Saturday, August 20, 2011

Steelhead 70.3* Race Report - Part 2

The alarm went off at 4 a.m. but quite frankly I had been up most of the night.  I wasn't feeling anxiety or nerves but for whatever reason was still frustratingly unable to fall asleep.  I ate a peanut butter and banana sandwich and started sipping my real fruit juice/coconut water mix.  A quick change into my singlet and it was time to meet everyone downstairs to start loading up the bikes.  

We reached the race site a little while later and were lucky that Sydney's husband Andy could drop us off nearby to the park where we could ride our bikes in the last little bit.  As soon as we got out of the car all I could hear was the wind and pounding surf.  I started to get a little worried about the swim given how the weather had been the day before.  Once we were in earshot of the transition area though we heard the announcement that the swim portion of the race was cancelled.  There were 5-7 ft swells, a rip current, and small vessel advisory.  I almost started to cry.  I of course did not want to swim in unsafe conditions because I do have a life to return to outside of triathlon but I had trained for this race for 8 1/2 months.  This was my 'A' race and first 70.3  Also, unlike the swim cancellation that had occurred a couple of years prior they did not add a run to the beginning.  The decision was made that it would be a bike/run, with everyone being sent out by bib number, in a time trial format.  I was going to race in my first 69.1.  Not nearly as satisfying and thus, the 70.3* that will forever mark this experience.

It took me about a minute to decide that I was going to have to sign up for a September 70.3 race and therefore today was going to be a long, hard brick workout.  After what seemed like an endless wait they began sending off the pros one at a time at 30 second intervals.  By the time my bib number came around (567) they were sending us off about 5 seconds apart which resulted in a bit of congestion at the beginning.

Instantly I noticed that my Cateye (that had functioned fine from the car to transition) wasn't functioning.  I had counted on that to tell me my current speed and the distance travelled.  My Garmin was set only to show me my cadence.  I wasn't about to pull off to mess around with the Cateye and I'm not coordinated enough to mess around with changing the data fields on my watch while moving so I decided to race this race based on cadence.  I know that an average cadence of between 90 and 95 is ideal for saving the legs for the run so that's what I did.  

From the get-go I felt really good.  I hunkered down into aero and started passing people.  I caught Sydney (she was bib 508) and asked her as I went past what speed we were going because my Cateye wasn't working.  She replied "Fast!" and shouted at me to save something for the run.  The course is rolling (compared to where we live) and I was having a great time passing people on the uphills (the advantage of being small) and taking advantage of the free speed on the downhills.  I made a point to be conscious of my nutrition and eat and drink when I was supposed to.  I ended up not drinking nearly what I had intended but managed to eat a package of Honey Stingers and two gels during the three hours.  I also took a salt tab somewhere along the line.  I had a very scary moment happen while going through one of the aid stations.  I was not taking anything as I was able to carry all of my required food/drink but ended up about ten feet behind a guy that fell while trying to grab a bottle.  He skidded onto his side, flipped over his bike and began to roll into the oncoming lane.  Unfortunately, I had swerved into the oncoming lane to avoid him going down and had to swerve almost into to the grass to avoid running over him.  I felt sick when that happened and my first instinct was to stop.  I looked back though and a ton of volunteers had converged on him and I don't have any kind of medical skill to offer so I kept going.  It took a bit to get my wits about me again and I was on high alert through the remainder of the aid stations.

I passed the 50 mile marker in what seemed like no time and couldn't believe how fast that ride had gone.  My only complaint about the whole thing was the peletons of (mostly) men that went by.  I don't know if it was as a result of the time trial start (by the time they got to the men's waves they were sending them one on top of another with no delay) or what but the blatant cheating that was occurring was really discouraging.  It especially bothered me when I saw a group of about six men riding in a pack with two women from my age group firmly ensconced in the middle.  I worked really hard to get the time I got and made sure that if anyone passed me I dropped back and that if I was passing I was going fast enough to actually pass.  From reading past race reports of this event it appears that this is a problem at Steelhead and I'm not sure why nothing's done about it.  Okay, rant over.

Next thing you know I was pulling up to the transition area and hopping off my bike with only a half-marathon to go!

Some pics - 

Me, Sydney, and Dave before the start

Bike Start

Loving the bike leg.  Look at my grin!

Coming into transition.  Need to work on getting out of my shoes!

Steelhead 70.3* Race Report - Part 1

"The hay is in the barn."  My coach said this to me the week before Steelhead when I was feeling rundown and like I was getting sick and panicking when she suggested commanded me to take a day off from my scheduled workouts.  This stuck with me and was what I repeated to myself the day before and morning of the race.  There was no reason why I couldn't do this! 

We travelled the 3 1/2 hours up to Benton Harbour on Saturday morning after a quick bike/run brick workout.  Along the way we stopped at an IHOP to load up on pancakes as suggested.  I think Coach Mary's advice was "eat until you're full, then eat one more pancake" -  I could not believe how packed that place was at 10 a.m. on a Saturday! 

A couple of scary thunderstorms later we arrived in Benton Harbour and after meeting up with some fellow Windsorites for lunch we hit up the registration/expo at St. Joseph High School.  Registration went very quickly/smoothly and we then spent some time trying to part with some money at the expo.  I was disappointed that the Ironman store had only L and XL t-shirts left that had the m-dot with all of the participants names as that was what I really wanted to get.  I ended up buying a t-shirt that says "Ironman in training - 2012" and a couple of stickers.  The rest of the expo was pretty lame if I'm being honest.  I don't know why I'm always expecting these to be better than they are.  Maybe it's because the first expo I ever attended was at the ill-fated Chicago tri and that was gigantic with the best deals and everything you could possibly hope for that is sports/triathlon related.

After getting all registered we headed to the hotel to get our bikes ready as we had decided to check them in that day so that we could take the shuttle from the parking to the race site the following morning instead of having to worry about coordinating our bikes the morning of.  By the time we hit the hotel the weather had turned foul.  I was so happy  that Mary had suggested we do our brick in the morning when I saw all of the other Windsor athletes trying to head out in the crazy weather to get their workouts in.  We also learned at this point that Jean Klock Park, where the race was being held, had closed tranisition early because of the crazy weather and sand storms.  No early bike check in for us.

After a little relaxation we met up with other tri friends and headed out to dinner.  Unfortunately the dining choices in Benton Harbour are not substantial and 16 of us ended up at Applebee's because they at least had a pasta menu.   I had a pretty tasty grilled shrimp on pineapple rice dish that was on their "healthy menu".  After dinner it was back to the hotel for lights out at 9:00 p.m. and hopefully a good night's sleep.

Stay tuned for part 2...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Steelhead 70.3 Teaser

Because I know you're all on the edge of your seats.... :-)

I unfortunately did not completed 70.3 today.  Neither did anyone else though - the swim was cancelled because 7ft swells and a rip current advisory.  No lifeguard boats, no swim.  So booo to that because I can't put a checkmark next to that particular goal.

Anyhow, a full race report will follow but the highlights are as follows:

- Exceeded my goal time for the bike
- Exceeded my goal time for the run
- PRs for not only the 1/2 marathon but the 5k and 10k too

Had the best race of my life but I must admit, I'm feeling a little robbed because of the swim cancellation.  Stay tuned for more....

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Countdown Begins

I have a bib number - 567
I have a wave start time - 7:25
I have a countdown - 10 days

I guess this is actually going to happen.