70.3 Worlds!

Ironman 70.3 Worlds

Ironman 70.3 World Championship!  Wow, still can’t quite believe I actually had the opportunity to race with the Who’s Who of triathlon!

I met Julie Moss on a brief training run

I met Julie Moss on a brief training run

Craig "Crowie" Alexander...hotter than the Vegas sun!

Craig “Crowie” Alexander…hotter than the Vegas sun!

In the days leading up to the race I was nervous but felt prepared from a training and nutrition perspective.   I’d anticipated blazing heat in the Nevada desert and did plenty of heat training.

The logistics of this race were a bit daunting since there were many unknowns–1st travel race and 1st point to point meaning two separate transition areas.  Going forward, I’ll know what to expect and Ironman managed events are SO well run that there are plenty of folks to ask and all of them were pretty darn helpful!

I shipped my Felt bike “ACE” via TriBike Transport, which worked like a charm.  20130907_155521And, I’m SO glad I rented a car versus relying on taxis.  Also, I got a Garmin GPS from the rental car company which really helped a ton…yes, I know I can use Google Maps on my phone but having the Garmin on my dashboard made things a ton smoother.  Setting up T1 and T2 on the day prior to the race was interesting and was completed without issue.

Setting up T1

Setting up T1

Learning #1…make sure IF (as I may not ever do this again) I ride with someone to the race start ensure that they are on the same page from a arrival to race venue perspective!  I hitched a ride to the race with some other athletes friends-of-friends, they were to pick me up at 4:30 a.m (transition opened at 4:00 and it was planning to close at 6:00, I was in the 1st non-pro swim wave and we were about a 25 minute drive away).  They showed up at 4:45, we got lost (they didn’t have a Garmin, which cost us 10 minutes) plus when we got close to the race venue traffic was seriously bumper to bumper for hundreds of cars.  It was 5:20 a.m, then 5:30, 5:35…I needed to load up my bike nutrition and I was starting to FREAK!  The folks I was driving with were much more seasoned triathletes and were also in later swim waves. Somehow I had previously gotten the phone number of Ironman 70.3 Worlds “command central” of the race (true).  Anyway, I called them and said “Do you realize that there are hundreds of cars waiting to find parking and are you still closing T1 at 6:00?!”  To which they answered “Yes, Mamam, our plan is to still close transition as planned at 6:00”.  OH CRAP!!! Now I was really starting to FREAK OUT!

Oh yeah and it was raining, not just a sprinkle but like we needed to build an ARK!  So, I said “Stop the Car!” and I joined the many other athletes that were running toward transition which was about 1.5 miles away…hey that’s one way to get my pre-race run warm-up in!

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Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Henderson, NV swim course

I made it to T1 and loaded up my bike with gels etc..  Guess what?!  Electrical tape doesn’t stick too well in the rain.  But, I made it work.  My bike was in an awesome spot close to bike out so I only had to run with my bike a relatively short distance although much of it was up a hill.  After getting my bike prepared I headed down to the swim start which was already lining up.  And, by the way, they did NOT close T1 at 6:00 it was likely 6:15 or so, but still I was somewhat pressed for time.  I lined up, the pros were off and going, my age group got in the water and we swam to the start line treading water (first time I’ve done that type of swim start) and we were OFF!  Once the race started I felt better.

Except it continued to RAIN!  And as I ran through swim exit toward my bike, which was about a ½ mile…I started to worry.   Until then, I hadn’t EVER ridden my TRI bike or actually my road bike in the rain.  On bad weather days I just opt for a spin class instead.  And it wasn’t just a drizzle it was really RAINING!  Water was pouring off the brim of my helmet, thankfully I have TRI bike shoes so the water was running out the bottom, I wear socks when I ride which were soaked, but somehow my prescription sunglasses (photosensitive) didn’t get completely water spotted.  Still, I was nervous and with my recent loss of biking buddy plus the fact that my son so kindly shared his nightmare dream of me dying in this race…I was more than a little cautious.

0466_06221 The bike course was tough and I did see a pretty major wipe-out of three bikes colliding and all riders down and out.  The rain stopped at around mile 40, which made a huge difference when looking at my bike splits…once the rain was over my average mph jumped from around 16 to almost 22 since I was comfortable putting the pedal to the metal…and that wasn’t a super easy part of the bike course either.  Still it helped improve a marginally effective, BUT safe, ride.

Transition bags and changing tents were a new concept for me also.  It wasn’t bad and once again, now I know the drill for future reference.  The run was a 3 looper with about 2 miles up and 2 miles down.  I did run thru a few aid stations but also walked on some hills.  Still my pace overall was similar to Boulder although the course in Henderson was much more difficult and toward the end of the run it was starting to heat up with blue skies.0466_37673

Nutrition once again worked really well.  For fear of dehydrating, I seriously drank ALL the time.  All water bottles on the bike plus one from an aid station, every run aid station I refilled my handheld water bottle plus drank coke (love that nasty stuff) after mile 8, a full water bottle at finish, 3 mini chocolate milks and two pints of Stella mid afternoon after the race.  You’d think I’d be spending a ton of time in the porta potty (or other) but nope…after all that I must have still been dehydrated.  But I felt fine.

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Overall an awesome experience!  My sister in-law Melissa traveled to Vegas to support me which was FANTASTIC!  Mel and her extended family were there at the race cheering me on and I saw a few other Colorado tri friends there too.  Having folks who actually know you call out your name during the race is an amazing lift!

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With a 6:35:47 finish time, I wish I would have had a faster race but it all came down to a slower ride and if I had “do overs” I wouldn’t change a thing.  I qualified for and finished the Ironman 70.3 World Championship race and I have one of the worlds BIGGEST finisher medals to prove it!IMG_20130908_152744

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Rock’n and Roll’n

After failing to achieve my run goal in the Harvest Moon long course (half Ironman distance triathlon), I decided to join Heather R at the Rock’n Roll marathon race in Denver.  At Harvest Moon, my 13.1 run was really a walk/run NOT even a run/walk.  To be honest, I was pretty disgusted with my run result.

I’ve heard from my other friends that the Rock’n Roll was a fun event.  So here was my goal for the race:

#1 – Have FUN

#2 – Do NOT walk

Up to this point my longest running race was the Cherry Creek Sneak 10 mile which I completed in April of this year.   In a nutshell, I was looking for a little 13.1 miles of running redemption!

The Rock’n Roll was a BIG and well run event.  The race included a half and full marathon course option and basically closed down many of the major streets in central Denver.

There were close to 11,000 participants spread between the two events and for most of the race the 13.1 folks ran alongside the full marathon runners.  As promised, there were bands and music pretty much every mile and aid stations were abundant and well stocked.  Pacers ran to help athletes achieve various completion time goals.

I didn’t really have a true time goal although I had, at registration, indicated an anticipated completion time of 2:10:00 which equates to a 10 minute mile pace.  As Heather and I ran along the course, my legs and feet became a bit achy but not really painful.  I didn’t become anaerobic as I successfully managed my heart rate via my Garmin and focused on pacing to keep in my HR Zone 3 until close to the end of the run.  I enjoyed the bands and the crowd.  I smiled for the photographers.  I cheered the bands. And…I ran, I did not WALK and as the finish line approached Heather and I really RAN to a strong finish.

The Rock’n Roll marathon ROCKED!  Also, I was pleased with my finish time of 2:02:50 @ a 9:22 pace, which put me in the top 10% of my age group.  I said to guy #1, that I didn’t think that was too bad for a non-runner and his response was…well, maybe you really ARE a runner now.  Thanks #1, you ROCK too!

1st TRI of 2012

My 2012 triathlon season kicked-off on Sunday June 10th at the Greeley Sprint Triathlon (www.greeleytriathlon.com).  This event has the reputation of being reasonable in size and well-organized.  It absolutely lived up to those claims!

I attended the pre-race meeting the afternoon before and felt ready to jump into my first TRI of the year.  BUT, on the morning of the event a major forest fire on the outskirts of Ft Collins coupled with a weather front had created conditions that introduced the possibility of the event being cancelled due to poor air quality and bad weather.  UGH!

Yes, the air was a bit smoky and the weather blustery but the event was set up and the athletes, me included were ready to GO!  After a brief delay, the decision was made…and it was a green light for the event to proceed.  Now the adrenaline was really starting to flow.

The swim for this event was a time trial start—I wasn’t familiar with the approach used which was oldest first and then each subsequent swimmer every 5 seconds.  And so, the oldest male age grouper who I believe was 82 started the age-groupers in the event (oldest female was 73)…what’s scary is that I was the 47th swimmer in the water as oldness goes!  EEEK!  Which was reenforced by the prominently displayed large black # written in Sharpie on the back of my right calf50!

So when it was my turn, as the others before me, I launched off of a rubber mat into surprisingly clean, clear and temperate water.  My new Sable swim goggles, immediately filled with water requiring adjusting but the 500 meter swim was quickly done.  Approaching T1, I thought how cool it was that they, had wetsuit “strippers”.  No! not the kind of strippers that wear minimal or no clothing, but folks that forcibly pull your wetsuit quickly off your body.  Given that I had @CoachCary’s Helix wetsuit on loan I didn’t want to risk damaging it…so, I proceeded with my typical T1 routine.  This time it seemed like I took forever to get that wetsuit off and after the race Guy #2 (son) said “Mom, you looked just AWFUL when you got done with the swim…like you’d run a marathon or something”. Guy #1 (husband) elaborated  “you were fine and didn’t look any worse than about half of the other swimmers getting out of the water”.  So glad to hear how awesome I looked…Humph!  True, I did feel a little off kilter and wobbly…who knows why!?  Anyway, my T1 time ended up being respectable at a 1:52.

Hopping onto “Zen Boy” my Giant bike, I could feel some difficulty in my breathing, which I think (duh) was due to air conditions.  The Bike portion of the race was uneventful (always thankful for that).  T2 proceeded quickly and I was out onto the run.  Now, I had debated about wearing my Garmin to track my run pace.  See…I have this issue were I cannot tell the difference between running a 7:30 vs. 9:30 mile pace…other than when I become exhausted since I cannot sustain a 7:30 pace and then have to either walk or jog at a snail’s pace.  Garmin was not worn…decided to just go for it.  Well…too quick of a run pace combined with less than crystal clean air resulted in my having to WALK for a brief time; on not one, or two but three occasions during this 5K.  WHAT?!  After all my training and focus on running!  And, YES, I had just run 10 miles without walking a single second at the Cherry Creek Sneak!  And, I was now walking during a 5K!  UGH!!  Frustrating to say the least!

Still before I knew it…up ahead was the finish line!  My stretch goal time was 1:10:00, my safe goal 1:15.   I finished in 1:09:34; Swim (9:26), T1 (1:52), Bike (28:44), T2 (1:22), Run (28:13)…and got a red cowbell for getting 2nd in my age group.  Just like when you have one great golf shot during an 18-hole round of golf, those numbers and that little cowbell will keep me motivated and asking with anticipation When’s My Next Event?!