and other thoughts...

and other thoughts...

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Patriot 70.3 Race Report

I did another race, so it's time to update the blog and brag about my garden.
or ..... :)

I inherited the Koi pond when we bought the house, but I re-did the border around it. It is my biggest source of garden pride at the moment. Our sharpei, Chica, is to the left in the picture.)

My second biggest source of pride is the vegetable garden: The rows that are full of large plants (tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, raspberries, zucs, pumpkins etc) are plants I grew from seed indoors in the basement, which is why they are large already. The front rows (lettuce, kale, carrot, corn) are not large because they have been grown from seed outdoors. Here is another picture:

Okay, I'm done bragging now. Onto the race.

This season I decided to race three 70.3's, the Casco Bay Islands Swim/Run (with my fabulous racing partner Carrie McCusker), and one Ironman. No little races for me. Just big ones that cause major psychological stress leading up to them, and major recovery following them. It's a GO BIG, slaughter your mind and body kind of year.

Yesterday I turned 46. That's why it's that kind of year. Because there is not much else super special about 46. It's like mile 15 or 16 of the run, I think. Not too too tired yet... but I can see it coming...
I'm still running! I'm not giving up yet! I'm not slowing down! That kind of thing.

As you may remember if you follow this blog that I never write in anymore, I raced IM Texas 70.3 in mid-April. I had a great swim and a solid bike there. My run was not pretty, however.  It was hot, I had taken the bike maybe a wee bit too hard, and most importantly, I had NOT TAKEN IN ENOUGH fuel or liquid on the bike. Major, major no no for a New Englander racing in southern Texas in April. I'm smart! What can I say?

For Patriot 70.3, a race that takes place a mere hour from my home in MA, I was determined not to make the same mistakes.  I was quite worried about the run, truthfully. My run training leading up to the race was adequate--but I hadn't been feeling great in my training runs. I felt slow and pokey and a bit awkward. I don't usually feel this way about the run, so again, I was a bit concerned going into the race.  My bike and swim had been going very well, however. I knew I would nail my swim and bike.

So, naturally, this is what happened during the race:

My swim was okay, but I didn't feel too perky.
I struggled on the bike.
My run went well.

Here is a summary of the race from the beginning.

My friend Melissa and I headed out at about 4:30 a.m.
Sometimes I marvel that I am even able to race after getting up so damn early. I had to get up in the three's! That's the middle of the night, basically.

Nothing at all exciting happened on the way there or getting ready in transition. Mel seemed pretty calm, I felt pretty calm, and the weather was looking to be a-okay. We saw Carrie (my race partner for the CB swim/run thing!) before the race. She was looking fit as ever and like she would crush us all. (She ended up being 5th overall in a very stacked field for a local race. Mucho impressivo.)

Anyway. When the time came (and it always comes faster than you think it's going to) we headed down to the water. I found my wave, and also found a former high school classmate, Kristie. Kristie and I swam together in high school. I find it interesting how I'm connected to people from high school I never thought I would be connected to (even if just in cyber space) because of triathlon. Amy, Cathy, Kristie, Steve, John--and of course, Ange. I feel like if you had me, in high school, name the people who would end up doing Ironman as adults, I would never have picked ME--or these other people (hmmm, except maybe Steve and Ange.) It's kind of cool.
Okay. Tangent. Onward.

We ran into the water in pairs, five seconds apart, which was a new type of start for me. Usually the gun goes off and I swim hard to get out in front, and then I have clear water for a bit until I hit the wave in front of me. Repeat until the end of the swim. This was very different. The water was just crowded... the whole swim. I didn't like it, and I think it slowed me down. Mel, however, said she liked it much better because it wasn't so crazy at the beginning of the swim.

So, I swam. The water was clean and clear. Very pleasant. Maybe it was too pleasant and hence I did not push hard enough? I couldn't find anyone off of whom to draft, so I just swam swam swam--around people and by buoys. I exited the water in about 32 minutes. Not a great time for me... but not horrible either. JUST FINE.

I did, however, fall over as I was getting out. It was a bit rocky, and I just toppled over! Very embarrassing and a bit deflating. I was the second person out of the water in my AG (2/69), even with my glamorous fall, and the 8th woman overall (8/274). The woman in my AG who beat me beat me by three seconds. Because of the bizarre start, however, I didn't even SEE her on the swim.

Transition one was fine fine fine and then I was on the bike!
The minute I got on the bike I felt .... not like I usually feel when I race. My legs actually felt a bit fatigued! Why? I have no idea. I had tapered and everything. And my heart rate was very high... and I felt a bit pokey and slow. I decided my main goal needed to be to get my heart rate down. It was in like zone 5--I'm not kidding. So I spun along for a bit, people passing me left and right, until my heart rate dropped o zone 3. Then I started working. And  then my heart rate shot up to zone 5 again. So I slowed down. And speed up. And slowed down. And felt... really irritated. In addition to this, the road was open to cars. Some cars stayed behind the bikes, and wouldn't pass them, creating massive traffic jams. I found this also extremely irritating. I appreciate car drivers being careful. I was just crabby that I got stuck over and over again, especially at the beginning of the race.

I never felt super on the bike. I played cat and mouse with one other woman. I wasn't able to figure out who she was because her number was washed away from her leg and so I wasn't able to stalk her in the results. I felt as if I should be able to just dust her, but I could not shake her. I'm sure she felt the same way about me. We basically did the entire ride close to each other.

Here I am feeling not so great on the bike, and also doing something weird with my lips.

I ended up averaging 10 watts below what I thought I would average for the ride. My heart rate would not settle, and I decided I had to keep it in zone 3 or I would risk a repeat of the suckerific run I had at Texas. And so, because I was committed to zone 3 riding, I ended up with a 2:44 bike split, which is pretty slow for this particular course. I had the 8th fastest bike split in my age group, but I only had the 28th fastest bike split for women. I'm fairly certain I've never placed that deeply for the bike. Yikes.

In T2 I suddenly needed to go the bathroom incredibly badly.
So I peed right there in transition.
And can I tell you---it made my T2 wicked slow, because I think I peed for like a half hour. I kept thinking, okay, will this stop? Please stop! Guess I drank enough on the bike this time!

Onto the run.
I took the run mile by mile.  I kept waiting for the shit to hit the fan--and to feel like I couldn't keep the pace. Given, I wasn't running a screaming fast pace. I was basically trying to keep it barely sub 8. Wonderfully, however, the shit never hit the fan! I was able to keep running fairly strong, up and down the gentle hills (nothing too mortifying), and passing people as I had been passed over and over again on the bike. This was a pleasant surprise. Even though I had been disciplined on the bike, I still wasn't convinced it would make for a solid run.

At mile 11, I passed a girl in my age group. While I was happy I passed her, I also felt dread. I'd have to run the final miles scared, and I wouldn't be able to let up at all. I kept waiting for her to pick up her pace and pass me back. I held on, though! She ended up finishing 90 seconds back. There was one woman who finished just about 25 seconds behind me--but because of the weird swim start, I didn't see her at all. I actually think she (literally) finished ahead of me--(I learned this from scrolling through pictures), but it must be because she started the swim earlier than I did.  This was also a niggling fear I had about the woman who finished behind me: it could've been that even though she did finish 90 seconds back, I had started more than 90 seconds ahead of her in the swim.  Again, not a fan of the swim start. I like competing in real time against women in my age group.

Luckily for me, the woman who finished 90 seconds back really did finish 90 seconds back. I had the third fastest run split in my AG. (1:45) and the 14th fastest run split for women. (Not incredible, but I will take it!) The combined result of the disciplines was that I finished 2nd AG out of 69 and 12th woman out of 274 overall in 5:08:00. I was 88/629 including the men.  This wasn't the placing or the sub-5 race I had dreamed of, but it was solid for me--especially given that I took more than a year and half off from biking prior to this winter, and that I rode the bike so conservatively during the race.

Okay, I'm done listing all the stats. :)
Basically, I had a solid race for me. I feel good about it!

I think this was my attempt at an arm raise.

So, there you have it.
Mel was a super good friend and stayed with me so I could get my award. You just can't take these things for granted--and leave early--when you are in your mid-40s and actually place!  Right? Big pat on the back for me.... from me. Because, well, another thing I have learned over the years is that no one else cares whether I place or not. Just me. So I'm giving myself a big hug, here. You go, girl! You may be gettin' grey but you are still moving!
(I'm trying to be inspirational to all of you who know what I'm saying here... ) ;)

And, now, I leave you with pictures of from my garden.
I'm moving, and I'm growing things, and I'm moving through time.

petunia, impatiens, swan river daisy, coleus. I grew these from seed! I actually grew everything pictured from seed.

petunia and Moody Blues annual pholx

Coneflower "Julia". I had such a hard time growing coneflower from seed indoors. I also learned you cannot grow any of the new hybrids from seed; if they germinate at all they will eventually not come true from seed. You must grow the hybrids from cuttings from another plant. I'm so pleased to have "Julia" in my garden. 
Lupine. I pleased some of it is blooming this season, since I just started it from seed indoors this winter.

The yellow flower is Eremurus. It's actually a bulb. The purple is a lavender aster that bloomed much earlier than I thought it would. 

A surprise rose. I dug up this rose bush last fall and moved it, but part of the root ball must have remained in the soil, because it came up this spring. 

Our Japanese Maple and a Floribunda rose. Henry, who we just adopted out of rescue, models for you. 

Here is another picture of Henry. He is mostly Dachshund we think. He's a snuggler and looks a bit like a Scrat from Ice Age.

The end.
xo Hope you're all well that read through this to end. Thanks for reading!