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Monday, April 26, 2010

2010 Lonestar Olympic Distance Race Report

So where do I start?  My weekend started Thursday night with packet pickup.  Seems like choosing to go Thursday was the best bet.  Lines and wait time on Friday were terrible from all the frustrated texts I was receiving from friends who were also competing. The expo was a little disappointing for those doing the Sprint and Olympic distances because it was ALL Ironman and 70.3 merchandise.  The IM folks didn't allow local vendors, so the expo was really lacking compared to previous years.  I always looked forward to seeing what I could find/buy a the expos.  There's no way I would ever sport an M-dot or 70.3 designation without having done it.  I even carried my packet pickup backwards because it had a huge M-dot on it!  My friend Mel says Ironman is trying to turn M-dot into the same thing as the Nike Swoosh -- and that's just sooooo not right to any Ironman finishers out there.

On Friday I had taken off from work.  Took my 20 minute easy run -- it was fine.  Legs still didn't really feel good, but I was trusting the taper.  :)  Later that day we had a group lunch with some of the other friends doing the race.  We called it our "Race Day Obsession Lunch"

Before I go further, I have to mention something.  It's just proof that you never know where life will lead you and who you will cross paths with.  So for the 'gee-this-world-is-really-small" file, I give you these two instances...

First, in 2009, while prepping for my return to Danskin to do it as an individual, I signed up for the mentor program.  I was assigned a mentor, Nicki.  Well unfortunately they didn't really mention that the program works best if you were in the Austin area, so having been in Houston I really wasn't going to get a ton of real-time benefit.  That said, Nicki was awesome answering questions via email and we started following one each other's blog -- we're both a fan of geeky race reports, so it keeps us connected.  Well, she was at the race this weekend doing the 70.3 on Sunday, but she was spectating on Saturday and actually gave me a shout out on the run course.  How cool is that?

Then, there's Stacey. Although I keep wanting to call her Cindy.  She leaves me encouraging notes on my blog all the time.  She also does triathlon and we were registered for the same race.  Not only was she registered for the same race, BUT I was number 2081 and she was number 2082.  We were racked right next to one another!!!  What are the odds?  How freaky is that?  It's always nice to meet folks in real-life.  

So on to race day....

I had laid everything out so I needed only to make my hydration and be off.  Right before I left I  had my Blackberry in my tri-shorts pocket.  BEFORE going potty, I pulled my shorts down and the danged thing dropped in the toilet.  Great... no phone for the day, at the very least.  I quickly took it apart and dropped it in a bowl of uncooked rice for 2 days and voila!  This morning it works!!!

Okay... back to the race...

I made it to transition by 5:20 and Melanie, one of my coaches, was there to greet me with a hug and good luck.  Not long after I saw Chris, my other coach (he was excited as usual!).   I setup my stuff... checked and re-checked.  Walked around to find other BAMmers to share well-wishes for a speedy day.  I took some time to find a place to sit and visualize for a while.  Periodically I'd go back to my bike and check everything and then finally met Stacey! 

I couldn't fine my training partner (aka Hombre).  Without my phone I was disconnected from everyone -- which was probably a good thing, but I really wanted to see him off before-hand, as well as my crazy tri-girl buddy Elysha (who was sporting a custom pink tu-tu for her Run).  Elysha says her purpose in triathlon is to "...remind everyone to take it so seriously!"  I think that was a "hint" meant for me, but I do have fun... even if I am focused!

I grabbed my wetsuit and headed down to the swim start.  It had been really windy overnight and the IM folks said they had 75 mph gusts of wind that literally toppled tents and transition over.  It occurred to me that none of the sponsor banners were on the fences any longer and that our BAM! Tent was now gone!  Thank goodness we didn't have to check our bikes the night before!!!  The wind was still hanging around, though not as bad, by 6:30-ish, but I figured my wave wasn't until 9:02, so I still had plenty of time to wait.

I got down to the water, tried to find folks, but couldn't seem to locate anyone.  As the Sprint was getting ready to start I decided to start getting into my wetsuit (which is a lengthy process and difficult for others to watch LOL).

The start time for the Sprint arrived and they announced they would be delaying for 15 minutes. Then after that 15 minutes, they called for 15 minutes more because there was a storm cell passing in the area.  Less than 15 minutes later, and right as I got my wetsuit on and started walking through the sand, they called off both the Sprint and Olympic.  The water was getting rougher as time passed; that much was visible.

I thought it fully appropriate to call off the Sprint, especially because of all the first-timers, but to call the Olympic so soon?  That was a downer for sure.  I understood the need for safety but it doesn't negate the disappointment of having trained for 4 1/2 months and not being able to do the swim.  Phooey.

They told us we'd be doing a time trial start from the bike and that we would be completing the bike and run portions -- so my triathlon quickly turned into a duathlon.  All 2000 participants, plus spectators had to migrate back to transition -- you can imagine how long that took.

On the walk back to transition, I got ticked, processed it and just took it out on the bike. There was no sense in wasting energy on something completely out of my control.  Admittedly, in the end, it was kind of fun being back in transition with everyone -- that said it was a long wait to start and I was ready to bike.  While we were standing talking, I asked one of my friends who has done several half IM events if they would have called today if it was the 70.3 -- she really didn't think so.  It's kind of what you sign-up for when you register. Dealing with and rolling with imperfect conditions is all part of Race Day.

Finally it was my row's turn to start..  They lined us up and started us 3 seconds apart.  I got up to the line but was surrounded by the 4 previous starters who had yet to mount their bikes.  I didn't want to get stuck behind them, so I moved quickly.  I was told I took off out of there fast -- I was up and cranking... I felt good, I could tell I was going to have a good bike. : )

As I crossed the intersection before approaching the seawall, my garmin popped off my easy release strap and hit the ground and shattered; I do not recommend anyone use this strap -- poor engineering and it's not the first time I've had it come off in spite of checking it was secured.  Now I had no heart-rate for the remainder of the race, nor did I have anything to guide me through my intervals.  Cr@p!

I followed my nutrition and hydration on the bike as planned.  There was a tailwind on the way out which helped my time.  I was able to average 20.4 on the way out to the turnaround at the half way point!  On the way back it was mostly a cross-wind (not terrible) and at certain parts of the course where the road turned you were in a head wind, but it wasn't terrible.  I was able to hold on to 18.4 average until I slowed down a little to do nutrition and spin-out my legs the last 10 minutes.  I held on for an 18.1 average... a PR of 1:23 for a 40K race day bike!  Last year at Lonestar my Sprint distance average was 13.8.  I managed to get like 95% of my nutrition in on the bike, but I noticed there was still a little left in my aerobottle.   It wasn't for not trying... I just thought I had sucked it dry!  LOL

I had a < 3 minute transition (as I planned) and was off on my run.  On the way out I saw both my coaches and fellow BAMmers volunteering -- it was nice to see the friendly faces and encouraging shout-outs!. :)  I know I definitely started out too fast (as I always seem to do) and this is where I missed my Garmin.  Knowing my pace is helpful to me to slow things down. On the other hand, maybe I probably rely too much on that.  I just don't "feel" my pacing yet.

A mile into the run course I was light headed and dizzy. I had stuck a package of fig newtons in my fuel belt, but was a little nervous about trying them (since I'd never tried them on a run before).  I took a gamble and tried half of one and it didn't seem to bother me, so I ate the rest of it.  In abut 15 minutes I was feeling a little better on the back-end of the first 3.1 mile loop. This is where I got my shout-out from Nicki!  I didn't know it was her until she shouted, "It's Nicki!"  Still, I think, how small a world it is.

I was drinking 10 oz bottles of water with 1/2 a gel mixed in it for proper dilution, and was getting water from aid stations.  I 'd take a sip and dump the rest on my head and chest to keep cool.  It was definitely hotter than any training day I've had to this point, so I knew I needed to keep cool.  My second loop was definitely better than my first, and I was able to run more than walk.  I also saw my Husband and Daughter 3 times on the loop and lost a few seconds for hugs and kisses each time, but that was worth it.  In the end I finished with a 14:01 pace.  My goal pace was 13:00.


My final time was 2:58.  It is so hard to judge how I would have done, but if I had a decent swim, basing on my 1 mile race swim at Silverlake (40:01), it is probable I would have finished between my "wish goal" and my "realistic goal" -- somewhere between 3:30 and 3:52. 

Lessons Learned:
- I already knew this, but so much of this is mental.  I proved that to myself on the bike.  I was extremely positive (easy, because I felt great) on the bike... now I need to transfer that to my running.  This whole being positive thing will take time to get more consistent with, but I'm improving slowly.

- Don't leave it all on the bike!  What good is a great bike if it leaves you with a sh*tty run, right?  This about enduring 3 sports, not doing 1 really well and being left to dial-in the others.

- Double-check hydration/nutrition on fuel belt from time-to-time.  Make sure I'm on track at the halfway point.  

What I did  right:
- Planning and visualizing helped moving through the race happen more naturally for sure.
- Hydrated well on the bike
- Kept positive (most of the time)
- Didn't forget anything; I had everything I needed. Thanks to checklists!
- Even though it contributed to a cruddy run, I still PR'd on my bike for an Oly Distance!!!
- I smiled... a lot. And even on my run!  :)

What's next?
I was thinking about doing the next local Olympic distance tri, which would be Cap Tex in Austin.  I don't want to let 4 1/2 months of training go, but it's Memorial Day weekend, so that's not do-able logistically.  I need to think about what I'll do.  I was originally going to do a super sprint, but then decided against it.  I might decide to do it again just to get the practice of transitioning from a hard bike to the run?  I don't know. Need to talk to my coaches about it.  Lack of the swim at Lonestar leaves me feeling a little cheated.  I hate to wait until Clear Lake Int'l -- I might consider Sylvan Beach in June again, which I had also removed from my schedule.

After Clear lake, Mel says, it's time for me "to train as a runner", so I can make it through 26.2 at the Houston Marathon, which will help me prep for the 70.3 in April of 2011.

5 comments:

silken said...

way to go Donna! glad you had a good day! it did turn out fun in spite of the disappointment of no swim. it did feel a little like being cheated! I did pretty good on the bike too, had a flat though! the run was tough but I made it through. I don't know what other race we will do. I did already sign up for COM sprint just for one to do quickly. after that it will likely be Clear Lake before I can do another Olympic. glad you met and exceeded goals for yourself! oh, and btw, my off screen name is Stacey. And I too am glad we got to meet in real life! :)

silken said...

oh, and where can we get our results?I can't find them on the website. will they email them to us? I did not wear my watch and actually have no idea on my times!

sharla said...

Hey, congrats!
I'm so glad you took the time to write your lil "geeky" (not) race report- have to say, with you doing yours and my brother at the tri in Las Vegas, I was a bit bummed I was on the couch :).
Impressed that you took what was dealt to you and you made the best out of it!

I was a bit surprized at all the I dot stuff they sold at the 70.3 here (dog collar was a constant joke-people wondering if the dog should have to complete it in order to wear it).
The promoters should've had merch for both the sprint and oly participants!

Looking forward to your next race report!!

Cyclin' Missy said...

Congrats on a great race day! Sorry you had to do it without the swim. You did great!

I really appreciate your advice about not leaving it all out there on the bike. As I think about my first tri coming up, I agree that it's better to have a decent bike and a good run than to have a great bike and and a really lousy run. That would not feel as satisfying. I also really appreciate your positive attitude and smiles!

Donna said...

Thanks Sharla and Missy. :)

Missy, you know it's really hard to hold back when you're feeling good. Even just knowing I had to for the last 10 minutes of the bike was a mental thing -- people passing you, etc. You have to remember if you do it right, you'll pass them on the run... like everyone did me! LOL

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