Wow, I have really procrastinated on writing this race report! I should have knocked this one out during the week after the race. However, I don’t think I really knew what happened to me during the race enough to write a report. Now that I have been able to step back from my first half-iron distance, I can see a little more objectively how it went.
I was so excited for this race. I have had post-it note race goals stuck around my house since January. I have wanted to train for a 70.3 race for 2 years! As time closed in on the end of my training, though, I was OVER IT. I just wanted to be done! I know, for the triathlon-obsessed, this sounds insane. But with all the volume of training you need to do, you hardly have time for a pushup or situp in between. And the closer I got to the race, the more I looked with longing at the barbells and benches in the gym. I didn’t want to re-introduce anything for fear of messing up my training plan though, and that was a mistake I have since fixed. I am back to 3 regular strength sessions a week, and I intend to keep it that way for any future training endeavors.
Anyhow, we arrived in the Dells (AKA the Las Vegas of Wisconsin, LOL) on Friday night super late. We almost didn’t make the cut-off time to get into the state park for our camping reservation! (I didn’t read the fine print on this!) but we set up in the dark and everyone just fell into bed. We got up in the morning after not very much sleep to a very cool state park. We ate breakfast, rode bikes, and headed into town for packet pickup. I wanted to see the swim venue- it’s a water ski show amphitheater and possibly practice swim. Timing wise, we were a little tight, and I totally started to panic, realizing there was no way I could swim, pick up my packet, meet other EN teammates for lunch, and check my bike in while towing the kids around. Mr. Prepared swooped in and was a hero all weekend- he took the kids, told me what to do and in what order, LOL- and I dropped him and the kids off at the mini-golf/amusement park/deer farm. Practice swim was lovely, as was the rest of the day. Had plenty of time and space to prep, and our camping spot was pretty great, although the mosquitoes were ferocious!
Ok…race day. Up early, eating my sweet potato and eggs and coffee. Got the business all done early, which is GREAT when you’re traveling and apt to eat whole sleeves of Starbursts in the car. Got the kids dressed in bed and tossed them into the car, and drove to transition area. This race was low-key because it was pretty small. That made parking and spectating very easy, which is essential with small children.
Met some EN teammates in transition for a picture and another Swim Bike Mom forum member, Anna, which was so great because she helped calm my nerves. I didn’t really do much official warming up- probably not a good idea – I need to be more disciplined about this. We headed down to the start (a 1/4 mile straight up out of the swim to transition!), and spectators could sit in the bleachers and watch the swim- they also had a small water ski show before the start!
The swim was just like home- midwestern lake, so it was very predictable and I finished within 30 seconds of my predicted time. I swam fast, but I did not challenge myself too much, knowing I had a long day ahead of me. The swim is a simple rectangle, the water is cool but not cold- it was actually quite wonderful. The challenge for me is that I am a very good swimmer, so I exit the water with VERY GOOD triathletes. I didn’t realize this until talking with another triathlete after the race-he said the key is to exit the water with people who are about the same biking speed as you, which definitely didn’t happen. For a sprint, I can hang on to very good triathletes. Not a good idea in my first 70.3 race, which was the beginning of my issues. Once I exited the water, I hopped on my bike and headed out. With the adrenaline pumping, it was hard to get my body and breathing online. Coach Patrick mentioned that we should allow 20-30 minutes to get your body online. I see that some of my trouble started here, as I was having trouble staying in my “box” (my pace) and going at “just-ride-along” pace. All the other athletes starting the bike at this point were MUCH faster than me, so my “box” started to blow out a little during the first portion of the bike because I didn’t just let them go.
By 30 minutes into the bike, I was back in my “box”, hydrating and fueling. The first portion of this bike leg is the most forgiving, so I was feeling good as we entered Baraboo and the first of 3 big climbs. First climb was fine- but the box blew out a little bit more because you have to get up the hill, right? In running, if you’re going too fast, you can just walk. Not really so in biking- you have to stay upright! Second climb up above Devil’s Head ski resort? OH LORD, I was not prepared for this. I knew it was hilly, but I really had NO IDEA! Again, the box blew out a bit more. I did hit my all time top speed coming down that hill – 39.75 mph. Brakes were screaming! One guy said he saw a girl get air at the bottom of the hill over a small bump. Crazy.
Anyhow, a few more hills and the box was pretty much torn apart – I told myself I was fine, that everything would be OK, to trust my training. At the time, I didn’t think I was as badly off as I was. But the EN coaches say over and over, “you never have a good bike followed by a bad run. Bad run=bad bike, so bike the bike you ‘should’ instead of the bike you ‘could'”. In this case, both the terrain and I were responsible for biking the bike I could instead of the one I should. One great point is that it is BEAUTIFUL in this part of the state- it was the first thing to remind me of Colorado since we moved here. The views were absolutely gorgeous!
I was so thrilled to get off my bike because my back had been screaming at me for the last 6 miles anytime I tried to be in aero position. It was a lift to see Mr. Prepared and the kids (and their signs!) at the transition. I peed, and started off. First mile was even a little fast- it gave me hope that I had to slow down instead of speed up. The next couple of miles were OK- pace was fine, but it was HOT and I was getting tired. At mile 4 I was supposed to pick up the pace by 30″/mi. At the bottom of a largish hill. Didn’t happen. There was some walking involved, along with some running. Facing another hill at the turnaround, I just started walking. And yelling at myself inside my head. And then trying to run. Walking. Mentally flogging myself. Some of those miles were in the 13-14 minute range. It was downright ugly. About Mile 10.5, I caught a guy who was being followed by his friend on a bike. His friend was funny, and I started to laugh and stop beating myself up inside. We jogged for about 2 more miles together, which was perfect. It got me through the worst and I had even picked up my pace- only to about 11:30 min/miles, but it was an improvement. I choked up hard at the last turn into the finisher chute. This was a big deal, and a big accomplishment, I had completed it! It wasn’t the race I expected or planned for, but I gave it everything I had and learned some things along the way.
Rev3 Wisconsin Dells 2014 finisher! Times:
1. I like to race. This was a challenge more than a race. I want to focus more on Olympic distance racing before I feel ready to tackle another one of these.
2. Bike the bike you should, not could and stay in the “box”.
3. Develop lots of free time or a crazy good schedule to train for something like this! You can’t just count training hours either- I spent a ton of time learning about how to race (HAHA!), technology, admin time to and from the gym and your training locations, buying and researching gear, etc.