Friday, November 8, 2013

Ironman Austin 70.3 Race Report

I don't want to take off my bracelet because it feels like that will mean it never happened! I can see why people choose to get a tattoo. 

I've taken nearly 2 weeks to blog but I want to get the race in writing for future reference... So here goes... I'll add pics later. I'm writing from my phone. This is long. Like, 70.3 long. 

We got to Austin on Saturday afternoon after a late start because both kids had a triathlon that morning. There were several lines to navigate through to get checked in and get all of my stuff. What I really wanted was to get to the merchandise and shop! I was hesitant to buy a ton of stuff out of fear I wouldn't finish, but that feeling didn't last for long. I found a beautiful long sleeve purple shirt with the Ironman logo, a visor, and the last finisher shirt in my size. A sign from God that I was going to finish! I also ordered a frame that will be shipped to me later. It has a duplicate medal, a replica of my bib, an engraved plate with my times, and a space for a finisher photo. 

I separated all of my transition stuff into ziplock bags at home so I could easily switch the gear to the IM bags once I got my packet. Austin was expecting rain overnight, so I left my T2 stuff in the ziplock before placing it in the IM bag and tying it to the rack. I had a great T2 spot, right on the fence line. It was still raining on race morning so I left everything in the ziplock. Dry shoes and socks were very important to me. Separate transition areas was not nearly as stressful as I feared. 

We took Stormy to T1 and I checked out the lake. I had another good spot for T1- right on the fence line. Not much else to do in T1 since I'd be back in the morning. I didn't leave my T1 gear overnight. 

We found a Jason's Deli and I had another monster baked potato. I had pasta for lunch and was starting to get nervous. Not much sounded good. We went back to the hotel where I mixed my Ironman Perform and made sure I had everything for race day. Early to bed. I didn't sleep well, of course! 

My husband needed some breakfast and I always have Diet Dr. Pepper in the morning, even on race mornings, so we found a McDonald's. It was 3.5 hours until my start time so I had plenty of time to continue fueling. I also had an orange juice and dry bagel. I sipped on a bottle of Ironman Perform right up until start time and had a chocolate GU 15 minutes before my swim start. Pre-race nutrition felt good. It was still drizzly, and a little chilly. I went inside T1 to set up and realized I'd lost one of the rubber bands that holds my aero bottle in place. My husband took the rope and cord lock thingy out of the bag that holds our collapsible sport/camping chairs. I used that to tie my bottle into place. It worked! We set up the chairs under a moving truck that would transport gear bags to the finish and watched people as we stayed dry. The race was delayed by 15 minutes but my wave didn't start until an hour after the official start so another 15 minutes didn't matter to me. The time finally came to put on my wetsuit and line up. It had stopped raining. I started a row or two back from the front, started my watch and then it was time to swim! The water was cool, but not bad, and I'm a wimp. I think it was 71-72 degrees. It felt like we kept going out forever. Then we finally made the left turn to swim parallel to the shore. I didn't realize how long that section would be and I started to think maybe we were headed back to the shore. Not so. But I was able to stick with freestyle the whole time. The start was rough water and a few times I would get into a group and hit/get hit. The only other time it got rough was when the wave of men who started behind us approached. It feels like sharks are in the water coming to get you! I exited the swim and was able to easily strip the top half of my wetsuit. The wetsuit strippers made quick work of the bottom half. I took it pretty easy going into T1 with walking and slow jogging.

I never wear socks when I ride my bike but because I'd walked through mud and rocks to get to Stormy I went with the extra protection and put them on. My husband was on the other side of the fence cheering and taking pics. There was rumor of thorns in the field so I, along with most other people, carried my bike to the road. I had a hard time clipping in because there was so much mud caked onto my shoes but just as I thought I'd have to stop I realized they finally clipped. 

I don't remember many specifics from the bike. I'd been warned not to go out too fast at the beginning so I held back and caught my breath from swimming and T2 and allowed myself to settle into the ride. It was pretty easy to see when an aid station was coming up. I'd empty my handheld bottle into my aero bottle, chunk the empty bottle at the beginning of the aid station, and take a new bottle of Ironman Perform. It was my first time to take bottles while still moving and only once did I miss the exchange. My salt tabs fell out of the bottle and got mixed up with soggy mini Oreos so I'd have to dig around for a salt capsule then swallow it covered in Oreo goo. I quickly realized that not only did I not want anything that sweet, but I really didn't want sweet and soggy. The Oreos were really only there for a treat, I was prepared to use all liquid nutrition. There were some rough patches of road but overall it reminded me of riding in the country around home. All of the volunteers and police on the course were great with athlete safety. I saw lots of flats and although I'd practiced changing flats a few times during race week, I was thankful to not have any bike problems. It took me a long time to figure out why everyone's backside was muddy and grassy. Duh. It was a muddy mess for wetsuit stripping and they'd been on the ground. The last few miles of the bike were torture. I could see the T2 area but we snaked around the roads to get there. I was happy to be off my bike and happy with my time. I was off the bike earlier than planned. I really didn't know how to gauge race time with the hills. There were a few climbs where I was super slow but overall I liked the course. What goes up gets to come down and it was fun to fly! 

My husband got some pics before I came off the bike and there he was again at the fence line as I changed shoes and got ready to run. I felt really good on the run for about 8 miles. My plan was to run 3 minutes and walk 1 minute intervals. The run course is by far the hilliest 13.1 I've ever done and I didn't do any hill training because I was babying some minor leg/foot issues leading up to the race. My goal for the run was under 3 hours. My nutrition plan didn't hold on the run. I didn't feel like taking GU and the coke was amazing. Maybe I had too much coke, maybe not enough salt caps, I'm not sure. But my stomach started to get sloshy. I stopped taking fluids, hoping it would improve. I walked a lot more than I wanted to. But my pace stayed reasonable. I'd done the math and thought I might be able to finish in under 6.5 hours but once I had to slow down I knew that wouldn't happen. It was awesome to see NTM members on the run course, some I knew, some I didn't. It was a good pick me up just to get a smile or a "good job", especially on the back part of the course where there weren't spectators. It had been cloudy all day, but the sun came out for my last run loop and it was starting to get hot. I couldn't get enough wet sponges and I was trying to avoid liquids still. I'd pour the water on my head, down my shirt, down my shorts, anywhere to try and cool off. I was beyond happy to finally get to turn right for the finish instead of heading out for another run loop. I saw my husband before I entered the arena for the indoor finish. I gave some high fives as I ran toward the finish, and raised my arms for the finisher pic. I walked around the finisher's area for a few minutes. I wasn't ready to eat, but I picked up a coke just in case it started to sound good. I stood in line for a little while for a massage but decided I'd rather just take a shower and warm up. Everything hurt but I wasn't sick. Finish time: 6:36

The number one question I get is when I'll do a full. It won't be 2014, that's all I know. I've got an idea of a couple of 70.3 races I'd like to do next year. I've only done 2 seasons of triathlon and I'd like to get some more long course experience before I train for 140.6. But I've visited some websites and read some race reports. ;)