Brineman 70.3 was my last race of the season, and my 5th attempt at the distance. I have been super excited for this race, but also nervous given my run related injury of tendinitis/plantar fascitis that has been an issue since I got back from Alaska. I simply have not been running anywhere near where I would want to prevent further injury to my dang foot. This has been an incredible patience tester and very frustrating to say the least. Leading up to IM StG 70.3 in may I was averaging around 25 miles a week of running. I was lucky to break 10 a week for Brineman.
I spoke with Ben, my coach, a couple of nights before the race. He suggested we try something a little different given the circumstances of the injury. He wanted me to just roll the dice and have fun. I was to do the swim like I normally would, but really try to push harder on the bike than I might normally. We have done tons of biking lately to make up for lack of running and it was essentially a chance to see where we were with it. The run the main focus was to take walk breaks at the aid stations and to just focus on one station at a time and practice good run form between them. I liked this idea because I was pretty sure I could do a swim and bike PR if I wasn't too worried about the run, and I kind of like the idea of racing with a "what the hell" attitude and just seeing exactly how much I could push.
Other than the actual race strategy there was a few other cool factors leading up to this race that made me really excited. One, this is a hometown race. I could literally bike 3.5 miles from my house to transition if I wanted to. I train on this course almost daily and have for 8 years. Two, my parents were in town and staying with us for the weekend. My Mom came to my first triathlon ever, but my Dad has never been to any of my races. This was going to be cool to have them there to cheer me on. The third factor was that my swim team were the volunteers for the race. This was our fundraiser for the year. We provide 40-50 volunteers and the race director cut us a check. Awesome! It also meant that every single aid station I had a built in cheering section yelling GO COACH or WE LOVE YOU COACH each time. That was amazing!
This was a self seeded rolling start. I love these! If people seed themselves well it works so smoothly. I got towards the front of the group. This turned out to be fine. Our group had to do a small loop around one buoy and come back, then we had to do a larger loop around the other end of a long narrow lake. The first small loop was chaos. Typical of me, I started off too fast like apparently every other swimmer did and it was the whole washing machine effect for that first loop. We were able to spread out as we made the half mile trek down to the larger island to circle around, and it thinned out and I finally got into a good rhythm, It seemed to take forever to get to that turn around! It was cool to pass the water support on kayaks and SUPs because they were all my swimmers serving as lifeguards :). Once I made that second turn and headed back to the start, it was much easier to sight and seemed to go much faster. I swear I tend to swim too wide towards the right. I need to work on that. I still stayed pretty straight, just too far to the right. I was second female out of the water with a swim time of 32:01, a 3 minute PR for the 1.2 mile swim.
There were no wetsuit strippers for this race. I HATE dealing with my wetsuit but had sprayed the bottom of my legs with TriSlide prior to putting it on to see if it would help get it off. It did! Why did it take me so long to do this? Pretty slick. I still had to dry off some because air temp was 46 at the start of the bike. It was a longer transition than I would have wanted with a time of 2:54 :/
As I ran with Ivy to the bike mounting area Ken was there with my Mom and Dad. I swear my Dad cheers louder than anyone! It was so awesome to hear him yell GO KATE! as I got on my bike and headed out. I was trying something new this race. I timed the swim with my watch, but was using my new bike computer, a Wahoo Bolt for the bike portion. I did this for a few reasons. One, I am not convinced my watch (Suunto Spartan Sport) would have the battery life to get through a 70.3. I am sure if I messed with the settings it would, but I didn't want to chance it. Second, I have wanted a way to have the data from the ride right in front of me on the bike without having to change my position and turn to see what's on my watch. Our club has a sponsorship with Wahoo, and I picked one up a couple of weeks ago. It is mounted to my torpedo bottle between my arms and turned out to be pretty slick. I loved seeing all the data there the whole time.
The first part of the course is flat and fast though some of the roads have chip seal and that is just a pain. I was riding much faster on these roads than I normally do (keep in mind, this is practically in my backyard) and but I felt great, so why not push some? I watched my HR and tried not to let it dip below 150ish. On the causeway to the Island I played leap frog with several people. We didn't have much of a wind, which was nice. My nutrition was all right on, every 15 minutes drinking a few ounces of my Infinit. I tried a new flavor this time, watermelon, and dialed it down some since I do a concentrated bottle, and it was actually really good! I came to the first bike aid station at the end of the causeway and my swimmers were there with their arms stretched out with the water or Gatorade. I yelled WATER at them and they ran over and did a perfect hand off! YES! The day before How to Be a Great Volunteer 101 lecture had paid off :) They also had their car stereo blasting and were dancing and having fun. That made me happy to see and made me smile.
The ride down to the ranch was going well. I saw several people with flats (I was praying I wouldn't get one. I can change a flat, but I hate it,and on my tri bike its even more of a pain). I made it to the turn around at the ranch and one of my swimmers was there with a Red Bull for me. I laughed and told him to save it for the run course. I don't usually drink that crap in real life, but on the race course, it's amazing, especially on the run. The way back from the ranch we had a headwind and the rollers. Not fun, but I am used to it by now. The wind is the greatest variable out there. It either works for you or against you and you never know which it is going to be. I really wanted a sub 3 hour ride, and was calculating how fast I would have to go or maintain to get it. I knew I could do it if I really pushed, but it would be close. I just kept pushing, my quads were yelling "Enough already!" but I really, really wanted a sub 3 bike split. As I rolled into the last mile of the bike, I saw some weirdos in speedos, suspenders, cowboy boots and a Make America Great Again flag. Oh my hell, those are some of my swimmers! I really, really tried to just ride by unnoticed because I wasn't sure I wanted to claim them at the moment, but no such luck. They saw me, and ran along side my bike yelling GO COACH!!!!!!I'll admit it was pretty funny.
I rolled into the bike dismount area with a bike time of 3:00:39. My bike computer had it at sub 3, but this was the official time. Don't care, close enough and still a bike PR by 4-5 minutes. I knew immediately when I got off the bike that the run was going to be rough, my legs were stiff and completely trashed!
I was so stiff I suddenly didn't care about my T2 time. I sat down to change shoes and put on socks. I only use socks in a race for 70.3 and up because of blisters, so I took my time to put them on. Getting up was humorous at best. I threw my gels in my back pocket because I couldn't find my favorite race belt the night before and was using another one with no pouch on it. I hobbled out of T2 with a time of 1:51.
As I mentioned, I was really stiff already. I way overcooked that bike, but that was kind of in the plan. Ben challenged me to walk the first minute or so of the run anyway to just get my bearings and let my HR come down. As I got walked out of T2, my swimmer had a cold Red Bull for me. It was the 12 oz and I knew I couldn't have the whole thing then, but I drank about half of it that first minute then left it at the turn around sign (the half had to do 2 loops of this run) and hoped it would be there for the second loop. I swear that stuff helps! I then managed a slow jog but my legs were so heavy and already hurting. I knew this was going to be a sufferfest, and it was! I just focused on one aid station at a time. It was so nice to see my kids at each aid station. They were so encouraging and helpful and they made me laugh when I wanted to quit. The first 1/4 of this run was quite possibly the hardest I have ever done. I just hurt everywehere. I got to the turn around and it was less than mile from my house. I'd be lying if I didn't think about just keep going and head home :) I then saw a competitor not far behind me and that motivated me to pick up the pace. My legs had loosened up some by now, and made it easier to run. My pace was dismal, but I didn't care, I was just happy to be moving. I walked the aid stations, took the chance to high 5 my swimmers and then go again. I really had to go to the bathroom, but there weren't any! I thought for sure the turn around would have one, but nope! (yet again, another reason I wanted to go home). I kept seeing athletes running out of the weeds because nature was calling them too! Now, here's a little triathlete TMI, but this is a sport with little boundaries anyway, but I REALLY had to go both 1 and 2. My only concern was my swimmers seeing me drop my 1 piece kit to go. I couldn't care less about other athletes or random strangers. I jogged along looking for the perfect place out of sight range of the aid stations and offering some privacy. There was a giant tree surrounded by weeds just off the trail, so I went for it. Yeah, it would have been a great idea to notice that giant tree was a Russian Olive with giant thorns. My butt now looks like it got in a fight with a cat. I took care of business and ran out of there as quick as I could. Another racer saw me coming out and said he had done the same thing and now had goat heads in his chamois and was trying to dig them out as he ran. It made for a good laugh for sure!
I finished the first loop and there was my Red Bull still waiting under the sign. I chugged the second half of that and away we went. It was still painful, but my legs weren't quite as heavy. My ankle was starting to ache as well, but I knew to expect it. The motivation to just be done kept me going the second loop and it was more enjoyable than the first. I cheered for my teammates. I laughed with my swimmers at the aid stations when they had busted out the Eminem songs. It seemed to go much quicker than the first loop.
Because I didn't have one device timing the whole race and only roughly knew my splits for bike and swim, I calculated that for a race PR I needed to keep the run under 2:40. I was well under that. I knew for a run PR I had to keep the run time under 2:24. I then was thinking I could manage a run PR, but like the bike, it would be close. I could see the red blow up finish line in the distance and started skipping aid stations to get there. I came in with a final run time of 2:22:29!
The final push to the finish line had me in tears. 35-40 of my kids working the finish line stopped what they were doing, lined the finisher's chute and cheered me in with Ken and my parents there as well. I felt like such a rock star! It was so very cool!! I had no clue what my final race time was and just about fell over when I realized it was 5:59:56. Sub 6 by 4 seconds for a 21 minute PR. I was also shocked to learn that I had placed 3rd in my Age group and 12 overall female out of 48. Not bad for a race that felt like death! (In all fairness, I felt really good until I started the run).
I was so proud of my swimmers today. I got so much positive feedback on how well they did from other athletes and members of my club. They worked hard and had fun at the same time. I am pretty sure we will have the opportunity to do this next year as well. From a coaching stand point, this is an ideal fundraiser because we don't have to sell anything, and one weekend of hard work and we are done! Winning! Plus, it exposes the kids to triathlon and maybe will inspire them to enter the sport. Double win!
Having my parents there was awesome as well. My father was my inspiration to get into the sport after watching him as a life long runner turned cyclist. It was so nice to have them there!
I was disappointed to see that some of the distances were shorter (swim was 150 yards short, bike was almost a mile short, and the run was .5 miles short) and that sort of took away from the excitement of such a PR. However, race distances tend to vary from race to race as do GPS units, and I calculated what my times would have been given my avg pace for each discipline, and I still would have had a PR, so I am satisfied with that.
I am glad it is the off season. I have the next week completely off from training (thank you Ben!!) and then let my stupid foot heal and build into a bike focus, build the run up again, then push for Oceanside 70.3 in April. In the meantime, happy racing and training!