So I drove the 2+ hours to Kerrville in intermittent rain, with a shower curtain taped around my bike on Saturday late morning, wondering how the Sprint Racers were doing with the weather. Unfortunately, by the time I got to Kerrville, I had missed the entire Sprint race. But I was thrilled with the adorable but spacious cabin we (me, Jenny Peterman and JoAnne McKinney) had rented, just off the river and equidistant between T1 and T2! I unloaded my stuff, then drove over to the finish area to meet everyone for breakfast.
After breakfast and some hanging around, I headed to pick-up my packet and drop off my bike. I was pleased to see I was number “100” only because it was a cool number and I never get “cool” race numbers. I always get some random number . . .well, I guess that is what a race number is, actually, some random number. Well anyway 100 is a cool random number! Ok, I am a dork.
Racked the bike, then headed over to T2 to rack my bike-to-run bag. As I was hanging out in T2 – actually not just hanging out in T2, but everyone knows everyone at the Kerrville Tri, so I just kept running into people I knew – clouds started to move in again. I creatively hung my bag so that I wouldn’t have a bag full of water and shoes the next day (I could describe my hanging method, but it would take too long and really not be worth it. Anyway I hung it so rain water could not get in). Then I took some blue tape and marked the rack for about 8″ that I considered “my space”. I was there early and feared that folks would hang a bunch of bags not really thinking that they will also have to fit there bike with everyone else’s bike on the rack during the race (I was right, but more about that later).
As I was leaving T2, it started pouring rain (again) so I drove back to T1 to take my computer off my bike, so I wouldn’t have a soggy-not-working computer for the race.
OK, seriously, all that was required on Saturday was for me to pick up my packet, then put a race number on my bike and rack my bike in T1 just across the parking lot from packet pick-up, then put two sneakers and one visor in a bag and rack it at T2. For some reason this took about 3 hours !
By the time I got back to the house and changed, I was time for dinner with, well, just about everyone at this Italian place. We had close to 40 TriZoners and apparently, our reputation preceded us since they gave us our own room in the back. The food was great; the company was great; and the entertainment was great (Kim Burkhart brought her hubby, Bill who is quite the comedian). After carb loading we headed back to the house to watch the Texas v OSU game. My bedtime is usually 9:00, but I managed to stay awake until 9:30, when Jenny and I turned the game off in the beginning of the last quarter to get some sleep and miss a nail-biter of an ending. : ( The things we do for our sport.
I woke up at 4:30am the next morning to get ready for the race – eat some breakfast, brush my teeth, remove my wedding ring (the only time I take it off is when I swim), get my race kit on, lube every body part that was touching any other body part or item of clothing, collect my water bottles. We decided that since we were so close to both T1 and T2, Jenny, JoAnne, Elle (who was meeting us at the house) and I would go to T2 to drop off race nutrition (and I wanted to swap out my visor to my new TZ visor and set up my shoes, water bottle and visor in my area so I wouldn’t have to deal with the bag), then head over to the shuttle bus to T2 where everyone else would be setting up for swim-to-run.
When I got to T2, just as I had suspected, about 9 gals had ties their bags to the rack not thinking that they would also have to get all of those bikes on the rack. Amateurs! Not my problem. I’m pretty fast on the bike and figured I would be one of the first ones there, so I would have my spot. I was the second spot in from the end and the person on the end of the rack had also stopped by some time that morning and set up their area.
T1 was, of course a mad-mess of people getting body marked, pumping tires, checking gears, loading nutrition, wander around aimlessly, going back to the port-o-johns, etc . . . I was un-fracking-believable how many folks from TriZones were there, then there were all my non-TZ friends. It was like Austin moved to Kerville for the weekend!
I set up my bike, pumped my tires, checked my gears, loaded my nutrition, set up my shoes/socks/race bib, visited the bathroom 80 times, then finally decided it was time to get my wetsuit on.
It was not raining that morning, but it was misting/foggy and I didn’t want to get so wet I would not be able to slide in to my wetsuit. Then there was the problem of finding a place to sit to get it on. I looked around and spied a small pick-up truck in the parking lot. Well, a tailgate it just about the best place to sit, and as a truck owner myself, I determined that the owner would not mind if I open the gate to sit and put on my wetsuit. I invited Gayla to the scene of the crime for moral support should we get busted. Vanessa wandered over and was an unknowing accomplice until she looked up and realized it was not my truck we were sitting on. We left everything as we found it once we were all sausaged into our wetsuits. I dropped off my dry clothes bag and headed down to the swim start in my old Crocs, inexplicably thinking I would be walking 2 miles after an half ironman to reclaim them(???). Yeah, well anyway, I lost my Crocs . . . or maybe I didn’t and they are still under a tree in Kerrville.
They got the pros into the water and luckily, in Kerrville old ladies go next (woo-hoo!). The second wave was all women over 40. There was a bunch of us, and for some reason the young spry race director thought he could rush all of us into the water down a steep hip-breaking ramp in three minutes! I pushed a bunch of the grannies out of the way to get in and get a good starting position (kidding! but I was able to get into the water and in position), but I am not sure that all of the ladies were able to get in the water before the gun went off (I have no idea how the old guys did either).
Immediately upon starting to swim I realized I had not taken off my wedding ring. This gave me something to concentrate on – stroke, stroke, stroke, push my wedding down, stroke, stroke, stroke, push my wedding ring down . . .
I felt pretty good in the water, but the swim was the longest 1.2 miles I can remember. I felt like I was swimming forever and I would periodically look up to see if I could even see the turn buoys (No, no, nope, no, not yet, no, no), then look around to make sure there were other swimmers around and I wasn’t completely lost or something. FINALLY we turned and swam about 75 meters to the next turn south then swam and swam and swam, past the start, past New Braunfels, past Victoria, and we’re gonna have to swim back too. I saw the turn buoy about 100 meters from the Gulf of Mexico, turned and swam 75 meters then turned north and had to swim all the way back to Canada for T1.
At some point, I did notice it was me and two other ladies drafting off of each other but I couldn’t see anyone ahead of us. This always makes me wonder whether I am kicking ass or being left behind, but I didn’t want to stop and look back. I finally got to the end of the swim course, and was literally dragged out of the water by some very nice, very enthusiastic volunteers. I ran to the wetsuit strippers before I even had time to get my wetsuit down, but again very enthusiastic volunteers were more than happy to undress me!
I swam 2:01 per 100m (which is damn good for me!) with a 38:51 and there was much rejoicing!
OMG! There was a long steep hill back to T1 and of course, you don’t want to start walking this early in the race, but dang. That was a long hill! I huffed up it, and finally got to my bike tired from the long steep run, fell over twice trying to get my shoes on before I determined that slowing down would get me done faster. I jammed my wetsuit, goggles and swim cap into my T1 bag along with a few handfuls of dirt and some random vegetation, got my sunglasses, helmet, bib and shoes on and ran out of T1 onto the bike!
I was on my bike and off onto the ride course. It started on Water Street which wound around along the river. At the first moderate curve I realized I had no rear brakes. I don’t know if something got knocked loose or broke with the wind whipping the shower curtain on my bike on the ride from Round Rock to Kerrville and I wasn’t incline to stop to investigate. It’s a race! I shouldn’t be using my brakes that much anyway.
The ride route is two long skinny loops out SE to a turn around-ish point then back NW, about 28 miles each (the first loop is actually longer than the second since T2 was two miles from T1). The weather predicted a 12-16 mph NW wind and we were heading SE on the way out, so it was likely we would have some headwind coming back in.
One of the gals I exited the water with got on her bike and zoomed off never to be seen again, the other was somewhere behind me. Riding on the road, all the fast swimmers were long gone and all the slower swimmers were behind me; I was out there all by my lonesome. And that early in the morning the wind was not very strong but I felt pretty good riding out.
Before long the boys started catching up to me so I had a little bit of company on the road. The City of Kerrville is just wonderful with the way they close the roads and there were officers at every intersection to make sure vehicular traffic kept clear of the racers. Of course, there is no accounting for folks who completely disregard the traffic cops, as this big white Buick pulled into the intersection directly in front of me regardless of the cop giving him the hand and blowing his whistle. Of course the driver finally stops when he is exactly blocking the entire road. The cop didn’t know what to do. So I decided to go around in front of him, just as the cop decided to get him through the intersection. I started yelling “No! No! No!” and shaking my head, so the cop reversed his decision and just held the idiot, err car there until I was able to get by. Another racers rode up beside me and said “Well, that’ll wake you up.” Word.
The ride out was otherwise uneventful. I finished a bottle of water and ate a Cliff Z-bar.
When I turned to head back the wind was holding at about a steady 10 mph, but obviously you can feel it a lot more when it is in your face. At this point, though too, the road which had been pretty smooth turned into varying ages of chip seal. The newest chip seal was closed to the end of the route, but there was crappy old chip seal almost constantly on the route back. Then there were also the hills on the way back.
For no reason that I could put my finger on, I was having a very hard time on the crappy, windy, hilly route back. Seriously, it was crappy and windy and hilly, but I deal with crappy chip seal, long bouts of wind and much tougher hills all the time on my bike. For some reason this day, race day, I just felt like I could not sustain any power. I took a GU gel and drank more Gatorade.
I finally got back into town. I was looking forward to the turn around and tail wind on smooth flat roads. By this time the wind had kicked up to 12-14 mph and was a much more noticeable tailwind on the way out. The guys were passing me at this point, which was weird as I had been passed by several at the beginning of the ride, then very few for a long while, then I started getting passed by the guys again at the beginning of the second loop. My buddy Ron passed me and said “Hi!”
Since I was at about mile 30, I had to pee. I always seem to have to pee between mile 28 and 30. Peeing on the bike takes a certain concentration. I usually stand up to speed up, then stop peddling to do my biz. I took a quick glance over my shoulder and didn’t see anyone and started to tinkle. From out of nowhere a friend of mine (who will remain nameless to protect the innocent and the guilty) goes flying passed me as I am tinkling. He said “Hi!” I don’t know if he noticed, but I sure hope he didn’t get spattered. For the next 5 miles all I could think was “Oh, I hope I didn’t pee on [my buddy’s name]!”
I turned back in the headwind and immediately my speed dropped off and I felt powerless. I’d drank two bottles of Gatorade and had two more gels but still felt “meh”. I took a bottle hand off at the next stop to hose myself down and as I was slowing for the hand off Rhonda Halliburton freaking smokes me! I have no idea where she came from, but dang once I got my bearings I still could not catch her.
There is a little out and back that the race director added to get the necessary race mileage. It’s maybe a 1/4 mile out then back. As I rode back I could see that there were several gals hot on my tail. This is simply unacceptable, but when I looked down at my speedometer I was just not putting out the numbers I felt I should be achieving. So, I hit it like it owed me money, and went pretty much all out for the rest of the ride. I still wasn’t feeling as powerful as I thought I should, but my numbers weren’t looking terrible. However, I was freaking killing myself!
I finally, blessedly got to the end of the ride and ran into T2, where I has laid my shoes and visor out that morning.
Bike – 2:58:14 at 18.9mph
OK, I still don’t quite know what happened here, but before the race I had a conversation with Nicki who was number 119 (I was 100) and we thought we were on the same rack. I still think we should have been on the same rack, but apparently we weren’t. So anyway, Nicki tells me that she is the last spot on the rack, and I know I was the second spot in. She asked me to make sure she had some room since I was likely to get there before her. I told her I would do my best. So anyway . . .
I ran to my spot, rack my bike and reach down to grab my shoes just as the second gal on the rack comes running in to rack her bike and damn near hits me in the face with her front tire. WTF?! I jumped back to avoid a broken nose, as the gal reaches over to the other side of my bike to get her bag of shoes and crap having racked her bike over what I thought were Nicki’s shoes and hat and nearly into my face!
“Hey, (genius) that somebody’s spot!”
“Oh, is it?” [Ok, rack ends are coveted spots because they are easiest to find and generally guarantee you a little room since no one will be on one side of your bike. Did she really think that no one of the 25 gals on our rack, wanted to take the coveted end!?]
“Uh, yeah. And it’s my friend Nicki!” I said as I ran out of T2. I have no idea what the gal did, or if she moved her bike [later Nicki told me that it was not her stuff because she when she got in, my bike was not there and she was not racked next to me, so I have no idea who’s spot I ended up protecting.].
T2 – 1:36
I was off on the run. The run course was four out and backs. The first mile was on the road, the next mile+ was on a trail, and the last mile was the other way back on the road. One of the benefits of this course is you see everyone you know 2-8 times (depending on their speed, race distance or if they are spectating), the drawbacks are that you are running back and forth 4 times and you have to pass the finish line 3 times before you are allowed to finally stop the 4th time you near it.
I felt like poo. However, I always feel like poo on the start of the run. My Mantra for the first three miles of any long race is: “Just get through the first three miles then see how you feel.” Invariably, I feel a bit better after about mile three. I saw a ton of folks I knew on the out, then more folks I knew on the way back. I said “Hi!”, “Good Job.” and High fived my buddies as I saw them. Running the mile back down the road to the turn around to loop 2 was brutal. Was I bonking? I stopped and grabbed a banana an ate it as I ran.
I got through the turn around and felt a million times better. “Ok, I’m ok. I can do this three more times.” I said “Hi!”, “Good Job.” and High fived my buddies as I saw them on the way out, feeling pretty ok. Then I said “Hi!”, “Good Job.” and High fived my buddies as I saw them on the way back but that last mile on the road to the turn around felt like poo again. I grabbed a gel, some Gatorade and squirted water from my bottle on my head.
I got through the turn around and felt a million times better. “You can do this. You’re already half way done. You can do this two more times. You’re feeling ok.” Then I said “Hi!”, “Good Job.” and High fived my buddies as I saw them on the way back but that last mile on the road to the turn around felt like poo again. I finally figured out that it was a slight uphill and into the wind on that last mile back, which is why I always felt like poo after getting through the trail section.
Back to the turn around. Only one more time! As I ran up the road I thought “This is the last time you have to run up this road.” Then “This is the last time you have to run down the hill on the bridge.” Then “This is the last time you have to run over these rocks.” etc . . .
By this loop I was pretty tired, too tired to say “Hi!”, “Good Job.” and High five my buddies, so on this loop if you saw me you got a nod, the two finger wave or some sort of gesture in your general direction. Again, even though I knew I was running uphill into a headwind, I felt like I was going to die on that last mile back in, but this was the last time I would pass that taqueria and run through downtown.
Woo-hoo! the Finish line!
Run – 2:07:59 at 9:46min/miles which is pretty terrible for me.
Total time – 5:49:23 not what I was hoping for, but not bad.
Which should be enough to maintain my Texas Tri Series Age Group lead (assuming a certain ex-Pro wins the overall Women’s category)