Thursday, September 6, 2012

Calgary 70.3 Race Report-July 29th 2012

This is my 6th year doing triathlon, so I can easily say I know how to execute an Olympic distance triathlon, and yes after 6 years this was my first half ironman race. I felt very ready going into this race, I was healthy (with the exception of burnt lips), had no injury issues and had put in some solid training. I really like to hammer hard in an Olympic distance race so for me key in this race was going to be execution. Angie and I had talked it to death and I had a plan. The last thing I did say to Angie Saturday night was my biggest fear wasn’t blowing up on the run, it was underperforming on the bike….

The swim went really well. I had a great start and found fast feet by the first turn. I stayed on the same feet for almost the entire race. It was hard to sight so far to the turnaround buoys so I did rely on the swimmer in front of me and we seemed to hold a decent line. Coming back under the bridge I heard a whistle I couldn’t mistake and on a breath rolled onto my side and offered a wave to my gear mule for the day, my biggest supporter, my rock, my husband Marty. He saw me and I saw him…so nice to connect in such a long race. In the last quarter of the swim I did feel myself tiring and was falling off her feet. I told myself I had two choices. Slow down and swim alone or speed up and catch her feet again and probably end up exerting the same effort with the draft than I would alone. I sped up. At the last buoy things were getting very congested with us catching up to the men’s heat. Around the corner I lost her with swimmers everywhere and the sun in our eyes. I went way wide and swam a bit farther than I needed to but managed to get around quite a few men without getting kicked. My swim time was 31:31, slower than I thought I would be but not too bad.

T1 was fast and I was out and on my bike in 1:59. Once on the bike I reminded myself that until I hit the top of grand valley that my job was to ride like a tourist (unlike my mantra in an oly distance race which is to tell myself this is no vacation….). My chain fell off somewhere going up grand valley, tried to get it on without getting off but couldn’t manage so pulled over and fixed it. On the bike I was passed my 4 females (including Sheila Croft and Tanya Saloman-no surprises there) and passed 2 myself. I kept my hr in a target that I thought would be good over the 94km distance, 10 beats below what I hold in an oly distance race. I did enjoy this ride, it felt good from start to finish. Marty surprised me in 2 spots on the bike it was great to see him out there, ringing the cow bells for me! There were some other familiar faces out there as well, some TTL’ers, Tri-It staff (Madi and Rose) and my fav preggo triathlete gave me a high five coming up Cochrane hill (thanks Richelle). I got lots of cheers from people stuck in traffic on the 22 including these 2 girls in a convertible that I saw 3 times on the bike course and gave me the hugest cheers….thanks ladies! I took in all the fuel I had planned to take in and by the time I came off the bike my stomach was settled and ready to tackle the run. Bike time was 2:44:14, definitely what I thought I would be, BUT, with winds out of the west I should have been faster. I won’t over analyze the bike here, but I will say that I now know I can push harder on the bike over this distance and definitely hold a higher heart rate. So for next time….no more riding like a tourist!

Reaching out for a high 5 from the boys!
I am not sure how he made it but Marty caught me coming into T2. He gave his best transition cheers (he always knows how to keep me moving fast) and I was out on the run in :57. Once I started the run my body did what it always wants to do off the bike- go hard! I actually said out loud to myself to slow down. The first 18km of the run went very smoothly. I was a little slower than I thought I would be but the pace felt right and I was using RPE to judge effort on the run. I took in as much as I could at each aid station took the downhills slowly to prevent those quad cramps that have hampered me in the past. Got to see Steve W. on the out, it was so great to high five him as I went by, he looked so strong! Climbing up weaselhead on the way out I could actually hear the TTL aid station before I could see them. As soon as I came into view they went crazy! I almost started crying at the emotion of so much support! I was so choked up that I had to keep my head down and waived the cheers off just to keep moving forward! What a rush to go through that aid station! Angie ran with me and gave me some good advice and I was on my way again. I high fived the marshal at the turnaround and was pretty excited that the run was halfway done. Back through the TTL aid station where I think I had more composure and back down the hill. I saw Leslie-Anne here and again, that high five was awesome! The climb back out was hard, but not too bad and I was still feeling good. I saw my family at the top of the hill and got some good cheers and high fives from my son and his friend Jacob. And then….3km to go….and it got hard! The same kind of muscle fatigue that you feel in a full marathon! What?! Those last 3km were so tough, my legs hurt so much and I just couldn’t get them to go any faster! Again Marty and the boys showed up at just the right time and the boys ran along side me as the finish area came into view. My daughter Ayden and her friend Layne were there yelling as I came into the chute to cross the line. Run time, 1:41:36. A little slower than I thought I would be but still within my goals so was happy with that. Total time was 5:00:17.

I was 7th female overall and 2nd place in my age group.

In retrospect, I think I could have been alot faster on the bike but that is water under the bridge. It was my first half ironman and I had no idea how my body would react to racing this distance.  I will definitely be tackling this race distance again in 2013....Just like in olympic distance racing I want to see what I am capable of, I want to challenge myself!!

Me, Coach Angie, and Leslie-Anne (2nd in her AG too!)

2 Sprints and 2 Olympic Distance Tri's- an update! year I really need to be more timely with my blog/race reports!

Here is the short version of some tri's I did this summer!

Sylvan Lake Sprint- First off I want to say I love this race!  So well run and organized!  Cathy and Scott with Sylvan Lake tri club do an awesome job with this race!!  I did this race 1 week after the Woody's Half Marathon so really didn't know what my legs would do, but it was a great race ( you will hear this alot in 2012, it was quite the year for me personally).  Swim and bike were faster than last year, run was slightly slower but run course was 300m longer this year so probably right on par with last year so considering my tired legs was super happy with that!  Loved being at the race with my athletes Jen, Marnie and Jim and cheering on lots of the Red Deer/Sylvan Lake athletes that I have come to know over the past few years.  I was 1st female overall and 3rd out of the men and I was faster than last year on a slighly longer course!  Yipeee!!!!

Wasa Olympic Distance - Made this weekend a road trip adventure with my daughter Ayden.  On a side note she got her learners right before we hit the highway and drove 2/3 of the way there!  WTG Ayden!!  We also had great hosts with friends of ours, Ron and Leah and their two daughters.  I kind of felt like a pro on a homestay!  The water was brutally cold and they shortened the swim, which is too bad because I had a good swim, a good bike and my best triathlon 10km ever!  41:49!  If this had been a full distance I think I would have been so close to a sub 2:16 time!!  Ah well....  The cool thing was I was 4th female overall (2nd in my AG) and was "in the money".  Wasa gives out cash to top 5 overall finishers.  I was so pumped and thrilled to stand at the front among such speedy ladies!  A huge thanks to Charlie with RM Events for putting on such a top rate triathlon.

Woody's Sprint Tri -  Another awesome race!  Val does such a great job as RD!  One cool thing about Woody's is they take the top 10 overall finishers (male and female) from previous years and group them together in the pool at the end of the swim.  So it feels less like a time trial and more like a head to head race.  Awesome fun!  I was 2nd last year out of everyone, so got to race with the #2.  And they kept announcing to watch out for the athletes with numbers 1-10.  As I came into t2 someone hollered at me to go beat some boys, so funny, so I yelled back "I'm trying!".  I was 2nd again out of the men and 1st overall female.  A fun day...not quite as fast as last year, but super happy with my result.

Edmonton Triathlon Festival and National Championships-  This was my first non wetsuit legal swim and surprisingly I was faster this year than last year!  Wooohooo!!  I need to swim more without a wetsuit!  It works for me!  I had the bike of my life but unfortunately the heat hit me on the run and had my slowest run time ever!  However, the strength of my swim time and bike time, even paired with a 45min run was enough for me to set a new OD personal best!  2:17:50.  (now if only I could plunk in that Wasa run time I'd have that sub 2:15 I am dreaming of......)  I was 4th female overall and 2nd in my AG.  So exciting to be on the podium again at nationals!! 

Well, that's the short version of most of my 2012 tri season!  Calgary 70.3 gets it's own post!

Red Deer Half Marathon May 20, 2012 (long overdue!)

I signed up for this race to help me prep for Calgary 70.3 Ironman.  The original purpose was to be a training tool.  However, after running two good 10kms in March and April (40:51 and 40:29) I knew that this race had the potential to be personal best day.  My previous personal best set in Nov of 2011 was 1:32:15.  I set a goal of 1:31 flat thinking this would be a good challenge.  I printed off one of those nerdy pace bracelets (because I am a NERD) with the splits for 1:31.

Off the gun I went out too fast!  My suunto had been calibrated with my training shoes and I had decided to race in my tri shoes as part of the prep for Calgary 70.3, (the foot pod does not "move" well from shoe to shoe) so needless to say my pace was reading WAY off!  As the first few km markers were ticked off I knew I was too fast, but it felt good so I kept at it and just resigned my self to the fact that either I was going to have a brilliant race and smash my pb or have a total blow up later in the race.... (My coaches mantra of race with your head to start and heart to finish was ringing in my ears).

As the race continuted the km's just flew by.  I couldn't believe how fast this race was going by for me.  The course was absolutely beautiful!  There were hills, which I usually hate, but it didn't matter today.  The weather was perfect, the course was scenic and I was on a roll.  I kept referring to my pace bracelet and couldn't believe that I continued to gain ground on each split time.  I soon realized that even if I blew up at the end I was still going to have a personal best day.  I think the excitement of knowing that I was going to be faster than I thought pushed me to hold that pace and go for it!  I caught up to a guy around that 16-17km mark, and if you have done a half, you know this part of the race.  This is where pace slows a bit and things really start to hurt.  He was chatty and positive.  I told him we were going to beat 1:30 if we can hold this pace and he said, "uh oh, my back half is going to be slow".  He was doing the full!!  We ran together for a couple kms and then he realized he should slow down, but he urged me ahead to go catch the next guy (which I did).  It's always great when you get a bit of mental mojo at a point like that in a race.  As my husband would say that was the TSN turning point.

 As I approached the dreaded uphill that takes you to the downhill finish I just dug in and went for it.  Checked my watch and realized that if I gave it my all I could do this in under 1:28.  The crowds were amazing and brought me across the finish in a time of 1:27:55 -- 4 minutes and 20 seconds faster than my previous personal best!  It is still unbelieveable as I type this....I never imagined I could run a  half marathon that fast. It felt good from start to finish, it was a "zen run" as my coach Angie would say.  I was 3rd overall, but after a race like this, placings really don't matter.  It was me versus me!