Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Austin Triathlon

Photo by Tom Marek

This was my 4th Austin Tri, it's one of my favorite races. I was extra excited about this race because I've had kind of a tough year with injuries and illnesses, so this was my first healthy race of the season! My pre-race routine was pretty normal. When I dropped my bike off at transition on Sunday, it was crazy windy, and since it's been so dry, the transition area was a dust bowl! I could barely breathe and I knew my just cleaned bike was going to be covered in dirt by morning. I hoped the wind would die down, but I knew based on the forecast that it probably wouldn't.

Sandra got to my house at 4:50 (on time!), we picked Julie W. up on the way, got a good parking spot, and got to transition before it got crowded. E-beth body marked me, I said Hi to Tom, Carolyn, Andrew, Sarah, and Big Adam as I went into transition. Then it was the typical hanging out with other Tri Zoners waiting for the start. I decided to try First Endurance Pre-Race before this race, I've used it in training before and decided this was a good race to try it since it wasn't too long. I mixed 1 full scoop of pre-race into a very dilute bottle of Ultragen and started drinking it about 6:40. A little after 7 I walked down to the start, said hi to Ron & Roger and a few other Tri Zoners, and got ready to start, I wasn't feeling a rush from the Pre-Race, but I didn't think too much about it. As we waited for the wave in front of us to get in the water and start, the girl standing beside me laughed and said "I'm excited too!" I looked at her and realized I had been snapping my fingers, clapping my hands and jumping up and down, maybe the Pre-Race was working!

I got in the water and the temperature felt perfect. I decided I'd start a little to the left to avoid some of the traffic, but I realized lots of people were hanging on the dock, I assumed they were slower swimmers, so I didn't want to start near them. I started to push my way through the crowd to the right just as the announcer yelled "10..9.."crap! I do NOT like where I'm at! I kept trying to move to the right until he got to "4" then I got ready to swim. Somehow I ended up in a great position, very little contact, no one starting slow in front of me, it worked out! I started off fast and felt a little out of breath, but then I remembered we didn't get to do warm up swims, so that feeling was normal, I just had to get through it, after a couple minutes I felt great! Every time I sighted I was in perfect position, I felt strong and happy! I passed a lot of guys in the 2 waves before me, but I knew I was swimming about my normal pace, so I wondered if a lot of guys were doing their first Olympic tri, and were a little slower swimmers. I really enjoyed the swim and continued to feel strong and happy. After the final turn buoy I just had to swim back to shore. I didn't really feel like I should be finished already, but I got to the swim exit and got pulled out of the water, really PULLED out, I didn't have to use my legs to get out of the water at all! Swim time: 33:59, a minute and a half slower than last year, but not bad considering last year was wetsuit legal this year was not.

I was a little nervous about the bike this year, with 20 mph winds I knew it would be challenging for me. I got out on the course and up the Congress hill the first time, not too bad (but that was with tailwind) I made the first U turn and started down the hill, not nearly as fast as last year, but not scary with the wind gusts, so I was happy. I got to the false flat section to the Capital and tried to stay in a harder gear but quickly realized that was not going to happen, I could only push so hard against the wind. I hit the second U turn and got to fly down Congress to Ceasar Chavez, I knew I'd have cross wind on that section, but it wasn't as bad as I'd expected. I was actually feeling really good about this ride in the crazy wind! I started to see people I knew on loop 2, that's part of why I love a loop course. There were lots of spectators out too, I looked for people I knew and heard my name quite a few times, but rarely saw who was cheering for me, except for Jeff on Cesar Chavez. My butt on the bike, I guess I was too fast for Jeff to get a picture from the front :)

There were a couple spots where the wind gusts really picked up, but I handled it fine. There were definitely some people weaving & getting blown around by the wind. I had fun and encouraged people as I passed them and said hi to people when they passed me. My average speed was edging up overall, but that headwindy section on Congress slowed me down each lap. On the third lap, I couldn't believe I was on the last lap already, I kind of wished the race was a little longer. I pushed hard through the headwindy section and started to get a cramp in my foot, it slowed me down a little as I tried to stretch and reposition my foot so it didn't turn into a "searing pain have to stop" kind of cramp. It eased up, but never completely went away. I also started to feel a slight twinge of hunger, I was only a couple miles from the finish and I had drank all my Infinit, oh well. I didn't realize it at the time, but after the race, I remembered that Pre-Race makes me hungrier (I think it increases my metabolism). I didn't account for that when I planned my race nutrition. I loved the bike course this year and I was really afraid I wouldn't with the windy conditions. I was really happy with my ride even though it was about 5 minutes slower than last year (when there was almost no wind). Bike time was 1:36.

In T2 I looked at my swimming watch which I hadn't stopped, I thought it said 2:11, so I figured if I ran the same pace as last year, I could PR (obviously that doesn't make any sense, I knew I swam a minute slower and biked 5 minutes slower, I didn't think about it then, but I'm pretty sure the watch actually said 2:17 or maybe 2:19). I saw Jess and Peylin come in as I left transition.

I got out on the run course and realized I was Hungry! I decided not to wear my Fuel belt with Infinit, but I forgot about the Pre-Race hunger thing. I got a cup of PureSport as I left transition. I usually do ok with PureSport as long as I'm careful not to drink too much and walk a little after I drink it. My legs felt pretty tired from pushing so hard on the bike, but I was having so much fun that I didn't care. As always there were tons of spectators cheering on the course including lots of Tri Zoners. Red cheered us up the only hill on the course, Tri Zones Central was near the team tent, and Jeff was on 1st st.
Blowing Tom a kiss at Tri Zones Central, right after letting all the kids soak me with the water guns! Photo by Tom Marek.

I also saw Julie W., Jess, Peylin, & Katie on the course lots of times. I played tag with Katie over and over. I walked and drank PureSport at every aid station, while Katie passed me, and I'd pass her after I started running again. I had so much fun talking with the Tri Zoners and the other athletes on the course. As I ran up the 1st bridge the second time, the guy beside me said "what a beautiful day" and I said "it really is! Aren't we lucky to be able to do this!" and he said "we really, really are" So true! I ran by Jeff and through Tri Zones Central for the last time and across the finish line! Run time was 1:08, total time was 3:28, about 8 minutes slower than last year, but with the Wind on the bike and the no wetsuit swim, I'm happy with that.How can you not love this race, what a beautiful course and look at all that crowd support!

I haven't raced as much this year as I have the last 3 or 4 years. And the 2 races I did were not quite as much fun as usual (I had a painful Achilles injury at Lonestar, and bronchitis/sinus infection at Couples). I'm so happy I did this race since it was everything I love about triathlon! I think I was smiling every minute of the race, even though Alysha said she caught me not smiling on the run, but only for half a second :)Peylin and I at the finish


Richard said...

It sounds like you had a lot of fun this year and that is a great thing. I love the photo of you blowing a kiss to the photographer!

Shayla said...

You're awesome, Heather!