Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tough decisions...

I have been reconsidering the half iron for quite a while now... I am not sure how wise it was to plan that 6 weeks before the NYC marathon, especially with a time goal (sub-3:25) that will be quite a challenge for me.  I should be riding 3 times a week, including a 4-5 hour long ride on the weekend, but I have just not been very diligent about making that happen.  And that last open water swim was definitely not a fun experience.  So I've decided to withdraw from the race and focus on running.  It will be a lot easier to stick to my marathon training schedule without trying to fit in hours of swimming and biking, so hopefully this is the right decision.  I'm not giving up on the idea of a long course triathlon though... they just announced Ironman Raleigh 70.3, so I am planning to be out there in June!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Lake Logan International Triathlon

Late Friday we headed west to Asheville for my second Olympic Tri (1500 meter swim, 40K bike, 10K run) at Lake Logan.  We got to our hotel around 10pm and headed out before 5am to travel the 45 minutes from Asheville to Canton.  It was a rainy morning and so much cooler than it's been in Durham.  I was really nervous about the swim, but hoped I could improve on my first Olympic time (2:43:42), thought it's difficult to compare triathlons because the courses can be so different.

The swim was a clockwise rectangle (with turns around the yellow buoys on the horizon) in very cold water.  I was happy to have invested in a full wetsuit. 

Knowing I had completed a 1500 in open water before helped calm my nerves a bit in comparison to the first one, but I was still fairly anxious about the swim.  Once we started though, it was a different story.  My other open water swim was at Kerr Lake, which was clean and clear, and the open water aspect didn't seem to bother me.  This time, I couldn't even see my hand in front of me, and I had a bit of a panic attack... heart rate: max.  breathing: nearly hyper-ventilating.  

Not good at all.  Somewhere between the first and second orange buoys I seriously considered waving in the kayak and accepting my first DNF.  I switched to breast stroke for a bit and tried to get my heart rate and breathing closer to normal.  I was feeling a little better at the first turn buoy and things got progressively better on the second half of the swim, but I couldn't wait to get out of the water.  I guess the stronger second half helped to make up for my breast-stroke and panic-stricken first half, as I made it back to the transition area in under 31 minutes.  Certainly not fast, but 2 minutes better than the last one.  

My transition time was not stellar, and I need to work on getting out of the wetsuit a little more quickly, but I was just so happy to have made it through the swim I didn't really care!  Another fairly long transition run with the bike, and off I went.  It was my first ride with the new aero helmet, and I stayed in aero for pretty much the entire race.  There was a really steep downhill right off the bat, and I had to brake because of other cyclists, turns, and wet roads.  It was nice to get off to a speedy start without much effort!  The rest of the bike course was flat to rolling, with only a few turns, and I hit 21 miles right around the one hour mark, which is a huge improvement for me. Unfortunately we paid for that steep downhill later, climbing back up around mile 23.  I lost a bit of time there, but so too did everyone around me... no one looked particularly happy during that climb over an hour and a half into the race!  I still managed to finish averaging over 20mph for the first time... not sure if it was the course, aero helmet, cool weather, improved bike fitness, or a combination of all of those; but I'll take it!

The second transition went pretty well, and I was out on the run well ahead of my first race.  The run course was an out and back with a gradual climb (200 feet of elevation gain) to the turnaround and then a descent back to the finish.  I ate a gu and drank some water through the first mile, I focused on keeping my breathing and heart rate under control as I settled into my run. The next few miles I just tried to stay relaxed, knowing I could push going downhill on the way back. Mile splits to the turn: 7:55-7:46-:7:58.  Picked up the pace on the way in (thank you, gravity) to run 7:30-7:13-6:57.  Even with the downhill back half, I think the sub-7 last mile means I didn't push hard enough earlier.  But it was only my second race at this distance and finding out how hard I can work without hitting a wall or having too much left at the end is something that takes time and practice.  

In the end I finished much better than expected, despite the miserable swim:
Overall: 2:34:43 (24/125 women)
Swim: 30:36 (81st)
Bike: 1:14:31 (31st)
Run: 45:45 (8th)

Congrats to Nicki and Evan on their age group awards!

And of course a big thanks to my wonderful husband, who got up at 4am and stood out in the rain all morning to cheer me on.  I am so lucky to have such a supportive person in my life!

July Summary

Well July has flown by and I haven't been very good at finding time to update the blog, so are here the highlights...

Tri Ballantyne: Getting faster in the pool, improving in transition, and becoming more comfortable and consistent on the bike.  Place-wise, the run is still my best leg by far, but I'm still not running as fast as I'd like off the bike.  I've been doing Tuesday morning bricks with the Duke Tri Club and those are great, but I am going to try to add a much longer brick on the weekend over the coming weeks.

UNC Wellness: My goal for this was to break an hour, and I knew I'd have to really push myself to make it. I was lucky to be seeded in a group that provided accurate swim times, and it was nice to not have to pass anyone.  The bike was a little hilly but nothing major, and since it was only 9 miles I really tried to push the pace.  The section from transition to the mount/dismount line was kind of long so I'm not sure exactly what my pace was, but probably in the 19 mph range.  The real breakthrough came on the run, and I was finally able to get my tri 5k under 22 minutes (21:50).  If I place well at Tri the Worx, I should have a good shot at a Trysports Triathlon Series Award, so hopefully I can continue to improve.

The social run that I started last month has gained sponsors and a few regulars, and we've now had over 40 different runners come out despite crazy thunderstorms (sideways rain, flash flooding, and downed trees on July 19) and heat warnings (heat index of 105 on July 26).  I've met some nice new people and had a chance to spend time with friends so I've really enjoyed these Thursday night run and beer outings.

Long rides: Managed four 40+ mile bike days in July, which is really good for me.  Two hours of medium effort on the bike doesn't seem that difficult anymore, so I can tell that my cycling endurance is improving.  My first test ride of the 56 mile bike course is planned for August 12, and that should be a good indication of bike fitness at t minus 6 weeks.

This July has had more 90+ degree days than any in recorded history and I am ready for cooler fall temps, or at least a break in the humidity.  After getting home from my long run on the 7th, Monte asked me if I'd stopped by the pool to swim on the way home... I hadn't, but I did lose 6 pounds in water weight that day and looked (and felt) like a drowned rat.  Hopefully as a reward for this unbearable summer we will have a very mild fall!

Total time: 47:09:35
Running: 126.2 miles in 17:29:32, 13,535 calories
Cycling: 252.5 outdoor miles with an average speed of 16 mph 
Swimming: 8.1M