Friday, October 10, 2008

Longhorn Half Ironman Race Report

Sorry it has taken so long to get the race report done, but as usual, I'll have a short version and a long version and I wanted to do the long version justice. That meant I needed to wait until I wasn't falling asleep or until I had time. And tonight, I'm awake and have nothing better to do, so here goes.

Short Version

Swim: 36:54 for 1:55/100m

Swim Rank: 1582

T1: 3:45

Bike: 3:25:50 for 16.3 mph

Bike Rank: 1599

T2: 3:09

Run: 2:47:07 for 12:45/m

Run Rank: 1535

Overall Time: 6:56:47

1555/1821 overall

408 of females

76/92 in my age group

Last year's time was 7:29:02, so I improved by over 30 minutes.


The Longhorn Half Ironman is not just another race in the books. It officially became an "Ironman" 70.3 event this year and is more like a festival with activities throughout the weekend. With that being said, packet pick-up and the expo started on Friday night. I knew that Saturday would be filled with a multitude of the kid's activities, so I got my husband to pick them up on Friday and I headed straight to the expo after work.

I arrived at the expo a little before 4:00, which is when packet pick-up was to begin. There was already a line, but not a big one. I stood in line so I could get that taken care of first. While in line, I saw a man from my Sunday school class at church. That was kind of neat. Didn't really see anyone else I knew, but then again, not many of my friends are willing to go that distance.

At 4:00 they opened the doors and we were able to get in more lines by our bib numbers to pick up our packet. I was #955 and no one was in that line. Sweet. Got my packet and my wristband that would allow me to get in and out of the transition area. Also got my goody bag, which was a hot pink drawstring bag filled with stuff. Then I got in the line to get my long-sleeved tech t-shirt. I love getting tech t-shirts instead of cotton ones, and I like the long-sleeved ones, too (although we don't get to wear them much here). Then I got in line to get my swim cap (hot pink) and wrote my number on it. Next step was to verify my chip and then I was good to go.

I headed into the expo to check out what was there. I grabbed me some extra Cliff Shot gel just in case. I couldn't remember if I had any left over at home or not. Then I had to check out the race merchandise. I ended up with a sleeveless cycling jersey that has Longhorn 70.3 on it. Nice!! Although being the Aggie that I am, I do have a problem wearing stuff that says "longhorn" on it. But, it's red and not burnt orange, so it's good.

After that I talked to the Team in Training staff person for a while before heading to the athlete meeting. The race director talked some about the course and the logistics of how race morning would go. We also found out that as of Friday night, racers could wear wetsuits, but not be eligible for age group awards. He wasn't sure if this would change or not. No one can wear wetsuits if the water temp is over 84 (because they could over heat). From 78-84, you can wear one, but not be eligible for age group awards, and under 78, anyone can wear one. Not that I thought I would be in contention for an award, but I was hoping it would stay this way. I had not trained in my wet suit all season, but this made me question whether I wanted to wear it or not. Last year, the race was not wet suit legal.

After the athlete meeting I headed home to find my kids begging me to go out to eat pasta. I told them that I would be eating pasta Saturday night. They pleaded their cases saying that they needed to carbo load for their Saturday activities (son's soccer game and daughter's volleyball tournament). I guess they've listened to me too long. I love pasta and figured two nights in a row wouldn't kill me, so off we went. After dinner, it was home and to bed.

We woke up early Saturday morning. My daughter had to be at the school by 7:45am to go to her tournament and my son had to be at the soccer field by 8:15. Madison's games were scheduled for 8:45, 10:15 and 11:00. We figured we could watch Dalton's 9:00 game and then make it to Madison's second game late and catch the 3rd game. How they did in those three games would determine if they went on in the bracket or not.

Dalton's game was a nail bitter, especially for me as there was one point where he did a slide tackle and ended up being kicked in the face. He had to be taken out of the game and from the sideline I thought his nose was bleeding. Turns out it wasn't, but he got some cuts across his face and a bruise on his eyelid.

We left his game and headed to Madison's. When I got there, they were in the process of playing a game. I thought this was the second match. When they finished she said that was there third match and they needed to see what happened with the match following theirs to see what time they played next.

In the meantime, it's closing in on noon and I realize I've only had one bottle of water since breakfast and I had no food with me. I don't eat meat and the only food at the concession stand was meat oriented and very unhealthy - hot dog, sausage wrap, frito pie, etc. Nope. Not going to eat it. I had my bike in the car with me because it had to be racked between 2:00 and 6:30, so I was hoping her games would fall where I would have time to run get some food, rack my bike and get back in time to see her play.

By the time they found out they would be playing at 2:00, it was already too late to go get food. But I knew I needed something. I went to the concession stand to see what had the most substance that I could eat and ended up with a snicker's bar and a water. How's that for day-before-a-big-race-nutrition? Uggghhh.

They played at 2:00 and won. This meant they would play again at 4:00. If they also won at 4:00 they would play in the championship game at 6:00. Hmmm... What to do and when to rack my bike? I figured I needed to go then and try to be back by 4:00 because I definitely did not want to miss the championship game if they were to play in it. So I left and drove to the race site. Only to find a LONG line of cars waiting to get in. This was not good. I had made good time getting there (thanks to the toll road), but I knew it would take a while to get in. Plus, by this point I had to pee.

I finally got parked, carried my bike to transition, found my spot, put my bike on the rack, looked around to get my barrings for swim entrance, bike in/out, and run in/out. Then I headed to the port-a-potty. And they were roped off. I couldn't use one. I understand the race director didn't want them to get all gross before race morning, but I had to go. It wasn't going to happen and I needed to get back to the tournament, so I got in the car and headed north. And I got back just as the game was ending. They lost and they would not be going on to the championship game. Part of me wishes I would have waited, but if I had, they probably would have won. Oh well. At least I finally got to pee.

We headed home and I needed to decide what to do about dinner. I had told the kids Friday night that if we went out to eat Friday night, they would not be going out Saturday night. I would be going by myself to either the Beginner Triathlete dinner or to the Team in Training Pasta Party (I had one friend who fundraised with them this year). At that point it was almost 6:00 and the TNT dinner was closer to my house, so that's the option I went with.

After dinner I headed home, made sure all my stuff was packed and ready to go and went to bed.

Sunday morning the alarm went off at 3:15. My friend had wanted to meet me at 4:30 to head out to the race and I hate feeling rushed. I'd rather wake up a little early than be stressed. I got dressed and then headed to the kitchen for my standard pre-race breakfast of oatmeal. The only thing is that I've eaten oatmeal for every race and for most Saturday's before practice for the last 3 years that I'm starting to get tired of it. I had to force it down and still didn't even finish. I think it's time to find a new breakfast. I then loaded my water bottles with ice, grabbed my gear and headed out to meet my friend. While waiting for her, I decided to eat a Lara Bar for some extra calories.

When she arrived we headed to the race site and got a nice parking spot. The buses were just arriving so we got our things and got in line for the buses. We were on the second bus that would take us to the transition area. As soon as we got there we got in line to get body marked. That's always fun to have your age written in permanent marker on your calf so that everyone behind you knows how old your are :)

Into transition we go and I start setting my stuff up. It was actually a little chilly and I was starting to worry about freezing in the water because I hate cold water. I also found out the race was officially wet suit legal. And I didn't have mine. But I was somewhat ok with that since I had not practiced in it. I was just concerned about the temperature.

I made a few trips to the port-a-potties, chatted with some folks I knew from Team in Training and then actually saw someone on the row behind me who I thought might be a forumite from Beginner Triathlete. I asked, and it was. We chatted for a bit and wished each other luck, although I knew she'd be way ahead of me.

As it got closed to start time, we hit the port-a-potties one last time and headed to the swim start. I was shivering without my long sleeved-shirt on and just wanted to get going so I could warm up. When it was time for our wave to enter the water I was dreading the shock of cold water. Luckily, it wasn't as bad as I anticipated and I figured once I got moving I would be ok. I got close to the front, but not in the front row, and a little to the right. I'm not a fast swimmer, but I also don't like starting with a bunch of feet in my face. I think my position was perfect for me.

The swim was basically a large triangle. I had not put in near the swim time in training that I should have, so I figured my swim time would be the same or slower than last year (48:13). I felt pretty good on that first leg though. When I sighted, I saw plenty of other hot pink caps so I knew I was staying with the pack. Then either right before or right after the first turn, I got passed by someone in the wave behind me. I had to remind myself this was "my" race and not to worry about it. I always get passed at some point. Kept swimming to the second turn and tried to stay as close to the buoys as I could. Also tried to draft when I could, but I need to practice that more. Rounded the third buoy and was glad to be headed to the finish. I wanted out of the water. At one point on the stretch I did battle with another swimmer who couldn't hold her line. I didn't want to give up mine, but we were swimming about the same speed at that point. I didn't have the energy to get ahead and I certainly didn't want to slow down. I finally got away from her and the last little bit tried to pick up speed. I swam until my arms hit the ground and then I stood up to exit the water.

From the swim exit to the transition is a little bit of a run and it's uphill. I was feeling good and was running (ok, maybe jogging). I heard several people yelling my name and that made me feel good. I glanced at my watch and saw 37 minutes. Wow! I was VERY pleased. I found out later the swim course was about 200 meters short, but even with that, I probably still would have beaten my time from last year, so I am happy. To get better, though, I think I need to find a swim coach or take one of those swim clinics where they video you swim and work on your technique.

Any way, I took off my goggles and my cap and ran into transition. When I got to my spot, my feet were covered in mud. Good thing I had saved my water bottle from this morning and refilled it. I sat down and used it to rinse my feet off. For short tris I don't worry about it, but I still had 69.1 miles to go. When my feet were clean, I put on my socks and cycling shoes, then put on my gloves, glasses and helmet. We also had to wear our race numbers on us during the bike for this race, so I put on my race belt. I grabbed my bike and ran to the bike exit. I crossed the mount line, clipped in and took off.

The first part of the bike was very congested. Drafting is illegal, but it was hard not to be in someone's draft zone as we headed out of the park. I am very familiar with the first part of the course as I've done several sprints that utilized that part, so I felt very comfortable in picking up the pace through the first 12 miles, but not so much that I was hammering. When I got to the first aid station at mile 20 I was very pleased with my time. It had been just over an hour, so I was probably averaging 18-19 mph at that point. I was also pleased that I didn't have to pee like I did last year.

Throughout the next part of the course, I would pass people and then people would pass me. A couple of times I would play cat and mouse with a person until one of us would either surge ahead or fall behind. I was still doing pretty good with pace, but backed off a little because I didn't want to blow up for the run. Just before the second aid station I had to pee. Got to that aid station, got off the bike, did my thing and came out to get back on the bike, only to see two bikers collide and go down. Some people don't seem to slow down when coming in and trying to get a bottle hand up. They got off the road and seemed ok, so I took off.

Just like in swimming, I hadn't really done the training I needed to on the bike. This summer was crazy and I never really had time for a 3-4 hour ride. I had done a century ride in June around Lake Tahoe, so I knew I could cover the distance. However, the century ride was on my roadie and today I was on my tri bike. By mile 40, by shoulders and neck area were hurting from being in aero. Several times I had to ride in the hoods. I felt silly. Here I was on this nice tri bike, and I wasn't even in aero. Oh well. The winds also seemed to pick up at times and in a couple of places I struggled to maintain my balance from the side winds. I think the last 10 miles really killed my average, but it is what it is. Climbed the last big hill and headed toward the end of the bike. Dismounted my bike and knew I wasn't running into transition.

I usually don't have a problem with my legs coming off the bike. They weren't sore, but they were stiff for some reason. I walked my bike halfway back to my rack and then they felt better so I jogged from there. Got the cycle gear off and my running gear on and took off. Last year was REALLY hot and I ended up walking most of the course because I don't do well with heat. This year was hot, but it was windier and had a little cloud cover. I really wanted to run as much as I could even if it was slow. I took off running out of the park and felt good. I told myself I'd run the flats and downhills and walk the uphills and that's just what I did. I grabbed water and gatorade at the aid stations and grabbed me an ice-cold towel they were handing out. That felt good. Headed back in the park and past the Team in Training and Beginner Triathlete tents where I got some "Go Briana" and that perked me up. Then I rounded the corner to Quadzilla. If you want to know what Quadzilla is, go to this blog and read her report. She has a picture of it. It's not fun. And it's not short. You bet I walked that thing.

Then I came around to the cruel part of the course. The part that says "if your finished, go this way; if not, go that way". You are right there by the finish, but have to do the loop again. And so I headed out. By this point it was getting hotter and I was walking a little more. I still tried to run as much as I could because I was doing the math in my head and knew that if I could run some, I could still possibly break 7 hours. That became my new goal. Run 100 steps, walk 100; run 200 steps, walk 100; run to the next mile marker sign. Whatever worked at the time. Came back into the park, got some more cheers and had to face quadzilla again. But once that was over I knew I was close. As I came into the finishers chute, I started jogging so that I could at least jog across the finish line. Hopefully my picture turns out good and doesn't reflect the fact that I was about to die from the heat.

Crossed the finish line, got my towel and water bottle and let the lovely volunteers take my chip. And that's when I didn't feel so good. I've said before, I don't do well with heat. I've been know to have to lay down on a bench in Six Flags because I get light headed and I had that feeling now. I saw and empty chair and went straight to it. I knew if I could get a coke in me I'd feel better, but when I saw the line for the racer's food and drinks, there was no way I was going to stand in it. So I just sat. I have no idea how long I sat, but it felt good.

When I was feeling a little better I got up and walked over to the TNT tent and hung out there for a few minutes. Then I headed over to the BT tent. I don't really know many people, but found someone I did know and talked to him for a little bit. Then I decided I really needed that Coke so I finally headed to the finisher's tent and got it. I sat down right outside that tent and drank half of it. Then I felt well enough to head back to transition. I knew my friend was behind me, but I didn't know by how much. I packed some of my things up and then spread out my towel and just laid there waiting for my friend. It was nice. I finally heard her name called as she crossed the finish but was in no hurry to go any where. I figured she had to come back to transition at some point, so I stayed where I was.

When she got back, we pack our things and headed out. The only bad thing about this race is due to the nature of the park, you have to park your car about a mile away from the tranistion area. You can catch the shuttle in the morning, but your bike can't go on the shuttle when you leave, so you either have to walk it back or ride it. And if you ride it, you have to do so with all your race gear. We started out walking, but soon decided to go ahead and ride. I put my helmet back on, got my backpack on my back and off we went. Got back to the car, loaded the bikes on the rack and headed back to her car. After dropping her off I headed to Taco Bell for some take home food and then home to eat and have another coke. I don't drink many cokes, but there's nothing better to me after a long, hot workout than and ice cold coke and it tasted great. Then I took a shower and settled in the recliner for my Sunday evening shows - Amazing Race, Desparate Housewives, and Brothers & Sisters. Then I went to bed and slept like a rock.

When I got home from work Monday I was so tired I could barely stay awake. My quads were a little sore, but nothing like they are after a marathon. Tuesdays I normally do yoga, but due to school activities, no yoga for me this Tuesday. I did catch part of the Biggest Loser and Jillians' arms motivated me to do some light dumbell work and some situps. Wednesday turned into a "no workout" day as well as I helped my daughter work the pumpkin patch at church. Thursday I sqeezed in 20 minutes on the trainer between work and her volleyball game and tonight I got on the treadmill for an easy 2 mile run. I'll transition back into working out this weekend and hopefully be back to normal next week. A couple friends and I are thinking of doing the San Antonio Half Marathon November 16th, so I need to keep the running up. I've also got the Race for the Cure 5k the first Sunday in November. There's always something. If not, I don't think I'd workout.

Overall, for the amount of training I was able to do, I am very pleased with the results. I love this race and will do it again. Not sure about next year as my running buddy and I are thinking it's time for the Marine Corps Marathon next year if we can get in. We'll see.

My daugher has a choir performance in the morning and my son has a soccer game, but after that I think we'll be home. Hopefully I'll get in some kind of workout, catch some football, and catch some of the KONA Ironman on the internet. Should be a good day. Have a great weekend.

By the way, here is a picture of me from the race. A fellow BTer was taking pictures on the course and got this one of me. Not sure where this was on the course, but probably at the beginning or end.


Sara Cox Landolt said...

Interesting read on the Longhorn Half, thanks for posting.

Great race! You're a lot faster than me. I struggle with heat too. I turn purple and puff up.

Marine Corps marathon does look appealing, have you done it in the past?

Best to you and your future training,

M, Ms. R, Mom, Auntie M, Marey said...

WoW! You're incredible! I think I could do all 3 of those events...on different days!

I got nervous just reading your entry! Great job!