Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Macon 1/2 Ironman Race Report

I'm beginning to think my whole purpose of doing triathlons is to 1 up the previous race report. I'm also beginning to realize you don't necessarily need a brain to do triathlons however, a memory goes a long way (even with a checklist). I decided to do Macon after the Rev 3 Knoxville HIM. I was pretty disappointed in my performance there so I asked if I could do another one with some crazy training the day before because I didn't want to lose out on long training just to get in another race. Macon fell on a Saturday, so I was granted my wish of a tough workout, but the day after. Saturday a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike with a 13.1 mile run. Sunday a 112 mile bike ride. HOLY SH*T! I'm either a dumbass or a badass asking for punishment like this. After Sunday I'm going with a little bit of both. I really wasn't even thinking about this race as a race. It really was just a long training day. In my mind I kept thinking about the 112 miles I had to ride on Sunday. It just kept playing in my head and I needed to be smart.

I traveled down to Macon on Friday around 3pm. I packed pretty much right before leaving. I had my checklist and was ready to check things off. Bike shoes, check. Running shoes, check. Goggles, check. Tri shorts and shirt, check. Race belt (in the car), check. Nutrition, check. Helmet, (in the car), check. Sunglasses, check. Socks, check. On my way down I realize I might be making a stop for a sports bra because I know I didn't pack one. I'm pretty sure I had one in my trunk since I basically live out of my car. I get down to Macon after sitting in unbelievably annoying rush hour traffic and pull into the race site, only to remember as I parked that my helmet in the car wasn't actually in the car, but at my brother's house. F**K!!!!!!! You've got to be kidding me this is the thing I forget? And here I was worrying about a sports bra, which I could easily pick one up anywhere. A good helmet, not so much. I run into friends as they're coming out of transition hoping they might have a spare helmet. No such luck. I call another friend who is down there and no luck again. I figured I would be making a stop at a sporting good store to get a new helmet. Funny thing is I was actually in the market for a new helmet, I just didn't think I would be purchasing one in a situation like this. I check in and get my number. I've had a thing with race numbers and they have to have meaning or just have a good ring to it. One time it was the area code of my cell phone number. Last race it was 420. This race I was assigned the perfect race number...411!!! Information for the chick that should use it regularly. Luckily Macon has a small race expo and Roswell bikes was there with helmets. Now here is where I expect to get the most amount of jokes and comments. Don't worry, I'm prepared. Plus growing up with the last name Wiener, I've been abused for many years. I tell the guy that I have a really small head (insert joke) and that I have a hard time finding hats and helmets to fit me. He said that he's never had a helmet not fit someone. Well now he has! That bad boy was big on me. One of the helpers in the tent told me that he is a vendor for Roswell Bikes and he actually has some helmets in the back of his trunk. Great, now I'm back in NYC on Canal Street buying a "designer" purse from some sketchy dude! He of course was telling me how great this brand is, blah, blah, blah. It's some German company which is probably not USAT approved, but it fit and for the moment, that's what I needed. He said it was a $100 helmet which he'd sell to me for $50. I'll take it dude. I'm the girl who forgets to put on a race belt or bring tri shorts for a triathlon or manages to get lost on a race course and cuts it short by 2 miles so this really shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone who knows me. No joke, I'm pretty close to start laying things out for IMLP.

Race morning comes and I have no nerves whatsoever. I like this feeling especially since it's so not normal for me. The announcer tells us that the water is 81 degrees and not wetsuit legal. That's a good thing because I didn't even bring mine. I get in the water for a warm up swim and of course the ritual of peeing before every race. I go to about the 1st buoy and felt really good. I was in the 4th wave and was trying to figure out exactly where to start. I decided to position myself to the far right. This way if I wanted to I could just swim on the inside of the buoy in case any anxiety came out. The horn went off and I was in the water. I got into a groove pretty early and was able to sustain it for the entire course. Honestly, this was the best I've ever felt in an open water swim. My stroke felt fantastic, I felt like I was moving at a pretty decent pace and I had 0 anxiety. WOO HOO! The only issue I had was breathing every 3rd stroke. That's really the only way I swim now in the pool, but for some reason when I get to a race I revert back to breathing just to the right. I tried it a few times, but wasn't comfortable with it. I got out of the water, looked at my watch and was really psyched. My swim time was 32:49, which is almost 6 minutes off of my last HIM. It was about a 1/4 mile to the transition area. I started to jog and then there was a hill so I decided to walk up it. I wasn't sure exactly how much energy I exerted in the swim, so I wanted to save my legs. Our swim times didn't end until we hit the mat before transition, so my recorded swim time was 34:49. I looked at the race results and I am happy and proud to say that I was the 28th female of 111 out of the water. That puts me in the top 25%. What an amazing feeling that is after being 5-10 minutes slower in every race because of my anxiety. HELL YEAH!!!!!!!!!! Huge accomplishment for me.

Moving onto the bike. I was hoping to do this in 3:30 or less, but if I didn't meet it I wasn't going to be upset. It took me about 15 miles for my legs to get going. 10-15 seems like the magic number (or not so magic number depending on how you look at it) for me to get acclimated to biking legs. It's also a good test for me not to push it too hard in the beginning and train holding back for Placid. I don't want to blow everything on the bike. I felt ok at mile 15, but man was it hot out there. It had to be in the 90s with a heat index of 100 (@ least that's what it was around 3). I was trying to get my nutrition in and drink as much as I could because I know how my body reacts to the heat and that's not well. By mile 25 I had already gone through 2 bottles of water, 3/4 of a bottle of Infinite (my liquid nutrition) and I took a few sips of my concentrated bottle of Infinite. This was the 1st time I was using a concentrated nutrition bottle. It's beneficial because you're carrying less on your bike, with more calories. All you need is water to chase down a sip of the concentrated liquid. Well when I got to mile 30 they were out of water and only had warm Gatorade. This did not make me happy. I really wanted and needed water especially since it was so hot out. Not only would I put the water in my aero bottle, but I would pour some on myself to try and stay cool. Uh oh onto plan B, which I didn't have. I decided at this point to take it much slower and try to drink the 1/4 bottle of extremely warm Infinite and not even touch the concentrated stuff. I also made sure that I was taking my salt pills. I tried conserving the Gatorade but that only last for so long. I couldn't wait to get to mile 45 so I could hopefully get more water. Luckily they had some so I took 2 bottles. I kept 1 on my bike so I could have it for the run and then another went into my aero bottle and the rest on my head and neck. I felt much better and more confident with these liquids. The course wasn't the easiest, but wasn't the most difficult I've done either. I was expecting it to be slightly flatter based on feedback I've heard from others that have done the race before. I don't think there were any abnormally huge hills, but some were definitely challenging. I got passed left and right and very seldom passed others. I was surprisingly ok with that. In my mind I kept thinking 13.1 and 112. Those were the numbers that stood out the most for me. With about 10 miles or so left I saw a couple of girls behind me. My only goal was for them not to pass me. They weren't too close to me, but if I saw them creeping up, I was going to gun it. I figured I had to get competitive at some point during this race. When I was heading into the final 6 or so miles I saw a guy who seemed like he was struggling. I asked if he was ok and he said that he was really cramping. Luckily I had some extra salt pills, so I gave him a few. Hopefully it helped him a little bit. During the salt pill exchange one of the girls got in front of me. Oh hell no that wasn't happening! So I got in front of her and never saw her again. I ended up at 3:30:07. Not bad.

I took my water bottle and went on my merry way for the run. Luckily there was a water stop right out of transition so I topped off my bottle with cold water. I finished that bottle before I even got to mile 1. I was thirsty and felt like I was in a desert which had humidity. I looked at my watch and made sure I kept no less then a 10:30 pace. For some reason when I see people walking it makes me feel like I should walk too. I passed a girl walking, so I decided to walk. Mind you, we weren't even at mile 1. Crap, this could make for a long day. Then she passed me when I was walking. Then I passed her when she was walking. It was definitely a game of cat and mouse. I turned around to her and asked if she was planning to do a run walk. I figured we could at least keep each other company. I didn't have a plan of how much I was going to run and how much I was going to walk. I basically wanted to run until I felt I needed to walk. When we got to the 1st water stop I saw a friend of mine who told me he cramped up pretty bad at the end of the bike and wasn't feeling great. I welcomed him to join us. I'd say we probably did a 1.5 minute run and then a 2 minute walk for the 1st 3.5 miles or so. We made sure to stop at every aid station to get more fluids We probably stopped for much longer then we should've. At this point fluids were the most essential thing for us because of the heat and humidity. When we got to the mile 4 aid station I was feeling much better. My legs seemed like they had improved substantially and I could run more. I decided though to stay with my crew. The wiser thing would've been to go on my own, but I chose this option instead. I wasn't racing for time, so I might as well enjoy it while I'm out there. The thing that I did decide on, which I will probably get a scolding for from Andrew, is instead of running at a slow pace during my run portions, I went for all out sprints. I basically did about 8-10 1/4 mile sprints (7:00-8:30 min mile pace). Yeah, I was feeling those sprints by the end. I wanted to make the most of this "workout" and I knew short sprints would probably do the trick. The one thing I will say about being at the back of the pack, we are fun freaken people. There were a few different packs of us that kept passing each other during the run. We laughed and joked and had as much fun as we could have out there. My run time was 3:12:18 and finish time was 7:23:01. I think the one thing I really need to work on are my transition times. Seriously, they are pretty bad. I'm just never in a rush to start the next discipline. I guess I should be. Maybe that will be my next goal since I might've overcome this whole open water anxiety BS! So my times definitely weren't something to write home about, but I had a good, fun day!

Moving onto my short 112 mile ride after a 1/2 freaken Ironman! I can say it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. It was tough, but luckily the weather was pretty cooperative until mile 80ish. It was completely overcast and much cooler. My friend Mike rode with me for the 1st 50 and man was it great having company. My legs were definitely feeling it initially, but they felt pretty good considering the day before. I was climbing the hills pretty well, maybe a little too hard aggressive. I worked on something new this ride. Hell, I had enough miles to do so. When I climb hills, I hate getting out of the seat. My legs hurt more and I just don't like it. It can be more beneficial to stand because you're using your entire body instead of just your legs to generate power and speed. Mike highly recommended it, so I tried it out a bunch of times. He told me that it would take time to feel better and compared it to the same thing as doing sprints. It sucks in the beginning, but you have to train your body to get used to them. I'm trying! I dropped Mike off at mile 50 and got more nutrition and hydration. I struggled a little to get back into the groove for a few miles and then was going at a very good, comfortable pace. I planned to do the 66 loop and missed a turn. CRAP!!! I ended up on the 100 mi route and knew there was no way I was doing 150. I stopped at a convenient store to get more hydration and asked for directions. He gave me directions (which at mile 89 would've added on at least 20-30 miles). I would've done it, but not with a smile. Then I ended up seeing markings in the opposite direction for the route I was initially on. I wasn't sure what to do because I couldn't quite figure out what mile I was at in the route. I stopped a car and asked how far I was from a landmark I knew. They said it was about 5 miles away, so I decided to backtrack that way. Luckily I did because it only added 4 miles to my route, which was what I planned on doing with the 66. I was definitely tired at the end of the ride and the hills were killing me. The skies opened and it was hot. I needed to be conservative on my liquids because I knew I wouldn't be able to stop for at least 20 miles. 7:23 in riding time for race distance. Man it was tough, but I did it!!! Lucky me gets to do 112 next week too!

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