After racing Eagelman 70.3 earlier this year, I almost immediately signed up for (what will be my first FULL) Ironman Texas next April. The driving reason for wanting to do Austin 70.3 was to get another half under my belt to build confidence for the full. The last two halves didn’t really go as planned…so I needed a redemption race and I was determined to be successful in Austin!! I was so excited to be back there for the race, it’s been far too long since I’ve been “home”. I was excited not only because I was able to stay with and meet up with my girlfriends while there, but also because I was able to hang out with my coach who lives in Austin. She decided kinda last minute not to race, so lucky for me she made herself available to play sherpa, and did a fantastic job of it all weekend!
There was a lot of fog that morning, and the start of the race was delayed. Which at first I was somewhat ok with because the traffic getting to the expo center, and the shuttle buses to T1 were backed up and everything was running behind. I was worried I wasn’t going to have enough time to get everything done in T1.
But as the morning progressed, the fog didn’t budge. So we waited. And waited. And waited for it to clear. What do YOU do while sitting around waiting for the weather to change? Cuz my coach makes me do ridiculous poses and duck face…
My swim wave was supposed to start at 8:15am, which was already later than I had hoped. It was forecasted to be a hot day (surprise, surprise…it’s Austin) so I was anxious to get started to limit exposure to the heat. But ultimately, the fog wasn’t going anywhere and with the minutes ticking away, the race director had to make a call…and they decided to cancel the swim. This was met by some athletes with audible sighs of relief. For me, I was really bummed. Like REALLY bummed. I was hoping to get a good practice race in, and was really looking forward to swimming in Decker Lake. This is where it all began for me….where I was “hooked” by the triathlon bug back in 2006 with the Danskin (shout out to Dawn for making me sign up woot woot, and to Pam and Tamara for jumping on the crazy train. This was also how I met coach Karen, thru the Iron Chicks training program…and then later convinced to join her Rogue Running group for marathon training. I digress). But swimming with all that fog would be just too dangerous, so after the swim was cancelled we all went to T1 and got ready for a time trial bike start.
This meant we sat around in transition for hours. They let the pros go first, one by one 3o seconds in between each athlete. And then finally us age groupers got to go, 2×2 with 5 seconds apart. I didn’t get started on the bike until almost lunchtime and I was starving before the race even began. Luckily for me, a girl next to me gave me a granola bar. (lesson learned…plan ahead and prepare/pack for anything!) I also peed like 4 times while waiting. TMI? Well at least I was hydrated! :))
While waiting around in T1, I kept seeing this guy. An amazing volunteer, in the Halloween spirit!
Finally our race numbers were called, and I was happily on my way. The bike course was fun, with lots of rolling hills. The road quality was not ideal, it’s been a long time since I’ve ridden on these Texas roads and I’d forgotten all about chip seal. Most of the bike course was spent dodging water bottles, flat kits, and cages that had flown off the bikes ahead of me. And sadly enough, I saw a lot of drafting…hello, totally illegal in triathlon! Anyway, the miles ticked by pretty quickly, and after crossing the half way point, I did a quick calculation and realized I should probably reel it in a bit and slow down. I was trying to follow coach’s advice to “stay within myself” and not overdo it on the bike so that I had something left for the run. Wait, did I forget to mention my new bike!?! I did! So…I got a new bike…a Cervelo P3. It’s awesome and I love it. I pooled my birthday money from my parents and in-laws and asked for an advance Christmas present from Justin…and VOILA! Here she is…Di2 shifters and everything.
Official bike split: 3:11:05, (18.27mph for the first half, 17.05mph the second half) 40th in my division, and 13 minutes faster than my last race. Yay for progress!
T2 was non-eventful at 5:02
By the time I got to the run it was almost 2pm (I think…going all from memory here, so ya know…it’s give or take) but started off pretty well. I wasn’t walking, so that was so-far-so-good. And let me tell ya, if anyone ever tries to say this run course is nice they are LYING. It’s hilly, there is no shade, no crowds, and most of it is a dirt path with rocks, or loose pavement. And it’s 3 loops of this nonsense. There was a lot of competitors walking, and many laying on the ground complaining of cramps (guess they didn’t “stay within themselves” on the bike). For me…I was feeling ok. I ran the first 5k, and then started taking walking breaks as needed. But by the 3rd loop what I realized was that my run pace was actually pretty good (for me), staying around a 10:30 pace. I lost a lot of time at the aid stations which were about every mile. Each one went like this: grab 2 cups of ice fill one with coke and drink it. Pour leftover ice down into the back of my sports bra. Second cup of ice went in my water bottle after opening the lid and forcing the cubes in one by one. Grab 2 waters. Pour one in water bottle, pour other over head. Grab one last cup of ice, pour into front of bra. I did this at every aid station, so a bit overkill yeah, but I was afraid of the alternative. And it worked…it kept me running, just ate into my time. Which I’m totally ok with. Obviously not trying to win, just trying to learn things as I go.
With about a mile to go, as I could see the expo center that held the finish line, my coach jumped out of nowhere on the course. Thank god I was running. She was happy to see me smiling and enjoying myself, and then we raced to the finish (she beat me) to collect my medal and do my pose.
Official run time 2:37:11 (11:59/mi and 45th in my division)
Official overall race time was 5:53:28. And if the damn swim hadn’t been cancelled I’m positive I would’ve been less than 36 minutes for swim and T1, putting me at 6:30 for this 70.3 which I would have been completely proud of. I know it’s not a HUGE deal that the swim was cancelled, and while it’s arguably the least liked leg of the triathlon by most athletes, it’s such a bummer that we didn’t get to do it. Not only because it messed with my head, threw timing and nutrition way off, and just sucked in general…but because DAMN these races are expensive. And while I 100% agree with the RD’s decision to cancel the swim for the safety of the athletes, not being able to do the whole thing as planned just really sucks. Let me break it down for you what a race like this can cost. And keep in mind…this is just a half.
Race entry: $310; Hotel: $380; Airfare: ok I used points, but STILL! Rental car: $160; Bike transport to/from race: $420. That’s already over $1200 and we’re just getting started. That doesn’t even take into consideration the prep one does for these things….pool membership/swimteam fees, coaching fees, running and biking shoes, bike maintenance (and in my case, a whole new bike!), and all the triathlon accessories (my new aero bottle cost $149.99) etc. etc. etc. As you can see, we are deeply invested and so when things don’t go your way it kinda just sucks. But as I’m learning…everything is a learning experience and it comes with the territory. And although it sounds like I’m complaining, I’m still happy with the race and the work I put in. I’ve gotten faster and stronger on the bike and in the pool over the last few months, but the most impactful improvement has been on the run. One of my first workouts with coach this year was in January. It was a 6 mile run which I did at a 12 min pace. The last 6 mile run I just did was a 9:34 pace. Progress!
So anywho…after the race we had a fun celebration with some other badass women at Karen’s house. There was lots of food, drinks, a soak in the pool and the hot tub, and a lot of entertaining conversation. So happy to have the support of these amazing athletes as we begin training for Ironman Texas, and to know these wonderful people!
And so I’ll leave you with just one last picture. Triathlon can be such a humbling experience. Especially so when having to walk through the airport the day after your race, with your age sunburned into your leg!!