Monday, October 3, 2011

Kerrville Half Iron Triathlon Race Report

The alarm went off at 4:45, we planned to leave at 5:45, but we were ready at 5:30 so we just left then. It was COLD out, I had a jacket and Jeff's watch cap, but I took a big heavy blanket too, the jeep ride over was really cold, but once we got to transition I wasn't too cold as long as I stayed wrapped in the blanket. I got my transition stuff taken care of and hung out with all the Tri Zoners and Del. Jeff and I pre-race
Theresa in her pajama pants and me wrapped up in a blanket
Me, Del and Julie pre-race, Del put his wetsuit on early since he didn't bring a jacket

I went up to Julie's hotel room instead of waiting in the porta potty line and borrowed the spi belt she wasn't using- Perfect, Thanks Julie! (I planned to use my spi belt for the run, but I couldn't find it, so I was just going to use my race belt, but I forgot to pack that, so Kristen was going to bring me one to use, but Julie's extra spi belt was even better) I stayed wrapped up in the blanket until it was time to put on my wetsuit, but I kept my jacket, hat, wool socks, and shoes until just before the start, luckily I had Jeff to hand that stuff off to at the last minute. Getting into my wetsuit while still wearing a hat, jacket, wool socks & shoes

I lined up to get in the water and Kim E was right by me! Then I realized Emmie was videoing us getting in the water so I hammed it up for her a little.Swim
I usually wear a digital watch in the swim, but I forgot that too (anyone counting how many things I forgot for this race?) So I was just planning to swim at a moderately hard effort. The water felt great and was clean and clear! I started toward the outside, but still had a lot of contact at the start. Within the first few hundred meters I felt a sharp pain in the top of my foot, I was pretty sure someone had scratched me hard and probably cut my foot (it looks like that's exactly what happened, I have a fingernail sized chunk of skin gone from my foot). I thought once I got around the first turn buoy it would clear out and I'd have more space to swim, but one girl kept running into me (she's probably saying the same thing about me) I just couldn't get away from her, I'd pass her, or slightly change direction and get away from her, but a few minutes later, there she was again! The last time I saw her was right before I turned to go in to the finish, so she was with me off and on the entire swim. Other than that I had a really good swim, I felt great, the swim was beautiful, I really enjoyed watching the sun rise as I was swimming toward the dam. I feel like I probably could have pushed the pace and gone a little faster (might have been an easy way to make up a minute). My swim time was 42:58, my second best swim time for a half.Pretty swim course

I got dragged out of the water up that steep ramp by the awesome volunteers and before I realized it I was at the wetsuit strippers and I hadn't even unzipped my wetsuit yet! They did it for me, pulled the top down, I plopped down and they yanked the bottom off and handed it to me as I jumped up and jogged up the big hill. I saw and heard the entire Tri Zones More Cowbell Corps as I went up the hill, it was great motivation for getting up that hill! I got into transition and saw that my feet were covered in mud, I sat down on my towel and cleaned my feet before putting on my socks & shoes, it took FOREVER! I looked at my arm warmers and decided I didn't need them since I didn't feel too cold standing there in transition, so I shoved them into the gear bag too. I got the rest of my stuff on and took off. I was sure it was a super slow transition, but when I got on my bike I saw that swim + T1 was under 50 minutes, so I was happy with that. T1 ended up being 4:33, which is actually really fast for me (I think faster than I usually transition at Decker) so I was shocked (in a good way)!

I was originally worried about the bike course, in Kerrville, they could have made it really difficult, but Shayla and I drove the course a couple months before the race and saw that it was definitely doable. There were a couple of steep hills that concerned me, but I knew I could do them. My biggest goal for this race was to have a good bike ride and come as close to 16 mph as I could, I knew that would be tough for me on a slightly hilly course, especially one I hadn't ridden before.

I started the bike and immediately I was FREEZING! I rode by Jeff and yelled "I should have worn my arm warmers, I'm FREEZING!"Starting the bike and telling Jeff I'm freezing.

Even though I was cold, I felt strong and fast, it was a great feeling! My shifting seemed to be working fine. Del passed me and I wondered how he had gotten behind me, I'm still not sure, but it was good to see him. I flew down highway 27, my average speed was 17.5 mph even with a few rollers, that's amazing for me! I assumed I had a major tailwind, but I kept looking at the grass and leaves and they didn't seem to be bending with the wind. Some of the road was nasty chip seal, but for the most part it was smooth or there was a narrow strip of smooth road between all the chip seal.

I turned off highway 27 and thought I'd get more hills, but it stayed pretty flat with a few little downhills. Then I turned and saw the first river crossing and knew I was about to hit the first of the steep hills I was worried about, I downshifted like crazy before the hill so I wouldn't get bogged down on the steep part especially if my derailleur decided to have issues right then! I heard someone yell my name and talk to me from behind, but I couldn't tell who it was. I started up the hill and realized it was NOT that steep at all and I had NOTHING to worry about! I don't know why I make hills so big and bad in my head! Just past the hill Kathleen passed me, it was her behind me on the hill.

Around mile 20-something a guy in arm warmers passed me and I thought, "yeah, I still wish I had worn mine, I'd still be a little happier if I had them on", but I wasn't so cold that it was a big issue. The view in this area was beautiful- similar to our campsite, I could see the river and all the trees. I couldn't believe how much I was enjoying this ride! Then a bug flew into my mouth! Hack, cough, spit- YUCK! Ok, so maybe it wasn't the perfect ride :)

At the U-turn of the out & back I stopped to fix my speedfill straw, I have only used the speedfill for a couple of rides, and Jeff and I put it on last minute before taking my bike to transition on Saturday so I didn't realize that something was messed up making it almost impossible to suck Infinit through the straw! I had my aerobottle too, so I had been fine so far, but I needed it for the rest of the ride. I pulled on the straw and adjusted it in a couple of places and it seemed better, so I took off again. It worked perfectly the rest of the ride (I'm not even sure what I did that fixed it).

The big hill on Wharton is the one I was most worried about, when Shayla and I drove the course I had said "ok, maybe I don't want to do this race!", but again, it was no where near as bad as I made it out to be. It was tough, but totally doable. There was a family cheering halfway up the hill which was perfect! I thanked them for being in the perfect place! I got out onto hwy 173 and the chip seal was almost unbearable! I knew it wasn't very far, but wow, it just hurt! Just as the chip seal ended, Coach Gina was on the course NOT cowbelling, but she did cheer for me :)Coming into town after lap 1

Coming through town was great with all the spectators! I started lap 2 and saw that I was still averaging just over 16 mph- awesome! I got out onto Hwy 27 again and felt a little headwind, not bad, but enough to slow me down a little. I tried hard to keep my speed up. I leap frogged with a few other girls and even rode beside one and talked for a few minutes. I knew where all the hills were and what to expect on lap 2, which is part of why I love multiple loop courses. On the short out & back, I finally saw Kim E. I knew she had to be behind me out of the swim, and she's a faster cyclist than me so I knew I'd see her eventually.

This time when I passed Coach Gina on 173, she saw me coming, ran to her car, pulled out her cowbell and ran after me cowbelling like crazy as I rode by! Highly entertaining! Thanks Gina! Kim was right behind me when this happened and on the run she asked "who was that woman chasing you with a cowbell?" Kim finally caught me at mile 53, I was pretty proud of myself for staying ahead of her for that long :)Coming into town after lap 2

Riding into town was awesome the second time too, still lots of people out cheering. As I passed Jeff and Kristen, Jeff yelled "Kim Evans is right in front of you! Kim Evans!!" I said "I know, she just passed me" so he said "Well Go Get Her!!" I pulled into transition right behind her. Spinnaker did great, not a single shifting issue! I guess I must have a good bike mechanic :)

My official bike time was 3:31:43 for a pace of 15.9, my garmin said 16.1 mph, I have it set on auto pause, so I'm pretty sure the stop to fix the speedfill made the difference. Still it's my fastest bike pace at a half by over 1/2 a mph!! I guess antelope really does make you faster!!

I got into T2 and couldn't find my spot at all!! I knew where my rack was, but there was no opening! I asked a volunteer what to do, she asked if my bag was tied onto the rack, Yes! I found my bag, someone had racked their bike right on top of my bag! The volunteer found some space a couple of racks down, so I put my bike over there and went back to get my bag. Ugh! I chilled out, got my stuff together, put on my compression socks and stuff and headed out. Kim was still putting her shoes on, so I asked if she wanted to run with me. Normally Kim is a MUCH faster runner than me, but she had an ankle injury and was planning on doing a slow lap or 2 and DNFing. Sandra cheered for me on the way out! T2 was 3:31, a lot faster than it felt!

I decided to try running without my Fuel belt and Infinit for this race. It's a pain to mix Infinit along the way (especially in a full Ironman) and the fuel belt chaffs my back. So I was going to experiment at this race, and if it worked out I would think about Ironman without the fuel belt. I had some Honey stinger gummies and planned to use water and if I needed it Pure sport. I knew things could go badly, but I didn't think they'd get too bad since I used Pure Sport and water on the run at the Austin Tri last month.
Over half the run course was on trail, it was a little harder to run on, but it was really pretty.

I started the run, and Kim caught me pretty quickly. We chatted and enjoyed the run, we got to the trail section and decided it was not "a very technical trail" as Kim had heard, but it also wasn't a groomed crushed granite trail like Lady Bird Lake Trail. There were a few steep hills, but it was really pretty on the trail. I'm not really very good at trail running, but I don't mind it either. The trail was harder on my feet, but easier on my knees, it slowed me down a little, but it was pretty. Overall I guess I was indifferent about part of the run being on trail.
I finished my first package of Honey stinger gummies and decided my stomach wasn't 100% happy with them, I've used them before, but not during a race and my stomach is extra sensitive during races, so I switched to Pure sport. We saw everyone out on the course, I kept having to interrupt my stories to Kim to yell "Go, Theresa, Red, Kim G, Julie, Nicki, Laura, Jill, Andrew"etc, etc. It was really cool to see everyone so much! I think every time we crossed the bridge we saw Mohamed! We ran the first lap fast (maybe a little too fast) and Kim decided she'd do a second lap. At one point I looked at my Garmin and saw we were doing a 10:20 pace, that's WAY too fast for me for a half marathon!
Near the end of each lap Katherine, Kelly, Linda, etc were cheering, they had a white board and wrote messages for me each lap. I think the first one said "you ROCK Heather".

Jeff and Kristen had come out to the trail to spectate so we saw them before the turn around, after the turn around Julie passed us, then saw Kristen with the camera and told me "hey come up here so we can get a picture together" Instead, I decided to run right past her! So I really was faster than Julie for about 2 seconds! Look, I'm faster than Julie!
I even stayed ahead of her for a second or two! As Julie said, I must have eaten more antelope than she did!

At the end of lap 2 Katherine's sign said "Heather, Cozumel is Calling". Kim stopped after lap 2 and I kept going. I knew if I could keep up that pace I'd definitely PR! But, I noticed I was more salt crusted than normal and started to Infinit has almost double the sodium of Pure sport and those gummies had almost none, this could be bad. I wasn't feeling too bad, my stomach was getting just a tiny bit upset from the Puresport and I was slowing down, but nothing major. I saw Del and I think I actually said "how are you not finished yet?" Come on Heather, have a little tact! He was having nutrition issues and feeling awful- Sorry Del!Me giving Kristen a hard time for standing at the top of a steep hill taking pictures of people walking!
Proof that I started running again a the top of that hill

Almost halfway through lap 3, Kim caught me! She said "the race staff wouldn't let me quit" cool, I got some company again! :) Toward the end of lap 3, I encouraged Kim to go ahead, I knew she wanted to be done, and I knew she could run a lot faster than I could at that point (she ended up finishing 10 minutes ahead of me). My legs were feeling heavy and my stomach was getting a little more upset. I still felt good enough to have fun, but I was definitely slowing down and my breathing was getting bad. Without my fuel belt, I also didn't have an inhaler- oops!

At the end of lap 3 Katherine's sign said "Almost BEER Time!" so I said "you know I still have another lap to go, right?" And with major "Momma Mudge Attitude" Katherine replied "I KNOW THAT, HEATHER!!"Turn around to start lap 4

I made the turn around and started lap 4, I passed Katherine and company again and this time the sign said "We Know you have a Lap to Go HO!" hahahaha! Jeff was out on the trail (without Kristen this time) and I ran by and said "I thought you were going to be at the finish?" he said "don't worry I'll be there too" I had no idea there was a little bridge that made it easy and fast for them to get across the river from the finish to that spot on the trail! I got close to the turn around and saw Connie, I walked with her a little and told her how happy and proud I was for her, she was going to finish her very first half iron!

I saw Jeff one more time and he asked how I was doing without my fuel belt, "not so great, I really need my Infinit" Experiment Failed! I will be using my Fuel belt and Infinit for Ironman Cozumel! By this time I was super salt crusted and getting a little dizzy, I had less than 2 miles to go, so I wasn't really worried, but I was ready to be finished. I knew I was really close to a PR time, but I just couldn't force myself to go any faster. I knew if I finished by 3:00 pm I would PR by over 3 minutes, it was 3:03 when I turned to the finish chute! I was so close that I had no idea if I PRed or not, I had to wait for the results to be posted. Turns out I was 57 seconds off! My run time was 2:52:57 and my overall time was 7:15:53, just 57 seconds slower than my best half iron at Longhorn 2009.Post race
I got congratulations hugs and high fives from everyone and drank some of my Ultragen. I couldn't eat or drink anything else, my stomach took awhile to settle down. I was very happy with my race, I told Jeff I definitely want to do Kerrville again next year! I had a really fun race, I liked the course, I loved the spectator support, and I enjoyed the weekend in Kerrville.

***I forgot to mention how nice all the volunteers (and spectators) were at this race! Obviously all the volunteers and spectators from Austin and Jack & Adam's staff know what to say and do and as always I really appreciate it. But some of those people from Kerrville were out there, probably at the first triathlon they'd ever seen just killing it with awesome encouragement and support and it made the race just that much better. So THANK YOU to all of you!

*** all pictures by Kristen Carey or Jeff McMahan


Monica said...

GREAT race, Heather!! It sounds like you had a lot of fun, and I'm so glad you got to try it sans fuel belt. Good luck on the next one!

britt said...

Hi Heather, thanks for this awesome recap. I'm doing the Kerrville 70.3 this year too, and am worried about the hills since I'm training in Houston. You mentioned the Wharton road hill is tough but doable - is it comparable to Austin hills? I've always enjoyed Austin riding, but have never ridden in Kerrville and am a little nervous since it's my first 70.3. Thanks!

Heather and Jeff said...

Hi Britt, just saw your comment. Good Luck this weekend! Don't worry about the hill on Wharton, it's a little long and a little steep, but if you can ride in Austin it won't be a big deal for you. Have Fun!!