My 2nd Half Ironman- Patriots Race Report


Patriots Half Iron, Williamsburg, VA 9/12/2009

Disclaimer: I’m supposed to practice my nutrition for Ironman Florida, so this race report will contain information about food and calorie counts…boring I know! I thought I signed up for “this thing” so I wouldn’t need to count calories…boy was a wrong. There’s a whole science to IM nutrition and I don’t want to be one to collapse before the finish, so I’m paying attention…at least on race day. However, I’m highlighting the boring food parts in blue, so if you don’t care what I ate, just skip over it!

DAY BEFORE:

We were lucky to have beautiful weather the entire weekend. Having to work a little and check e-mails all day on my vacation time, losing my adorable race number belt, and not being able to find my favorite water bottle all stressed me a little, but once we got to Williamsburg the day turned around. Packet pick up went well and after 5pm, I was very relaxed (for a little while). Nick and I had dinner at a nice place in Williamsburg where I had champagne spritzer, delicious pan seared scallops, asparagus with field green salad and warm bread & butter. We got the dessert to go, and I was able to get a good night’s sleep of 6 solid hours.


RACE MORNING

I was up at 4:05 am. I immediately toasted up a yummy blueberry bagel topped w/ a laughing cow swiss cheese triangle. I forced down a starbucks expresso double shot (hey, I can’t function with out my caffeine!), a water bottle and half a banana. Once on site, Nick helped me pump my tires, then we had a dark walk over to transition to set everything up. It was low stress. There wasn’t even a line to get body marked. I set up some shoes near the swim finish. I sipped Gatorade rain all morning and had half a power gel w/ caffeine. Nick patiently helped me struggle into my wetsuit, which I punctured with my nails since I was rushing an panicking at little about not being able to get in a good swim warm up before the pre-race meeting, but I made it in the water just in time. The good news: I did not cry or stress at the start like I did at Kinetic. I’m becoming much more positive and strong. I still felt nervous, but was able to channel that energy towards a successful beginning this time. The swim warm up was a great idea because I was already comfortable in the water before the race.

Breakfast Calories: - about 510

Pre-swim Calories- about 150

Sodium, carbs, protein, etc: I don’t know! I just had to google how many calories are in a banana since I've never counted calories in my life. Looking up food content is not fun so I’m just not interested in breaking it down to that level!


SWIM

I lined up towards the front of my wave this time and when the gun went off, I pushed hard. This was the most contact I had ever had in a swim. My face took a strong kick and I was concerned I’d have a bruise, but I cringed from the pain and focused on moving forward. I successfully swam on course to the first few orange buoys, remembering to sight at least every 6 strokes. Jostling from other swimmers did not take me off course or slow me down. It was tough to catch a draft, since the water was brown and mucky and I couldn’t find bubbles from feet. I was swimming in a pack, but every time I accidently made contact, I’d get kicked or hit and lose the effect of the draft. However, I remained calm.

It was an exciting swim start for me… until the yellow turn around buoy. What happened beyond that point remains a question.

I passed the yellow buoy and then with the sun’s glare I could not find the next orange buoy to sight. In fact, all the swimmers ahead and around me seemed to be swimming straight, rather than turning. Masses of athletes around me were treading water with their goggles off, looking around. One woman in my wave asked if I knew where to go and I said “No, I can’t see a buoy.” She sighed and said, “Okay, everyone seems to be going this way, lets follow the pack”. Off I went for a long, aimless swim. Since I had no idea which direction to head, I sighted, only to make sure others were around and in front of me. Eventually, a kayaker approached our group and yelled, “aim for the big white boat!” There was a large ferry boat in front of us… but rumor has it that while were sighting towards it, the boat moved in the wrong direction. The current was pulling to the right, and we were allegedly sighting a moving target, which did not help us get closer. The entire group around me swam way off course, and then the wave of men had followed us out there and caught up to us. These men were not kickers, so I kept swimming over them, noticing only when I was already on top and getting kicked in the gut. At another point, I touched a sharp, scaly feeling swimmer. My imagination got carried away, but it was probably just a bare, unshaven leg.

Frustration set in. I have a bad reputation when it comes to a sense of direction, but getting “lost” on a swim course seemed ridiculous! I looked for land. There was a white tent up on a hill at the shore line and I sighted towards that in hopes that it was part of the race event. I spotted orange buoys way out to my left and behind me and wondered if all the swimmers were supposed to be going around those, or if those were the starting buoys. (I still have no idea). Even if it meant giving up the race and hiking 2 miles barefoot in a wetsuit, all I wanted was to step on land again. A few hundred strokes later, I spotted the “wiggly man” at the swim finish. Of course, the excitement of finally seeing something that made sense was taken down a peg when an awful charlie horse pained my calf. The water was still deep and there was a current was pushing me to the right, away from where I needed to be. The last 10 minutes were brutal and I swam with my feet flexed and legs sunken and straigh. I walked slowly on my heels through the water once it was shallow enough to stand. Nick was at the swim finish all smiles and although it was great to see him, I felt slightly defeated. I looked at my watch: 48 minutes.

This was almost 10 minutes slower than I did the Kinetic Half.

Official swim time: 47:59 (19 out of 28 in age group)


T1

I grabbed my shoes and ran out of the way to fight with my wetsuit. The wetsuit nearly won, but 2 minutes, one toe splinter and a grassy back later, it came off. During the struggle the pain in my calf had relented. We all proceeded up a steep hill back to transition and I think I took too much time standing around staring at my stuff…yet again.

5:46 (21 out of 28)


BIKE

The bike course cheered me up immediately. I figured I’d have a faster bike split than Kinetic, since the route was flat with just a few slight hills to keep things interesting. Not knowing the course, I wanted to be under 3:30 minutes and I went even faster! My favorite part of the course was the bridge with a wide shoulder and gorgeous water views. The only “steep” climb on the course rewarded with beautiful scenery at the top. The rest of the course was mostly shady with smooth pavement (apart from the last mile). The wind was only noticeably difficult for me for around 5-10 minutes during a stretch near a field. For the most part, traffic was low although there were a few cars that made me nervous with their unique maneuvering. I wish I was faster at cornering and while eating my gels. I passed one women and I mentioned the views. A few miles later (while I was eating a gel and going slow) she passed me and thanked me for reminding her to enjoy the scenes rather than focus on the pain. That in turn made me feel great. My bike computer stopped sensing the rear wheel around mile 30, but luckily I also had my Garmin Forerunner on my wrist so I was fine. My Garmin hit 56 miles about a mile prior to the finish. I was getting pretty mad at my watch, thinking it was incredibly off, but I found out later that the course was marked long by about 1 to 1.8 miles (depending on who you talk to). My GPS says it was 57.05 miles and that my pace was 17.8 mph. This was so much better than Kinetic. I was aero almost the whole time. For now, I’m working on endurance, aero riding and bike handling (while eating) for the IM distance, but next year I want to focus on getting much faster on the bike. I think my thigh/camping injury may have slowed down my progress on bike speed this year.

I bypassed all the water stops because I had carried what I thought was enough fluids (and people threw water bottles all over the road, so I was focused on not crashing into them), although at mile 44, after the last stop, I wished I’d grabbed another bottle of water. I did drop my entire packet of e-caps, so my sodium intake was low. At this race, I have decided I am giving up Acel Gel. The new vanilla formula is chunky, thick and gross. I am mad they changed it because I liked the idea of protein in the gels, but it was hard to get out of the packet so it made a mess all over poor Stella and tasted bad. I didn’t eat the solid foods I brought because even the gels were slowing me down. Luckily, I packed extra gel so my calorie intake was fine.

2 Acel Gels, 5 power gels, 250 calories of Gatorade Endurance mixed in 56 oz water, 980 total calories, 680 mg sodium, 32 oz pure water.

BIKE TIME 3:11:55 (Kinetic was 3:39:10…so this was great!) 12th in age group out of 28.


T2

I racked Stella, grabbed my gear and set out. My hair was a disaster since didn’t fix my ponytail in T2 like I used to. It looked silly in pictures, but this isn’t the prom, so I “shouldn’t” worry about that! I shaved 20 seconds off my Kinetic T2 time.

2:26 (19 out of 28 in age group)


RUN

Yes, finally! Once I set out for the run, I am happy whether I'm training or racing. I like having two feet on solid ground. I love the way my legs feel heavy at first, but after 5 minutes they become light and ready. I appreciate that I am able to run despite all the injuries I have had in the past. I drank a lot of water, chewed on some ice, probably had a few e-caps and an energy gel. I know I had heed twice and spit out some coke which was not flat…otherwise, I just didn’t count calories. I took in what I felt like at each stop. This was a lollipop shaped route with two loops, so on the out and backs, I saw a lot of my fellow TG team members and others from the RTC and EF that I know, so that was a lot of fun. Along the course, the TGs also had some fans, and I saw Nick a few times, although every time he snapped a picture of me, I seemed to be pounding a water or ripping a gel open with my teeth. The course ran through a gravel trail which was nice and mostly shady. I was able to pass a lot of people that had gained on me on the bike. I felt strong even though I was begging people with fuel belts for advil (with no luck) when my left toes started to feel crampy and awful at mile 8. I later found out I had an awful cut and splinter from running barefoot, and my adrenaline had masked the pain until that point. At mile 12 I was groaning to myself and a random spectator shouted “Almost there, stay strong.” Stay strong became my mantra the next mile and when I saw the finish line, I kicked it up as I finished to Men at Work’s, “Ain’t Nothing Going to Hold Me Down.” What a fun song for a half iron finish!

After the race, I caught up with Nick and the TG teammates to cheer on all the remaining finishers. Every TG that started the race made the cut off. This was a wonderful day.

Run Time: 2:05:42 11 out of 28 in age group

Total Time: 6:13:45 (12 out of 28 age group place)

(much faster than my 6:54:30 Kinetic time)

Immediate recovery- chocolate milk, water and macaroni & cheese

My “recovery” 5 Guys cheeseburger and fries after we left followed by a small pepperoni pizza four hours later may be shunned by nutritionists everywhere, but it was a well earned junk food treat…and no, I will not be counting and highlighting the nutrition content of those meals!