Monday, June 22, 2009

Succussful TNT Weekend!

The triathlon group of Rocky Mountain Chapter of Team In Training had their events this weekend....what an amazing bumch of people.

First we started at the Holiday Inn Select in Denver (Cherry Creek) for an Inspiration Dinner - complete with pasta and motivation for the team. We heard the story of Rachel, one of the Team members who is also a lymphoma survivor. 10 months after finishing her chemo/radiation treatments she is participating in a triathlon. Amazing.

Crashed at Anisa's place, on of the TNT staff members who was also a team member. We had to get up at 3:45am to get to Loveland ~5am. Race started at 6:30. Yeah, that's early! All the TNT folks made it through the race - about 20 of 'em - and they even had great racing weather - overcast skies but no rain! Back to Denver in the early afternoon and I went for a run around Sloans Lake. My first run since Kansas and it actually felt pretty good! Then a hot shower and a nap was in order. Dinner at Wynkoop Brewery with MacKenzie (another TNT staff person). Had the Railyard Ale. Not bad, but I've had better. Food was pretty good, though!

Back at Anisa's one more time - she and her boyfriend had rented a movie (Body of Lies with Leonardo DiCaprio) and I of course fell asleep watching it. Back to bed as Sunday was to be another early start.

Only had to get up 4:45am on Sunday, as the race didn't start unti 7:30am! Another great day for racing, but this time it was sunny. But boy did those mountains look fantastic heading over the final ridge before you drop down into Boulder. They must have gotten some rain the night before. The clouds were low in the mountains, the foothills were amazingly green, snowcapped peaks in the background, and the early morning sun from the east gave a magical glow. This is why we live in Colorado!

All the TNT folks again finished the race with huge smiles on their faces! I'm really proud - it was the first triathlon for all of my folks this weekend and they did fantastic! They all raised at least $2400 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. We really appreciate the effort they put in to their fundraising and their training! GO TEAM!

It was a hot day in Boulder (well, 80s is a hot day with that strong sun). The course has not much shade - pretty much none on the run, but everyone did great. After the race I took my bike to ride the Boulder Peak bike course, as I will be racing that next month. It's got a killer climb on it - Old Stage Road. Here's the ride. The starting elevation is about 5200ft at the reservior and within 7 miles you are at almost 6400ft. On the steepest part of the climb I was going about 4mph. That's a 15:00min/mile pace - you walk that fast. I was in my smallest gear and only slogging through at about 40rpm. Heart rate made it into the 180s. But it was a gorgeous climb, saw a couple deer out there and everything was just so green! The view from the top was amazing (can't believe I actually thought to look around - I was breathing pretty hard!) Then there is a speedy descent down back to hwy 36 and the rest of the course is also pretty fast. Now that I know I can survive that hill, I'll be more confident going into the race. Now if only I wasn't a wussy descender! At least they do have a speed limit (35mph) coming down the hill to make it safer for all. I'm sure you could hit 50+mph and that's probably not safe for 1200ish athletes, some of them not skilled at descending.

Made it back home in the afternoon and now I'm ready for to be off work the next two weeks!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Race Report - Kansas 70.3 Half Ironman Race

wow - it's been 2 months since I posted! must be a little busy training!

Date: 6/14/2009
Location: Clinton State Park, Lawrence, KS.
This might be a little long - it was an eventful (but fabulous) weekend!

Trip started Friday - Tim and I got up, finished packing everything up and left town about an hour after I wanted to. But since we weren't really doing anything that night, it didn't really matter and I didn't get as stressed out as I usually do. I had everything in plastic bins to keep things organized - swim stuff in one bin, bike stuff in another, etc. Turned out to be pretty handy. Anyway, it's an 8+ hour drive to Lawrence. We stopped and had lunch in Colby, KS at the Taco Johns. OK maybe not the best food for ya but it sure was good. I did get a chicken taco to be a little more healthy (won't mention the taco bravo and potato ole's - but hey, at least I skipped the soda!). We ended up in Lawrence around 6:45pm Central time (lost an hour) and found the hotel. Chili's was across the parking lot so that was dinner. I got a grilled chicken sandwich with veggies. OK a little better than lunch!

Side note - what the heck does "Rock Chalk Jayhawk" really mean? I'll buy someone a beer if they can explain it to me other than that is the University of Kansas cheer. And I know the Jayhawk is the KU mascot. :-)

Hotel had a hot tub so I went to stretch out a little before bed. Stacey and Shannon arrived a little later - they were just across the hall from us so I stopped by after my hot tub session. Oh, and I gave my bike one last check (brakes good, tight bolts, clean/lubed chain) before bed.

Saturday...slept in. actually got a really good night's sleep like I wanted to. Hit the free breakfast and found they had waffle irons to make belgium waffles. score!!!! Had one of those with some peanut butter and syrup and a banana. Decided to hit the 4pm athlete meeting so my plan for the day was to relax a little more and review race info and my stuff. Tim's folks were to arrive in the mid to late afternoon so at noon we went to lunch (Jason's Deli - turkey sandwich) and also stopped by the CVS- some tums and gas ex...might have been nerves or the taco bravo from yesterday? Nothing major, just wanted to feel a little better. and I hoped that it wouldn't be an issue on race day! After lunch we scouted out a place for dinner and then I got my bike and headed over to the race site to get my packet and rack my bike.

The hotel was only 15 minutes from the race site and was an easy drive. The sun was out so thank goodnes I remembered to put on sunscreen (from one of my plastic bins!). Rode my bike over to the expo site (about 3/4mile from where I parked) then I found the line. yikes! not sure how long it took - maybe an hour? But I did see Chrissie Wellington walk by. I wanted to bow down to her, but that might have been a little weird. Chatted with some of the folks around me as we worked our way up to get our packets. Got the packets with some free stuff. Thank goodness one of the goodies was a Powerbar - I forgot to bring my snacks that I had so carefully packed for the trip! I bought a $2 bottle of water since I was about to empty my only water bottle. I'd been really good hydrating on the trip so far (Tim was very patient with a few extra stops on the drive over) and didn't want to ruin that. OK - got my packet, put the race number on my bike and then had to figure out where T1 was. They didn't mention that at the end of the pick-up line. Finally found out where to go and rode down the hill to find my spot. Right near the swim exit - sweet! Won't be hard to find the bike. But this was a LONG and narrow transition - so I looked towards the bike start - maybe 100+ yards of bike rack to work my way through and uphill. but, it looked easy to navigate so I covered my seat and handlebars with plastic bags and headed out. Rain was in the forecast for that night and the next day....

OK, bike is racked - hope nothing happens to it! Now the 1/2+ mile walk back to the expo for the athlete meeting and I found Stacey and Shannon. That was one of the shortest athlete meetings ever. The jist was "don't worry, it'll be easy to figure out where to go."

Get back to the hotel and I am definitely ready to have my pre-race meal. Tim's family (parents, sister and 2 nieces) had arrived so we headed down to Montana Mike's - some regional chain steak place. But before we left I wanted to make sure they had what I wanted so I ran back to the lobby and checked the menu - 30 seconds later we were good to go. grilled chicken and potato was there so I was happy. Good dinner - a decent amount of carbs and some protein - teryaki chicken over rice, a baked potato and their dinner rolls were fantastic! And a big, big glass of water. Back to the hotel to make sure I had all my race day gear around, back to the hot tub one last time to stretch, and set my cell phone alarm for 3:48am. Don't ask my to explain that, it seemed to make sense at the time. Tim went to his family's room to play cards and I was in bed by 9:30pm.

3:48am - Sunday 6/14. Cell phone alarm goes off, I get up. A decent night's sleep for a pre-race night. Got dressed in my race gear, grabbed my oatmeal, peanut butter, and banana and went to the breakfast room for the microwave. Turns out they got the whole breakfast thing set up - waffles and all! I'm sure it made some racers happy! But I stick to my tried and true PB/banana oatmeal. Feeling pretty good - no sign of yesterday's minor GI issues. After breakfast I finish getting my stuff around and at 4:30am leave for the race site. Van Halen's 1984 is in the CD player. Need I say more?

4:45am - arrive race site and get a decent parking spot - but still ~10 minutes from T2. Set up T2 as they are different transitions. The sky was pretty cloudy and it could rain - though it hadn't rained overnight like some were predicting. I decided to not take chances and just had all my T2 gear in the bin. It might take me a few extra seconds to pull the lid off, but if I have dry shoes, I'll be happy to lose a few seconds. I had my towel to take down to T1 but since I was there plenty early, I just sat on it and hung out. Chatted with a few of the people racking by me - the one right next to me is moving to Colorado Springs next week. Cool. Stacey and Shannon showed up and it was about time to head down to T1 to put all the nutrition on the bike, pump up tires, etc. But first - the important stop at the porta potty. We all were successful. If you have to ask, don't.

Got to T1 to set everything up and weren't in there for more than about three minutes and some race dude (not sure who he was, hence race dude) starts yelling transition closes in 3 minutes! Get out in three minutes! Well, there are about fifty people in line at the porty potties in transition, several hundred more trying to get their bike stuff around. Not likely that everyone will be out in three minutes. Race dude decides to pop a balloon someone had set up to mark their bike. Didn't think that was against the rules? But - time to hurry. I borrowed a pump from someone, quickly pumped my tires as best I could, made sure my bottles were on, my shoes on the towel, and sunglasses and helmet ready. Threw on some body glide then took the wetsuit, swim cap and goggles and headed out. OK, out before people got too mad. They did come back yelling and racers were yelling back. Note to race organizers - please publish a time that transition closes so people will be prepared. Note to racers - you know it is always crazy - get there early!

Once the wetsuit was on, there really was only about 20 minutes until my wave started so I headed to the swim start line with the girls. Stacey headed up to find her group - 6:50am and I found mine gang of yellow caps. It was an in-water start off a boat ramp - and was pretty much a corrall of funny looking fish. The music was good - pump you up stuff. Mentally I switched over to race mode and was ready to race. The swim is the weakest of my events, though I have been getting faster. I just wanted to have a good swim and be in good shape to head out on the bike and run.

SWIM 1.2 miles
Start time: 6:58am - wave of about 76 W30-34 age groupers - hear the horn and we are off! I'm on the outside to avoid too much kicking and elbows, but there is always someone who wants to swim either right next to you or on top of you at the swim start. Despite that I managed to have a comfortable swim, staying pretty close to the buoy line after the initial start. The course was a very long rectangle, with at least 6 buoys heading out & six more back, so it was actually a relatively good buoy-to-buoy swim. It's always dangerous getting on the buoy line (at least for me) not being in the last wave (9 out of 14 waves) but not too many people tried to swim over me. Ran into a couple here and there and I think I even got to draft for a little ways. General comments on the swim - even this new, more flexible wetsuit still makes my shoulders restricted so my arms felt like if I tried to go harder they would just wear out. That means I need to get into open water with the wetsuit several more times before my next race. Or maybe next year go with a sleeveless? Anyway, water temp was in the 70s - really pretty comfortable with the wetsuit. A little wind but pretty insignificant chop - most of the chop camp from other swimmers rather than wind. I was pretty happy when I turned the corners and was on the home stretch. It did seem that I approached the buoys relatively quickly. Found the exit ramp (concrete boat ramp) and got up. Wetsuit came off with no issues and I only had about 30ish yards from the exit until my bike.

Swim Results: 44:56, 62/76 age group, 1221/1487 overall (yeah, still need to work on this, but still 6+ minutes better than my previous half IM swim time!)

T1: wetsuit came off easily, shoes on, sunglasses, and helmet. That's all so I grabbed my bike and trotted on the 100+ yard trek to the bike start. Transition was narrow - I about ran over a few people during their transition. Then I got behind a few people who were walking (I prefer to jog) so was essentially stuck in a traffic jam. Should have scooted over to another aisle when I had the chance. Made it to the mount line and didn't have any issues.

T1 Results: 2:45

BIKE 56 miles
Plan was to start easy to warm up the legs, then pick up the pace. Some others should have tried that - there were a few people who flew past me on the park road, but then when we reached the first hill even before we exited the park I caught back up and they didn't pass me again. Beautiful bike course. Temps by now were probably in the mid-upper 60's and the sky was overcast. The fields were a fantastic green. Colorado's been green this spring due to all the rain, but Kansas was a much deeper green. Even saw some sheep out there. I don't know how many times I said "on your left." I didn't get passed by very many women at all, maybe less than five. Sure passed a whole bunch. For the most part, people stayed right, but there were plenty of "clusters" where some fast guy from a later wave almost had to cross the center line to get around the slower folks hogging the road. How hard is "stay right except to pass?" Then there was the cluster right across from the penalty tent - someone actually passed another rider on the right! I suppose the penalty tent folks just enforce penalties and don't issue them, but of all places to break a rule!

The ride was smooth - roads were clean and my legs felt good. Probably at about mile 15 or so there were a few raindrops and the roads looked a tad damp, but that was it for rain. The weather gods were smiling upon us! Nutrition plan worked pretty well - had some clif bar pieces to eat right out of the swim as I usually get a hungry feeling. Didn't happen this time so after a couple pieces I switched to Hammer's Perpetuem + enduroyle powder mix (Cafe Latte flavor rocks!). I had a 3 hour bottle on my down tube of that, my aerodrink filled with water and another bottle of water in my seat tube. With the overcast sky and cool temps, the thirst mechanism was quiet, but I kept reminding myself to drink something. Probably should have had a little more - didn't tap the seat tube bottle, but I did refill the aerodrink with a bottle from an aid station at mile ~33. Anyway, I'm happily cruising, passing people, enjoying the scenery and I see mile marker 20. I did a quick check of my GPS (which was hanging off my aerobars - can't wear it on the swim and it might have been too dangerous to try to strap it on my wrist while riding) and it said :57 minutes and some change. sweet. I was aiming for ~20mph pace and was on it. I keep cruising and hit mile 25. Then I see my friend Shannon and give her a cheer as I go by. We're in the same age group and she rocked with a sub-32 minute swim so one of my goals was to catch her. success. Then I hit mile 35 and start noticing the hills. I'm thinking - it'd be nice to be done with these rollers. Sure enough - miles 34 - 41 are just a bunch of rollers! At least my perception was true and I wasn't just getting fatigued. I could feel my left hamstring tightening up a bit around this time (I have to watch out for that) so I came out of aero when it made sense (slower climbs) to stretch it a bit.

Speaking of fatigue, since I usually train at ~6500ft, the altitude of Kansas provides so much more oxygen. I went by feel of my legs rather than breathing/heart rate, and it didn't help that I forgot to turn on the HR monitor part of my GPS so I wore that stupid chest strap for nothing. oh well. I blame the rush at T1. I was lucky I had it turned on to use the auto multisport feature.

When I see mile 45 I am really happy that I am coming down the home stretch. Cruised along some flat spots, and made the last big climb up the dam road then across the dam. Bill, a guy on a sweet purple Javelin bike who I'd been leap-frogging passed me one last time - he had the momentum off the dam. Saw mile 50...really almost done! When I came back into the park, I switched to easier gearing to spin the legs a bit to prepare for the run. I passed one more person on my way into T2 and turns out it was Stacey! Didn't recognize her from behind. I successfully slip my feet out of my shoes (first time doing that in a race!) Then I hear Tim yell, "Go, Nicole!" It was great to see him there as I was now about to embark on the most painful part of a triathlon - the run! My bike goal was to be under 3 hours, ideally 2:45. (20mph would be ~2:48) and I made it in just under 2:50.

Bike Results: 2:49:41, 19.8mph, 29/76 age group, 755/1487 overall

Head into T2 careful not to slip down the grassy hill (The grass field for T2 was about 3 feet lower than the road), turn at the first tree, run all the way down the aisle. Rack bike, transfer GPS to wrist (ok, that took a few extra seconds), open bin, on with socks and shoes, grab fuel belt and hat and I'm off! Race number was pinned to the fuel belt. Thought about stopping at the porty-potties, but there was a line and I really didn't have to go (should have had more fluid on the bike...) Figured there would be plenty on the run course if I needed it.

T2 Results: 1:56

RUN 13.1 miles

Headed out of T2 and the sun was now shining with a few clouds in the sky. I wouldn't have minded a little rain on the run, but temps were still in the 70s so pretty comfy considering what it could have been in Kansas mid-June! Remembered to hit the lap button on my GPS so it now switched over to run (yay for auto multisport!) goal pace was 9:00min/mile and I wanted to settle into it slowly. but I was actually a little faster - around 8:30 but I didn't know if I could maintain that so I tried to back off a little. Wasn't too successful with the low elevation and the slight hills on the course, so I just started to run by feel with some monitoring of pace - could tell when I was going a bit faster my breathing got a little too hard (gasping at mile 4 of a 13 mile run is not good). On the run is really where your bike hydration/nutrition and hydrating plan let you know if you were good or not. I took a gel at the first aid station as planned. Second aid station I grabbed the endurolytes that I had stashed in a baggie in my jersey pocket. Most were icky (cheap plastic bags) but I salvaged a couple that didn't get wet and tossed the rest. Ok - no more endurolytes but I do have 18 oz of HEED on me. Walked a little at most aid stations, taking in some sort of fluid, whether it was water or my HEED. Mile 5 I did another gel. Realized I was taking in a lot of air (all that extra oxygen???) and my fuel belt felt a lot tighter than it should be. So I went to loosen it (velcro) and of course I dropped it. geez! I stop, pick it up, and try to get it back on while moving forward. OK, l got it and it felt a bit better. Had some burps and felt even better after that. The parts of the run course through the campground seemed to take forever, and on a two-loop course you see mile markers for both loops - seeing mile marker 12 near mile 5 can be a little disheartening knowing you have to do it all again. But I kept on chugging and it was really nice to have all the campers on the route cheering us on. Aid stations were well supported. Overall assessment said I was feeling pretty good considering what I was doing! I ran aid station to aid station (walked through most of them, ran through a couple if I was using my own fluid) and grabbed ice and sponges to stay as cool as possible. Sponges went on my left shoulder, hence the sunburn as I most likely washed all my sunscreen off that shoulder! I reached the point to start the next loop and knew I was coming down the home stretch. Hit the lap button on my GPS to try to monitor the second lap and doh! it thought I was done. Forgot on the multisport feature the lap button changes events. But I was able to quickly get it into standard run mode and start the timer again. The first lap took under an hour so if I could just maintain my pace, I'd hit my goal of 2 hours or less. Pace checks showed I was a little slower on the second lap, but still in the 9:00min/mile range, sometimes less. Legs were getting a little heavier and I could tell I was a little fluid depleted. Still didn't need to use the bathroom. Coming back up the hill around mile 9 - decided I could walk it. Hit the top and was running again. Back into the campground and it was time to count down the miles. Someone asked a camper the time and when they said 12:10, I knew I could get my 2-hour goal. But, you still can fall apart at any point so I made sure I was taking in my fluids as best I could. Really wish I had a few more endurolytes. At mile 11 my left hamstring and calf started to twinge - didn't want them to cramp up as I was almost done! Some guy obviously doing the relay (dressed in running shorts) comes flying past me talking to himself. Just push through it, he was saying (or something like that). I quitely thanked him for the unintentional encouragement. Keep the legs moving even though for those last few miles they really don't want to! Turned the corner, found the stretch to the finish line and went as fast (not very) as my legs would take me! Crossed the yellow brick road finish line (it is Kansas) with the KU cheerleaders cheering and was pretty dang happy to be done. Got my finisher's medal and pint glass. Tim was there and I worked my way back. A glance at the finish clock said 6:05, so doing the math from my wave time I came really close to my "amazing race" goal time of 5:30:00.

Run Results: 1:57:29, 8:58min/mile, 27/76 age group, 690/1487 overall

OVERALL RESULTS: 5:36:47, 27/76 age group, 688/1487 overall

Then I just was looking foward to a post-race dinner of pizza, beer, and ice cream!