Monday, June 24, 2013

Fairfield Half Marathon Race Report - 2013

I know I owe a report on Patriot, but I really wanted to get this one out there!

I just came off of 2 back to back Half Ironman Aquabikes.  Eagleman and Patriot.  I LOVE Half ABs, just LOVE them. I think that is my distance.  Of course Type A, obsessed here, I have to 'finish' and get that damn Ironman off my list.

Week 3 of major races was a Half Marathon in Fairfield, CT.  It is a beautiful race that starts next to Jennings Beach.  Much of the race winds through the beautiful communities around and along the coast. They have several bands playing, including a couple all KID bands.  They were pretty good too!  The weird thing for me is this one band was playing Johnny Cash and I kinda liked running to it!?!

Most of you know, I despise running. But in order to tick an Ironman off my list, I have to get through a Marathon.  Yesterday was my 7th 13.1 and 2nd this year.  I never talk about speed because I am pitiful.  I tend to average 15min mile that puts me at 3:20 or 3:24 with pee stops.  My EDS will never let me run fast so whatever, I'm doing it! I'm covering the exact same 13.1 miles as everyone else.

I am used to the SAG wagon, used to the last station closing up, but I am NOT used to what happened yesterday.

This is my 2nd time doing this race. I thought it was well run and great last time so when it opened I just signed up.  About a week ago, I saw in the email "reminder, there is a 3:15 cutoff for all runners."  - UGH!  Then I noticed that cutoff was GUNTIME not your time.  Race starts at 8:30, cutoff at 11:45.  There are 5,000 runners going through neighborhood streets, so it takes some time to get everyone out of there.

I had a plan on how to make it.  Ali and I would start at the front, much to the dismay of the fast runners.  I set my Garmin to run/walk.  Run 2 min, walk 8 min.  I would run the first mile while the crowd thinned out, then listen to the alarm on the Garmin.  I usually drink at EVERY water stop alternating between Gatorade and Water.  And at every stop a water goes on my head or down my shirt. I usually eat something every hour as well.

We had lots of conversations this past week about the quantity of stuff I carry, and I decided to give being a more minimalist this time a try (never again!)!!!!  I packed my meds and 1 larabar that I ate just before the start.  I knew that I had to keep a 14:40 pace to make the cutoff.  In my mind that should keep the water stops open and get me to the finish line by 11:45.    I figured I would most likely make it to at least mile 10-11 before I passed the 'cutoff' pace.  I scoped out a 7-11 around mile 11 so I figured, no problem, I could buy water / Gatorade there.

Onto the race: We passed mile 1 with a 12:15 pace.  SWEET! (but really it was drafting).  I did a quick portopotty stop and carried on.

There were many supporters lining the street, and this little girl with the best sign "WORST PARADE EVER."

Things were great, and all going to plan until mile 8.  I was a bit concerned that there was no GU / nutrition until this point. I thought mile 8 was kinda late for that.  I would expected it at 6 or 7 if only one station were to have it.   I got to the station and it was mostly closed up.  One woman stood there and she had about 1/4 jug left.  She offered to pour it in my hands.  I asked and just poured it my mouth for a good drink without touching it. I didn't take nearly what I wanted because I knew there were at least 5 others behind me, as I had just passed them.

She apologized, she said they ran out of cups. (ok where's the water though?). She also apologized that they 'ran out of gu a while ago.'  Then I got to the other side of the station, this woman was picking up cups, I mentioned to her about the water and if they had any to keep those jugs filled.  Her response "we had 7,000 gallons; is this the beginning or the end of the  race?"  I didn't really comprehend what she said until I passed her, WHAT? just WHAT? oh and she also had 2 GU's in her shirt pocket, sticking out.  Great thank you lady.  I caught up with another walker who told me she watched someone at that station POUR OUT the Gatorade.

I knew I had to slow down to conserve fluids.  Bummer, there goes my making the cutoff, but I know my body and I like finishing, regardless of the time.   The next station was about 1 mile later, with my slowing I was losing ground on my pace, I was just behind the 'cutoff' pace.

I saw 2 firefighters and I told them to keep an eye on the people behind me because there's no water/ nutrition for those of us left.  One of the guys  said "oh hold on" and the other said "keep going, he'll catch you.  This very awesome fireman went to his truck and got me a bottle of water and ran it to me!  I asked "can I give you a hug?" (sweaty LOL)..  btw, this whole race is manned by the fire departments and they are just fabulous!  They set up sprinklers every couple miles!  And by the way, the sprinklers were still up when water was gone!

The next station had no cups either, but they at least had water in jugs.  Athletes are resourceful - we just drank out of the jug.  I asked those volunteers to not pour it out as cup or no cup, these guys at the end needed it.  These volunteers were very sweet and said "of course." --- Although I did see a few young girls leaving the other side of that station with bags of Gatorade powder.  I'm thinking we could have used that.

Next station was completely gone, no table, volunteers, but  we were about 5 min past the cutoff pace at this point so I had expected them to leave, I just expected to be further along.

There were some amazing people out there, some cyclists from Team in Training offered some of their water,  and there were families giving out water.  These little girls came screeching across the street about mile 11 with cold bottles of water.  Bless them!  There was also these cute kids with a 'free lemonaid' stand about 12.5 miles in!

I knew I was done when mile 8 had no nutrition and I was forced to just conserving water from that point.  I was on pace to do a 3:10-3:15 but I ended up with a disastrous 3:42, but I did finish!  I crossed the finish line and got a medal. I walked down to the beach where food was and took an orange, all that was left.  Again that's expected due to my time.   I asked around to find the Race director and he happened to come up to the food tent.   I told him what happened, and he said "when did you finish" I said 3:40..he said "yes but volunteers need to go home at some point." I hope I made it clear to him that YES I totally get that and it should be that way, but they should NOT leave before the 3:15 pacing passes that station.   I tried to reiterate that I was pacing to the 3:10 when I arrived at the first no aid station.   It was the first he heard of this.  In my mind that's breakdown #1.  He should have known, the lead volunteer there should have called in and said "hey we're running low on GU/ Water / Cups." ESPECIALLY if it was still within the cutoffs.

I discovered later that they ran out for some pacing to the 2:45-2:50 mark.

The RD was very polite, listened to me and I heard him radio someone.  They both seemed stunned. Ok peace said.  I then tried to find Ali.  I went to her car, of course she was at mine!  As soon as I sat down and took my shoes off, I knew I was in trouble. I tried to sip down some Gatorade (from my car).  Then I felt the nausea.  AWESOME.  I decided I would drive my car over to the med tent so it was RIGHT THERE.  I went in, and told the nurse I needed to cool down and hydrate. She put these awesome towels on my legs and neck.   Then as I sat in the chair I got the tunnel vision- I knew I was going to throw up or pass out (or both).  Puke it was!  She got an EMT for me, so I was with the rest of the people in the tent, ON A COT.  Good for Ali for not taking a picture, I certainly would have taken one of her LOL!!!

My BP was fine but they were worried about hydration due to the throwing up and how hot I was.  In the course of being there, I got to be super nosy. There were a few athletes with IVs, one sprain and I heard them say that 5 went to the hospital (I saw one go).  When I told the EMT about the water situation he said "oh that explains the number of people in here today."  This poor guy next to me with very chafed nipples and an IV finally pipped up and said "YEA I SAW NO WATER at many stations."

I knew I needed a banana, for some reason when I get hot and dehydrated  a banana helps.  Ali sees a half peeled banana on the table.  Yea I broke off the end and ate the thing.  Yup, basically ate out of the trash.  That did it, I was starting to feel ok between that and the Gatorade.

They released me and I ventured back to my car.  I opened the back and wondered who set the tornado off in my car!?! Ali said it looked like 5 people were in there.. hahahaha!

Then I had to drive 2 hrs home!  Again why do we do this??

I really want to thank most of the volunteers (all except the lady that stole the gu from an athlete in need), and the Firemen.  They were just incredible!  Especially the one that gave me the water bottle!   With a little communication I think it could be more successful for the end of the pack.  I do not expect them to stay open past the cutoff pace, but each station should stay open until the pacing of the cutoff. They should also have someone to call if they run out early.

I feel like total crap today. I don't recommend dehydration to anyone. My muscles were sucked dry!  Last weekend I did a half iron aquabike on Sat and a 10 mile run on Sunday, and I felt fine.  Difference was nutrition and hydration.  I also don't care what I look like in the future, I'm carrying my fuel belt, and several items of nutrition, including a banana.

Lesson learned, and at least it wasn't during Ironman Florida!

**I know I've been  slacking on the actual blog posts, I do frequently update my facebook page : facebook !

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Eagleman 2013 Race Report

This year was a late start for me. I usually have a few races under my belt by June, but I must have been drinking when I made my schedule this year.  Eagleman on a Saturday and 6 days later Patriot. Both 70.3 Aquabikes.

We went big this year and added an RV to my collection of gadgets for my races.  We're still learning, but it is REALLY nice to have a giant changing room, and BED to take a nap on the way home!

I love the Eagleman / Chesapeakeman course and race company. It is in the Choptank river and the bike is flat, flat flat & windy.  Like hilly races, you love or hate the terrain.      I watched the water temperature all week, it continued to climb and was rapidly approaching a non-wetsuit race.  Sure I can swim sans wetsuit, but to me it's like riding a mountain bike on the road, I'd much rather have my wetsuit!

Tropical Storm Andrea surprised many of us and rushed in.  The water temp fell and remained a balmy 73 perfect degrees! BUT, with Andrea came 4" of rain in a park that is called "GREAT SALT MARSH" - guess what  a marsh looks like after 4" of rain?  More on that in a bit.

Packet pickup was a large affair. I arrived Saturday afternoon and it was packed. The volunteers and TriColumbia had a smooth operation to get everyone through the pickup, get your swag and get around to the vendors.  I love the newest trend of the 'virtual swag.'  No more 20 postcards in a bag that you're just going to throw away! YEA save some paper!    I got to the end of the line and found this SWEET transition bag.  I'll take it :).

I wondered into the Ironman merchandise tent, fully expecting to purchase a 70.3 shirt where they print all the participants on the back.  Turns out they 'forgot' to put Aquabike on there. I figured it was ok, but Relays were there and the Ironman lady said "yea sorry, all participants were supposed to be there, I've written a note for next time." !?!  I told her that means I should get one for a discount and she just walked away.  They didn't get my money.

We found a parking spot for the giant RV and I began to put my bike back together.  I noticed that my rear brakes were sticking, that would make for a LONG ride. We both tried to figure out the necessary adjustment and nothing was working. I figured I'd ask the next guy to pass by, this very nice guy said "oh yea I had that bike, and THAT brake was the only thing I didn't like."  He was super sweet and did a quick adjustment UNDER the frame and I was all set. Thank you PRO TRIATHLETE KYLE! 

I then headed over to rack my bike and do my obligatory plea with the race official to rack it handlebars up. There are strict orders that all bikes must be hung by the seat.  Well, I"m 5' tall with a 48cm bike, if I hang my bike by the seat it dangles. And if there's any wind it bangs into the bikes next to me. I have to plead this case every time, the officials are usually great about it, but then at least 10 volunteers or OTHER officials yell at me to move it.  Oh well, I always have to be difficult!

I met up with fellow blogger Amy , we went for a swim. (I'd add a picture of the two of us but she won't sent  it to me LOL)  The water was chilly as I choose to do a non-wetsuit practice swim, but it felt great!  It was a little murky but that's to be expected with a storm churning up the Choptank.

John and I then headed over to the High School to 'camp.'  There are no campgrounds around so TriColumbia arranges for camping at the HS.  There were several RVs there and Tents.  I really couldn't imagine sleeping in a tent, then doing a 70.3.  Those people should get an extra medal!

The evening was great, Tri people are great, Apollo was a total chick magnet. Even complete with two little girls screaming across the parking lot "BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOG!!!!! I even found a 4 leaf clover.

I fell asleep and of course was up at 3AM without an alarm.  I finally got out of bed and we headed back over to the  park to get a much in demand parking spot.  For those that are trying to get a front spot, 4AM is NOT early enough!  We were about a block away so not too bad, but with an old dog the block plus the 300 yards inside the park were tough.  

I knew the mud was going to be bad, but I didn't really expect what I saw.  You step and the mud covers your entire foot, and in  some places up to ankle!  I kept thinking.. hm what will I do for bike out? I've never mounted with shoes ON the bike. I ended up strapping my shoes to the handlebars and packing a ziplock with paper towels.  I planned on  carrying my bike through the mud, wiping my feet outside of transition and then putting on my shoes.  I followed through with MOST of that plan on race day.  I neglected to add a separate water bottle in my rear cage. I simply use the speed fill when I have aid stations.  So that meant I had no water to remove the MUD from my feet.  I improvised, sucked liquid out of my speed fill and spit on my feet !  (oh the gross things that happen triathlon). 

I wondered over to the port-o-potty and snapped this picture in line.  The water looked perfect.

Then I connected with Amy as it was the first time we both had a Four OOOHHH on the leg! She clearly had a better body marker!

I was in the 3rd wave, just after the Pro women.  The start was uneventful, I always head outside front. I get kicked and bumped but never that bad, UNTIL TODAY.  They started paratriathletes, aquabike and relays together.  I noticed an athlete towing a boat next to me, and it turns out we were the EXACT same speed. I tried to speed up and go around him but I knew that I couldn't afford a speed burst like that this early.   I tried to slow down, but it wasn't enough. So we swam next to each other.  This was fine until the first turn.  He cut the buoy and pinned me and a few other swimmers between the boat and buoy.  We had to stand up (yea we could stand there).  Next time I'll try to avoid the boats.

The swim had a current against us for the first leg, then the return leg was this strange pushing to the side. Everyone said they had slower swim times than normal.  I'm totally cool with a slower swim time due to conditions, but I'm not cool with poor sportsmanship causing delays.

Around the 2nd turn I went WAY outside again in my attempt to get out of the way of the crazy people seeking Kona slots. I was kicked, swam over, bumped, which is normal and expected.  THEN, I was about 20 yards away from the inside line with no one around me, and this guy climbs up my back and punches me in the arm. PUNCHES, WHO SWIMS WITH A FIST?  He did startle himself and mutter 'uh sorry.'  Ok fine, I had a Charley horse and my arm didn't work correctly for a bit.  I swam away from the guy and he seemed to follow me. He kicked, bumped or pushed me at least 8 other times.  I was just waiting for him to climb over my feet!  I ended up with a huge bruise on my arm.

I got out at :55, a TERRIBLE swim for me, but considering the contact swim and the extra .2 miles I swam, I wasn't surprised.  I found my bike and contemplated the cyclocross/mud run I was about to do.  I picked up my bike and jogged through transition. I couldn't throw it over my shoulder because of the speedfill, so this is the best I could do.   About 1/2 way one shoe fell into the mud, so lesson learned, strap those buggers down better!  A quick wipe on the shorts and it was fine.

I was off, it was a perfect day for this course.  Sunny, cool, and NO WIND.  Well there was some, but nothing like it can get. I was happy with the bike. I cruised along, riding in intervals and really pushing myself. I set my watch to eat/hydrate and stand up every 30 min. I often forget all 3 of those. I can sit in aero for hours, so I have to set the alarm to get up (or I WON'T be able to get up!).

I saw a ton of drafting and pelotons.  I'm always shocked when I see deliberate drafting. I'm paranoid I'm going to get whacked sometime because I take longer than 20 seconds to pass someone.  There were so many rude athletes, they would pass without a peep, with only inches to spare.   I could care less if they want to cheat, but don't put me in danger!  I mentioned this on an Eagleman site and a guy told me that I should worry about me and not everyone else.  uh ok thanks, but I kinda like my skin ON my bones.  I saw so many cases of rudeness on the bike.  This surprised me too, because usually I find triathletes are awesome, encouraging, and pleasant.  Seriously why race if you are miserable? 

I was approaching an aid station and one guy threw his water bottle under my wheel.  He missed me by 5" or so.  Why on earth would you throw your bottle UNDER someone's wheels. I am CLEARLY not his competition.  I had someone else yell MOVE in the aid station. I was going about 15 mph to get my water from a wonderful volunteer.  The volunteer rolled his eyes at the jerk too.

I grabbed a banana from one station, peeled and began to eat it while in aero. This peloton 4 wide and at least 10 deep came whipping round this corner.  They didn't speak as they passed me, they're lucky I cut the corner wide or I would have wiped out the whole crowd. 

Because I was in an early wave, I had a ton of jerks to pass me.  About mile 30 or so it started to thin out and we were left with the normal, nice people again.   So a group of us were together, not pace-lining, just kind of back and forth.   There was a deer LEG in the middle of the lane. No guts, blood, blood stain, just a leg with fur and a hoof. The guy next to me passes and says "that is the first time I had to yell out "LEG" on a ride."

I enjoyed the ride and was cruising along , I ended up with a 16.4 avg and it would have been 16.8 if I didn't spend 4 minutes on the whole mud/shoe thing.  That pace was super slow for the rest of this field but pretty fast for me.  

Coming in you had to remove shoes and carry your bike again. I totally didn't understand
those who ran through it with shoes on pushing their bikes.  UGH poor bike!

The finish line was disappointing. You run off to the side and they hand you a medal.  You can hear the 'real' finish line off in the distance. (I'll write about Patriot in a few, they use the same finish line for everyone, and it is a much better experience that way).

Just after the finish John found I had a MUD EAGLE on my leg!

But hey in spite of the issues and the jerks, I had my cyclocross/mud run/half iron Aquabike medal! 
And I did have fun!

**I know I've been  slacking on the actual blog posts, I do frequently update my facebook page though: facebook !