After Ironman Texas I took 7 full days off from training. By day 3 I had gained 8 pounds, and it stuck all summer long! Last year for Kerrville I was a tiny 115 pounds. By IMTX I was 120 pounds (what I would consider race weight), and since IMTX I've been a hefty 128! Going into Kerrville this year I was concerned about my weight. As a woman I think 128 is healthy and normal. I like how it looks , and I think the curves are beautiful. As an athlete though I feel FAT! F-A-T! FAT!!! How am I going to run fast at 128 pounds? That is 13 pounds heavier than last year. The back fat is in full effect along with the chafing thighs. Going into this race my run was a big question mark for me. I definitely had some doubts. Now my coach Johnny Z. on the other hand did not. He was encouraging me to eat, and telling me the weight was good. I think he just may have known what he was talking about. Since I switched over to TriDot and chose Johnny as my coach food has become this wonderful component. For every workout there is a meal! I remember one Sunday morning specifically. I finished my long bike and long run and I'm laid out on the floor of the powerhouse half dead with Johnny yelling at me to get up. It's time to eat! Let's go! Now!! He doesn't ever do that with my training. Okay okay I'm dying here, but I'm getting up. Let's eat!
So….7 days after IMTX was the local Combat Sprint triathlon. Me and the kiddos headed down to spectate and cheer on my athletes, and my awesome husband Jim (1st in AG! Go Jim!). I was surprised by the number of athletes who had just done IMTX that were racing Combat, and racing pretty well too. For me I was thinking no way. I just couldn't go to that race effort/pain place again anytime soon. After my week off I started an 8 week TriDot non race prep phase. It's weird to be in an out season in the summer when there are races every weekend. I felt pretty sluggish for that 8 weeks. My time trials were all a little slow, and motivation was a little low. The self talk was going something like this: I'm fat, I'm slow, and I'm tired - I better get my stuff together I have a Half Ironman to train for pretty soon. I wasn't loving the out season plan. It was 6-7 hours a week of short intense speed workouts. In hind sight I would say it was pretty darn effective though. I feel like for the first time ever I gave my body a chance to recover after an Ironman, and I gained speed.
My next phase was a 10 week half ironman build phase. I remember joking around: "10 weeks to your best half ironman ever!" In the back of my head I'm thinking that's just not enough time to get ready. I should have planned this better. My bike assessment is looking good, and my swim and run are in the toilet. For those 10 weeks I trained about 10 hours a week with my biggest week being 12.5 hours. Every workout was quality though. No junk! Sometimes my long runs can be a little slow so I recruited the Chris' to run with me. Heise and Ploss are good rabbits, and fun to run with! I threw in the Clear Lake Olympic at the last minute. It was a solid race.
After Clear Lake I started getting fatigued. My itchy arms were back. I couldn't hit my power numbers for the last 3 of the 10 weeks. I had my first race rehearsal the week after Clear Lake which I nailed, then my longest week, and another race rehearsal with a 5K sprinkled in there somewhere. I bombed both the 5K & the second race rehearsal. You know the one - get off the bike after 61 miles at half ironman wattage, and run 1 mile then run/walk try not to puke for the next 5 miles. It was fantastic. Those days always put you in check! In TriDot - Racex uses the 5K run assessment to predict your heart rate and paces for the run on race day. My predicted swim and bike times were right on, but my run paces were looking way slow.
So it's race week. I'm tapered, I'm doubting, I'm crazy, I'm itchy, I'm confident, I'm aggressive, I'm going nuts, I can't think straight, and finally I'm calm & ready. Jim, Todd (I love Todd!), & I load up the bikes and head to Kerrville. The day before I get a text from Christine that Martin's bike fell off the rack on the highway and got smashed by a car. Holy Cow!! We're borrowing Heise's bike rack which we have never used before, and me and Jim are a little a nervous now about the bikes. At 5am on Saturday Jim is googling bike rack instructions. He never reads instructions! Bikes are safe and we are on the road. As soon as we get in the car Todd asks me what my time is going to be this weekend. He's grilling me. What's your swim split? Bike time? Run pace? I already know his! He had texted some numbers to Jim, and Jim just had to share because they matched mine EXACTLY! So…can you see where this is going? I tell Todd my projected splits. We're within a 1 minute difference on the finish time, and well it's on! Let the 5 hours of trash talking begin. We are gonna have a race tomorrow! Todd starts 8 minutes in front of me. I'm calculating where I should see him on the run course already. Fun! Fun! Fun! For alternate entertainment purposes we introduced Todd to this website: www.damnyouautocorrect.com He laughed so hard he almost peed himself in the car. We were helping him practice practicing (Mike Tarabay).
We arrived in Kerrville and did all the necessary preparations for race day. Bike and bag drop. Lots of eating. Small portions of beer from Grape Juice. A really nice dinner at the Cowboy Steakhouse with my athletes and friends. Some super funny conversations that had us all laughing. Just a really good time with everyone. We got home from dinner pretty early and went to bed. Sleep was elusive to non-existent. For me the sleep the night before a race can go either way and it really doesn't affect my racing. So I got up and ate my 700 calorie breakfast of UCAN protein, a banana, and a kind bar, and then more UCAN 30 min before the start. Before I knew it I was lined up at the start, peeing in my wetsuit, and then it was time to go.
The Swim: The swim was uneventful. It felt slow. I started on the feet of one girl who was zig zagging. I had to let her go shortly after the start, and I swam the rest of the way by myself. I was on course and never touched another soul the entire way. The swim to me always feels like it takes forever. I don't usually enjoy it. I just want to get it done and quickly. I sight a lot and repeat some sort of mantra to help me keep my stroke together and my mind focused. Usuallly it's "long and strong". This time I added in "tempo tempo tempo" for a quicker arm turnover and "make the strokes count make the strokes count". Racex predicted 35:00. I swam a 35:40. I beat Jim on the swim and Todd beat me. So that means Todd gets to lead the lane now at masters.
T1: Climbed the big hill to transition. Got my shoes and helmet and was off. Saw Johnny coming out of T1. He's yelling stuff like go girl, do your thing, and stick to your power. He's this huge bundle of positive energy.
The Bike: The course is great! I love it! Downhill with the wind on the way out and uphill and into the wind and winding with small climbs on the way back. The out section feels fun and easy. The back section is pretty but taxing on the body. You can feel by the end of the loop the struggle and the intensity of the steady climbing. The course is two loops so you get to go back to the happy section for a little mental recovery before you tackle the climbs once more. My power was low the entire ride and heart rate was high. I just got a new power meter and I'm not sure about the calibration. I had to decide to go with heart rate to be safe. My race rehearsal was 151 watts and 150 hr. My race was 135 watts and 155 hr. 155 is pushing it. I'd say that's my upper limit. Much more than that and the run could be quite ugly. I felt really good about the pacing. I only got a little crazy once at about 20 minutes into the ride when a girl in my AG passed me. I passed her back. Then she passed me back, and we started having a slap fight. Then I said I'm not having this so I punched it for about 10 minutes and dropped her. Never saw her again. The rest of the ride was super steady. There were 3 boys who were pretty evenly paced with me for at least 40 miles of the ride. They would pass me. I would pass them back. 20 minutes later they would pass me again, etc…. One was in orange. I saw him later on the run. He was dead. I didn't talk or even acknowledge any of these guys while riding, but it was nice to have a few guys to play with. At around mile 30 I peed on the bike on a down hill. It was no big deal. You know you've lost it or maybe made it when you can pee on yourself without any reservations. Nutrition was absolutely perfect. I had 1.5 scoops of UCAN at 30 min and again at 2 hours. Racex predicted I would bike a 2:41. My two race rehearsals were 2:40 & 2:41. Race day was 2:45 (????) which was Todd's predicted bike time. He biked 5 minutes faster than me, and Jim smoked both of us on the bike. I knew that my bike was off by a little, but there wasn't anything I could do about it. I just tried to focus on making it a good ride, and it really was.
T2: This was quick. I ripped open my bag. Grabbed my stuff and ran.
The Run: Coming out of transition my Garmin was showing like 1000 weird little symbols on the display. I'm pretty confused by this. Really? Right now? Come on Garmin! I'm turning it off and on and running. Johnny is there right outside of transition. I had just seen him on the bike so I wasn't sure how he did that. He's talking to me and I'm very happy he is there but I'm sure I'm not showing it. I think my responses were yea uh huh and nodding my head yes. He probably had no idea how I was doing until he saw me on the next loop. I passed the first aid station. Oscar was there. I saw him but couldn't quite respond. Sorry Oscar. My garmin was searching for satellite for the first mile and when it found it the beeping began. 26 lap beeps one after another. Ahhhhh!!! Make it stop! It says I'm running 50 second miles. Pretty fast! I stop it and reset it and start it and I'm finally in business. Now my run paces and heart rates are written on my flask of UCAN, and I keep looking at the heart rate zones over and over again. Nutrition for the run is ultra simple. One flask at 30 minutes and 3 ounces water at each aid station.
Except I have no idea when 30 minutes was. It was fine though. I estimated. I stuck to my 155ish hr for the first 3 miles like planned. The big hill jacked it up some but for the most part loop 1 of 4 was very good and controlled. I'm always a little scared at the beginning of the run. At that point you are still in that window where you could screw things up. At mile 4 my plan said 169 heart rate. When I got there I was looking at my current HR and going okay let's get it up there. This is gonna hurt! I did it though. I think that the TriDot training and all the intervals have taught me to be more disciplined and unemotional about paces. You just do what it says, and i did. Maybe that is just part of developing as an athlete as well. In the past I may have been still holding back at mile 4 of 13.1. On each loop you go down hill out and uphill back with a little jaunt to the left that has a massive hill. The first time I climbed it I was saying not nice things. After the big hill you head back into town which is a gradual climb. I had check points for this part to get me through it mentally. So after the first turn I'd say get over the big hill, recover by the aid station, down and up, turn left, get to the music, then the taco shack, past the aid station, Johnny Z. will be there after that, and then turn around. Back on the down hill- whew! On loop two I had some flashbacks from last year. A girl came up from behind breathing loud and heavy. She stayed there for a while. I picked it up and she started running stride for stride with me. Her breathing was very labored as we were approaching the big hill. I made an extra effort to control my breathing keeping it as quiet and smooth as possible. I'm thinking I gotta get rid of her. I don't know what AG she's in but I can't keep running like this. The pace had been elevated for a while. She was letting me set the pace. So on the downhill I slowed the pace a little to recover and she stayed right next to me. On the big climb I hammered it. I ran harder and harder and harder and she got louder and louder and louder until I thought she was going to explode. It's getting pretty ugly for me too at this point but I'm not showing it. Just get to the aid station and she'll be gone is what I told myself and at the turn she had fallen back. I looked back at her age and saw that she was a youngling. With a little distance between us I settled back into my 169 heart rate. I stayed steady on loop 3. There were less smiles and more hurting. I did see Todd each loop, we high fived, and he told me I was gaining on him. That was a little boost. I saw Terry, Cheryl, Elizabeth, Christine, and Michael out there too. I never saw Jim. I was a little worried about that. At the start of loop 4 Johnny said there's one girl in front about a minute ahead. He also said "5K to go see what you can do". Okay got it - kind of! I'm headed down the road to find this chick and pass her, and a girl in my AG passes me. Austin Tri something. She's hauling butt! I am screwed. She's passed me like I was standing still and I couldn't catch her. I chased and chased and chased. My HR was through the roof. Pace is not increasing. Mentally she was destroying me. Finally she was out of my sight. At the turn I caught the girl that Johnny told me about and passed her. She did not respond whatsoever. And I said thank you Jesus!!! Because as I approached her I was saying I don't know if I can do this again. Just let me pass through. Please don't fight. Up the big hill for the last time. Pace was slowing hr was up very high. Finally I'm headed back into town. I want it to be over. I'm tired of pushing. It hurts!
I look at my watch and I see that I'm about to PR this race. That was very cool! As I approach the finish I see the Austin girl who was killing me turn for another lap. I am floored!!! I can't believe it. I never even thought she could possibly be on loop 3. I approach the finish line and I hear "the 2nd Yarzy of the day is crossing the line". I was very happy to hear that. I look up and I see Jim waiting there with my Coach Johnny and Todd. Jim PR'd! Todd had a solid race & I beat Todd - Ha! Racex predicted my run to be 1:58 and I ran a 1:48. Fastest run I've had in a 70.3! It was a great race. I fought hard on the run! I'm quite happy & proud of my effort.
Total time 5:12:59 - 5 minutes faster than last year, and a stellar day!
Post Race thoughts - Triathlon is so fun these days. I'm learning so much from TriDot, and I'm improving. I have the best support ever. My husband and family are amazing. My coach is super cool, and I have so many good friends/athletes that inspire me and encourage me. I'm thankful for the opportunity. Big congrats to my TriDot athletes: Christine Richnow, Michael Robinson, & Bill Burgess. They worked hard out there on the course, and did great! Now time to get back to training! :)