I almost don’t want to write this one because it means tri season is over, and that’s sad. But it means that marathon season is starting, so that’s happy. Except my legs hurt, so I’m going to rest this week and recover and ramble on about the fun times in Kerrville instead of thinking about that, so strap in, folks!
We slept in a little bit, loaded up our stuff into the beast, and had a nice, uneventful drive to Kerrville. We got into town around 1, got our packets, and dropped off our bikes at T1 and told their bikes to have a good night under the stars. We had a typical pre-race lunch of a club sandwich, a few fries (normally don’t have so much fat, but I was really craving it so figured my body needed some), and a salad at the gourmet restaurant of IHop. We drooled over the pancakes but decided against so much sugar.
Then, we dropped the run bags off at T2. Mine had way too many things in it, but I wanted to be prepared: extra shirt, extra arm sleeves, extra socks, run shoes, handheld, visor, race belt w/number, gatorade bottle, pain spray, and sunscreen. Just to refamiliarize ourselves, we drove the bike course, and the run course, and then it was finally time to check into the hotel. We elected not to stay at the host hotel (elected = I waited to long to book a room), and it ended up being a great thing – the room was cheaper and so, so, so much nicer.
Then, we met our tri buddy B and drove the course again. I took pictures and video. I forgot how pretty it was! We were going to have dinner with him but it was late and we were tired, so we sent him off to get pancakes and ate some mac and cheese in the room and went to bed. I slept fitfully, waking up a lot, but besides that I did get a decent night of sleep (better than normal before Kerrville).
I woke up around 3am and couldn’t go back to sleep so I ate my first bar (Rise – Pineapple Macadamia) and used the potty and then laid back down and got myself mentally ready and waited for Zliten to wake up. When he did, I ate my second bar (Oatmega PB), drank my starbucks mocha, used the potty again, and dithered around and got going right about on time. We parked right near the race finish (smart, as both other years its been a PITA to hike the 2 miles back to the hotel) and caught a shuttle to the race start. More dithering at T1, more pottying, ate half a package of chompies, turned in our dry clothes bags, stuffed myself into my wetsuit, and headed down to the race start to send off B and Zliten.
There was no swim warmup (sadface), so I tried to warm up my shoulders the best I could on land. I really, really had to pee and didn’t have time to get back to the portas, so as soon as I was able to jump in the water….ahhh… sorry women under 39 (I’m sure I was not the only one). I got myself near the front on the outside, and they started our wave. Last year, I spent the whole swim just ill at ease and anxious about the rest of the day, so my goal was to NOT do that. I swam strong and actually found a pretty good pocket and some space (love this race – it’s small enough that it’s not crowded). My “mantra” when I found my mind straying was “swimmy, swimmy, swimmy in my happy, happy jacket”. Don’t ask, but it worked.
I rounded the first and second buoys and got onto the long straight stretch and I kept finding myself alone except for passing people in caps in waves before me (that were obviously struggling). Oddly enough, my mind went to “somehow I’m last in my age group”, but then I just kept repeating my mantra and trying to swim with good form and keep on it and in the moment. Apparently I passed Zliten and B around the third buoy (apparently, as Zliten told me, I was oblivious), and started swimming for the finish. My goal was to get there before the last quarter wave started, and I got out of the water, and got to the wet suit strippers as I heard the air horn went off and the announcer said “last wave is off”. Sweet.
Swim Time: 43:57, 2:17/100m. Goal was under 45 mins, so I was happy. I think a little more wetsuit swimming could help me here as it feels different, and I could have pushed a little harder, but it was nice to get out of the water feeling fresh. Also, 10 mins quicker than last year. Yay swimming!
I was a little “deer in the headlights” with the wetsuit, and I got to the strippers fully clothed. I said “first wetsuit race”, and they took care of me and I was off with my wetsuit in hands in short order – in just my sports bra and my tri shorts (I shudder for the pictures). The hill was steep, but I chugged up it carefully (no sandals). Once I got to the top and there was no more carpet, I walked. I didn’t want to be a wuss, but having had ankle problems all week, I didn’t want to have a little rock end my day so I took it slow.
Once I got to the bike – I put on my arm sleeves, a tech tee, some ride glide (molesting myself in public is fun!), my bike shoes and socks, and I was off. I left my garmin and bike gloves on my bike since it worked out at the last race. As I was about to take off I saw Zliten get up to his bike looking INCREDIBLY rough, but into T1 in a great time for him. I told him I loved him and I’d see him on the bike (I expected to be passed) and I was off. I got stuck behind a few relay people, said excuse me, got to the mount line, and got going without incident.
T1 time: 3:25. Last year – 4:15. Even dealing with the wetsuit, even walking and being careful, I cut 50 seconds off my T1. My goal was to be on the bike at 8:35, and I was on the bike at 8:35 exactly. Solid!
Got going, and my first thought was “It’s COLD!” I forget after long, hot Austin summers that it can ever be cold again, so it’s always a surprise at Kerrville. I was thankful that I had my sleeves on, and I took the time to put my bike gloves on for warmth. I started with a gatorade in my aero bottle, a backup gatorade in my bottle cage, and a smile on my face. Miles ticked away very quickly on the front half of the loop – the cool weather and the nice, slight, downhill stretch for the first 14 miles. Getting out of the water 10 mins quicker meant I was actually in it – I was very lonely last year on the bike.
I was just… happy. I just saw the mph climbing, I ended up at the first aide station at mile 17 at 9:30 (15 mins ahead of schedule), and then the back half of the course happened, as did the wind. I hit the first big hill, and the bump before it, I lost my backup bottle of gatorade. Boo! I was looking forward to yummy grape. Luckily, I got the first bottle grab no problem, my first bottle grab ever *tear*, and a dose of lemon lime endurance gatorade was loaded into my bottle. Woot.
I didn’t get any less happy, but I noticed I slowed. I went from 19. something to 18. something, to 17. something, and all of a sudden, I was finishing the first lap 5 minutes behind schedule. However, before I finished, I saw the BEST SIGN EVER. I was rolling down a hill, in the middle of nowhere, and I saw a sign that said “the cow goes moo”, to which I moo’ed (not the first time this ride, we went past a lot of farms). She then turned it around and it said “What’s the fox say?”. I got out of aero and bike danced and sand “Ring ding ding a ring a ding ding” and thanked her for the awesome sign. Two zipp wheelie dudeholes passed me and gave me dirty looks, and I lost some momentum, but it was TOTALLY worth it. Also, this was in my head the rest of the day.
After the turnaround, I got that momentum back and got back on schedule for aid station 3 (mile 30), hitting it at 10:15. The wind really picked up this lap, I didn’t make as much headway on the way down, but I tried to ride hard all the downhill to gain as much ground as I could. I also made up a song… “aero bars goes thpththt (my tape was coming off), pedals go woooshhh… what’s the bike say? Ring ding ding da ding da ding ding… what’s evilbike say… hatee hatee hatee ho”. It was making me happy. My legs were getting sore but not unreasonably so, and I was really enjoying my day. I hit mile 40 and realized I had only 16 left to go, and things got a little harder. The second lap up the hill was harder, but I just concentrated on doing what I could to not lose more time. I just kept telling myself to tuck in and keep working.
I saw Zliten at the out and back, and he said he had been chasing me for 17 miles, and I just sang “what does the fox say” to him because that’s where I was at. Now I knew he was coming for me, I tried to stay as fast as I could without really taxing myself and made sure not to let up. Over, up, around, past the horsies and cows and down the highway and up the hill… I kept watching the time of day and tried to keep close enough to the 11:50 I wanted to get off the bike without completely hosing myself. Also my ankle hurt (not the one that was hurting all week, and in a completely different place), but I tried to put it out of my mind – whatever would be on the run would be, and there was nothing I could do to fix it at mile 50 on the bike. I kept expecting Zliten to pass me, but I got myself into transition about 5 mins behind schedule, happy, a little sore, but ready to wrap my brain around a half marathon run.
Bike time: 3:22:07 – 16.6 mph. My goal was to hit 17 mph, over 1 mph better than last year, but I’ll take 0.7 mph better, and a 9 min PR.
I got off my bike and walked it into transition – it was downhill and a little slippery. I got to my spot and racked my bike and opened up my T2 bag. My brain was in a jumble but I removed all the things I needed to remove and put on my run shoes and got my handheld and OMG GRAPE GATORADE. My plan was to bring it, knowing it would be warm and I’d probably leave it for colder stuff at the aide stations, but after ~40 miles of nothing but lemon lime, and knowing the run course would probably have the same, I took the time to pour it into my handheld and it was like MANA FROM HEAVEN. I left all the changes of clothes because I was all good, but took the necessary race belt and visor.
I was about to be off, but turned around again and saw what I thought was Zliten heading into transition. I shouted “Zliten! I love you!” and jumped up and waved and got going.
T2 time: 3:44. Last year – 4:09. I could have been out of there a little quicker without out the PDA, but, whatevs. 25 seconds faster than last year, and I slacked. I’ll take it.
Ah, my nemesis. My achillies heel for 2013 (thank goodness I never had THAT injury, knock on wood). This was my wildcard. I pegged my swim time exactly, I had a very small window of expected bike time, but I had about a 30 minute range for what I could expect to do. My best half marathon in the last 2 years was around a 2:15. My worst effort at BSLT was over 3 hours. I figured I’d be somewhere in between there, but I had no idea what my legs could do without other mitigating factors (brain, nutrition, weather).
I had this detailed plan about what to do if I was feeling great, good, ok, bad, etc, but I threw that out at mile 1. My plan became: keep trotting as fast as I could. It was obvious that my legs were too sore to let me go faster than my lungs could handle. If I couldn’t trot: walk only as long as needed until you could continue trotting. Lap 1 went very well. I got out and my first mile was sub 11, and I was feeling great. I saw Zliten and gave him a woohoo and saw that he was feeling rough but still sticking it out. Then the uphills came and I felt ok and got through it, and hit the turnaround and was like, lap 1 done, 3 to go. Then, the same stretch that felt awesome was not feeling so awesome, and I popped the 303s and ate some chews and willed my glutes not to cramp any more and JUST KEPT TROTTING. I saw B somewhere in there and he was behind me (? – I had figured he was ahead) but catching up – I tried to keep going to keep him behind me as long as possible (he’s a WAY faster runner so passing was inevitable – but it was decent motivation to keep fighting).
I finally walked a little bit up the hill after mile 5, but resumed running right after (no surrender). I trotted back up past mile 6, past the second lap turn around, and gave myself a mental high five for not bonking yet (I fell apart at mile 6 last year). Lap 3 was kind of a blur. I think B passed me somewhere in there, and I would have LOVED to pick it up and hang on, but I knew the best I could do was KEEP TROTTING. It was probably my lowest lap, but I still don’t think a smile left my face – the crowd support was so awesome, the people on course were awesome to talk to (and, holy crap, I talked to people instead of just being in my own little world, since I was limited by my muscular fitness rather than being winded…), I was loving all the volunteers who were badass. I walked at one point because my stomach went all crampy, but when it passed I resumed the running, and I did walk the hill again, but I didn’t. give. up.
The best was lap 4. Every point of the run, I just said goodbye to it. Goodbye puffy taco restaurant, good bye aide station 1, goodbye turnaround, goodbye nasty hill, thank you and goodbye volunteers… I did walk a bit through and past the aide station but I picked it back up and only let myself walk up the hill again and then it was time to run it into the finish. I was watching my times tick away but just kept the math going to make sure I wasn’t completely blowing it. Ok, 6:30 is gone (middle of lap 2), what about 6:45? Ok, 6:45 is gone (end of lap 3), let’s get in under 7. I made my way back to the finish, grinning ear to ear, knowing I had smashed last year’s time, my body held out, and I was soon going to get to sit the hell down.
I ran through that finisher’s chute smiling, happy, full of joy. This was the perfect end to the 2013 tri season – a celebration of all the good, the bad, and the ugly that went into preparing for this race.
Run time: 2:42:06 – 12:22 min/mile. Last year – 2:50:29. 8.5 mins better. I had pie in the sky goals of under 2:30, but my run training has been severely lacking this year. I really feel I ran to the best of my abilities today after 4 hours of swimming and biking. That’s a whole ‘nother conversation and plan of attack to improve for next time, but I cannot be disappointed with this.
Total time: 6:55:22. Under 7 hours! Yahoo!
I am just very proud at how I kept my head positive about 90% of the race and just kept in the moment and just kept smiling and having fun the entire time. This is the most fun I’ve had at a race the entire year, hands down. My thought as I got in the water at the swim was about how your race is a celebration of your training. Well, I’ve had some rough times out there this year, but I was going to get out there and pop some proverbial bubbly all over that course and celebrate the heck out of Tri Season 2013. And I did that in spades. I loved Kerrville and its volunteers and its spectators and the people on the course that wanted to be happy with me and I had a fantastic, memorable day. And I knocked 29 minutes off my time from last year. You can’t not smile when you think about that!
The beer tent closed by the time we finished. Boo! I told them to save me one as I rounded the corner for lap 3 (yes, you are about 2 feet away from the finisher area each lap…) and he told me to hurry. I thought he was kidding! At least I prepared a contingency plan well…
I felt AWESOME tummy-wise. No sickies and had an appetite just about right away. By now, I have eaten all…
…things (I intended to order this whole pizza and eat it myself, but I ate too many other things first and could only get down two pieces… I still have two left in the fridge). I’ve now been to the chiro to put my back in the right spot. I have declared this week “yes week” – all those social events I have to say no to, this week, I’m saying yes, and I’m saying yes to a lot!
More thoughts and stuff later, I’m sure, but for now, sipping a glass of wine and basking in the glow of happily sore muscles, and enjoying all the extra sleep you get when you don’t have to wake up at sunrise to train!