Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pigman Half IM Race Report


Julia playing the role of Dorothy, looking for the wicked witch of the west...or hallucinating that she saw the scarecrow and the tinman flying above her. Ok upwards and onwards...here we go.

As i said in my last post i had a good focus going into this race. I knew what to expect and was ready physically and emotionally, having been told by the legend and race winner Jules Hull "congratulations in signing up." I kinda swallowed hard on that one. Uh oh. She told me it was one of the most challenging races she has ever done. I dont know Jules super well, but i kinda think she is an HTFU gal so if she thinks it is hard it must be HARD. But i was ready. I was fully hoping to swim without a wetsuit, and to push the bike harder than i did at Liberty ( ie I WAS NOT GOING to slow down and smile for all the paparazzi!), and the run was just going to be a matter of having fueled well on the bike. Stick to the plan, GET IT DONE. So that was the plan.

I have worked really hard ( thanks to Jen...) on not worrying on what i cant control. Weather. Flats. Other people's races. I have pretty much let go of that, bc it is my race. and what others do or dont do ( this will show up again in the swim...just wait) is their business.

Saturday dawned and Rich and I headed down to Iowa with 2 bikes and lots of stuff, food, our new iphone toys and hopes for a fun trip south. I didnt even bring warm clothing and as we headed into Iowa even tho it was kinda overcast the humdity was thick. After the Firehouse weekend i was surprised I hadnt packed arm and leg warmers. And hot cocoa. Just MN paranoia after our non summer i guess. I DID brilliantly remember my SALSA rain slicker and some baggies. Ya never know. Forecast had been for 30-40% chance of rain sunday, but i dont get concerned till i see 60+ % chance of rain. Plus i didnt want to know.

Iowa sure is a productive state. If it wasnt a corn or soybean field it was a wind generator field. We were laughing at all the exits that had the blue highway signs EMPTY / BLANK when it said : GAS/LODGING ..............nope. So la dee dah. We got there. I hadnt been to Ia since a tennis tourney in Waterloo, and i just remember it was hot. Good. I like hot. I acclimated last week. LOL. In truth i was worried bc my training has been in sub 60 degrees. You east coast peeps laugh but northern MN has been cold and of course i had the Tri training trip to Alaska. you know the buffet glaciar training trip. So when we finally hit 90 or even high 80's w/humidity the weekend before Pigman i was a bit EXCITED but then not so when i had the most lethargic hour run ..I emailed Jen in a panic. ( RELAX) she said. I kept the faith that all those 5-6 hour days standing on a tennis court, playing and teaching werent for nothing...( other than to give me a Melanoma, I mean stay positive here right? !) So heat was my friend!

We arrived and got to the host hotel ( which, note to self, was too much for me. need to stay down the road next time) CY had so graciously called to give me the lay of the land and some tips on the drive and the course etc...it made me feel much more at ease that she, KY, JH, EH and MS were there. They make racing really fun. And i dont stress out as much when i see them. Phew. But that night i got myself in a tizzy over the weather, and i was just downright tired. Rich went out to try to find me a potato ( in addition to other stuff) and when he came back he had Wendy's potatoes and chicken and other goodies from Panera. What a sweetheart. We tried to get food at the hotel but with everyone there it wasnt fast and they didnt seem to have a baked potato. I even packed a few but no microwave. Yep I am getting better about my pre race meals but i am still not too interested in pasta and sauce the night before. Just how it is.

We hit the hay early and i didnt sleep too well. Around 2am i was awoken by ( my tossing over?) no by rain. HARDrain. I was trying not to suffer ( Rich had already put the kabbutz on my pursed pouty lip) and I thought it has to stop. Yes it does. IT will. At 4:40am it was still raining. Drat. I whined outloud for a minute or two, then sucked it up and got up and ready to go.
I suppose I may as well show up, but my first thought was "OK AT LEAST DONT CANCEL THE SWIM...please no lightening." It hadnt been storming, just HARD rain so i was hopeful.

We get there and i set up my T area. It had stopped raining but the wind was up and the clouds were not looking like they wanted to cooperate. It would rain intermittently, then downpour, then stop. I was in the porta john during a downpour and thought " ha, i dont want to leave the porta potty. OK that is sick." And got out of there.

Ta dah welcome to my wet T area. The pic below is me getting ready to do my wu run in my crocs. Seriously. It was to dang wet and my shoes were wrapped nicely in my rain slicker.

I am not sure if this is before or after the race but i am handing rich wet stuff. nice. Thanks laundry boy:) I owe you.

So my 10 minute Croc jog ( maybe that is why my shins are more sore!) then time to wetsuit up and go down to the beach. By now it has started to rain more and as i stood under the umbrella some gal in my wave ( red cap ) said to me "You cant swim under an umbrella, get down there." I was sorta just in avoidance mode. Sorry if these are not clear, it was pouring. And seriously i couldnt even see in my goggles before i started. lovely.

We were wave 4 after the elites/teams, Clydes and Athena, and then the men 35+...I happened to ask a gal with my same wetsuit to change my rip cord since i hadnt worn the suit all summer ( in HOPES it would be sunny and 80 and I could wear my new TORPEDO From Kiwami...yes yes!) but with water at 77 ( so close) and the waves and a bit of wind i was fine in the cheat suit. Gotta do it! Turns out it was a friend of Jenny from Tri camp! We chatted and talked and had a great time and nearly missed our wave. But i had to hear about her Kona prep and it was just downright relazing to talk to her. I had planned to go 1st in the wave, but ended up 3rd to the last in the TT start. This was fine actually...Here i go. chase chase chase.

I loved the swim. I actually did a great job sighting and picked off just about every red cap. Starting last was great. There was plenty of room to pass the blue caps in front of our wave and i really was quite happy with how i felt. As we started to make the first turn ( it was basically a rectangular course, but actually more of a parallelagram) the current was coming directly at us as we made the 90 deg turn right. ( Clockwise course) I felt super strong and was really just having fun other than noticing that many were cutting the corner and not *quite* swimming the full course. A pink cap pulled up next to me ( the wave behind mine) and i hopped on her feet. YES! I am drafting,, or she is blocking the current at least. At the same time i thought "I think there are little pellets hitting me, it is raining., raining HARD..i cant see ANYTHING..."
I held on to her for about 5 minutes and then lost her but oh so sweet. At the final turn again bodies cutting the corner, but as i said it is their race and maybe if i had thought i was gonna drown i would have done it too. I had a tiny error at this final turn back into shore bc I took it at 90 degrees when in reality i should have made it tighter and done about a 120 deg turn. I swam wide but got back on track and headed home. I was sad when it was over. I think it was more dread of what was to come...32:xx super considering the current and the extra swimming. YEEHAW!

oops I havent worn this in about 1.5 months how do i get that rip cord going again!?
So into T i go without much thought other than moving forward. I get to T1 and my helmet is pooled with water, but my shoes are on the bike ( ha, upside down!) so they are ok. I skip socks and know i can ride w/o them. Glasses on ( um, why?!) and off i go. I honestly dont know if it was raining or not when we started but as soon as i got going and i got out of the park it was like a wall of wind hit me. And that was just the beginning.

I swore at my helmet bc it kept lifting me off the bike ( if you have ever had this happen you know what i am talking about) but thankfully I had Rich's 303 since had i ridden the disk i think i would have been in a ditch. So off I go and well..I dont want to spend 30 min of your good blog time about the bike. Lets just say that it was the scariest/worst/hardest bike ride for me ever. I consider myself a pretty seasoned biker. And i have ridden in alot of wind. But the driving rain, the random gusts of cross wind and then the fact that the roads are crap( um sorry. MN dont ever complain about the shoulders and roads we have here, those roads were BAD) and no shoulder and open roads and more little cracks and potholes than you can imagine to catch a wheel in. I was riding sew ups and since i am light i was really thankful that when i hit a hole or a rough spot i didnt pop a tire or a wheel.

I was going 10 mph at times and pedaling as hard as i could in the big gear and going nowhere. I was not AERO for the entire first 22 miles, and finally when we hit Newhall we had about a 4 mile stretch where it was sweet riding. 30+MPH and i was spinning out. I wished i had the disk then but realized i wouldnt have made it there if i did. I kept telling myself to just ride to the turn around, and then i had to get home .Even if i stopped i had to ride home. At one point i prayed to God to "get me home safely." I then had to ask for a re-do since i didnt know if God would know i meant T2 ON MY BIKE not "Home" in the sense of his home in the sense of HEAVEN..OMG what did i just ask for??? HELP! I did tell myself to NOT CRY. And said "you can do that at the finish. If you get there. Stay in the moment. I dont like this moment. I dont want to stay here. I want to ride how I know i can. I want to be done. I want it to lightening. I want them to cancel it.No i dont. Stay in the moment. I dont like it here...." ETC.....on and on....

I have one thing to admit that i just remembered today. I remember telling Rich that i was little miss TT and i was gonna totally kill the turnaround. I do that well. I know how to come in hot but not too hot and make that tight turn.

I UNCLIPPED! I WAS SO AFRAID that if there was a gust I would go down. I put a foot down and danced around and got right back in but i had to laugh at that one.

It was really hard to stick to the nutrition plan as well. Partly bc I didnt really feel like i was riding the race i had trained for ( meaning an average speed of like 15 mph on the out part isnt really necessitating maximum fuel, so i thought) and bc i couldnt let go of the hoods was more the reason..but i did it i stuck to the plan. I thought that there was enough things i couldnt control today so i had better not be a dumb A$$ and mess up the nutrition. So every 40-45 min was gel time and as much infinit as i could get. I even tried to pee on the bike. Didnt work. And actually I didnt pee until about 1 hour after the race. Go figure. So the ride was hard and i will leave it at that. Luckily it stopped raining and the last 20 miles i played leap frog with ann moyer who i know from Rochester and we kept each other entertained by surging past one another and chatting. I did put the hammer down in the last 10 miles and likely gave my left quad/glute some issues for the run, but oh well. As i turned into the park DKT was heading in on his run. He had about 1.5 miles to go and i gave him a cheer. What a great athlete, and a quality guy.

Meet Hannah, DKT and their son Henry. DKT and Hannah have been SO helpful to me and since they live about 1 block from my parents we try to get the kids together.

So into T2 ( nearly 3 hours on that bike geesh that is annoying) i go, I got in and out of there fast. Bike racked. Socks on, shoes on, visor grab the belt and off you go. ( oh yea gels, dont mess with the plan) And off i went. I saw DKT coming in and he cheered for me as did alot of super MN peeps. I really felt that run was hard from mile 1.
It started out hard bc the legs were just kinda confused. and as the sun came out and the humidity got higher it was indeed a tough run. CY was riding around cheering and alot of racers were just out there slogging along. I once again did the "Stay here, in this moment" and for now that worked. I felt pretty good and just kept taking water and pouring it on my head and drinking a bit. I still felt like i had to pee, but obviously i didnt really. Around Mile 4 I remembered reading something that said "the Mind can do 10X more than the body wants to" and so that was 10 miles of running. The hill at the turnaround was tough...and i passed 2-3 women in my AG there. Rich rode by around mile 8 and said "see you at the finish. Smile."

And at mile 8 was when i felt like the wheels were starting to fall off. Hot, and head wind ( wind, really?) and uphill. In addition the road is crowned so depending on what side you are on you are always running with a virtual leg length discrepancy which doesnt sit well with my mind or my body. So into the gravel i went and knowing i was slower on the gravel didnt really make me want to get into the road. So be it. Slower but my hips dont hurt. Around mile 9 I started drinking that melon HEED. Another glass at mile 11. No more. That stuff isnt my fave. But i kept the gels down and was running conservatively on my HR the entire time. I felt like i could have pushed it but when i looked back i saw no women and I just really was so drained. It is pretty much uphill back into the park and my feet had obviously been wet and soggy from the rain and pouring water over my head so i felt a blister and i also had a sore right TFL/Glute med. I was just doing the baby steps up that last hill and then brought it home..

I started out running 7:30-7:45's but surely lost some of that on the last 6 miles. Finished in 1:46:xx and was thrilled with this. Once in crossed the line a nice kid took my chip off., I saw Rich and cried and nearly fell over. I think i was just so happy to be done and had chanelled that emotion away from losing it on the bike.

We hung out and i tried to pay the kids in the pop area $10 to let me stand in the ice water trash cans but their mom put an end to that. I was kidding with them and said it likely would mean i couldnt come back bc i would be banned from the race!

Turns out I won my AG with 5:23, havent really seen the official results but there was a gal ahead of me who placed top 10 ( I was 13th) and so she placed out of the AG results. I killed the swim and the run and the bike, well i was 4th in the AG. As i told Jen I was feeling bad and didnt want her to be disappointed in my bike. I mean it is what i love the most, but in truth I started riding bc it is the hardest thing for me. IT still is. I dont have Quad-Zilla's to push thru the wind. But I realized Jen would only be disappointed in me if i did something dumb like ride outside myself and get blown into a ditch:) ( and for those of you that dont know I DID drop out of a 12 mile TT this spring when there were winds like this...so a precedent had been set!)

This is WAY too long and i may have to do a post traumatic race entry, but KO is coming in and so I had better get the cupcakes ready. ( or the bootlegs)
Thanks for reading...
Will i go back? I dont know.


StevenCX said...

Sounds brutal! Way to HTFU...

Maggs said...


Molly said...

Congratulations on running a smart and cautious race and still making the podium!!! What a brutal day out there but you worked hard and survived it!

Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

More, more!

First - I know you were petrified on the course, but honestly Julia? Your RR is hilarious. Praying to God to get you home and being realizing what you had just asked for? Classic. :) Something I would have done, totally.

Way to really be smart out there - YOU DID IT!!! No regrets - and you got through! Awesome! That's half the battle.

Have fun with KO! I really WISH I was up there right now. :)

Charisa said...

Whooo hooo congrats!! Nice race and man - with all that rain and wind!

Jennifer Cunnane said...

Funny funny race report.... gotta like the play by play. And, that bike sounded tough! You pulled down a great time considering the weather and everything you had to deal with!

Mama Simmons said...

Wow. Nice job! I am not sure I would have even started on Sunday had it been raining in WA. To do all that in that crazy weather is insane! Way to HTFU. ;)

Jennifer Harrison said...

Julia!!! You had a great race despite horrible weather! WOW! Tough day, but it brought out YOUR FIGHT and you did so great! Congrats - I am so happy for you!!! :)

runningyankee said...

first off love the transistion skirt. very cute!!

great race. way to hang in there in very TOUGH conditions and come thru with a good day!

i too am jealous of the cupcakes and think you should go on the road with them.. there are many who would welcome you!!

Rebecca DeWire said...

Those conditions on the bike sound absolutely terrifying! Way to be tough out there.

Steve Stenzel said...

What's with people cutting corners in the swim?...

Hanging out with DKT and Hannah? Jealous.

Wow, I'm glad you got through that bike ride in those conditions! Well done!!

I hate running on gravel...

And nice job with your AG win!! CONGRATS!!

Thanks for letting us tag along on the swim today!!

Beth said...

Great job Julia!! That just sounds like a really rough, tough day. But you perservered and WON!! Woo-hoo!! Congrats. The next race has to feel easier! :) By the way, I was thinking of doing that race next year. Might have to think twice. ;)

Herrad said...

Came by to say hello and wish you well.
Hope you are having a good day.

Kim said...

holy moley, that is one crazy ass race!!! you certainly dug deep and you still came out victorious! awesome job regardless of what was presented to you! congrats!

Greyt Times said...

Way to push through that damn bike! I know you guys had it rough out there - it was tough enough just standing around, trying to hold the tents down from blowing away!! Glad I could be there to give you some support! Maybe I'll catch you at another race that isn't so crap-tastic! :)

Heidi Austin said...

congrats! Sounds like you still did awesome as despite the nasty conditions :) Tough day out there but you DIT IT!!!!!

Cy said...

Julia-It was great to see you out there. You get a huge notch on the belt for surviving the most (hopefully) challenging race conditions you'll ever face. Way to keep your head in it and find the podium. AWESOME!

Angela and David Kidd said...

What an epic day! Great job. And I love the quote "I don't want to stay in this moment."