Thursday, July 25, 2013

70.3 Racine Race Report

Coffee and Raccoon Lake...what more could you need?
Sorry, this is going to be long. I am currently sitting by Raccoon Lake (well I was when I wrote this), drinking coffee, and enjoying nature. I figured I better write this while the race is fresh in my brain. So, I left home Saturday morning and met my friends in Racine. Check in, expo, hotel, quick bike, quick swim (blah), drop bikes of—the usual. I was lucky that my friends Steve and Tom were racing so they let me sneak into their hotel room. We went to dinner at some Italian place near our hotel, and I had the usual pre race pizza and 2 beers. My pre race thoughts were A) Lake Michigan is awesome to look at B) the water seems pretty choppy and I didn’t enjoy my pre race swim C) I'm super excited to race (as usual) and I just wanted it to be Sunday morning. Pre race day is like Christmas Eve for me and race day is like Christmas.

Race morning 5 am rolled around and I was wide awake. The Radisson was about a ¼ mile walk to the transition area, so it was pretty perfect positioning.  My wave didn’t go off til 8:24, so I didn’t leave the hotel til close to 6. All I had to do was walk over, put a few things in transition, and make sure my bike was working. After that I had a while to wait…and wait…and wait. I ran into Jake, Kraig, and Danny in transition, and Robert who qualified for Worlds at Branson with me. I made the walk down to the start to wait some more. I talked to my new friend Alex from Kentucky and I found out this was his first half ironman. He looked much calmer than I did at my first! We sat and talked for a while, and then decided to go for a warm up swim. The water was a lovely 61 degrees.

Swim- 42:14
So finally at 8:24 it was our time to go. I lined up in the first 3rd row on the far left. I figured I could get some clean water to start and the water was pushing us to the right anyway. I don’t remember what the sound was to start, I was just thinking, “Fart in your wetsuit, it will you’re your back half float. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. Get out decent and find some feet.” Well the first part of the swim was more of a jog, dolphin dive, high knees run—I felt like I was doing form drills. The start was frustrating as I felt like I would swim forward 5 feet, but get pushed back 6 feet by the waves. Somehow I finally made it to a place to start swimming. All I know is I hadn’t made it to the first buoy and I was already thinking, “It’s going to be a while before you exit the water.” When I finally made it to the first buoy I was not thrilled that I had to swim a long, straight line. Somehow I found myself leading a pack of 4 guys…wait, I wanted tp be the one drafting. My navigations skills are already pretty bad, and the waves were a lot bigger than I was expecting. I started feeling sick to my stomach (I had never had this happen during a swim before). I got to buoy three and I threw up from feeling “sea sick”—sorry to those behind me. At this point I knew it was going to be a long swim. I felt like I was being tossed around in a washing machine and I was not thinking happy thoughts at this time. I made it 4 or 5 more buoys and I threw up again. It was at this point that I swore I was never coming back to Racine (more on that later). I knew I was having an awful swim. We made the final turn to head back to shore and the choppy water was no easier to navigate than on the way out. I exited the water feeling like crap, probably low on calories, and full of lake water.
Land...Thank God!
T1- 3:32
My favorite part  of the swim was exiting the water to get to T1. It is a nice 150m beach run, followed by a sidewalk run. At least I can make up a few seconds on the swimmers here... I didn’t use the wetsuit strippers because it’s easier to just do it myself. It was really easy to find my bike, because it was one of few left on the rack haha.
I think this was heading out of town...or maybe back in...
Bike: 2:31:56 (22.1mph/204 watts)
The bike leg was actually pretty uneventful—just the way I like it. I got on my bike knowing I had a poor swim, but I can still have a great bike split. Coach and I came up with a power plan, but it quickly went out the window. I was very excited to be on my bike and wanted to pass a lot of people. I honestly don’t think I looked down at my power meter in the first 10 miles of the bike (shhh, don’t tell coach), because I was too busy trying not to get hit by other rides on the course. The bike course was very crowded and I spent a lot of time in the left lane. It really stinks when you see some pro men and women making the last 5 miles or so of their ride as you are starting your first few miles—they’re almost done and your day is just beginning. Some of the roads were great, some of the road were crap. I spent some of the ride thinking, “My poor brain, it’s already been shaken around enough.” There were some parts of the ride that people were riding 3-4 wide and not moving fast enough. I know you’re not supposed to go to the left lane to pass, but…you shouldn’t be riding 3-4 wide either. Around mile 40 on the bike I started to get bored. I had taken in enough beautiful sights, I was having fun, but I was ready to start running. This is why I probably will not do an Ironman for quite some time… Then around mile 45 I was super excited to be riding again as I knew I had 11 miles left to go. Unfortunately the roads were starting to be even more crowded as they were splitting lanes for bikers. Although the road conditions were poor and crowded,  the awesome spectators and volunteers made up for it. I decided that Racine isn’t so bad and I would like to come back. (Different thought than the swim haha) I was off the bike in 2:31xx for a new HIM bike split PR by17 minutes and I didn’t even have to pee on the bike. That put a nice smile on my face going into T2.
"On your left!"
T2- 1:31
In and out…that’s the name of the game
I look so happy to see people I know!
Run- 1:19:55

I had no idea what place I was in coming off the bike, but I knew I was not on the podium for my AG. Coach told me to start out conservative and try to build the pace from there…if you call 5:51 conservative then I hit the nail on the head! Ha. Well, I just went with what felt easy and a mile in I realized I was running a bit too quickly. The pace felt easy, but I knew that would set me up for a big PR run. Well, I kept clipping the off sub 6’s like clockwork. The spectators were awesome, the zoo…not so much. As I was finishing my 1st loop I heard somebody say, “Dark Horse?! That’s Steve Johnson! Well, that isn’t Steve, but…” and I couldn’t hear the rest of the conversation. What? You don’t think I look like Steve? The run course was getting very crowded on my 2nd loop and I had to start making some decisions. Run on the far left of the run lane, or in the grass on the right side. I had planned on taking a gel at mile 6 along with electrolyte pills and water. I took the gel before the aid station, and it was pretty backed up. I now had to decide if I was going to try to sneak in and get some water or just pass it up. To wait for water would mean probably 15-20 seconds, honestly, or  pass it up and wait for the next one. My mind was screaming “Stop! Take the water!” but my body just kept running…right on past the aid station. Stupid. I quickly started to regret that as my mouth was dry, I just took a gel, and it was warming up.  The next aid station could not come soon enough. I ran a 6:xx mile and thought, “Hold on Nancy, this is where it starts to hurt.” The next aid station was super crowded also, and I meant to get water, but I got cola…sh*t. At this point I was sick to my stomach and really not a happy camper because I made another stupid/tired mistake. I saw my buddy Jake on the run course and he informed me that there were a few guys in my AG just making the turn around.  I knew I saw them on their way back in as I was on my way out—they looked like they were hurting, but I don’t think I was looking too hot either. I told myself just to go after those three and then get in. I put in a nice surge to get by them and “pass with authority.” (picture me saying that to myself). With about 2 miles to go I started to get in my happy place again. I just tried to pretend I was on another training run with Evan, or a long run with my Greenville teammates. I knew there were many more guys up there and it was going to be a dogfight for the podium. One of my fellow competitors yelled, “Your skinny ass is making this look easy—it’s not fair!” And I just thought, “Yes, I have a skinny ass!” With a mile to go I saw a sign that said FREE BEER AT THE FINISH LINE. That was the little boost I needed to get me going. I had not been passed by anybody on the bike, and if I could just finish this mile, I wouldn’t be passed by anybody on the run. With a half mile to go I said, “Okay Coree, there are a lot of people here watching...don’t crap your speedo and get across that line.” The spectators were awesome and I was feeling good again. I knew I had maybe 3 minutes of running left to do. With maybe 400m to go I picked off another guy in my AG. With 200m to go I picked off 2 more. I didn’t see anybody else that looked even close to my age with 100m to go—time to celebrate. There were a bunch of kids wanting high fives, so I ran down the side of the finisher chute giving high fives!
What I don't want to happen in a race. LOL
I crossed the line and went to lean down to get a rock out of me shoe and they thought I was passing out. I had about 5 medical people rush over to me to hold me up and ask me how I’m feeling and carry me to the medical tent and pack me full of ice. They were super nice people, but I wasn’t going to pass out, I just wanted to sit down for a second and get the rock out of my shoe. I then started crying in the medical tent—I was a mess. I was excited,  mentally tired, my feet hurt, thirsty, and it just set a nice 17 minute PR. So then the people in there are asking me what's wrong and the only thing I could say was, "I just want my candy bar and it's probably melting in the car right now." ...maybe it was a good thing they made me sit there for a while.
Both feet had some nice blisters after the race. Yummy!
4th AG, 85th OA 4:38:50

Overall, I am very happy with the race. There are a few things I need to work on, a few mistakes I need to NOT make, and some good things to take away and use next time. As usual, I would like to thank Coach Steve for helping me improve, one day at a time. And thanks to my family and friends--I couldn't do it without all the support from y'all.

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