The Kerrville Tri Festival is two days of racing in Kerrville , Texas: a sprint on day one, then 1/4 iron and 1/2 iron distance races on day two (done at the same time, there are also aqua-bike races for each distance on Sunday).
Julian had convinced me to do the swim portion of the sprint as a relay with him and Gary. Swimming is my weakest sport and I told Julian that I could find him a fast swimmer, but he assured me that this wouldn’t be a real race since he was doing the Lake Tahoe Ironman the week before and would not be able to race after such an endeavor. Well, unfortunately, Lake Tahoe IM got canceled due to a raging forest fire in the area, so the easy-peasey-training-relay turned into the win-a-any-cost relay. Good times.
I woke up on race morning at about 6:00am because I didn’t need to set up transition, all I needed to do was put on my wetsuit, swim cap and goggles. I got to the race site a 6:45, where is was already raining and discovered that the race didn’t start until 7:30, not 7:00am as Julian told me (no, I did not read the athlete information packet). All of the age group full sprint racers started before the relay – the final wave, so I didn’t even start until 7:55 (coulda slept in warm and dry). After milling around for a while I decided to put my wetsuit on while it was still reasonable dry. Getting a wetsuit on is a workout in and of itself, getting a wet wetsuit on is virtually impossible. 15 minutes later I was panting and sweating, but in my wetsuit.
It was a time trial start, meaning we would enter the water individually instead of as a massive punching kicking group. We had the yellow swim caps. I noticed a tiny skinny little dude in a yellow swim cap. I pointed, “Is that the competition?!” He was goofing off with two of his friends (the rest of his relay team). The thing is, kids have all that youthful energy and a total lack of reasonable fear.
Somehow I entered the water as the first relay racers. This was probably because 90% of relay racers race as a relay because they either don’t know how to, fear or loath one of the sports or are trying to figure out how this whole triathlon thing works.
Immediately on entering the water I started passing the gals in the age group that entered the water before me. This is mostly due to the fact that the really bad swimmers tend to congregate as the back of the age group, but also because I was wearing my super floaty wetsuit (Yay for wetsuits!).
At some point another relay swimmer past me (anyone care to guess who it was?), but I held my own and swam in a straight line (a big change from last year). The 500 meter swim went by fast because it is really short. Upon exiting the water I would normally have my wetsuit pulled off by the volunteer wetsuit strippers, but since all I was doing was swimming, I didn’t bother and just started running towards transition and Julian (our cyclist) to hand off the timing chip. The run from the swim to transition is a giant hill, but I had only been in the water for 10 1/2 minutes and the run up the hill was the end of my workout for the day, so I was haulin’ up that giant hill. I got Julian our timing chip then took another 10 minutes to catch my breath.
I found Julian’s mom who I was to take to the finish line so see her son finish. The transition from bike to run was about 2 miles away and near the finish line. I changed into drier clothes, but it was still raining, so my cotton t-shirt and shorts were soon wet anyway. Mrs Julian got in my truck and we set off to T2…only a lot of the roads were closed for the cyclist and I hadn’t looked at the athlete information packet so I wasn’t entirely sure of where I was going. Surprising no one, I got lost. I told Mrs Julian to look for Julian as we sat in traffic trying to turn around and cyclist whizzed passed us.
So, yeah, by the time I got us parked and to the finish line we had missed Julian’s big finish. Sorry Julian’s mom. We walked over to see the runner’s and watch our runner, Gary finish. Gary is a pretty fast runner so we knew he would be along soon. Then this little dude goes flying into the finish shoot. “Oh no! Did we miss Gary?” because surely we were not smoked by a bunch of little kids. Oh, and here comes Gary…
Later we found out that the kids were each 12 years old – they won the all male relay and we won the co-ed relay. But I would like to point out that if you combined all of the 12 year olds’ ages you would still need to add another friend to get to my age! Kids today…
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Later that day I had to rack my bike for the 1/2 Iron race the next day (we could bring our other bike stuff – shoes, helmet, sunglasses etc that next morning with our swim stuff). The rain had pretty much let up. I was still trying to get warm after standing in the rain for 4 hours that morning and I really needed a nap, so I was in no rush to get my bike racked. When I finally got to T1, I got a decent racking position (a decent racking position is anywhere where you think you might be able to find your bike after running up the giant hill after the swim), then headed over to T2 (since I could now find it by car) to drop my run bag containing my running shoes, lucky snail socks, visor, race number and nutrition.
I was sharing a cabin on the river with Judy and Jenny; JoAnne had the suite on the other side of the cabin. We hung out a while at the cabin, relaxing, before the big TriZones dinner at an Italian Restaurant at 5:30. At dinner I ordered a burger and side of pasta and ate the pasta and half the burger figuring I would eat the other half at 3:00am after the race when I would wake up starving. I was exhausted and got to bed at a decent time … and stared at the ceiling all night. Then I remembered that I put my lucky snail socks in my run bag, but I needed them on the bike! I did have another pair of socks, but the snail socks are shorter and easier to get into. I spent the next four hours deciding whether to try to swap out my socks in the morning. Finally, 5:00am arrived and my alarm went off, but I was already up…
I made a cup of tea and PB&J on wheat – my standard, but I didn’t feel hungry and I felt a little nauseated. WTH? I didn’t eat anything weird, I was totally not sweating this race, WHY would I feel sick?! If I couldn’t eat breakfast, I feared it would haunt me late in the race when you really start to feel nutrition mistakes. Jenny gave me a Pepto pill, and I drank a half a cup of tea and played with my PB&J but ate maybe 1/2 of it (eating the whole sandwich and barfing is not an optimum race plan either). So, I grabbed a banana and set out to the race site hoping for the best.
I set up my transition with my helmet, nutrition, sun glasses, shoes and non-lucky non-snail socks, then headed to the port-o-john. My tummy was feeling better and I was able to eat a banana while waiting in the really long line. I subscribe to the theory that basically you should use the port-o-john at every possible opportunity before a race, but once you put your wetsuit on that’s it – you can’t get out of it to use the restroom again. So I used the port-o-john two more times before the race start, then put on my wetsuit. But also there is something about putting on a wetsuit that makes you feel like you have to pee (probably the squishing of all of your organs as you stuff yourself into the sausage casing).
Old ladies* started right after the pros and I lined up kinda in the middle of all the old gals.
*Old ladies is a term of endearment as “Masters” are anyone over 40 years old (really?) and all of the women over 40 started together so if you were 40 or if you were 70 we all went out together.
I have to say, I had a good swim. I swam straight. I felt strong. I passed some folks. It didn’t seem too long and ba-da-bing, I was climbing out of the water. I got my arms out of my wetsuit and pulled it to my hips as I ran over to the wetsuit strippers. I plopped down on my butt and the stripper gave a good tug and dragged me about 5 feet, tug, another 3 feet (actually at this point I was hoping they would just pull me up the hill by my feet), one last tug and I was free! I grabbed my wetsuit and headed up the hill.
Swim – 36:40 or 1:54/100m (a major improvement this season)
Dang, that hill is steep. I got to my bike and wiped my feet on my towel, stuffed my wetsuit, goggles and swim cap into my bag* with the towel; sock, sock, shoe, shoe, sunglasses – doh, sunglasses are completely fogged, dig the now nasty towel out of the bag to wipe the sunglasses; helmet and out of transition.
*Since T1 and T2 are in different areas everything you leave must be in your bag for transport over to T2 for you to collect at the end of the race.
T1- 3:30 (ouch!)
The bike has always been my favorite. I had good strong ride. Passed a bunch of gals who were out of the water before me. It’s hard to know who else might be up there, though. Some guys passed me. Then we turned into the hillier part of the course and I passed some of those guys. I decided that I needed to hold strong on the flats, but attack on the hills since that is my strength.
I kept on my nutrition and hydration schedule and felt good. The ride is two 28 mile loops. I felt really good on the first loop, then was better able to avoid some of the chip-seal on the second loop. I held a pretty steady speed and the wind didn’t pick up until the end of my second loop (and even then, not much). I passed a guy with a bike cog tattooed on his leg, and he immediately passed me back, but then slowed… so I passed him again. Boom he was back, and slowing… This is actually kind of annoying, so I held a pace behind him and waited for the first moderate incline. Boom, I was on. Say “B-bye!” Apparently some guys don’t like getting “chicked” (passed by a gal), but apparently some guys are just either gonna have to get over it or get stronger.
At about mile 50 I choked down one last gel knowing I would need those calories for the beginning of the run and that I would not want to worry about taking a gel right off the bike, but getting tired of the sticky sweet taste.
Bike – 2:47:35 or 20.05 mph (oh, yeah!)
I felt great and confident entering T2 and really, really hoped that I would have a good run as I put on my (hobo, wore out, why did I not change my shoes weeks ago) running shoes. I knew my running shoes were pretty worn, but I had only replaced them 2 days before and did not trust brand new shoes on the 13 mile race, but yeah, there were holes in them and the sole was worn through in areas. Brilliant. Grabbed visor, race number and nutrition.
T2- 1:49 (that’s more like it) but you can leave your stuff all over in T2 since you’ll be back to pick it all up.
So it became evident pretty early on that this would not be my greatest run. My perceived exertion (how I felt I was running) was simply not being reflected in my numbers. For all my effort, I was running much slower than I had hoped.
Soon Aileen flew passed me. Aileen is one of my archnemises, she’s fast, she’s in my age group, and of course, she is impossibly nice so I can’t hate her. “Well, I guess I’m not winning this one” I thought. She looked good.
The run is four loops (yes, four) of three out-and-backs. What? Like this:
So you get to see your friends three times on each loop, and you can also determine who is running faster than you and slowly watch them catch up and pass you over the course of the race! Good times!
I did notice that me and my buddy Ron were running about the same pace and not too far apart. Usually Ron is much faster than I am, so I hoofed it up a bit to catch up to him and asked if he wanted company. He grunted something that sounded like “yes” to me, so I fell in step next to him. I figured that Ron probably felt worse than I did, which kept me running next to him because hey, if he feels worse than me than that least I can do is keep up.
Another great things on the run course is the mile markers. Since you are running the course 4 times you get to pass the #7 mile marker when you are nowhere near the 7th mile. The same holds true for #10 and #12 when you haven’t even run three miles. Nice!
Of course I have to mention the best thing on the course this year: Alien head practically nekkid guy! Yes, there was some guy from Moxie Multisport dancing on the course wearing only a speedo and a giant alien head mask. I can’t find a picture of him, but go over to Moxie Multisport and get an idea of what I am talking about. Go on, I’ll wait….
Did I mention that the second little out and back leg has an evil hill on it that we would have to run 4 times? Yeah, that.
As we approached the evil hill that always seems so much steeper than I remember, I spied my buddy Shayla who was out spectating with a boom box cranking upbeat tunes on the bridge over the creek (you can see the creek in the map). You could hear the music all the way up the hill, which was freaking GREAT! Thank you Shayla.
I made it through two loops trying to pep talk myself – “1/2 way through!” “only two more times up the hill” or my personal favorite internal dialogue “After this one you one have one more left!” Yes, that actually works for me, but I was still running about 30 seconds a mile slower than I had hoped..
I did a gel and a salt pill, while walking a rest stop. At the next rest stop I really needed more water to dilute the gel and salt. I would just like to take this opportunity to explain that what I did was completely inexcusable, I obviously wasn’t thinking clearly, but I wasn’t delusional and no matter how cranky I was I have no excuse. I take full responsibility and wholly admit that I was acting like a d-bag and I have no defense. I am embarrassed and humiliated, and am ashamed that I was wearing my team kit because this is totally not what a TriZoner should or would do.
As I approached the rest stop that was manned by several children, and I mean little kids like 7 and 8 years olds, as well as adult volunteers who were not getting paid to stand in the sun and hand me water, but were doing it because they are good giving people, the volunteer handed the last water to someone in front of me and no one else had a cup of water because these are not alien-beings who conjure water but people who have to run back over to the table to get more water. I freaked out and started screaming at these good people that “I needed water!” Like some self important a-hole. The kids weren’t really paying attention because they were 7 year old volunteers who had been out in the sun for 3 hours. I grabbed a cup out of one of the kid’s hands and when it was Gatorade and not water I threw it on the ground. WTF? Another runner said “HERE! Take my water…(he didn’t finish with”bitch!” but his face said it all)” That kinda snapped me out of it and I was immediately embarrassed and regretful for acting like such an incredible ass. I mumbled “I’m sorry” and I am sorry. I cannot even imagine what I looked like to those folks. Take this as an example of what never to do and if you see it, just know that that athlete is an a-hole and completely inappropriate. If you ever see me do anything like that again, you have permission to trip me, then kick me. 😦
After that, I did do a bit of an attitude adjustment since I assumed that anyone running anywhere near me and about my pace was going to think I was a total bitch of the next hour of running. I got through the third loop without further incident.
As I started the fourth and final loop, I started calling out to Ron things we would not be seeing again. “See that 10 mile marker? It’s ours!” “This is the last time we have to run out to the highway!” “Only two miles left!’ “This is the last time we have to run this hideous hill”
With only two miles left I was reinvigorated if for nothing else then just to be DONE. I kicked it into gear and ran the last hill, ran passed Shayla, ran passed the nekkid alien and towards the finish line so ready to be done.
This year I upgraded my Garmin (since my 6 year old Garmin died). I haven’t completely figured out the new Garmin and periodically accidentally turn it off when I mean to reset the lap, or have it set to automatically stop when I am not moving. So I looked at my Garmin which indicated I was going to finish in about 5:32, but I knew that was wrong. I also knew that I started the race 2 minutes behind the pros, but also in the middle of my age group, so I figured while I had turned the Garmin off several times, I would also get credit for starting later than the race clock. However, when I am hypoxic I totally lose the ability to do math. I was thinking I could probably finish at about 5:35…maybe.
I crossed the finish line and the race clock said 5:38:44, so I figured I was in in under 5:36.
My run was 2:04:08 or a 9:29min/mile (meh)
But my race time was 5:33:44. That almost 4 minutes off my PR so I was pretty dang thrilled. Woot! Woot!
Of course, because I am currently in the most competitive women’s age group I didn’t come close to the podium – WTF ladies? How can they just keep getting faster? My original plan was to outlive the competition, but now I am thinking I may have to start hiring some hit men…