Monday, August 9, 2010

Barb's Race 70.3 Race Report

Barb's Race is in the bag.  It's a week and a few days later and I've been doing a whole lot of nothing exercise-wise but a TON life-wise.  I've had a lot of time to reflect on the race and the last 6 months.  I am really proud of myself for finishing given my bike issues during the race and my bike crash in June.

The morning of the race I was feeling pretty nervous and nauseous.  I really thought the nausea was just the normal pre-race feeling so I just shook it off and got ready.  I made it to the beach start in Guernville with plenty of time.  I had several family members in tow and met up with several friends too.  Tara was there also getting ready to race, my best friend in the whole world Kristen had come all the way from Sac to spectate and a couple of Tara's friends were also there, including master cheerer Maritza.
Tara and I pre-swim
Sarah who was in a two person relay (she was biking and running)--they took 2nd in the relay division---way to go!

The Swim:
Anyone was has been reading this blog knows that I feel most at home in the water.  I love the water and I love swimming.  My goal for the swim was to swim strong but not too hard since the day was going to be LONG.  I was really hoping for under 40 minutes but I would have been happy with anything under 45.  There was the usual cluster in the beginning but I started near the front and I think that really helped.  By the time I got to the first bridge (about 200 yards in) I had open water.  I kept it nice and easy and tried to enjoy the experience.  There were a couple of times when I could see the bottom and two times when my arms actually scraped the bottom of the riverbed---it was kinda weird but also slightly comforting to know that I could just stand up if I needed to.  When I hit the turnaround buoy I hit the gas---actually it was more like I hit the current!  I hadn't noticed any resistance from the current on the way out but I definitely noticed the lift on the way back.  It was like swimming with fins.  When the start line flags were in view I kicked it up a notch and speed toward the beach.  I hit the beach and heard my name from all my spectators it was awesome!

Swim time: 38:44

Swim start...all the blue caps
Getting my wetsuit off
Running and pulling the wetsuit off!
T1 was pretty uneventful.  I toweled off my feet and legs quickly got my socks and bike shoes on.  Grabbed my gloves, helmet and camelbak.  I was pretty much ready to roll.  I took a Hammer Gel as planned in T1 and headed to the mount line.  We had watched several full Ironman'ers do a variety of things at the mount line---some ran up the tiny hill and mounted on the flat, some tried to mount at the bottom and struggled and finally ran up the hill and some successfully mounted and rode up the hill.  I wasn't sure what my plan was until I got to the mount line and it was crowded so I went up the hill to the flat section and mounted.  My spectators were running alongside being encouraging--yay spectators.

T1 Time: 4:56

The Bike:
During training I loved the bike.  Despite crashing back in June, I really learned to love cycling.  Tara and I had driven the bike course the day before so I knew what was in store---beautiful wineries, some rolling hills and lots of twisty turn-y roads.  About 10 miles into the bike, I knew something wasn't right.  I surveyed myself.  Was I thirsty? No, I was drinking from the camelbak as practiced.  Was I hungry?  No, I had taken my Hammer Gel and had already eaten two pieces of my cut up Mojo bar.  Was there something wrong with my bike?  No, I didn't have a flat and my brakes which sometimes rub were fine.  I pushed through as much as I could and would oscillate from going 18 MPH to 9 MPH.  I was already off my secret goal of 3:45 and my secondary time of 4 hours was looking unlikely too.  I kept on trucking and tried to focus on the beautiful scenery around and not on my increasingly upset stomach.  I passed the first aid station without stopping and just kept focused.  By the time I got to the second station around mile 30ish, I decided to stop.  I got in the port-o line and just when I got in the port-o I barfed.  I was slightly shocked by the experience as I've never gotten sick or even had to stop to pee at a race before.  I sat in the port-o for a minute or two and then got a bottle of water from the volunteers.  The volunteers were fantastic!  She asked me if I was okay or if I needed any medical attention---I said no and that I just needed a minute or two.  I was actually feeling a LOT better.  My stomach wasn't upset anymore!  As I gingerly got on my bike to continue on the volunteers cheered me on.

From here on out, I felt much better.  I stayed on my nutrition plan sipping water and eating pieces of Mojo bar.  By the time I got to mile 40 I was ready to tackle "the hill."  The hill came around mile 43-45ish.  Tara and I had driven it so I knew what to expect.  I don't think I'm that good of a climber but Chalk Hill is the only place I passed multiple people!  The hard thing about being a decent swimmer and slower cyclist is that I often hear on your left however, climbing Chalk Hill I was saying on your left.  I was also surprised by how many spectators there were on the Hill.  The bike course was pretty sparse with spectators until Chalk Hill.  There was even one guy who was shouting out technique tweaks for hill climbing...for me he said drop your heels---I normally get annoyed by people trying to help during races but dropping my heels was a great tip!  When I crested the hill I knew it was going to be mostly downhill.  My tummy was feeling so much better and my attitude about the whole race had changed.  I knew I was going to finish and I was going to enjoy what was left!

Around this time I also got lapped by a couple of full vineman athletes and was in awe of their speed on the bike.  I was also surprised by how friendly they were.  They all said on your left and one of them even told me "good job."

As I rounded the last couple of turns, I was really feeling proud.  Proud that I was going to finish the bike course, proud that I didn't let my stomach issues get in the way, proud that I had a better second half than first half!  Mentally, I was ready to run and ready to see my family and friends who I knew were standing by waiting to see me too.  I saw my mom first and yelled something at her, the rest of the family was close behind and cheered me to the bike finish.  When I dismounted by bike, I can't even describe the relief I felt.

Bike Time: 4:23 (very disappointing...)

Start of the bike
Somewhere along the bike course.  I actually really like this photo!
End of the bike! This is a really cool shot too!
Pretty uneventful again.  I racked my bike and got my running stuff on.  The only thing I wish I had done was change socks!  I was mentally ready to run 13.1 miles but also knew that it was going to be hard.

T2 time: 4:49

The Run:
The run was such a wildcard for this race.  Since my bike crash in early June my longest run had been only 7 miles.  But after my super disappointing bike experience, I was excited about running.  I knew how to run and I knew I'd see a lot of family/friends along the way---I was ready to FINISH.

I was going to stick to my run/walk plan (run .9 and walk .1).  I saw my family right outside the transition area and I'm pretty sure I said something like "this is soooo hard and I barfed" or something along those lines.

Here I am chugging along, one mile at a time.
Mr. Pi giving me a good luck kiss!!!

Miles 1-9 which was out and back to the first turnaround were actually really amazing.  I was just happy to be run/walking and enjoying the time to reflect.  I kept taking it one mile at a time and really focused on running when I could and walking when I needed to.  One of the most striking things at this point was my fellow athletes.  Almost every single person around me was encouraging.  I saw Tara around my mile 3 and her mile 7ish---we briefly hugged and went on our separate ways.  She was doing fantastically and seeing her was a nice little energy boost.

I was leaping frogging with a few people and finally we had all caught up to each other at an aid station that we were walking through and decided to run together.  We ran together as a pack of 4 (three barb's race women and one full vineman woman) for about 2 miles---running .5 and walking .1.  I didn't look at my watch so I don't know if they were actually the quickest two miles of the race but they certainly felt like it.  One of the women was doing the race for the 5th time, another was doing it for her 50th birthday and the full vineman athlete was on a relay team and she said she was going to do Barb's next year.  

After our little pack broke up, I tried to keep that energy going.  Every volunteer or person that asked how I was doing I made a point to say something positive---I was "going to finish" or I was "great!"  I rounded the turn toward the turnaround and saw my family.  It was awesome to see them and know that they had been standing around waiting for who knows how long just to see me for a few seconds.  I am a lucky girl!

Here I am heading to the turnaround.  I'm even smiling...sorta!

Miles 9-13.1 were tough.  At mile 9 you go right through the finish/transition area and have to head back out for another out/back.  I was happy they had changed the course and had you do the long out and back first.  When Jen did this race, they did the 4 mile out and back first and then the long out and back---that would have sucked.  At least with out and backs you know what to expect, you know where the hills are and you know where the turnaround is.  I passed by my family again as I headed back out and told them I was going to finish!  

At this point I was tired.  It was also warm out, I was thankful that the run course actually had quite a bit of shade.  My feet were starting to hurt as I could feel blisters forming and I was tired.  I kept telling myself that I was so close and that I had already done a great job.  When I hit the final turnaround, I tried to turn on the back burners.  I had roughly 1.5 miles to go.  I was running, though it was more like shuffling and I had a giant smile on my face!

I entered the final stretch where my family had been and saw Tara, she jumped in with me for a few yards (she's amazing!) and told me my family was along the finisher stretch.  She left me and I continued on to the final stretch.  My legs never felt so spry as when I hit the final green carpet stretch!
Here I am my fists in the air!  I was going to put this thing to bed.

My original goal for the run, prior to the bike crash was 2:45.  Post-bike crash I just didn't want Mr. Pi's Big Sur marathon time to be faster!  It wasn't by 5 whole minutes.

Run Time:  3:14

Total Time: 8:26


My bestie!

Amazing family of spectators!

Post-Race Thoughts:
This certainly wasn't the race that I wanted it to be BUT I'm so proud of myself for finishing with my smile!  I'm shocked that my favorite part of the whole race was the run course.  I feel so lucky to have such an amazing family and group of friends.  I'm ready for some time to enjoy my new house and not be on a tight schedule.  But I'm also ready to do some fun running, biking and swimming without time pressure and without any particular goals.

And now answers to the questions I keep getting...  

Will I ever do another one?  Definitely yes, I need to redeem myself on the bike and I know my run could be faster.  I actually learned a lot about training just from the race, I would definitely change my training and do several things differently.  

Would I ever do this race again?  Yes!  The course was beautiful, the volunteers amazing and the athletes very supportive.  However, I will caveat and say that I think I lucked out with the weather.  It wasn't nearly as warm as it could have been.  I think it was only in the 80's and I know that in years past it's been 90+.

Is there a full ironman in your future?  Probably...but not anytime soon.  There are several things that need to happen before I think about a full ironman.