IM Raleigh 70.3

6 weeks prior, I PR’d NOLA 70.3 with a 5:52:06, and yet, I was going into Raleigh, shooting for a 6:15 due to the difference in the courses.  The race started with the Pros at 7AM, and my swim wave wasn’t scheduled to go off until 7:56.  About 7:15, I drank my 3 scoops of Ucan.

SWIM:

They were telling us as soon as we had arrived that the swim was not wetsuit legal.  I was disappointed in this since swimming is my weakest event, and I need all the help I can get.  I did have a new swimskin though that I brought, and what better time to try it out for the first time than on race day.  😉  Pfft…. nothing new on race day takes the adventure out of things.  The time went by pretty quick, and before I knew it, it was go time on an absolutely gorgeous morning to race.  For the swim, you walk down the beach under the timing arch to an in water start by waves.  I lined myself up to the inside of the course which was a triangular shape.  I found a bit of room here where I felt like I wouldn’t be immediately swam over by others in my wave.  They sounded the horn, and we were off.  I actually remembered to start my watch for the first time ever in a race at the start.  I tried to hug the inside of the course since it was pretty open space there for the first section.  As we rounded the first turn, I moved a bit wider since people moved to the inside on the turn, and I stayed out a bit for the first 200 yds or so of the back stretch.  The water had been pretty smooth until this back stretch, and suddenly, I had waves smacking me in the face, and I was getting mouthfuls of water.  I switched my breathing to the right for a few strokes and it seemed better, then the big waves seemed to disperse.  The next issue was the younger & faster men that started behind us were starting to catch me about this time, and I was in the middle of the course instead of either side now, so I made my way to the inside right next to the buoys because it seemed pretty open until a guy came from inside the buoy line and sideswiped me.  I stopped and let him go then continued on.  The back stretch seemed to go on FOREVER, but I finally reached the second turn buoy and headed into the final stretch.  Going down this stretch, a fast guy came up on my left, and as he bumped me once or twice and I moved to my right, he continued and then pushed me, so I switched to the breaststroke, and yes, I did try to kick him.  There was no sense in how aggressive he was being, and there was plenty of open water.  I caught his arm a bit, but I wanted to catch his face at the time.  Approaching the final two buoys, I caught up to a guy who was backstroking, and I left him plenty of room if his stroke was anywhere near where it should have been, but rather he grabbed the top of my head when I was in line with his shoulder and pushed it.  I’m still not sure if that was intentional or not, but it seemed to be as he practically dunked me, and the position would have been a REALLY awkward spot to be able to grab someone’s head in the backstroke unless you were just skimming the top of the water with your stroke all the way through.  The swim exit was up a boat ramp that had mats on it and was easy to exit.  I was simply glad to be done with this swim that seemed to take a lot longer than normal.

swim exit

They caught me removing my ear plugs, but the look of exhaustion is about how I felt at this point

I stopped by the wetsuit strippers who now had very little to do, and one of them unzipped my swimskin for me, and I headed to my bike.  Arriving at my bike, it looked like everyone in my age group had already left…. geesh, I must really suck at swimming is what was going through my head.  My swim time was 49:00, and I was 86th out of 151 starters in my age group, got to work on that.

BIKE:

I grabbed my bike, headed to the mount line, remembered to press the correct buttons on my watch, and was off.  Goal was warm up and ease into 80-85% FTP.  Again, that seemed a bit high, and my quads had definitely not recovered because they were feeling tight for some reason, but I figured I’d just see how they loosened up.  56 miles was a long way to go, no need in getting in my head this early.  We had a little bit of climbing in the first 5 miles that seemed to help loosen up my quads, and I quickly found myself settling into a good rhythm and feeling better.  The next 25 miles or so had more elevation loss than gain and was an extremely easy ride. I had been told that the second half of the course was a lot hillier, and the elevation profile showed that it should have a total gain of 2700 feet, so I was prepared for the course to get difficult.  The next 5 miles presented a bit of a climb, but nothing that I thought was significant, then the final 21 miles had more loss overall than gain again.  The bike course was fast!  Yes, there were some hills, but they were rollers and not hard climbs.  I kept looking for the hills that people were referring to, but I didn’t see them.  I know there were some changes to the course this year due to road construction, so perhaps that was why it was easier than expected.  I ended up with an elevation gain of just over 2200 on the bike instead of the 2700 shown on IM’s site.

If you are from Atlanta, this ride was easier than the Silk Sheets route, so train there, and you’ll think it’s a breeze.  Silk Sheets’ hills are definitely longer, slower climbs than this.

The only issues on the bike course I had was traffic.  The officers did a great job of stopping and directing traffic for the riders, but there was one stretch where cars were really backed up coming towards us, and a driver(seemingly annoyed) whipped out in front of us going in our direction.  The driver then proceeded to ride right on the back end of a slower cyclist, but they stayed towards the right edge to prevent us from passing him and the other cyclist.

I came in from the bike with a time of 3:02:12, and I headed into the somewhat weird transition.  Transition is split into two sides by a bit of a zig-zag due to shrubbery.  Odd, but it wasn’t that big of a deal.  I racked my bike and proceeded to put my socks and shoes on.  As I was putting my stuff on, I was rather annoyed when I saw a fellow age grouper run in while a male volunteer pushed her bike and racked it for her as she started putting on her shoes.  After getting her shoes on, he told her to go, and he then put her gear in her bag for her.  I guess volunteers aren’t technically outside assistance, but I think this goes against what the rules allow.  Volunteering so you can provide unequal assistance to someone you know is cheating if you ask me….just my $.02.  I will say that I was very pleased with the lack of drafting I saw by competitors on this course.  I never saw any groups fly by who were obviously drafting.

On the bike, I consumed 50 ounces of water mixed with 6 scoops of Osmo and a 200 calories Kind bar.

RUN:

Out of transition I headed, and up a hill…… a hill that lasted 3 miles.  Ok, there were a few breaks, but overall, the first half of the loop was uphill.  I HATED this.  There just wasn’t a good chance to get your legs to relax off the bike and find them for the run in that first 3 miles.  With my calves getting tighter by the minute and trying to cramp, I took some Base Salt (ok, I took a quick triple dose).  The aid stations were all well stocked with ice, water, Gatorade, Coke, pretzels, oranges, bananas, Gu, sponges, etc.  I have to say, the volunteers and race rocked at keeping the supplies going on the course!  Kiddie pools had ice in them with sponges, and many of us were grabbing ice by the handfuls out of the these.  The volunteers were on point with keeping cups filled and offering stuff to you as you passed.  I hated the run course, but LOVED the crowd support and volunteers!  As I got close to the 3 mile mark, my calves were starting to loosen FINALLY!  After the turn around, the course was more or less downhill back to the loop start before having to start the wonderful climb again.  Around mile 8, I ate an orange slice (again, new stuff, why not?) because I was just starting to feel hungry.  My left hamstring started tightening up on me on this uphill, so again, I took a bit of Base Salt (  http://www.baseperformance.com/ ) and lots of water to wash it down, and soon enough, my hamstring loosened back up.  Base Salt rocks!  After the turn around, I again picked up my pace on the way back, but continued to walk the aid stations to make sure I got water, ice, and other needed items.  Feeling hungry still, I grabbed pretzels around mile 11 before my last push to the finish.  My run time came in at 2:10:31 which was 1 second faster than NOLA.

run

Gu and water, fuel and hydration

 

On the run course, in addition to the Base Salts, orange slice, and pretzels, I had 2 Gu’s, 1 Roctane, and 2 scoops of Osmo along with lots of WATER.  The run course had very little shade and the weather was pretty hot, but the humidity and temperature didn’t seem as bad as the NOLA 70.3.

post race

Glad to be done!

 

Another great race in the books thanks to the guidance of Coach Charles Sims.  I couldn’t do it without his help!  My overall time came in at 6:09:01 which was below 6:15, so I was happy with my performance.  My “A” race this year is the Augusta 70.3, and I look forward to testing my limits with that race.  Go big or go home!

 

IM 70.3 NOLA

Yes, I’m a slacker….once again.

My goal going into New Orleans (NOLA) was simply to meet maybe slightly beat my IM Augusta 70.3 time, so I needed to beat 6:25:39.  I would have been happy with 6:25 flat.  The weather was going to be hot and humid, and there was a possibility of rain leading up to the race, so I kept my expectations low.

First thing we did upon arriving in NOLA was check-in to the hotel and head to packet pick up.  It had been moved to the Hilton Riverside, so it was within walking distance from out hotel.  Packet pickup went smooth, and at athlete briefing, we were informed that mandatory bike check-in on Saturday was now optional due to possible storms on Saturday.  Times for check-in had also been shortened to 3PM-8PM on Saturday, and transition would open early at 4:30AM on Sunday due to the non-mandatory bike check-in on Saturday.

peak

Peak Racing Team in NOLA

 

Skipping ahead to Sunday, since I decided to wait and take my bike that morning, I got up at 3AM Sunday to eat an early breakfast at IHOP and to head to transition at opening at South Shore Harbor.  With a few delays at IHOP(drunk people in NOLA at 3AM, go figure), and a small accident on the highway, we arrived pretty close to transition opening.  A few others had decided to arrive early as well, but overall, there weren’t an abundance of cars which surprised me considering the lack of a mandatory bike check-in meant that there would probably be close to double the number of vehicles coming to that area that morning since bikes can’t go on the shuttles.  I also like to arrive early though anyway to get my stuff settled, then relax and watch the morning rush, so maybe my expectations are just off.

Race time was set to start at 7AM, but due to traffic back up leading into the start area, it was postponed until 7:30AM.  If there had been a steady stream/backup of cars since transition opened at 4:30AM, then I’d have been understanding, but knowing there wasn’t, I was rather annoyed.  Luckily, I don’t drink my 3 scoops of Ucan until 45 minutes prior and I was in the last wave, so I had the luxury of waiting until almost race start to drink it.  Some people I am sure were not so lucky, and even though it was only 30 minutes, it could throw off their nutrition.  It also meant that I was getting pushed 30 minutes later into the heat of the day simply because people didn’t plan to get to the race in time by planning for unexpected delays.  Nothing I could do about it, so I dealt with it by drinking a ton more water and peeing a million times more than usual.

pre-swim

Waiting…..

 

SWIM:

The swim was on the verge of being cancelled on Friday due to some rather frightening readings of bacteria levels in the lake in various spots, but WTC requested a sample be taken from the actual swim site in the harbor, and the results came in late Friday that it was 374.  I don’t know all the details, but there were some comments regarding the EPA listing safe swim levels below 200 and USAT’s standard as 450.  I guess USAT knows more than the EPA…..well, the EPA is managed by the government, sooooo…..  Either way, the swim was on, and we were happy, and maybe a little concerned.

Sunday morning, we all started in age group waves by time trial, so basically, each age group went off in groups of 8 jumping in from the dock.  This actually went much faster than I had thought, and we were all in the water within an hour I believe.  The course was an “N” shape, and the first line was down the side of the harbor by the seawall.  The water inside the harbor was very smooth I thought and cold enough for our wetsuits.  SCORE!  I basically sighted off the wall for the first leg of the “N.”  The diagonal was a bit harder to sight.  The lack of buoys other than one in the middle and one at the end made it hard to tell where you were going other than following the crowd and sighting the last row of boats since I knew the turn buoy was there from checking out the course the day before.  After the last turn, I was able to sight using the ends of the rows of boats until I got close enough to see the last buoy to turn and head in.  The exit is made of metal steps, but they were easy to maneuver.  As we made our (extremely long) way to T1, I stopped for the wetsuit strippers, then proceeded towards T1.  My swim time was 35:01. Augusta was 30:11. The swim was about 300ish yards short though from everything I have seen posted and from everyone’s Garmin that I know.

swim

FINALLY!

 

BIKE:

The bike course is kind of a “Y” shape out and back which was nice because we had the roads to ourselves for the most part.  My race plan said some non-sense about slowly building to 80-85% FTP.  Umm, yeah, I thought around 75% sounded more reasonable for me, so I tried keeping it around that, and I seemed to end up around 77-78%, so I split the difference with my coach. 😉  Part of the reason 80-85% concerned me was seeing my 5 mile split times over the first 15 miles or so showing under 15 minutes per 5 miles, and I wasn’t even to 80% yet.  I knew that was over 20mph.  I had never averaged anywhere near that pace on any ride, and I psyched myself out a bit on the thought of maintaining that power level much less increasing it.  The wind was behind me & my power was where it was supposed to be for the start, so I tried not to think about it, but I did, and so I stayed closer to 75%.  Towards the end of the bike, the wind was in my face and slowed me down & my power increased to that 85% range, but I was also trying to get away from a cluster of girls drafting that were playing leapfrog with me & pissing me off.  I’d say my biggest gripes about the bike course were the ridiculous amount of drafting going on and the rough bridges.  Otherwise, I was pretty happy with the bike.  During the bike, I drank the 40 ounces of water mixed with 7 scoops of Osmo I carried, ate a Kind Bar around mile 20, and picked up and drank about 8 ounces of an extra water bottle from the last water stop.  My bike time was 2:56:05.  It could have been a bit faster maybe, so I might eventually try that 80-85% range my coach suggest.  He’s probably correct, but I also have to not psych myself out with the pace that means.  Augusta was 3:29:53 (um, yeah, my cycling has come a LONG way!)

RUN:

nola run

Heading out

 

It was H-O-T!  The run course doesn’t have ANY shade on it since it runs along Lake Pontchartrain.  It is an out and back one loop course.  The sun was beating down on my shoulders, and I could feel them baking in the sun.  I decided I’d run and just walk the water stops to make sure I got what I needed, and I think it was a good plan.  I was able to grab ice and cold water at pretty much every water stop.  I drank the 2 scoops of Osmo I carried, took salted caramel Gu at mile 2, Gu chews around mile 5, and a Roctane around mile 9 which was almost a mistake because I felt a bit sick after the Roctane, but I made it to the end with negative splits and a strong run.  My time for the run was 2:10:32.  Augusta was 2:15:34.

caddies

The best support crew around

GOAL RESULTS:

I crushed any expectations I had and went under 6 hours with a 5:52:06.

Would I recommend NOLA 70.3?

Hard to say, I liked it, but many people on my team weren’t thrilled with it.  I could definitely tell this was handled by Premier rather than WTC due to little things here and there as well as the delay.  I enjoyed hanging out in NOLA the two extra days after the race that we stayed.  It’s definitely not a great family race to bring the kids to, but it was a fun weekend, the course was fair and flat, but it was hot.  I probably won’t race it again, but that’s just because there are too many others that I want to try.

 

JLA ShamRock N Roll 5k/10K Atlantic Station

I’m a tad behind on blog posts, so I plan to get caught up over the next few days.  I’ve put off writing this post because I was waiting to see if I ever got my t-shirt….

I’ve ran this race 2 of the last 3 years.  The first year I ran it, there were issues with the 10K course.  It was said to be certified, but it actually wasn’t, and it ended up being about 1/2 a mile short due to confusion on the course.  Almost the entire field missed a turn.  I’m happy to report that they have fixed this issue.

Race morning, I showed up to pick up my packet rather than driving up to Atlanta the day before the race.  Packet pick up went smooth other than them trying to give me a different size shirt than I had registered for.  Several others in the line had issues with shirt sizes as well that morning.  It seems that they didn’t hold the shirts for those who had preregistered and gave out shirts to people who registered late, so they said they would make another order of shirts and get them to us….ok, no problem.

I returned all my extra stuff to my car, took off my warm layers, put on my bib, and did a short warm up before heading to the start line.  As I approached the start line, I noticed people had lined up on the front row with their dogs.  I knew this was a dog friendly race, but I hadn’t expected people to line up in the front with their dogs.  Since I was trying to PR and it is only gun timed, I decided to line up close to the front as well.  As we waited for the start, the two dogs on the front row were getting tangled up.  I made sure I was lined up off to the side, so I could avoid what looked to be a disaster waiting to happen.

The race started and I took off faster than I had planned to get out ahead of the crowd, then quickly settled into my pace.  My goal was to run this race in under 26 minutes even though my year end goal for a 5K is under 25.  The race started off with a downhill before a short climb up Fowler St. followed by a small longer incline up 14th St. before it levels a bit.  I knew the course going into the race from running it two years earlier, so I knew the only real significant hill was up behind Ikea, and after topping it, the race would finish downhill.  I just needed to get to the top of that hill!  As I topped it, I was on target to definitely make under 26, but there was a chance that I could go sub-25.  With the downhill to the finish, I was able to hang on to finish in 24:46, so I met goal #7 on my list.  Does that mean I need a new 5K goal since this was done in March?

I did finally get my t-shirt.  About a month after the race, I received an email letting us know that the t-shirts were ready, and we could come pick them up at the JLA office.  What?  I specifically didn’t do early packet pick up to avoid driving to downtown Atl twice, and now, you want me to drive in to pick up a $6 t-shirt?  I don’t think so.  I’d spend more in gas and my time with the 45 minute drive, so I sent an email letting them know that I was disappointed, and they did offer to mail it me, so I finally got my t-shirt a little over a month after the race.

The big question…..would I recommend the race?  Hmmm….that’s a hard one.  If you want to PR a course, then it’s a good one provided you start at the front and get ahead of the dogs, but after running it twice and having a major hiccup the first year, and a minor one the next time, I’m inclined to not race it again…..but I will need another PR, so who knows.  😉

shamrock

3rd place in my age group and a PR!

 

 

Take That Marathon! You Didn’t Defeat Me! (Part 3)

THE RACE AND MENTAL BATTLE

As our corral reached the starting line, Angela and I told each other good luck one last time, and we were off.  I was immediately having to slow myself down, so I eased to the right hand side of the road to get out of the middle of the crowd.  This is typically where I find myself anyway in longer races because I don’t like to get caught up in the pace of the crowd since I prefer to start slower and pick up the pace later.  The middle also always seems to be faster than what the corral seeding would suggest unless you move to the edge, so off to the right side of the road is where I usually settle in for the first few miles.

Mile 1 wound through the Warehouse District of NOLA and the road had a camber to it that seemed to be aggravating my IT band immediately, so I started questioning within that first mile what I was planning on doing, and if I should make the decision then to ditch the full and just go ahead and try for a PR in the half (yes, this actually ran through my head).  Then, I wondered if it was just my mind trying to convince me that my IT band was bugging me, and maybe I was just having flashbacks to Albany and was SCARED of a repeat of that misery (I really think this was my problem).  Soon, the crowd thinned out enough that I could move back towards the center of the road where the road leveled slightly.  My attempt to keep my run around a 10 minute mile wasn’t working.  It seemed to be creeping closer to a 9:30 mm, so I finally just went with it because that was where my pace felt comfortable (not really a recommended method for marathons, but then again, neither is any of this) and my heart rate was where I thought it needed to be for the first part of the race (z1/low z2).

Around the end of mile 1, we came out on St. Charles Ave for what would be the next 6 1/2 miles of an out and back portion.  St. Charles Ave is a street divided by trolley tracks and grass in the middle island.  The road is at a camber from the center island to the right edge of the road.  Now, I couldn’t get to a level section.  For about the next mile, this messed with my head, until I noticed people running on the hard packed, level dirt in the middle of the trolley tracks.  Maybe it was all mental, but as soon as I moved to the trolley tracks, my IT band started feeling better.  I kept an eye out for the 5K and 10K timing mats and made sure I moved to the road as I approached them, and I finally took my first water cup and added an ounce of Osmo at the 3 mile mark even though I didn’t really want to since I’d already stopped in the first 2 miles at a gas station to use the bathroom (gas stations and stores are quicker than porta potty lines, just sayin’).  I essentially ran on the trolley tracks’ packed dirt for the next 6 miles until we moved off St Charles Ave.  I realized at that point (mile 8ish) I hadn’t drank anything other than that 1 cup of water.  Time to start thinking!

As soon as we were off St. Charles, I started noticing the IT band again, and I started hearing Coach Chuck ( http://www.peakracingteam.com ) in my head telling me to run smart.  That was the last advice he’d PM’d me at 5:55AM that morning.  Over the next 4 miles, Coach Chuck and I had a really long (surprisingly not one sided) conversation.  I was getting lectured a lot about my lack of hydration, but it didn’t seem to help.  It wasn’t hot, and I already felt the need to pee again, so I didn’t want to hydrate (not the best logic).  I did grab one more cup and added Osmo around mile 9 or 10, so I was up to maybe 6 ounces.  That’s better than I usually do for a half Chuck, so you should be happy!  He was also reminding me that I had a big season ahead, and I didn’t need to get my training derailed at the beginning of tri season.  That one kept playing over and over in my head.  Risk injury for a marathon, or go into this tri season healthy?  Listen to your body.  Around mile 10 just after we passed Cafe Du Monde (YUMMY!), we passed the open air market, and I caught a glimpse of a bathroom sign, so I ducked in the restroom there (score #2, no porta potty & no line!).  The next couple of miles seemed like some of the longest in my mind.  I was still debating what I should do.  If I did go for it and hurt myself, then what was going to be Chuck’s response?  How ticked off was I going to be at myself?  Was I going to end up walking 10 miles again?  If I’m going to run the full, I want it to be a good run, not that I just finished.  I want to finish feeling good, not miserable.  I still don’t even count Albany, and I’m still ticked at myself for doing it.

ARRGGHHHH!!!!! There’s the split!  Just after mile 12, the cones and signs appeared.  I could go straight and be done, or I could turn left and commit.

Nola split

Point of no return? Maybe?

I stopped to dig out my phone, snap a photo, and post to Facebook since I knew I had friends stalking tracking me.  I simply posted the photo with the comment “choices?”  With a deep breath, I turned left and headed for the full, and literally, as soon as the course completely split, I started considering turning around and going back.  Two ladies did turn back.  I’m not sure if they misunderstood the split or why, but they were turning around.  I briefly though about joining them, but I continued.

This was another little out and back section, and it was starting to heat up a tad.  This is when Chuck really started reminding me about hydration.  You’ve pretty much sucked at it the first half, and now you’ve committed to the full, it’s time to HYDRATE!  I grabbed another cup of water somewhere along this portion, and I caught a glimpse of Angela as she was coming back in on the other side of the road around mile 14.  She gave me a quick shout out and said something to the effect of “you went for it!”  I think I just shrugged and threw my arms out to the side saying, “we’ll see.”  I was around mile 13 and still unsure of how intelligent my decision was.  As I approached the 14 mile marker, I decided to stop at this point, take another photo and update my stalkers trackers.

Nola 14

“Must have missed my turn” was my only comment with the post

At this point, I was committed, no turning back, and now my running buddies were definitely watching.  They’d seen what I went through at Albany.  They knew I wanted this, and now I’d made the decision to go for it.  It could all fall apart with the lack of road miles I’d put in, or the lack of road miles and lack of pounding the pavement could actually work for me.  They know I like to run negative splits, and I felt pretty good at this point.  The IT band was noticeable, but I had decided it wasn’t any worse than normal, and it wasn’t getting worse as the race went on.  I almost felt a little too good at this point.  It actually crossed my mind to ditch the run/walk, and to see if I could get close to a sub-2 on the second half of the marathon.  That’d be a HUGE negative split, and it was actually very enticing to try it, BUT there was that little thing about running smart and wanting to stay injury free and the lack of miles that quickly squashed that thought, so I decided to just pick up the pace some, but keep it comfortable, and keep the run/walk.  A negative split marathon was definitely in my mind and sights though.  I’d ran the first half in 2:20ish which was very conservative.  I felt good, and I wanted to finish strong.  I started thinking about the numbers, and figured I might be able to swing under 4:40, maybe 4:35.

The next several miles went around the city park and out by Lake Pontchatrain.  Around mile 19, a lady looking at her watch weaved over to her right and cut me off.  I had to take an odd step, and my knee felt like it almost buckled under me.  I had a couple of off steps immediately after it, refocused on my form, pulled it together, and I was fine, but it made me acutely aware of my IT band again though.  As I approached mile 20, I realized I had already made it 4 miles farther running than at Albany, and I was still feeling really good.  “Just a 10K left! That’s a short run for us, right?”  I probably should have kept my upbeat thoughts to myself because I’m pretty sure the people around me were not as excited about having only 6 miles left as I was.  No one responded, but I got a little more pep in my step knowing it was that close.  Now, I needed to take in some fuel since I hadn’t the entire race, and I was approaching 3 1/2 hours, but my stomach had started gurgling a little bit, so I decided to forgo the Gu and Ucan, and I decided on the Justin’s Maple Almond Nut Butter since it was real food, and I thought it had the best chance of settling on my stomach well.  Almost immediately after taking it, my stomach seemed to settle some, and I grabbed some more water and used the last of my Osmo. Between mile 20 & 21 was the final turn around!  I just had to run back over the 2 small hills I’d just came over, then it should be a straight shot into the park.

Mile marker 23, and we were at the park.  A marathon maniac that had been running next to me on and off for the last few miles said, “3 miles left, we run that everyday.”  I had to giggle after the lack of response I got earlier from the 10k remark.  We chatted for a second, then I had a walk break.  This was about the time that I finally realized that I might actually be able to come in under 4:30, but my IT band was also starting to bug me more, and this WASN’T my mind playing tricks on me.  I decided I’d maintain the pace, and in the last mile, I’d skip my walk breaks if the IT band was holding up.  Mile 24, I grabbed a cup of Gatorade and water and mixed the two, and that was the last time I took any fluids.

As I approached mile marker 25, I checked my watch, and I knew I was on target that if I skipped the walk break, I could break 4:30, but if I did walk, I wasn’t sure if I’d make it or not because I had paused my watch earlier for a potty stop, so I wasn’t sure of how off it was.  Either way, it had been a great marathon, I had a PR of much better than I had anticipated, I had overall negative splits, and I felt really good going into the last mile as far as endurance.  I decided to take the walk break since my IT band was hurting and I was starting to favor that leg as I approached the end of the 5 minutes.  As soon as I walked a bit, the pain would ease, and I started back at the :45 second mark instead of 1 minute.

The finish line was just around the corner, so I picked my pace up some and finished strong like I wanted.  It was a good day, and my official time was 4:30:17, not under 4:30, but no disappointments here.  I have an exciting season of tri racing ahead, and I’m glad to get this monkey off my back.

nola finish

After the race L-R Diane, Dani, Angela, Me

anything less

Once your mind is made up……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take That Marathon! You Didn’t Defeat Me! (part 2)

January 23rd arrived, and Dani, Diane, Angela, and I were meeting at my house at 3:30 PM to head to New Orleans (NOLA) for the Rock N Roll Marathon and Half Marathon.  We all piled into Dani’s Prius with our luggage, snapped a picture of our awesome packing job(4 girls and their luggage for a weekend in a Prius was an achievement in and of itself), and we were off.

L-R Angela, Dani, Diane, Me

L-R Angela, Dani, Diane, Me

With a quick overnight stop in Mobile, AL, we arrived in NOLA around 11AM on Jan. 24th.  We headed straight to the expo to pick up our bibs.  The Rock N Roll branded races always have a big expo with tons of Brooks gear, and packet pickup has always gone smooth at every one I’ve been to.  This one was no different.  We grabbed our packets and headed into the expo.  I passed on the logo stuff, but I did want to look at the vendor booths for a new belt since the belt I had wouldn’t stay up with my phone in it, and I wanted to carry my phone since I was totally unsure as to what was going to happen in this race.  I found a belt by Fitletic ( http://www.fitletic.com/?gclid=CI3qi7yDuMMCFUpp7AodTFkA7A ) that looked promising, so I decided to buy it to try.  After walking away, I started thinking about what my plan was for fuel and hydration if I did decide to run the marathon.  I quickly realized that I didn’t really have one, and I started trying to think through what I needed.  I wasn’t really sure about how I was going to fuel and hydrate for the marathon if that was what I decided to do.  For the half, I could simply take Ucan prior to the race and carry my handheld with Osmo, but this whole possible marathon thing meant I might be out there for 5-6 hours, so how the heck do I fuel for that?!?!  I had my handheld that I could concentrate Osmo in, and I had a gel flask that I could put Ucan in, but I’ve never taken Ucan in the middle of a run….that could be bad.  Never try anything new on race day, right?  Well, considering none of my runs have been long enough to need any fuel mid-run, I had no choice but to try something new.  I didn’t really want to have a flask in one hand and a handheld in the other though.  I’d be sure to throw them both down by mile 15.  What to do, what to do?  I headed back to the Fitletic booth to buy two small 6 oz bottles that you could add to your belt, so I didn’t have to carry anything in my hands.  All the doubters who know me and are reading this should be starting to believe me by now that I REALLY didn’t have my mind made up about whether I was doing the marathon or half at this point.  I ALWAYS  have this stuff planned out ahead of time!

expo

Off we went to check in at our hotel.  We stayed in an older hotel called Hotel St. Marie that was close to Bourbon St. (maybe a little too close).  The hotel was nice and had been renovated, and it was significantly cheaper than the ones closer to the race start.  Our room wasn’t ready, but the valet took the car, and we stored our luggage with the front desk while we headed out for lunch.  The rest of the day was spent walking and eating which is not typically the way I like to spend the day before a big race, but Angela and I realized that we didn’t bring any throw away clothes, and all I had were tank tops.  The wind and temperature was colder than I had really expected or even thought about, so we both needed a sweatshirt to wear at the start.  Luckily, there was an H&M store that carries inexpensive clothing.  We both found sweatshirts that were fitting for this race.

NOLA1

My sweatshirt was reflective of my inner struggle with deciding on the half or full, and Angela’s reflected her desire for me to just shut up & run it so she wasn’t the only one of the four of us doing the full.

After a day of eating and shopping, we finally settled into our room for the night.  I gathered my stuff for the next morning, and I remembered I needed to set my watch for run:walk, so I decided to set it for 2 1/2 minutes run and 30 seconds walk.

Race morning

I woke up at 5AM, and I had my cup of coffee and a protein bar.  While getting everything together, I had a bottle of water, then about an hour before race start, I drank 3 scoops of Ucan vanilla cream with protein.  I decided I’d put 2 scoops of Osmo ( http://osmonutrition.com/ ) in one of my 6 ounce bottles which is a little more than 2X the normal ratio, so it’s the equivalent amount for 16 ounces of Osmo.  Since I was mixing it concentrated, I figured I’d just squirt about an ounce in each water cup I grabbed along the course since there’s only an ounce or two of water in the cups that are never filled.  I knew that 3 scoops of Ucan would last me about 4 hours, so I would need to take something around 3 1/2 hours if I ran the full, so it could get in my system before I hit the wall, so I filled my other 6 ounce bottle with 1 1/2 scoops of Ucan mixed with water.  I wasn’t sure if I actually wanted to try that though, so I also stuffed two Gu’s and two Justin’s Maple Almond Nut Butter packets into my belt.  Better to have choices than not was my thought at this point.  I figured I’d be walking a lot, so I might want real food and I had used the almond butter on bike rides, but I used Gu last year before switching to Ucan, and I knew it can get me past the wall if I was hitting it, so I just carried them all, so I could decide in the moment.

With everything gathered and bibs on, we headed out the door for the start.  We stopped by the front desk to ask the best route, and thankfully, the desk clerk instructed us to walk down to the street AFTER Bourbon St. (we were planning to walk down it) hang a right and head to the start.  Off we went and unbeknownst to me, we were apparently getting in a mile speed walk for a warm up.  😉  On the way to the start, I started thinking about the 2 1/2 to 30 that I had set up on my watch, and I realized that for 26.2 miles that might really get annoying.  Diane and I discussed it, and I decided to switch my watch to a 5:1.  So, 5:1 was the plan at a 10 minute mile pace during the run part.  This was decided on the walk to the START line, not the best planning strategy.

Arriving at the start, we stopped by the porta potties, then headed to our corrals.  Angela and I went to the corral where the 4:15 pacer was.  Angela’s goal was 4:15, and I went along just to have company until start time.  I think Angela asked me again if I had made up my mind while we were standing there waiting for the start, to which I still replied….”we’ll see how the knee feels at mile 12.”  The Star Spangled Banner played, and the corrals started moving forward.

To be continued…..

 

 

 

 

Take That Marathon! You Didn’t Defeat Me! (part 1)

Just a quick background on my marathon experience…..

In March, I attempted my first marathon in Albany, GA.  I got injured during training, took 2 1/2 weeks off leading up to the marathon because I couldn’t make it through a 5 mile run, ran the marathon anyway, and made it through the first 15 or so miles and then it all fell apart.  I pretty much walked the last 10 miles and finished in 6+ hours.  For a more detailed recount of the suck, you can read the race recap here:  https://channelyourinnerspartan.wordpress.com/2014/03/16/albany/.

Fast forward to November 2014, my last post covered my half PR which took off over 15 minutes from my previous half in less than a year, but after that race, I’ve had some knee pain again.  With a marathon scheduled for January 25th, 2015, I started having flashbacks to Albany.  The pain I was feeling I was pretty sure was my IT band.  I ignored it for about 2 weeks, but it was finally noticeable enough on runs that I told my coach about it, and I told him I was taking 2 weeks off.  I decided to take the time off early, hoping that it would subside quickly since I only had 2 months until my marathon.

Most plans would have had me really starting to build my long distance at this time, but instead, I was hitting the pool and bike for my training.  After the two weeks off, I tried to run again, and it felt a bit better, but it still wasn’t great, so at the beginning of December, I had mentally thrown in the towel for the marathon because I really didn’t want to have a repeat of Albany.  I even told my coach that I was dropping down to the half for New Orleans Rock N Roll, and I probably wasn’t doing the Red Nose Half Marathon at the beginning of January.

Throughout December, Coach Chuck gave me some crazy workouts in the pool and walking on the treadmill with a weight vest at a 15% incline along with my usual bike stuff and some short runs.  He was very cautious on the running he gave me.  On December 28th, I had an hour and 15 minute run scheduled.  That should have been about 8 miles for me, but Angela had came, and I had promised her that someone would run  the 12 miles that she had scheduled with her, but everyone for the longer distances backed out, so I got sucked into it.  The 8 miles was supposed to be my longest since my half marathon in November, so running 12 wasn’t a great idea, but I did it anyway.  I’m sure Chuck wasn’t too happy when he saw my Training Peaks(TP) file.  My knee felt that run a bit, and I was sore from it, but the knee wasn’t any worse.

Chuck asked me Sunday afternoon if I was running the Red Nose Half on that next Saturday (he needed to put it in TP’s).  At that point, I wasn’t sure, so I told him I wasn’t planning on it.  As the week went on, I knew most of my running friends would be there, so I changed my mind, and registered for the free half marathon to use as a training run.  Without a taper or proper preparation, I figured it was free, so why not just use it as my long run for the week.  The half went well, and I actually ran a sub-2 hour half again at a pretty comfortable pace.  It was 4 minutes and something slower than my PR from November, but I actually felt like my endurance was better than it was in the November race.  The first 6-7 miles of this half, I goofed off with friends, and then decided I had a chance to get sub-2 again, so I picked up the pace around mile 7.  I finished at 1:59 and change.

Now my mind started turning…..

“I know I told Chuck I was going to do the half at RnR in 3 weeks, but could I do the full?”  Then, I’d just want to slap myself for letting it even cross my mind.  “Don’t you remember the disaster in Albany?  Running a full with an injury is a BAD idea.  Yeah, but my injury is better.  I just haven’t put in the long distance.  Ummmmm…. yeah, that’s a recipe for a new injury.  Just stick with the half, but I really want to get this monkey off my back.  Oh, forget it!  A full is out of the question, and Chuck will tell you how dumb it is if you even mention it.  You haven’t ran over a half marathon since March, and you think you can run 26.2 miles?”

That was the internal dialogue over the next week that I was having with myself, and I spoke to a few friends about the thoughts as well.  Some of them said do the half, others said go for the full.  I debated not even mentioning the thoughts to my coach before the race and just making the decision on my own based on how I felt during the race.  I also know relying on myself and friends for these types of decisions is probably not the best idea, but I felt like I knew what he’d say, and I really didn’t want to hear how crazy of a thought it was, so I just needed to suck it up and do the half.  Save the full for Marine Corp Marathon in October is what I kept repeating to myself even though it wasn’t sitting well.

Chuck and I were talking that next week, and NOLA RnR came up.  He asked, “is NOLA going to be a 13.1?”  This is how that conversation went…..

Me- “I’m guessing that’d be the smart thing even though 26.2 has crossed my mind.”

Chuck- “how is the knee?”

Me-“Good.”

Chuck- “hmmm… I could see it as 1) going for it on another 13.1 PR, or 2) doing 26.2 with a lot of walk breaks.”

Me- “Yes, those were the two options I was thinking as well
Chuck- “we’re still quite a ways from NOLA HIM, but I don’t want you to risk injury and interfere with the tri training. I want you to have a solid race at NOLA in April as well. So I’m torn.”
Me- “Me too. I’m going to see where the split is. Honestly, I think my chances of injury pushing for a PR are about the same as going for 26.2 with walk breaks. If the split is around 11 miles like the RnR in Savannah, I could see how I feel at that point & make the call. I’d have to run/walk from the start, so the PR wouldn’t be an option.”
Chuck- “You think?”
Me- “Pushing a 8:45 average for 13.1 or a 10:30-11 for 26.2? Yes, I think, but I could be wrong.  Maybe a 12mm.”
The conversation ended with no clear answer and Chuck telling me that we’ll see how I feel closer to the race, so the internal debate continued over the next couple of weeks.  I was trying to decide if it was a dumb idea with the lack of miles on my legs even though I felt like my endurance was there.  I definitely didn’t want to re-injure myself, and I’d be really mad at myself if I did, but my leg doesn’t seem to be getting any worse, and I seem to be able to keep the IT band under control with all that I’m doing right now, so is this a fear thing?  If I backed out due to fear, then I’d be mad at myself as well.  Everyone around me thought I had already made up my mind and I was doing the full, but I really hadn’t.  26.2 miles is a huge risk when your IT band is still getting tight at times, and you haven’t ran over 13.1 miles in over 10 months.
I finally looked up the course maps, and they didn’t split until mile 12, so I told myself, Chuck, and everyone that I didn’t know which one I’d do.  I’d make the call at mile 12 based on how my leg felt.  If there was pain, then I’d call it a day.  This meant that I was doing as Chuck and I had discussed.  I would run the first half using the run:walk method.
To be continued……

IM Augusta 70.3 – check

6 months of training all culminated on Sunday with a phenomenal race that I couldn’t have imagined enjoying as much as I did.

Leading up to Augusta, I was more excited than I have ever been about a race, and I felt more confident and physically better than I had about any previous race. Theoretically, this was going to be the most difficult race I’d done to date, but honestly, I didn’t feel that pressure.  I know you aren’t supposed to make time goals for first races of new distances, but who really follows that rule?  On August 12th, I shared those goals with Jeneen in a text.  This was the text:

textYep, I said it.  I really didn’t have a clue as to how the run would go, so the 7 hour mark gave me almost 3 hours for the run in case I fell apart, but if all the stars aligned, then maybe, just MAYBE I might hit 6:30, but I really felt that was a stretch, and it didn’t take into consideration how long transitions would take.  The only goal I shared publicly with my running group was 7 hours, and even after actually texting those goals to Jeneen, I kind of wished I’d kept that to myself.  I don’t like sharing what my true “A” goals are.   I don’t mind sharing the “C” goal time usually, but the “A” goal time is typically my little secret.

I decided Thursday night to go ahead and go to Augusta on Friday to get away from the chaos of several weekend activities at home that I was trying to juggle. I decided I had to let go of control of those things and focus on my race. My husband, who has supported me through 6 months of training, told me to go ahead and go. I really can’t thank him enough for all that he has done and put up with for the last 6 months. He’s my best friend, cheerleader, encourager, and rock, and he picks up my slack around home when I’m training and racing. With two kids involved in their own activities, he can’t be at races often, but I always know he’s cheering me on wherever he is.

I finished packing early Friday morning, and I headed out around 11:00AM. I arrived at the hotel, checked in, unpacked, and headed to the expo by 3:00PM. Going against the typical superstitions of buying anything for a new distance before you actually do it, I bought a coffee mug, sweatshirt, and 2 t-shirts, one of which said finisher. I was confident that I was going to finish this race. Of course anything could happen to change that, but it wasn’t going to be because I wasn’t prepared or quit, so superstitions weren’t going to have anything to do with it either, besides, I’m really not a superstitious person, but I’ve gone along with the runner ones anyway, and it sure didn’t help in Albany. It was time to throw caution to the wind, and just go with what I felt from my training. The race was going to be fun, and I was going to do great as long as I stuck to the plan.

The plan….
What was the plan? What HR zones was I supposed to be in for my race? This is where great coaching comes in. Coach Chuck ( http://www.peakracingteam.com ) had sent all his athletes an email a few days before the race explaining his race strategy and what he wanted us to do. Of course, it was up to us to execute. Each section was focused on heart rate zones just like our training had been. “First, I want you to remember two rules all day long. 1) This is NOT A RACE. It’s an event and I am a participant. 2) Save it for the run!” was how Coach Chuck started the race plan. In the bike section, the overall gist from Chuck was “as bike effort, think high z2 / low z3 all day.” He knew we’d hit some upper z3 & z4 on the hills, but the idea was to just not stay there! He then went on to tell us to break the run into 3 parts and detailed each part which was how I typically run races, so his plan fit right in with mine for the run. 😉

Saturday morning, I had to do a short swim/bike/run, so I met some of my Peak Racing teammates at T1 to do a 10 minute swim, 20 minute bike, and 10 minute run before we checked our bikes in. By 11:30AM, our bikes were checked in, and I had nothing else to do until a team photo at 4PM, so I headed back to the Marriott to get off my feet and relax as I was instructed to do. My friend Dani arrived around 1:30PM while I was watching the UGA vs. UT game, so I headed down to meet her in front of the garage, then I was back in the room relaxing and watching the game for the rest of the day. Towards the end of the game, I started prepping my fuel and transition stuff that I needed for the next morning.

The Dawgs pulled off the win, and it was time to head down for the team photo. We met in the Marriott lobby at 4PM and headed up by the river for a photo.

peakracingaugusta

Peak Racing Team & Friends

After the photo, we had a quick chat with the coaches, then everyone was off in their own direction.  Dani and I headed straight out to dinner.  I hadn’t eaten lunch other than snacking on cheese and cold cuts in the room, so I was starving.  We headed to Carrabbas, and luckily, we beat the crowd by arriving at 4:45PM.  I stuck with foods that I’ve typically been eating the last few months of lean meat and veggies, no pasta for me, but I did have 2 small slices of their bread because I couldn’t resist, and I figured it was an early enough dinner with a late enough wave start that it wouldn’t be an issue.

Peak had reserved the conference room from 5:30-7:30PM at the Holiday Inn in case any of us wanted to get together and hang out or eat together, so we headed over there after dinner.  We got there around 6PM for a chance to relax and chat with team members a bit and ask any last minute questions of the coaching staff.  At 7:30, we all headed out for a good night’s rest.

Back at the hotel, I was still trying to figure out how to deal with the late start of my wave, 8:44AM.  This was my only real concern that I had going into the race. I had done 90% of my long rides within an 2 hours of waking up. I’d be awake at 4:30AM Sunday, and I wouldn’t race until 8:44AM. After a lot of debate, I decided I’d eat cheese and Greek yogurt while setting up transition which would give me plenty of time to digest it, then I’d eat a protein bar like normal about 90 minutes out and drink my Ucan with protein about 45 minutes out.  I finished  getting all my gear packed.  Checked it about 20 times I believe, and I decided I’d head to transition as soon as it opened.

After sleeping through my alarm in Columbus, I was pretty sure that wasn’t going to happen again, but just to make sure, I set my phone across the room, and Dani set her alarm for me as well.  Plus Coach Tony had assured me that I’d be receiving a call.  😉  My alarm was set for 4:00 AM, and I was wide awake staring at the wall by 3:00AM.  I felt like a kid on Christmas morning waiting on your parents to get up, so you could open your presents.  My excitement level was off the charts for this race for the last month, and this was the day!  About 3:50AM, I got a message from Tony to make sure I was up.  I decided it was close enough to 4 by then to start moving, so I got dressed, grabbed my stuff, and was out the door to catch one of the first buses to transition.  As we headed to transition and got off, I realized that the bus was filled with lots of volunteers, maybe more volunteers than athletes.  Yep, I was early.  About 10 minutes after I got there, Peak Racing members Kim and Joey walked up.  It was nice to see a familiar face.  They were setting up transition and heading back to their hotel for breakfast.  Hmmmm…. that sounded like a good idea, but then I’d have to walk to the swim start, so I stuck with my plan.  Kim let me borrow her bike pump, and then they were off after they had set up.  I decided to hang around in transition a bit longer to see if I saw anyone else with Peak.  I ran into another friend, Lacey, and chatted with her for a few minutes, then I slowly headed towards the shuttle to go to the swim start.  I bumped into Carl from Peak Racing while I was waiting on the shuttle there, so we rode the bus together to the swim start and found a nice grass area close to the morning bag drop to chill on for 2-3 hours.  I closed my eyes for about 10 minutes thinking maybe I could get a short nap, but it was pointless.  I wasn’t tired.  I had too much adrenaline pumping through me already.

carl

Carl relaxing, meditating, stressing? Not sure. He’s pretty quiet.

early

Daylight, but still waiting. Time for Ucan though

It wasn’t long before other Peak Team members, Coach Chuck, friends, and family all started showing up, and we had apparently picked a good spot to locate people because they all seemed to find us.  As race start neared, the flag was brought in by parachute.

augusta start Dani, my Sherpa, found us a few minutes later, and I handed her my extra bags instead of using the morning bag drop.  Soon after, it was time for Clay and Carl to head to the start.  They were lucky and had an early wave.  The rest of us, headed towards the flag pole to meet up with the other Peak group.  From there, the waves seemed to fly through, and it was time for me to get my wetsuit pulled up and head down to the wave line before I knew it.

preswim

Adam and I…… still waiting

swim start

Heading to the swim start

The line of waves moved quickly and we were quickly walking out the dock to get in the water.  This was HAPPENING!  I sat down, rinsed the spit out of my goggles, put them on, and eased myself into the water to wait for the horn.  When the announcer said we had about :45 seconds, I glanced at my watch.  Uh oh!  I hadn’t turned it on, and it takes a while to find the satellite.  I quickly turned it on, got it to multisport, and tried to let it find the satellite, but by that time, it was time to go, so I just hoped it’d find it at some point.  Honestly though, I don’t ride or run off pace.  I don’t even look at them anymore, so they aren’t even on my screen.  All I needed was HR, RPM’s, and time, so even without the GPS.  I’d be ok.  I just wouldn’t have the data that I’d want.

The swim went pretty smooth.  I’d been in the river a couple of times, so I wasn’t concerned about it.  There was some grass in the water, but I’d read about it already and seen a video of a fly over discussing it the day before, so I knew it was there in small patches until we got beyond the 2nd bridge.  Unfortunately, everyone around me hadn’t seen the same video, and people would suddenly decide they didn’t want to swim through it and try to make hard left and right turns trying to find a way out of it I guess, so the first part of the swim required a lot of dodging people, and perhaps a bit of pushing, kicking, and boxing out with elbows, but what happens in the water stays in the water, so I’m not telling who did what.  After the 2nd bridge, the crowd thinned out some, and I found my space.  The swim was very quick, and as I exited the water, I hit the wrong button on my watch as I was taking it off to head to the wetsuit strippers, then I hit lap, and my watch went to the bike, so now, I had to pause it until I got on the bike.  I got my wetsuit down to my hips, and it came off easily for the strippers.  They handed it back to me, and off I went.  I stopped by the sunscreen station and got lathered with sunscreen, then headed to my bike.  <I’ll spare you the jokes here about being stripped and lathered, but it’s quite the efficient process.>  🙂  T1 was uneventful.  I dried my feet, slipped on my shoes, helmet, and glasses, and I headed out.  My official swim time was 30:11, pretty much right on target, but I had no clue since I had already goofed up my watch and didn’t see my swim time on my watch as I came out of the water before I goofed it up.

Bike, this was the part that could make me or break me for the run according to everything our coaches have said.  Chuck warned us that our HR would be elevated from the swim and transition, so we shouldn’t panic if we saw z3.  Ummm, how about mid z4?  Yikes!   Now, my job according to Chuck was to take the first 15-20 minutes to settle in and get it lowered.  As I headed out Sands Bar Ferry for the first 5 miles that were totally flat, it was hard to resist that urge to push it.  Especially with people flying by me.  Head down and focus on YOUR race is what I kept repeating.  It took about 10 minutes, but my HR was down to upper z2 finally.  Now, the goal was to hang out in upper z2/lower z3 for the rest of the flat section, so 15-17 miles.  As I was riding that section, I knew I was at a slower pace that I was at camp.  I had time showing on my watch, and I knew I would have to pass 5 miles every 20 minutes just to average a 15mph pace, and on that section at camp, I averaged a little under 17mph.  I wasn’t even averaging 15mph this time.  I just kept repeating, don’t worry about pace, don’t panic, stick to the plan.  I knew how the hills felt at camp, and I slowed later on the course at camp, so I wasn’t sure how it was going to go.  Was I going to hit the hills and slow like camp, or would starting easy make the hills easier?  Stick to the plan and see what happens.  You have to make a choice.  One will work, and one won’t.  The question was, which one would work?  I stuck with the plan.  As I got into the hills, my HR started climbing as I knew it would, but as Chuck said, just don’t let it stay there.  At this point, I started to catch a few people who I remembered flying by me earlier, but not many.  I need to work on the bike portion because it’s definitely my weakest of the 3.  My HR went up and down over the rest of the course, and the closer I got to the end, it was starting to stay slightly higher than it probably should have, but still not bad.  I knew I was getting close to 3 1/2 hours on the bike, and 3 1/2 hours was the time I was hoping for, but I also didn’t want to push too hard at the end trying to make sure I got it.  I felt good though, so I pushed a little, but still kept it in check and out of z4 for the most part.  I didn’t even think to look at my time as I got back, but I knew it was close to the 3 1/2 hours, so I was good.  My first 28 miles were at 14.96mph, and the second 28 were at 17.21mph.  My official bike time was 3:29:53.   I couldn’t have gotten much closer than that!

As I arrived back at T2, my neighbor had left a ziploc bag of candy corn on my transition mat.  She had a larger bag on hers.  I’m hoping that she didn’t need that for her fuel on the bike because it looked like she had poured some into that bag to take with her maybe, or perhaps she had just left me a snack.  Oh well, I set it back on her mat, changed my shoes, grabbed my hat and belt to head out for the run….right after I make a quick porta potty stop.  As I ran out of T2, I had overall pace showing on my watch for the run, and I knew my pace at the moment was too fast to start, so I started trying to slow down.  I was feeling kind of sluggish as I got into the run about a half a mile, so I took my first Gu of the day.  I had set my watch with a :30 run to :30 walk alert, and I had though I would probably start the first mile or two using that, then switch to a longer run.  With my watch set up as :30/:30, it’d be easy to add run time by 1 minute at a time by just running through a walk break and another run.  As soon as I started though, I felt like I could skip the :30/:30 and go with 1:30 to :30 because my legs felt really good.  This was surprising, but I’d executed my race plan pretty well so far, so maybe this theory about saving your legs for the run really works?  😉  I decided for the first loop I was going to stick with the 1:30 to :30 no matter what because I started feeling pretty froggy early on, and I was wanting to extend the run time, but I kept telling myself that lap one was too early.  I had been passed by tons of younger guys and girls, and on the run, I was starting to catch several.

10th

Running strong!

On the first loop, I averaged just under an 11 minute mile, but I finally caved  just before I reached the beginning of lap 2, and I switched my interval to running 2:30 and walking :30.  This felt good for the first 3 miles or so, then it started getting hard.  Not terribly hard, but hard.  I was also approaching that last home stretch in run, and I had about 3 miles to go.  “Suck it up Stephanie!  You can finish this race out with negative splits and close to your half marathon PR time.”  This became my mantra for the next 3 miles.  I LOVE to run races and finish with negative splits, and my running buddies who truly know me, know this about me.  I will also admit that I’m competitive, so catching and passing people who I knew flew past me on the bike just made me run that much stronger.  It becomes a bit of a game with me in a lot of races where I make a mental note of some people when they pass me, and then check the list off as I pass them later.  I have counted runners in front of me before in a smaller race, so yeah, I have a bit of an issue, and I admit it, and there are plenty who I never catch as well, but for each one I catch it’s a small victory.  Going back and reading my running buddies’ posts and knowing where I was in run portion of the race is pretty amazing and funny.  Here are some of my favorites:

2143

56I love those ladies!  Overall, the entire day was negative splits. I didn’t realize everyone was getting so many splits.  I thought they’d just get the total time for each section and the transitions, so I didn’t think Coach Chuck knew how my pacing was when I finished, but he met me right past the finish smiling and that was the first thing out of his mouth.  Chuck – You had negative splits pretty much all day.  Me – Yeah, I did.  Averaged 10:27 on the run.  He popped the bill of my hat with a laugh and walked away.  I think I may have surprised him a little.  😉  My official run time was 2:15:34 at a 10:20 pace.  My half marathon PR is 2:11:15, so I’m pretty happy with that run at the end of a Half Ironman.

finish

Heading down the finishing chute!

Official HIM time 6:25:39, yeah, I met and passed my kick ass goal that I told Jeneen on August 12th.

I can’t say enough about Coach Chuck and Peak Racing.  I can honestly say that I never reached a dark moment in the race.  I never had a moment where I thought I couldn’t finish.  The worst feeling I had the entire race was with 3 miles left in the run trying to decide if I could push harder to get negative splits, and if that’s the worse I felt over 70.3 miles, then I’d say my coach prepared me well.  I’ve been plagued with injuries until I started working with him, and I was injured when I started with him.  He was cautious with my recovery which took over 3 months.  He found ways to work around the injury, and once it was better, he kept me grounded and from pushing harder than I should, so I didn’t hurt myself again.  I honestly don’t think I’d have completed the 70.3 distance without a coach, and as much as I complain and joke about Chuck and his crazy workouts that he assigns, he’s an excellent coach! I look forward to continuing to work with Chuck and the Peak Team.