Sunday, September 22, 2013

Ironman 70.3 World Champs RR

I must say that I am glad I did not bail out and went to Vegas after all. It was a good experience and I like Nevada and it gave me a chance to take some time off work. So really no complains!

I finally got off work at 11pm on Wednesday, went home and started packing….Got couple hours of sleep and off to the airport to catch an early morning flight. My cousin was coming with me and my sister was arriving later in the evening.

Michelle rented a super nice house in Henderson where me and a few other of her athletes were staying. Michelle has been helping me with my training since 2011 but I have not met her yet and I finally got to meet her when she picked me up at the airport!

Thursday, Friday and Saturday were pretty much resting, eating and some shake-out workouts (I biked, ran and swam in those three days more than I have in 2 weeks preceding this race but it did not really matter at that point).

We talked with Michelle about my race strategy and we agreed that I have two options: I go and just finish it (hopefully without crying), or I take a risk and see what happens (and hopefully it does not deter me completely from doing another half-ironman).I think that we both knew that I was going for the second option.

So the race.

I got up at around 3:45, ate a huge French chocolate brioche (yummy!), drank some water and we drove to the race side.

We were all mentally preparing for 100+ degrees so when it was raining when we woke up race morning it was quite unexpected. I did not think about it at all, it is only rain and I am not made of sugar so I won’t melt, right?

I put my two bottles on a bike, checked whether tires are ok and then we waited and waited and waited since transition was closing at 6am and my wave did not start until 7:42. It was still raining but it was not cold at all and we found a nice cozy carpeted and roofed place to sit down while waiting. Waiting was quite nerve-wracking and I was anxious to get started and get it over with and enjoy my post-race MilkDuds.

Since they did not allow us to warm up in the water I jogged a little bit, stretched to warm up little bit.
I do not know how it is supposed to work but I did not join my wave until a few minutes before they let us into water. Was I supposed to wait and stand there the whole time?

Swim. I started pretty well, I did not get kicked or hit at all and I even found feet to draft off. I had no idea where we were going since I was not able to preview the course because it was not set up in the day before when we did our practice swim and I did not wear glasses or contacts on a race day so I did not see the bouys that well. I just followed people in front of me. I think I swam pretty well but then somewhere around turnaround we kind of merged together and caught some slower swimmers from previous waves and I got hit, I almost swam over someone, lost the feet I was following, drank some lake water, and the lack of training started showing. I wanted to cry a little towards the end since I started thinking about what is still ahead of me (13.1 run, scary scary scary) but then I almost got hit by a huge guy from a wave that started after me and that “woke” me up and I forgot those negative thoughts.

I swam 37 high, which is truly horrible but thankfully I did not know it at the time because I forgot to start my watch at the start, so I thought that I did alright.

Transition was uneventful, it was little muddy with all the rain and 2000 athletes running through it before me, but I did not wipe out or take anyone out trying to put my feet into my shoes (You know how they say you should not try anything new on a race day? It is probably true but that did not stop me from using a new speedsuit, new tri top and new tri bike shoes that I clipped into the pedals, which I have never done before. I had nothing to lose, just to gain.)

Bike. One of Michelle’s super talented athlete Kimberly passed me after the first mile or two of the bike and that’s when I decided that it was a taking-risk time. Just stay with her, keep her in sights. I knew that I was riding well over my fitness level and there were moments when I was thinking that maybe I should just let her go because my legs were screaming. But as I said I had nothing to lose, only to gain. I thought we were doing pretty well because we were passing a lot of people. Some men of course passed me but not many women. We were full aero and pedaling hard even on downhills eventhough it was still raining. My legs finally gave out when we got back into town and the last 2-3 miles were very very slow. 2:48 something bike.

The ride was not ideal both because I rode too hard and because I feel it was not steady at all with lots of spikes. Should be fun run...

Volunteers took my bike, gave me my run gear bag and I ran into the changing tent (sweet, I have never done a race before when volunteers took my bike or gave me my bag. I actually never did a race when I had a gear bag!)

Run...It was slow and pathetic but so much better than Buffalo Springs Lake. I was going very slow but I was still passing people so it means that they were even more done than I was. I did not walk as much as in Texas but I started walking aid stations the last lap. I actually liked the run course a lot! It was just 2 miles dragging ass up and then cruising downhill for 2 miles. And repeat 3 times. So it was easy to break it down mentally which worked well for me. My ITB got tight around mile 11 but it was better than in Texas, which I was pretty surprised because downhills are the worst for my ITB. Speaking of downhills, I never (never!) run downhills in training (because of my ITB) so you can imagine what my quads went through after pretty much running 6 miles downhill. Major soreness. Total time 1:46.
My sister and cousin were on the run course which was kind of nice and they took some pictures and videos but I have not seen those.

I finished the swim in the 45th place, biked myself into the 18th place, and also finished the run in the 18th place in my age group, total time 5:18 something. Which I guess it alright considering everything leading to that race. But I was quite disappointed after the race because I thought that we were killing the bike with Kimberly and I was positive that almost nobody passed me on a run, so I was thinking that the placing will be better. I had no idea that my swim was that bad and that I was that far back after the swim. And we were not really killing the bike, it was just me killing myself on that bike and there is a difference between the two:) Which is maybe a good thing because since I was thinking that I was killing it I was super positive and I did not want to cry. The only crying moment was during the swim and then it was only happy thoughts afterwards:)

I felt so much better physically after this race than I felt after the Buffalo Springs Lake. I honestly did not want to do this ever again after BSL, I was that miserable. But Vegas race was not that bad and my first thoughts were not „Ï am never doing this again!“. I think that it was the heat in Texas that made the whole experience so hard. Or maybe the second half-ironman is just easier than the first one. 

Lessons learned:
70.3 is not that awful after all
My long runs must be longer than 11 miles because my legs do not have enough endurance to run 13 miles. Eventhough my ITB hurt a lot after the race  it seems ok so I will try to do longer runs in the future.
You can run and pee at the same time
I am never ever doing a full Ironman

I said that I will decide what’s next after Vegas. So I signed up for Mallorca 70.3 next year. I would like to go visit my family so I will do that at the same time.

And what have I been doing for the last two weeks? Nothing. The last two weeks were my doing nothing getting fat weeks! And it was awesome. That's also why it took me two weeks to write this race report. I had zero motivation to do anything (I did Tough Mudder last weekend  and I ran a couple timesbut that was only fun, no stress). I had my swim gear in my car every single day but every single day I decided that I prefer going home, sit on my butt and eat peanut butter out of the jar using Hershey’s chocolate as a spoon.
I needed a break. Mostly mental break. It feels so good to not have anything looming over my head (race, training) and causing a lot of stress.
I woke up yesterday, went coaching a youth soccer game (do not ask), ran 8 miles because I felt like it and then came home and watched stupid comedy TV series eating chocolate and watermelon until 1am. It was wonderful!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Race week is here

Ok, it is 11pm, I just came home from work and I should be sleeping but I cannot fall asleep yet because there is so much on my mind. Maybe putting it down on "paper" will help.

I do not have much positive to say. I have been working 73hours/week on average in the last ~6 week culminating with 85-hour week two weeks ago that included being at work from 6:30am Thursday to 9:30pm Friday....
So I did not train much and most of my training was happening at 4am after 6hours of sleep. I really tried to make peace with not being able to train like I want to, and some days I was successful, some not so much.
Last week and this week so far have been the worst and a lot of tears were shed.
I am super stressed from race and work and I am not even packed yet and my car broke down today and now I do not know how I am going to get to airport since the only friend I have here cannot give me a ride.
Deep breaths, deep breaths......I can do this.

I am a realist but I guess that each of us has that unrealistic part, and that small part of me was still hoping that I can pull it off, that I can have a good race. But then something happened today (I am not going into details here but someone told me something) and that little hope was crushed. So now I am going into the race without any hope and totally scared.I am 99% certain that I will cry at the start line.

I know it is horrible attitude and therefore my goal for this weekend is to behave in such a way that my negativity wont affect anyone. And another goal is not to cry at the start line...crying into goggles sucks, I have done that twice in the last week.

I really want it to be over and then I will start thinking about what to do next because I am not going to have another summer like this. It was awfull!