|Women For Tri Meet-up|
I made an effort to train a bit on the course in the months leading up to the race, with four bike rides on the course, a couple of swims and one run. This helped me with my mental preparation, made me less nervous and set me up to be able to enjoy some time socializing before the race.
This race is a point-to-point race with the Swim in Lake Sonoma, which is about a thirty-five-mile drive from Santa Rosa where the bike-to-run transition, finish line and lodging were. With limited parking at the Lake, they offered Shuttles starting at 4 am for the 6:25 am start. I walked over at 4 am with my friends Liz and Leishia and didn’t have to wait long to get on a bus. This was the point where I was bemoaning signing up for this race, because I do not like getting up before 5 am (more truthfully before 9 am.)
We passed a broken-down bus on the way and thought how lucky we were not to be on that bus. We heard later that they got to the start with 35 minutes to spare. I usually need a full hour to set up stuff at my bike, pump up my tires, change into my wet-suit, hit the porta-potty and line up at the start.
The wind was up and the water was a little choppy, but nothing dramatic. Ironman had decided to change the direction of the swim since it was going to be windy, so the 1.2-mile course was all right hand turns until the final turn back to the boat ramp. I tend to veer left which made me swing a little wider around the buoys than when it is a left-hand turn course. I did avoid getting smacked and run over by swinging a little wide, though it may have added to my swim time of 39:17. That was on the high end of my normal range for a wet suit swim.
SWIM TO BIKE TRANSITION
We exited the swim onto a long boat ramp which led up to a road and then to a long chute that went half way around the transition area. A narrow strip of the concrete boat ramp had been carpeted but not the asphalt road or chute, which had a bunch of tiny loose black rocks. I should have worn booties or left shoes at the top of the carpet because I’m a tender foot. Running up the incline wasn’t a problem for me but the pain and little stone bruises on me feet slowed me down. When I wiped my feet on a little towel I had left in transition it got covered in rocks that had been pressed into the bottom of my feet. Two days later and the bottom of my feet still hurt. Lesson learned/re-learned after my first Escape from Alcatraz: booties or shoes!
The bike course has more climbing than the old Vineman course, but a lot of the climbing is rollers so I found the bike course to be much easier/faster than the previous course. It’s a beautiful ride, if you had any time to look around. I really had to pay attention to the road because the pavement is pretty variable with some really rough sections and pot holes. The only small problem I had on the bike was when at mile 50 I sort of gagged on something caught in my throat and I threw-up (mostly on my right shoulder.) I took a few sips of water and those came right back up. I needed to get some more calories in before I got off the bike, so at 52 miles I started eating a pack of Honey Stinger Chews and was able to keep those down. My stomach never really felt upset.
I finished the 56-mile ride in 2 hours, 48 minutes and 21 seconds. This was the fastest bike time of my age group and the fastest I’ve ridden in a 70.3/half ironman. I stayed within my planned effort and still finished in record time. I was in first place in my age group at the start of my run.
Running is my weakest link in this sport, so I decided to take a little different approach to the run. The plan was to use the first 3 miles to find my running legs after the bike ride, the next 3 miles to push the pace without looking at my watch, the next three miles to try to hold a race pace of 10:45, the next 3 miles repeat 4 minutes pushing hard alternating with 4 minutes easing off. Then to finish it off by giving it everything I had left for the last mile.
Everything was feeling good for the first 6 miles. When it came time to run 3 miles at a 10:45 pace, the best I could muster was an 11:13. That wasn’t so great for me mentally when my goal was 10:45. For the next three-mile section, I slowed down way too much on several of the 4 minutes easing off. Given all that, it was a mostly flat course and I ended up having my second fastest half ironman run of all time.
|Nothing like friends waiting at the finish|
The highlights of the race were seeing all of at least 50 people I knew out on the race course, coming in first after the fast bike course and having reasonable temperatures and shade on the run. The worst part was having to leave the hotel at 4 am to catch the shuttle to the start.
|Alwayw happy to finish!|
Now I have less than three weeks to my favorite race, Hawaii 70.3!