the swim.  Changing gears from the olympic distance to half iron was nothing more than focusing on my endurance; the speed was there.  After three weeks of hills, wind, and humidity in Kona, I had all the confidence I needed to have a successful half ironman, as long as I stuck to my power and pacing; that's the hard part.  I always feel good and think I can hold a slightly higher wattage and run pace when it comes race day; not this time at the Austin 70.3.  I finally stuck to the plan and look what happened.

Let me start from the beginning. Taper week wasn't going as planned.  I wasn't recovering the way I would have liked.  Friday rolled around and I still had some heaviness in my legs.  I was getting a bit nervous.  After cutting back even more than what was prescribed, I finally began to have a bounce back in my step on Sat (day before the race).  I thought to myself, just in time.  Race morning, I felt great; my body was ready to go.

Not sure why I even set an alarm and scheduled a wakeup call.  I am always up and ready to get out of bed, since I just lay there with my eyes closed.  I ate breakfast at 4:30am (oatmeal with almond butter), got my things together and headed to the race site.  While setting up transition, I sipped on a water bottle of Right Stuff (strictly electrolytes).  45min before race start I drink another water bottle consisting of First Endurance pre-race and 1 scoop of EFS.  As time gets closer my nerves begin to run wild.  I kept thinking to myself, I have trained so hard, I am ready for this one.  If I can only have a race  like I have been training; many people say, what you do in training you will do in racing.  That was true for me.

The gun goes off at 7:32am.  Before I knew it, I was swimming amongst a group of 15 women.  I figured out very quickly that I had lined myself up perfectly for a nice straight shot along the bouy line. The Sun was just coming up so it was very clear; sighting the bouys wasn't any trouble at all.  By the time I reached the first turn bouy I could tell the group of girls I was swimming near were beginning to fall of the pace.  That was super encouraging, being that I felt good.  After the 2nd turn bouy I managed to swim my way into third position.  I knew there were at least two girls in front of me, but I couldn't see them.  Kristin Peterson and Tanille Hoogland, both Specialized teammates were out of my sight.  I came out of the water sitting 3rd.

T1 transition went well; striping my 2XU wetsuit off and hopping onto my Specialized Transition without any hang-ups.  Still couldn't see Kristin or Tenille.  So the plan was to stick to my watts; steady up the hills and push hard on the down hills.  Everything was going as planned until Jessica Myers comes by me on the bike.  "Holy crap, where did she come from; I have  got to go with her."  So I did. Jessica and I switched positions several times for the first hour to 90min on the bike.  I then made the decision to let her go because my watts were higher than I wanted them to be.  Too much power could be detrimental to my run.  It was tough to watch her go on by and stay out in front.  But as long as I kept her in my sights I was good.  This bike course wasn't easy.  It was one hill after the other.  I really had to stay on top of my average power and nutrition, especially because it was warming up quickly.  throughout the ride I sipped from a water bottle with 2.5scoops EFS, 1scoop Maltidextrin, and 1 scoop Pre-race; a second water bottle with 2.5 scoops EFS and 1scoop maltidextrin; and one more water bottle of just plane water; all of which consisted of 700 calories.  I consumed about 600 of those 700 calories.  The last hour of the bike my lower back began to ache.  I was ready to get off the bike and run when mile 56 rolled around.

T2 was also smooth.  I was just thrilled to be in the upright, vertical position.  As soon as I came off the bike and started the run, I had Kristin Peterson in my sights.   First goal was to catch Kristin and then keep on going.  Throughout the run I was very meticulous about a constant influx of nutrition (I consumed a full EFS Flask: 400 calories) and sticking to my pace; running steady up the hills and rolling it out on the down hills.  This method really worked well for me.  I didn't burn myself out by pushing too hard on the hills.  Not to mention the fact that I have always enjoyed running downhill.  I was really consistent with my pace through the first two loops on the run.  The third loop I could feel myself beginning to fall off pace.  I immediately went through my mental checklist: am I eating, drinking, keeping a good cadence, and cooling my body off?  All of which were in check.  The hills were beginning to set in.  As I was getting to mile 10 I really needed to stay mentally tough; that is when Tenille dropped out of the race, which put me in second place.  That was it, all I needed to push through the pain the last 3-4 miles.  It was nice to follow the cyclist that was out in front of me making sure I was staying on course.  She was a saving grace on many occasions.  She made everyone aware at the aid station I needed water and coke.  She also gave me a focus point.  The last mile of the run was probably the worst part of the entire race.  I was already hurting and I had to make myself hurt more; here's why.  At some point within the last mile to mile and a half I heard the sound of another cyclist.  This made me nervous so I had to look; who was it?  My fear was confirmed, I read "third place female" on the front of the bike following me.  "shit, there is a girl right behind, I can't lose a position this close to the end." So I kicked it in gear, at least what ever gear I had left.  I probably wasn't going any faster but I sure felt like I was; my legs were on fire.  As I crossed the finish line I was expecting to see another athlete coming in right behind me.  She just wasn't there; about 3 min later she crosses the finish line.  Not sure who I heard or what I was seeing a mile out, but it was enough to dig deeper; deeper than I thought I could dig.

On many occasions during that run I probably wouldn't have stuck to my guns and pacing if it were for Shane screaming his head off at me.  I was so well informed on my placement and time from 1st and 2nd place girls.  All of his encouragement allowed me to separate myself from the pain and focus on my rabbit.  Thanks babe you were a huge help!  Also, a huge thanks to all my sponsors you have helped me tremendously; it wouldn't be possible without your support!