I did it. I completed my first 70.3. It wasn't pretty, but it got done. Here's my race report...
David (my husband) and I did our short brick on Friday morning and were on the road by 11am. The hotel we were staying at was about 2 hours from our house. About an hour into our trip I realized I had forgotten my brand new racing one-piece. I had washed it the night before (because it was new) and I neglected to put it into my suitcase. Big OOPS. Luckily, with a little help from David's Iphone and Google Maps, we found an REI in Stockton, which was on the way to our destination.
REI had a race outfit I had tried on previously, in my size, and on sale. It wasn't what I would normally choose, but the top was pink and I figured at least my coach would approve of the color scheme! In short, I lucked out. I silently hoped this was the only snafu that I would face during the trip.
The hotel we stayed at was very nicely situated. It was quite new, and behind a shopping center that had a grocery store, coffee shop, Baskin Robbins, and 3 different resturants. All were within walking distance from where we were staying.
We checked in, dropped off our stuff, had lunch, and got back into the truck to drive out to the race site and drive the bike course. The site was a decomissioned nuclear power plant called Rancho Seco. We were unable to see the swim site and run site (which was probably just as well, in retrospect), but we did see the entire bike course. It consisted of some flats and lots of rollers. Nothing to techinical or scary, I figured I could power the downhills as they did not contain any turns.
After our drive we had a dinner of pizza (cheese, ham and mushrooms without sauce) which was prefect. I made all of our water bottles and David checked the bikes. Then it was off to bed. I slept better than I have before any race, but 4:30 am still came really early.
We drove out to the site and were probably the third racers there. It was dark. You couldn't even see transition. Crazy. The lake looked glassy and calm. The nuclear chimneys had a number of red lights on them, which made the landscape even more alien. I wondered how many 3 eyed fish I was going to see on the swim.
Got a great spot in transition, then it was off the legs until go time. The women were to all swim together in the last group. I was kinda annoyed about going last, but it turned out okay.
Here we are waiting in transition...
The Swim: 36:42
I wore a sleeveless wetsuit, lined myself up at the front for the in water start. It was nice and warm, really. I went out a little fast and then dialed it back a bit. Breathing every stroke. Ever seen Harry Potter 4 where the little devils come out of the lake weeds and get him (they're called grindylows)? Well there were so many weeds, I kept thinking expecting something to come and grab me. Anyway I passed some men in the group ahead of me, and some super fast girls passed me. In all I felt good.
So this is the official time. My Garmin has it a bit differently I don't know why. But Garmin says I averaged 15.1 mph over 56.46 mi in 3:44.58. I was a little hungry getting out of the water so took a gel at the beginning. Then had my carbopro/electrolyte 15 min in. I felt strong on the bike. The first 20 miles or so went quickly and were relatively flat. Then we got into the rollers. Lots and lots of rollers. The terrain is very similar to what I have ridden on for training rides so I was comfortable. I did my best to power on the down hills, they were all nice and straight. Even got up to 30mph at one point. A couple of down hills I stretched. Had to click out a couple of times on the flats as my feet were a little numb, but it didn’t take long to get feeling back. My hamstrings hurt, but not like they did before the bike fit and they hurt symmetrically.
This is the first mile out on the bike. It was downhill, I was thinking about how unpleasant it was going to be to bike back uphill at the end of the ride...
For the first time in a race this year, I actually passed some people on the bike! I was excited. I stayed in my planned heart rate zones, but I just didn’t want to blow out my legs and tried to spin as much as I could. My mph suffered on those rollers, but I didn’t want to redline it just so I could keep my mph high. Nutrition wise I felt like I did a good job. At the mile 35 aid station I grabbed a water bottle with water and drank about half, just to get the sweet taste of my water bottles out of my mouth. I did that again at mile 45. So I had 3.5 water bottles on the ride with the carbopro/electrolyte drink as well as 1 bottle of just water. I never felt hungry or bonky on the bike.
Otherwise known as the 7th circle of hell. I really had no idea the run course was this hilly. I knew it would be some single track, and some fire roads but I had no idea on the hills. Even reading the old race reports, I just didn’t get it, apparently. So off the bike I immediately took a gel. It was about 90 degrees at this point. I grabbed my water bottle with my electrolyte drink, my race belt with gels and salt tabs and hit the road. It was fine at first, my legs felt okay – just heavy – but I was trucking along.
Here I am leaving transition for the first loop. Sorry...spandex is so unforgiving...
I came to the first hill, I jogged up it, giving myself permission to walk it on the second loop if I needed to. As I crested the hill I saw a series of other hills and my heart just sank. It was so hot. I didn’t think I could run up all of them and actually make it all the way to the end. So I started to walk the uphills, actually I walked a lot more than that on that first loop. I wasn’t happy about it, but I was being conservative and safe I guess. I was, by far, not the only one walking.
I hit the first aid station and got two cups of water and poured them on my head and back. Bliss. I would jog the downhills, walk the up hills and sometimes a little more. Took my gels every 40 min. I was done with my electrolyte drink in about 50 min. At the second aid station one of the wonderful volunteers filled up my water with ice water. This was awesome. I decided to do this at every station. Then I’d drink about ¼ of the bottle and the rest went on some part of my body. Wonderful. I was so glad I had that water bottle.
Once I ran out of electrolyte drink I would have approx 8 oz of Gatorade at the aid stations, stick ice down my shirt, and refill my water bottle. GI-wise I was okay. I took salt tabs every half hour. I kept sweating. I was dirty and dusty. The loop was an out and back that you did twice. Going out was hilly, coming back was flatter and single track. I told myself on the second lap I would only walk half way up the hills, and that I would run all the single track. Which I did. I am pretty sure I came back faster on the second loop than I did the first.
I passed people (crazy), I stayed hydrated and kept my own pace. I ran non-stop on the single track, and my knees were a bit unhappy, but I did it. I was just so excited that I was going to be done, it kept me going. I knew I was going to finish one way or the other, even if it wasn’t quite as fast as I was hoping. It was 92 degrees when I finished. I could see the finish, and I could see a guy hobbling along, so I kicked and passed him. He tried to stay with me (feebly) and I still beat him. You can see him behind me in this picture:
Poor guy, I think he just bonked. Across the line, I attempted not to puke on the volunteers who had my finisher medal.
David was waiting for me with a big hug at the finish. I saw him out on the run course twice. He looked toasted. I suggested we go for a post race dip in the lake. It was great. We got most of the dust off, but ended up not hearing them call his name for awards. He came in 3rd in the Clydesdale division. It was his first 70.3 as well, and I was so proud of him. Here he is at the finish:
As we were packing up, I heard my own named called. I got a 5th place finish too. There were 5 girls in my AG....there were more on the list when I checked in, but perhaps the heat scared them away. At anyrate, I was happy, and I had some hardware to go with my first half IM.
We drove back to the hotel, with a stop at the grocery store for a couple of bags of ice. My ice bath was lovely. I now love ice baths. Maybe in February I won't be so pleased, but it sure felt good on Saturday. We went to dinner and had mediocre Mexican food. For desert we went to Baskin Robbins, which was wonderful.
Sunburned, sore, and chafed, we hobbled back to the hotel. I had a hard time falling asleep (I blame the coke I had with dinner), but I didn't feel too bad, and my stomach was content. Sunday morning was a different story. Wow, my legs were angry. My whole body was angry.
Today is much better. I credit the ice bath and the minimal amounts of strectching I have done. Oh and great coaching to get me ready for this little adventure.
My next challenge is going to be a half marathon the first weekend in November. I am excited to have a better run! But for now, I am going to enjoy rest week!
I want to thank everyone who helped me get to this point, my awesome coach, my husband, my family, Molly, and all the people who were cheering for me online. You guys rock!
4 weeks ago