Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ironman Austin 70.3, 2013

We traveled the 11 hour journey last Thursday to arrive in Austin way past dinner time. After getting lost trying to find a restaurant, we finally settled on a steak house near our hotel. The meal tasted great-we both got sick the next day and everything ran through our systems at lightening speed...Word to the wise "Longhorn Steakhouse" in Georgetown, TX is maybe NOT the best place to eat..We arrived safely and stomachs full at our hotel, bikes and all our crap in tow. We fell into bed and finally had a good night's sleep. 

I knew going into this race, Ironman Austin 70.3 that I was not totally trained for it. I struggled in the last 2 half marathons I raced last month, was sick in May with Pneumonia, blah, blah, blah...but there is always that teeny tiny voice inside that says maybe?? I will surprise myself. 

There were 20 ladies signed up in the 55-59 age group. Wow, that's a lot of "older women"! It was my last triathlon in my 50's. Starting January 1st, I will be racing in the 60-64 category. In triathlon you compete at the age you are December 31st of that year. I'd like to say "woot! " for my new age group but these older female athletes seem to be aging up with me. I remember the good old days when there were 2, maybe 3 in my AG in my 50's at most races..sigh..

So this was a race against myself really. I felt like I had been swimming quite a bit coming into the race, biking a fair amount but not running enough and it all reflected in my times. There were no real surprises for me in that regard, except I wanted my secret super powers to come out and override all of that. Uh, guess what? There is no substitute for training!! No magical thinking or race fairy will change that- Lol..

The race was weirdly set up. There are two transition areas, one for the bike and one for the run, about a mile apart. This particular event was a "clean transition" area, which to me says simply "we don't have to do as much work tearing down the transitions" ( the Ironman workers). This made not too much sense to me. Usually you can set out all your stuff at one transition and leave whatever you take off there when you change into biking stuff, running stuff. In a "clean transition", after the swim portion, you had to pack up all your swim crap and put it in bags at T-1. Then at T2, all your run stuff was in a bag where you rack your bike and after you dumped said contents, you had to shove all your biking gear into the bag, including helmet and leave it there. What this all means is that in my befuddled mind that I forgot nutrition, bike tubes and other important items at the T-1. "Clean" transitions were about 4 times longer than they usually are...bummer!

We went to swim at the lake on Friday. The water was perfect! There was some discussion online about the water being potentially too warm for wetsuits (has to be over 76 degrees) but H and I deemed it cool enough, the water felt great. We also biked a bit and ran. There are many, many stickers (burrs, goatheads, etc.) around the transitions to cause potential bike flats. I had read from other previous racers that it was a good idea to carry our bikes in and out of transitions, so as not to have a flat before the race even started. 

On Saturday, we dropped our bikes off in this manner and thank goodness it worked-no flats so far! We covered our bike seats in plastic along with our bike handlebars. This eventually came back to haunt me. I though it was a lovely ideas to wrap mine in colorful tape so as to be able to spot my bike in the sea of the other 2499 bikes in T-1...We drove over to T-2 and dumped off our run bags in transition, then get to the pre-race meeting. The forecast called for thunderstorms in the area right at the time the race was suppose to start on Sunday, as well as the night before. They told us about the contingency plan for such a set back, so I felt better hearing that. The RD told us carrying our bikes out of transition to the bike portion was a "good idea" and that if we do, we shouldn't have the flat tire problem. He said they hadn't really had problems with many flats in the race in previous years (lie #1) and didn't foresee them in this race. We met some lovely folks from Albuquerque, there were quite a contingency of us here, which was very cool! H and I decided to drive back to T-1 and fill up our bike tires Saturday, since we didn't want to have to fuss with that on Sunday AM. The RD said that this was a good idea (lie #2), since it is an "urban legend" that bikes lose their air or pop from the heat overnight before the race...hmmm..not what I have heard but oh well..one less thing to think about race morning.

Saturday night before the race, we had a lovely dinner with my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter at a nice Italian restaurant. They live here and were such great support for us at the race!! We got back to our hotel and were in bed by 9:00. I woke up at 4:00 A.M. to putz around because I hate to feel rushed, wanted to eat my bagel and take a shower. I checked my stuff and all the pre-race details before we walked out of the hotel at 5:15 AM.. At 4:00 AM I had heard the crack of thunder and said "uh-oh, maybe the contingency plan will be implemented here". I tried not to worry too much. Rain is one thing, thunderstorms in the lake is a totally 'nother thing..Traffic was light until we got to the lake, then we sat in a line of cars for 45 minutes just to get to park, then got on a shuttle bus to take us to the lake at T-1. I was trying not to feel stressed out, listening to my iPod soothing music and trying not to think bad thoughts about our decision to leave late..It was very dark, raining slightly but no more lightening..Whew! I sorted out my bike gear, somehow thinking it was a good idea to leave the plastic and tape on my bike seat and handlebars until after the swim...wrong choice!! The ground was muddy and gross, I was already dirty before I even started the race. I was thinking Triathlon is so messy, so complicated compared to running races. Let's do running races next year!  H and I found each other and headed down to the swim start. Had my earplugs in, wetsuit on and felt pretty good...H and I were in the first waves after the pro start. The sky was starting to lighten. Then they announced the race was delayed 15 minutes because of the clusterf%*#k at the car entrance and not all the athletes were there yet..better traffic planning next year?!?

Finally the gun went off for the Pros, I went in 10 minutes later..5 minutes after H. I started to the far right, not wanting to get kicked and punched the whole swim since I was traumatized by Ironman AZ last year, where I got literally knocked around for 90 minutes. I knew it would cause me to swim some extra yardage, but for some reason, I kept swimming to the right, away from the bouys and course. I bet this added 200 yards to my swim. It was all I could do to stay to the left on course. I need to figure out how come I kept veering off so badly, maybe because my stroke needs work? I started out slow to warm up, then after about 500 yards, I picked it up.The water felt great, I felt strong and got out of the water at 40 minutes. Not my best, not my worst at this distance. I was good with that..

Swim (1.2 miles) time: 40:19.

I tried to find my water shoes I had left at the side to run the 200 yards up the sticker filled grass to T-1, to no avail-someone must have taken them? I prayed I didn't get goat heads in my feet, as I had the day before making the trek. I didn't, thank goodness! The wetsuit strippers were about halfway up the hill..they were awesome! I found my bike fairly quickly but the plastic bag, tape thing took FOREVER to get off the bike seat. I wasted precious time here but did manage to get all my stuff on, minus the stuff l forgot to grab in my post swim delirium...I headed out of T-1 and carried my bike(in the mud, gravel and stickers...uh not so great for the bike shoes as it turned out!) another 75 yards out of transition to the mount line. A very sweet young man offered to carry my bike for me..I gratefully declined but dang those Texans are nice!

Transition #1 time: a record breaking slow time of 8:46.

I got on my bike and alas my cleats would not clip in my pedals.. It took me a few minutes to realize I must have much s#%t on the bottom of my bike shoes! therefore couldn't clip in. Almost everyone had the same issue. I stopped 3 times to try and get the mud, rocks out, to no avail. Now my hands were filthy, my shoes were muddy and my bike soaking wet. Hmmm...time to go with the flow. Finally someone at an Aid Station had a hose and sprayed the bottom of my shoes. Hallelujah, I was able to clip in and off I went. I was glad I managed to remember to pull on my new hot pink thin rain jacket..it was cool outside with the rain and all, plus being wet anyway. The rain basically stopped at this point, there was cloud cover all day..Perfect! I felt I was dressed appropriately. The bike course was, well hilly and not much flat ground to ride on. The roads were pretty bumpy and jostling for the most part. I wasn't surprised, we had driven the course. I felt like I was going pretty fast for the conditions. It was a tight squeeze to pass in, only half the already small road were blocked off much of the time. I started noticing folks on the side of the road fixing flats..then I noticed LOTS of people changing flats, I would say at least 30 people I observed in the 56 miles, including one nasty wreck aftermath, where 2 people were on the ground, basically not moving. I heard a few ambulances in the distance. One poor guy was walking his bike, I asked if he was OK , he said both his tires had popped and he was out of tubes. Dang! I thought, if only I would have remember my extra tube, I would've given it to him! I could only send positive vibes his way ..The young guys started about 90 minutes after my swim wave so now I was hearing the "zoom, zoom, zoom" of disc wheels absolutely flying by me! I felt like I was riding pretty fast until I was left in the dust by yet another disc wheel rider. One guy passed me and said "You are my hero!" I thought, wow, I must be riding so well, so fast and look good too!" Then I remembered my age written on my back calf..oh yea, what he really meant was: Wow! So awesome an old lady like you can do these races?!. Ha! I knew it was meant as a compliment and thanked him, always bewildered that being in my 50s and doing Triathlons is a big deal! I mean I know I am super lucky and l blessed to be healthy and strong enough to race.. I don't feel 59 so when I hear these things I wonder..whaaa? Well, that thought didn't last because around mile 40, I started to realize, yes Debi, you are 59! My back started hurting, first on one side, then both. My neck was cramping from riding in aerobars..oh yea, you have to actually practice riding in aero position before the race-duh!! Of course having forgotten Ibuprofen or Tylenol in T-1, I just had to suck it up the last hour..I sped through most of the Aid stations, passed a couple of women in my AG so was feeling pretty good about my bike time, although I didn't have a watch or bike computer on..I was really tired of being on the bike by mile 50..just get me on the run!! At one point I heard something in my tire (I spent much of the bike praying for no flats). So I stopped to check and clean my tires. H passed me and asked if I was OK, I said I think so...not flats-yay! Finally, we rounded the last corner, my "flat paranoia" left and I was never happier to get off my butt and standing up!

Bike time (56 miles): 3:28. Much slower than I thought it would be..oh well, lots of folks considered it to be a tough bike course, so I guess it was!

T2 was another "clean transition area". I dumped my bag on the ground, took my shoes out of the extra baggies I had them in, since I left this bag overnight in the rain-everything was in extra bags. To avoid foot problems, I changed socks, taking more time in T-2 but running in wet feet=blisters. I wore short compression socks for the bike and was sorta annoyed I didn't pack dry CS's for the run, so regular socks would have to do..again a slow ass transition as I had to pack everything up in the bag again..gahhhh!

T-2 time: 8:41

Off on the run at last!! Only now I started having right sided back cramps/pain. I tried eating salt tablets, Tylenol, Advil, gels, drinking water, thinking it might be an electrolyte problem but I guess it just was sore muscles. This went on for the first 10 miles or so. It was super annoying!! I did my run 2.5 min./walk 1 minute pace, which for the first lap felt amazing! The run was 3 loops, about 2 loops too many! The first loop the hills were fairly easy. All that extra oxygen in Texas after training at 5-8000 feet felt awesome. They call these hills? I thought to myself. By the last loop I was thinking these f^%*ing hills! I hate them..haha..what a difference a few miles make!! I will say the weather was perfect, and I mean perfect. There was cloud cover for all but about 5 minutes when the sun popped out. Otherwise the temps were in the 60s-70s, somewhat humid, all in all we were very lucky to be racing in these conditions. The crowds were great, since there were all the loops, folks could stand near the loop turns and cheer 3 times. There were some cute Aid Stations around the end of each loop, which had very loud microphones with people yelling your name (we had our first names on our bibs). One person yelled over the microphone, "hey we are missing the Cowboy game for you. You better run fast!" I was amused. At the end of my first loop, I saw my family!! Lane had made us such a cute sign:

Our own personal cheering section! We saw them 2 more times. Getting hugs from a Grand kid is always inspiring!

I passed a 75 year old guy and he was my hero! I said "Wow you will won your age group!" He informed me there were 2 men in his AG, how cool is that.. Later, I saw him finish-woot! Then there was the guy running with one leg and prosthesis.. He spoke little English, only Spanish but I told him I was impressed! A guy was running dressed in full Fireman suit and gear. I was sweating with just a tri suit, can't imagine his discomfort..and told him so..and thanked him.I saw H on the run once, he was ahead of me, I knew he was having a good run. There were at least 3 women that passed me in my AG, flying by me really. There was no chance I could catch them...I kept hoping that they were the only ladies in my AG, but OMG no there were 13 women ahead of me! The last loop of that run were a suffer fest.. I switched my pace to 2 minutes, run/one minute walk. Some of the harder hills, I just trudged up on the last loop. As I rounded the last bend into the shoot, I saw my niece, Erin, who had come to surprise us cheering us in!

Thanks Erin and Gavin!!

Allison, Mike and Lane were inside the arena, where the race ended. The reverberation of the crowd inside the arena was amazing- I was finally at the end!!! Wow, hard race for me, as they always were but my times were disappointing, even though I know logically I did the very best I could for the day. My first comment off the finish line was: I am too old for this s^&%t! lol..Allison said You always say that mom! She knows my crazy pretty well because well, I keep racing these things! 

Run time (13.1 miles): 2:49

Final time: 7:15

14th out of 19 in my AG-boo!

467th out of 659 overall women-not bad..

1849th out of 2219 overall in race-well, I did beat a few folks..

The first 5 women in my AG did the race in 5-6 hours. The winner in my AG did it in 5:03. This astonishes me!!! She beat men half her age. I want her drug tested.. Me and my sour grapes!! Lol!

The best part of the day was seeing my husband get his 2nd place award in his AG. He ran some guy down at the end and came in 2nd, almost qualifying for Ironman 70.3 Worlds in Quebec, Canada next year. The winner of his age group claimed the spot-dang! Oh well, he is a stud, that hubby of mine!

We hung around for the awards ceremony, of course to see H get his reward for all his hard work!

Would I do Austin 70.3 again? Maybe in a relay..I would do it again if my daughter and son-in-law do the relay with me! 

The positives were; 
1.The people were super nice, althletes/volunteers-much less intense atmosphere than say, Boulder 70.3, etc.
2. Aid stations were well stocked-all of them.
3. The swim at Decker lake was awesome-perfect water temp, smooth, great, well marked with bouys, lots of kayaks, etc.!
4. The crowds at the run lap turnarounds were so inspiring an helpful..

1. The "clean transitions" made my times there painfully slow! Major PIA..
2. Getting into the parking area on raceday was a nightmare. Open another source to get in and open up both lanes!
3. Would it be so hard to put down more carpeting in transition and the run to the bike start??
4. Roads we biked on pretty much sucked. Alot of people had issues with bikes, tires, crashes, etc.
5. The award ceremony started about an hour late (close to 5:00). We were so sore and tired, this was annoying.
6. PLEASE don't tell people there are no problems with flat tires!! Last year and this year many folks had flats on the bike. Tell us to bring extra tubes!

Monday, I woke up at 3:30 AM sore and hungry.. I think I burned something like 7,000 calories on Sunday, now it seemed my body wanted that replaced!! We drove the long drive home to ABQ. This is not the greatest plan after a half Ironman sitting in the car all day but we wanted to sleep in our own bed last night. Today, Tuesday-I am sore and still hungry..I plan on vegging out most of today-time for some recovery!

Then we start seriously training for Ironman Melbourne which will be held on March 23, 2014. I will be in my new age group! Hot damn..