I really enjoyed the half! I felt strong and had fun the entire race which was my main goal (besides finishing ha) so I’d say the race was a success for me! For some reason, I am always a bit surprised with myself when I complete a new distance but it’s always a cool feeling to realize how much a human body can do. Like Juan, I don’t think I’m interested in doing a full IM but I would definitely do another half. Maybe because it’s my first race at this distance, but I was pretty conservative throughout because I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t bonk on the run. Or, maybe I’m just more of a “slow and steady” racer…I get into my comfortable paces and am happy just staying there.
The last couple weeks of training were a bit off for me. I had a minor bike wipeout on the last long bike ride and hurt my wrist so I decided to rest it and not do the last long run. Then, I was in the DR for a wedding the week before the race and while I did get some open water swim and some bike/run at the gym in, it wasn’t as much as I would’ve liked. So, I was feeling a little nervous going into the race but just had to trust that all the training before then would be enough!
When I arrived on Saturday, I biked the bike course for a little and noticed my bike was making a weird tapping noise! Of course, it had to be the day before the race. But, I brought it over to the Gonzo tent and they fixed it with a slight derailleur adjustment- whew! For the future, I think I should definitely learn more about bike maintenance and just have more knowledge in general on bike mechanics.
The morning of the race, I set up and put air in my tires. Thanks Julia for letting me borrow your pump! The day before, the race organizers said Gonzo would have plenty of pumps so I didn’t bring mine but there was a fairly long line to get tires pumped. So, next time, I think it’s best to just bring your own.<
I swam at a pretty comfortable pace and I think I stayed pretty on course. I’ve been practicing sighting a lot because in previous races, I have definitely swum way over the course distance from not staying on course as much as possible. Around the turnaround point, my hands touched the bottom which was a little surprising and saw some people around me standing up but I channeled my inner Dory and “just kept swimming.” I don’t have a good sense of time when I swim so I felt like I had been swimming for a long time but was happy with my time when I got to the end (probably looking like some sea monster covered in mud/seaweed…).
Coming out of the swim, I did my mental checklist of everything I needed to get for the bike so I feel like T1 went pretty smoothly.
I started on the bike with a pretty high HR (adrenaline from swim/T1?)- I knew I wanted to bring that down so I started fairly easy. I feel like most of the bike ride, especially after the half and olympic routes split, I didn’t see that many people so I fell into a slower more comfortable pace because there wasn’t anyone to “race.” But, I was fine with that since it was a pretty scenic bike ride. I focused on trying to maintain an average of 16 mph because I was hoping to finish the bike under 3:30 and on my nutrition and liquids because I wanted to be ready for the run. I switched to gels with about an hour left on the bike to make sure all the solid food would be digested before the run to avoid any stomach cramping. I peed at the last aid station on the bike route and gave myself a mental high five because I think that meant I hydrated enough =)
I used gatorade sports top bottles instead of my normal water bottles so I could easily exchange at the aid stations. But, since they’re not insulated, I had warm gatorade for the first leg of the bike…not the greatest but I made sure to finish the first bottle before I reached the first aid station. I got a nice cold gatorade there and was excited to take a swig before realizing they had forgotten to take off the inner seal. Not a huge deal but I did have to pull over and remove that before continuing. Also, since the bottles are smaller than my usual bottles, they made a rattling noise which made me think something was wrong with my bike so that concerned me the first couple miles before I realized it was coming from the bottles. So, maybe next time, I’ll just use my bottles and take the 30 seconds or so to refill them. The course was fairly flat, as promised, but I think in the future I definitely need to do more hill training and strength training (I’ll have to face my nemesis…squats…) so I can maintain speeds when going up hills.
I took my time here and took a minute or so to stretch out my legs and back so I could start the run feeling good. I froze some water bottles in the hopes that covering them with stuff would keep them frozen or at least cold. One bottle I had was still about half frozen which was exciting so I stuck that in the back pocket of my tank top which felt great and stayed frozen/cold for about half the run.
I really had no goals for the run portion ha, I just wanted to finish feeling strong. I’m not a fan of out and back runs (especially with that bridge!!) but I was mentally prepared for it as I biked/ran the route the day before. I knew it was going to be a hot run so I just focused on trying to stay cool- I got ice at all the aid stations and just stuck them down my shirt in the front and in the back. Probably pretty funny looking to anyone watching… but I think it helped me a lot because I didn’t feel overheated at any point. Something that helped me a lot mentally was cheering on people (maybe because hearing the encouragement out loud was encouraging for me). The first half of the run I randomly cheered people on but the second half of the run, I’m pretty sure I cheered every person I saw haha. Even though I was slower than any other running race I’ve done, I was really happy that my pace stayed consistent and I ran the entire time.
Post race, I am feeling good. Not as sore as I was expecting so maybe that means I should push myself more in races. Excited for the next! Anyone going to do Nation’s? (Hoping the swim doesn’t get canceled this year…)
Congrats to everyone that raced this weekend! And a big thank you to Coach AJ for this great training experience!