My "Perfect" Race...
Since this race was a tune-up for the upcoming Ironman Cozumel, my goals were more training related. I had four goals for this race:
1. Get a feel for a non-wetsuit, salt water swim
2. Quick T times with no mistakes
3. Hold 140 watts on bike
4. Run 5 min/k
|Race morning with Erin|
The male pros started the race at 7:25 and I was in the 8th wave starting at 7:51. I was excited and nervous to jump in the water with 117 other woman and get the day started. Water was calm, winds were calm and humidity wasn't too bad. It was going to be a great day to race!
|standing out in the crowd|
It was a good swim. I kept on someone's hip most of the way. About half way through I got caught up in a large and heavy seaweed patch which caused me some concern and for sure slowed me down. I had to do head up front crawl to get through it. Besides that, the swim was good, there was contact for sure but not too bad. Definitely a positive experience knowing I have to do (and totally can do) twice the distance at Cozumel!
|taken from the hotel's 29th floor lounge|
The last 50-75m was pretty aggressive as we all sprinted for the exit - with multiple waves caught up together. I pulled myself up the stairs gracefully and was happy to see 38min on my watch. In line with what I expected, but clearly not as fast as I would like. I felt great and ran up the very long run up to transition. It was my fastest half iron swim I think.
My watch recorded the swim as 2,010m instead of 1,900m so in the end my swim definitely reflected my training.
My T1 time was just over 3 minutes but given the long run up it was a good T time. I was on grass and that caused me a bit of concern getting my shoes on with grass on my feet but turn out it was no bother. It's nice not having a wet suit, and I was out of my swimskin in no time. Transition was very crowded (however, I should mention the ladies on either side of me did not show up so I had tons of personal space) - but running with the bike through transition was a little dicey. I was happy to get to the mount line and get on with my ride.
My goal was to hold 140w. Unfortunately I think I messed up my power meter calibration because the power data was completely contrary to perceived exertion, heart rate and cadence. In addition, after my long training ride in Florida this past week, 140w is a little aggressive for me. I think I have a long way to go in understanding and using power. About 40km in I decided to stop looking at power and focus on the feel. The bike course was OK. A little tricky getting out of down-town with lots of turns and poor pavement. Once you got out on the open road the conditions were good but the scenery is boring and its just a long, straight, flat road. The wind was there for sure but I didn't think it was too bad. Some people agreed with me, but some thought it was windy then ever. There was some blatant drafting going on - both in pairs and in peleton. So super frustrating to see it go on and after looking at the data, for sure one of my age groupers passed me in a peleton on the back half of the ride. I was super pleased with my bike split just under 2:42 (avg 21.7mph, almost 34kmh!) And even better I felt like I could have done that for another 3 hours. I nailed my nutrition drinking nearly all of my 3 bottles of carbopro/nuun and taking 3 gels. At this point in the race I knew I was doing well and was on track for a great run.
|heading into T2|
My 1:52 T2 probably could have been a bit faster but again, you come into a very crowded and tight transition and running with the bike and bike shoes on is not easy. I struggled a bit getting my socks on but that's just going to happen. No mistakes and I was out the run as fast as I could.
|always nice to see empty racks when you return from the bike|
This is where things got ugly but I'll start with good. I ran a 1:42:11 half marathon! 1:41:53 is the fasted half marathon I have ever ran! According to the official stats that's averaging 4:50/km. According to my Garmin however, I only ran 20.2km and averaged 5:03/km. Either way I'll take it as a great run!
|Heading out for the run - I was surprised B made it from Transition to see me here!|
I'm well on my way to mastering the mental run. I keep my heart rate and respiratory rate under control and I felt like I could run forever. Also, the actual route itself is not bad. Don't get me wrong, the bridge is a huge challenge right smack dab in the middle of this run... twice... , but given the flatness of the bike, it's nice to have a challenging run.
|coming in from first loop - feeling strong|
Also, being the out and back you get to see your friends racing too. It was uplifting every time Hector called out my name! Hector looked great when I saw him the first time, I barely got a good look at him if at all the other times! I saw Erin as I was coming in from my first look and I was happy to see she made it out of the swim, and by my calculations she seemed to be running a solid race.
|"It's all mental from here" heading out for the 2nd loop feeling good!|
I ran past Barry twice as I came in and out onto the second loop. I knew at this point it was all mental. Hold down the pace on the flats and get over the last 2 climbs and it will be a perfect race. It was warm and sunny but not too humid and very manageable with water on the head and ice down the top.
It's the best feeling when you hit the turn around point and you are the only one heading straight to the finish! I was so pleased with my race, grinning ear to ear and ran as fast as I could to the finish!
|Running towards finish!|
|The final stretch|
|FINISHED! 5:08:00, 6th in my Age Group|
- The course is too narrow. Out and back traffic on a narrow path in English flow (out on the left, back on the right) made for lots of dodging and even a couple games of chicken, especially on the second loop when most of the racers were on the run course. There were no dividers between the outbound and inbound traffic and due to the English flow, folks didn't know to pass on the right or the left or where to walk! I'm surprised there were not a lot of head on collisions on this run course! Crossing the bridge was the worst!
- The aid stations were under manned, under managed and chaotic. In the beginning of my run it wasn't too bad but by the second loop it was a disaster. Most of the stations I would run into yelling for water and they would be pouring it or just not have it ready. And a few times, the volunteers would have the water in their hands, but have their backs to the runners chit-chatting with their friends. Now don't get me wrong, I very much appreciate volunteers. And if there was some sort of management or oversight of the kids things might have been better. But there were quite a few aid stations that appeared to be completely staffed with high school kids and they were totally overwhelmed with the amount of runners! I would definitely recommend the race director taking a look at their aid station plans and revamp the way they are staffed.
- Course marshals were missing at key turns and pedestrian cross-walks I actually witnessed a lady run right pass the turnaround on the other side of the bridge - lucky for her there were 3 of us yelling at her that she missed it! Additionally, there were no barricades or marshals at cross-walks and spectators were pretty oblivious to the runners on the course.
- Very little spectator support except at the finish line turnaround. I understand it was difficult for spectators to get out on the course, but it would have been nice to have some cheering section on the bridge!
- Finish line - oh that poor finish line! I understand we were in the middle of a metropolitan city and I understand there is space constraints but the fact that there wasn't even a piece of fruit at the finish line was awful! Basically you finish and then a shuttled out into this small space that the finish chute circles. There were massage tents and some open space and a Muscle Milk tent (gross). I was handed a small bottle of water at the finish line but that was it. I walked around, a bit in a daze, looking for the food. I asked several athletes and spectators and was told that there was no food there! I was amazed and distraught. Finally I saw a sign that said Athlete Food with an arrow so I followed. First I had to cross the finisher's chute (about 50m from the finish!) and then I had to walk around the huge fountain and then I had to cross the course AGAIN - this time right where the finisher's chute merged with the exit from Transition on to the run course (the food tent was in the Ironman Village)! Finally, I reached the food tent, proceeded to grab a piece of watermelon and inhaled it. I have to say I was happy with the post race food - it was rice, black beans and chicken! I would suggest to the race director to put the fruit at the finish line and put the hot food in a food tent in the Ironman village.
NOW, back to the good stuff!
Since I finished 6th in my age group there was a small chance I might get a spot for the 70.3 World Championship begin held in Mt. Tremblant next September. So after going back to the room and having a ice bath and a beer, we retuned to the stage for awards and roll down. Both spots for my age group were claimed by #1 and #2 so I didn't get a roll down spot. Both the 30-34 and 35-39 got extra spots AND the 35-39 group went to something crazy like the 20th spot .. but no such luck for me and probably good as I didn't really have room in my schedule for that race next year!
I also got to chit chat with the pros!
|with Helle, the woman's winner|
|Me and Terenzo, the male winner (he's cute and nice)|
|Leanda, an Ironman World Champ and super nice person!|
|Leanda asked about my race - nothing like chit-chatting post race!|
Next up in exactly 4 weeks from today - Ironman Cozumel and I'm feeling pretty darn good about it!