Monday, July 18, 2011

Door County HIM - Race Report (Her)

This blog has clearly been neglected lately and that's because we've been busy training, working, training, traveling, training, chores, training and this past weekend....racing.  On Friday we headed up to Door County for the big Half Ironman weekend.  This was Jonathan's "A" tri for the season and an important milestone in my journey to the Ironman. We had never been to Door County before and I was really looking forward to it!

We stayed in a super cute condo resort in the heart of Egg Harbor and only about three miles from the race....super convenient.  We had a great dinner outside Friday night, a relaxing practice swim and drive of the bike course Saturday, and the weather was gorgeous.  And then Sunday morning arrived....we walked outside to temps already in the mid-70s at 6am with crazy high humidity.  Reports were for a temp in the high 80s with a heat index in the high 90s.  I was terrified since my body doesn't react well to heat, but I also refused to believe it.  I had PLEADED with Mother Nature for cloud cover and lower dew points.  Well this time she wouldn't listen.....

Pre-race:

Pre-race routine was a little different since this was a later wave start for me. Typically I set my alarm to take in my morning nutrition, then go back to sleep for a bit. Since I wasn't starting until close to 9am I didn't want to take in my nutrition too early, so I slammed a shake right before we walked out the door then choked down some gluten-free banana bread on the way to the race. I had WAY more nervous energy than I usually do on race morning and I didn't like it. Not sure what the problem was, but the nutrition wasn't going down well at all. This should have been a signal of the GI issues to come later on. Got to the site nice and early, took my time setting up transition and was pleasantly surprised to see a tri friend racked right next to me. Was so nice to see a friendly face! Once I was certain everything was in it's place, it was time to walk down to the water and relax. Got in the water and swam out to the turn buoy. Felt MUCH better than I did in the water during our practice swim Saturday. Spent about 15 minutes floating around and then went back to the beach. I still had another hour to wait for my wave start! It was TORTURE!!! I got back in the water with about 20 minutes until my wave to I could re-acclimate to the water temp (which was nice). FINALLY, second-to-last wave, starting at nearly 9am....it was time to GO!!!

Swim (1900 Meters) = 47:47
By the time it was finally our turn to start, the wind had picked up substantially and the water got really choppy. I started toward the back in the middle and for some reason lost my wave right away. I don't know how I got so far behind, but at least the start was low contact because I was trying to get used to the chop. When we turned right and headed north we had the current with us and you could feel it....felt so smooth and like I was flying through the water! Then we turned around. It was SO choppy and we were getting bounced around everywhere! I could hear/see people bailing around me and I just kept reminding myself to stay calm. Once I got back into a rhythm, I did fine, although I had to keep popping up to sight more often than I would have liked. The current was so strong it kept pushing us inside the buoy line....over and over and over! Finally got to the last turn buoy and headed to shore, at which point I got absolutely NAILED by this woman kicking like her life depended on it (maybe it did?  and if that's the case, then I feel bad for complaining about her). However, I have NO idea why anyone feels the need to kick that hard in a wetsuit, but she absolutely clocked me. Even the lifeguard said "oh shit!" I chalked it up to good IM training and kept on going. Swam all the way until my fingers touched sand and was so glad the swim was over!  Yet I knew the hardest part was yet to come and soon I'd be giving ANYTHING to jump back in that water! 

T1 = 2:22
Wetsuit strippers! So fun! Since I have never had a wetsuit stripper before I didn't know quite what to do, but she instructed me "suit over hips and sit down!" I sat down and it was off in a second. However, I wasn't crazy about the energy it took to sit down and get back up again, so not sure if it was worth it? After that my transition was just sloppy. Had to put some extra stuff in my pockets since it was a half and that flustered me and slowed me down. Given this was my highest AG ranking of the day though, I guess I didn't do that poorly?!!

Bike (56.3 Miles) =3:16:40, 17.1mph
Started out going south into a fairly strong headwind....it was nice because it didn't feel THAT hot out yet. This was fairly scenic on nice roads right along the lake. We went a full 16 miles before making a turn! I, however, was struggling the whole time. I had the WORST stabbing pain in my gut. It was terrible. I couldn't get into aero position comfortably, I didn't want my nutrition, and I seriously considered throwing the bike aside and DNF'ing. But I calmed myself down, switched to pure water and electrolyte pills for a while, and hoped it would calm down. Around 1:30 into the bike, I finally started to feel better...I was so thankful and that put me in a much better mood! I also took my first caffeine in four days (did a caffeine taper before the race) and I think that helped too. Legs started to settle in, I got back on my nutrition plan and started feeling so much better. From this point on, the bike was actually quite enjoyable. I handled the couple of good hills very well and had some fun on some moderate descents. I was smiling and thanking all of the volunteers. The last six miles on the lakeshore road headed back to transition were AWESOME. We had a tailwind at that point and the roads were smooth and it just felt great. Although I did notice it starting to get REALLY hot at that point and started pouring water down my back. All in all though, I was extremely pleased with my performance on the bike. I definitely held back somewhat on this bike because goal #1 was to have a decent run (HA HA HA HA HA!!!). I probably could have pushed a little harder, but am pleased with 17mph+ and feeling good at the end. I do have to figure out the gut discomfort at the beginning of the ride though. Not sure if it's taking in too much air/water during the swim? This has happened before too. If it happens during IM I am going to be in big trouble.

T2 = 3:01
I was SO flustered during this transition, which led to a critical error (see run below). I think I was already getting a little dehydrated which led to a loss of focus and I just couldn't get my act together. Eventually I just got my shoes on, grabbed my hat, race belt with bib number and all of my gels and figured I could get myself together once on the course. I ran out of transition and dropped half my gels...had to go back. Not a good start.

Run (13.1 Miles) = 2:52:48, 13:11 m/m pace (UGH!)
MISERY. I started out on the run juggling all of my stuff from transition and decided to walk about the first half mile to get the heart rate down and get myself settled. There were people walking everywhere. I have never started the run segment of a triathlon and seen so many people walking. This was about 1:15pm so it was absolutely blazing hot out. Not only was it hot, but the humidity was sky high. I shuffled along and started thinking about my nutrition plan when it dawned on me...."where are my electrolyte pills?" I didn't remember sticking them in my pocket. I dug through my pockets and realized it was true...I had forgotten my electrolytes in transition. DISASTER. How was I going to get through a half marathon in the middle of the afternoon of one of the hottest days of the year? The thought absolutely paralyzed me. I kind of shuffled along, but also stopped to walk a bit because I didn't want to overheat until I had a game plan. Got to the first aid station and asked if they had salt pills. NO. Okay, time to switch up the nutrition plan. I was planning to go with water, gel and electrolyte pills (since I had had a lot of Gatorade on the bike). But knowing I HAD to get some electrolytes, I decided to go with mostly just Gatorade and water. This became my routine at every aid station for the rest of the "run." A cup of Gatorade Endurance Formula (yay electrolytes!), half a cup of water (other half over the head) and ice down the sports bra. At about mile 3 Jonathan saw me and jogged over to my side of the road. We just stopped and talked for a couple of minutes while I stood in a sprinkler. He gave me his last electrolyte pill. That gave me a good boost and I ran for a bunch of miles 3/4/5 where there was some good shade too. We hit the hill at 6 and I walked it. Then we were out in the sun so I was running/walking every 1 or 2 minutes. This was a fartlek half marathon. Run through this shade. Run to the next stop sign. Run to the end of this road. I just stayed focused on moving forward. My attitude was incredibly positive and although I was miserable, I actually felt "good" (I know that doesn't make any sense). When I was running, I was running strong. It was kind of frustrating because the legs were there, but I just kept overheating too bad. We hit THE bluff....the one the race is billed after ("Are you Tough Enough for the BLUFF?")... and that was rough, but I knew once we got up it that it was mostly downhill to the finish. It was also like running on the surface of the sun. There was not one inch of shade that last three miles or so. I made a friend on "Sunnypoint" and we helped each other run....to the next aid station, to the stop sign, to the next person walking in front of us.  Kept us honest and it was good to have company. It's funny the comaraderie that happens this late in the race when everyone is in the pain cave.  That's one of the reasons I love this sport.  Around 12 miles I started to experience major GI distress. Really? Now? I'm almost done! My body had just had enough. I knew the finish was near and just took off running. The sooner I could get to the finish, the better.  I ran down the hill, to the finish and straight to the porta john. I barely even stopped to get my medal! Very anti-climatic way to become a three-time half ironman. :)

When my hubby wasn't cheering for me at the finish I knew that something was wrong. He is ALWAYS waiting for me at the finish. I started to panic and immediately went into the med tent where I found him laying on a cot getting an IV. It was not a nice sight. I made sure he was okay, but it was so hot in the med tent that I was not feeling so great myself. Went and sat in the huge ice bath they had next to the med tent...it was like a big kiddie pool for adults! So gross, but felt SO good! I probably sat in there for 15-20 minutes trying to cool myself down. It helped tremendously. Thank goodness for the amazing staff from Ministry Medical....you all are angels!!!  Jonathan got released from the med tent and we got my stuff from transition and headed back to the hotel for our post-race reward...PIZZA!!!


I can't say enough good things about this race (although I hesitate to, because I'm afraid it will start selling out quickly every year!!!). It was a code red day and I NEVER felt I was in danger on that course. The organizers brought in so much extra fluid, ice and even sprinklers and dunk tanks for us. It was incredible. Where there wasn't an aid station, there was a local spectator offering up a hose or some ice. People were SO nice and SO accommodating. I can't wait to go back and do it again next year....hopefully under better conditions. I am seeking some revenge on that run course!

For now, I will rest and recover with some easy work outs.  But back at it with three big weekends in a row.  Only eight weeks until the BIG day!

- Her

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