Monday, July 21, 2008

Why Do They Call It A Half?

Of course, I know why they call it a half. It's half the distance of an ironman race. Because Ironman owns the rights to that name, races are not allowed to call it a half ironman, unless it is put on by that organization. I don't know all the legal jargon, but you get my drift.

I would prefer it be called a 70.3 distance race. I think NAS owns the rights to that name, so that's probably not the answer either. Again, not up-to-date on all the legal stuff.

But my point is, those of us who complete races that include a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run complete an entire triathlon. Not half of one, or a quarter of one, but the whole dang thing!

When I started in this sport 22 years ago, I didn't know anyone who did an "ironman" race. But back then when you mentioned you did triathlons, most people associated triathlon with "that crazy race in Hawaii." When I first started, the most popular distance is what is now known as olympic or international distance. Sprints became popular for people who didn't think they could manage the international distance, but still challenging enough to require the training and commitment needed. I think race directors and sponsors also realized they could get a lot more people in the sprints, which is basically the bottom line, more interest, more money!

I've been involved in this sport a long time and have respect for all the distances. Each race has its own challenges. Sprints are difficult for me because I really "race" them--go all out, 100% for the entire race. I love the international distance. It's a challenge to go that hard for that long, and know how to pace enough not to burn out half way through the 10K.

Last year I completed my first 70.3. It was in Orlando and put on by NAS so it's actually part of their 70.3 series. I trained hard, but it wasn't until I actually did the race that I learned how different it was from the shorter distances. Swimming, biking and running are just the basics of this race. The training, rest, nutrition, hydration, strength work, these all play a huge part--at least for me. I need to be aware of all this to have a good "race day."

So now I'm preparing for my first ironman in Louisville. I'm nervous as heck, but I think I'll do OK. My first goal is to finish, of course. My next goal would be to have a decent "run" leg. How much actual running I'll do is left to be seen!

As for yesterday at Racine, I had a really good race. The swim was BRUTAL! No other way to say it. Everyone who was there knows just what I'm talking about. We went up on Saturday and I got in the water in the p.m. It was rainy, cool, really foggy, and the water was unbelievably cold. There were many people trying to decide if they were going to start the race.

When I first got in, I turned and looked at my husband and said "We're going home now!" But then my thoughts turned to all the people who would actually submit themselves to this torture, and I knew how miserable I would be if I bailed. I persevered, and was actually able to swim by the time I exited the lake.

As usual, I didn't sleep at all the night before. Worrying about the water temp didn't make matters any better. I just kept thinking, if I can just get through the swim, I'd be OK.

To make matters worse yet, the start was postponed an hour due to fog. The coast guard needed to make sure they could see the swimmers. Since the conditions were so bad, it was much better to wait and be safe. More time to be nervous!

We heard from the lifeguards on Saturday that the buoys had actually been moved closer to shore. There were two sprint tris on Saturday, and there were some problems during the swim. The lifeguard told my husband that it was possible to walk most of the course now. Considering how much panic could take place during the swim, this was a great comfort. We all felt better knowing we could stand up to catch our breath if we had to. And I did!

The course is basically a point-to-point. It was still a little hard to see the buoys when we started, but I could see them as I approached each one. But I didn't know how many there were. I did recognize the final triangular buoy. Some people missed this, and had to swim back out to go around it. I saw a lot of people swimming way inside the buoys. I don't know if this was on purpose or if they just couldn't see--I'm guessing the latter. I think they could have had more boats on the water, considering the conditions.

It was REALLY COLD! (I heard the temp at race time was 55.) Have I said that before? I never warmed up or got in a really good rhythm. I did, however, make really good friends with my wetsuit. I wore the bigger one, and while it's a little big in the legs and arms, it fits good in the chest and I was able to breathe pretty easily for the most part. I was really happy to be done. I heard the course could have been just a minute or so short, and that we may have had a current behind us. In any case, there were some fast swim times and lots of PR. I couldn't believe my time when I stood up and checked my watch.

Because we started late, I was starving when I got out of the water. I grabbed a bar on my way out of T1 with my bike. I always keep extra stuff in my tri bag and I was glad I did yesterday.

I had a good ride. The course was OK--it's fast and flat, but there were several roads that were REALLY BUMPY! The bike is my best leg, and I've learned that I need to leave something on the bike course if I want to have a decent run (for me). It's hard for me, because I would love to hammer the whole time, but I've learned that I have a better overall time if I take more time on the bike and leave more for the run. It worked great yesterday! I drank all my fluid, ate all my food, took all my Thermolyte tablets, and felt good when I got off the bike.

I knew that if I had a decent run, I would be able to break six hours. I grabbed an Erin Baker mini breakfast cookie on the way out of transition, strapped on my fuel belt (I didn't need all the bottles I carried--good to know for the next races, especially Louisville) and took off.

There are good and bad points to doing a double loop run. The bad part was when you finished the first loop at this race you were .1 miles from the finish line and could see it CLEARLY! Also, when you're running to complete the first loop, the spectators and volunteers are yelling, "great job, almost done, the finish line is just ahead!" WRONG! Still had one more loop to do. (It was worse in Flordia--there were four loops, but at least you couldn't SEE the finishe line until after the last one!)

The good thing is you know the course and you know exactly where the finish line is! I was really excited because I knew if I kept up my pace, not only would I break 6:00, but I could finish around 5:55, maybe even better.

I continued on my nutrition schedule--two Thermolyte tablets every 30 minutes, water/ice at every aid station (the ice was AMAZING! never had that before), sipped on my Nuun/Carbo Pro mix in my fuel belt at every aid station also. Ate one Power Gel. It worked well!

I felt good--I missed seeing the 11 mile marker, and I ran out of gas a little between miles 11 and 12. But at mile 12, I knew it was almost over. When I crossed the finish line, my watch said 5:49:15 (official chip time: 5:49:09). I was so excited. I was starting to feel really hot--I got really sunburned, as I know most of the racers did. (The fog cleared and the sun came out sometime when I was on the bike course.) I got some ice in the medical tent. I was a little tired, sunburned, hot, but I felt really good!

It was a well run race for the most part. There are some things they could change. The communication could be a lot better. There is no awards ceremony, so you have to wait until the times are posted to find out where you finished. They gave awards five deep, and I thought I might have a chance......turned out I finished 5th! WOW! There were some really fast times ahead of me--not that I consider my time fast, except for ME. I recognized the top two women--they just moved into the 50-54 age group. I can hang with most women on the swim and the bike--it's the run that always does me in. (I believe that the longer the race, the more important that run is. Check out the pro and elite times/splits, you'll see what I mean.)

Congratulations to everyone who did the race. My friends Nick and Kara kicked some major butt! Your times were amazing!

Jayhawk, congratulations on your first official 70.3 finish. Can't wait to read about it!

I slept like the dead last night and did a real easy 2000 meter swim today. Tomorrow it's right back to Louisville training. Two more "mega hours" weeks, a recovery week, and then two weeks of tapering. YIKES! It sounds really close, huh?

Hope everyone had a great Monday! The weather looks really nice for the rest of the week here in Bolingbrook, IL.

Week Totals:

Swim: 6x for 10,850 meters
Bike: 3x for 123 miles
Run: 3x for 126 miles
Strength: 2 - 40 minute sessions
Core: 3 - 30 minute sessions
Total: 19 hours
Calories: 8,800

Until next time--God bless!


WADDLER26.2 said...

Great race report and congrats on the PR. What a day!! You will do great in Louisville.

Vickie said...

Karen, congrats on a great race. And as all the veteram tri-geeks will tell you: it all comes down to the run.

IronSnoopy said...

You ROCK! :)

(Insert Happy Snoopy Dance)

What a great day! You're gonna tear LOU up!