My very first 70.3 experience I was supposed to swim, Megan was supposed to bike and Megan was going to run. I got a call the day we were going down to packet pick up saying I would also need to bike. My longest ride to that date had been around 45 miles, so what was another 11. I went into that race just excited to be there. Before Sunday, my last 70.3 I was supposed to swim, bike and run but because of the tumor in my leg, I ended up just swimming and biking. I had no idea if that was my last race, so I savored every moment but also grieved the loss of some short term goals I had. Only fitting that my first race back, I would swim and bike in a relay. As I have been working hard on this healing and post surgery therapy thing, training was very hit or miss for this race. Before the race my longest ride post surgery had been 33 miles. But once again, I was just excited to be there. The following is my race report. If you are looking for the annotated version–skip to the bottom. If you want the fun and games, keep reading.
My original relay partner ended up having to back out due to an injury, so my friend Amy came to the rescue and stepped in to run. She’s pretty awesome and I was very excited to get to share this awesome weekend with her. We left Friday afternoon to drive over to Galveston. We went by way of the ferry which always makes the drive more fun!
Woke up Saturday and went for a little run along the beachfront. It was pretty windy. Watched the waves crashing on the beach and those in town for the race zipping by on their bikes with a nice tailwind. After grabbing a fun breakfast at IHOP, we headed over to the race expo to check in and check it out. We spent much of the day watching the waves and wind pick up at the beach as well and planning what to wear for the race since the weather was being so crazy. Dropped off bike, grabbed some goodies for the team tent, had dinner with FJR crew and packed up for the morning. With such uncertainty in the weather, Amy and I decided we would go to the movies when the race got called.
Sunday morning I awoke to some nerves and some wind, but no rain so off we went to the race. The plan was Amy was going to drop me off at transition but we ended up with rockstar parking a stones throw away from the bike exit. We set up the BR Tri tent in the TriClub village–that was a hoot. How many degrees does it take to put up a pop up tent?! We set up transition–I decided to wear a tri top under my wetsuit and was going to put on my bike jersey and arm warmers to give me some warmth on the bike–at that time in the morning it was windy and cold. And then began the long wait for my wave to go–the very last wave. Up side of being in the last wave is getting to cheer on all your friends as they go to line up and the up side of bring in this particular wave was getting to hang out for a couple of minutes with my friend Blake–amazing dude who took second in his age group!
Jumped off the dock into water that was a wee bit colder than I expected. Took me a minute to catch my breath again and then I got to a place in the wave where I felt comfortable, kind of in the middle a row or two back. Did I mention the relays were in the same wave as the 18-24 year old men? I really wanted to stay out of the combat zone. But I was close enough to catch a good draft off them as the starting gun went off. After that it was just a lot of swimming, prob more than I should have as I got pulled off course a few times–not sure if it was the chop, the current or my poor sighting, but most likely a combo of all three. I did wear ear plugs for the first time in a race and I’m very glad I did–I think it helped not to have the cold water sloshing in my ears. Also, I wore my TYR nest pro no tint goggles which were perfect for the conditions. 47 minutes after getting in the water, I got out. Not my best time, but I was only racing the cutoffs and I pretty much killed that competition.
Amy was waiting for me in transition by my bike. I wanted her there in case I needed help with taking off my wetsuit or I needed help with something on my bike. I am still a little cautious and take the help/buffer from others when I can get it because if you don’t know me, you can’t tell why I am taking it a bit easier than the rest of the people out there. Decided against the arm warmers but threw on the RKF jersey over what I had on. Shoes, helmet, sunglasses, bike and we were ready to roll.
The first couple of miles on the bike course basically wind around to get you to the beach road which you ride all the way down and back. The biggest external factor affecting your performance on this course is wind. When we left the hotel in the morning the wind had been blowing in the direction of the turn around, so those on the course early had a strong tailwind going out and then faced that same wind head on coming back. By the time I got on to the course, thank you RD for putting me in the last wave, it was more of a crosswind.
I brought 3 bottles of skratch, a box of raisins and a box of crasins with me on the bike. I started to eat some of the raisins early on the bike but lost half the box to a bump in the road. I picked up a bottle of water at the first aid station and two bananas along the way. If I had been running off the bike I would have tried to eat a bit more but for what I was doing I felt my nutrition was pretty spot on. While my original plan was to stop at every aid station to enjoy the buffet, I ended up not stopping at all.
I got to mile 50 and still had some energy left in the tank. Since I wasn’t doing the run leg of the relay I didn’t have to leave anything in the tank and I kicked it up for the last six miles—just when a lot of folks are holding back and spinning to save something for the bike. After a winter of pedaling as fast as I could and struggling to get to 14mph, breezing by people at 18, 19 and sometimes 20 mph in those last six miles was a huge confidence booster.
3 hours and 23 minutes later, Amy was waiting for me back at transition. I racked my bike handed off the timing chip and off she went to run a 2 hour and 6 minute half marathon, giving us a total time of 6:25:33.
So the short story is that I had tons of fun! I am sure it was probably a bit overzealous to do a race 6 months post surgery. The compromise was that I wouldn’t run. The relay it made it possible for me to be back on the course, in the action, having fun! So much more confident about IM Chattanooga after this race. Excited to see what I can do when I really get back to training again.
Take that bone tumor!!!