Sunday, October 7, 2007

Longhorn Half Ironman Race Report

The short story: I finished in 7:29:02
I was 561 out of 728 overall
45 out of 54 in my age group
185 out of 255 women

Swim: 48:13
T1: 3:28
Bike: 3:35:59 for 15.6 mph average
T2: 3:41
Run: 2:57:39 for 13:34 per mile pace

The LONG version:

Saturday afternoon about 12:45, I loaded up my bike and headed out to the race site. I got my bib, my chip, and my goodie bag with race shirt and then joined the others in the bleachers for a mandatory pre-race meeting. They had a USAT official talk about the rule violations they would be looking for (such as drafting on the bike) (USAT is the official governing body of triathlons and there are many rules). Then the race director spoke. He informed us that water temperature was 85 degrees – no wetsuits. He also said they would mark the road in areas where there were large potholes. That’s a good idea.

When that was done, I drove my bike over to the transition area. In very small races, you can rack your bike where ever you want. First come, first serve. In other races, you are assigned a row, but can rack anywhere on that row. Not in this race. You had to rack on your number. This was good in that it didn’t matter what time you got there, but bad because you had no choice. Turned out I was actually in the middle of the whole thing, so I was ok with that. I put my bike on the rack, let some air out of my tires, and covered up my handle bars with a trash bag. (In my Olympic tri I did last spring, I didn’t cover anything up and the dew from overnight caused my brakes to squeak during the whole race. I didn’t want that to happen again. Plus, all the “experienced” triathletes do it, so I figured I might as well. Ha.) Then I left.

Saturday evening at 6:00 we met about 36 other people for dinner at Bucca De Beppo. (not sure on the spelling). These people were all people who post on We did name tags so we’d know who each other was, and it was fun to see who the person behind the screen name was. After dinner it was home to finish packing my transition bag, watch a little bit of the Aggie football game while I rolled on my foam roller and then it was bed time.

This morning I woke up at 4:10 a.m. I got dressed, ate my oatmeal and hit the road. I got to transition a little after 5:30 and started laying everything out. I pumped up my tires, loaded my bento box with food for the bike course, loaded my water bottles on my bike and made sure everything was how I wanted it to be.

I got a little nervous. Since this was a Half Ironman, they had USAT officials really watching to make sure everybody was doing everything right. You can only take up so much room in the transition area and the lady was having people move stuff and fold up towels so the space wasn’t too big.

At 7:15 it was time to head to the swim start. I wasn’t really that nervous which I thought was good. I was the fourth wave to go off. We got out in the water and started from the water. I positioned myself about the 2nd or 3rd row back and to the inside on the right. The swim was clockwise, so all buoys we passed were to be on our right. I like to be by the buoys so hopefully I don’t swim any more than I have to. When the horn blew, I started swimming. I had to remind myself that I had a long way to go and I just needed to swim my race. This wasn’t a race against other racers like the shorter tris are for me. I just wanted to get through it. My main goal was to finish in under an hour and a good goal for me was to finish in about 45 minutes.

When I rounded the first buoy and was looking for the next one, I noticed that I had caught up to at least one male swimmer from the wave in front of ours. Sweet! I love when I can catch up to the wave in front of me because it means I’m not the slowest swimmer. By the next buoy, I noticed another color. Did I catch up to the wave two in front of me? Uh, than would be a no. I was being passed by the guys behind me. And the fast ones were barreling through. Yikes. By the time we got to the buoy to head back to shore, I noticed there weren’t a lot of red caps (my wave color) around.

When I exited the swim I glanced at my watch – 48 minutes. Wahoo! And then I saw my family. Yeah! I high-fived my kids and headed for transition. When I did Danskin here, I ended up with some twig or rock or something in my shoe and it cut my toe during the race. Since this was a longer race, I sat down and tried to wipe my feet off. They were gross. I got them the best I could, put my socks and bike shoes on, put my gloves, sunglasses and helmet on, threw some gels in my back pocket and took off.

Right as I was mounting my bike, I saw my family again. I told them I’d see them again in about 4 hours and was gone. I had no idea how long the bike would take me. The longest training ride I did was 42 miles. And when I tried to ride the course a couple of weeks ago it was mid afternoon and scorching hot and I only made it 40 miles. During the race today it was slightly overcast. I hoped it would remain that way throughout the bike and for the most part it did.

I kept reminding myself on the bike to not push too hard, especially in the beginning. I can do that in a sprint because I only have 12 miles to go, but today I had 56.7 (remember, they had to change the route and it added a little extra mileage). I felt good with the areobars and I kept taking drinks about every 15 minutes. Every hour I took a Cliff Shot energy gel. And in between, I dug into my bento box and pulled out either a piece of a Lara Bar or some gummy bears. That seemed to do the trick. But I think at that point I had had too much to drink and hadn’t sweated any liquid out yet. At mile 10 I had to pee. Now hard core triathletes learn to pee while they are riding the bike so they don’t have to stop. Not me. I knew there would be an aid station about 12.5 and I knew I would be stopping. When I turned off the highway and saw the aid station I was happy. And there was an open porta potty. I bet I was there less than a minute total and I was on my way again.

During the bike I kept checking myself. I’d try to push a little on the flats and downhills (I reached 37 mph today on one of the downhills and hit high 20s many times) and I’d spin in the easy gear on the uphills (sometimes only doing 6 mph). When I hit 40 miles I was happy. Only 16 more to go and I was doing ok. When I hit mile 47 it was even better. The countdown was on. I was glad to get off the bike. The aerobars really helped. I was just ready to get off that seat.

I headed back to transition to get my run gear. I decided to change socks because the ones on my feet were still wet from my wet feet after the swim and I really didn’t want to run 13.1 miles with wet socks. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have changed. You’ll read why in a little bit. I stuffed some pretzels and gummy bears in my back pocket, put on my race belt with bib number, grabbed my Gatorade and headed off. My legs felt fine off the bike so I started out with a slow run.

And that’s when I realized how hot it had gotten. On the bike you are going fast and have a breeze. Not so on the run. And I don’t do well with the heat. So at the first aid station I grabbed some cold sponges and sqeezed them on my head. And where did the water go? Right down my legs and into my shoes. So much for dry feet. I decided to run when I could and walk the hills. And that’s exactly what I did for the first few miles. And then I got really hot. I knew at this point I would finish. And I knew even if I walked the rest of the way I would finish under 8 hours. All I wanted to do coming into today was finish so I decided not to push myself and just started walking fast. I still ran on some downhills when I felt like it, but by the time I got to the second lap I was pretty much resigned to walking the rest of the way.

About mile 7 I saw my family again. I needed that. They had just gotten back and were walking to the transition and finish line area so they weren’t expecting to see me again right then. They stopped and whipped out the cameras. My son had his digital and was wanting to get a picture so I stopped. I guess he was in too big of a hurry though because my daughter said he cut my head off. Oh well. My husband got some. I told them I was on the second lap and would see them at the finish.

About mile 8½ I started walking with a lady from Colorado. We walked and talked for a couple of miles but then she was ready to run again. With the heat, I wasn’t going to. I told her to go on and have a great finish. I just kept walking (and mind you I wasn’t leisurely walking) and grabbing new sponges, Gatorade and water with ice at all the aid stations. I’d dump a cup of water on my head, drink the Gatorade and save some water with ice to drink until the next aid station. I was glad when I entered the park again because that meant only about 3 more miles to go. And I just kept walking and drinking. I’d talk to anybody that came along, but I was pretty far back at this point. After I climbed the last big hill I knew I was close.

I wasn’t going to start running until mile 13. When I hit that, I dropped my sponge and cup and took off for the finish line. I didn’t see my family going down the chute but they were there because they got pictures. And I don’t remember hearing my name being called out but I think they did. It didn’t matter. I knew I was done. I knew I had just completed 70.3 miles with my own body. I knew I could call myself a Half Ironman finisher.

I was so excited I didn’t even look at my watch or stop it. I got my ice cold towel, my medal and my finisher water bottle. Then I found my family before heading for food. We sat down for a little bit while I ate what I could and then I gathered my stuff and had them help me carry it all back to the car – two miles away. Ugggh!

I'll add pictures later. Hopefully tomorrow. It's just taking too long and I need to go chill on the couch and watch tv.

I enjoyed the race. I’m glad I did it. I don’t know if I’ll do it again next year or not. It takes a lot of time to train. And if I do it, I won’t be training for another event at the same time. I have a marathon in two weeks, so that’s why I didn’t really push it on the run. If I didn’t have that coming up, I might have pushed a little harder and finished under 7 hours. Who knows. Maybe I wouldn’t have.

I do have thoughts of one day doing a full Ironman (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run), but after doing the Half Ironman today I have a better feel for what it will take to be able to do that. It will take tons of time and right now I don’t have that. Maybe in 2009 or 2010. But not right now.


Kristen B said...

You are incredible and an inspiration to me! I got excited thinking about my commitment to my friend to do this race with her next year! I know it will be tough and I'll probably be calling you for support! We were at church yesterday morning and I just prayed and prayed for you. I knew you were probably on the bike and I hope you felt your name being lifted on high!!

Congratulations and thanks for sharing your experience! I am blessed to know you and oh so proud of you! You are a daughter of the King (that just finished a Half Iron)...Praise God!

Blessings, Kristen B

Craig Moser said...

Hey... congrats! Just finished reading your report. Glad to hear the bike portion went so smoothly :-)

Shauna said...

Congratulations! You are amazing! I'm so impressed and proud of you. Way to go. I'd say take it easy, but with a marathon 2 weeks away, that's not likely to happen. :) Take care and enjoy your accomplishment!

Anonymous said...

Wow! I am VERY impressed! That's awesome. I'm tired to just reading all that! :)

Great job!

Anonymous said...

Wow!! You are amazing!! So very proud of you B!! You are my hero!!

patti said...

Wow. That is huge! I hope you feel very proud of your accomplishment. That is so awesome! You are very inspiring!

Thank you so much for checking in on my blog. YOu are always so sweet. I love your positive comments!!!