IM Louiville

IM Louiville
Bikes racked at Ironman Louisville 2010

Monday, August 15, 2011

Steelhead Race Report

My first 70.3 really wasn't even a 70.3! Yes, of course I've done other Half Ironman races, but this year's Steelhead Triathlon was technically my first "70.3". In the last few years, I've purposely chosen races that were NOT "70.3". But this isn't the post for that, I'll get to that another day.

On Saturday, after we did our training ride, we were on our way to drop off the bikes in transition when a storm rolled in. The winds picked up, stuff started blowing all over the place and my short little Kestrel was just hanging on the rack,
too small to reach the pavement. With the wind, I knew it wouldn't stay up there, so I opted to bring the bike back to the hotel and bring it in the morning. After all, rack space was pre-assigned, so I figured I'd be good. The wind was blowing the sand so strongly as we made our way back to the car, it felt like we were getting a microderm abrasion treatment! Unfortunately, all that sand stuck to my legs and some got in my mouth. Ick.

Dinner took too long that night, but we were still back at the hotel at a decent time and went to sleep pretty early. Of course, nerves won't let me sleep in and I woke up before the alarm. I quickly gathered my things and we were some of the first people showing up to the parking lot. A long walk with the bikes to transition and before we make it to body marking we learn the swim has officially been cancelled. WHAT? You're kidding. It's not a "triathlon" without the swim! The news disappoints me and sucks some of my motivation to really try to RACE. I decide that if my training buddy decides, forget it, let's skip this and go home, I'll go. It's dark, cloudy, very windy and I don't even get to do my favorite part of the race. We get body marked (what a cluster!) and head into transition. I just threw my stuff down and wondered what to do. Now we were WAY early and they were not even closing transition.

Now the race is a time trial bike start (3 seconds between competitor) and then the run. No 70.3 here. Oh, but the Age Group winners still get slots to the 70.3 Championships. Doesn't seem fair. So if you're a really crappy swimmer but are good at the bike and run and want to get to the championships, go enter a 70.3 that might have the swim cancelled. There's your chance! And that's yet ANOTHER blog post...I digress.

As the sun came up and I saw the water, sure, it was a bit wavy. Didn't look too bad, but I guess they can't take the risk. I get that. Still disappointed, but I get it. So now how do I focus on trying to make this a good race? And at the very least, a solid training day. We headed out for a warm up run that really wasn't good or long enough because of all the people milling about. I didn't feel it would help one way or another, but it was a way to pass time.

I put on my bike shoes, helmet and must've changed my sunglasses 4-5 times. Is it sunny? No, too cloudy. Will it get sunny? Should I use the dark lenses? No, the orange ones. Wait, no, too dark, ok get the clear ones. Wait, here comes the sun, get the dark lenses out again. It was super windy and all I had was my disc wheel. I didn't even bring the other one. Oops. I'll just deal with it. We waited as they started the age groupers off every 3 seconds. Made some friends with the other ladies whose numbers were around mine. Saw lots of friends while waiting.

Off we go - anti-climactic start with no spectators, but what can you do? I ride for about 10 minutes before I try to find my groove. Within the first 15-20 minutes I realize I'm riding way too fast. This is not where I should be. I'm breathing too hard. My legs are working too hard. Oh, but in the back of my mind I am thinking about all the time I have to make up for there being no swim! If I could just make up those minutes on the bike...wait, what am I thinking? That's so silly! But at this point, this race doesn't mean much, so let's just see how much it takes to blow MJ up. Let's keep this pace and see if I can hang on for the run. If I can't, I don't lose anything anyway...

So I fight for every mph I can get. Every time I felt myself starting to coast I looked at the clock and tried to figure out how much further ahead I was of my predicted (SMART) time. I wondered if I was digging myself into a hole that I would regret being in on the back half of the run... I was glad I had armwarmers and toe covers on. It was chilly. I had to remind myself to drink. I just wasn't thirsty. The winds whipped my bike around a couple of times, but overall, the disc was a good decision for the day. Due to the time trial start, I witnessed very little drafting, if at all. Then again, I saw no officials, so it wouldn't have mattered.

Mile 36 of the ride and I see my favorite abandoned RV and think of the training day we had out there. I had to smile. It was one of those rides you'll never forget. And wonder what possessed you to continue riding in those ridiculous conditions. Back on to M63, the final stretch of the bike, and I poured it on. It is my favorite part of the ride. I counted the minutes and we had a sweet tailwind that made this last section really fun! At the end of the ride, there was a sharp turn
into the park...WAIT! ON TO THE SIDEWALK? WTF! NO! This sucks! It was narrow, you couldn't pass anyone, the banners were blowing across the very narrow sidewalk that was actually the course, the turns were too sharp to maintain any sort of speed. Oh, yeah, I did not like the finish to the ride.

Once in transition, it was THE LONGEST TRANSITION EVER! Ugh, I got tired of running with my bike! I quickly whipped off my helmet and armwarmers, switched shoes and grabbed my hat, gels and visor and took off. OK...let's see how the legs hold up! Right away, I was chilly. My toes were numb from the ride - yeah, I know it wasn't that cold, that's just what happens to me! They warmed up by mile 3. Running along, a decent hill at the first turn...had a woman pass me with "52" on her calf. 52? WOW, lady, you're fast for an old chick...I know I was running sub 8s and she flew by me! Then I saw her other leg. Um, 52 was her PRO race number, not her age. Duh. No wonder why she was so fast! :)

Since the run was 2 loops, I didn't see a whole lot of our teammates. I started pretty early and I tried to pick up the second loop of the run when I was told there was a certain someone about 5 minutes ahead of me. Can I do it? I pushed. We went through the Whirlpool campus - a small, narrow path. First time through, piece of cake. Second time?? WAY TOO MANY people and tough to pass. Some people were trying to run 3 abreast. Really? I hate pushing past people like that, but I shouldn't be expected to slow down for that, either. I took in water at every aid station and most of it was consumed. I did miss a few gulps.

A big motivator was the Team Tri Smart Team Spectate! These are the cheering fans of Team Tri Smart and can be spotted with the bright, red shirts. Every time I saw a solid, red shirt, I looked. It was a huge boost to see these guys out there, cheering us on. On my second pass, I
pushed. I caught up to the only female who passed me on the bike. It felt good, though because she started behind me, I knew she was still beating me. I didn't stop to wave to the peeps, I just focused. I wanted to see what I had left. It started to hurt. I knew I had about a mile left. Just a mile. I kept telling myself it was less than 10 minutes, just keep pushing!

I ended up NOT catching my rabbit, but I had him in my sights! I was able to meet up with him in the finish chute and we had a little post race celebratory water together. We both overextended those bike rides and paid for it a bit on the run, but it was fun. And I STILL haven't done a "70.3"....