Monday, October 26, 2009

Longhorn 70.3

Longhorn weekend started on Friday after work when Del picked me up and we went over to packet pick up. I’m really glad we did that Friday because the lines looked long on Saturday. We met Richard there and they both stayed at my house Friday and Saturday nights. Saturday morning Richard and I did a short ride and run and it was a COLD morning, I think it was 50 degrees and I was hoping it would be a little warmer Sunday morning. We all went out to Decker for the Jack & Adam’s pancake breakfast and met Ingrid out there.We also hung out with Kendra and Chris at the breakfast. Then we did run bag drop off, bike check in, a quick swim in the lake which felt cold but I got comfortable after about 5 minutes, and pre-race meeting.
We were some of the first people to check in our bikes at transition
The swim course looked calm and beautiful on Saturday

I wanted to be heading home by 1:00 and we were pretty close to on schedule. Pre-race dinner was the typical grilled chicken, roasted potatoes, and roasted tomatoes. Ingrid had decided to stay at a hotel and before she left our house after dinner she said very sternly “all athletes in bed by 8:00!” About 8:15, I was packing up some stuff for in the morning and Jeff said, “Ingrid said you should be in bed by 8:00 everyone else is already in bed” So I went to bed at about 8:20 with lights out at 8:30 and somehow I fell asleep right away. Turns out Del and Richard were in their rooms by 8:00 but they didn’t go to sleep until about 10:00.

We got up at 3:25 am to leave at 4:20 and be to the race site in time to drop off special needs bags near T2 (this was important for me since we couldn’t get into T2 in the morning and I use my Fuelbelt with Infinit for the run) and catch the first bus over to the lake and T1. I got body marked by Kristen and got my transition set up and then just relaxed. I ran into most of the Tri Zoners doing the race. We also went by Greg Bruehler’s transition area which had been set up as a memorial, because he and his wife were killed by a driver in San Antonio while riding their tandem bike, very very sad…

T1 at 5:30 on Sunday morning
Richard and Del setting up transition
At my transition
Del and me pre-race
Jeff and me pre-race
Coach Jen and me pre-race

The race started at 7:30, but my wave didn’t start until 8:20. The Star Spangled Banner was really cool this year, there were 2 parachuters who flew into the race start with a big American flag, so while the anthem was being sung the flag was way up in the air and kept getting closer and closer, the parachuter with the flag landed just before the anthem finished, it was really cool.

Ingrid came out to spectate again this year and she was "super longhorn fan" again this year with foam horns, cowbells, signs, and tons of encouragement! Photo by Tom Marek

I was pretty cold all morning and I had to turn in all my warm clothes to be transported to the finish line, so Ingrid let me borrow her jacket before the start, but my feet were still really cold. When it was finally time to start I lined up with Nicole and I was not excited about getting in the cold water, but it actually didn’t feel bad since I was already cold. The first 10 minutes of my swim was awful. Lots of contact at first (which is to be expected) and someone hit my goggles just right so they started leaking, I tried to reposition them to stop the leaking, but they kept leaking. I think I stopped, treaded water and tried to fix them 5 times in the first 10 or so minutes of the swim, the water in my eyes was really annoying and for the first time ever, I got a little anxious/upset while I was in the water- not a good feeling. But I told myself I just needed to deal with it, I love the water and can swim just fine and a little water in my eyes won’t kill me. After that I just dealt with the water in the goggles and had a pretty decent swim. My eyes are really red today from all that lake water. My swim time was 43:10, my goal was 40-45 minutes, so that was right on target even with all the stopping in the first few minutes. I got out of the water and running up the hill to transition I saw Jeff, Ingrid, Vickie, and Kenneth. I got my bike stuff on and was out of transition in 4:49.One of my biggest goals this year was to improve my bike time from last year. I got out on the course and saw Annette, Emmie, Elizabeth, and Kim in the first few miles, I was feeling really good. I was pretty happy with my average pace of 14.2 after the first 10 hilly miles around Decker, I knew I could bring that up on the flatter sections of the course. Taylor and Littig went really well for me, and I had my average speed up to 15.0 before I turned onto Monkey road. Just like last year, Monkey road was windy, but I dealt with it a lot better this year and didn't have any real issues with it except that I couldn’t keep my speed where I wanted it. We headed into the wind on Upper Elgin and Hogeye some too. Since I was one of the last waves to start, I assumed everyone I knew was ahead of me on the bike course, but Richard passed me, I guess he ended up behind me in the swim. We played tag a few times on the Upper Elgin and Hogeye section. When I made the turn onto Webberville, I knew I would still have some wind, mostly cross wind, but I knew I should have a tail wind in spots and I only had about 15 miles to go, so I really pushed at this point, I got my average speed back up above 15 and I was feeling great. I finished the bike at 15.3 mph and in 3:40:10. The one mistake I made on the bike was only drinking 2 bottles of Infinit instead of 3, my stomach felt a little upset the entire ride, probably from drinking/inhaling lake water on the swim, so I was really worried if I drank too much it would upset my stomach even more for the run.

I saw Ingrid as I was coming in to transition, and of course she was cheering like crazy! I got my run stuff on which took a long time because I decided to wear my compression socks for the run. T2 was 5:58.

Photo by Tom Marek

I ran out and through the arena, which was cool, but I knew it would be 100 times more fun when I ran through again to the finish. I ran out of the arena into the team tailgating area and as I got close to the Tri Zones area the cheering was insane! I told Ingrid later, “last year it was super super fun and cool to run by the HRTC team tent, but the Tri Zones tent this year was just indescribable” Every single person at the tent was standing up and cheering like crazy when I came by, it was so cool it made me laugh out loud and almost cry a little too. I wish there was a picture of everyone cheering from the vantage point that I saw, it was just amazing! I think I will forever remember that as the spirit of Tri Zones. A few of the Tri Zones More Cowbell Corps watching for the next Tri Zones runner. Photo by Tom Marek

I was actually surprised by how good I felt on the first loop of the run, I saw Amy and Lynn at aid stations and Nicki, Julie and Red running. Starting the second loop I got to run by the Tri Zones tent again- awesome! Photo by Tom Marek

On the second loop my stomach got a little upset a couple of times, but if I walked for a minute or 2 it got better. I saw Richard, Sandra, Nicole, Stacy, Maggie, and Vanessa running and of course got to go by Lynn and Amy’s aid stations again, I also saw Ron and Roger and they cheered for me like crazy too. It was starting to feel pretty warm so I was happy to get ice water and get sprayed down by water guns and hoses at the aid stations. Starting the third loop I got to run by the Tri Zones tent again and I was still feeling pretty good. Kenneth, Bob, and Jeff relaxing while waiting for the next Tri Zones runner at the team tailgating area. Photo by Tom Marek

Just after starting the third loop, I realized I was definitely going to finish between 7:15 and 7:20 even if I slowed way down, so I was really happy. I saw Sandra, Richard, Nicole, Stacy and Lynn again. By mile 10 I was starting to get tired, my legs still felt good, my stomach was doing ok, but my breathing was tough, I just couldn’t catch my breath unless I walked, so I decided I would run the flats and downhills and walk the uphills for the last 3 miles. Amy’s aid station was at about 12.4 miles and when I came through she offered me a beer, I thought about taking it, but instead I told her, if I take that now I might puke before I finish. Coming into the team tailgating area just before the finish was awesome, I couldn’t stop smiling, the Tri Zoners had all come across to the other side to cheer for me and then I got to run into the arena, it was really awesome, people were yelling my name, I guess from seeing it on my number, and then they announced I was finishing- it was just amazing. Keith Jordan wasn’t kidding when he said you’d feel like a rockstar finishing in the arena! I got my medal and stuff and hugged Jeff and Ingrid and told Ingrid I had finished in 7:15, she was super excited for me! Jeff asked how I felt and I told him “the only thing that hurts is my cheeks from smiling so much!” and it was true! Then I really wanted to go right back outside to the team tailgating area to cheer for my friends who were still running, I really wanted to be part of that Tri Zones cheering section that had made me feel so good!

My official finish time is 7:14:56, last year my time was 7:59 and if you account for the short swim last year it really should have been about 8:10 so I got an official improvement of 45 minutes, but it’s really more like 55 minutes, I took 28 minutes off my bike time and 24 minutes off my run time! I owe it all to Tri Zones and especially Coach Jen and the peak performance workouts!

finisher medal, hat, and towel, an icee pop, and big smile post race! Photo by Tom Marek

Photo by Tom Marek

Peggy and Mike hosted a post race party complete with a hot tub and a champagne toast! And Cindy brought an Ironman carved pumpkin.


shubbe said...

That's some amazing improvement, Heather. Great job! You really did look like you were having a good time every time you ran through (and man, did you guys have to run through a billion times). I felt guilty drinking a beer as you ran by, so I thought it only polite to offer. :)

Richard said...

Great post! You looked like you were having an awsome experience most of the time.
I was really glad to share part of it with you.

Ingrid said...

Congrats again Heather!! Awesome report. Your cheeks hurt, I love that!!!! That's the best way to race-- race happy!

Abbott said...

That is so awesome Heather. I would love to try that myself one day! Very inspiring!

Maggie said...

Ingrid was there??

Congrats on a super race, and for making it look like so much fun!! you are now famous for your big tri smile.
It was great to see you so much on the run course.
I love your pics! I didn't get a tattoo! or an icee. so cool!
I'm so glad your day went well.

Matt said...

That's an awesome improvement and yes last year was a good ten minutes short for us in the swim.