Monday, August 17, 2009

Lake Stevens 70.3 Race Report

Lake Stevens Half Ironman Race Report

We left Portland Saturday morning and spent 4 wonderful hours in the car. Traffic in Seattle is awful. We finally made it up to Everett and met our friends for lunch. We were staying at their place in Everett (super close to race start) but they actually had plans for the night in Seattle so this was the only time we spent with them. It sucked to not hang out longer, but was nice from a night-before-big-race perspective.

After lunch we headed to the expo and bike check in. The expo was in downtown Everett at the Holiday Inn. There was a long mandatory pre-race briefing which you had to go to before you could pick up your number. Unfortunately, we timed it badly and missed the 3:00 meeting because it was a Pros Only. Fortunately, I passed within feet of super amazing Michellie Jones, Melanie McQuaid and dozens of other stars. So cool! I only recognized those two in person but I recognize several other names. I would see a few of the men out on the course and saw everyone starting. Love it!

Next we went to check our bikes in at transition in Lake Stevens. It was a cute little lakeside town and the start/finish area was lovely. We found our spots (marked by number) and familiarized ourselves with swim in/run out/run in /bike out system. Located the porto-potties, parking, etc.

Finally, we drove the course. It was beautiful! The hills seemed insignificant with the exception of a few bigger ones. (Foreshadowing hint: there are no such thing as insignificant hills). Pictures below.

Back at Tyler's we spent the evening just the two of us making dinner, organizing our stuff, and relaxing. The hours flew by and I was grateful for the house- it was like a furnished large nice hotel with a kitchen and it's free. And super close to the start.

We woke up crazy early - 3:45 I think. I had two packets of instant oatmeal with raisins and some of an English Muffin. We got ready, loaded up the car, and were heading out by 5:00. We'd purchased a parking pass the day before and were able to park super close to the start in a reserved spot. Sweet.

We got body-marked and went to set up our transition stations. We hit up the porto potty and heard them announce the start was delayed by 10 minutes. There was heavy fog on the lake's surface and they felt it was a safety issue. This worked ok for us since we were still in the porto-line! We picked up our timing chips (a race-morning thing... a first for me!) by the water's edge and waited around. Our feet were freezing- the ground was cold and the outside temp was about 55 degrees maybe. The water was almost 70 and felt very comfortable. There was a layer of fog moving in just as the sun came up and the race started, and the clouds hung around for a couple hours. I was glad because the forecast was sunny and low 70s.

One of the coolest parts of the day was when the called the Pros out to the starting dock one by one. It was like a football game! "Ironman World Champion, Ladies and Gentleman, Michellie Jones!!" Then each wave filtered down the dock and made their way onto the floating dock and into the water to start. I didn't do a warm up swim because Zach had waded into the little area they were allowing us to enter and he told me it was really rocky and not safe. So I just dipped my feet in and decided I'd just go for it when the race started. We were supposed to jump off the floating dock into the water, which made me a little nervous, so I was extremely relieved to see girls sitting on the edge and pushing off into the water (it was literally floating on the top of the water, not 6 inches high). I did this and the water felt comfortable. I dipped under and the water took my breath away for a second but I got used to it fast. I bobbed around and put my face under a couple more times and then they announced our start was coming.

Swim: 1.2 miles

I pushed the button to start my watch when he started counting down from 10. As soon as the air horn blew my wave was off. I kept my head up for the first few strokes as usual and was surprised to see the mosh pit that ensued. I stayed back and let the group fight it out ahead of me, and then swam to the side and stayed out of it. I caught up within like 50 yards though and was proud of my choice.

I was happy to stay around a lot of blue caps (my wave) and not get dropped. I felt great! I quickly found the white cable running underwater holding each of the buoys- this was put in by the Lake Stevens rowing club and was supposed to be a big perk of this race. It was! I didn't stay on it as much as some people (like Zach) but I kept it in sight for probably half the race and that helped me swim straight. The rest of the time I was just sighting off the swimmers around me and when they were in view, the orange buoys.

The turnaround came and I avoided much contact again which was nice. I stayed wide on the turn along with a fast pink cap (the 30-34 wave after me) and swam the 100 or so yards to the other turnaround buoy (it wasn't a straight out-and-back, more like a long thin rectangle).

The way back seemed to take longer for me. I felt great, it was easy going, so I tried to increase my pace a couple times. At one point on the way back I peed- sorry if that is TMI but it is a big factor in these long races. And personally I think peeing while swimming is a gift. I did it another time right before the swim out and I was really glad I did. So anyway, I was swimming strong and started finally sighting on the tents and arch and finish area. Finally I was at the carpet and ran up out of the water.

Time: 43:05 (2:05/100 y)

T1: 3:00

As I ran out of the water someone yelled "Go Pink Goggles!" which was me. I pulled my wetsuit down and jogged to my spot. I took my wetsuit off and took a second to dry my face, hands, and body a little. I put my helmet on and sunglasses, then slowly pulled my gloves on and my socks and shoes. This transition felt slow to me but wasn't bad. I'm glad I didn't rush it.

Bike: 56 miles

I was excited to start the bike leg and felt good right away. We rode about 5 miles out to where the loop started. We'd do the loop twice then turn back here and ride 5 miles to the finish. Since we'd driven the course the evening before I really thought I knew what to expect- some light inclines and rollers with a few bigger hills, but mostly pretty flat!

HA. As soon as we made the left turn onto the loop I saw the first hill and had a laugh. This was going to be harder than I thought. We headed up that first little climb and it wasn't bad, but the next one was right there waiting. We gradually gained a few hundred feet and I slightly changed my expectations.

Once I was re-focused I actually felt great. I tried to hold back on this first loop and just ride strong. I was focued a LOT on the riders around me- I was spending a ton of energy on keeping space between us. Pretty annoying. Especially because I kept thinking how nice it would be to just hop into someone's draft! Not that I could have- people were flying by. I was getting passed by a ton of fast guys on their second loop. In fact, the first to pass me were the pros- first #1 Joe Gambles, and within 10 minutes a dozen others. Awesome. Wvroom Wvroom Wvroom. I want a disc wheel.

The second loop was a lot more lonely, and less stressful draft-rule-wise. The sun came out about mile 30 for me and while it felt good I knew it meant a harder run. I had some good banter with fellow half-ironmen and was having fun.

My arms were really sore this whole time. I did my stretching thing about 10 miles in and was already aching, especially in my wrists and elbows. I tried to keep moving around to keep loose but it didn't feel great. My lower back started getting sore in the last 10-15 miles too.

I'd kept on my nutrition plan pretty good. A bottle of Perpeteum each of the first two hours, and then ate a Hammer gel (Espresso). I was going to eat another gel but never got around to it (bad girl). I did drink a third bottle of just water though (well most). There were two bottle stops on the bike but I didn't need them. I had my rear bottle cages and that worked out well. Except they almost fell off, but that's a mechanical issue for another day. So Nutrition: check-ish.

There were hills right up until the very end and it definitely got tough. Finally I knew we were closing in and I finished really strong. Nothing like flying by the traffic waiting when you get back into town. It was an open course and drivers were pretty courteous from my perspective, but I heard otherwise. The cops did a great job minding the intersections though. But anyway it's cool when you're finishing through town, because there are a lot of people and cars out then, and I'm the coolest person alive.

Time: 3:26:31 (16.3 MPH)

T2: 3:22

The dismount line snuck up on me and I hopped off. Luckily no crashing like the girl ahead of me, though I did feel a bit spent. Clicked over to my spot and racked my bike. First the wrong way, then fixed it (apparently you can get a penalty for racking backwards, that's what she said). I swapped my helmet for my visor and adjusted my ponytail. I grabbed my fuel belt which had my number attached and my inhaler, and jogged over to the porto potty. I took a quick leaksky and then jogged out of transition. I had my bike gloves on still which I stuffed in my fuel belt pocket as I ran out. I took a puff on my inhaler and shoved it back in the pocket.

Run: 13.1 miles

At first I felt a little tight all over, but overall pretty good. I loosened up and settled in. Right away there was a long hill. This is going to be fun! It was a weird course: a loop and then an out-and-back, about three miles each, then you repeated that. We ran through the crowd downtown every 3 miles.

I felt like I was just shuffling along but I felt OK and didn't have the urge to run any faster. I noticed my time as I started to run and knew it was going to have to be good in order to set a PR. My swim and bikes time had been slower than last year so I knew I had to make it up here. The math worked out that I had to run like 1:57 and I felt it was possible.

My first 5 miles came in around 8:40 average which was great. I ran through the aid stations taking water, and I took two gels at miles 1 and 5. I chatted with a few people, mostly guys on their second lap. There were some climbs but nothing terrible. It started getting pretty warm but I was drinking a lot of water and my pace felt good.

I got a pretty good side cramp like 3-4 miles in that stayed with me in varying degrees for the whole run. I also got a weird sharp crampy thing in my right knee/quad that almost brought me down and then went away. Wtf? That was about mile 4-5, but it never came back.

I saw Zach on the out and back about mile 5 or 6, he was on his last leg. He looked strong! We high fived.

The second loop seemed to come up pretty quickly and I was psyched to be close to the end of this race. I kept thinking that I would tire out and have to walk/slow way down but it never came. I kept running. I was grabbing water at the aid stations, shortening my stride on hills, praying for shade, and I was cruising along.

The mile markers disappeared completely after mile 5 I think, and the loop wasn't an exact double so I had no idea where I was for the rest of the run. Thus, I didn't look at my watch at all. It was pointless. My goal became to keep running to the finish. I knew it was going to be close but I was doing the best I could- more information wouldn't of helped me any.

I screwed up my nutrition on this leg though- after those first two gels I didn't take any more, and I was supposed to take at least one if not two. It's hard to explain but I kind of forgot? Must nail this aspect down for the full ironman (among many other lessons learned, will reveal in upcoming post).

Finally I could see the finish area across the stretch of lake and I figured it was maybe like 1/4 mile away, and I saw my watch at 6:10 or so. I knew my pr was 6:12:59 so I was going to finish very close to that. I pushed as hard as I could and ran that last bit All Out. I saw Zach in the crowd and he cheered me on! I heard them announce my name and I saw my watch- I did it!! Barely!!

Run Time: 1:56:25 (8:53 average pace)

Official Finish Time: 6:12:21 (PR by 38 seconds)

Place 23/48 (25-29 Females)
124/290 (Overall Females)
535/882 (Overall)

Hell Ya!!!! Yay! I am so happy with this race. I think I did all three things very strong and I felt good the whole time. This was nothing compared to last year. The weather really helped but I know I am stronger.

I think it's crazy that I finished with almost the Exact same time as last year- totally different course, different years, different training and everything. Too funny. I guess I am consistent. Also I have the retrospect now that perhaps last years swim and bike legs were short (not to dwell, but I really doubt I swam 1:40 100s last year,ha!) and this one was dead on, so I think it is an improvement. The best thing was how I felt- last time I said with extreme clarity "I will never do a full Ironman" and this time I am saying "I can do it!" (More like "maybe I actually CAN do it" and "It seems more reasonable now than before!" but let's keep it simple)

I learned a few things from this race and am excited to get the main phase of the Ironman training underway. I have a lot of goals and plans for myself to prepare my mind and body for what I know will be a big challenge. I'm feeling positive and am going to stay that way. I will talk more about my goals for training in my next post and after a few days of recovering.

Enjoy a few pictures from the weekend. No pics of us actually racing since we both participated and there were no spectators for us (that's not a guilt trip, friends and family, I swear!). Lots of before and afters though. Official photos will be available soon.

By the way, please check out Zach's blog for his race report. I can't even get started because he did so awesome and I'm so proud and amazed and impressed and once the gushing starts it is hard to stop... he'll have a RR up soon. Check it out. It's good stuff. He's crazy.

Ok, pictures.

Thanks for reading!

"Before" (see last photo in series for "after")

My course maps (bike then run)

Packet Pickup at the Holiday Inn in Everett:
Zach getting his first HIM packet:
He got embarassed that I was taking so many photos:
Checked our bikes in at Transition in downtown Lake Stevens:
Zeek's bike:
Also Run Out:
Lake Stevens:

Then we drove the bike course. A lot of the pics looked similar so I just chose a few. It was green and gorgeous just like you'd expect:
Forest:Not Lake Stevens:

Rollers (as in "Roller Coasters"):

Half-Ironman but whatever, YAY!!
Saw this guy a couple times:
Lake Stevens- this was actually on the Run Course. The white pointed tents in the far back were the finish line.

Race Morning:

And a few hours later:

My ride home outfit. Check the socks with sandles. You know you like it.
Back through Seattle to Portland:


Jo Lynn said...

AWESOME!!! I read every single word and LOVED it. I'm thinking more and more about doing one of these so I found this super informative. THANK YOU.

Love all the pictures. You sleeping in the car is priceless though. I can't believe you drove home after that. Ugh.

You did great. You're a fast runner, especially after that swim and bike ride. Phew.

Thanks again girl. YOU ROCK!

Ewen said...

That was almost as exciting as Bolt's 100m! You did well Jen - I know, you cut it so fine just for show. My tip to save a few minutes would be to not worry about getting your ponytail into perfecto style before the run leg ;)

A definite improvement on last time, and great attitude that you can do it all again. You'll have a fantastic IM.

Very cool that Michellie was there - I'm still disappointed for her that she didn't win gold in Sydney.

Great photos - of course the last one is the best. Good stuff from the big bloke too.

Anonymous said...

Well done!! You had a great race. Way to hold strong throughout the swim, bike and run. All your training is paying off. Keep working hard. Nutrition is always hard to nail down during the race. Sounds like you did a pretty good job sticking with it.

Gotta Run..Gotta Ride said...

OK.. that last picture is the!!!

You guys are both awesome. Even though my Ironman did not happen for me this year I am super pumped about reading and following yours.


kelsalynn said...

WAHOO! Great post! Perfect details, pictures...what else can we ask for? I mean, you even posted a picture of you sleeping with your mouth hanging open- it doesn't get much better than that!

lol That last picture had me laughing pretty good. What an awesome job Jen! You are incredible! I'm so impressed with you, you have no idea!

I like how you ran a half-marathon, after swimming and biking might I add, at an 8:53/mile pace and you said you were "shufling along." You're crazy!

Congrats on your race!

John said...

Congrats on a great race!

Kim said...

CONGRATULATIONS JEN!! fantastic race! you did so awesome. the picture of you sleeping cracked me up! you deserved a nap! yay! great job! IM here you come!

ShirleyPerly said...

Congrats on your PR, Jen!!

How wonderful to have a line in the lake to follow at least part of the way. Peeing during the swim is a good thing, although I don't like thinking about others doing it in front of me :-P

Glad you felt good about all 3 legs of the race. Sounds like you got the confidence you needed for IMAZ and some good lessons learned too, which I look forward to hearing.

Alisa said...

Yay, yay, yay! PR and a great race. I wish I could have been there to spectate! I really really want to fly to Arizona =).

Great job my tri guru!

All three legs were strong and you look soooooo happy. Can't wait to hear about it in person.


Beth said...

Conngrats on a PR on a harder course Jen! And feeling like you can do Ironman now is awesome!

Anonymous said...

CONGRATS!!!! great race report! Love the pics especially the last one :)

aron said...

you are so awesome jen - CONGRATS!!! you are so going to rock this IM and your upcoming big training... cant wait to read all about what you have coming up and what you learned! you have a great attitude and i am glad this was a nice boost to get you into the peak of training. woooo :)

the gazelle said...

fantastic! and I am sorry that I didn't make it in time to take pics :( BUT I am so proud of you. You did such a great job. Such an inspiration.

Dragonfly on the Water said...

A daunting Half-ironman, Jen. Wow. So proud of you! Very nice write-up, I felt as if I was right with you in all the events.

Arcane said...

well done! Nice and consistent. that elevation profile for the bike looks brutal. Best of luck with the rest of your ironman training.

Marathon Maritza said...

You continue to inspire me all the time with your amazing accomplishments! Congratulations, you did amazing and you deserve it for all the hard work and training that you put into it!!! You are gonna be a kickass IM!

P.S. I saved this post to read before my first morning run back after vacay (and first of my 16/55 training for Malibu/CIM) because I knew I'd need the major inspiration. Mission accomplished.

Love and miss you!

M. Brooks said...

Great race report on a great race!! It looks like you are well on your way to being fully prepared for your Ironman race. Your race reports and training reports are always so inspiring!

Keep up the great work!

kristen said...

Great race report girl. I love the pics. I'm so proud of you!! I know it was a major improvement on your last one even though the times only refelct it by 38 seconds. That was not a flat course. I'm glad you enjoyed your experience.

Congrats to both of you!!

Cindy said...

AHH! huge huge congrats to you on your pr!! and i just love your dunzo pic!
what can i say, you continue to inspire. GREAT JOB!!!

Donald said...

Sweet job! A PR on what looks to be a challenging course is pretty awesome. I love how you pack these reports with photos, too thanks to all your crew.

Keep on rolling from here to the IM.

Susan said...

Congrats on an AMAZING race!! Halfway there??

Love that last picture. :)