Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Waterman's Half Race Report

Greatest Support Team
As usual, I am long overdue for a race report. I think I've been in a bit of denial that the season is actually over. In some ways it is a cause for celebration, and in others it's kind of sad. But Waterman's Half was an excellent way to end the season! The race course and weather conditions were both really tough, but I raced well and had a blast anyway.

One of my best childhood friends, Gillian, came with me to the race site on Friday afternoon. My wife Erin got there later in the evening (just before I had to go to sleep). In addition, my cousin and her boyfriend decided to sign up to be the runners on two relay teams in order to also participate at the race and cheer. They're both training for the Marine Corps Marathon, so it was a great way for them spectate and participate. I was excited to have athletic supporters, as always. After Gilly and I went to packet pickup and scoped out the site, we ran some errands and hit up a Carraba's for my traditional pre-race meal. Side-note: I have never been to a Carraba's before but I plan on going to one before every race I can, now. SO much better than Olive Garden.

Back at the hotel, Gillian watched with great interest as I set up and checked all my gear. I felt like a pro might while being interviewed by Triathlete Magazine, like my opinions and rituals were actually fascinating to someone. She's my new favorite spectator. Erin eventually got to the hotel around 8:30 pm, and took Gilly out for some normal person fun while I went to sleep.

Anne attempts to keep me warm before the race start
When I arrived at the race site on race morning it was 34 degrees outside and the water temp was 60. I stayed bundled up like an eskimo for as long as possible, and went back to the car to sit in the heat for a while after I set up transition. I had expected a slightly larger turn out for the race, but I think they had many no-shows due to the frigid temperatures. My cousin Anne, is a member of Team Z, and they are the partner team for this event. She took me to the team tent, bundled me in blankets and have me hot water to help thaw out my insides. I was incredibly grateful, but was still shaking like a leaf.

I did run to warm up before the start (fully bundled) and I kept my sweatshirt, socks and gloves on until I walked down the dock for my swim wave. (Special thank you to Anne and David for picking up after me when I hurriedly stripped 1 minute before my wave) All of the women in the race were in the second swim wave, which made it pretty easy to figure out where one stood overall throughout the race. The start was supposed to be in-water, but many of the women chose to sit on the edge of the dock until the horn went off. I decided to get in because I wanted to get the brain-freeze feeling over with before attempting to swim.

Mid- lake grass removal
When we started, I was lined up at the front of the pack, and was the first woman to the first turn buoy. It was a 2 loop swim course, and although it was plenty cold in the water, I felt fine once everything went numb. I wasn't in first for much longer, but I didn't get passed by many women either as far as I could tell. At some point I did try to move my thumb across my palm to make sure my wedding ring was still in place, or to get rid of pesky lake grass (which was abundant) and I realized I couldn't move my thumb at all. My hands were frozen into paddles, luckily still effective for swimming.

Unfortunately, although my full results were up on the board after the race, the online results don't list all of my splits. Just my run and overall time. Everyone elses results are fully split. Apparently I am special...My spectators tell me I was the 3rd of 4th woman out of the water. The woman on the results with the fourth fastest swim split, not counting mine, swam a 36:11, so I think that means my time was faster than that.
Awesome sign #1

Numb hands make dressing extremely difficult
Once I was out of the water I immediately realized that I had basically no use of my hands or feet. And the air was around 40 degrees. After a relatively short, uphill, paved run to transition (ouch), I was in transition itself I got my wetsuit off pretty well considering my hands were useless. But then I tried to pull on a long sleeved jersey for the bike. I ended up fumbling with both hands stuck in the sleeves for what felt like several minutes, yelling in frustration until all I could do was laugh and paw at my sleeves. I have no idea how long my transition was, again because my splits aren't up there. (I've emailed them, but so far they haven't fixed it...). It was long enough that Erin was yelling "Move your butt!" at me. I felt even more silly because Gilly had told me earlier how excited she was to witness transitions, an aspect of triathlon she found fascinating. I'm afraid I set a very poor example.
Gilly wins the "best dressed" award, and holds another excellent sign

I wanted to pull on gloves too but there was no way to get my fingers in in their current state, so I scratched it. I immediately regretted not having them. Within minutes my hands were in excruciating pain, and I was barely able to shift. The course was beautiful but very tough and hilly. All of the "flats" were false and there were many long, slow climbs, and even a few steep ones. I couldn't stand on the pedals because my feet were so numb I didn't trust them.

I don't know how my hands came back, but eventually they did. Not before I dropped my chain though, fumbling to shift. I had to get off to fix it, halfway up a hill. I think I saw three women on the bike course and one was on a relay team. One caught me right after I dropped my chain.

Erin's camera skills have improved significantly over the season
I had one boomerang buddy, a guy with whom I traded passes at several points during the ride. There were few to no spectators anywhere on the course and frequently he was the only other person I saw for many miles on end. At some point, not knowing the officials had pulled up behind us on a scooter, I rode next to him for a quick chat, mid-pass. We were just commenting on how we couldn't feel our feet. It wasn't a long conversation, but I wasn't counting seconds either. After I completed the pass, the officials pulled up next to me and I watched them write down my number. Crap. I knew right away what had happened and why. Silly mistake. That's what I get for being talkative I guess.

Bumbling out of T2
As I have stated before, I think I need a different saddle. My long rides, and this one was no exception, get pretty darn uncomfortable. When the ride was finally over, I was excited to be off the bike. I wasn't sure what my split was. I started my bike computer late, and again the bike split isn't listed in my results. I know it was over 3 hours, and I had really wanted to ride under. There were points during the ride that were just darn slow, but the course was tough. Still, I was motivated by my slow bike to put in a solid run. My hands were almost back to normal in T2 but my feet were still blocks of ice. I fumbled around a bit again, but I am sure I was much more efficient than in T1. I was complaining outloud about the lack of feeling in my feet, and Erin yelled at me to "talk less, transition more." Geez. Gilly told that I was in 6th overall coming off the bike and as I left T2 I was excited to try to crack the top five.

Still feelin' good out there
Just like Nations, I got my nutrition right to set myself up for a good run. The aid stations weren't exactly where I expected them, so I had to get a little creative with my calorie intake timing, but it was a two loop run, so after the first loop I knew when and where things would happen for the second. I had thought it was supposed to be a flat run (the course description called it "fast") but it was not. Huge, long hills with an out and back followed by a loop through the park. After the first time around, they gave us wrist bands for the second lap (On the swim they had just said that world record times would be suspect). The hills were tough, but I felt so much better than I have in either of my other two halves. My foot didn't bother me at all, but I was pretty sore everywhere by the end. The out and back gave me a pretty clear view of who was ahead of me. I kept a steady pace and good cadence and noticed the girl in 5th was struggling. It took me until the end of the second out and back, but I finally picked her off.

I swear this was supposed to be a smile...
The pictures of me nearing the finish are hilarious. I thought I was grinning but the look on my face just reads PAIN. I was really happy with my run performance, given the course. I ran 1:59:35. My finish time was 5:58:48, but with the 4 minute penalty my official time was 6:02:48. I'm gonna ignore that in stating my PR, cause I know I didn't get a 4 minute advantage by chatting to that guy. If anything my loud mouth slowed me down.
Finish line relief

On the podium with the second place finisher
Once I was across the line I was excited to chat with my fans, who had made me some wonderful, Halloween-themed signs. I wasn't even planning to check the score board for a while, but Gilly was over there quickly and returned saying that she didn't quite know how to read the results, but she thought maybe I had won my age group. I hobbled over to check, and darn it if she wasn't right! The penalty put me in 6th overall, behind the "girl" I passed at the end of the run (who turned out to be the masters winner, definitively a woman, not a "girl"), but I was out in front of my age group! It was a small race and none of the fast, local girls from my age group showed up to race this one, but I was still pleased to win it. I got my first plaque! Hopefully the start of a collection! :)

My legs were sore almost instantly after the finish and I went to the post-race massage tent after a slice of pizza and plenty of fluids. During the awards ceremony it became clear I was not the only one feeling the race almost instantaneously. Watching people struggle to get up onto the (high) podium blocks was amusing. I used a two step approach by first climbing up onto third... And when it was all over I got to eat apple cider doughnuts, courtesy of my wonderful athletic support team.

Posing with the third place finisher, Lauren, whom I know from my old bike shop
For three days after the race I was extremely sore. The Monday after the race was my birthday and I was at my parents, so my mother had a masseuse come to the house for me as a present. THANK YOU MOTHER. I felt much better after the massage. I know the scientific jury is still out, but I am a believer. I spent last week doing easy swims and rides. I went on one easy run and struggled pretty hard. This past weekend I danced at a wedding and woke up the next morning with a swollen ankle. It's still swollen and difficult to walk, so much of my cardio has been on hold. I have started a lifting program though. I see my off season as a time to do all the athletic things I either didn't have time for or didn't want to do for fear of soreness during the season. That means once my ankle goes back to normal I will be doing yoga, rock climbing, lifting, crossfit etc. Maybe some horseback riding at my parents'. And plenty of trail running!

I was planning on running some races this fall, but now I think my legs might need a break after this unexplained injury popped up. We shall see. I may still get in a 5 or 10k but the half or full marathon plan is on hold for now.

David and Anne both ran the half marathon as relay team members (Dave, Me, Anne and Erin)
Don't worry (I know you are) I will have plenty more to tell you in the off-season. :)

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