This was my first Olympic distance race of the season, and one that I went in to with mixed feelings, so here ya go!
I was excited to do this race in the beginning because I love Racetri and they have done fun events in the past. They did Icebreaker back in March, and I was excited to race with them again. They also do sweet finisher's medals, so you know me, that is enough to get me to a race :)
We got several emails in the week and a half up to the race from Racetri that started making me nervous. One thing was the decided to change the course from what they originally thought and they would have two transition areas. Um, okay. I know that this isn't terribly unusual for races, but it would be a first for me. Second, they repeated what I guess was in the race info and I missed it, you would have to park 4 miles away from the race start and bike in. Shuttles would be available for spectators, but no bikes were allowed on the shuttles in the morning, so you would have to bike in. Not thrilled about that, but what do you do, right? Thirdly, we got an email saying that the finisher's medals were not done and would have to mailed to us afterward. Really guys? This is starting to look bad!
I told all of this to Ken as it unfolded, and with each new piece of news, he decided not to go. I know he would have gone if I had insisted, but really, it was okay if he missed. He goes to everything else, and this was turning into a nightmare from a spectator standpoint, so I told him not to sweat it and I had bigger races in later in the summer he can come too. I was okay with going by myself, but then I thought it would be nice to have someone along, so I called my sister Lisa and she was game. Ken agreed to watch the kids so that we could go.
We left the house at 5:00 am in order to get down to Jordanelle Reservoir where this is held and be able to set up BOTH transition areas and be ready to start. We really got there in the nick of time, as it would play out. I set up my first transition area and the whole time I kept second guessing myself, do I have everything I need? What am I forgetting? It was really frustrating as I usually have no issues setting up transition and feeling like I am ready, but with this whole two transition thing and having never done it before, I was unnerved and it didn't help my pre-race jitters at ALL.
We had the race director on top of all of this yelling over his loud speaker that the pre-race meeting was going to be starting in 20 minutes....15 minutes....10 minutes...etc. So to feel rushed when I already wasn't sure of what I was doing wasn't fun.
We had the pre-race meeting and then it was off to the beach for the swim start. That is when I realized that due to the water level being really low we literally had a quarter mile run from the water to T1. Nice. Nothing they could have helped, but I was prepared for the most craptastic T1 time ever! Little did I know how right that was!
I made sure to get ahead of the other women on the swim at the beach start. I liked the layout of the swim, it was a long narrow rectangular lay out that I would do two loops around since I was doing the Olympic distance. I made sure to spot the buoys and make mental notes of where I needed do be. Then we were off! It was that simple! The water was cold, but not terrible considering I was in a full wetsuit. I quickly found a rhythm and was able to keep it. It seemed like the first buoy to turn around came quickly! I then made it to the other one just a few yards away and then turned back to head into shore. This was harder because I had to spot into the sun in order to get back to shore. I got off course a few times, but nothing as bad as at Big Bear Lake. I then quickly realized that I was swimming by myself. I didn't really have any one else around me. I started to panic and wonder if I was off course. But, I found that I was in the right spot and just kept going. I couldn't get to the turn around soon enough as I hated spotting into the sun. The next loop was much easier and seemed to go fast. Even coming back into shore and having to spot into the sun a second time seemed easier. Before I knew it, I was out of the water, trudging through the mud up the sandbar towards T1. This is where a pair of throw away sandals would have been nice. The rocky beach up to T1 was rough on bare feet! Anyhow, I made it and was first out of the water for my age group with a swim time of 29:00. This was a few minutes faster than Bear Lake Brawl!
This transition was so freaking slow I could have pulled up a chair and knitted a sweater in the time it took. Granted, everyone had slow transition times due to the long run from the water's edge to the transition area, but mine was REALLY slow. Total time for T1 was 4:22. It took awhile to get to transition, get my stupid wetsuit off, get the mud off my feet, and make sure all of the stuff was packed so they could transport it to the finish line, and then get myself ready for the bike.
With every race I love my bike more and more. This was no exception. I left T1 grateful to be on the bike, and I was off. I had heard that the first half of the 25 mile course was a false flat, meaning gradual climb, then there was one really good climb supposedly. I felt this most of the first half. I just felt like I was spinning my wheels and not getting a ton of traction. I felt like I was putting more effort in than I was seeing for speed. But, I enjoyed it, it was a gorgeous course. I happily made it to the half way point and then enjoyed some nice speed along the way. There was a decent climb in the second half, but it wasn't bad and it was short. We were paid for our efforts with a sweet down hill that was in the last couple of miles of the bike portion.
This whole time I was paying really close attention to my nutrition. I know that this is only an Olympic distance, but I was using it as a trial/error for my 70.3 coming up. I made sure to faithfully every 15 minutes have some of my Perpetuem and some water to wash it down and I munched on Powerbar Energy chews from my bento box in between that. I felt great though there were a few times I felt like I had plenty so I laid off. I was happy that this was all working and my stomach was handling it. I made especially sure to take in a lot of water as temps were to reach 95 today!
I finished my bike feeling strong and had a good bike split of 1:24:50, which averages out to 18 miles an hour. Very happy with that time considering this course!
Craptastic could very well be the word of the day for describing my transitions in this race. This one was nothing but embarrassing. In what should have been a very easy in and out, turned into me running around like an idiot trying to find my stuff. I wasted so much time because I couldn't find my stuff! I am sure a few choice words came from my mouth, but I finally found it. I racked my bike, threw on my running shoes and was off on what I will refer to as the Death March. Total T2 time was 2:39
Now to do 6.2 miles, or two loops of a 3.1 mile course. This course was hard, it was hot, and it was mentally very hard for me. Although I felt fine in many ways, it was still challenging. You start out and run around the board walks of the nature center there and it seems kind of like a maze in that you can't really fell where you are going, just following arrows. I was okay with this for the most part, because at least it was shaded. Then we ran out onto the main road of the state park. This was NOT shaded and it was very hot. To make it worse, I kept seeing people that had finished the race and were leaving. I know that they were people that had done the sprint distance, but it still was somewhat demoralizing. I kept feeling like I was this loser that was still out there racing and everyone else was going home. I knew in reality it wasn't like that, but it felt like it. Then, after you go down that stretch of road, you go out onto the hot highway and up a nasty hill. Once you get to the top of that hill, you come down a very steep and gravely trail that was difficult. You then wind back through the boardwalks then start Lap 2. Oh boy, I get to repeat that fun! It was very hot, I was tired, and still feeling like I was the only one left. I did see others behind me, but still, it was hard.
For nutrition on this run, I did a first for me in a tri and carried my own water. I had the race belt that I bought at the Salt Lake City Half marathon and it holds two 8 ounce bottles and has a big pocket for gels or whatever. I had a gel at about mile 2.5. I was very glad to have my own water and used every bit of it and then some more at aid stations because it was so hot. That was a smart last minute decision on my part.
Final run time came in at 1:06:31 or a 10:20 pace. Not thrilled with this, but considering the heat and the difficulty of the course, I will take it. If I had to do this run over again, I would have packed my trail runners instead of my road running shoes the terrain was that difficult in many spots.
Finishing the race felt good as I was ready to be done. The finish line though was disappointing. They were doing the awards for the sprint and the Olympic groups by the time I finished, so there was no loud music, no cheering, no announcer at the finish line at this point. They didn't even have any one handing out finisher's medals since they didn't have them yet. It was the lamest finish line I have ever crossed, and pretty disappointing seeing as how they should at least have some one there to tell you Great Job! If it hadn't been for my sister being there, no one would have noticed I was done :( My final time for this race was 3:07:19. which is 5 minutes faster than the Brawl, so it was a new PR for me at this distance. I took 5th in my condensed age group of 0-34, and 4th in my official age group of female 30-34.
I'll be honest, I don't know what I think here. There are so many things I didn't like about this race and how it was organized, but I know that many things were out of their control. One, the logistics of having to park 4 miles away sucks. Not so much prior to the race, but after ward when you are tired and dirty and just want to leave, it really sucks.
Second, I didn't love the long run to T1 from the swim, but then again, they can't control the water levels. I loved the swim other than that feature.
Third, the finish line sucked. Sorry Racetri, but it did. I was grateful for the full size chocolate milk given to me at the finish, but the lack of supporters, cheering, or anything special that I am sure the sprinters and earlier finishers had, sucked. This they could have controlled, whereas the first two items were the best that they could do given the location.
I am hoping that this was just an isolated case as they are the organizers for the Utah Half, my first 70.3 in eight weeks. I have heard nothing but good things about that race, so I will give them the benefit of a doubt and look forward to the bar being raised from today. Will I do this race again? Probably not. There are just too many other options out there, and this is not one of my favorites.
1) My nutrition plan was a success! The Perpetuem, water, energy chews, etc, and the timing of them was perfect. I did everything right in this aspect of the race today. I plan on practicing this more in the coming weeks of training, but it went really well in a race situation, and it was a huge confidence builder for me to get this nailed down.
2) Though this was a hard race, I did it and did well. I finished and wasn't even completely trashed like I was after the Brawl. It gave me some increased confidence that with 8 weeks of solid training between now and the Half, I can probably actually pull of a Half Ironman!
Focusing on nailing all of my work outs for the next 8 weeks, and I have one race between now and then, Spudman Olympic Tri on July 27th.
Until then, Happy Training/Racing all!