Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Elvis Sighting (aka Race Report)

Our early morning became even earlier when Wes' phone alarm went off at 5 (7am central time for the motorcycle class that he cancelled to go to Las Vegas) instead of 5:30. We tried our best to go back to sleep, but I got none. At 5:30 we were up, ate breakfast (small bagel with PB and a banana), and we were out of the room right at 6. We had a half hour to get marked and finish setting up transition. I wish we would have had about 10 more minutes. We were told that we could only bring in our race necessities in a plastic bag they gave us, so I left my towel up at the hotel. When I got to transition there were several people with towels so I wished I had brought it. It was too late to go back to get it.

Transition closed at 6:30, but our wave wasn't scheduled to go off until 8:03, so we headed back to the room to put on our wetsuits. I also took another anti-inflammatory, which was in addition to the 5:30am one. At 7:15 we left the room for the swim start area which was about 500 yards from the hotel. One of the first things we noticed was the announcer being dressed as Elvis. Nice!

Viva Las Vegas!

The swim was a point to point. Unfortunately, I didn't check out the swim finish before the race. The sprint race took off a half hour late, which put us a half hour late as well. Part of the delay was due to waiting for NBC to get into place with their helicopter. The first sprint wave was off at 7:30 and the helicopter followed them very closely to the water.

At 8 I went down to the beach to get in a warm-up. All of the sprint waves had cleared the area, so there were people swimming out on the race course, so I followed them out. I heard the water was 63, but it felt just fine in the full wetsuit. At 8:30 the pro wave went. Sandy and I took our places down at the shore line. I asked Sandy to help get the collar of my wetsuit straightened out, which she did and then yanked up on my zipper to make sure it was securely up. Her wetsuit doesn’t have the quick release and she didn’t realize mine did. Thankfully she hadn’t pulled hard enough to activate it. We could hear the countdown for every wave but ours. All of the sudden a bunch of girls in our wave were off, so we took off, too.

I was able to break ahead of most of the wave right away. There was one girl slightly ahead of me, and one next to me. I had thought they were spotting well, so I just tucked in behind and followed the feet until we were close to the first buoy. I took a look and we were not on course, so I veered to the left to head to the buoy. I wasn’t sure if the other girls were following me or if I was on my own. I took it at a comfortable pace. If needed I could have gone harder, but I wanted to conserve energy. While we were away from shore I noticed that it was a bit wavy. It was the roughest water I’ve swum in.

Before the race started I heard Elvis tell us that we took a left turn at the yellow buoy to head in to the finish (all other buoys were orange). When I got to the yellow one, I looked up and couldn’t see any sort of a finish line. It felt like I was treading water for 30sec while two other girls caught up to me. I asked one if she knew were the finish was and she didn’t. I could tell she was much more out of breath then me. It then dawned on me that we had to finish at the beach front at the Loew’s hotel which was just beyond the bridge that was up ahead, so I headed that way. Thank goodness Sandy and I had swum out from there Friday afternoon so I knew where I was going! As I got closer I could see the swim finish and I increased my kicking a bit. As soon as I could see the bottom of the lake (it was definitely not the clear water I was lead to believe it would be), I stood up and yanked up on my zipper cord. It broke away well. I kept running until I could sit to fully take off the wetsuit. Earlier that morning I overheard someone say the run in from the water to transition was a long one, so I really wanted to get the suit fully off before heading out of the water. I was able to get it off and up out of the water before the girls behind me were able to catch up. I found out later that there was one girl that beat me in by 3 min.

Swimming to the exit in front of our hotel

The run to transition was a long one! I could feel that my groin was sore, but not as bad as I had expected. The pounding on my feet sucked. I had the feeling that something was stuck to the bottom of my foot, but there wasn’t. My feet were still pretty wet and I didn’t have a towel to dry them, so I wasn’t able to get on my left bike shoe without sitting down. Partly from having a damp foot, but also from the groin pain. The rest of T1 went well. My helmet and sunglasses went on smoothly, and I was off again.

The beginning part of the bike was the same course as the sprint distance, and there were several people still on it. Being that they were the slower, less experience riders, they weren’t doing very well at staying to the right. A motorcycle affiliated with the race caught up with me and started directing the bikers ahead of me to get to the right. They didn’t have enough time to get to all the people before I’d catch up, but I made sure to thank them for their help.

A little less then halfway through the sprint bike course was their turnaround, but the Olympic course kept going out to the main highway. It was soon after that I was able to catch up and quickly pass the girl that beat me out of the swim. I congratulated her on her swim time as I passed by. From then on I was on my own. It was nice and peaceful, but it kept me from pushing myself harder on the bike leg. This was probably a good thing. There were several turns at the bottom of hills that I had to slow down for. If I was with others, I may have crashed from trying to keep up my speed. It also probably helped reduce the leg pain later on.

I looked a few times at the PowerTap to see how the watts were doing. In the beginning on the flats they did get up close to 200, but as I settled into a comfortable pace, they dropped to 180-185 like I was told to do. There were 3 steep inclines that I choose to stand up for.

The bike route was on the highway for a bit before going off along a bike path that seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. When I got to a flat part I had my first gel with some water. There were a good amount of volunteers out on the route. In the beginning of the bike trail section two police four-wheelers caught up to me and passed me. The exhaust was not fun to breathe in! I caught up to them and they passed me again another two times. It wasn’t until I was back on the road before I noticed the extent of the wind. When I got a good gust, it seemed to take a hold of my disk wheel, but I was able to keep it in control except for one time that I was spitting at the same time. I got it back in control quickly. I’m not sure what the wind speed was but I did hear some people talking about not liking it much, but I really didn’t notice it all that badly.

As I turned back in to the road leading to the resort I had my other packet of gel with some water. In total I went through my aero water bottle on the bike and that’s it. I expected to need to drink more due to the dry heat, so I had another water bottle loaded on my bike. The bike leg went by very quickly!

When I was just about to round the corner into the Loew’s resort, I un-Velcro my bike shoes. My bike was only a few feet into transition so I didn’t bother keeping my shoes on the bike and I hadn’t practiced that dismount this year. After the dismount, I switched hands that were maneuvering the bike so I could grab the used gel packets from my jersey. This caused the bike tires to come out from under the bike and I laid it to the ground. Smooth! Not a good start to T2! I picked it back up, and drug it to my transition area. It then took me a few tries to get it on the rack with the water bottle on the front. Took my helmet and sunglasses off, put on my running socks and shoes, and slipped into my race skirt (yup, skirt, not belt. Bought it the day before at the expo from Skirt Sports. Very cute, but I won’t wear it in an “A” race). Since I had forgotten to put it on prior to putting on my shoes even though it was right on top of my shoes, I had to stretch it a bit more, which made one of the snaps pop off. I quickly found it and re-snapped. About 10 feet away from my rack, I realized I wanted to keep my sunglasses, so I ran back and got them. I looked down at my Garmin to hit the start button and realized I had put it on upside down. As I was running, I turned it around. The 5 seconds I lost to the 4th place girl would easily have been made up if I wouldn’t have had such T2 issues! Oh, well.

Lonely T2

The run was an out and back that continued past T2 on the way back. It started off in the beautiful resort area, but then went off-road into BFE. The pain was about an 8 as I started, but went to 6-7 as I kept going. I felt like it was stretching out, but I rarely forgot it was there. The run was the hilliest I’ve ever done. It was rare when we weren’t going uphill or downhill. I actually think the hills helped. I took shorter strides on the way up them, and the downhills just don’t hurt as much. My run splits ended up being a lot faster then I had expected.

I was probably about 1.5-2 miles into the run when the pros started passing me on their way back. Some were nice and encouraging, some just ran by. During the run, I got in 2 drinks of water. One about 1/3 in and the other at the turnaround. At the turnaround (a little less then halfway through the run) I saw next chick was about a mile behind me. Could I hold her off? Her run looked strong and faster then me.

The water people near the Loew’s resort said there was a mile left, so I picked up the pace a bit. The next people said I had a mile left, too. Then the next people said I had just under a mile. I think they were all lying. Next time I’m checking out the course ahead of time! The finish was in a shopping area. They kept directing us around corners, so I couldn’t see the finish until I was right on top of it. The finish was very similar to Hy-Vee...a steep, grueling hill! Very cruel!

I finally crossed finish. I had to pee like no other, so I hobbled over to the restrooms. When I got back up, I could barely walk. Shortly after that I saw Wes. He missed the finish. I saw a table that was oranges, so he headed over there. I couldn’t walk without holding on to his arm. The pain felt very similar to the first time I pulled the other side last summer. I became very fearful of what I had just done to myself. Since I couldn’t move on my own, I stood in front of the orange stand and kept eating them. I looked around for other food, but that’s all they had besides water and Gatorade. Seriously?!?! I’m so glad I had packed my recovery drink and threw in a bottle of apple juice at the last minute! I waited in line for a massage near the finish so I could see Sandy finish. When I realized that the line was going to take forever I moved to another stand where I could still see the finish line. Sandy crossed as I was still waiting. It was a while before it was finally my turn. I didn’t want to leave without getting at least something quick for my leg. I’m so glad I did because the pain went down significantly afterwards, but not enough to be able to walk back to the hotel. And I was really getting hungry! I got an ice pack for the ride. Wes drove me to the hotel, and then he and Sandy went to the airport to get Paula (Sandy’s sis).


At the hotel I made up a Peanut Butter bagel and had an apple. I also grabbed some ice from the vending machine area and iced some more while I did my first bit of stretching on the floor. About 15min later I went down to transition to pack up and got some more ice packs.

I took a shower and at 2 I went down to the “Iron Girl Brunch” for some free food, which ended up just being fruit, juice, pastries, and coffee. There was still no protein in site. At 3 Wes and I went to the awards ceremony that also started a half hour late. First place for the Olympic distance got a very nice specialized bike. She beat me by 3 min which I doubt I could have even done un-injured. First place for the Sprint distance won Zipp wheels. Those were the only overall awards. The top 3 places of each age division were given Irongirl earrings and a Tri Divas t-shirt.

Receiving award

6:00 was our massages. I asked for deep tissue, but it was far from. I also asked to concentrate on the groin, but had to remind her and ask for it to be more intense. I prefer my normal massage therapist!

I definitely did not do enough stretching! The next day my body was sore all over. However, my leg felt just as good as it did the day before! Yeah! By Monday I completely forgot I even had leg pain when walking around. But as soon as I take a running step, it’s back. And when I try to bend over and stand on one leg to put pants on I can feel it. The Drake half marathon in two weeks is not looking good..

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