Muncie 70.3

Swim

The horn went off and I started my Garmin and started swimming. I swam through the tightness that develops, knowing I can handle it….no need to back off or even switch strokes for a moment or two. I worked….and I

Per Carlos, this was actually my wave taking off
Per Carlos, this was actually my wave taking off

kept going. The start was a bit rough, but not bad and soon I was I clear water.

Well…I looked and no wonder why…I had swum about 20 meters inside the buoy! Doh. I headed back over, keeping the shortest path to get back on course and soon was ok. And then it happened again! Really?  I thought to myself:  “Get your head in the game. Don’t think about your Garmin, and being proud of swimming through the tightness doesn’t mean you can stop spotting. Get your head in the now”. It worked apparently as I didn’t go off course or stray far from the main buoys at all for the rest of the swim. I did feel my Garmin buzz and was wondering if it decided to magically work, but figured I would find out later, and kept swimming.

I hit the second turn to start coming in and felt good. Strong, and even pushed up my effort (I thought)….keeping my stroke strong. Well, I thought.

I was soon coming to the swim exit and heading up the ramp. This was a good swim. When I saw my time after the race I was disappointed. I thought I had held a better effort then it said. Well, something else to keep working on, I have a goal of a 32 minute swim in a still body (lake). I plan on getting there. I know sometimes a swim is long, sometimes short, but regardless, I think it’s a reasonable goal for me at this time.

Swim Time: 35:04
Age Group Place:  11

T1
Time: 2:58

Running to my bike
Running to my bike

As I came up I started pulling off my wet suit, hit the first two wet suit strippers and they had me out in a flash. They tossed me my wet suit and I was soon announcing “left” as I headed up to transition, passing people. I heard and then spotted Carlos and my parents waiting and cheering along the path to transition. I smiled and ran. I looked at my Garmin. Apparently the buzzing was it dying. The screen was blank. The leak was bad enough I guess water got in and shorted it. I used my running time to take it off, figuring seeing it there on my wrist for the rest of the race would only distract and annoy me. There was nothing I could do. I had my 810 on my bike. The run would be a challenge to push myself. I run b feel but looking down occasionally is a good reminder of what I can do and that I should up the pace occasionally. Oh well.

I was heading in and one athlete came at me. We almost collided. He was going the wrong way against the entire flow. I have no idea why but I had to let the moment pass and remained focused.

I was at my bike. One thing different about Muncie is they gave the All World Athletes different numbers with gold lowest, then the silver and then the bronze, so you aren’t with the rest of the people in your age group. I didn’t really like this as now I could not look at my age group area in transition and know how many people are in/out in my age group. Sometimes a little carrot can make you push yourself a little harder. This removed that possibility unless you knew the numbers of each person racked in different zone and where they were racked.

I had everything set and was soon heading out. I looked up my lane and it was blocked with a team helping a para athlete. So I quickly went over one row to head out and soon was at the mount line.

Bike

From my ride the day before I knew the first few miles were rough, followed by about 2 smooth miles and then another, brief rough patch. At about 8 miles out we get on US-35 where we do 2 loops (10 out, 10 back, twice) and then 8 miles back to transition. The roads were closed to traffic and the police and volunteers did a terrific job on traffic control. It was also the most I have ever seen the course referees and support vehicle.

At the athlete meeting the day before I learned that a typical half iron race requires 5 bags of cold patch asphalt. This one took 30. I think most of it was in that first 5 miles and also on the run. Again, 35 had a couple of bumps (bridges) but was, for the most part, pretty good. And any holes were highlighted in fluorescent paint.

I start every ride knowing to ride in myself….watching my watts and making sure i keep in a specific range. My normalized power was a bit lower than Raleigh, but I did pretty well at keeping my effort up.

On the first loop out there was a slight cross wind with a hint of head wind…which means a slight tail wing back in. By the second loop it was mostly a head wind out and mostly tail wind back in which really is nice if you think about it.

Most people were good about announcing left, and I did the same. I didn’t get passed often, and I did play back and forth with a man for about 2/3 rds of the ride. Not constantly but we passed each other about 5-6 times.

The turn arounds were well announced and if I was coming up on someone I let them know where I was. There were no problems.

There were only about 2 primary cross roads where crowds gathered, so crowd support wasn’t abundant along the ride, but those that were out there did well. Apparently Carlos and my parents were out there but they missed me. I was too fast! Carlos commented afterwards that the police and volunteers were very polite and helpful when he asked questions. Again…kudos to the people who make the race happen and make it safe.

Around about mile 40 the guy I was going back and forth with occasionally commented to me on my riding (and later asked how fast I was planning to run). Right after he did I crossed the bridge and suddenly felt a jerk and halt in my ride. I kept my balance and moving forward and looked back to see the water bottle I had picked up about mile 25 flying away. It had been knocked out on the bump and almost kicked me down when it flew. After that I heard a small noise in my back gears. Nothing major and the feel to my ride didn’t change so I kept going thinking “don’t get worse. Only 16 miles to go.” And there is reason number two I am off to Podium for a post-race bike check.

On the way back, when I crossed over the bridge again I saw several water bottles and items typically loaded on a bike strewn about.

Coming in I got tied up a couple of times. One time a motor cycle seemed to be interviewing a rider as she road to which I said “excuse me” (politely) and they let me pass. Another time the one woman who did pass me in my age group passed me, followed shortly by the support vehicle and a small group of men, and I had to back off for a bit. At that point, for a couple of minutes I lost my focus/push. There were a couple of turns and I spotted two dogs (must have had an electric fence but I just saw them rushing to the property edge and thinking “all day and NOW your charging?” But they stopped at the edge. I quickly regained myself and brought it home.

The last 5 miles have a gradual incline and a man next to me said/asked “did we go down this coming out? I don’t remember this!” He was joking around and I smiled and replied “yup. Free speed.”

I was coming in and considered a flying dismount or not. It is flat and straight in. I thought “no…someone may cross” but decided to go for it and executed it this time (phew!). I did the last few pedals on my shoes to the dismount line and ran in to transition, remembering to stop my Garmin. I wanted to know what my stats were after!

Bike Time: 2:33:32 (21.9 mph)
Age Group Place:  7

T2
Time: 2:22

I ran in and headed right to my spot and racked my bike. Socks then shoes, adding my number and hydration belts, grabbed my hat and extra sunscreen and ran out. No Garmin to think about.

I got sunscreen on my shoulders and headed out.

As I ran out I saw the clock but didn’t catch the time. Dang. Time to use all my training to get a feel for pacing and feel comfortable running by feel. Nothing to do about it but settle in and keep pushing just that extra push.

Run

I ran out ready to run. Hooray! I had two primary thoughts on my run, and on reflection, many more. First, in the first mile I realized I had to pee. I contemplated every stop “do I stop?” But knew hitting 5 hours was going to be close, so opted to go as long as I could without stopping. I’d done it before and somewhere around mile 8 I finally forgot I had to go.

The other thought was how quickly the miles seemed to click by. Granted I had no measure, but it all seemed to go very quick.

I also knew I wouldn’t see Carlos or my parents and hoped they were enjoying the day, grateful my parents had come.

Overall I focused on cooling myself with water and ice. It was overcast and coming in there was a breeze, but it was still warm and keeping myself cool was on my mind. I even with the clouds and breeze I felt the heat and even took in a few ice cubes to chomp on which felt good.

I also worked to keep fueled, making sure to take sips from my nutrition every mile. I had started using Infinit Isis Endurance on the bike, and then Isis Hydration on the run and although I burp a little up on the bike, when I get to the run I have not had any nutrition issues (usually I have had to have a little coke once or twice on the run to settle my stomach). This race followed Raleigh in that regard.

I soon passed the woman in my age group who passed me in the last miles of the bike. I never looked back, using it as fuel to keep going and not stop for the bathroom! I also passed one other woman in my age group, and wasn’t passed by anyone in my age group. Yes!

I actually passed a lot of people, including men (and some did pass me, no reason to hide that). Again, I used it as mental fuel to keep going, trying not to slack off.

It really is amazing how quickly the run in a half iron passes. Every time I count off the miles as a mental game. With only 10 miles left I think: I do 10 mile runs all the time….I’ve got this! Then I’m half way, and think “I am still ok. I have fuel in the tank. Keep going!” And then I am down to a 5k….I know I’m home free…and want to keep pushing because there is no excuse not to. I mean…it’s a 5k!

Coming in I kept cooling myself and passing people. I was nearing the last hill and it sounded like a group was cheering for Bonnie. I smiled and said “I’m not Bonnie” he laughed and said “no. Go Donnie. And he’s going to catch you!” He did.

Coming in I started down the finishing chute and I saw Carlos and my parents as I brought it in. Carlos took a quick video if you want a chuckle

. I saw the clock was at 5:35: and change. I had just missed 5 hours…again (my wave stared at 35 after the clock started)! I was determined to get as close to 5 hours as possible and not pass 5:01.

Soon I was in, and just….annoyed but with a positive sense of humor about it. This was a course where I could have broken 5 hours. Dang!

Run Time: 1:46:45 (8:08 mile pace)
Final Age Group Place:  5

Total Time: 5:00:41

Post Race

I quickly found Carlos and my parents, and after some semi hugs (I was a bit of a sweaty mess so being smart, no one gave me a big hug, more like a congratulatory pat/quick squeeze) I headed to the food tent. Not much there I wanted, but took some food and sat down. Carlos had my bag of post-race stuff and I had my recovery drink in there. I was a little disappointed (as usual) there was no chocolate milk at the finish line. Oh well.

We sat down and I ate. My mom went over to check the results and came back to tell me I had placed 5th. What? Whee! Last year all podium finishers were under 5 hours. Yea!

Since our hotel was 45 minutes away, and roads were still blocked, we just stayed. There were showers on site at the beach, but I hadn’t thought about that. People were showering and if I were to do it again, I would bring my shower gear. It was a long wait, and not much to do, but we got to sit and chat which was…enjoyable and good. It’s not often I get to just chew the fat with my parents anymore, and this was a good trip for that.

Awards ceremony - 5th place in my age group
Awards ceremony – 5th place in my age group

Post-race Reflection

It’s hard for me to always be objective. The first reaction is emotional. To say I wasn’t disappointed that I missed breaking 5 hours would be a fib. I love what I get to do, and want to do well. But, in sitting back and looking at how I raced overall – I realize I usually raced better than that final time I see.

Going in to this race, I sometimes questioned my choice as Muncie is nothing like IMWI. And I have never attempted this many HIMs in a year. And I still have a full iron in September (Wisconsin) that I need/want to focus on. Raleigh was better training for IMWI than Muncie. But, in asking my coach if I had made a bad move she said that racing keeps you sharp and your skills up. Yes – better to make (and learn from) mistakes earlier than at my primary race for the year (I don’t say “A race” deliberately – I always want to race at the best level I am able).

This race was not my strongest race this year. Irony of ironies, my slowest race this year (Raleigh 70.3) was numerically, in terms of swim pace, bike power, and run pace, my strongest race. Ha! I guess that speaks well for IMWI, right?  It just goes to show that racing is more than just time. And overall time and place are nice (OK – placing feels pretty great!), but there is SO much more by which I need to evaluate my race performance.

I was expecting about the same as in Raleigh as it was a lake swim with 2 turns. But, it wasn’t. I actually felt really good in the swim, and was surprised that it was over 35 minutes. I fell out of my zone briefly (focused on a big victory for me, and forgetting a couple of details – so I fell out of the “now”) in the swim, and soon positive talked myself back in and back on. Which is terrific. However, I needed to keep my head in the game from the get-go.

My normalized power on the bike wasn’t as high as at Raleigh (163 vs. 167 watts), but it was strong, and I was consistent. And I did get a push from a tailwind. The interval where I had the lowest power I was actually going the fastest. I felt great the entire bike. I did lose focus for a few minutes coming back in, but I got back in to it pretty quick.

The run….I could stew that if I had my Garmin I may have pushed and gotten a sub 8 pace, like at Raleigh. Raleigh was a tough run, and Muncie didn’t feel as tough. But maybe I wasn’t pushing?  I ran and felt strong and good. I ran such that I felt a little push the entire way. It was more downhill out, and uphill back, and my pace out and back exactly reflected that. I was passing people throughout the run. A few people did pass me, but not many. Overall, it was a strong run. And I was glad I work so hard on feel and pacing.

I had two technical problems pop up pre-race and I didn’t let them phase me. I knew I was still OK. I trusted my training enough that “worry” or “panic” never entered my brain. Probably my biggest feeling was being annoyed that I was going to lose race data.

My nutrition was on. Which, again, is a great feeling. I am getting comfortable with it.

So lots of positive lessons for me, lots of items to take away, and definitely proud of my finish. I am grateful for what my body does, and what it lets me do. Now…to just break 5 hours!

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