I flew into Austin late Friday night. My bike and luggage arrived on time – and my bike flew for free! Thanks the awesome lady at the Southwest counter for making my day!
I stayed at the Embassay suites with a friend, her sister, and their mom. They are both AMAZING triathletes, and their mom was a fantastic sherpa/fan.
On Saturday, we woke up, had delicious breakfast, and started assembling bikes. We checked in, and did a quick bike, run and swim. The water was definitely wetsuit legal!
We went out for pizza (sans cheese) and got to bed at a reasonable hour.
We arrived at the race site around 6:15. We dropped bags in T2, hit porta-potties, and took the buses to the start/T1. I set up everything on my bike in T1, and took some time to relax. I was starting over an hour after the pros started, so I had plenty of time.
We had Red Bull – a tradition I learned about at St. Anthony’s.
I put on my wetsuit, got ready… and realized my timing chip was MIA! So I ran back to where we were standing and didn’t see it. I searched the bags and didn’t see it. I ran to the swim start and was handed a new chip by some nice dude. He said that my chip was probably stuck in my wetsuit. I got to the start just in time, found my friend to let her know I made it, but left her mom worrying until after the swim!
Started further outside than I would have liked, but that’s what I get for being a bit late to the line!
I wanted to draft my friend, but I lost her a few hundred yards in.
I felt good and smooth. It seemed like every time I sighted, I was closer to the turns that I thought I’d be.
I very quickly caught up to the waves in front of us and the course got really crowded! I got punched REALLY hard in the eye and was worried about bruising and bleeding, but luckily none of that happened.
I never once looked at my watch, I was too busy working my way around all of the people on the course. I knew my pace was on the hard side of comfortable, so I just kept going.
What would you do differently?:
Not lose my timing chip!
My times are still MIA from the lost chip. I got my finisher’s certificate, but it doesn’t include transitions.
It was my first time using wetsuit strippers – how fun! …and guess what I found stuck to the inside of my wetsuit? My timing chip!
My friend was out of the water about 30 seconds behind me, and she ran past me leaving transition, so I could have been faster 🙂
The bike started out great. I took the first few miles trying to settle in and get my heart rate down. I really got caught up in the excitement! About 10 miles into it, I finally dropped my HR below 150. There was an awesome cheering family around then, too!
I remember coming around a sharp corner and heading directly up a hill. There was a crash and riders walking their bikes… It was crazy!
The bike course was really crowded at the beginning.
After the first hour, I was holding a 17.5mph pace! It was awesome. I was so excited.
The route was almost never flat, but I was loving the hills. I really worked on keeping momentum from the downhills into the uphill sections. A girl rode by me around 15 miles in and told me I already past the biggest hill.
We rode past lots of farms and cows – a cow even mooed just for me!
A few people put signs on the bike course – they were hilarious.
I was getting passed a fair amount, but I kept telling myself that I’d see them all on the run. My big goal on the bike was NOT to go too hard and bonk on the run. This was seriously hard to do. I swallowed my pride and did my best to keep right and get passed.
I turned a corner and saw the 25 mile sign… and hit a strong headwind. This wind was either a headwind or a crosswind for the entire second half of the bike. It was awful! I stopped looking at my speed and just kept an eye on my HR. I thought I was going a bit too hard for almost the entire bike.
I had a mild headache, and the caffiene, water and food wasn’t helping. Luckily, I had an ibuprofen in my pocket that I took shortly after mile 25. I realized the wind wasn’t going anywhere, and I needed to keep a positive attitude, and that’d be easier without a mild headache. It helped!
I stuck with my plan of eating about 100cal every half hour – Clif Shot Bloks, a Clif Shot, and a Honey Stinger Waffle. Yum!
At some point, there was a loose dog on the course. Not an agressive dog, just a yellow Lab wandering around probably wondering what all of these crazy people in spandex were doing…
There was also a patch of dirt/gravel on the road at one point, too! Apparently a few people flatted here, but not me!
The advantage of this wind was that (here comes the TMI part) I could pee on the bike and NOT have it run down into my shoes. So, I did – when no one was around.
The crowd on the bike course really thinned out, and I found myself passing more people in the wind. I’m used to windy riding. However, the hills combined with the wind really slowed my pace.
Around mile 45, my GPS watch stopped giving me data. The memory was full! I spent a while trying to fix it. Finally, I got it reset – so I have no data aside from the overall split! The wind killed me. If I had started in an earlier wave, I would have been at least at mile 40 when that craziness started!
I spent the last few miles going back and forth with a girl in my age group. I’d fly by her on the downhills and she’d catch me on the climbs. I also almost crashed when a REALLY slow lady took at turn REALLY wide.
I chatted with a few people while passing. With about 3 miles to go, I was talking with a guy about how ready we were to be off the bike! I was really hoping I wouldn’t regret saying that!
What would you do differently?:
Biking is my weak point. I need to ride more.
Got my feet out of my shoes, and jogged into transition. I talked with a girl on the way – she said “you’re running?! ok, I guess I will too!”
As I was putting on my shoes, I heard the announcer say my friend’s name. I REALLY hoped she was at least starting her second lap… and I was excited that I might get to run with her.
What would you do differently?:
Plan better, maybe? Silly clean transistions and bagging up EVERYTHING…
I ran out of T2 looking for sunscreen, but I didn’t see any. Oh well!
I started out feeling strong. I chatted with a few people – everyone seemed to be on their second and third loop already! I guess being in a late wave and being a slow biker will do that 🙂
I decided to just open up on the downhills. I knew that my IT band might complain, but I wanted all of the free speed I could get. The aid stations were already low on sponges. The racers seemed to be split 50/50 between runners and death marchers.
I forced down a grand total of one pack of Clif Shot Bloks on the entire run. I should have more, but I didn’t want more. I grabbed water and gatorade at aid stations.
I tried to settle into a pace that I could sustain. I seemed to be doing high 8 min miles on the downhills and 11 min miles on the uphills. Not a bad average!
I was excited. People were falling apart all around me, but I was still running. I picked up a few running buddies, but I dropped them all. I came in to finish my first loop and saw Lisa cheering! I rounded the loop and picked up another running buddy. We chatted a bit and he said if I keep this pace up, I’ll be under 6:30. Well, I had no idea how I was doing time-wise, aside from guessing based on the time displayed on my GPS. I just wanted to finish strong, so I held on to that pace for the next loop. The crowd thinned and slowed. I felt like the only one still running at points.
Volunteers and spectators said “Looking Strong” to me, and I felt like it wasn’t a lie. The ones that said things like “Looking good” were the ones lying!
The steeper uphill to the turn-around was followed by a gradual uphill. I longed for flat land!
I hit the last loop, and my tired, dehydrated math said that 10 min/miles should get me in under 6:30… but I didn’t know if the time on my watch was in sync with the race clock and I thought I started at 8:30, when I really started at 8:35. So I pushed it. Hard.
I was flying – ok RELATIVELY flying – right around 9 min/miles. There were even less racers on the course, and it seemed like everyone was walking!
A few people commented that I looked way to happy to still be out there. 🙂
The high temp was 90 that day, but I didn’t let it get to me. I just ran. I started thinking that maybe I didn’t swim hard enough (Thanks, Yanti!). Maybe I should have biked harder. I couldn’t change that, but I could run harder. Finally, I was down to the final 5k. I saw sunscreen at an aid station, but I had less than 2.5 miles left, so I wasn’t going to slow down. I saw the 11 mile sign. I was passing everyone. I equated the final 2 miles to a running route at home – just to the swing bridge and back. I was pushing hard – and I cramped up with 1.5 miles to go! The back of my ankle on my left leg cramped every time I pushed off.
I felt relieved. I DID push myself the right way. I shouldn’t have gone harder on the swim or the bike. I was at my limit.
I stopped for about 5 seconds and stretched it out. It faded in and out for the final sections of the course. The steep uphill wasn’t bad on it, but the gradual one was torture… but I could see the building that we finished in! I gave everything I had left and flew towards the finish line. Suddenly, I couldn’t breathe and had to dial it back down the finishers chute.
I was so happy.
What would you do differently?:
I held onto a volunteer while I got my chip taken off and was given my medal and hat.
I walked around a bit and tried to stretch.
As for post-race food, I went for beer and ice cream.
We watched the awards ceremony, because my friend’s sister was THIRD in her age group – a finish that was good enough to get her into the 70.3 World Championships!
I gathered up my morning clothes bag, bike bag and run bag. I gave my original chip to the same volunteer that gave me a replacement – that was kind of funny. I grabbed my bike and gave my CO2 to some random people since I couldn’t fly home with it.
I wondered what my time was because my results didn’t get posted to do the chip mishap
What limited your ability to perform faster:
I need to move somewhere with hills. I like riding hills more than flats, so I will ride more.
The wind was killer, but the bike route is awesome. The roads are a bit rough, but I loved the course itself.
The run is almost never flat.