IM Louiville

IM Louiville
Bikes racked at Ironman Louisville 2010

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Half Iron Intimidation: Playtri Race Report

It is with dehydration and very tired legs that I write this report. I now know how very naive of me it was to think I could do this half ironman race just 6 days after the Boston Marathon. But for those of you that know me, I need instant gratification...I had already signed up for this half ironman before I qualified for Boston. I knew I couldn't wait until 2008 to run Boston. I just don't have that kind of patience.

We flew into Dallas on Saturday morning and headed immediately to the Expo (if you could call it an Expo). I knew this race was what I like to call "rinky dink," meaning small. I don't mean to put the race down, I kinda like rinky dink races. It's a nice change of pace from the mass chaos of an Ironman or Accenture with their thousands of participants. The Expo took less than 5 minutes to walk around the room to see what the vendors had to offer. The actual packet pick up was in another room. We met up with BC, Chuck and Lori and went into the packet pick up room. It was then I learned that I had been placed in the Elite wave. Um, what?

See, a few weeks ago, the organizers sent out an email offering an Elite Wave start. I asked what the qualifications were and the Elite Wave was for those athletes who had finished in the top 3 of their Age Group in a race of 400 or more participants (or some number like that). Since I didn't qualify for that, I never responded back, but apparently, they moved me into this wave anyway. I tried not to think about it.

We checked out the water - it was a man-made pond/lake sort of thing that wound around the commercial properties. It looked much further than 1.2 miles when I scoped it out. We then went back to the hotel to put on our bike gear and get out for a quick ride to make sure the bikes were working properly. The wind was unbelievable. I only hoped it wasn't going to be so bad for the race tomorrow. Everything seemed to be working just fine with Gus and even after a short run, my legs felt OK. Not terribly great, but I wasn't dying, either.

We were then joined by Pat and had a fabulous dinner at a pretty posh Italian place. The manager/owner or someone came up to us several times to make sure everything was OK with the meal. The first time he came up to us, I thought he was going to ask us to leave because of the way we were dressed! (for those of you that were at Terre Haute with me last year, I did NOT wear a hat to this dinner!!!)

Back to the hotel, I arranged the rest of my things for tomorrow's race. I put everything down on the table in the order I'd need it. We planned to ride over on our bikes in the morning, since we were only about a mile away from the race site. I set the alarm clock and also set the alarm on my phone. Never know when one of them is going to be screwed up! Although I knew I wasn't going to have a stellar performance the next day, nor did I expect one, I still was a bit nervous and got up every hour to look at the clock.

I was already awake when the alarm went off. I quietly made my Perpetuem/Hammer drink for the bike while I ate breakfast. Chuck came by one last time with the pump and very quickly, we made our way down to the hotel lobby. It was still a little dark out when we made our way to the race site. The air was cool, but the weather forecast said it was going to get up to 78 today. Normally, that's not so bad, but when you're from Chicago where the weather is about mid-40s this time of year, it can wreak havoc with your body's temperature gauge. I thought about all the clothes I had taken to Boston just 6 days before: winter hat, heavy windproof jacket, 3 pairs of gloves, wool socks, etc., and thought I might be setting myself up for pneumonia!

For this race, my bib was lucky number 13! I went to put my bike on the rack and I almost walked away. All the rest of the athletes on my rack were these really fit-looking male triathletes. I felt so out of my league. I had absolutely no business in this wave. I'm sure they were snickering behind my back like, hey, what's this chick doing here? I felt like such a poser! Oh well, nothing I can do about it now. Besides, I could probably give them a run for their money in the swim, or so I hoped.

I collected my timing chip and went through body marking. After a quick stop at the porta potty, I went back to transition to get some sunscreen. I knew I was probably going to bake in the Texas sun today. We moved over to hear the course talk and I saw Lauren Jensen...and she's in my wave! Aw, man! I thought Elite Wave meant "Elite Age Group Wave" not "Elite/Pro, I'm faster than God Wave." Crap. I really AM a poser! I have never felt more out-of-place. The announcer reminded us of how windy it was and that we should throw all time predictions out the window. Good. I didn't have one anyway. I was just going to ride how I felt and just hang on for dear life during the run.

The official called for all the Elite athletes to get in the water. Again, I felt a little stupid being in this wave, but what can I do now? I jumped in at the back of the pack and just stayed back. The water was cool and cleaner than I expected. We had about 2 minutes to go when the Saint took this shot. I'm 4th from the left. 5-4-3-2-1 and the race had started. (no National Anthem, bummer)

Within seconds, I was on top of the woman in front of me (a.k.a. a 50 year old Bo Derek). OK, I need to move around her...I swim a little bit and lose any sort of draft. I worked at my bilateral breathing and was thankful the sun was still hidden behind the clouds. I found myself sighting a lot. This was a narrow channel-like body of water and I was a little scared to get too close to the edges. That's where all the "icky" water is, at least that's where it is in my mind! We made the first turn and I saw a pack of swimmers that weren't making any ground on me. I knew that if I could get up and catch that draft, I'd be in a much better position, so I worked a little harder. Nothing too strenuous, but I could see I was getting closer. I reached the feet of the back of this pack before the half way point. I hung back there a while. The swimming felt very, very easy. Have I ever mentioned I'm a "draft-master?" I hit the feet of the person in front of me a few too many times. I was getting tired of picking my head up to make sure he was going the right way. (I think it was a he...if it was a she, her feet were way rough!) Then I got a little claustrophobic when someone on my left kept swimming off course and running into me. WTF, dude, why don't you take a look at the buoys and see that you're headed off course?

We make another turn and we're about 75% through with the swim. That's it, I need to get away from these people. Besides, I just knew all the really FAST swimmers were way up ahead! So I moved to the outside and used the energy I was saving from the draft to pull ahead of the pack....all of them. Uh oh, now I'm in front. I see no one ahead of me. Where was I supposed to get out of the water from? Shoot, I wish I would've paid attention during the course talk! I just kept pulling smoothly with each stroke and headed for the stairs...I think that was where we get out. I get to the stairs and start feeling around with my hands, but there is no stair in the water! The volunteers grab my arms and literally pull me out of the water. I run up the rest of the stairs, take off my cap and goggles and start running toward transition. Then guess who passes me...Lauren Jensen! Holy crap, I just beat her out of the water! Suh-WEEET!!!! The Saint yells out to me "Hey, nice swim!" and snaps this shot. I take advantage of the wetsuit strippers (they're usually only at Ironman distance races) and move on over to transition beside myself...that swim didn't even feel hard! The course must've been short.

I run into transition and toward my bike and spend much too much time in transition. I hear the announcer talk about Lauren being "2nd out on the bike", then another woman "3rd out on the bike"...I was finally ready and moved on out to the bike course..."4th out on the bike." That will stay in my mind forever as that may never happen again in my lifetime. I try to grab a drink and catch my breath and settle into a rhythym. I have NOT put in enough bike miles yet this year. Unless you spent a ton of time on the trainer, I don't think anyone in Chicago has gotten in a lot of miles. The weather hasn't exactly been cooperative.

The roads were smooth and flat, for the most part. The only hills to speak of were when we were on the overpasses, which didn't seem to be all that many. However, I became frustrated by the flow of traffic. The first sign would say "Bikes left, cars right." You'd make a turn, then it was "Cars left, bikes right." Very confusing. There were many turns. It was weird to be so far in the front of the race...many times, I could not see anyone in front of me and I'd wonder if I was going the wrong way. This was a 3 loop course and each way back, the wind was brutal. The sound of the wind in my ears was sometimes deafening. It was also a bit difficult to control the front wheel while in the aero position. Almost as bad as the Time Trial I did a few weeks least it was WARMER out here!

On the second loop, I had to actually stop and unclip to let some traffic go by. I don't think the volunteer saw me there until I yelled to her...she then stopped the traffic to let me cross. I had read on Slowtwitch to be careful of drivers as they weren't very cyclist-friendly. This was true. More than once, I had a driver turn out in front of me when I would've expected them to stop. At the intersections where officers were controlling traffic, I heard drivers beeping and officers yelling at them to stop. It was quite bizzare. Pat and Lori cheering me on for the 2nd and 3rd loop was a much needed boost! By the end of the second loop, BC had passed me, which I expected, and I really wanted to get off this bike. I was uncomfortable and my neck and shoulders were getting really tight. My time was much slower than I thought it would be, but the loop times were pretty consistent, so I didn't slow down much.

Myself and another female competitor nearly crashed as we were getting ready to dismount. There was a guy in front of us all over the street. She called "on your left" and the guy turned to the left! Come on, man! She and I laughed about it as we ran into transition. Of course, I came back to find ALL the bikes back on my rack, except mine. I'm not used to that and I didn't like it very much. Sorta depressing. I grabbed my Clif Shots, race number and visor and I was out of transition as fast as I could go.

Wow, my legs felt heavy. But, as any experience triathlete knows, that is usually just in your head and within a couple of miles, that feeling should go away and I'll be OK. Within the first mile, I could feel the tri top chafing me. Shoot, I forgot to bring Aquaphor! I got the first mile split, but then missed the next few. This really threw me off and I think it took me until mile 5 to really start to know what my run splits were. I asked for Vaseline/Body Glide at each aid station and came up empty. I kept adjusting the zipper on the tri top to prevent further chafing, but it wasn't working. My quads were hurting in a way they've never hurt before. It was a sharp, consistent pain that worsened as my foot hit the ground. That would last for about a quarter of a mile, then go away. It would come in one leg, then go away. Then it would be in both legs, then go away. The run was 2 loops and as I made my way in around the 6.5 mile mark, there were Pat and Lori again, cheering me on, telling me I look great...isn't that what people say to you when you look like crap but they're trying to encourage you? Come on Pat, tell the truth!

I headed back out for the second loop and hoped that pain in my legs would subside. One of the aid stations came up with some Neosporin which I slathered on my chest to stop the chafing. The sweat was stinging the chafed areas and the Neosporin gave me little relief. The wind would gust up to about 25 mph and it cooled me off each time. OK, it was a little stronger than I'd like, you just have to deal with the conditions. My legs were aching more now, but I refused to stop. I knew that if I stopped, I'd have to walk the rest of the course. I kept telling myself, "Come on, you ran an entire marathon, you shouldn't have to stop and walk in just 13 miles!" I accidentally dropped my last dose of salt tablets and tried to shrug that off. I had just 5 miles left, that shouldn't affect me much. I saw Chuck coming around when I had about 4 miles to go. In his first Half Ironman, he was looking spectacular! Now I started focusing on not letting him pass me!

But I couldn't go any faster. Each time my foot hit the pavement, a sharp pain went though my quad on the inside, just above the knee. I wondered if I was doing myself damage and if I should jus stop running. No, no...if the pain stays constant, then stop. Although the pain wasn't constant, it was there more than it was absent! But I stayed focused on the race and reminded myself that I was only 6 days off a marathon, OF COURSE my legs are going to hurt. There isn't a running expert in the world that would recommend doing a half ironman just 6 days after a marathon! DEAL WITH IT!

I neared the last mile and I could hear the announcer and the crowds cheering as people finished. As I got closer, I saw Pat, BC, Lori and the Saint, all on their feet, cheering me in. I tried to smile, but I wasn't feeling very smiley at that point. I crossed the finish line...THEN smiled. Quickly after that, I collapsed from cramping in my quads. Though I finished 2nd to last in the Elite Group, I'd say given the time of the year and being less than a week after a marathon, I'm quite happy with my results!


RunBubbaRun said...

hey, hey, shouldn't you be taking it easy right now :)

Great job on the half.. Crazy drivers and all..

Sheila said...

Well, now you have officially gone past any craziness I have ever done. Congrats, you psycho!

Griz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Griz said...

I forgot to say congrats, wow all in one month

kickstand pam said...

Geez - what do you eat for breakfast?! Great job racing and great writing. :)

rthomure said...


You are not a poser - we are unworthy in your presence. Boston Marathon one week - in the Elite wave the following week - what's next the cover of SI for Women???

Also, no surprise on the Texas traffic problems. Driving in Dallas on a daily basis teaches you new skills. Now you know why everybody in Texas has a gun rack.