Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Lonestar 70.3 2011 Race Report

I know it’s now the Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas, but like I said last year, to me it will always be Lonestar. I’m also still really sad they retired the armadillo logo I love so much (so I just used the one from 2 years ago here). This year was my fifth Lonestar in a row and 6th Lonestar overall and my second time doing the Lonestar half iron distance.

I was feeling much better about my training for Lonestar this year. I felt great about my swimming, good about my biking, and well, not so good about my running. I have an Achilles issue from someone stepping on my heel a few weeks ago and my running has been ok, but not great. The original goal for Lonestar was a PR, although in Galveston that always depends on the weather. After the Achillies thing, the new goal was good swim, good bike, and hope for a decent run, and of course, have fun!

We (we was me, Jeff, Adrian, and the dogs: Connor, Katie, Abear, Riley, & Bonzai in the big coach towing the Jeep with 3 bikes on its rack and Del's brand new bike still in the box in the front seat- Glad I didn't have to drive!) left for Galveston after Jeff got off work on Thursday at about 9pm, which meant we got to Galveston at about 1am (avoiding all the Houston traffic!) and got to bed around 2am. Del had invited me to swim Friday morning at 7am with his new friend and pro triathlete Sonja Tajsich (who has won 3 Ironmans!), but since I had gotten to bed so late, I opted to sleep in- huge mistake! I had no idea the race officials weren't allowing practice swimming at Moody Gardens this year and from what I could tell, Del and Sonja were the only people who got in a practice swim at Moody Gardens!
"Big Nasty" the only hill on the bike course. As Shayla says "it was nothing for Austinites" photo by Shayla Neris

I started Friday with a bike ride, Jeff came with me we rode out on the seawall, as always, there was wind, but it didn't seem too bad. I did packet pick up and spent the rest of the day relaxing by the coach with friends. Photo by Shayla Neris
Del brought Sonja by to meet us, she and her husband Thomas were super nice! Sonja and Thomas actually stopped by the coach 3 or 4 times over the weekend, it was definitely cool to hang out with a pro triathlete all weekend!!
me, Adrian, and Del with pro triathlete Sonja Tajsich
Ingrid, me and Del telling Sonja "you're #1!" her husband Thomas is in the foreground

Ingrid and Shayla really wanted to get in a practice swim, so I went with them to a little park a few minutes from Moody Gardens, it wasn't the best place to swim, we had to be really careful not to cut our feet on barnacles and sharp rocks and we had to watch for boat traffic, but it felt great to get in the water and know that the temperature was actually really comfortable.
me, Ingrid, Shayla, & Del relaxing by the coach

Saturday morning I got up early to watch Shayla and Elle do the sprint race, they both did great! And Ingrid, Del, Kim H. and I had fun spectating. The rest of Saturday was more relaxing by the coach and race prep.
Shayla getting on the bike and Ingrid cowbelling her heart out!we had lots of company at the coach on Saturday!
Coach Gina, Amy, Jess & Adrian relaxing by the coach on Saturday

Saturday night I dreamt that I woke up at 9:30am and missed the race! I woke up from the dream, looked at my watch and it was really only 3:23am, so I tried to go back to sleep, but when I woke up at 5am, 30 minutes before the alarm, I just stayed up. Transition closed at 6:45, and my wave didn't start until 8:30, plenty of time to watch the pros come out of the water and cheer for Sonja, Kelly Williamson, James Cotter, Richie Cunningham and lots of other pros we recognized.Sonja coming out of the water Photo by Shayla Neris

Then it was back to the coach to finally get ready for my race
Good luck hugs from Connor and kisses from Katie pre-race. Photo by Shayla Neris
Amy and I getting our wetsuits on Photo by Shayla NerisHanging out with Ingrid before our start
Finally almost time to start, talking with Bonnie and Jess just before heading out to the pier. Photo by Shayla Neris

I walked out to the pier to start the swim with Bonnie & Jess, then I remembered Cassie is in my age group now too, I found her and we talked for a minute before we got in the water. I jumped in the water and swam over to the start buoys, the count down, and finally the start! There was the typical contact for the first 100 meters or so, but nothing crazy. Until I got elbowed in the eye! Ouch! My goggles were leaking and I stopped to fix them and saw that it was Cassie who elbowed me! Maybe it's not so good we're in the same age group now! :) Unfortunately my goggles leaked the rest of the swim and my left eye stung and burned from the salt water. But leaking goggles aren't that big a deal, even in salt water and I felt pretty good swimming. After the first turn buoy it seemed like the wave action picked up and I was inhaling/swallowing a lot of salt water when I tried to breathe. I know the wave action wasn't as bad this year as last year, but I feel like I swallowed more salt water this year- yuck! I also felt chaffing starting on my arms, even though I body glided them this year. When I made the final turn, it was easier to breathe again and I picked it up to the finish. After the last turn we swam toward the Colonel paddlewheel boat.

As I got out of the water I heard Richard yell "Go Heather". Swim time was 44:13 (8 minutes faster than last year), not a PR, but considering I got elbowed in the eye, had leaking goggles, and swallowed half the ocean, I'm happy with that.

I was worried about running up to transition barefoot with my Achillies, but Jon had set me up with some kinesio tape and it didn't hurt running up to the wetsuit strippers. Then I ran through the showers and saw Jeff and Shayla cheering for me. Shayla loves to get pictures of all of us getting out of the swim when we look our worst! Thanks Shayla!
I got to my bike got everything together and took off for a windy bike ride. T1 was 4:59 (39 seconds faster than last year). Photo by Shayla Neris

I got out onto the seawall and immediately felt a head/cross wind and it felt stronger than it did on Friday or Saturday when I rode. I tried to push hard into the wind since I really wanted to have a good bike this year, but I quickly decided if I pushed too hard I wouldn't be able to finish the bike let alone run after, so I slowed down to a comfortably hard pace, I wasn't really happy with that pace, but I knew it was smarter. Starting the bike

A few miles into the ride I started feeling really nauseous, so much that I thought I'd have to stop and throw up, I definitely swallowed more salt water than at any race before and my stomach was not happy. I was getting behind on my nutrition, but there was no way I could drink anything. I thought about stopping and trying to throw up, but honestly no one wants to stop during a race, and no one ever wants to throw up! I kept going, hoping my stomach would settle down. I got passed by a lot of people but they were all super nice "Hi Heather" "love your license plate" "this wind is brutal, at least we'll get a tailwind on the way back" Tri Zoners yelled "Go Heather" and "great swim!". Ingrid passed me, slowed down and tried to have a conversation with me, I couldn't really hear her because of the wind, but I did hear that she was happy with her swim- Yay Ingrid! I was actually happy that people were passing me and talking to me since it kept my mind off throwing up!

By the time I got to the San Luis Pass my stomach was finally feeling better. I tried to drink some extra Infinit since I hadn't drank anything for about an hour. I was super happy to see the turn around and feel the tailwind that came with it! I had a much better ride back to Moody Gardens, not awesome but definitely better. My legs were more tired than they should have been, not sure if that was from the headwind on the way out or the lack of nutrition, probably both. But I was still able to pass quite a few people on the way back and I hope I was as friendly and encouraging to them as others were to me on the way out. Bike was 3:56:58 (6 minutes slower than last year), not what I wanted, but it was a tough bike for me and at least I finished.

I got into T2 and took my bike stuff off and sat down to put on my compression socks, yeah it took a little while, but after not wearing them last year and having an awful run, and with my Achillies issue there was no question, the extra time was worth it. I got up to run out of transition and the first step hurt. T2 was 4:44 (1:11 slower than last year).
Definitely not my typical "Heather Smile" this is the look of "wow my Achilles really hurts and I have to run 13 miles now"

I started running and my Achilles really hurt, but I hoped it would warm up and feel decent after a few minutes. I made it 5 minutes before I couldn't stand it and took a walk break for a couple minutes, the searing pain went away after about a minute walking, then it was just a dull pain, so I started running again and it hurt worse again. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, I wasn't really sure I could make it 13 miles running or even walking at that point, but I didn't want to quit either. I thought about walking the entire 13 miles, but that would take forever! After a few more run/walk cycles, I figured out I could run for about 2 minutes before it really hurt bad, and if I walked for 2 minutes that was enough of a break that I could run for 2 minutes again.

Starting the second lap I saw Jeff, Shayla and Adrian, they cheered for me and encouraged me to start running and I said "no way", they all felt really bad for me, but by then I had decided I could finish even if I had to walk the entire thing, I was doing ok with my 2/2s so I was just going to suck it up and do it.
I think this is when I was telling Jeff, "this is going to be a long painful 'run'" photo by Shayla NerisAfter telling Jeff my Achilles was killing me, Adrian walked with me asking "what do you need, what can we do to help" I couldn't think of anything that would help and I told him, "there's nothing you can do, I just have to deal with it"

Definitely not my best run, but at least there was tons of crowd support and encouragement from other athletes. That's why I like the 4 loop course. I saw most of the Tri Zoners running, I saw Kim Evans and Ingrid and I walked with Kathleen who wasn't having a great run either after having a mishap during her flying dismount and putting her knee through the spokes of her wheel! I saw Nicki at some point and told her I was having a terrible run, she said "you wouldn't know it to look at you, you look happy"thanks Nicki! The volunteers were super enthusiastic and lots of spectators cheered for me, which was pretty cool since there were only a few Tri Zones spectators out there (thanks so much Jeff, Shayla, Camilla, Bob, Richard and anyone I'm forgetting). On my first lap I was walking when I saw Bob H. and he heckled me for it, so from then on, I made sure I was running when I got to Bob's spot! Jeff, Shayla and Adrian missed me at the start of lap 3, which is probably good since I was planning on making them get me some Advil when I saw them and in hindsight that was a bad idea, but I saw them at the start of the last lap (by then I had decided Advil was stupid) and they walked with me for a few minutes.

When I finally got to the finish, Logan was announcing and said "Out of Tri Zones Training, Heather Herrick from Austin Texas" and I raised my arms up and smiled big, even though it wasn't my best race, I was still finishing and I was really happy! I haven't seen my finish picture yet, but I bet you can't tell I had a tough race. Run time was 2:49 (believe it or not that's 2:37 faster than last year!) And my overall time was 7:39:54 not what I was hoping for but still 3:35 faster than last year.

Jeff says that after 2 tough years in a row, Lonestar is my nemesis race now!

The Achilles is feeling a little better now and with some time off and therapy it should be good as new in a couple weeks.


Shayla said...

Great race report, Heather! I'm sorry you didn't have the race you thought you were, but I had no idea you still PRed! You are definitely an inspiration because I'm pretty sure most people wouldn't have even started the run in pain. That's why you are iron-tough! Thanks again for making the weekend fun! I can't wait to do it again!

Cass said...

I'm so sorry!! I didn't even know I elbowed you. If it makes you feel better, I was elbowed right after the turn bouy and my goggles leaked for the rest of the swim. See, there really is karma!
It was great to see you - although briefly. I'm sorry we didn't get to hang out more. James and I just spent most of the morning together - which was really good.

Richard said...

Great report, even if the race was below expectations. Hopefully this sets you up for a big Lonestar comeback next year, right? In any case, I am proud of you for sticking out a tough race!

Great to see you, even if only for a brief moment. I was expecting to see you in a pink and not blue top (I forgot you retired the pink before Cozumel, I think). So I was not sure if it was you at that time.

shubbe said...

Okay, both of us who usually are all smiles and happy during events had some tough events. But we got through them and came out stronger on the other side. So now let's move on to our next events and kick their ass. :)

Congratulations on getting through a tough, tough race and not giving up when a normal person might have. IronHeather!