Friday, August 31, 2012

Utah Half Ironman 2012 - Race Report

I got a cold the week before this race just like I did last year. I have really learned my lesson about flying somewhere the week before a race! I was very stressed about it and did everything I could from getting lots of rest and fluids to any home remedy anyone mentioned including apple cider vinegar with honey in water and eating raw garlic which about killed me! BUT I was better by race morning so that's the important thing!

Race morning, I planned on waking up at 4:30, but ended up waking up at 3:30 when Pete came to bed. Of course, I couldn't go back to sleep so I just laid there for an hour. I should have just gotten up since I ended up being (what seemed like) the last person to set up at transition. I left the house at about 5 and got to Provo at around 6 after taking a detour I didn't even need to take. (Geez!) I felt so dumb, but knew I still had a lot of time so I tried not to worry. I had to stop at the store for sun block and they didn't open until 6 anyway.

I drove into the park and immediately noticed that things were different this year. First of all there were no other cars so I was worried I was in the wrong place, but the guard at the gate just told me they were all in there and that I was running late! I drove past where the transition area was last year, and parked, then walked farther down to the lake where they had the new transition area. They must have moved it so there wouldn't be such a long run from the swim, but this also put the transition kind of far away from the finish line which I had a hard time with at the end, but we'll get to that later. Much later.

Anyway, I scoured the racks for a spot to put my bike and there wasn't very much room anywhere. I finally found somewhere to squeeze it in, set everything down then ran back towards my car to the bathrooms. It was awesome because while the men's room had a line clear out the door, there wasn't even a wait for the ladies room. That doesn't happen very often!

I got back just in time to hear the pre-race briefing, but got antsy about setting up my transition since I was so late, so I scooted away before he gave the big pep talk. I'm kind of sad I missed it because I could kind of hear it from my spot in transition and it sounded very motivational!

I needn't have worried, I ended up having tons of time to set up and get ready. Here's my spot. I love hanging the orange backpack on my bike, it makes it so easy to find! And the bucket is nice to sit on just for a few seconds while putting my shoes on.

All set up and the wetsuit is on! The water was almost too warm for wetsuits, but by race morning the temperature had dropped so they let us wear them.

Time to get serious and head down to the water! At this point I knew they were going to be starting a little late since it was almost the scheduled time for my wave, but nobody had started yet. In fact, when I got down to the water, I realized that they didn't even have the buoys set up yet! 

SWIM 2.4 Miles - 42:56 (last year was 40:10)

I got in and swam around for a little while. Most people were just standing at the edge of the water which I think is crazy. I like to take as much time to get used to the water as possible. I was kind of frustrated, though, because my goggles just kept fogging up. I had used anti-fog spray, but that didn't seem to work and neither did spitting in them which usually works for me. I just took them off and hoped my body temperature would get closer to the water's or something (I have no idea if that's what makes goggles fog up or what) before start time.

Finally the waves started going and the women started to gather round. The women were the last 2 waves so we just chatted while we waited for all the men and relays to go before we got into position. I talked to one girl who said she was planning on doing something like 27 minutes! WOW! Colleen Rue got into the water near me, she was one of the few people not wearing a wetsuit. She doesn't know me, but I've been following her blog since she was training for IM St. George so it was fun to see her in person!

I set myself up in the second row, and when the gun went off I tried to hang with all the girls I was with, but I am so bad at that! I just can never tell what's going on in the water. This water was even worse than usual too, it was the most murky water I've ever swam in. I couldn't even see my arms at all, let alone bubbles from someone's feet even if I was practically on top of them. I gave up drafting pretty quickly, and just focused on swimming smoothly by myself. I felt pretty good, and never panicked, and the stretch to the first buoy was just fine. Then we turned, and the sun was in my eyes every time I breathed to the right so I started just keeping my eyes closed unless I was sighting. That worked fine, until I rounded that buoy and the sun was right in front of us so I couldn't see a thing. My goggles were still fogging up really badly too so I was finding myself lifting my head way out of the water to try to see anything. 

I rolled onto my back and wiped off my goggles then tried again. Nope, I still couldn't see anything! That's ok, I just needed to swim towards the sun so I did that pretty much blindly. Finally I got to the buoy and started the second lap and I could see again! When I got to the final stretch where the sun was in my eyes again, it seemed to take forever. I started to be really unsure about where I was supposed to go too. Was I supped to go around the first buoy again, then turn to the boat ramp or just go strait there? I was kind of in the middle and finally just decided to head to the boat ramp (swim exit) as soon I as could see it to my left which was the only place I could really look anyway. I  tried to go faster on that final stretch, but I just felt so flustered and disoriented that it was hard to do anything but just survive. Luckily I didn't have a watch on so I didn't have to worry about how slow my time was for the rest of the race.

I don't know what time they finally started the swim, but it was probably close to an hour late. I wonder if there would have been less of a problem with the sun if they'd started on time. I don't remember having a problem last year. The course was different too so it could have been that.

T1 Time - 2:54 (last year was 2:52)

Transition was pretty quick. The 22 year old guy next to me had totally thrown his stuff on top of mine, and the frustrating thing was that he was standing right there waiting for his friend when I got there, but he didn't apologize or move anything. He was nice and asked how my swim was and stuff, so I tried not to be too rude about pushing his stuff to the side. I put my fuel in my back pocket, put my helmet on, and sat down just for a second to pull my wetsuit off and slip my shoes on. It wasn't the fastest transition, but I thought it was faster than last year. I guess not! Then I was off on the bike!

BIKE 56 Miles - 3:05:58 (last year was 2:49:05!)

I was so excited for this bike ride, and had been telling everyone how fun and fast it was so I was a little surprised to see how slow I was starting off. I tried not to worry about it and told myself this is a long race and I can have a few minutes to get going. I kept waiting to see 20+ mph on my speedometer, but it didn't happen. I turned a corner and realized what the problem was. WIND. Oh yeah, last year I had perfect conditions. Such perfect conditions, it was ridiculous! I really, really shouldn't have expected to be able to beat that! I plugged away, trying to keep my speed at 18 at least. There were a few fast sections on the way back but they seemed way too short compared to all the slow sections, and I swear we did not get a tail wind where we had the head wind on the way out! Oh well, I will not complain. I will just say that I was pretty disappointed to not make my sub 3:00 goal, and I knew it would now be pretty much impossible to go sub 6:00 for the whole thing which is what I was hoping for.

Towards the end of the bike, when we had about 8 or 9 miles left, a girl caught up to me and started chatting with me. She was really nice and said her name was, Heather. When I told her my name she asked me my last name and said she'd seen my name before and that it's easy for her to remember because she has a friend named Colleen. Colleen Rue. I told her I'd heard of her too. (Leaving out the fact that I have been stalking her blog for the last 6 months. Hahah) Heather's goal was sub 3:00 on the bike too so we both missed that by a bit since she came in just after me.

T2 - 2:52 (last year was 3:01)

I saw Heather in transition as I was headed out, and knew she'd end up passing me on the run so that was kind of something to look forward to. I tried to make my transition quick again, but ended up with the exact same time as T1! 

RUN 13(ahem).7 Miles - 2:32:05 (wahoo, beat last year's 2:33:16!!) 

I stopped at a port-a-potty on the way out which was really nice that they had some near transition and some at every aid station this year. Good job RaceTri! The aid stations were really nice with Coke, Heed, water, ice, Hammer Gel and someone with a hose to spray us with! Because of that and the fact that most of the run is shaded, I stayed pretty cool even though it was a hot day.

I was amazed at how fast I started out! Somewhere in the first mile I got to meet Chris, who I know from twitter as Tritweeter. He's much faster than me, and was on his second loop. He asked me how my bike was and when I told him I was slower than last year he said that it was windy, and I think that was the first time I realized that maybe my slower bike wasn't just all my fault. It was good talking to him, but he had to hurry on since he was trying to make 5:00 and he was cutting it close. I was excited to see that I was running at a sub 9 pace with him and feeling good!

Shortly after seeing Chris, Heater passed me. She said, 'We've got the swim and the bike over with, now this is the fun part!" I smiled and told her this was the hard part for me. But really, the run kind of is the fun part because it's when you get to see everyone else and encourage each other and you all get to suffer together! 

When my Garmin beeped at the first mile, I was happy to see 10:26 because that was counting my bathroom break. I though if I could keep up that pace, there was still a chance for me to beat last year's time. Hahahaha

My next mile was 10:14, ok. Still doable. Right? Hmmm, my next miles went 10:37, 10:27, 10:17, 11:07. Dang it! Now I was finishing the first lap and it was already almost 1:00 which is when I told Pete I wanted to be finishing! 

I tried to look for him to see if he was there yet so I could tell him I had another lap to do, but I didn't see him so I just went right on into lap 2.

The weird thing is that I actually felt really good. Like I said, I felt like I was staying pretty cool and nothing hurt or anything, but I just couldn't get myself to run as fast as I wanted, no matter how many times I looked at my watch and saw that I needed to run faster. I guess on the second lap I kind of gave up on trying to be fast and just tried to keep running. I really did a pretty good job of only walking at the aid stations except for at one turn around where I totally lost my momentum and walked for just a few seconds. But that doesn't count does it?

My speed just got slower. Mile 7 was 10:46, then 11:18, 11:09, 12:05 (ouch), 11:42, 11:48, 11:50. There was one old guy who kept passing me, then he'd stop to walk and I'd pass him only to have him pass me again in a few minutes. It was kind of fun to have someone to play leapfrog with like that and he was nice to exchange a few words with too. When I got to the last aid station, I just skipped it because according to my watch, I only had half a mile left. Well, I kept running, and running, and running... 13.1 came and went and I still did not see the finish line. That is just mentally draining! My feet were really starting to hurt and I was just dragging! It took me 10:13 to run the last .7 (.1 is for sissies!). I really don't understand why they made the course long when they could have easily just moved one of the turn arounds up.

FINALLY, I saw the crowds and heard the music of the finish line! Then I saw Mindy and Elle and Mindy said, "we're going to run with you!" so I said, "Come on!" and they just took off! They made me run fast down that finish chute, and I had one of my favorite finishes ever!

FINISH TIME - 6:26:45 (last year was 6:08:22)

I saw Pete and the boys as I was running in and I was just so glad they were there! I know I've crossed a lot of finish lines now and it's kind of getting old, but it never gets old for me to see the people I love the most after I've just spent six and a half hour swimming, biking and running. I really am so grateful for Pete for coming out even though I know it was hot and hard with the kids there, and they had to wait around for over an hour longer than planned.

I was also really glad to have him there when I finished because, after downing 2 cups of chocolate milk, a bagel and some orange slices at the finish line, I started to feel really sick. I went over to some tables and stretched, then I just had to lay down. And even though the kids were running around being crazy, it was nice to have Pete there. He went over and checked my results for me then sat with me. I just felt nauseous. Pete was saying that I was probably burnt out, and that's why I couldn't run faster, so maybe I should do an earlier race next year, maybe Boise? I felt like I never wanted to run again, and especially never wanted to do a triathlon again! Why do I even like this stuff? DO I even like this stuff? Those are the questions I'll be milling over for the next few months...

Then, remember how the transition area was kind of a ways away from the finish line? I was so glad to have Pete there to go get my bike and stuff. I gave him my number and he said he'd try to act tired because really only the athletes were supposed to be allowed in the transition area. Luckily our diabolical plan worked (bwa ha ha) and he was able to get my stuff without any problems. I just sat in the air conditioned jeep with the kids and started to feel much better by the time he got back.

Of course, when he got back, we realized that I had left the lights on in his car so now the battery was dead! Again, I was so glad he had come! He just drove the jeep over to jump his car which took a little longer. We were planning on meeting my dad at my brother and going swimming at my brother's appointment in Heber at 3, but it was almost 4 by the time we left. Plus we stopped at Wendy's for some food, and stopped for gas. Luckily, my brother is really nice and took us over to the pool even though they were already done swimming. In fact, his little kids came over with us in their pajamas. We were just hanging out in the hot tub and the kids were playing when we look over and see this little naked boy getting in! It was so funny, he just had to get in, and knew he wasn't supposed to get his pjs wet! It was funny! My dad ran over and got his swim suit then he got to play. I was so glad we got to sit in the hot tub! It felt so good! I was already getting pretty sore and stiff by the end of the night. I also iced my knees when we got home.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Fort Macon & Our Last Day at Atlantic Beach, NC

Everyone told us we should go to Fort Macon before we left so that's what we did on Saturday which was our last day there. We're so glad we went, it was really fun! 

I ran to Fort Macon last year for my long run, but it was before they opened so I didn't really see it and had no idea what all they had there.

There was a little sea life museum there that we went to first. The girls got to be mermaids and Ethan got to hug a whale!

Then we went to the actual fort and got there just in time to see them fire the cannon. BOOM! It was really loud! It was cool to see all the work that goes into firing one of those. It takes 5-7 guys to get it all ready and fire it.

Then we explored the old for which was around during the Civil War (Or the War Against The States as they called it there).

You can't really tell, but there's a big drop off on the other side of this wall. I had a few scary moments with Ethan, the crazy boy.

Elle said she liked this picture because she's smiling like a princess and her hair is blowing in the wind. Very true. :)

We were so hot and tired after this excursion so it felt really good to go home and go to the beach! My grandma came over and went down with us. Katie and the kids built a really big, cool sand castle and I finally bit the bullet and swam in the ocean. I did it last year, and it was just fine, but I can't help but think about the sharks and jelly fish and everything else that is out there, and it doesn't help that I can't see past my arm and that I have to be so far out to be past the waves. I swam to the end of the next condo down and back twice, and my grandma timed me the second time and said it took me about 14 minutes so I thought that was a good amount of time to practice my open water swimming. Utah Lake is going to feel so nice and clean and calm compared to that! Not to mention, I won't be worrying about sharks!

Shelling at Shacklford Banks Island, NC

Wednesday and Thursday are kind of a blur to me. I ran both mornings. Wednesday was a 3.7 mile tempo run by myself that was still pretty slow because of the heat and humidity, and an easy half an hour (2.7 miles) with George in the stroller on Thursday. Then both days were filled with playing on the beach and the pool. On Thursday we found a sandbar a little ways out and that was really cool. It was nice and calm so George loved to just sit there and play.

Friday was another early morning at the peir in Morehead City. (Well, kind of early, we met my Grandma there at 8:30.) This is my new favorite picture of us together.


We had booked a ferry to take us out to Shacklford Banks Island!

Katie was the sunscreen queen! She always made sure everyone had sunscreen on before we did anything. Thanks to her, no one got sunburnt too badly, but somehow everyone still managed to get really tan (well, more than others...)

Grandma and George, so cute!

This boat ride was much more exciting! It lasted about 20 minutes, and we got to go a little farther out into the ocean and a lot faster!

The beach was just beautiful and Katie found a lot of big shells for the kids out in the waves. The water hear was a lot more clear than our beach and it was so beautiful!

There are wild ponys on this island and we were hoping to catch a glimps of them, but we never found any. There's also a lighthouse called Cape Lookout on this island that I was excited to see, but it turns out that the island is about 9 miles long, and the lighthouse was on the opposite side.

Despite not seing the lighthouse or the ponies, we did find some really nice shells and just had a really fun time playing on the beach, exploring and building sand caslles before our ferry came back to take us home 3 hours later. George was done by then and fell asleep on the boat!

He managed to stay asleep while I carried him off and over to The Ruddy Duck where we had a very delicious lunch. I had shrimp tacos with carabean slaw and it was heaven!

This is the picture Grandma took of Mindy while we were showing her how my phone worked. Quite a nice shot!

George took another nap when we got home, and so did Elle so Katie and I took Mindy and Ethan to the pool and the beach while they slept. We had so much fun swimming in the pool and practicing our dives. I swam a few laps, but the pool was so small it would only take about 6 strokes to get across so I didn't do too many. We mostly just played.

Thursday and Friday evening we all went for a walk down the beach at sunset, one way one day and the other way the next. It was so lovely.

On Friday evening we found 2 jelly-fish washed up on the shore so that kind of freaked everyone out and made us very careful about where we stepped.

And Ethan found a crab. It just sat there for a while , then Ethan touched it and it ran to the ocean, making everyone squeel. It was pretty funny, and a highlight of the trip for Ethan!

Pirates and Sharks - Atlantic Beach, NC

Tuesday morning, Katie and I took the kids to the Beaufort peir bright and early to go on a treasure hunt on Pirate Island!

We were really excited for this excursion, but it ended up being a little bit anti-climactic because the island was visable from the mainland and we only road in the boat for about 5 minutes so it didn't feel very exotic. And, as these things usualy are, the scavanger hunt was kind of easy and not very exciting. But we got to explore the (hot) island a little bit, and they each got a bag of "gold" at the end so that was fun.

The coolest part of the trip was getting to see the hundreds of tiny crabs on the beach! They were all over, and they were pretty easy to catch (at least for Ethan, I was fine with just looking at them!).

Elle caught one, but it pinched her so she wasn't very happy about that.

There were also hermit crabs in the water that Mindy really enjoyed finding.

After we went home and had lunch, my grandma came over to go to the aquarium with us. It was really cool! This is an actual sand sculpture!

One of the coolest things about this aquarium is the huge tank with the ship wrech replica and the SHARKS. They had 3 big sharks (a Sand Tiger Shark, a Nurse Shark and ... I don't remember the other one) and a Morey Eel. Ethan was quite impressed! They even had some divers go into the tank and talk to us.

Such a fun day, and it was time for George to take a nap when we got home! Pete stayed with us and the rest of us got ready to go to the pool/beach to show off to Grandma Barb. While we were getting ready, Pete told me to show her that I can do push-ups so I did. I ended up doing 20! I don't know if I've ever done that many in a row before, and man was I sore for the next few days!

We had a nice dinner at home since I was still trying to be frugal and heatly at this early point in the vacation. Of course, this would be out the window by the end as I made 4 batches of cookies, we got ice cream several times, and we went out to eat several more times. Ah well, isn't that what a vacation is for? (Next time I should plan our big vacation for AFTER my big race!)