Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Kerrville Triathlon Race Report

Kerrville was such a fun race last year and I was only 1 minute from my half iron PR, so I was really hoping for a good day and a PR this year. I went out to Kerrville on Friday to make the most of a fun weekend. I felt great on race morning and Kristen, Ingrid and I executed our pre-race parking strategy perfectly. It wasn't as cold as I was afraid it would be, so I waited until about 30 minutes before my start to put my (borrowed from Coach Jen) wetsuit on. I got it on, went to zip it up and it broke, so the zipper was only attached to one side! I asked 2 random guys beside me for help, they worked on it for a minute, but I quickly realized they couldn't fix it. Then I saw Julie, Kay, Vanessa, Rey & Miguel so I ran over to them to ask for help. Julie had worn the wetsuit for the sprint on Saturday and she knew how to fix it. I took it off and she and Kay went to work. Now it was less than 20 minutes til my start. I knew I didn't need the wetsuit to stay warm, but I knew it would help me swim a little faster, probably 2 or 3 minutes, not a huge deal, but enough that if they could fix it, I wanted it. They kept working frantically while we walked toward the swim start and with about 5 minutes til my start the zipper broke completely out of the wetsuit! By the time I lined up with the rest of the girls in my wave, it was only about 30 seconds til they let us in the water.

BRRRR!!! The water felt cold without the wetsuit, but once I started swimming it wasn't bad. I forgot that the river bends so the course isn't exactly straight, I sighted, swam straight, then realized I was off course. Unfortunately, I forgot about the bend in the river until I was about halfway through the swim, so I kept getting a little off course. I did the same thing last year. Other than my slight issue with sighting/navigation I had a good swim, I felt strong, and I didn't feel like the lack of wetsuit was an issue. I remembered enjoying the sunrise last year during the swim, but this year it was cloudy, overcast and drizzly so no seeing the sun rise. I passed quite a few people from the waves ahead of mine (I was in the second to last wave this year). I got to the ramp and the awesome volunteers helped me out, I crossed the timing mat at 46:23  just over 3 minutes slower than last year, that's probably mostly due to lack of wetsuit (of my 8 total half irons this was my first wetsuitless swim), so I wasn't unhappy with it, even though it's one of my slower half iron swim times.

I ran up the big hill into T1 got to my bike and had a really hard time deciding what I wanted out there. I was sorry I didn't wear my arm warmers last year so I planned on wearing them this year, but after the swim I decided I didn't want them. It was still drizzly and I hate wearing sunglasses when they get foggy or wet and I wasn't sure they'd stay in the pocket of my new tri top. So I threw the arm warmers and sunglasses into the bag and headed out of T1. My bike didn't seem to be rolling quite right so I stopped to make sure my brakes weren't rubbing (I have issues with brake rub on my Mavic wheels), nope, both were spinning fine, it must have been the mud in transition. T1 was 3:57 a little faster than last year since I didn't have a wetsuit to strip.

I got onto the bike course and felt good, my lower back hurt a little (the hotel bed didn't quite agree with my back) but I figured it would loosen up in a few miles. I hit hwy 27 and felt the tailwind. The wind was forecast to be pretty strong, and I'm generally pretty awful at riding into the wind, so I really wanted to take advantage of the tailwind as much as possible. My average speed was right around 17.0 mph for the first 12 or so miles until I turned and hit the newly chip sealed road and the headwind- YIKES! Chip seal always slows me down and this was really awful super rough nasty chip seal! I'm also pretty terrible at riding into a headwind, so I watched my speed drop. Coach Jen had given me some tips for riding on chip seal, so I tried really hard to "power through it" but I felt like I was working super hard and getting nothing for it. That road was only 2 or 3 miles but it felt like forever! I had a hard time recovering and getting my speed back, my back was still hurting a little and my legs were feeling a little tired already- not good! I couldn't remember if I had used my Mavic wheels with an 11-25 cassette last year or my Eastons with the 11-28 "climbing" cassette. Jeff thought I'd used my Mavics so I went with those, but as soon as I got onto the 1 steep climb on the course I knew I'd used my Eastons last year! It wasn't really an issue, that steep spot just felt significantly harder than it had last year. I made it up the climb fine, and then turned onto chip sealy, headwindy 173- YUCK!! Then it started to rain on me, between the headwind, the chip seal and the rain, I was NOT happy. I also knew I had already lost any chance at a PR and I really didn't want to go out and ride that loop again. I actually thought about stopping and DNFing, I didn't want to DNF the Texas Tri Series, but I knew Stacy or Dan would give me a volunteer job for my tri series credit if I asked. I made it to the corner where everyone was cheering, I saw Becky, Linda C, Emmie, and Lynn, they all cheered like crazy and were super encouraging! It gave me enough of a boost that I went straight out for a second loop instead of turning into the finish and DNFing.
I gave Tom a fakey half smile just after deciding I was really going to go out for a second loop instead of DNFing. Photo by Tom Marek
The tailwind on hwy 27 felt great! But instead of trying to really push and make up for my dismal first loop, I tried to recover and save my energy for the rest of the loop. By the time I got to 173 again, my back and legs were really hurting and I was REALLY ready to get off my bike! Of course the wind had picked up even more- so it was even harder the second time. I was super frustrated and I wanted to cry, at one point I just let out the loudest scream I possibly could- good thing no one was around me! It made me think of a story Ingrid shared with me about Ultraman Canada this year, and I smiled. Eventually I finally made it back to town. I was SO happy to see the dismount line! I went to stand up off my bike and thought my legs might buckle. I was certain I would not be able to run at all, I was considering my options- a DNF or walking 13.1 miles- neither was appealing at all. Bike time was 4:10, my worst half iron bike ever!

I slowly walked into T2, still thinking about whether I wanted to DNF or walk an entire half marathon. I started getting my run stuff together and thought maybe I could find June on the course and walk with her (she power walks) walking with someone would make it feel better. I got up and walked out of T2, and saw Bob H. I didn't even smile at him, but he said something encouraging to me. T2 was 4:07, which is pretty fast considering I wasn't trying to hurry at all.

I got onto the run course, saw Betsy & David, told them I had the worst bike ever and I was going to retire from half irons. Then I decided to try running a few steps just to see how bad it felt. SHOCKINGLY, it didn't feel that bad, actually it felt kind of GOOD! I decided I would just run as much as I could, I might even be able to finish before 4:00pm. I had told Kristen I would finish around 3 if I had a great day and hopefully before 4 if things didn't go great. I have no idea how my legs and back could hurt so much on the bike and then feel fine on the run- but I'm not complaining! The run was 4 loops, all my teammates and friends were ahead of me, but because of the loops I got to see all of them. I was really starting to have fun and enjoy this race again! I finished the first loop and told the Tri Zones & TWCC spectators near the finish that I still had 3 loops to go, their reply "Don't worry, we'll be here" That was really nice! People said I looked so happy and smiley, I was back to my normal self!
This time the smile was real! Photo by Tom Marek
I remembered the trail part of the run being pretty hilly, but it didn't seem as hilly as I remembered and I was able to run all but the very steepest of the hills. At the beginning of loop 3 I saw Betsy & David again and Betsy asked "are you still going to retire?" I laughed and said "I don't think so, I think I'm over it already". Just like last year, the volunteers on the run course were awesome, super encouraging and nice, even though they had been out there all day and I was toward the back of the pack.

3rd loop and still smiling for real. Photo by Kristen Carey
I felt awesome and 100% enjoyed the run until about halfway through the 3rd loop when my legs started to get a little tired. I walked the uphills on the trail and then ran back toward the finish line to start my final loop. As I started my last loop I realized I had run each loop in 40 minutes or less and if I could run the last one in 43 minutes I would finish the run in 2:40, which was my original goal for the run! I really hadn't thought that was possible after having such a tough ride! Of course I was getting more tired so 43 minutes was a little challenging on the last loop, but I was still having fun, talking with other athletes still on the course, and thanking the volunteers. My original goal was to finish the race by 3:00, before the awards ceremony (I almost always finish during the awards ceremony), I finished around 3:30 during the awards ceremony, so Logan wasn't there to announce, but as I got close to the finish line, I saw that all the TWCCers had run over to high five me as I finished- cool! :) Run time was 2:40:07, 10 seconds slower than my fastest half iron run, I'm ecstatic with that considering I almost DNFed instead of even trying to run!

Overall time was 7:45:09, not my fastest half, but not my slowest either. As disappointed as I was with my bike, I was just as happy with my run- so even though it wasn't the race I wanted, it sort of evened out in the end. Plus I was pretty pleased with the mental effort I put in to keep going when I really didn't want to. Betsy posted on my facebook after the race "Way to keep patient and let your race come back to you!"
Julie must have gotten all the fast antelope this year. Photo by Katherine Mudge


Richard said...

Those were awesome words of wisdom from Betsy! I may use them in the future.

Congratulations on completing a tough race, we don't always get the race we want but you stayed with this one like a champion. I'm sure you'll be setting a new PR soon enough. There's always the Oilman half iron in Conroe in November. ;-)

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