Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Ohio 70.3... Like A Well Oiled Machine

When you race a lot, you sort of learn how to do it. I feel like that’s where I’m at right now. #likeawelloiledmachine

I did 3x 70.3 races in June/July. Honu then Muncie then Ohio. I’m not sure I’ve ever done 3 that close together before? I don’t think I have. Mostly b/c living in Hawaii, logistically it is hard to pull off! But since Muncie and Ohio were just 3 weeks apart, it worked out this year to do them both. Staying in Ohio for a month accomplished another goal of allowing Moana to truly get to know her grandparents better, even if it meant we had to be away from our home (missing Scott and the animals!) for an extended period. 

Usually I don’t go into races with time/split goals. I’ve learned over the years to focus on the process and let the splits take care of themselves… b/c who knows if courses are measured exactly right? Or what the conditions will be like on race day? Comparing splits from race to race doesn’t really make a lot of sense. That said, the courses at Muncie and Ohio are really quite similar. And conditions were about the same this year too. So since I’d set some benchmarks for myself in Muncie (what did I swim there? 30:20? run 2:00:05? I mean, come on), I went into Ohio with a goal of besting those splits. Plus, Vince threw it out there that I should get under 30min on the swim, which should be a no brainer. (Except its not.)

Pre-race at Ohio was night and day vs my pre-race at Muncie. I was calm, collected, stress free, not sleep deprived, totally organized, etc. It was perfect. This is a benefit of racing a lot. I’ve got my process dialed! My only challenge was race morning breakfast. Staying in a standard hotel room posed a  problem b/c I didn’t have a kitchen, but there was a Bob Evans across the street so the last thing I did before going to bed Saturday night was to head there for a stack of blueberry pancakes to go, which I ate on race morning. Perfect.

W40-44 were the 17th wave, starting over an hour after the race had actually begun. That is not at all my preferred scenario but it is what it is. I actually watched the first wave start and finish the swim before I even started to get myself ready to go. Really, I wanted to see what the top first wave (men 40-44) split in the swim b/c that would be an indicator of whether or not it was a ‘fast’ swim. Didn’t seem like it was. Top guy in that wave came out right ~28min then 2 more guys just under 30 then nobody else until 32+. So. That gave me some perspective.

Finally it was time for us to go. I seeded myself on the front line and the horn went off and I started swimming and instantly knew I felt 100x better than I did at Muncie. Woot! I think the difference was that I was a lot more comfortable swimming in opaque brown water b/c I’d done it a few times this past month. Anyway, I took off swimming, looked around and saw no one was coming with me, so just put my head down and swam strong by myself. It was awesome! And then I arrived at the first turn buoy, where the course became a complete shit show. Left turn, swim into the sun, blinded, people everywhere, etc. I wouldn’t say I allowed myself to be frustrated by this (at least, not in the moment) but its just a fact that you can’t swim the way you’d want to when you’re navigating an obstacle course like that. I did the best I could, ran out of the water and laughed when I saw 30:24 on my garmin. Ha! 3x 70.3 swims this year and all 3 were like 30:12-3:25 range. I suspected that Vince would see that split and laugh. I tried! I swear! Anyway, I let it go and hopped on my bike.

Have you ever had one of those days where you start riding and you just know that your legs were full of watts? Ya. That’s awesome. That’s what I felt as soon as I started riding on Sunday. Beautiful! I mean, we live for days like that. The course was super crowded with all the people who’d started in the waves ahead of me, but I just got down in my aero bars and mostly just stayed left and like a fucking freight train just RODE MY BIKE. The scenario was this: smoothly paved flat roads, light winds, perfect temps, and strong legs. Can you say HELL YA? I mean, it was pretty much my dream bike course. I’ve raced enough over the years to know that days like these are rare gifts so I was not going to waste this opportunity! I averaged 22.5mph for 56 miles and was in heaven. While I was riding I was thinking that THIS is the rider I want to be… I mean, it’s the rider I used to be, but something had been missing the last few years... It felt so good to have my legs back I can’t even tell you… #thankscoach

T2 is super cool- you roll into the stadium at the local college there in Delaware and rack your bike on the football field. I racked my bike (by itself!) and headed out on the run. I always do a little assessment as I start running… mostly its like, Ok how bad did I fuck up by riding too hard?? Sometimes it’s really been an oh shit moment… but this time it wasn’t! Woot! Legs still functioning! No twinges of cramping. Muscles seemed fully functional. Ok then! Let’s get to it! I might not have cracked 30min on the swim but I cracked 2:30 on the bike and I figured if I cracked 2 hours on the run I could count it as pretty much the perfect day.

I saw my mom and dad and daughter right as I ran out of the stadium… all smiles and high fives and I yelped out BEST RIDE EVER!!! #sohappy Then like 1/2 mile later thought, for the first time that day, hmmm, it’s a lot warmer than I anticipated… I mean, I wouldn’t call it HOT, but it was warm, for sure. I wasn’t sure I’d had enough fluids on the bike for these temps? I drank 3 bottles on the bike but looking back, if there was one thing I’d change, it would be to have had another bottle on the bike. I was feeling fine at that point, but def thought that I needed to not be a moron in the first half of the run b/c if it felt warm at 11am, I knew it would be really warm at 1pm. First aid station I saw a guy with plastic gloves holding handfuls of ice. Usually they hand ice out in cups but for whatever reason this guy just had a handful of ice. I ran by and without speaking (I had an energy chew in my mouth so couldn’t really talk!) I just pulled open my Coeur bra and signaled for him to dump the ice in my bra. He got a good little laugh out of that but whatever. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, you know? #heatmanagement

Anyway, I was cruising along and all was well and I was running what felt like strong but controlled effort. I walked through every aid station b/c I wanted to make sure I was getting enough fluids and cooling myself off best I could. None of the other aid stations and one though and that was a huge bummer. But at least for a while, I was managing. Even with the aid station walking I was avg right ~9min pace for the first ~5 miles so I was happy with that. Then things just got hard. I mean, they always get hard at some point. I tried to tell myself that it’s fine- only 7 more miles! But it was a long 7 miles. My legs still felt fine but HR felt like it was through the roof and breathing was loud and labored (I was that athlete- the one who grunts and pants and is super annoying. Sorry!). That course isn’t hilly but it isn’t flat and if your HR is pegged on a flat section, you’re screwed when it starts to tilt up. So that’s pretty much what happened. I managed my brain and body the best I could but I had to take a bunch of short walk breaks in the back half of the run b/c I was just absolutely at my aerobic limit. I was wearing my HR strap but garmin wasn’t picking it up, which at this point I’m sort of glad about b/c I would guess that its as hovering around 170 for a lot of that last hour. When it spikes like that and doesn’t come down it’s typically a sign of dehydration and heat accumulation. The only thing that was going to help me was to just stop completely and sit in the shade, which wasn’t an option until I crossed the finish line. 

Toward the end I saw one of my athletes running out (her wave was dead last ugh what a nightmare!) and she was all full of energy and smiling and high-fiving and I think she asked me how I was doing and all I could manage to do was hold my hand out and grunt <can’t speak>. I genuinely was happy to see her (yay her first triathlon and she was right on schedule as we’d anticipated!) but I couldn’t exactly express it in that moment. I know she understood and probably even respected the level to which I was pushing myself. #atmylimit

Eventually I made it onto the track and ran to the finish (first time I’d stepped on a track all year!), with my parents and my daughter cheering me on from the stands. I didn’t make my sub 2 run goal (2:03) but it wasn’t a complete disaster either. I mean, it could have been a lot worse! I crossed the finish line all smiles in 5:08, which landed me 3rd in my AG. I wasn’t in need of medical, but I was in need of some water and shade, and as soon as I found those I was flat out on my back with my eyes closed. It was then that it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen my other athlete, Brian. He also started behind me but we calculated that if we both had decent days that he would pass me maybe around mile 4-5… So I started to worry after I was done and was like crap Brian didn’t pass me. I tried to collect myself while I had a bunch of thoughts about all the negative scenarios that might have happened to Brian... Did he flat? Did he crash? Did he DNF? Was he just having a bad day?? I didn’t know and it took me ~20min before I could function enough to get to my mom who had a phone with a tracker. She looked him up and was like oh ya he did great! Landed 3rd in his AG as well with a lifetime best so there you go! We must have both been too focused during the run to see each other, but we made up for it with a little #TeamBSC podium party after the race was over. :)

Tia also finished with flying colors and I managed to get myself right on the finish line so I could present her medal. That was a highlight and so fun since it was her first one! So. All in all OH70.3 was a great race experience. Not my perfect day, but pretty damn close! And I mean, if we ever had the perfect race, what would we strive for next time? I can definitely see myself coming back to this one at some point in the future though…