Wilmington YMCA Sprint, Sept 27, 2014

I have done this race several times before, and it’s always a lot of fun.  This year my twelve-year-old son was racing with my husband and I, so I was nervous but very excited for him.    He swims competitively and has recently gotten into cross country as well, so he was feeling pretty confident.  The morning of the race the weather was great, no rain and 66 degrees!  We stayed in a nice house very near the race site, so we were able to ride over to transition on our bikes.  After getting our stuff all set up in transition, we grabbed a seat on the trolley to the swim start which is a couple miles away.  The water temperature was 74 degrees, so wetsuit legal (yeah!!).  Since I was racing masters open I was in the first wave, so I had to get in right away to warm up once we got our wetsuits on.  I only saw one other woman at the start, mostly open men, so I knew I would probably be racing alone.  That’s the one thing I don’t like about the open category.  A lot of very competitive women prefer to race age group, which makes it less fun for those that do race open.  Oh well, I would just have to race the clock and try to stay focused on pushing myself as hard as I could.

Swim:  20:16

The swim went well, no major issues, and my time ended up about 25 secs faster than last year.  I still think I can do better, and the top two women were 1-2 minutes faster.  On a positive note, my son, who started five minutes after me, did not catch me on the swim, so I was happy!

T1: 1:38

I have never been very fast at transitions, and once again my time was pretty slow compared to others, with the fastest women at a minute or less.  One of these days I will take my husband’s advice and practice my transitions. 🙂

Bike: 32:08

As expected, most of the open men dusted me on the swim, so I started out on the bike by myself.  I passed one guy early on, but after that I didn’t really see anyone else on the course.  The bike course is basically flat, so pretty fun to see how fast you can go.  My time was about 15-30 secs slower than the top women’s times, but about 30 secs faster than last year.  So not bad, especially since I didn’t have anyone to push me on the course.

T2:  1:12

Better than T1 but could still be 15-20 secs faster!

Run:  22:03

I felt pretty good on the run, and again was by myself for most of it.  So I just focused on keeping a fast cadence and a steady pace, especially on the second mile where it is so easy to slow down.  I did get to cheer on a few of the open men, Marty Gaal and Dan Young, that were finishing the out and back section as I headed down that way.  It was nice to finally see somebody!  The run course is also completely flat.  After a small out and back section you run a loop that takes you down the main beach road, past a bunch of bars and restaurants in downtown Wrightsville Beach, over two different bridges, and a tree lined sidewalk that leads to the back entrance of the race site and finish line.  I was happy with my run time, even though it was about 25 secs slower than last year.

So my overall time was 1:17:16, which I found out later put me in 3rd place overall for the women.  The first and second place women started about 20-25 minutes after me and finished a little over a minute faster overall.  I knew there were some fast women racing age group, so I did my best to push myself hard.  I had fun anyway!  And my son ended up placing third in the 15 and under age group with a time of 1:28:05 in his first adult triathlon.  Very proud of him!

Ironman Maryland – The Fun and the Pain

Ironman Maryland

After doing pretty well at Ironman Brazil on very limited run volume, I wanted to give another Ironman a shot and see if I could improve on it.  This is the inaugural year for Ironman Maryland with a late announcement, so it was still open and I didn’t have to spend a fortune getting there.  Game on.  My training actually went pretty well heading into it, and although I could still only run twice a week typically, I got in several long runs and was faster than I’ve been in a long, long time.   I was excited to see what I could do, and thought that I could go under 9:30 as my ultimate goal.

First, it was great that my parents were able to come up.  It was so much fun to see them and have them at the race.  My sister-in-law, Katie, was amazing, letting us stay with her in Annapolis and then finding a friend’s house 20-minutes from the race the day before the Ironman and hanging out all weekend.  And, of course, Monette was her typical awesome self, making everything easy and fun.  Having them out on the course made it much more enjoyable!

The water temperature supposedly went down the day before the race making it wetsuit legal, which I was hoping it wouldn’t be, but that’s okay.  I hate wearing a wetsuit, so decided against it, and according to Monette was one of extremely few who didn’t.  But, it was definitely worth it.  I felt really good on the swim, fast but easy.  There was one guy who most people knew who smoked everyone in the water, but I stuck with the front pack behind him for most of it with one or two just ahead.  It was probably the easiest swim I’ve ever had in a race like that, where it just clicked and felt great.  Unfortunately, the swim was long!  I wanted to go no slower than a 54, and probably did that for 2.4 miles, but my official time was 58 minutes.  When you’re top 10 out of the water, you know that time is off.  Several people who had done other Ironman races recently were 6+ minutes slower this time.  Oh well, I didn’t know that until later, though, and got ready to ride.

The first half of the bike was FUN.  I passed a couple of people right out of transition and then got into a groove.  The road was flat and there was no wind … yet.  I had no idea where I was, but I was COMPLETELY by myself and kept wondering where everyone was.  I was keeping it comfortable and probably averaged around 24 mph for the first loop.  The wind picked up a bit around mile 45 or so probably, but I felt great.

It was around mile 40 when someone yelled out to me that I was in 2nd place OVERALL and the first guy was 10-minutes ahead!!  WHAT?!  WOW, that was a shock and I was pumped.  I felt really, really good and couldn’t believe it.  But, a lot can happen in an Ironman and, unfortunately, my day didn’t stay perfect.  Shortly after seeing my family at mile 58, I hit something and it knocked my sensor to my speedometer into my spokes.  It caused me to jerk but I managed to avoid falling or having to stop.  However, I did something to my glute and it was very painful.  I had to slow down quite a bit because I just couldn’t push through like I normally do.  To make matters worse, the wind really picked up – ugh!  Bad timing.  Even still, though, I didn’t get passed until a guy came flying by me around mile 80 and I amazingly still came off of the bike in 3rd overall!  My ride time was a 4:47, even faster overall than Brazil, so I’ll take it.  One thing that I hate, is that there was a pack of about 10 that had ridden together (Monette even got pictures), that wasn’t far behind.  They save so much energy and it’s so much easier to run after that.  Oh well, there’s nothing I can do about that, so I didn’t worry about it during the race.

I got a couple of oohs, though, as I almost fell when I tried to get off of my bike because my glute hurt so badly.  I had to go to the bathroom, so jumped in the port-a-john and then went to change.  My long-time friend Nigel Morgan was in there with me and he told me about the pack and that I got passed by about ten people while going to the bathroom!  And, he was right.  I went from 3rd to 13th by the the time I started the run.

The run started out painfully.  I had to limp and run with my left leg almost straight for a while.  But, amazingly, I was still able to hold a decent pace for the first four miles as I tried to run as normally as I could.  But, it got to be a bit too much and I was forced to slow my tempo down.  My second loop of three was rough.  I just couldn’t get into a groove and felt flat, but my leg did loosen up.  Then, oddly enough, around mile 17 I started to feel good.  I haven’t seen my splits and don’t know if I actually got faster, but I passed back several people that had passed me and I felt fluid and mostly fresh again for the last loop.  It was good to see that my fitness was good enough to have that happen and reaffirming after really suffering since mile 58 on the bike.  I had lost a lot of time early in the run and figured it would be tough to break 10 hours, but hadn’t been keeping track and really didn’t know.  I savored the last mile, taking in the crowd and high-fiving the kids on the road.  Then, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw a 9:38 on the clock as I came into view of the finish line!  After feeling so rough for such a long stretch, I was pretty darn happy with that.

I ended up 7th in my age-group and 29th overall, so I dropped a lot on the run with a 3:45 split, but I AM going to have a run that will surprise everyone at some point!  It was also fun having friends out there doing the race and seeing them on the course.  Nigel killed it going 9:18, John Shilt was just a couple of minutes behind me, Teammate and TMS athlete Josh West was awesome and it was fun hearing him cheering on each lap, Brian Smith was great, too, and TMS athlete Ben Haithcock rocked his first Ironman coming in well under his goal time.

It’s a little bitter-sweet, as I had a lot more to give on the day but at the same time, I can’t complain and am definitely happy with the time and to finish another Ironman.  I feel that I was in good shape coming into this one and am, amazingly, not even really sore the next morning – except for some major chaffing!

Thank you to everyone for your support, words of encouragement, and notes after the race.  It means a lot and this stuff wouldn’t be half of much fun without all of you!

Finish Strong Half

I was using this race as a training day for IM Chattanooga in 2 weeks so I had to dial back the competitive gene a bit while out there.  The swim had a good bit of chop and I had to breathe out of my non-preferred side on the out leg to avoid swallowing water.  The return leg was a little easier as you didn’t have to fight the waves as much.

After dealing with the wind on US64, it was easy going for the next hour as the wind gave us a boost.  I rode at my half-ironman pace during this segment of the course, but when the course turned to start heading back toward the transition area, the headwind played a factor and I dialed back the effort to an ironman pace.

My plan for the run was to keep my heart rate under 150 to minimize wear and tear on my legs with an ironman coming up.  I think this worked out well.  I didn’t feel that fatigued when I finished, it felt like a comfortable ironman pace, and I’m not too sore the day after the race.  Other than the wind, this was a great day to be out racing.  The sun was blocked by the clouds and the temperature was perfect.