Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Great White North Half Iron – Race Report

How on earth has Great White North snuck up on me?  Is it really July already?  That means that Ironman is next month!

I had a few goals that I really wanted to meet on this race.  I had such stomach problems at the Chinook Olympic race that I knew I needed a positive race here to take me into IMC.  So with that I decided not to focus on a time goal and instead aim for process goals:

  • Swim: To have a happy swim.  I’ve been feeling great on the swim in my last two races this year, so I just wanted to keep that feeling!
  • Bike: I wanted to race the bike strong, but not to the point where it might hinder my run.
  • Run: Have a strong run by keeping the pace reigned in at the beginning, aiming for a strong second half.  If I experienced any stomach problems at all I needed to address them right away instead of letting it manifest.

Pre-Race:

I got to transition pretty soon after it opened at 6 am.  There was a lot to think about as T1 and T2 are in two different locations.  Prior to the race you bag up whatever you want on the run and drop it off with the helpful volunteers.  The rest of your swim stuff will get bagged up by the wonderful volunteers after everyone leaves T1 and it will be waiting for you in T2.  I took my time getting my gear set up, running through the porta-potty line several times and saying hi to friends.  I was even able to spot Keith!  As the clock ran down to race start I ate a banana, got into my wetsuit, ate my gel, and splashed into the water to check the seal on my goggles.  The water was very nice and warm, a nice change from my last race!  I made a last minute decision to race with my Timex on throughout the race so I could keep track of my overall time.  It was 8 am…go time!34985_464167330277_696995277_6195827_5683117_n

Swim:

The swim is a 2000 meter, double loop course.  I did the same thing I’ve been trying on all my races this year.  Lining up about 3/4 of the way back, toward the outside.  The water was warm, but also pretty silty so you couldn’t see too much of anything.  The ground around the edge of the lake was also pretty soft and there was a quick drop off.  I was in the mix fairly well on the first lap and just stayed in the middle of the pack.  I was feeling good!  Things were pretty cozy on this lap as people really wanted to fight to maintain their position.  As I was on my way back to the beach I figured this was a good time to try peeing.  It took a lot of work…but ahhh…so rewarding!  I hit the beach, ran around the buoy and looked at my watch.  23 minutes and change.  If I could keep this up I’d be poised for a slightly better swim than last year.  As I dove back into the water for lap two I all of a sudden felt very alone.  Where was everybody?  I was confident I was swimming in a straight line and just went with it.  After rounding the first buoy for the second time everyone magically reappeared.  From here on out I felt boxed in.  There was someone on my left, someone on my right and someone in front.  The person in front kept stopping to sight and I felt like I was slowing down so much, but couldn’t get away from the other people around me.  Oh well, just keep swimming, try to empty the bladder again and hang in there.  When I got out of the water I looked at my watch.  48 min.  Wow, I really slowed down on the second lap.  Oops.

2000 meter swim: 48:30
548 out of 627…still apparently not a middle of the pack swimmer yet…

T1:

I ran over to a wetsuit stripper and I was having issues!  My wetsuit didn’t want to come off over my watch or over the massive new timing chips that are being used at races this year.  Finally success (thanks volunteers!) and I ran over to my bike to get ready.  I felt slow….why did I care whether my race belt was right side up or not?  I finally made it out of there in 3:02.

Bike:

I definitely biked too hard at Chinook so my goal was to dial it back here.  I had set up my Garmin so that the largest display was heart rate, and distance and time were teeny tiny.  Unbeknownst to me I had also adjusted the contrast of the display so everything was very faint, making it even harder to see!  I wanted to keep my heart rate below 160 unless I was going up a hill or passing someone.  It was a little congested through town so I was hoping the drafting officials wouldn't be too gung ho out here as there just wasn't enough room for everyone to space out.  Right away my stomach was sore.  Uh oh.  I was feeling super afraid about taking in calories and how my stomach would react.  I sipped a bit of Infinit and grabbed some water from an aid station but it felt like my stomach was locking up.DSC_0669

On the way out we had a headwind but it didn’t feel that bad to me.  I was going back and forth with a couple of guys.  I'd pass them, then later they would pass me.  One of them was a teammate, Lyle.  I was thinking about passing Lyle at one point but some guy was sitting right on his back wheel.  I waited for him to pass but he wasn't moving anywhere.  I decided to go for it and as I passed the this guy I turned to him and called him out for sitting right in Lyle's draft zone.  Despite the wind on the way out I was able to keep the HR down and keep my cadence high and easy.  It was especially fun as soon as I started seeing my teammates coming back toward me.  Everyone looked so great!  The ride back went well, especially once we had a tail wind.  Loved that and I felt so fast!  I was still concerned about my stomach and I wound up taking in about half the calories I had intended to.  Probably around 350?  I was prepared to bike over 3 hours to reach my goal of taking it easy on the bike to set up a great run, but I managed to come in around 2:55, 3 minutes faster than last year.  Average HR on the bike was below 160 and average cadence was about 89?DSC_0923

90K bike: 2:55:55
90K ride + T1 + T2: 3:00:38
358 out of 627

T2:

I had a fantastic volunteer as she ran me to my spot and opened up my run bag.  She said she wasn't supposed to, but she was helping out us TTL folks.  Thank you!!!!  I grabbed my other Garmin, my hat and got out of there!  1:40.DSC_0930

Run:

I carried two Gu with me on the run but after my sore stomach on the bike I was pretty sure I wouldn't be interested in taking gels.  OK, Coke it would be!  I watched my Garmin to make a concerted effort to slow down.  I was feeling great and I was super happy that it was overcast and a comfortable temperature.  As soon as I hit the out and back sections around the pathways I started to see my teammates.  Everyone looked great and I loved seeing them.  This is definitely my favourite thing about this race.  When I hit the aid station around the gazebo I grabbed a coke and a water.  All of that liquid in there started to feel sloshy so it was time to address things right away and take a walk break.  Anytime my stomach would start to feel sloshy, walk break.  Don't let it manifest into full on stomach shut down.  I was feeling good until the 9K mark and then my legs started to get progressively more tired.  Seriously?  I had dialled it back in the early part of the race so I could pick it up and instead I was fading.  Maybe it was calories, maybe it was just fatigue.  I am not good at negative splitting, so who knows.  I saw Kelly just before I hit the turnaround and I was able to catch up with her and run with her for a bit.  Kelly and I try to run together during the week if we both have lunch runs so it was a nice boost to see her and say hi.  When I hit 11K I picked it up as I needed to run my own race so I wished her well.  Sadly I still wasn't able to speed up like I had hoped but I kept forging on.  Finally, 5K left to go and I saw Ally.  She offered to run with me for a bit and I was grateful for the company and the distraction.  I just listened to her talk.  I turned to her at one point and said, "Ally, no matter how I look right now I just really want you to know that I'm having a great day."  And I was!  I was addressing the stomach sloshing when it would come up and I was feeling positive.  I just wasn't keeping the speed up.

When I turned the corner and saw the TTL tent I heard everyone cheering for me.  I felt awful.  I had this knot in my stomach and I was worried I might barf, but I so appreciated the cheers even if I wasn't smiling.  DSCN3988I turned the final corner to the finish and I heard my name.  It was my friend Lori!  I met Lori back in 2001 when we were roommates on a 3 month training course in Tulsa.  I first heard about triathlon from Lori maybe 5 years ago as she started getting into the sport.  She's a super strong athlete and she raced IMC last year, IMNZ this year.  She lives in Bakersfield, CA now, but she just happened to be in Edmonton for the weekend visiting a friend.  Thanks to the wonders of Facebook we realized we were close and she decided to come down to the finish line to cheer me in.  When I spotted her I almost started bawling I was so overwhelmed and happy. DSC_0103

21K run: 2:16:20
456 out of 627

Of course, silly thoughts enter your mind while you are racing and when I got off my bike I had looked at my watch and thought, hmm, if I can just run this fast a half marathon I'd be able to come in around 6 hours.  When that looked like a pipe dream in the final 5K the goal became, try to beat last year's time.  I just wasn’t able to do it and came in 41 second slower than last year.  41 measly seconds on a 6 hour day.  I beat myself up over that a little bit, but then I realized it didn't matter.  My bike/run combo was still 1:30 faster than last year so I can't ask for much more.  And in hindsight my lack of calories over the course of the day, not taking in as much water as I should have, and an average heart rate of 176 on the run (my max is about 182) just made it not possible.  But I didn't have the same stomach issues as past races, I still ran fairly well and didn't hit the wall, and I did have a happy day on the course so I really did hit my goals for the day.

Final Time: 6:05:27
442 out of 627 finishers overall
Women 30-39: 59 out of 8734508_10150197774710154_853790153_13602807_445966_n

28 comments:

Petraruns said...

I think you did AMAZINGLY! I am so impressed with you. Especially given your stomach issues! I am suffering with those, on and off the course, and am very interested to hear what you think they are caused by?

Kate said...

Still a VERY impressive day! Hopefully you can cure the stomach issues pre IM.

(also yay for people doing IMNZ)

SSB said...

Nice job on the race. You'll do great at IM.

Heather said...

You did amazing!!! Your bike time is something I could only dream of!!!! 41 seconds over a 6 hour day really isn't anything at all, but I know how you fell and you're probably thinking "if I could just have pushed it a tiny bit...". Still, amazing!

k said...

Congratulations Leana!
I love the look on your face in that last run picture- although the smiling medal picture is much happier :)

lindsay said...

congrats leana! 41 secs off from last year is not bad at all. improvement on the bike even with a discontent stomach, which i'm sure could have saved you time on the run too! then of course mr (or ms) sighting-swimminer didn't help either. i'd definitely say you are much improved from last year!

Marlene said...

CONGRATS LEANA! Definitely a successful day overall! I hope your stomach doesn't give you an trouble at IM. It must be so frustrating!

Glad you still had fun out there.

TNTcoach Ken said...

Got to get that stomach thing handled! You need the nutrition to perform at your peak. Figure it out soon..........

Julie said...

Congratulations on a great race Leana!! Here is what I've learned about race nutrition...

Water in the bloodstream means hydration, water in the belly needs to get to the bloodstream. You don't absorb sugars (carbs like gels, Gatorade) without electrolytes. A slosh belly is too much carbohydrate -- drinking water is the solution. I remember our coach told us that it seems counter-intuitive when your belly is sloshing around...

Hope this helps you out in even the smallest way. :):)

Jenna said...

Hey - I use to get slosh belly and feel so grossly bloated but salt tabs helped with me as the salt helps push the fluid out into the bloodstream. Try em!!

Alisa said...

Way to finish strong!

I'm getting really nervous about my HIM at the end of July. Reading race reports of others makes me realize it's going to be a tough long day but also doable.

J said...

I do not know how you do it! To swim, then bike and then run is just amazing! You did so well and had such a great race! Congrats on a great race! Love that final photo with your medal - you look so happy!

Wes said...

Great job, Leana! Another tool in the bag for IMC!!

Spokane Al said...

Congratulations. It sounds like you are well on your way towards a successful IMC!

Tracy said...

WOW. Great job!! I think you and I will be swimming about the same pace in Cananda, but then you'll lose me in tranisiton, I'm a bit slower! We just got new bikes last weekend - Cervelo p2s (which looks like what you ride)...I am hoping that increased my speed, so I can spend less time on the bike!!! I don't like that you said "Ironman is next month". It really is creeping up on us!! Can't wait!!!

Tracy said...

WOW. Great job!! I think you and I will be swimming about the same pace in Cananda, but then you'll lose me in tranisiton, I'm a bit slower! We just got new bikes last weekend - Cervelo p2s (which looks like what you ride)...I am hoping that increased my speed, so I can spend less time on the bike!!! I don't like that you said "Ironman is next month". It really is creeping up on us!! Can't wait!!!

Beth said...

Great job Leana! I have those same stomach issues and I know they are hard to deal with. You hung in there great though! Congrats!

Dano said...

Congrats Leana!! This is just another race to work things out before IMC!! I was looking for you on the course but I had my head up my @ss most of the race, lol. There were lots of TTL jerseys out there which didnt help, lol. Glad you spotted me and I was able to at least say hi in passing. I managed to spot Keith but his height and the stache helps!

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Alexandra said...

I'm impressed Leana! You came away from this half ironman achieving many successes. Your friends here have great advice for dealing with that slooshing issue and I hope you can get that under control. You have positioned yourself well for IMC with all your hard work!

Trihardist said...

But it sounds like you still had a good day! And that's the main thing.

FL, e-mail me (jamielynnmorton[at]gmail[dot]com) about your shoulders on the bike. In both pictures, they're up around your ears. Might be you were just turning a corner, and the camera caught you at the wrong time. Might be your position, might be your core. But it makes me think that you could be stronger on the bike if you did some conditioning that would improve your posture.

Bob Almighty said...

Amazing result Leana. You really had a good bike split. Can't wait to hear how IMC goes.

新順 said...

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Nicole @ Geek Turned Athlete said...

Good job!!! I'm so excited for you! You have trained hard, and you deserve to bask in your glory! I get those same stomach problems. I'm hoping my half won't have plagued with the same!

lilmeg said...

Nice work!!! I was in tears reading about your finish (the good ones). Too bad about the stomach issues though. Now you can modify your strategy for next time though. PUMPED for your IM!

RoadBunner said...

Great job! And I also can't believe that your Ironman is coming up so soon! Seems like just yesterday you signed up for it.

Oh, and I'm glad you called out that guy for drafting! I hope he felt stupid.

Mel-2nd Chances said...

Just now catching up on your report! Congrats Leana, tough day for you, but you did amazing!! I cannot wait to hear all about IMC!! You've trained hard, let's hope you got your stomach issues out of the way with this race!

audgepodge said...

Great job, Leana! I'm so happy for you and all your amazing achievements!

You are going to rock your Ironman :D