Sunday, June 5, 2011

Hawaii 70.3: I Went For It

What a super weekend! Honu is absolutely an amazing event... Really... The only thing I am bummed about is that we have to wait until next year to do it again. :)

Like I said in my pre-race post, my plan was to get after it from the start and see what happened... I knew my age group was stacked with amazing runners and while I did not realistically think I could win it, I sure was gonna try anyway! The way coach and I saw it, I had nothing to lose by jamming on the bike and then just trying to hang on for the run...

Without going into boring pre-race details, I'll just say it was all perfect.

Logistically everything was taken care of and my head was in the right place. I jogged a little pre-race warm up down the beach where I was completely alone, I looked out into the vast beautiful ocean and smiled. I reminded myself how much I love this, how blessed I am to get to do this today... then I dove into the water and swam a very relaxed easy warm up back to the start buoy. I was in my happy place. The swim at Hapuna Beach is without a doubt one of the best in the world.

1400 people in a mass start situation was good practice for CdA.
I actually much prefer mass starts over wave starts. It was crowded for the first few minutes but not violently so and I just I reminded myself that I just had to get around the first two buoys and then I would be with my people... By that point everyone around you is more or less the same speed as you so it's easy to just settle in and swim. And that's exactly how it went for me. I was pretty much in a pack the whole time and just stretched it out and swam at what felt like a strong but sustainable effort and then all of a sudden the swim was over. I hit the timing mat in low 29 and called it good.

Heading out on my bike I thought I heard someone tell me I was the 4th woman?? That surprised me. (Last year there were way more fast fish in the field b/c I think I was more like 10th heading out onto the bike.) I think maybe a few more gals swam faster than me yesterday but I got them in transition or something. Regardless, that was good by me. In reality, I was actually 5th heading out on the bike, but whatever. It was good. I passed two women right away in the first ~5 minutes then settled into again what I felt like was a strong but sustainable effort.

My plan was to not wear a watch- just race by feel- but in the end I decided to start my watch. I made this decision based on the fact that it was not nearly as windy as I thought it might be, which made me think the bike wouldn't be super slow or anything so I could see the time and not get irritated.

Anyway, la la la... I was riding fast. Too fast? Didn't feel like it. It didn't feel hard. But it felt fast. And I was riding (legally) with some guys I know and I knew they were fast. I questioned myself- should I be doing this? Check again Michelle... full system check... legs were fine. Check. Breathing was fine. Check. Everything was fine. Check. All systems go. I gave myself permission to keep doing what I was doing.

Part way up the climb to Hawi I saw a long ponytail on the rider in front of me. Um, now what do I do? It didn't really feel right to me to pass Bree. Oh my. Maybe I was being a complete idiot. But riding at what felt like a very sustainable effort I was right up in her draft zone so I had no choice. I rode by. She's such a class act and gave out a whooping holler cheer Go Mama! And I gave her a thumbs up and continued on my way. I saw another pro woman flying down the hill as I was still climbing and at the turn around in Hawi I was told I was second. Excuse my language here but, um, HOLY SHIT.

I flew down that hill. The winds were kinda gusty at that point but nothing out of the ordinary and honestly it felt like I had a tailwind all day. I really do think the winds were in our favor because looking at the results after the race, just about everyone rode several minutes faster than what they had done in the past... I will say this though... I came through mile 50 and glanced at my watch and saw 2:15 or something ridiculous like that... Did another full system body system check and decided I was just fine and would be able to run and then without even thinking I let out a whooping YEE HAW!!! Yes. I yelped that out loud. There was no one around to hear me so you'll just have to take my word for it. But I swear that is true. :)

One other thing I'm happy to mention here... Somewhere like mile 45ish I saw the draft marshall go by me again... same gal who had gone by on the back of a motorcycle probably 7x through this bike ride... and she smiled at me and gave me a big thumbs up. I took that as a sign that she was telling me that she saw that I rode legally the whole time. Anyone who tells you it is impossible to not get caught up drafting during a mass start race is bullshitting. It is completely possible.

My final bike split was 2:30, which is 8 min faster than I've ever ridden here before. I came into T2 and was just absolutely all smiles and everyone was cheering and it was just surreal. Too bad the race didn't end right there. :) Unfortunately we all still had to run 13.1 miles, much of which was on soft spongy golf course grass... up and down short steep rolling hills... The plan was to chill out and jog an easy first mile then build into it... Well, the first mile was slow but I wouldn't have actually called it easy. Yikes. This might hurt.

I was feeling little twinges of cramping coming on... I've never gotten through this Honu run without major cramping issues... but I've also never raced here with e21 before either. I took them regularly yesterday on the bike and then had more for the run... took 2 right away and the twinges subsided. Phew. That stuff is magic for cramps. Anyway, I found my stride in mile 2 and just once again tried to settle into a strong but manageable pace. I knew the runners were coming after me and that I was being hunted but that is all part of the game and I just kept playing.

Bree passed me back somewhere around mile 2... another pro gal went by not too long thereafter... I had a ton of teammates out there cheering me on which was awesome... lots of out and back sections on this run... Somewhere like mile 3-4 on an out-and-back I saw like 6 women who were within a few minutes of me and most of them had numbers similar to mine- indicating they were in my age group... yikes... here they come... hang on Michelle... just keep doing your thing... drinking Coke... taking e21... dumping ice down my suit... one foot in front of the other... It got hot. And it got hard. Duh.

I did the best I could in this situation I think. I got passed by 8 women total on that run, 3 of whom were pro and 4 of whom were in my age group (I know, right? Those girls are amazing runners.) I ended up running 1:49 which is 3 min faster than I've ever run on this course before. Could I have run faster had I held back more on the bike? Probably. BUT, I bet I wouldn't have run more than 3-5 minutes faster yesterday no matter what my bike effort was so in the end I think my total finishing time would have been right around the same even with a more conservative bike. So I'm happy with how I played the game. In fact, another local coach approached me after the race to say congratulations... He said he liked how I raced... and that he respected how gutsy I was out there on that bike ride. I thought that was cool of him to say.

As always, I crossed the finish line with my hands up in the air and the most genuine smile you've ever seen.

Prior to the race I was hoping I might have a super day and break 5 hours... I told Nalani that I thought my dream day would be 4:58 and 5th in my age group. I ended up 4:53(!!!) and 5th in my age group. I can't really find the words to adequately describe how I felt (still feel!) about this race but I do know that none of this would have been even remotely possible without the guidance of Lucho. I mean, really. That guy taught me how to do this.

Now let's go do an Ironman.

32 comments:

The Chapples said...

Awesome, just awesome. Love this report!!!! So proud to know you :)

mmmonyka said...

Way to go!!! I'm very happy for you! You are amazing.
Your RR sounds like it was an easy race!?!

Nitsirk said...

What an awesome job. Just reading this makes me want to get out and race. I can't wait to see how well you do at CdA. I also love that Moana is in the awards pic. :) Congrats!

Trisaratops said...

CONGRATULATIONS on a fabulous race! So happy to see you have such a great day!

Clare said...

awww...that sounds just so FUN! glad you rocked it! nalani too!

Running and living said...

Awesome Michelle! Congrats again! So much of this reminds me of Macca's book! Smart racing:)

Regina said...

What great RR. I was hanging on every word! I felt your enthusiasm on the bike, it was how I felt on Saturday (at slower speeds, ha!). Your excitement is infectious and I'm so glad to see all your efforts pay off HUGE dividends. I'm proud to call you coach!

Kim said...

CONGRATS MICHELLE! you went for it, and it showed! way to go mama. you rule. well done.

Kim said...

WHOO HOOO! YES Mama Simmons!! Way to go Michelle! I'm really excited for you.. you made it your race and you did the best you could. That's all you can ask of yourself so way to tough it out on that run and feel good about it!! 4:53 is awesome. Mission accomplished!

Beth said...

Love it!! Again, congrats Michelle. Just so dang happy to see all your hard work pay off!! And I totally agree about the bike/run situation. In a half, I really don't think you gain a lot on the run by holding back just a little on the bike...especially when you are as fit as you are! Woo-hoo for IM soon to come!! :)

Damie said...

nice post! - I'll shoot you an email :)

Kelly said...

Woot!! Sounds like you had a great day! Congrats!!

Kiet said...

Simply put, your crushed it. Don't play the what if game, you PR'd, you crushed it, nuff said. Can't wait to see you at IM CDA, let's plan on biking together for that race ;o)

Molly said...

I was SO excited cheering for you all day and glued to my computer. I hope you could hear the cheering across the Pacific. You rocked it!!!

Shevaun said...

Great job at Honu! I am glad you aren't in my AG at IMCDA.

Iron Krista, "The Dog Mom" said...

Seriously, you are SO bad ass. I only hope that someday i will have the heart that you do. It's amazing and inspiring. This was such a well deserved/earned performance!

Not to mention you can race in a swimsuit :-)

Libby said...

wow. love the race report and the courage. what a dream to be on the front of a major race! you killed it! huge congrats and good luck at CDA! can't wait to track you!!

Rebecca DeWire said...

YEEE HAW!!!!!!! Congrats on an amazing day out there. You totally convinced me before that MAF running/biking is worth doing to build a solid base and now you have given me even more proof. Great pictures and loved the race report.

mtanner said...

Love it Michelle! Cant wait to MEET you:)

TriGirl Kate O said...

Awesome job, Michelle! Are you bringing Moana to CdA? I am looking forward to meeting you!!!

cherelli said...

Way to go Michelle - 4.53???Crazy hot time, so pleased for you!! Good luck at CdA (oh yeah, be prepared for a VERY cold swim...sorry but that was the goss I got on the weekend from a couple of girls...)

Angela said...

How great Michelle! Glad you had an awesome race. Can't wait to see how CdA goes for you!!!

idropboys said...

Huge congrats!! So happy for you.

Roz said...

YEAH MICHELLE!!! You've inspired me to break the mental limits I box myself into. Soak it up lady - you DESERVE it!

Angela and David said...

Congrats Michelle! Such an amazing day for you! Your report made me miss racing so much. Seriously, I'm like tearing up in the F*cking caribou at 7 in the morning.

Jennifer Harrison said...

Awesome Michelle, what a great race for you!!!! Congrats all around!!!

rr said...

Congratulations, you were incredible on Saturday! Way to put together a great performance.

Also, I loved that marshall. I spent the first half of the bike with a pro (#11) either sucking wheel or blocking, riding right down the center of the road. That marshall came up next to us and she didn't even pretend to drop off my wheel. And she got her penalty. And I yelled THANK YOU! Sheesh.

Charisa said...

What a race!! Congrats congrats!! :)

MaineSport said...

Great race- it takes courage to go after it like that and work hard to hang onto the end. good luch in the lead up to IMCdA.

Jennifer Yake Neuschwander said...

Serious congrats. It's awesome to see somebody already so accomplished in sport have such a huge PR. Also, you are a class act. I think most people with your race performance would have had a sour grapes attitude about how that fastest amatuer woman all had to be in your age group. Way to show how it's done.

Jennifer P said...

Great race! You make it sound so easy! Enjoy your recovery and go get than Ironman!

N.D. said...

wow awesome!! Congratulations!!