IM Louiville

IM Louiville
Bikes racked at Ironman Louisville 2010

Monday, July 21, 2008

Spirit of Racine Half Ironman

After spending all day working the Expo on Saturday standing on my feet, I wasn't quite sure what to expect for this race. I was feeling pretty relaxed about the whole thing because I haven't been able to get my run miles up where I'd like them to be. I hadn't run 13 miles since NOVEMBER! And the water temperature was said to be 56 degrees. It's one of the only times I was heard saying, "I don't want to do this swim."

Per the usual race ritual, I couldn't sleep the night before the race. Tossing, turning, looking at the clock every 15-20 minutes or so to make sure I wouldn't oversleep left me pretty tired when it came time to get out of bed. I looked out my hotel room window to see that it had rained overnight. I quickly got my things together and headed out to transition in the darkness.

I was surprised at how calm I was. Transition was set, a couple trips to the porta potty, I walked with CR to grab my wetsuit and prepare to walk the mile down the beach to the start. I had both a neoprene cap and some nifty neoprene booties. In fact, I tried the booties on in the hotel room the night before and they are quite comfortable! I am considering using these as my house slippers this winter. I put them on before the walk down the beach and my toes stayed nice and warm. (too bad they don't have gloves I can use)

It was very foggy - so foggy, they delayed the start of the race by 15 minutes...again, and again and again. Now the race was a full hour delayed. I silently hoped we weren't going to swim. The temperature was now 55 degrees and I went in for just a few second and it was shocking to the system! I was almost upset when they announced that the first wave was about to take off. Now I've spent so much time worrying about how cold the swim was going to be, I've practically forgotten about the fact that I still have to bike 56 miles and run 13 miles after that!

The fog was still thick when we started and sighting the buoys was challenging! I ran a few steps and jumped into the icy lake and kept my head out of the water the first 200 yards or so. It was a pretty smooth start, though...didn't get beat up too much. Once we turned to parallel the beach, there seemed to be plenty of space. I tried following the flow of athletes in front of me, but at points they were so spread out, it was impossible to know who was going in the right direction. A couple times, I had to stop and look around to find the next buoy before continuing on the swim. It felt long...I was tired of swimming. I just wanted out. A few people were walking and we were still no where close to the end of the swim. Finally, I spotted some trees so I knew we were getting close to the finish. Again, people stopping and walking well before they should...they made for a few obstacles for me! Once my hand hit the sand on the bottom, I stood up...still very far from shore. It's exhausting to try and run through almost knee-deep water! A quick check of the watch tells me the swim was probably 200-300 yards short.

I immediately heard MN yell for me out of the water. It was really cool...nice to have someone cheering for you. As I ran to transition while stripping off the top half of my wetsuit, I saw her running along side, talking to me. It was encouraging. She mentioned many people were off course. I don't doubt it, it was TOUGH to see anything out there!

After a surprisingly quick transition (tearing off booties and all!), I hopped on the bike. I had to go well past the mount line because there were several people just past the line trying to get on their bikes. It was already congested and we haven't even started yet! The guy in front of me was weaving as we workedour way up the incline. He almost took me out! I was a little chilled at first, but that quickly went away as I started pumping my legs on the pedals. We were forced on a very narrow strip of road and it was difficult to pass. Several "on your left" yells, and still people wouldn't move. They were riding right on the double yellow line. I even had one guy point to the right and tell me to go around him on the right. Um, no dude, you're blocking, YOU move to the right.

I was quite comfortable except for the rough patches of road. Temperature was good. It was a little windy in some sections and I could feel myself being pushed around, but it wasn't too bad. I nailed the nutrition, though I don't think I was getting enough water. The aid stations were crowded and I rode by a couple of them without grabbing a bottle because it just seemed too dangerous. I realized my computer was wrong...I hadn't erased the data from my last ride, so now I have no idea what mile I'm on. I then realized the mile markers were spray painted on the roads in 10 mile increments. 40...50...cool, just 6 more miles. I'm very uncomfortable now on my bike seat. My legs feel nice and strong, I just don't want to be on this bike any more.

It was relief to fly down the hill into transition, just a bit of a bummer that you can't really go as fast as you'd like. Another pretty smooth transition and I was off on the run. Now the sun was starting to peek out from the dissipating fog. There were two pretty challenging hills right at the start of the run that tweaked my hamstring. I shortened my stride and just went slower. Once up that second hill, it was flat and my heart rate dropped quickly. I was on a good, solid run pace. There were lots of familiar faces on the course. Sometimes, though, when someone would yell out, I wouldn't realize who it was until they were long gone. Again, very comfortable conditions...not too hot, not too cold. The shaded parts of the run were well spaced and a cool breeze kicked up every so often.

Once I reached the turn around, I realized I was still feeling pretty good, so I decided to try and pick up the pace. I slowed down again significantly on those two steep uphills at the beginning. I still stopped at every water station, trying to make up for the fluid I did not take enough of on the bike. At one aid station, I grabbed a gel. I ripped it open with my teeth and squirted it in my mouth. Eeeegads, it was HOT! Not just warm, but hot! BLECH! I gulped down two lukewarm cups of water after that. I was trying to check on my splits and it was encouraging. I came close to the 10 mile mark and I realized that if I could keep this pace, I was on target for a half ironman PR. Never mind that the swim was a little short, this is turning out to be a solid race! I picked up the pace a little more, now breathing heavily where it really started to burn a little. Throughout the rest of the run, I was able to cheer on friends coming the other way...now I didn't have the breath. I tried to hold the pace for the last couple of miles, but I could feel myself now slowing. The hamstring has been acting up for the last 4-5 miles, but I'm almost finished!

Through the zoo, I know the end is near. Now I can hear the announcer and the crowd cheering. Do I have any "kick" left? No, not really, but I tried. I started the day hoping to just be able to not have to stop and walk during the run. I ended with a very respectable time and a new love for neoprene booties.

5 comments:

KK said...

Congrats! Nice to read that you are back to your old racing self again :)

Russ Foster said...

Nice job! Great to hear the race reports. Keep them coming!

Triathamom said...

You had such an awesome race! It brings me hope (for my run) to see how your run has come back so nicely. I know it's not 100% but it sure looks that way!

John said...

that guy in the yellow shirt to the right has one serious beer belly!

nice work on the triathlon, too!

Griz said...

yes, good job, congrats