Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Lonestar 70.3 Race Report

I know it’s now the Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas, but to me it will always be Lonestar. I’m also really sad they retired the armadillo logo I love so much (so I just used the one from last year here).

My original goal for Lonestar was a PR and possibly a sub 7 hour half, pretty big goals for the first race of the season, but it’s a flat course and with strong training I figured I had a good chance. Then miserable March hit, I got sick twice, I tried to train through the first illness, but it didn’t work all that well, after 2 weeks of feeling tired and sluggish, I got really sick again and missed the Champions Tri relay Ingrid, Kim and I had planned, and then Coach Jen strongly advised me to take it easy and make sure I recovered well so I wouldn’t get sick again and miss Lonestar entirely. By Lonestar time I was feeling recovered but a little undertrained after missing quite a bit of training. My new goal was just to have fun and enjoy the race, although I still hoped to PR if conditions were perfect, of course you never know what the conditions might be at Galveston.

Moody Gardens, transition, and the team tailgating area

Jeff drove Red and I to Moody Gardens early and I got my transition area set up with no issues.

I borrowed some sunscreen from Red, I don’t usually worry about sunscreen for races, but since it was a long race and early season I figured I should (unfortunately it did me no good after the saltwater swim).

Julie and Sandra trying to keep me warm before the swim, my teammates huddling together to keep me warm is becoming a pre-race staple.

I was one of the last swim waves to start so I had about 3 hours to hang out. I saw pretty much everyone pre-race and wished them luck. We watched the pro waves start and then all the men, the water looked a little choppy but not terrible.

Cassie and I hanging out pre-race

my swim wave getting in the water

I felt good at the start, but about 2 or 3 minutes in the left side of my goggles started to leak and that stings in saltwater! I figured it was from the sunscreen I put on my face and if I tried to adjust them it would probably just get worse, so I started breathing only to my right side since that kept the water mostly out of my left eye. I am definitely a bilateral breather so breathing only to one side was a little annoying for me. I noticed the chop but it didn’t seem bad. Then we turned into the headwind for the long leg of the swim and I definitely felt the chop then! A lot of times when I’d turn to breathe I’d get saltwater instead of air- YUCK! I had to stop and cough up saltwater a few times. Sometimes when I’d look ahead to sight I’d get hit by a wave. Red said it felt like whiplash- yeah that’s a good description. I even started to chafe on my underarm which has never happened before- ugh! I still felt like I was having a fairly decent swim, I looked at my watch a few times and knew it wasn’t fast but it didn’t feel terrible until I hit 40 minutes and hadn’t even made it to the last turn buoy yet! Yikes! That’s pretty bad, I was hoping for 40-43 minutes for the swim. I ended up at 52 minutes and I was not at all happy about it. Through transition I tried to relax and forget about the tough swim, I figured if I had a really good bike I could maybe even still PR.

Coming into T1

I got out on the bike course and had a head/cross wind which I completely expected. No big deal I had planned to keep the average speed as close to 15 as I could and then go fast after the turn around when I got a tail wind. I know a lot of people think it’s boring to ride in Galveston, but I enjoyed seeing the ocean and the beach houses and seeing the pros, then the fast age group men, then the fast age group women, etc. coming back on the out and back course. I played with my gears on the way out- faster cadence easier gear for 5-10 minutes, lots of resistance for 5-10 minutes, just changing it up. And I stuck to my nutrition plan well. I was really looking forward to riding over the San Luis Pass, but when we got there the cross wind was pretty fierce and I couldn’t really look out over the water too much in the wind. Volunteers along the course were all telling me how many mile to the turnaround and “you get a tailwind after that” I hit the turnaround feeling pretty good, but as I got going I realized I definitely did not feel a tailwind. I know from experience that sometimes in Galveston you get a headwind heading out and nothing but crosswind coming back- YUCK! Some people say crosswinds feel like headwind, maybe I agree. I was disappointed to see my speed only slightly faster going back and I knew my chances for a PR were quickly diminishing. Photo by Tom Marek

Around mile 40 or so my legs started to feel a little tired. I knew I was a little undertrained from being sick so I wasn’t surprised, just a little disappointed. With about 10 miles to go I did finally feel a little tailwind which was really nice, and I tried to take advantage of it even though my legs were tired and I was way off of any goals. Coming into transition I was just happy to be finished with the bike. I finished in 3:50 and I was hoping for 3:30-3:40. I was disappointed in my race so far, bad swim, bad bike, but I decided there was no need to be negative I could still try for a half ironman run PR.

At the last minute I decided not to wear my compression socks on the run (I know I know “nothing new on race day” and trust me NEVER AGAIN) As I started the run, I felt really thirsty, that seemed weird since I did a good job with nutrition (Infinit) on the bike but I didn’t realize how dry the air was. Galveston is usually very humid, but it was dry on Sunday. My first loop felt pretty good, I stopped at all the aid stations for water and drank my Infinit, but it felt hot and I felt like I was already fading a little after just 3 miles.

I may have been fading, but I still looked happy to see Tom! Photo by Tom Marek

85 isn’t really hot but in April after a very cold winter when you’re used to running in 60-70 degrees 85 feels pretty darn hot, heat doesn’t usually bother me much so I really hate to think about the people who are more heat sensitive than me. Last week I read an article in the Jan. issue of Inside Triathlon called “Heat Shield” it said that holding ice in your hands was more effective at cooling your body than putting ice in your hat or shirt, so I tried it and held ice in my hands until it melted or they were numb and it seemed to work pretty well.

I saw Nicki on my first loop and she said she had a terrible swim and never felt like she got a tailwind on the bike, it made me feel SO much better to know I wasn’t the only one having a tough day! The run course was 4 loops which I know most people hate, but I love it, I can look forward to seeing friends and spectators more than once on the course and this course was great for that. I saw pretty much everyone I know racing and there was lots of spectator support all over the course- good thing since I really needed it! By loop 2 I started to feel blisters forming from my socks and my knees felt a little sore- man I wished I had worn my compression socks! That chaffed spot on my armpit was really killing me by loop 2 of the run, my underarms have never chaffed before so that was a whole new pain for me. You can’t imagine how happy I was to see a volunteer with a big jar of Vaseline, I grabbed a huge handful and gloped it in my armpit- problem solved! Photo by Tom Marek

By loop 3 I could feel the tops of my shoulders burning and I could see they were getting red, so much for pre-race sunscreen. I even have my race number left on my arms from the sun not getting through the marker- that's a first too! My pace pretty much spiraled downward on loops 2, 3, and 4 but I didn’t feel that bad about it, it was hot and everyone around me seemed just as or more miserable than me. I encouraged other racers and thanked lots of volunteers and spectators. I told lots of volunteers things like “if you spray me with that hose, I will love you forever” and “you have ICE in your water! You’re the best volunteer EVER!”

Very happy to be almost finished! Photo by Tom Marek

I tried to pick up the pace as I came in to the finish and Adam Reiser said “Austin’s own Heather Herrick out of
Tri Zones Training” what a great finish announcement! But I didn't really give my signature "Heather Herrick smiley celebration finish pose" this time.

My run time was 2:51 and I was hoping for 2:40 or less. I was 10 minutes off of my goals in all 3 sports and I finished in 7:43, almost 30 mintues from a PR, but most people I know were way off their goal times too, many 30 minutes or more, considering my training didn't really go as planned and it was a tough day...wait a minute didn't I say my only goal was to have fun and enjoy the race?!?!

After the finish I hugged Jeff and said hi but didn’t hug Tom and Judy (Jeff’s parents) which they seemed perfectly ok with since I was disgustingly sweaty! Ingrid and Del both agreed that it was a tough day. Even Coach Jen said tough day. I can't tell you how many times I heard the words "tough day". At least it wasn’t just me! At the Tuesday workout when Coach Tracy asked who PRed at Lonestar, Coach Jen replied "it wasn't a PR kind of day" well said Coach Jen.

At our post race celebration Drew asked how my race went and I said “I had a tough day, missed all my goals, well except to have fun” and Nicki replied “are you kidding? You actually had fun out there??” and I said “well yeah, even though I was pretty miserable it’s still really cool to be out there doing it and see people cheering and everything, so yeah, even when it’s miserable it’s still a lot of fun at the same time” Nicki said “yeah, I know exactly what you mean”


Richard said...

It seems like so many of your personal experiences at this race mirrored mine (longer than expected swim time, salt water intake, wind issues on bike...), although I did not the energy to even thank the run volunteers until laps 3 and 4.

I think you did well, given the conditions; so many people I know are amazed the triathletes just finished on a tough day--maybe April 10, 2011 will be a better day!

shubbe said...

It's not what the day throws at you, it's how you react to it. And it sounds like the day threw a hell of a lot at you, and you must muscled right on through it. Great job, Heather. Not the day you wanted, but we learn so much from each experience, and as you get further from the race, you'll appreciate it more. :)

And your legs look amazing in your finishline photo!

Matt said...

Tough race days make the next race so much easier. I know after my Sunday swim at St. Anthony's (very choppy) I can't wait to kick some swim butt in some little lake swim triathlon. Think - the rest of the race season is now a piece of cake, can't get much harder.

Shayla said...

Way to go, Heather! You are very inspiring!

Cass said...

I STILL have yet to write my race report. however, I think that I might just link to yours. Minus the problems with goggles, I felt the SAME way... "TOUGH DAY". Like you, i was also 30 minutes off from where I hoped to be. But, there is always another day (and I'm hoping mine will be in September)

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