So y’all knew how well training was going and how some major diet and training focus changes made me pretty confident going in.
Then, all the taper madness starts. My foot got broken and miraculously healed itself. Same with my shin. Also, I almost was coming down with something like every other day. I held my breath in meetings where people were sick. I forced myself to sleep so much that I couldn’t sleep some nights because I was full on sleep and also not exhausted from training so I freaked out about that. I love some parts of taper, but man, I can become such a basket case!
All seemed to go as planned though. The drive, the packet pickup, eating all the things (chicken, taters, salad), driving the bike course, the traipsing through the grocery store trying to figure out what we’d be in the mood for after the race, the eating more of all the things (sunbutter, more salad, tons of fruit, potato chips, cheese, smoked sausage), and then drifting off to bed.
I kind of slept fitfully, but the bed was comfy, and I was going over my race plan, and then zzzz….
….and then I hear “GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY ROOM YOU MOTHERFUCKERS” and it sounded like my husband was running to our hotel room door. To which I blearily said “uurph…yeah? YEAH!” Funny story. Our room had actually been occupied by people who had packed all their stuff and took it with them, and when they got back at midnight and found their room rekeyed, they had the hotel desk person let them in. Due to a clerical error, they thought it was empty.
Apparently they were of some sort of religious following that they unplugged all the electronics (I had to plug in both the tv and alarm clock and thought that was weird). Also, apparently it was the first time that they had heard the word FUCK. Heh. While it was totally innocent, it definitely left us both a) completely awake with an alarm in 4 hours and b) shaky with adrenaline.
Let’s just say 4am did not see us bright eyed and bushy tailed, but wake up we did. I had a full scoop of purple stuff to myself (40 mg caffeine), one kind bar, and a coconut water. Coconut water kinda broke the “nothing new on race day” rule, but I’ve had it after workouts and I couldn’t stomach the second kind bar, and that was additional electrolytes and calories. It was a good choice. Coconut water is my friend. That will happen every race.
This is our fourth year at Kerrville and we refine the process each time. Two years ago, we discovered parking at T2 on the street for ease of loading up the gear at the end. This year, we decided next time we would drop one of us off at the shuttle area with all our stuff instead of lugging 2 heavy bags each half a mile.
These things become rote after a while. Set up the stuff. Potty. Talk to people. Pour the bottles. Walk around more. Have to potty again but the line is cuh-ray-zee, so I just found a tree and sat and “reflected on life” for a bit. Tug at the wetsuit for many minutes to make sure it’s in the right place. Stretch. Watch the pros. Walk around more. Sit down. Stand up. Cheer for people. Send my husband off. Stick the earplugs in. Focus. Go.
It was a time trial start, and you cross the mat, tip toe down a really steep slippy ramp (they forbade anyone to run down it, and you really couldn’t), and then you dive in and start swimming.
I started swimming, and kept running into super slow people and passing them. I felt awful a few minutes in. I looked at my garmin and it said 1:40 something per mile which is not even a pace I understand, so I chilled the heck out and recovered a bit. I mean – not even on short sprints across the pool. Adrenaline + purple stuff + goals = swimming rocket fuel.
Going out hard made it so I breathed every other stroke instead of every 3 like normal. I’ve never been so out of breath during a swim. At first I freaked out a little bit. It’s a long day and I felt utterly SHELLED after like 300m. However, the great thing about a long day is you have time to fix that kind of thing, so I just focused on chilling the hell out and being long and strong.
Things settled. I kept focused, I kept pushing hard but not too hard, and felt like a rockstar in the water. I found the point of being in the zone, but not dazing and daydreaming. I passed the halfway point at 19:44 and may have let off the gas a little bit on the second half, or the current may have been a bit against me, but I kept peeking at the pace and it kept fluctuating between 1:51 and 1:55 which is like… not something I can usually do.
At the end, I burned a match or two to try and get in under 40 mins, and allllmost made it. My garmin recorded this swim long at 1.25 miles, so I think I actually dipped under 2:00/100m, which has been a huge goal of mine. Best swim pace at any triathlon yet, and I did it at my longest. I definitely can see some pacing improvements in the future, but I am very happy with this. I can swim hard. I own that possibility in my bag of tricks. That was the goal.
Swim time: 40:27 (2:06/100m). 6/13 AG
Do I wish I could have found 28 seconds on the swim? Sure. But I’m really happy with how I attacked this with focus. I figured out a lot of swim things right at the end of this training block, so I think next year is all about the sub-2 here.
Holy hell, burning matches right at the end of a swim makes for a bit of a rough T1. I got out and stumbled over to the wetsuit strippers and they took some time getting my suit over my garmin but quickly I was good to go. I tried to jog up that steep hill but it was more of a wog. I got to my bike and kind of stumbled around a bit, but eventually glasses, sock, shoe, sock, shoe, helmet, and clomp clomp clomp happened. It was super muddy so I took it slowly.
T1 time: 4:23. 10/13 AG.
I botched this, but I think I traded a minute here for a minute on the swim, so I don’t think I lost THAT much overall time. Next time, I just have to try and stay focused a little better knowing that I can recover on the bike.
Got out, got going, and settled in. I was a little wasted from the swim, but I knew the majority of the first 10 miles was downhill, and I was more than recovered by then. At 30 mins it was time to eat but I still felt VERY buzzy from the purple stuff, so I changed my nutrition plan and did my pineapple non-caff gel and worked my way through gatorade #1 to be ready to empty at the bottle grab.
This bike ride is honestly boring to talk about, but in such such such a good way. I kept positive, did the work, and kept focused. I never sat behind someone just because, I passed passed passed even if I had to work a bit. I spent so much more time in aero than normal. I kept a nice cadence and never felt bad.
I did fail a bit at my nutrition plan. I should really think about this a little more. 1:15 ticked by on the only real long hill of the course, and then there’s a bunch of turns to get to loop 2, so I didn’t take my second gel until about 1:30 (caff salted watermelon… yum). I did stick with taking in a gatorade bottle per aide station, though on #3, I was going a little too fast and almost spun the volunteer around (I apologized behind me profusely) and splashed gatorade all over my glasses. Also, at some point, a bunch of biting ants found their way to my arm. Owwww.
I got in one more gel (non-caff, apple cinnamon), but at that point I felt really full up, so I decided to hold off on the 4th gel until really late in the bike or early in the run (SPOILER: didn’t at all), but I kept with the gatorade because I knew I needed the electrolytes, and gosh, it was ALREADY starting to get hot. I knew that was trouble brewing. However, the awesome part is that most half races I start feeling bleh around mile 40 (and sometimes even before), but this time I my legs didn’t start barking at me until, like 3 miles before the end. Totally fine.
The course was kind of a blur, to be honest. I really felt strong and confident the whole time, never hit a low, and it just… happened. In a great way. Felt topped off on calories but not too full. I did feel like I had to pee the entire time, but it was not my day to become a big girl triathlete and pee right off the bike, not for lack of trying. Oh well.
Bike Time: 3:15:30 (10/12 AG). 17.2 MPH
Um, yeah. I’ll take this. Earlier this year I was frustrated with my bike progress so I have been working it a lot this cycle, but I have been stressing volume and intensity, and not long rides, so I was worried. This paid off with a 7 min PR and feeling the best I ever have off the bike. So happy!
Since I couldn’t pee on the bike, I decided I was going to sit down and see what happened on the grass. I saw Zliten in T2 and said hi and talked and told him I was going to try and pee. Heh. I dumped out my shoes and sat down and put them on and nothing was happening, so I just got on with the getting out to run.
T2 Time: 2:38 (7/12)
This was wayyyy quicker than last year and I even sat down. Yay!
It. Was. Hot. And sunny. And NO wind. Not an optimal day. Zliten had beat me out of T2, but stopped at the porta potty for a sec, so we ended up starting lap 1 at the same time. That was actually awesome. He kept telling me to go if I wanted, but we were running about a 10-ish min/mile pace which was fine with me, and we were chatting, and it was a nice start to the run.
Then, we hit the hill around mile 1.5 and, oh my, there was no use running that. That sapped about 5-10 seconds per mile off my pace each time, but I don’t think I had enough matches to conquer that. The heat was sucking my will to live and I was working on survival. However, I found a slightly higher gear when I was running than Zliten had, so I pulled away around mile 2.
I was not happy with the heat, and it took me the first lap to be able to stomach a gel, but on the second lap, ate my frustrations with a salted watermelon one. That helped. I got a weird side stitch and ditched my handheld bottle around mile 5.5. I never gave up, but I did walk in measured doeses.
The heat was overwhelming, and when I hit hills, I needed a break. When I ran, I was able to keep a good 10 min mile pace, but I couldn’t maintain it. That. Heat. Also, no ice at aide stations. S’ up with that? I did make sure to grab about 1-2 cups and get them either in or on me of water and at least 1 gatorade (in me, not on me) each time I passed a station (5 times per lap of 3.2 miles). This made for some soggy feet but kept my core temp in check.
I just kept chipping chipping, chipping. I saw Zliten getting behind as I started lap 3 and he was still on lap 2, and I straight stopped and gave him a 5 second hug. Apparently it made him feel a lot better. Yay! Gel at 9 – rootbeer – non caff, and I think it made me able to keep living. I walked a little through aide stations but I really pushed as much as I could on the last lap since I was butting up against my B run time goal 2:30 and A overall race goal. I couldn’t quite do the math, but I knew it was close on both accounts.
Pretty sure I rolled into the finish looking like a drooly, sunburnt, limpy puppy, but I got a nice annoucement because I was wearing the race kit of one of the sponsors of the race (Couer) and finally it was all done.
Run Time: 2:29:38 (9/12) 11:25 min/mile
While I didn’t imagine it would be this much of a fight just to get in under 2:30, this was probably the second hottest half marathon I’ve ever run and the hottest took me over 3 hours. I never stopped fighting. Every time I had those kind of defeatist, givey uppy thoughts, I banished them.
I don’t regret walking when I did. I really think I roll better with the run walk when times get tough. I honestly doubt there was a lot of my run sections that were below 10-something pace. I don’t think I could have done that trying to run 100%.
Total time: 6:32:36 (9/12)
Yes, I missed my A goal by 2.5 minutes. However, I really did not anticipate the heat topping out in the mid-80s (and probably feels like a little hotter) and I am really quite happy with what I did with the day. Are there about 3 minutes I could have pulled out of the day? Probably. I didn’t fall down at the finish. I didn’t go directly to the med tent. However, this is a 23 minute PR from last year, and it was 10-15 degrees hotter and full sun.
I did hit top half total of my gender – 50/104. Soon, I’ll work on cracking top half of my age group, but for now – that’s a victory.
I really want to find a long course where the run plays to my strengths – temperate and flat. I have two in mind next year. However, I’m over the moon with this result. 30 seconds within my A goal on the swim and bike. 3.5 min and 7 min PRs respectively. And while slower than I’d like, finally a RESPECTABLE half marathon time that I’m not ashamed of. And a 13 minute PR there too. Getting better.
I collected my water bottle and finisher shirt and immediately headed back out on the course. The last time Zliten had passed me on the course he asked me to run him in. I headed out a bit to a tree in the shade and cheered people on. After a bit, I saw him and jogged with him a bit to the finish, but I was very happy to send him in and just walk around the barricade.
Unlike normal, I didn’t have an appetite. Not in a feel sick way, but, like, I really fueled well. I did have a beer and a half, but didn’t eat chips or tacos or bars or anything like normal. Weird.
After chatting with people we knew about the finish, and walking around a bit, and doing the normal celebratory after race things, we packed up and went to the hotel.
Beer and chips and queso and watermelon and mac and cheese and delivery pizza and all the things that go with after race binging happened (trying to eat back 5000 calories is really hard), and then I found myself asleep for 10 hours solid, which is SO not normal for me post race. I usually sleep fitfully for a few hours because of soreness and caffeine, but this was BLISSFUL.
I was kind of afraid of how good I felt – after a big long A race, it’s really a downer if you feel totally ok, because that means you left a lot in the tank, but it’s manifested itself in different ways. Nothing’s super sore, but I got a little winded walking up a flight of stairs. I’m not falling asleep on the couch, but I did turn the water back on in the shower after I grabbed a towel and soaked it. I tried to sup paddle board, and fell off twice.
So, I’m taking the rest of the week. I might run, if I feel like it. I might just sit with a glass of wine all week. I do know that two days of crap food was quite enough, and the gross bloated feeling has shoved me back to eating clean-ish again real quick. So much inflamation. I’d cry at the scale if I didn’t know better.
Final word on apparel: I have never been so comfortable in a kit as I have in my Coeur top and visor. The top never rode up like EVERY other top has. And, they made me look goooood in race pictures (even with a bunch of tri junk in my trunk). I have decided that at the beginning of next season, I’m ordering a kit to spend Tri Season 2015 in.
For now, it is time to recover, and then rebuild. I have a marathon to smash at the end of November, and I’m so excited to dedicate the next two months to run love. After a glass or 6 more of vino this week.