Thursday, October 9, 2008

Longhorn 70.3 Race Report

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Thank you for being patient while I got my act together and got some pictures. No bike or run photos are available yet because the company who took the photos runs a little slow. Add that to the fact that there were over 2,000 athletes and that means I should get my photos by Halloween at least.

Last Saturday morning I had the car loaded and as soon as the sun was up, I hit the road for Austin, Texas. I wanted to be early so that I had enough time to drive the bike course and see what I was in for. I was going to be doing this race with my buddies Luke and Terry. This would be Luke's 3rd half IM distance race and Terry's first. Terry had driven out to Austin a few weeks earlier when we had no power after Ike to ride the course and he said it was pretty hilly with a big Kick-Ass hill at the end of the course. I wanted to see how I needed to plan for gearing.

Here is my "Ghetto" Kutoa with the mis-matched "Booger Green" fork. Hey, I'm not complaining. I got that fork for only $50 from the guys at the shop after I had power lines rip my bike off of the top of my car on the way home from the Cap Tex Tri in May. All I know is that my bike is one of a kind! No one else in the world has a Kuota with a custom paint job just like it.

Once I got to Manor, Texas, I headed over to Walter E. Long park and started making the trek around the course. I was glad that I did. Austin has not had rain in a long time and the ground is so dry that the pavement on the roads has big cracks in it. Cracks big enough to swallow a front tire! The race production company did a good job of spray chalking all of the wheel sucking cracks and chunks of asphalt missing from the corners. I stopped to use one of the port-o-cans at the side of the road and found that they had turned them to face each other so you could not open the doors. AAARRRGGGHHH!!! I had to do a Paula Radcliff squat along the side of the road and take a leak out the leg of my shorts. Gads! The Big-Ass Hill that Terry had warned me about at the end was impressive, but after Switzerland, it was not scaring me at all. I filled up the gas tank, found some lunch, and headed into town for the Packet Pick Up and Athlete's Meeting.

I found Terry and Mari in line at the packet pick-up. The line was super long, but it moved fast. The expo was super small and there was nothing I really needed. I watched the Athlete's Panel with Simon Lessing, Michele Jones, Lisa Bentley, Andrea Fisher, Richie Cunningham, Bree Wee, and others. After the panel I was too much of a dork to walk up and ask for a photo with Michele Jones or Bree Wee. I found my buddies Luke and Norma before I headed out to go back to Walter E. Long Park to do bike drop off. We got a nifty TYR drawstring bag with a long sleeve Zorel race shirt, a Headsweats hat, and a bunch of other goodies from the race sponsors. I loved the fact that we got a nice long sleeve tech shirt. I will put it to good use this winter.

Once I got out to Walter E. Long Park I got the bike out of the back of the car and pumped up the tires. The guy parked next to me was doing the same thing, but not having much luck with his pump. He asked to use my pump and I watched him as he continued to struggle. I offered my help to get my pump to work for him and found out that he had not opened the valve on his tire, so basically, no air was getting in. Was it nerves? Was it his first 70.3 race? I took care of the front tire and he started struggling with the back tire. I again offered my help and found that the valve was stuck and no air would go in or out of the tube. I asked the guy how old the tube was. He said a few months. I asked him when he last had a flat on his back wheel. He could not remember. I told him that he might want to change the tube out right there rather than get a flat on the course. He was not sure what to do. As we are chatting, my hands are getting greasy and filthier by the minute. Dang, when was the last time this guy cleaned his bike. I stand up and the cat is wearing a Ironman CdA Finisher's shirt! "Oh, you did CdA! My friend did that race and said it was beautiful." He responds back that it was and shows me his tattoo. Nice, you somehow finish an IM race and you don't know how to maintain your bike??!!?? I sent him off to find the Mavic tent for repairs on his wheel. What a tool!

I got my Kuota in place on the rack and it was time to go check in at my hotel.

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I met Luke and Norma, and Terry and Mari at Carraba's for dinner. It seemed that every other triathlete in the race was eating there as well. We had a nice dinner but I will say that there was way too much garlic on my food. I love garlic but it was not setting well with me that evening and that is not good before the race. Norma and Mari were going to be our cheerleaders and motivators out on the course. Norma is a photography buff so most of these photos are from her gallery. As I sat there at the table I reflected on the fact that I had at one point coached each one of these wonderful people through their first Olympic distance triathlon. I must have done a good job because they were back for more racing!
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Ok, I'm going to just come out and say it...I hate my hair! It is in that odd growing out stage and sometimes I look like Kristi McNichols with her feathered cut from "Family" in the 70's and at other times I look like Uncle Jesse from "Full House". One day it will look presentable but right now it looks awful.

I was able to get to sleep early around 9:45 pm and I slept like a log. I felt rested when I got up. I took my time getting dressed and eating as well as taking care of bathroom issues. I headed off for the race parking around 5:30 am and then stood in line for 15 minutes or so waiting to get on a school but that would take us over to the race site. It was still dark as I got the last of my stuff set out in transition. The buses were backed up so the race director pushed back the race start 15 minutes. I found a port-o-can without too much of a line and then it was time to go back in and grab my water bottle out of Transition and start getting my wetsuit on.

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The water temperature was 77.5 degrees! This was not supposed to be a wetsuit race but I was sure glad that the gals at the TNT office let me borrow this wetsuit since I broke my zipper on my suit at the Austin Tri a few weeks ago. Here I am getting ready to head in to the water. I look WAY TOO HAPPY to start that swim. I also look like a Troll doll. My Hot Pink swim cap needs to be Hot Pink flaming hair!
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Looking for a good spot...
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And Wave 6 is off! Usually I am in the last wave, so it was nice to be up near the start of the race rather than in Wave 13 or 14! The swim was rough. There was the W 35-39 and the W 25-29 in this group so there were well over 150 of us. It was a slug fest! I got kicked in the gut, slapped in the mouth, and hit over the head, but I am sure that I did my fair share of clobbering as well. I felt really good on the swim and once I got to the first turn buoy, I started seeing the blue caps of the men's wave in front of ours. I kept my head tucked and got down to work as I moved my way up past more men in blue caps and then men in green caps who were in the wave ahead of the blue caps. I focused on streamlining and pulling through with my arms. I rounded that last turn buoy and started sighting for shore. I made sure that i drained the bladder and kept on target. It was not until I was almost ready to finish the swim that I saw a large group of 6 or 7 yellow caps come past me from a wave behind. I swam in as far as I could while people were popping up and trudging through the water.
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Once I stood up, I looked and saw all sorts of blue and green men's wave caps and pearl pink W 45-49 wave caps all around me. I guess I did ok. I did not hit my watch for this race. I was just going to see what I could do without much training in September due to Hurricane Ike.

Total Swim Time--29:33, 1:32 M pace, 17th out of 93 in my AG. Ok, I am going to be honest and I am sure there will be some haters out there but since the Switzerland 70.3 on June 1st I have been in the pool two times and I swam the Austin Tri Oly swim leg in 27 minutes. The swim is my strongest leg and I hardly train for it.
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I heard Norma yelling for me as I started making my way to T1...

Transition was dirty and dusty and my feet were caked and yucky. I was moving as fast as I could but this was a huge transition area. T1--2:51.

Once out on the bike I started taking in some water and trying to settle in for the long ride. I did not feel like such a geek in my Aero helmet this time. Sure I was being passed by the fast men from the 35-39 AG that I passed in the swim, but I was passing a lot of the W 18-23, W 40-44, and W 45-49 age groupers who were already out on the bike. I stayed on top of my fluids taking in both water and Accelerade and dipping into my Bento Box for Clif Shot Bloks every 15 minutes. I felt on top of my hydration because I was able to feel sweat rolling down my arms out of my arm pits. That was good because it was a very windy morning with a steady breeze of 10 to 15 mph with gusts up to 20 mph that dried off much of the sweat on the body. It was hilly and on a few short steep ones I saw people fall over with the wrong gearing or have to stop and push to the top. I seem to do pretty good in the hills. I will say it is because I don't have much "junk in the trunk" to haul up to the top.

Here is the route and elevation map...

Luke caught up to me around mile 27 and he was motoring. I had my own pace going on so I was no going to try to follow. There were lots of officials on the course and I was glad to see that. I did not experience any flagrant broken rules by other racers. I was waiting for Terry to catch me and pass me up but I never saw him on the bike. On the last two miles there were two good sized hills. A guy who comes to my indoor cycling class found me on the first of these two hills. I started chatting with him as we were climbing and he was passing me up. I did have a moment's thought that the other cyclists wheezing around me as we climbed the hill were staring daggers at me as I cheerfully said "Hi" to Rick and asked him how he was doing. I passed Rick up on the second and bigger hill and then it was time to start pulling my feet out of my shoes and start getting ready to dismount.

Total Bike Time--2:59:06, 18.8 mph pace over 56 miles.

T2 was faster, but just as dirty. The gal next to me was not back and she had a big ol' yoga mat down on the ground for her transition mat. I wiped the bottom of my feet off on her yoga mat before putting on my socks. Did I feel bad about doing that??? No. Not at all. Socks on, shoes on, grab the Fuel Belt and go! T2--1:42.

The run was two loops straight out of the 7th circle of Dante's Hell (middle ring, lol)

In the first mile, my right Vastus muscle of my Quad cramped up. I had been taking Enduralytes on the bike but I guess they were not enough. I popped three more in my pie hole and walked a bit because my leg hurt so bad. I finally stretched it and it loosened up. The aid stations were great! There were lots of sponges, misting stations to run through and icy cold towels to wrap around your neck. The sun had gone behind some big fluffy clouds, but it was still hot and in the 80's. The run course was very hilly and there was no shade at all. at mile 5 there was a big long brute of a hill that was called "Quadzilla". There were timing mats at the bottom and top of the hill and awards were being given to the fastest male and female up the hill. Needless to say I was walking that hill with everyone else. Half of the run loop was on pavement and half was trail running.

I had cracked out a brand new pair of shoes for this event. The store where I picked them up said that I could wear them for 60 days and for any reason that they did not work out for me I could bring them back. Well, I had a feeling that if I brought them in looking like this after the race, they might not hold up their end of the agreement, lol.
They started out white at the begining of the run!

I had to do more walking than I wanted to but that's life. Terry caught me at mile 1 and a half. He was smoking me! I saw my buddy Rick caught up to me at mile 3 and he was running and walking just like I was. Rick took off around mile 4 and I lost him on the big downhill before hitting "Quadzilla". I was happy that the volunteers were handing out more Endurolytes and there was plenty of ice to stuff down the front of my run bra. "Quadzilla" was painful but at least the aid station at the bottom had a great group of volunteers all dressed up like super heroes and there were funny signs all the way up the hill that said things like, "Red meat won't kill's the green fuzzy meat that will." Or my favorite, "You can soar with the eagles, but weasles never get sucked into jet engines." I think I did better at more running than walking on the second loop. I found Rick again and I could tell he was hurting. Around mile 9 I looked around and I guess I had left him behind. I had seen Terry earlier at mile 7 as he had made the out and back and was at mile 9 1/2. Luke was not too far back and I saw him when I was at mile 8 and he was at mile 9. I just kept plugging away. I knew once I got to the top of "Quadzilla" again then I only had a mile and a half left. It was hard to have to walk that close to the finish but my legs just felt zapped. My sports Doc told me later that it was due to the fact that my adrenal glands had been running high.

As I came to the finish line, the clock read 6:15 and some change. Dang! I guess I did pretty good even with all the walking!

Total Run Time--2:28:41

Total Race Time--6:01:56
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Luke and Norma found me right away at the finish. Luke had crossed the line about 10 minutes ahead of me.
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Do I look WAY TOO HAPPY to have just hauled myself over 70.3 miles???
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We got our nifty Longhorn 70.3 cold towels, water bottles, and Finisher's Medals!
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You have to get that race backdrop photo at the finish!
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Luke had a PR of 5:41! Way to go Luke!!!
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We found Terry. He had already been through the food tent and had a can of beer in his Fuel Belt! Terry had a great first 70.3 race and finished in 5:12 or something crazy like that. Way to go Terry!!!
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Yummy Freebird's burritos, fruit, Jim Jim's Water Ice, Oreos, Amy's Ice Cream, Sweet Leaf Tea, and Bud Beer!!! I didn't care if it was going to make me itch, I was eating that food!
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The Three Triathlon Stooges! The three of us will be TEAMing up again for Ironman Cozumel in 2009!!!
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My picture with the guest of honor at this race. This is a big deal because I went to Texas A&M University and we are the rival school of the University of Texas Longhorns. So notice that I am not giving the "Hook 'em Horns" sign, but instead giving the big Aggie "Gig 'em" thumb's up. Whoop!!!

I was very happy with this race. I SMOKED the swim and did well on the bike. The run was nothing to write home about, but something had to give somewhere. I was only 12 minutes off of my PR that I set at the Lonestar Half Iron back in March on a totally flat course. I went out there and had fun and did not even worry about splits and finish times. I have finished this triathlon season satisfied.

Sorry this post was way too long, but I hope you enjoyed it. As soon as I get photos from the bike and the run I will post them.

Enjoy watching the Ironman World Championship race this weekend on !

Later Gators,



JohnnyTri said...

great recap!! love the pictures!
this is the first time since IM that I miss racing!


norms said...

Those pictures are awesome! ;)~ hehehe! I hadn't noticed your bike, that's kinda funny. Loved the troll and Uncle Jesse comments! I didn't have my cowbell on me at the swim finished, otherwise I would have given you "more cowbell!". Great job!

Flatman said...

Awesome race report and photos, Liz! You did great... :)

Booger Green Kuotas Rock! (your bike looks like christmas)

Eric said...

Awesome race Liz!!! I think I actually saw you coming out of the swim :-)

Viv said...

I enjoyed every fast minute of it!! You did wonderful again Liz....The pics were great and you looked so strong as usual. Awesome swim, but I loved that bike split on such a challenging course and of course that is a super 1/2 marathon run!

BreeWee said...

Liz, I dare you, DOUBLE DARE you to try and return the shoes, hilarious!

Oh man you missed the underpants run (only a mile)...

GREAT day out there during Longhorn! Way to finish... hey, only 2 minutes from breaking the 6hr mark! Happy recovery!

TNTcoach Ken said...

Looks like fun, I may think about doing it. Ha, just kidding. Congrats and Terry is a man after my heart....

Steve Stenzel said...

I want to be able to swim like you. Seriously.

NICE JOB all around!! Way to go!!

And that's for the advice. I might be able to get a massage out of Pharmie tonight in the name of "my health."


Steve Stenzel said...

"Thanks!" I meant "THANKS for the advice." Jeez. I'm not even drunk.

Speed Racer said...

In all those pictures you can just TELL how much fun you're having. And what a solid race!!! I love the idea of doing half of the run on road and the other half on trail, even if it DOES ruin snowy-white shoes.

Oh, and by the way, I FEEL you on the hair growing out. It took me over a year and a half to recover from a bad afternoon at the hairdresser's one summer! But once you can pull it into one big ponytail, all the Uncle Jesse hair and cuttlefish fringes are worth it! Keep at it, growing your hair out is harder than an Ironman, but you're almost there! :)


The Lazy Triathlete said...

Great race report and photos. I love the photo with the Long Horn. Thats awesome.

Jeff said...

Great report, Liz. Nice pic's, too. May seem like a lot of writing, but it sure reads fast.

Rainmaker said...

Great write-up and awesome job! I love the bike combo-dish. Plus, helping out teh dude that couldn't fix a flat was priceless. I wonder how long it's been since he last put air in it! He probably flew through the course once he had the proper pressure in there!


Kona Shelley said...

I did Longhorn last year and loved it! I would totally do that race again.
I can't wait to meet you and your friends at IMCOZ!

Jennifer Harrison said...

Liz! I just found your blog - CONGRATS on your race at Texas 70.3! I had fun reading some of your posts - the comment you made about your hair looking like Kristy McNichol's is hilarious - I didn't think so, but once you pointed it out. LOL. Anyway, fun RR! Congrats! :) Jen H.

Paul said...

Awesome race report!! Smoking swim time. Congrats and thanks for sharing!

gemini said...

Very well done! Nice pictures too :-)

Eric said...

I'm right at the start of training for a Ironman 70.3 next year...

Your blog is going straight into the "Ironman motivation" section of my favourites...

I really enjoyed reading about your experience!