Monday, October 6, 2008

Longhorn 70.3

First of all, I want to say Thank you to everyone who came out to spectate. Jeff, Ingrid and Chris, David and Gillian, Larry, and Ross all came out early in the morning and stayed late. You guys have no idea how much I appreciate you cheering for me. Seriously, it really means a lot to me. Thank you so much!!

Ingrid was Super Longhorn Fan all day long, with foam horns, signs, cowbells, and tons of encouragement all day long. I have no idea how she has a voice today.
Chris, Ingrid, me, James, Cassie, Kim, Alan, and Matt getting ready for the start

Wow, I don't even know what to say about this race, it was so awesome and so hard, but fun at the same time. I have been training so hard for this race since the spring. I am not really fast, so I knew it would take me close to 8 hours to finish the race, but I was pretty sure I could finish.

waiting for the swim start

For those who don't know, an Ironman 70.3 is half of a full Ironman, so it's a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike and a 13.1 mile run, for a total of 70.3 miles.

Richie Cunningham winning the race in 3:49:45, wow I can't even imagine going that fast!
We got up at 4:15 and got to the race site at 5:15, which was perfect timing, by 5:30 there were huge lines to get to the parking area and also long lines to get on the buses to the race site. I set up my transition area and ran into Kim and Gillian and Ross. Then I went over to the HRTC tent and tried to relax for a little while. Penny, John, me, and Larry relaxing before the startThey made fun of me for getting so relaxed before the start, but I also did a short warm up swim before the race started.
The sunrise while I was doing my swim warm up
the swim start
We went down to the water to watch the start, I was in the 10th of 13 waves to start, so I actually saw most of the pros finish the swim before I even started. My wave getting ready to start, I'm in the pink top

I got in the water to start and saw Kelli right in front of me, we had meant to get together at some point before the start, but it just hadn't worked out. Kelli also lined up right by me at the Austin Tri. We got started and the swim went really well for me. I felt great and had no problems at all. When some of the 30-34 year old guys started to catch up to me, I just tried to draft off of each one who passed me as long as I could. Before I knew it, I had rounded the last turn bouy and only had a little way to go, my watch only said 30 minutes and I thought I might finish in less than 40! My goal was 45-50 minutes for the swim. My official swim time was 37:55. I was so happy getting out of the water! I saw Jeff and David as I was running up to transition. My transition went smoothly, I double checked to make sure I had everything and I was in and out in 4:41.
leaving transition with my bike

I have been agonizing about this bike ride for months, mostly because of the hills, but after riding the course I was feeling good about the hills. What concerned me yesterday was the wind, Saturday had been pretty windy and I could see the wind picking up before I even started the swim. I got out on the course and felt really good the first few miles. The first few miles are very hilly around Decker Lake, but I was doing well. Then I got out onto the first long straight road, and I realized I had a pretty strong headwind. I kept telling myself that it was ok, because I'd have a strong tailwind in the second half of the ride. My average speed kept going down little by little and my legs were more tired than I expected them to be. I turned down Monkey Road and it felt like a wind tunnel! There are a couple of short steep hills on Monkey and it was all I could do to get up them. My back was hurting a little by about halfway through the bike, but I didn't think too much about it. I thought I'd have a tail wind for the last half of the ride, but I was wrong. Lisa Bentley, the pro female who won the race, said she thought there was a headwind on about 90% of the course. I think she was right! There were definitely times on the bike course that I was really enjoying myself and having fun and other times I was really struggling. I drank all 3 bottles of Infinit on the bike and some water from my Camelback. In the last mile of the bike course there is a long fairly steep hill. My strategy was to build up as much speed as possible on the downhill before this hill. It didn't really work with the headwind, so I fought hard to get up that hill. I was so happy to be finished and get off my bike! My goal was to finish the bike in 4 hours and average 14 mph, I finished in 4:08:02 and averaged 13.5 mph. The bike course was definitely harder than I had expected, and I used more energy than I had wanted to, but I was happy to be starting the run. T2 also went well, I slowed down and relaxed a little as I changed shoes and socks, then headed out to run. T2 was 3:59.
The beginning of the run went well, then on the first uphill I realized my back was definitely hurting. I tried to just ignore it and keep going, my first 2 miles went well. I slowed way down on mile 3, thinking that maybe taking a little break would make my back feel better. Mile 4 was right by the HRTC tent so I ran by and everyone cheered for me like crazy, that was definitely fun!Kim running by the HRTC tailgating area

Matt running by the HRTC tailgating area

As I went on, I realized that my back hurt really bad on the uphills and not so much on the flats and downhills. So I started running the flats and downhills and walking all the uphills. There were a lot of uphills, so I was disappointed to be walking so much. Today I'm pretty sure I pulled or strained a muscle in my back while I was biking. I ran into Kelli at about mile 3, we walked up a hill together and ran together on a flat section for awhile. It was really nice to see her and talk with her a little. As I finished the first loop, I was pretty tired and my back hurt, but I was really happy to only have 6.5 miles left and I was pretty sure I could finish! The second loop was definitely tough, I felt ok mentally and nutritionally, my legs were tired but didn't feel too bad, but my back really hurt. At mile 8 I remembered I had put 2 advil in a baggie in my fuel belt, I took them and hoped they would help. As I came back into the park at about 10.5 miles I was not feeling good, but then I saw Ingrid, cheering for me like crazy! She ran with me for a little while which was so great! She had perfect timing. Then it wasn't long until I passed the HRTC tent again, everyone cheered for me and I knew I only had 2.5 miles to go from there. Jeff and Ross ran with me for awhile, which was really nice, I really needed it at that point! I passed David and Gillian and they said Cassie was just ahead of me, I could catch her. I just thought, yeah right I can't catch anyone at this point! My last time up Quadzilla (the huge hill at the end of the bike was also on the run course) was really tough, I was walking and my back hurt. I just kept thinking about Jeff and all my friends who supported me through training all spring and summer and how they would be so happy to see me finish in just a couple of miles, and how I never would have even made it to the start without everyone's help and support. As I came to the top of the very last hill Ingrid was there cheering for me. She ran with me almost to the finish chute and then I ran in and finished! It was the most exciting and emotional triathlon finish of my life! I have never cried at a triathlon before, but I gave Jeff a big hug at the finish and started crying, I looked up at him and he was crying too. I guess it wasn't just emotional for me. Even Ingrid was crying a little when I hugged her. Wow, it was so amazing!
David, Gillian, Chris, Ingrid, James, Cassie, me, Larry, and Ross just after I finished
Alan, Cassie, Ingrid, me, and Kim post race at the HRTC tent

My goal for the run was 3 hours, I came in at 3:04:46, for a total finish time of 7:59:26. I guess if my back hadn't hurt I could have run faster than 3 hours. This race was a lot harder than I expected it to be, but I'm so happy I did it and I already want to do another one next year.

Jeff and I went to the post-race party at Hill's cafe with Matt, Kim, Andrew, and Jeremy.
Kim and Andrew
Jeff and Matt
Jeff took pictures of these Liatris flowers for me

3 comments:

LeftRightRepeat said...

Way to hang tough and get 'er done!!! Congratulations! (And hope the back is feeling better!)

Alili said...

Heather you DID IT!!!! Congratulations on finishing a TOUGH course for your very first HIM! From one rookies to another I am SO proud of you. You gutted it out and kept it together.

Way to own it. :)

Penny said...

Heather:

Way to go! I'm so excited for you!

That race was and will always be YOURS!