Monday, July 29, 2013

Lake Stevens 70.3

Another race....
I love racing, I really do and getting the opportunity to race somewhere other than Hawaii is even better. Mainland racing is fun! It's not easy to travel all over the place and go to races when you live on an island. You can't just hop in the car and take a road trip to your next race (well you can, but it'll only be 45 minutes away at most). So when I decided I wanted to race another 70.3 this year, Lake Stevens seemed to be the easiest choice to make. Logistically we knew people there, could borrow cars and friends graciously gave us places to stay while we were away.
On to the race...
The Swim
When it's 50something degrees outside, it's notsomuchfun getting in the water. I have done a lot of swimming outside in freezing cold temperatures in my life and I know it's not something that I enjoy. Luckily on race day, it wasn't freezing, but to a now Hawaii girl temperature in the 50s is brutal. I got my wetsuit on as soon as we got transition set up and it was toasty warm. We decided we wanted to at least feel the water before the swim start so we got in a little ways and it didn't feel freezing, it actually was warmer than the outside air temperature (probably should have realized at this point that the swim might actually be HOT)!
Anyways, LS was a wave start swim this year and we all know how I feel about wave starts in swim races. JOY! I was in the 3rd to last wave (woooooohoooooo, I get to swim through 900 people, somuchfun!). The waves were separated by 3 minutes and actually ended up being a great system for wave starts! What do I know anyways. So the swim course at LS is pretty cool, it's a one loop swim and the buoys are all connected together by a white rope that is about 2.5 feet below the water. The lake was a little murky and algae-y (see above not correctly formatted (sorry) picture), but clear enough so you could see the little white rope leading you through the entire swim course. Thank goodness for that rope actually because the marine layer was so thick race morning, you couldn't see more than one buoy ahead of you at any point during the swim.
When it was time for my wave (18-29 females) to start I made sure to be out in front. We hopped in the water and had about 60 seconds until the gun went off. I was comfortable in the water, let some "cool" water into the wetsuit and was ready to go. The gun went off and after about 10 strokes I couldn't see anyone, I was cruising along, with no other light pink caps in sight. At about the 2nd or third buoy I started catching people, but it never got chaotic, I would just stay right on that little white rope and cruise right past the people in front of me. I think I hit every buoy with my left arm, that's how closely I was following that rope, but I barely had to sight, only to watch out for people, not to go in the right direction...if only all swims had a little white line to follow (kind of like a pool, maybe that's why I enjoyed it so much). Anyways, 10 buoys out and 8 back in to shore. I think it was at the second to last buoy that I saw Aaron and I tired to get his attention by willing him to breathe in my direction, but it didn't work, oh well. I was out of the water and pleased with my swim, I wanted to be under 30min and came in at 25:04 so I was pumped. I didn't know at the time, but I ended up having the fastest female swim of the day, including the pro women, so that's pretty cool. I guess all that band swimming and LCM on Monday mornings has paid off! Thanks swim friends!!

I was in and out of transition relatively fast and there weren't a ton of bikes already gone which at the time I thought was strange since I had basically started at the end of the swim starts. Aaron ran right by me in transition and I think was a little surprised to see me there already. I had to make sure I was out of there before him because I wanted a little time on the bike before he blew by me. In retrospect, I probably should have taken 2 more seconds in transition because I forgot my e21 and chomps, whoops! At least it wasn't cold out and my electrolytes would be ok for the day. Live and learn.

The Bike:
glasses on or off? 
I decided to not bring my garmin on the bike (or run) with me for this race and see how it went. I am usually pretty focused on maintaining certain numbers that sometimes I think it takes away from actually racing and today was all about racing, putting it all out there and seeing what would happen.
I was excited for this bike course, it looked a little hilly, rolling hills, and not too flat at all, which I enjoy in a race. It was a tough, tough bike, but I would do it again in a second, I would actually like to do that bike course again so I could take in the scenery a bit more. The bike course was well mapped out with very clear directions on which way to turn when, which was a really good thing seeing as how there were lots of twists and turns after some pretty steep downhills might I add.
I was cruising along, super happy with my pace and how the course was going (although by half way I had been passed by 2 girls in my age group already) when I caught up to Mariane  about half way through the bike which was a nice surprise, I thought she might be racing, but wasn't positive. Super fun seeing her out there, she's always so positive and encouraging, no matter what and always has a big smile on her face!
Two other girls in my age group and I kept flip flopping positions throughout the bike. I would pass them on the uphills and they would blow by me on the downhills (I guess I should learn how to ride my bike down a hill faster?!). You couldn't really take advantage of the downhills on this course because every time you went down a hill, you almost always made a sharp turn and went right back up another one. All-in-all, I was happy with how the bike turned out, I stayed fueled and hydrated (which was a bit difficult seeing as how it was freezing out and I never felt like I needed to drink, I never got grumpy and I turned in my fasted 70.3 bike split (I know you can't really compare courses or course times when they are all different, but I was super pumped to be where I was when I came off the bike).

nothing significant, get off the bike, rack the bike, put on run shoes, visor and race belt and leave.

The Run:
I was super excited for this run. 2 loop course (not sure how I feel about a 2 loop half marathon, nice to see what you get to do the second time around, but not nice that you get to see what you have to look forward to (or not) the second loop) I looked at the course map, saw a bit of the course the day before the race and was ready to go.
I was off my bike and running. About a mile in a really needed to pee (so I stopped), someday, I need to learn how to do it on the bike. Everyone I talk to says it's super easy, but I've yet to be able.
About 2 miles into the run, I hear, "Nice Job Hawaii" and who was it you ask?! Meredith Kessler! I met her for about 10 minutes last year at CdA and she remembered me, how cool is that?! I didn't have my bib facing backwards or anything. That's pretty awesome. What a great professional!
Anyways, the run was tough, a lot tougher than I expected. I thought it was going to be much flatter, but there were a few bumps in there along the way. The bump on the second loop wasn't very much fun at all, I wanted to walk all the way up that little hill so bad! I was able to hold it together pretty well for the duration of the run. There were a few dark moments, but in the end I had a solid run. I faded a bit toward the end, but never stopped. I wanted to be able to run a bit faster and know I am capable of a faster run off the bike, but I gave what I had on the day and it landed me 5th AG (top girl in my AG was 3rd woman OA and 2nd in AG was 5 OA including pros, so I'd say my AG was somkin' fast at this race).

I had a solid race, learned a bunch, which is always a good thing when you are racing and I grabbed up a spot to VEGAS! Mission Accomplished!

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