the last minute add with a big reward
After Steelhead we switched up my nutrition plan on the bike and run and I really wanted a race setting to give it a try. So CP 70.3 was a last minute add. And damn did it pay off.
The agreement to adding this race was there wasn't a taper going in and no recovering coming out. Training right through it. The Saturday before I ran a half marathon and rode 52 miles. I didn't have any expectations going into the race. I knew I should be able to improve my time from last year's race. I did have a lot of anxiety that Brian would finish before me since he started 2 hours before me and is twice as fast as me. Other than that I wasn't nervous or excited; my mood was pretty neutral.
I picked up my race packet and was pissed to see I was the LAST wave AGAIN! I purposely didn't enter into the Athena so I wouldn't be the last wave off, thus improving my odds that Brian wouldn't beat me in. But they changed waves and I would be the last to start at 8:45 - boo!
The weather going into the race was perfect. Mild temperatures, low wind. Too perfect of conditions to stay that way for race day. In the athletes meeting they told us there was a 50|50 chance the swim was going to be changed. They say that ever year, the red buoys were already on the lake Erie swim course, we doubted it was going to be moved.
Before the race I had told a few people I wanted to run good mental race and if I did, the physical would come along with it. I had a goal of finishing 8:15, which would be a 29 minute improvement over Steelhead 1 month prior. At this race I ran into Kenrick from the Bruised Banana (check it out if you're an endurance athlete!), nice to meet people in person that you meet online through a common love of the sport. Kenrick had sent me a really nice note saying how much he loved my Kansas race report.
Race morning was pretty windy. You could hear the waves crashing on the beach of lake Erie, yeah not a good sign. The swim was moved into the marina. The water was so rough in Erie they couldn't even go get the red buoys to move to the other swim course. This new swim course also meant a .6 mile run from the swim exit to transition. Of course the one time I don't bring extra running shoes to a race is the one time I need them! I figured it would be my luck someone else would accidentally take mine and I'd be out shoes for the half marathon. So I decided to run barefoot.
I joked the night before that it was becoming too easy to pack my transition bag. Well I failed as I forgot to pack running socks. I had time to take them to transition so as I walked up to my bike they started playing Thunderstruck. I said out loud "fuck it's going to be a good day" as I used this song to pump me up my first year of running half marathons. As I exited they played Calvin Harris "I Feel So Close to You" another song that gets me pumped up. Any nerves that had developed that morning had calmed. I knew I had it in me to have a good race, so it was time to deliver.
The benefit of the swim being moved is I got to watch Brian start and end the swim and run toward transition. He looked really strong, so I had a feeling he was going to have a great day. His dad and I were talking for almost two hours before my wave went off. Then I realized I forgot my inhaler, my cycle glasses and headband for the bike. Super big fail. So much for being cocky about quickly packing my transition bag. Luckily Monika had her inhaler so she lent it to me for before the swim. I gave my cycle glasses to Ron to give me as I ran through to the bike and I would go without the headband.
The wave start turned into a time trial start so I got in the water right after my friend Stephanie. Right before we got in the wind had really picked up and the water was starting to get a bit choppy. The course was unfamiliar but pretty simple, counter clockwise around the island. It was a pretty easy swim until I got to the thin channel between the boat docks and the island. That's where I encountered three different swim cap colors of waves that started ahead of me and people back stroking. And red caps, you stay away from red caps - people who have self identified themselves as weak swimmers. With all this shit I couldn't really find a clear path to get forward so I was a little closer to the island (and the rocks beneath me!) than I would have liked. There was a slight current helping us on the back side of the island. Then the last turn was straight back to the boat ramp. This part sucked, I felt like I wasn't making any progress and actually hit rocks as I swam in. Last year I was in the last wave and the 2nd to last person out of the water. This year I was far from the last person out, nice improvement!
I was just glad to be out of the water and I actually was running, I knew it was going to be a good day if I was running right out of the swim. Coming out of the bike transition I was exactly on time to make the 8:15. Taking out on the bike I passed about two dozen people, feeling strong. The first hour I averaged 20mph then slowed a bit coming into town and some of the hills. I made the mistake of eating a mojo bar in hour 1 instead of 3 like the planned called for and I was having GI issues coming into the weekend. That and perhaps a wavy swim caused me to feel like I was going to puke on the bike. It was a bit hard getting some of my salt tablets down. As I was coming out of town into the head wind at the back end of the course I saw Brian going into town and I knew he'd pass me in a few miles to finish his second loop of the course.
Miles 26-44 sucked ass. The wind was not fun on the back of the course and after a while it didn't matter which direction you were headed, you were going into the wind. Mile 44 is when I got my second wind and knew I was almost in. Coming into transition Ron told me Brian wasn't in off the bike yet, so my goal was to get as far into the run as possible before he caught me again.
Coming out of transition onto the run I was within a minute of my goal times. Monika gave me her inhaler again and I was on my way into the boring run known as the CP course. I passed Luke and Sean coming in as I was going out, it was nice to see them on the course. The prior year they had already finished by the time I started the run. I saw Ben as he had about 1 mile left, again, he had already finished before I went out to run, so happy about the improvement. About mile 2 I had a woman come up behind me and she said "girl you passed me on the bike and I tried like hell to catch you." Weird things I'm not used to hearing. Of course I never saw her again on the run :|
I ran the first 5 miles, the longest I've run in a 70.3 race to start. Knowing that Brian was going to tell me to run if he came up behind me and I was walking kept me running. Regardless of the motivation, I now know coming out of the race, I can do more than I think I can. I think in between miles 4 and 5 is where he passed me. After you wrap around the edge of the water you run up and down and up and down 3 city streets. So god awful boring. I struggled on these streets, but once I got back onto the main drag I knew it was the last stretch so I picked my pace back up. Kenrick doing the full Rev race passed me twice on the run and it was fun to cheer for each other as he passed. What a great guy, he was doing so well on his race, holding the lead and yet he still had a smile and encouraging words for me. There's a lot of great athletes in this sport, but the ones that are still able to offer encouragement to fellow athletes are the amazing ones in my book!
With about 3 miles to go I passed Brian going back into town for his 2nd loop of the run, still looking strong, breaking 11 hours was going to happen! I ran back into the park and saw all my friends and Ron which put a big smile on my face. It was a bummer they ran out of finisher medals before I got to the finish line, but I borrowed Ben's for my finisher picture. I was bummed that I missed my goal finish by 4 minutes and 21 seconds. But I was still pretty happy to come so close. I had taken 25 minutes off my time in Steelhead, I had taken 1h 3 min off my CP 70.3 time in 2012.
I started thinking about all the places I could have shaved time. I probably would have done it if they hadn't moved that swim and added the .6 mile transition. I shouldn't have stopped to pee on the run course. Those two together I might have broke 8 hours, hahaha.
I had another PR and I got to watch Brian finish his race. It was a good day. Brian did an amazing job and met his goal of finishing sub 11. He blew it away at 10:53 and won 3rd in his age group. I've been really lucky to have had the opportunity to travel to three races with him. I've picked up a lot of good tips and habits and his performances have inspired me to continue to improve and keep blowing past my previous PRs.
Monday night I went into my masters swim and it was announced we had a 500M time trial. What? Are you fucking kidding me, that's like a pop quiz after a mid-term. My coach said I could do a recover swim instead, but I decided to try. I posted a pretty good time for me and probably could have squeezed out a little more effort. I rode 5 hours yesterday with a brick run and had a 2 hour ride and 1 hour run tonight. After a 13 hour training weekend, I feel pretty good and am ready to go after these next 8 weeks of training. Race day is 9 WEEKS from today!