Monday, July 26, 2010

Small Texan Tri Race Report

The Small Texan is an Olympic distance race at Boerne Lake (our home turf!). It's a 1500 meter swim/28 mile bike/6.2 mile run. Even though the official race results aren't out yet, and due to technical difficulties (i.e., pressing the wrong button on my watch), I don't really know my time, I feel great about the race.

When we started, the weather was cool and I felt calm. The water was clear and flat. The swim felt amazing, and I'm sure that I felt strong and calm because this is the lake we always swim in. It was over in a flash, and then I waddled tentatively out of the water, trying not to slip on the green algae growing on the boat dock, and headed to transition. I pressed the wrong button on my watch and stopped the time at 32:41. I'd been hoping for under 30 minutes, but this is my best swim time in an Olympic distance race so far, so I'll take it! Shelly was already in the transition when I arrived. I was surprised to see that she was almost ready to run out with her bike. She must have really hustled on the swim.

I took my Gu with water (still frozen! Remember this for next time!) and put on my shoes, Garmin, gloves, helmet, and sunglasses. Remembered to start the Garmin on the way out of transition, and started the ride. It felt great. The plan had been to take it slow but that was hard to do. People in front of me kept slowing down on the hills, and I knew I could pass them. Sadly, I pulled not one, but TWO Andy Schlecks (dropped my chain on a hill, one time while "attacking"). It didn't take too long to put the chain back on either time, but the first time it happened, it really shook my confidence. But I did eventually pass the one guy I wanted to pass!

Having never seen a bike water hand-up before, I was curious to see how it would go. Turns out a volunteer just hands each rider who wants one a full bottle of water. I didn't grab one because I didn't have anywhere to put it. On the bike, I drank almost a full bottle of Infinit Run, and ate 6 Stingers with water. However, I finished only 3/4 of my fluids.

Coming into T2 was great because I got to see Robert, Andre, and Julia who were cheering me on. I walked up the hill onto the reservoir and began the run. I felt ridiculously great at the beginning of the run. I had to keep checking my Garmin and slowing myself to the 11 minute/mile that I'd been planning on. After mile 1, I didn't feel so buoyant. In fact, I got tired, started feeling the heat, and started walking up the hills. I should have taken a Gu like I planned. But I just couldn't. The thought of it made me feel sick and afraid that I would get that weird stomach cramp I've been getting lately. So I went on with only water, running all the downhills and flats, and walking up the hills.

My calves started to feel crampy around mile 3, so I drank some Gatorade at the aid station. That made me feel better for a moment, but then my stomach cramp started coming on. Interestingly, it disappeared after I burped a couple of times! I took more Gatorade at mile 5 (same thing with the sickness and burping) and refilled my water bottle with ice. The aid station volunteers were incredible.

The last 2.5 miles of the run were downhill, so I picked up some time there. I think I finished the run in 1:13, which isn't great, but I didn't feel like dying at the end like I did at Cap Tex. I got to see my family at the finish and gave Andre a high five on the way in. Awesome!

My nutrition is on its way to improving. I need to drink everything and eat everything I plan to consume on the bike next time. I also need to force myself to take Gu during the run, even if I don't want to. Shelly and Orissa both took Gu during the run and said it made them feel better - Shelly is a crazy-strong runner regardless of how she fuels, so I'm not listening to her - but Orissa struggles like I do, and I'm going to believe her and try it next time even when I feel terrible out there and don't want to consume anything.

It sounds very weird to me to say that I feel great after a race that still ended with what should have been a disappointing run. But I feel so much better about the nutrition during the bike, and feel like if I can control my nutrition during the run, I'll really be able to get a handle on this. I've got the Texas Tri ahead of me in October to try this strategy.

I felt elated all day yesterday for being able to get this done in the heat of the day in July. The swim and ride felt amazing (even when I dropped my chain). Both events felt like they ended so quickly. I feel calm and secure training for the half Ironman in October, knowing that with the proper training and nutrition, I can get to the end of that race with a smile on my face, too.