Thursday, August 25, 2011

Preparing for World Championship Ironman 70.3

Winnersville Olympic Triathlon 2011

Winnersville Triathlon has always been a fun, laid back, out in the country triathlon. My goal this year was to race it, but not all out. Last year at this race, both my Achilles seized up during the last part of the 10k. I was out of commission for weeks. Since my 70.3 race is only a few weeks away, I had to be very careful how I raced.

The swim was in a nice lake, but super warm water, due to the high temperatures. The first buoy (which was yellow,) was to my right. It was also right where the sun was coming up. All I could see was sun! No buoys, trees, or landmarks. I kept swimming towards the light, until I swam smack dab into the buoy. Talk about swimming right on course! BTW, that is very unusual for me, because I am the swimmer that is zig zaging all along the swim course. Once I got done with the swim, I knew I had some time to make up. Last year, there was a competitor that was about 5 minutes ahead of me out of the water. This year, the same girl was only 3 minutes. Yahoo!

The bike is a two loop, 27 mile bike course out in the country. It wasn't until the 2nd loop that I took the lead. When I came into T2, I found out that not only was I the first female going into the run, but I was the first overall everyone! At that point, that changed my goal for the race. I knew that I was a faster runner than the girls behind me, but there's usually a fast male runner that would fly by me at some point. It never did happen. My plan was to run with effort the first 3 miles, then see where I was in the race. Not a soul behind me, so I slowed my run pace down to a tempo run. I crossed the line feeling great and ended up finishing faster than last year's time. Very happy with my 2:12 overall time and so glad to have found my confidence again. Watch out Las Vegas! Here I come.

Family Fun on 4th of July!

Freedom Springs Triathlon

Luke, my oldest child and a Snapple Club Team member, decided to try his first adult sprint triathlon. That made me very nervous. The race is held in Blue Springs, Marianna, so the swim is in a clear, but chilly spring. Not only is the water cold, but there are weeds in the springs that go up to the surface of the water. Even for experienced triathletes, this could cause swimmers to panic and this is why I was nervous for my inexperienced 15 year old. Also, Luke had never done a mass swim start before, and being a worried mom that I am, I decided to forgo my race to stay right by Luke’s side. Needless to say, I worried for nothing! I wore my wonderful Xterra wetsuit, Luke had only his trisuit. He got through the swim with no problems at all. Silly me!

We got on the bike and because it wasn’t a USAT sanctioned race, I was able to ride beside him some giving him guidance on the rules while racing. Luke rode well for never riding 10 miles ever.

Onto the run! The run was on a dirt road that went further into the country. Very hilly, so thank goodness it was only a 5k. We kept a pace that was comfortable for Luke, passing some people, but keeping it consistent and steady. The finish was on a long downhill, where Luke found his second wind and out sprint me to the finish line. That stinker!

I was so proud of Luke finishing his first adult sprint triathlon, along with the rest of my family. Luke came in 2nd in his age group, Mike (my husband and Snapple Club Member) came in 3rd Overall, Joshua (12 year old) came in 3rd Overall in the kid’s race, Juliet (10 year old) came in 1st in her age group in the kid’s race. Success!

Could things get any worse?!?

Gulf Coast Triathlon

After a good half ironman in New Orleans about three weeks ago and a great camp last weekend to prepare me for Gulf Coast Triathlon, I was confident that I would do well in my upcoming race. Sometimes you can be too confident.

After getting to Panama City Beach, I was gathering all that I would need for my race the next morning. See, instead of having it all in one bag, I had clothes, gear, etc., in 3 bags. Bad idea! I realized that I forgot my Snapple Triathlon Team tri shorts. Boo! Fortunately, I had an old pair of black tri shorts as a back-up that I could use, but they’re not nearly as comfortable as my Snapple shorts.

Race morning, I woke up with my stomach bloated and uncomfortable. I looked like I was 5 months pregnant. Great! People will be whispering and wondering how a pregnant lady was able to race a half ironman. So, as I waddled to the swim start, I knew I would at least float. Even with my big belly, I had a P.R. in my swim, knocking off 5 minutes off of last year’s time.

Because I race by heart rate, I had my Garmin on my bike ready to go. I started the bike portion, knowing that my heart rate always spikes at the beginning of the bike. Looking at my heart rate, it was lower than my resting heart rate. Uh oh. What does this mean?!? I rode a little bit farther and checked my heart rate again. Still way too low. So, now what? I didn’t have a back up plan. Just the weekend before at the camp, Coach Dan told us to always have a back up plan if things did not go the way you plan. Way to listen to the coach, huh?!? So, I tried my best to keep my bike pace similar to what I rode in my half ironman in New Orleans. The course was flat as a pancake, so it was easy to keep the pace consistent. My stomach still felt big and full, so I did not take in the nutrition as planned. Another no no.

Going out on the run, I was hoping to feel as good as I did my last race. Of course, it always hurts the first mile or two, but then I would get into a groove. I decided not to go by my heart rate on the run, since it was so off on the bike. I tried to just go by feel and occasionally glance to see what my run pace was. I never did feel like I could get into a good steady pace. The weather conditions were almost perfect, so that wasn’t the problem. My run pace kept getting slower and slower with every mile. All I kept telling myself is to keep moving forward. The finish was in sight and I couldn’t have been happier to see it. I was happy I didn’t drop out when I felt so bad. It was also a good lesson for me to always make a checklist of items you need for your race and always have a back up plans if things don’t happen the way you plan.

In the end, I was lucky to win my age group, 7th female overall, and my finishing time wasn’t as bad as I was sure it was going to be. Even better, some of my very good friends had fantastic races and I was so proud and happy to see them finish.

First triathlon of the year is always a scary one!

Ochsner NOLA 70.3 Ironman

My husband and I got to New Orleans the day before race day. Boy, New Orleans is one of a kind! We stayed in a very unique B & B in the French Quarter. The B & B used to be slave quarters and I don’t think they updated it much.

The Ochsner NOLA 70.3 is an interesting course. You start at one place, then finish miles away in the middle of the French Quarter.

Race morning, there were gusts of wind. Just doing my run warm-up in the head wind was a challenge. No surprise that the race officials cancelled the swim and turned the triathlon into a duathlon. They couldn’t get the safety boats out where they needed to be, because of the large waves. We had a time trial start, starting with the bike portion. Within our age group, we’d take off two at a time, every 3 seconds. It didn’t spread us out too much, but the race directors did as much as they could with how many participants there were.

The bike was difficult, due to the strong wind. We had head wind going out, but had some great tailwind coming back in. My Smith sunglasses were a big help, protecting my eyes from any flying debris. The roads were quite bumpy and uneven. I saw a few bike wrecks, not sure if it was from the gusts of wind or the bad roads. My coach has taught me to go by heart rate, rather than speed, so I never knew my speed. I felt pretty good, though.

Starting the run, I didn’t feel that this was going to be a great race for me. My husband, who was watching along the run course had informed me that there were at least 5 girls ahead of me. I just did not know what to expect from my legs. As I was running, I found I was picking them off one by one and I was feeling overall better. My Spira Stingers came through for me once again. Those shoes are awesome!

The finish line was in the middle of the French Quarter. There were lots of people cheering and that has always been a big motivator to finish strong. Once I crossed the finish line, I was in 2nd place. Unfortunately, with a time trial start, you can’t be too confident that you are going to hold onto that spot. There could easily be another that started a couple minutes behind you, but ended up with a finishing time that is faster than yours.

Oh, happy day! I did in fact hold onto that 2nd place spot, with the fastest run in my category. Not only that, I was fortunate enough to qualify for the World Championship 70.3 Ironman in Las Vegas this fall.

It’s so great to get one underneath your belt and it went better than expected. My wonderful Snapple Champion System gear kept me comfortable and cool in the heat. Speaking of hot, my next stop, Gulf Coast Triathlon in Panama City Beach, Florida. Keep your fingers crossed for me!