Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Vineman 2008 Race Report....

I actually started this race report a few times, but I stopped because I didn't have all my thoughts together. I'm sure many of you read this and you think, "it's a race, just write what happened," or "keep this short." The truth of this blog is that I started writing last year during my training for Ironman Florida. I hated training, I loved racing. Story of my life, I loved playing tennis in high school, I hated the practice, but nothing thrilled me more than the competition of a match. I hated running "Indian runs," in soccer, but I loved scoring goals in a game.

Triathlon has been an interesting adventure for me. I started triathlon because Dave was deployed and I wanted something cool to try and a girl introduced me to my first one here in San Diego. It developed into a hobby and I learned...that I actually could learn to use gears in a bike and there is actually a purpose to track workouts and you know, I even learned to swim a little faster!

So, how does this relate to my race report? I'm writing this with a lot of emotion because I realize....training really does matter. I trained really hard last year for all of my races: Wildflower, Big Kahuna and Florida. But you know, when race day came, I thought I was racing...but I realized now, I think I held back at all of those races and it took Vineman to make that point.

Race Day:
Up at 5:15 and I wasn't nervous, I slept well. Typically I sleep well before a race, it's just the morning of I feel like i'm going to throw up. I put honey on my bagel and Dave and I loaded up the car and we drove to the site. It was chilly.....about 55 degrees, definitely not what I was expecting. But, I held back a smile because I knew if it was overcast, I had a great chance of having a great race. Standing there on the beach, I just wanted to get started. Finally it was time.

Swim 1.2 mi: (31:26) I positioned myself in the front, my goal was to do what I did at Florida, just go hard and find some feet to cling on to. We started and immediately I found a rhythm, but people were pushing down my legs, so I knew, maybe I had positioned myself too far front, whatever...I was going to go with it. I tried SO hard to find legs, but the first group really spread out too quickly (as it turns out, I think the first group finished in 24-25 minutes which is not something I think I feasibly could have swum, maybe a 29-30, but not a 24-25!). I was swimming upstream and I remember thinking "man, this 1.2 is longer than I remember". Bouey after Bouey I passed and finally rounded the turn. Looked up and I had caught up to the men's wave and I saw men walking. There were reports that you could stand in this river it was so shallow, but seeing grown men WALKING? They were trudging along as I swam. I promise they would have moved faster swimming! Finally, I looked up and after swimming alone, I got out of the water and saw Dave and since I wasn't swimming with a watch he "sign languaged" the time to me: 31 minutes. Done, swim accomplished and I was perfectly happy with my time.

Transition 1: 2:53-Eh, this could be faster for sure, I admit, I have to ride and run with socks. Sorry, i've tried the sockless thing and i'd rather lose time in transition and learn to run faster than go without my socks!

Bike 56.2 mi.: 2:45:48 (about a 20.2 mph average)-Coming out of transition, we rode right up a small hill. I started and I was still breathing pretty heavy from the swim. I wanted water so badly, but I promised myself to wait 25 minutes until that first swig. My stomach can get pretty uneasy and I need to wait to bring my heart rate down a bit on the bike before I start swigging away. I had 3 bottles of water each with 2 scoops of Carbo Pro and a Nuun Tablet. MAGIC. Cannot wait to use this in Ironman. Each bottle had about 210-220 calories and it worked perfectly. I had to remind myself as the ride went to take in water since it was overcast, it's hard to remind yourself to drink even when you're not thirsty. The course is beautiful. It's truly a rolling course with a few standing climbs, but I felt really prepared for it. I was hammering and then I started to think about the run. Bad Move. I should have left the run where it was. At the end. I was worried I wouldn't find my legs on the run. So, I kind of held back a bit on the bike. I was riding and I look over and a girl with pink compression tights was passing me. Her AGAIN? This was the same girl who passed me at Big Kahuna last year, and I knew she was super strong. I tried to hang, but I told myself "play your game, not someone else's, you go your speed." Lesson learned right there: I trained for this, I could have chased after her, but I didn't and that's where the holding back comes from. Towards the end of the bike, I unclipped my Garmin from its spot and stuck it in my top (haven't figured out the whole Garmin/bike computer thing yet)...and I wanted to use it for the run to pace myself. I managed to jump off the bike and leave my shoes clipped in....and the best part was: I saw only a few bikes racked in my age group. This was good.

T2: 2:29.4-ya know for such a slow time you think I would have remembered my inhaler and salt tablets. It's a damn good thing it wasn't sunny til the end of my run!

Run: 1:47:48-(8:13 mile). So, I know most of you run way faster than me. And that's fine. But for me, I typed out that number with pride and ok a little tears in my eyes. It was my fastest half marathon....ever...and I had swum and biked before it, so i'm relieved to know that maybe I can run faster than I think!

Back to the race: I came off the bike and the left side of my bladder was in pain. I needed the porto potty bad. I saw there was a line at the ONE in transition, so I scratched that and ran the first mile. It was slow because I was finding my legs, had to use the bathroom and...I was also thinking "hold back, if you go hard now you may blow up." I need to quit freaking thinking like that. I did the first mile and I made the fateful decision to stop and WAIT for the porto potty (enter Amanda's thought of "Why didn't you just pee on yourself and dump water on you, at that point it's all sweat anyway"). Brilliant after thought. I waited...i'm not kidding you, for probably 1-2 minutes and then it took me a minute to get in and out. Anyway, I flew out of the port potty and I think I clocked the next mile in like 7:30 just to try to make up for lost time. I ran up and down each of those rollers and I thought to myself "you RUN up this hill, you freaking did hill repeats on a 10% grade, this is NOTHING move it." And I did. I told myself to kick my feet out, stride, I told myself anything I could to make myself go faster. The bad part about this, I waited until mile 7 to think like this. For the first 6 miles I did go hard, but I held back a little because I didn't want to blow up (memories of the Carlsbad 5000). At mile 10, I finally saw some people with my age group number on their calves. They were far and few between, but I made it my mission to just push. I knew my heart rate was low enough, I had plenty of speed left. So, I went for it--and I didn't look back. I passed one girl in my age group literally probably .25 miles from the finish, but I was thinking at that point, how badly I wanted to pass her, "just because." I passed her and I didn't look down at my Garmin, but I knew before then I had been running in the 7's somewhere which is awesome for me!

I crossed the finish line and I knew I had accomplished my goal of nailing the run. I was so afraid that I would have another bad run, or a slow run. But, I didn't. I proved to myself that I can run well.

The most important thing I learned. Racing fast hurts. You have to come out of your comfort zone. It isn't just plodding along putting your feet out. I had to put myself in a place that physically was difficult. My only regret: I should have done it way earlier in the race. Amanda and I chatted. I TRAINED to race hard and I shouldn't have held back.

I don't think I held back significantly enough to change my time *all* that much, but it was kind of cool because I realized "wow, I probably could have even gone faster in the half marathon if I had started out going hard early".

I do regret that porty potty stop though. And yes, for those of you who don't know, it's pretty common for triathletes to just pee and go, rather than stop. At that point, you're pee'ing water anyway and you're already nasty so why lose two minutes?

Final Stats:
Finish Time: 5:10:25
Place: 9/81 in Age Group

Interesting fact: I actually qualified for Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater, FL...apparently there were 3 slots in my age group and it rolled past the 18th person! Dave and I didn't go to the awards because i'm signed up for Arizona and financially it wouldn't be a smart choice with weddings and other commitments we have, but I also didn't think the slots would roll down to 9th place. Next time I know, if i'm serious about that kind of thing, and I want to do it. Go to the awards! It is cool to know though, that I could have gone if I wanted to and if I had made the effort to stick around for the awards!

I know this race report is rather long...but, I can't end it without a huge thank you to Dave. It was touch and go whether he would be able to make it and he arrived at midnight Friday night, drove me all around all day Saturday, making sure I had everything helping me find the perfect spot to put my stuff, and then got up with me at 5:00 a.m. Sunday morning, and was out there taking pictures and encouraging me and cheering me on. When I finished, he knew I had done what I came to do, nail the course in general, but he knew how excited I was about my run....and I was so thankful to get a hug from him, nothing else would do! It's really cool to be with someone who "gets" it and loves me no matter what, but loves to see me succeed when i've pushed myself so hard.

I wasn't the only lucky one out there who had Dave's support. He was driving to watch me in the bike and saw a girl who looked like she had fallen and he thought she needed medical help, so he made a u-turn and went back to help. She was standing there crying, her tire had flatted and she was having trouble fixing it. He fixed it for her and sent her on her way! Ya know, even if there is no "outside assistance," i'll gladly take the penalty if someone helped me...i've been in that situation, flatted and wishing for someone to help!

Thank you all for your support and wishes and thanks for reading this long winded report!


Paul said...

Great report! Awesome race too! I use the carbo pro and nuun tablets too. Actually I use cheap o generic malto but whatever. :) good stuff!

Lauren said...

Loved the report! I am so glad you feel so great - you definitely did what you set out to do. AND...you qualified for Ironman?!?! You're awesome...your place in age group is amazing. Yeah!!!

Mer! said...

Hey Comes...I qualified for the Half Ironman World Championships, not the "full" one in Hawaii =0...that's a whole other animal!!!

You guys are too sweet! Thanks for your awesome words!

Paul!--my top is actually made by Splish...www.splishcustom.com. They're Amanda's sponsor and they made some tops for me last year, it says "Deaf Athlete" on the back to give people a heads up that I may not hear them on the bike!

Anonymous said...

Meri, AWESOME race!!! I am sooo amazed and in awe of you! You have worked so hard and all your efforts are paying off. Yay.

Dave said...

So awesome! And what a great run time...I'd be proud too. I think I still need to learn that mindset for racing, so it's cool to read about your experiences with learning it.

And cheers to Dave for being a great sherpa for the race!

Jennifer Harrison said...

OH I just loved your RR, Mer! Seriously....YOU NAILED your race and run! Congrats...that is just an amazing job. And, Yep, we all pee all over ourselves (hee hee). I had to learn years ago too and now I tell everyone, "Learn how to pee on that bike and run!" :) I love your insight too b/c you are so humble - you did GREAT...and you got another thing so right: IT HURTS bad to race, when done correctly, which you did!!! congrats to you again!!! Jen H. :)

Gould said...

nice race!! i'm sorry i didn't get a chance to meet you out there. i was grateful for the cooler weather too. but you're right - sometimes you just need to go for it . .

no worries about clearwater. . i hear it's not that good of a race anyway. :)

i hang with shannon a bit - we should meet up sometime!

beth said...

fanTABulous race report! you are motivating me to finally write mine...
great race, so glad you accomplished your goals...you are my hero on the bike...can we ride together sometime? or at least for a minute before you drop me!

btw.. a good friend gave me a tip before the race she said, "T2 is all grass. sit down put on your shoes and PEE- no one will know!!!" and i DID! shhh!

Angie said...

Great report mer!!! Amazing race! You are getting so freaking strong....can't wait to watch you on IM live for AZ!