Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Best laid plans…Race report?...PR!

Sometimes the best planning all goes out the window.  I was signed up to rock n roll my second half iron distance race on Saturday.  Well, last Monday, I got a cancellation from the race company, stating they were canceling the event.  I proceeded to go through the 7 stages of grief or whatever…mostly consisting of frustration, anger and determination.  After my performance at the sprint distance on July 20th I was ready to ROCK 70.3 miles.  The course was my strength, flat and fast.  Someday maybe I’ll go for scenic and hilly but for this race I wanted to hammer.  Sadly I wasn’t going to get to do that, or was I?

I sent Coach Jen a note and then proceeded to send texts to all my close endurance junkie friends venting my frustrating and telling them all about the backup options I was considering.  After my initial rage of an event being cancelled 4 days before the actual event, I calmed down and went into determination mode.  One of my first responses was...well, if unnamed race company isn’t going to put on an event for me, I’ll put one on myself.  Yup, a self-supported long course triathlon. Call me crazy, call me determined but I lived to tell the tale.  While this isn’t an “official” race with chip timing results I’m calling this a major success, a PR and a giant leap forward in my mental training.

Race Report: Inaugural (and probably only) Dunlap Racing Long Course Triathlon

“Race” morning.  Honestly, I was nervous.  I was going to attempt a long course tri, self-supported, by myself.  Could I do the distance?  Sure.  But mentally could I hold it together to complete the distance solo without that race environment?  As I got all my stuff ready and was heading out the door, I gave myself a little pep talk and I was off and ready to get to my start line “aka the pool.”  On my way to getting my things out the door I stubbed my toe.  I thought to myself, crap, just what I need, to break my toe on my way to my race.  I shook it off as best I could and with some soreness building (foreshadow) and went on my merry way.

1.2 M (2100 yd) Swim: 38:05 (1:48/100)
Uneventful swim.  Saturday morning at the gym there is luckily no one around!  Whole lane all to myself.  Settled into the swim and just kept a steady pace going.  I swam this like I knew I would have 56 miles to ride and a half marathon to run, conservative yet not dilly dallying.

T1: 45:55 –ha!  I got out of the pool, quickly rinsed off, because why not I had the time and opportunity too.  Changed into my gear and hit the road.  I drove out to the site of my bike and run.  I did all these things quickly but also used my time efficiently—I fueled while I drove and took the time to dry off my feet, apply sunscreen, etc.

56 M Bike: 3:30:10 (16 MPH avg)
My goal for the race was to hit 3:30 or faster (16 MPH or better).  I’ve been averaging 16 MPH for all my long rides lately but this not being an actual race environment I wasn’t sure I could get my legs moving any faster but figured I could hold steady at my training pace.  I did exactly what I would have done in a race, took the first 15-20 minutes to warm up, keeping a moderately easy gear.  After that I shifted and turned it on…right into a headwind.  I proceeded to oscillate between headwind and tailwind, which is exactly the type of course I was prepped for.  I was feeling good, sticking with my nutrition plan and was excited to know that I would have support for my run.

My run crew vehicle!

T2: 14:15  I did what I normally do in T2 with the addition of loading my bike into the car, instead of racking it and moving the car to a safer running location about 10 minutes down the road.

13.1 M Run: 2:34:06 (11:46 avg)
This is where the rubber was going to meet the road.  Running is always the sport I mentally struggle with and I knew today would probably be the same.  My goal was a 2:30 with an optimistic view of possibly a 2:20 finish but I was going to be thrilled with anything under a 12 min mile avg. My short runs off the bike hover around 10 usually and I have been doing intervals in the 8's.  However, for me and pacing while running, it is ALL MENTAL.  If I could mentally stay strong I was going to have a great run.

I was so lucky to have an awesome race crew in C (and later Mr. Pi arrived as well).  I set off and C proceeded to drive one mile down the road.  During that first mile I actually felt good, minus some throbbing in my toe.  I was warm but NOTHING like the June 106+ degree weather I dealt with.  At mile 1 I pulled up alongside C’s car and out came a silver platter…literally.  It was my own personal aid station on a silver platter…pretty sweet!  It was stocked with everything I could have wanted, ice, water, coke, chews, banana, doubleshot coffee (I used this during the bike portion of my IM), gels, etc.  I am truly so lucky to have friends that understand the crazy head space of an endurance athlete, who would give up a few hours of their Saturday to man “aid stations” on the side of the road.  THANK YOU C and Mr. Pi for your support...not only on "race" day but also during countless hours of training.

Off during mile 2 I realized this run would be both easier and harder than I had thought—I think this hits me during every race no matter the distance.  When I hit my next “aid station” I had a flashback to running with my Rev3 teammates from AZ to TX where we ran in one to two mile increments with a water bottle marking our stopping point.  I remembered how cool that experience was to be running in places I would probably never see again and tried to channel that into this run.  This was probably an experience I would not have again and I was going to relish it.

As the miles ticked on I started to feel better and better (I swear this is from the ice in my sports bra cooling me down and from coke...I don't drink soda, really EVER, but it is like rocket fuel for me during triathlons) by about mile 7 I was really feeling great!  My speed was staying consistent and I knew I would finish and finish STRONG!  Mr. Pi jumped in to run a mile with me from 8-9 and it was great to have the company.  It also made me realize that if I did have “company” or “competition” out on the course maybe I would have run faster, as I picked up the pace considerably with that mile.  When I hit mile 12, I could not have been happier.  C and Mr. Pi drove on another 1.1 miles and set up a finish line for me…I had no idea that was coming.  But as I rounded a small bend in the road, I saw my red ribbon finish line and with nothing but smiles, I crossed the finish line!  

Total (moving) Time: 6:42 
My overall goal had been to break 7 hours.  My previous PR time was 7:56 where I walked the half marathon due to the extreme heat.  This was an improvement by over an hour.  I PR'd all three disciplines from June!  Swim PR of 1:09. Bike PR of 17 minutes. Run PR of 49 minutes. 

My sweet ass medal!  Captain America meets Flava Flave.

This race/event/training experience whatever you want to call it taught me so much about my strength.  Not just my physical strength to complete this distance but my mental tenacity to go this alone.  I was determined and ready.  Coach Jen calls it “grit” I like to channel my Dad and call it perseverance.  

While I was out there I kept having the song/phrase “it’s a great day to be alive” in my head.  I’m not really a country music fan so I had to look up who even sings this, Travis Tritt if you were curious.  But I was really happy to be alive and doing what I love to do!

Couldn't have done it without these two:

On the foreshadowing of the toe jamming incident.  So, Sunday it was pretty sore.  Monday I went to the doc for some x-rays.  Results came back negative for a fracture, hooray!  BUT they are sending me to a specialist.  Of course, I'm terrified of hearing the "c" word (crutches people, get your mind out of the gutter).  I'll be in the boot for a little while to immobilize it and let it heal (I'm hoping this won't be a long time but it is what it is).   While I find it annoying to again be in the presence of this ugly gray accessory, my experience on saturday was amazing and I suppose doing a self supported half iron with a deformed toe makes me even more of a badass (either that or just dumb).  I'm staying positive it'll heal up soon and I'll be ready to rock and roll again for the rest of my year.