Pre race - 9/22
Saturday could have been a rushed day but I wrote out an itinerary for our to-do's and was careful to not overlook the importance of "rest" on the day before our race.
We warmed up near the race venue (pictured above is race start) with a 10 min lake swim, followed by a 45 min bike (on the first 5ish miles of the course) and then a 10 min run to open the legs. While sipping on our Hammer Recoverite, we checked in for the event at the host hotel, Chateau on the Lake and scoped out the swim/T1 scene.
We stopped a sub place for a meal and then headed back to the hotel. We had packed up our stuff for the race on Fri evening so there was ample time to rest in the room. Although, it always seems like time just ticks on by.
Around 1:30 we headed back to the Chateau (5.6 miles away, 15 min drive) for the athlete briefing which I find is a mandatory to-do no matter the race. Afterward, we checked in our bikes at T1 and decided instead of setting up transition on Saturday (like some) we would do so on Sunday morning.
We made a stop at the local grocery store for stuff for dinner. We opted to eat in our room with familiar food and an environment that wouldn't require us to wait for our pre-race dinner or risk anything w/ food prep. Also, we saved some money by not eating out, which is always a nice bonus.
My yummy creation that I enjoyed after we checked in all our stuff. All I need is a grocery store and a microwave and my favorite, trusty pre-race meal (for the past 5+ years) is easy to find and easy to make. Karel got chicken and rice (we bought the 90 second microwave seasoned rice in a bag) and I gave him a little of my salad.
We made a stop at T2 near the landing (1 mile from our hotel) to set up transition w/ our run gear. Funny to see a lot of bike racks w/ no bikes but I enjoyed having two separate transitions. Something different and new for me but I thought it was neat to break up the race and to avoid the clutter with the same transition for swim to bike and bike to run.
We both had a bag for our run gear (shoes and visor) and for me, a gel flask filled w/ 3 huckleberry gels for the 13.1 mile run. They gave us two bib numbers so with the number being mandatory on the bike, I decided to make an extra race belt w/ number for the run (I do the same in the IM) just in case I lose my number on the bike.
After a delicious and satisfying dinner around 5:30pm, we rested in our room until a little before 9pm and then it was time for a good night of rest. I prepared my bottles w/ powder only this evening so that on race day morning all I had to do was fill w/ water.
Race day morning
I sent my phone alarm (more like 3 of them for back-up) for 4:15am. The time was actually very comfortable for waking considering that we have stayed on Eastern time, not Central in Branson. We each did our own thing for breakfast based on what works for each of us.
I had a bowl of frosted shredded wheat (around 200 calories) w/ skim milk and 1/2 large banana (sliced). I topped my cereal w/ some raisins and sunflower seeds and spread a little PB on my banana. I could tell I was a little nervous (although I didn't feel like I was) because my tummy was a little off but in thinking back to almost every race, it is the same pre race "off" tummy that has never hurt my race day performance. We also picked up brewed coffee at Starbucks on Sat to reheat on Sunday. Smart call by Mr. European (Karel) for a nice change to hotel coffee. I also had a 28 ounce bottle of water for the morning to sip on as well as around 16 ounces or so w/ breakfast to help w/ digestion.
We used some Balm Bag instead of body glide before we left, for we find this much better to prevent chaffing. I forgot to put some around my arms where my jersey rubbed during the run but no chaffing during the swim w/ my wetsuit which was nice.
We headed 1 mile down the road via car to the Belk Parking lot to pick up the shuttle. Surprised at the long wait and lack of enough shuttles, we waiting in the 43-46 degree weather for around 20 minutes. Finally, we got on a shuttle a little before 6am which was good considering that transition closed at 6:45am.
When we arrived to transition, it was cold. I didn't let it get to me but glad I had a jacket, long sleeves, ear cover and gloves to keep me warm. Some people had their wetsuits on on the bus to stay warm. The cold weather was a change from the low mid 50's on Fri,Sat and today, Monday.
My transition area includedAero helmet
3 bottles of Heed (240 calories) on bike + 1 gel flask w/ 3 huckleberry gels (300 calories)
Pink CEP compression socks
Arm warmers (didn't use)
Gloves (didn't use)
Jersey (I opted to put on a dry jersey post swim vs wearing a wet one on the bike)
I planned for a longer transition because it was important to me to be comfortable on the bike and not super cold with tight muscles for the first climbs out of transition.
After I set up my transition, I made a quick stop to the port-a-potty and thankfully, the line moved quickly. I guess I was well hydrated that morning. On the days leading up the race, we both took 1 Hammer Fizz daily for electrolytes to ensure proper cardiac and muscular functioning on race day. Also, 2 daily tissue rejuvinator is part of my normal routine so I don't have to consume Alleve, ibuprofen, etc. I do not take any anti-inflammatories on or near race day and it is more like 8-10 a year as needed for "serious" issues.
Karel had no trouble setting up his transition so we met at the lake for a warm-up swim. This was super important for Karel so he wouldn't hyperventilate on the swim or freak himself out. The water was toasty and just perfect at 74 degrees. I had my Xterra Female long sleeve Vector Pro wetsuit which I absolutely love (super comfy) and we warmed up with a little swimming before they closed the lake for the pro start at 7am. We shared a gel (Hammer huckleberry) around 10-15 min before the race start.
It was a little cold on the rocks on the beach but despite my knees shaking a bit, I was glad I did a warm-up swim to get the body going.
SWIM - 1.2 miles
A little after 7:10, it was time to give Karel a kiss for confidence in his first ever half ironman. He said he was nervous but wasn't sure why. I told him I still get nervous but I think nerves can sometimes be confused w/ the unknown of the day ahead and a mix of excitement thrown in. I told him he will do great and that all he has to do is think about his form on the swim and to stay on the outside to avoid getting mixed up with everyone in his wave. Once he got on the bike, I told him he will really feel at ease.
My wave started at 7:15 and was an in-the-water start. We swam just a little to the buoy and I positioned myself on the far left of the 18-34 wave (last female wave) even though we were to keep the buoy's to our right. After thinking about the mess that can come from trying to swim in a pack of people (especially wave start) I figured it would be more efficient for me to swim a little longer distance but to be able to actual swim vs. constantly spotting and navigating through the other 4 waves ahead of me.
After I started my Garmin 910XT, we were off!
I felt really smooth during the entire swim. Unable to properly pace myself on the swim, I decided to just stay smooth, draft whenever possible and to be efficient w/ my stroke.The last month or so of pushing my comfort zone w/ the fast guys, was really paying off. I found myself feeling great throughout the entire swim and there was a good amount of buoys which helped for staying on track. When I was navigating around the last buoy on the way back (it was a clockwise swim, out to buoy, then semi diagonal to another buoy then straight shot to the swim exit) I looked at my watch in the water (the lake was considerably clear near the surface) and was excited to see my time.
I stayed behind another girl in a pink cap who was about 2 body lengths ahead of me. I tried to keep her in my sight and I didn't pass her until we ran up to transition. Later I realized she was a super strong cyclist but also a great swimmer to push me to not slow down.
I exited the water in 30.03. Super happy with this time as I felt I didn't go out too hard but just enough to stay in the mix. My garmin said 1.27 for the distance which is ok for me considering that my strategy to stay on the outside really helped.
I ran up to T1 on a steep ramp and took my time in T1, putting on all my gear that I have used effectively in training. The jersey took a little to put on but I feel it was worth wearing a warm (not wet) jersey on the bike.
I started my bike computer (Garmin 500) as I was running out of transition and hit my lap button on my Garmin 910XT since I had it on auto multi sport for triathlons.
Once I started the bike, I felt good. I was really excited for the bike to see what I was able to accomplish for this was something very new to me in triathlons. I have climbed before (IMKY and IMWI and KONA) and enjoy a challenging event but this was something completely different. More than 200-400 feet of climbing at a time, this was a serious, no-joke bike course. It required me to be smart, to take a few risks and to be consistent w/ power and nutrition.
I had an idea of a respectable time (3:10-3:20) on the bike based on past performances from girls in this age group from the past two years and to average around 17 mph was very respectable on this course. I figured I would still be able to compete with the other girls within this range and it wasn't worth it to me to kill myself for a sub 3 hour bike, only to suffer on the run. I took some risks being a little conservative on the bike but to monitor my power. More than anything, I love to climb and sometimes I push too hard so I didn't want to get caught up in any time goals for this race. I wanted to race strong and smart from start to finish so that meant holding back a bit and at the same time, pushing it when needed (like, on the run).
Girls were passing me on the first climb but I didn't let it get to me. I just told myself "what will you gain in the first 6 miles of this challenging bike course?" and after the first 6 miles, I started to question my strategy......
Bike Report coming soon......
A little report on Karel's first 1.2 experience in a triathlon...in a lake.
He felt really smooth and found that swimming slightly to the outside helped his nerves for this event. He was able to focus on his form and he even surprised himself when he was passing people. He said when he exited the water he was shocked to see 34/35 minutes on his watch. He said he was so excited, he couldn't wait to find me on the bike course to tell me :)
He said the transition area was a little packed for him but he didn't have any trouble getting his stuff for the bike. He also passed on the arm warmers and wore a SL3 tri suit for the race (which he practiced several times in training). Karel has Louis Garneau Vorttice aero helmet (I have a pink/black Giro aero helmet).