Monday, August 6, 2012

Jack's Generic Tri 2012

 I hadn't really planned on doing Jack's this year, but then I found out it fell on my birthday and that this would be the last High Five race at the Texas Ski Ranch, the ski ranch isn't my favorite triathlon location, but since this would be the last race there and on my birthday, I decided I wanted to do it. When does someone get the chance to do a triathlon on their actual birthday? and when they're turning 35- going into a new age group, I thought it might never happen again, so I definitely wanted to do it!
Sunrise at the ski ranch
I've done Jack's twice before, in 2010 and 2009. When I raced in 2009, it was actually a cool day in August, I don't think it got above 80 all day! I had a really good race that day and didn't think I'd ever beat that time. So my goals for this year were to beat my 2010 fastest bike pace, and I knew if I beat it by enough and had a good run maybe, just maybe I could get a PR for my birthday, but I wasn't going to be upset if I was way off a PR, it was forecast to be 100 degrees on race day. Then Jeff and I went hiking at Colorado Bend State Park the day before the race, we hiked about 9 miles and I fell down a river bank. About 6 miles through the hike I told Jeff, "I have revised my goals for Jack's, now I just want to have fun racing on my birthday."
Jeff and I pre-race. I'm wearing the birthday tiara, on top of my new Newton Running visor, it's just hard to see
Jeff and I pulled in to the ski ranch at 5:38am, I know this because we were a few minutes early and I wasn't sure they'd have the gate open and be ready for parking yet, but the main lot was almost full already and we got one of the last super sweet spots in the main lot right by transition. I went to set up transition while Jeff napped in the car. Katie body marked me and wished me Happy Birthday and "welcome to my age group" I've technically been in the 35-39 age group all year (USAT rules go by your age on Dec 31), but this was the first race where I really raced in my new age group (I raced in my new age group at Marble Falls, but all women under 40 started together and since it was an out of town race, the only person I knew in my new age group was Kelly Green). I walked into the transition area and was immediately greeted by Happy Birthday wishes and hugs from lots of Tri Zoners and other friends  and lots of "you're wearing the birthday tiara!!" Mohamed even gave me a Newton Running visor for my birthday! Thanks Mohamed!! I hung out with Tri Zones and TWCC before the race and got lots more Happy Birthday wishes.

My wave was set to start at 8:24, Jeff gave me a good luck kiss and Carolyn volunteering at swim start wished me Happy Birthday as I got in the water. I looked around for Amy B. I had seen her that morning (when she and Matt gave me birthday hugs) and I knew she was in my new age group, but I didn't see her. Then all of a sudden she was right beside me and said "hi Heather, I didn't know you were in my age group" and I replied "I'm in your age group NOW" to which she replied "oh yeah, it's your fucking birthday! Happy Fucking Birthday!!" Which made everyone around us laugh and a few strangers wished me Happy Birthday, then Jen Ritchie said Hi and Happy Birthday, I didn't realize she was in my new age group! Then just before the start (Logan was counting down as she was singing) Amy sang me her favorite birthday song "This is Your Birthday Song, It isn't Very Long"...GO!!!

The Ski Ranch water is pretty disgusting, a combination of goat poo (goats live on the island in the middle of the pond), oil, and silty mud. They have to do water quality tests, so technically it's safe, but it doesn't always look, smell or feel good.
goats on the island
I started swimming and immediately got gross ski ranch goat water in my mouth- yuck!! My legs felt tired when I tried to kick faster, I knew it was not good if my legs already felt tired! I swam a little too far to the outside by accident and when I got to the first turn buoy I was way outside of it. But otherwise I had a good (but gross) swim. As I got near the shore I could see and feel all the disgusting muck that gets stirred up and sticks to your face- Yuck! I was glad this would be my last swim in this water! I made sure to exit to the right side so the volunteers would grab my right arm to help me out and not my left scrapped up still sore arm. And someone handed me a wet wipe as I ran up to transition- thank you whoever you are! Swim time was 11:30, my fastest Jack's swim time is 11:16.

T1 was 2:59, 10 seconds faster than my previous fastest T1 at Jack's.

I got on the bike and my legs didn't feel too bad up the first hill, Red flew by me and wished me Happy Birthday again. Then Eva flew by and wished me Happy Birthday too. It became a theme (I'm a decent swimmer but a pretty slow cyclist so I get passed a lot on the bike) everyone I knew who passed me wished me Happy Birthday, then people around me who didn't even know me said Happy Birthday too- Fun! Plus I had Amy's stupid "This is Your Birthday Song, It isn't Very Long" stuck in my head! The first half of the ride went really well, I was averaging over 16mph (awesome for me), and the roads weren't as bad as I remembered. Then I turned onto the chip sealed road from Hell- Yuck! My scraped up arm actually felt ok in the swim, but on the rough chip seal it vibrated and really hurt, I couldn't wait to get off that road. The nasty road was longer than I remembered and I thought "I will not miss this bike course!" really it's just that one road, the rest of the bike course isn't bad but I got sick of that nasty chip seal fast this year. I was really feeling every little hill after hiking so much on Saturday too. But soon I got to turn back onto the frontage road and fly down the big hill, in the past I have been nervous on that hill, but this year I loved it! Bike time was 54:25 (15.2 mph) best previous bike at Jack's was 55:24 (14.9mph) so a course PR on the bike!

T2 was 1:36, 11 seconds faster than my previous fastest T2 at Jack's, even with an extra second or 2 to put my birthday tiara on my running hat!

I don't know how I ran a 10:12 pace at Jack's in 2009, but I knew I couldn't beat that, especially since it was already getting hot. I hoped to keep my pace under 11min/mile but I knew even that might be tough since my legs were tired from the start. I love the run at Jack's and I will miss that part of the ski ranch course. It's just an out and back, but it's mostly uphill out and mostly downhill back, my strategy is always to push harder than I think I should on the way out and then take advantage of the downhill on the way back. I also love that I get to see all my faster friends on my way out and my slower friends on the way back. It was especially fun this time, since I was wearing my birthday tiara and everyone wished me Happy Birthday! There were more people around me on the run than there had been on the bike, so it felt like everyone racing wished me a Happy Birthday! Fun!! My Garmin said my first mile was a 10:20 pace- wow that was way faster than I thought I could do! Mile 2 was about the same and I tried to pick up the pace as I ran around the lake to the finish line. Run time was 30:58, 10:19 min/mile.
Almost to the finish! Photo by Miguel Ortiz
 I didn't know my overall time when I finished, I knew I was close to an overall PR, so I kept checking the results pages, it took them a long time to post mine! When they did post them, I was looking at the page from 1:43-1:47 finishing times (my previous Jack's times were 1:45:39 & 1:45:51) so I thought mine still wasn't up, I checked the page above and there I was at 1:41:29!! wow a PR over the time I thought I'd never beat by 4:10! I didn't find this out until later, but I was also in the top half of my age group which has never happened for me before at any race! So far I'm loving being 35!!
Very Happy post race! photo by Miguel Ortiz
After the race, we went to the Gristmill for lunch with Vanessa, Miguel, Sandra, Jenny & JoAnne. We had a great time and they even got me a birthday dessert- strawberry shortcake, my favorite!
Vanessa, Miguel, Sandra, JoAnne, Jeff, me, and Jenny at the Gristmill- Yum!
me with my birthday strawberry shortcake, and still wearing the birthday tiara :)
 I had an absolutely Awesome time doing a triathlon on my birthday!! Thanks so much to everyone who was there and made it extra special!!

Colorado Bend State Park

We had originally wanted to go to CBSP for a camping weekend, but it was a little too hot for Jeff to enjoy camping and I decided I wanted to do Jack's Generic Tri on my birthday, so we decided on a birthday weekend day trip to CBSP. It's a little too long of a drive for a day trip, so we got out there about 9:30am. We decided to hike from the park office to Gorman Falls instead of driving back most of the way and only hiking a little way. Hiking sounded fun, driving sounded boring, we're not into boring.
My birthday tiara at Colorado Bend State Park
Jeff at the Colorado River. Water was pretty low, where we're standing would normally be underwater
I knew it would be about 4 miles to the falls and 4 miles back, so we each took a full camelbak and a full bottle of frozen water, and Jeff threw a few snacks in his camelbak for us to share. We started off down the trail past the primitive camping, soon the trail got narrow and then it started getting hard to see. We had heard CBSP is "rugged" so we didn't think anything of it. We knew we needed to follow the river until we came to Gorman Falls Trail, so we couldn't get lost. At times we couldn't find the trail at all, I'd go one way, Jeff would go another and whoever found a better "trail" was the way we'd go. But we were having fun, checking out the wildlife and we didn't see any other people.
Cicada we found along the way, I think they're pretty cute for insects
we saw tons of different types of dragonflies too, but this is the only one I got a picture of.
 We climbed over a couple of fallen trees, and then the pretty inland sea oats grass got really thick, to the point I couldn't see where I was stepping! I told Jeff, "I hope there isn't a snake because I'd step on it without even knowing!" We were right along the edge of the steep river bank and suddenly I stepped onto...Nothing! I slid head first down the steep river bank then did a full somersault- Yikes! All I thought was "I hope I stop" because I knew it was a long way to the river, luckily I stopped about halfway down the bank, I sat up and realized I really wasn't hurt! I had slid through a bunch of thorny smilax weeds and my arm was scraped from them and I had a few small scrapes on my face. Wow that was lucky! I poured a little water on the bleeding scrapes and hoped I'd be able to wash the dirt and grass out of them at the "conference center". We continued on, and came to a big gorge, I went one way, Jeff went another way to find the best path, and I found a real maintained trail! We followed that and realized that what we had been on wasn't the park trail at all, we had been following deer trails for an hour or two!
my wounds from falling down the river bank, luckily they weren't too bad
Once we found the real trail we made it pretty quickly to the Gorman Falls Trail and the "conference center" which is an old house that stays locked unless you make reservations to use it. But Jeff did find a spigot so I could rinse off my cuts. I was really happy to rinse them off, the sweat getting into the cuts stung like crazy and I knew the dirt all over them couldn't be good. The conference center is up away from the Colorado River, but there is a large creek running right by the house, it looked like it came from nowhere! And there was A LOT of water in it, which is amazing in August! We hiked up to the falls and immediately decided the entire trip was worth it!

Gorman Falls was awesome!
We came back from the falls to the conference center and I was curious about the spring that fed the creek, so Jeff waited at a picnic table while I walked the Gorman Spring Trail, the trail follows the creek until the banks turn to sheer cliff walls, there really wasn't any way to follow the creek further, so I went back. It might be fun to wade the creek all the way to the spring sometime, but we weren't really prepared for that this time.

The 4 mile walk back was less eventful since we stayed on the actual trail! But it was really hot by then. Along some cliffs, I stopped to take a picture of a butterfly (which flew off before I got a picture) and Jeff found a cave, we decided to explore the cave a little, it was really big and it felt air conditioned inside! We probably went about 20 feet or so into the cave. Jeff shined his flashlight up on the ceiling and we saw big nests of daddy longlegs! I thought they were kind of cool and a little creepy, Jeff just thought they were creepy, but he did shine his light on one so I could get a picture.
nest of daddy long legs in the cave

We left the cave feeling a little cooler, but I figured we still had about 2 miles to get back to the car, and we didn't have too much water left. We had started with a 70 oz camelbak, a 100 oz camelbak and 2 20oz bottles of water, it all stayed icy cold for us the entire time. Jeff finished all his water and we were sharing the last of my camelbak, just after I took the last gulp of water we turned a bend and I could see the car in the distance! Perfect timing!

We ended up hiking about 9 miles, we had a great time, and saw lots of cool stuff. We definitely want to go back, but we'll probably camp next time because it really is a little too far for a day trip.