Tuesday, April 18, 2017

River N Rapids Half Marathon

Hillsborough River State Park, April 8, 2017
Half #74

I signed up for this race as part of a 3 race series, long before I signed up for the half ironman. With a little over a month until my big race, I wasn't sure I should be running a trail half. Specially when I found out this was a technical trail, much harder then the other trail race that is held here in December. I decided to go for it. I planned on taking it easy and not "race" it. It was a solo trip for me, so I left my house early, giving myself an hour for drive time and 45 minutes to hang out. I got up there in good time, walked over to the main building for packet pickup. I ran into Brenda there. It was good to see her. We both checked out the large map of the course. There were 3 trail loops that we would run on. Going through the entire course twice. Kip, the race director, is pretty good at marking the trails, so I decided to just have faith that I wouldn't get lost! I went to my car to finish getting ready, then hit the bathroom, before walking to the start area 10 minutes before the start. As I stood there, I noticed the timing mat. I felt my bib and discovered to timing strip on there. I looked at other runners feet and ankles to see if they had timing chips or straps. Yep, timing chips on shoes. Crap! I ran back to the packet pickup building, got my chip, then ran back to the start line with about 30 seconds to spare before we were off!

We ran a little loop near the packet pickup building before heading over the bridge to the trails on the other side of the river. Right away we were on single track trails. It was hard to get around anyone. We were all single file, trying to avoid the many roots. I managed to get around a couple of people, before I got stuck behind this one guy. He would not budge. As I was meant to take it easy today, I decided just to follow behind him. The trail was beautiful! We ran along the trail, next to the river, for quite a while. Just after mile two, I was still stuck behind that guy, and was looking for a way to get around him. I wasn't paying enough attention to the ground in front of me. My left foot landed on the side of a root, twisting my ankle towards the ground. Ouch!! I hopped off to the side of the trail, limping, but letting others pass. A couple of nice people asked if I was ok. I said I would just walk it off. The big group all passed, so I was able to walk on the main trail, letting someone pass by, every once in a while. I walked for a few minutes, then stopped and rolled my foot around. It was starting to feel a bit better. I saw some teenagers heading my way, so I decided to try to run again, before I got stuck behind them. I slowly got back into running strongly. Feeling better by the time we finished this first loop. The first big loop, was just over 3 miles.

The next loop was small, only a mile. We had to run this twice in the first go around and then twice again later. There was a volunteer standing at the suspension bridge, asking each of us if we had run the loop once already. I ran that twice, then headed over the bridge. That was fun. It was bouncy!
Back on the other side of the river, the trail was less technical. We got to run on a few wooden walk ways. It was beautiful! There was a short out and back, with a water stop at the end, before we made our way back to the finish area and then off for our second time on the course. This is when the course was less crowded. as the 5K and 10K runners headed to the finish. I passed a couple of women, once the trail got wide enough. Then I ran over the bridge, back to the rooty trail. I was cruising along, taking photos with my GoPro. No runners in sight. It was very peaceful. I took my eye off of the trail for a second, to look at the river, when SLAM, my body hit the ground HARD! My GoPro flew out of my right hand, into the bushes. I got up, dusted myself off a bit, found my camera, then walked a little, assessing the damage. I didn't feel to bad. My ankle was still tender, and my wrist hurt, but otherwise, I felt fine! I decided to stop taking so many photos and concentrate on the trail. This second go around, I felt like the loop took forever! Just when I thought that I might have been lost, I would see another race flag. Finally, I made it to the junction of this trail and the next one. So happy to be done with the hardest trail! I ran the next one twice, headed over the bouncy bridge, then onto the final loop.
Heading towards the finish!

I felt a second wind coming on, as the trail got easier. I passed a few runners, which gave me a bit of a boost. Once I got to the last aid station, with a mile to go, I picked up the pace even more. Finally, I saw the finish line ahead, made the sharp left turn and ran hard to the finish!

Finish: 2:19:47
2nd in age group

Thursday, April 6, 2017

HITS Ocala Olympic Triathlon

April 2, 2017
Ocala, FL

The lake.
Gina, Wendy and I headed up to Ocala on Saturday afternoon, getting to packet pickup around 5pm. Packet pickup was a table with our packets and 2 small tents, selling some product. That was it. For an olympic and a sprint tri (which was Sunday), I get that. But on Saturday, there was a full distance (140.6) and a half! Such a small operation! We walked over to the lake, to get an idea of what our swim would look like. The lake is huge. There was a wide sandy beach. So not very much different then the beach at home. I was happy about that. We then checked out the transition area. There were bikes in the rack and some racks still empty. The guy there told us some of the full distance athletes were still on the bike course. We had seen some runners, but not many. We also noticed runners coming off of a trail, onto the road, before looping back to the trail. So we asked about this. Yep, we were going to have a 95% trail run the next day. Not what I was expecting at all! We headed out, to drive the bike course. This hills were not steep, they just seemed like a steady climb. We saw no police on the course. I wondered if there were still bikes really out there. They would have had to stop at stop signs! We then headed to the Blue Highway restaurant for a yummy pasta dinner, before heading back to the hotel.

Race morning: we got up at 5am, got ready, then headed out. Our gps had us ending up at the wrong place. After a little bit of freaking out, we found the park, let Gina get unloaded first (her race started earlier then ours), then headed to transition. I think my favorite thing about this race was the setup in transition! For one thing, they had 5 porta poties inside transition. I never see them inside. Makes it easy if you need to use the facilities after the bike to run. Each bike spot had a stool and a box that the bikes front tire set in. Plenty of space to set up transition mat. I think our space was twice the size then normal. There was a table with water and coffee.
My spot in transition. Loved this set up!

After Wendy and I got body marked, we grabbed our wetsuit and swim supplies, then headed to the beach to watch Gina go out. Her start time was 7 am. Ours was 7:45. We couldn't find her in the big group (it was a mas start swim), but we stayed to watch, so we could see how shallow the water was. Once the race got started, we saw most people walk or running for a very long time, through the water. They did this until very close to the first bouy! We then saw the leaders stand up at the second bouy, then pretty much dolphin dive all the way back in.  Once all the swimmers were out, we got to hear our race directions, which we could hardly hear the guy say. Wendy had said she heard our run was an out and back and not the two loops that we had been told on our race details. So I raised my hand to ask. Yep, it was out and back now. The guy seemed to think that was no big deal, even though most everyone around us was surprised to hear this. We all got lined up, the guy counted down, and we were off!

Swim: Most of us were doing the same thing the sprint swimmers had done, we were run or walking through the water. I noticed right away this was putting a lot of effort on my quads. I tried to swim a couple of times, but my hands kept hitting the sand! So I stood up and pushed through the water. Finally, I was able to get my face in the water and swim. I felt pretty good. The group had spread out. I did have people around me and bumping me a bit, but it was the first time that it didn't bother me. I rounded the first bouy, heading left. I was feeling good, but not pushing it, as I still had to swim another loop. As I rounded the second buoy, I stood up, then started dolphin diving in, swimming a few strokes, then dolphin diving. This helped to get me past a few people. I walked it around the bouy near the beach, then headed back out. Yep, quads starting to really feel that push on the water. I was happy to actually start swimming again. Which normally isn't something that comes out of my mouth. :) I pretty much did the same thing on the way back. I was able to pass at least 4 people on the way in, doing the dolphin dive/swim thing.  Once I hit the beach, I probably should have run a bit more then I did, but I wanted to watch my step through the grass/dirt area leading to transition. I didn't use the help of the wetsuit stripper. Didn't feel like laying down in the grass. I did realize as I was heading in, that I forgot to bring a towel or water to clean my feet! Once I got to my spot in transition, I sat on my stool, yanked off my wetsuit and found the extra tank top I had in my backpack, to wipe off my feet. I pulled on my bike jersey, socks, bike shoes, helmet and sunglasses, then headed out. Swim time - 29:22. T1 time - 3:50

Coming in from the bike ride.

Bike: I felt good heading out on the bike. Right away, there was an incline out of transition and then again, on the main road heading out of the park. I shifted gears and got onto the aerobars. For the next few miles, I had a hard time finding the right gear. I guess I just wasn't used to this type of course, with the gradual hills. My quads were sore and my right foot was starting to go numb. I was not enjoying the bike ride on my new tires. The road was very narrow and kind of busy for early on a Sunday morning. There was a police officer at the two corners we had to turn on, but cars were getting backed up, so we had to ride to the left of them to get around. It was very strange. I've never had to deal with that many cars before on a triathlon bike course. The turn around was a very sharp turn. I headed back. And now my left calf was feeling numb. I still could not get into gear that didn't feel hard or super easy. Normally I can find that sweet spot. On the second loop, I stopped at the turn around to adjust my compression sock, which was acting as a slight turniqut on my lower leg, It was bunched up next to the timing band. I just pulled the sock over the band and hoped it would still read when I went over the timing mats. About 2 miles out, I saw someones bike shoe on the side of the road. Not sure how someone lost a shoe, but they did! Heading into transition, I saw Gina. Super happy to have her there cheering us on. I racked my bike, pulled off my bike shoes, helmet and bike jersey. Pulled on my tanktop, shoes, visor, racebelt and washcloth, then headed to the porta pottie for a much needed stop. I was pretty quick in there, then ran out. (**bike should have been 24 miles. My watch showed 24.75) Bike time - 1:26:37. T2 time - 2:39

Heading out on the run.

Run: The run out, is up an incline. We turn to the left, out of the parking area, pass near the finish, then head onto the trail. The tail was nicely shaded and beautiful. The trail itself, not a fan. It was really just a dirt service road. Some hard pack road, but a lot of deeper, loose sand. Pretty much like running on the beach. I grabbed a water at the first stop, just under a mile in. I actually felt really good on the run. I was passing quite a few people. I tried to take the tangents as much as possible and run on the grass, on the side of the trail, when the sand got to be to much. There was a great set up at the turnaround, a mother and her two kids. I got a water there, before heading back. I was still passing many people, which helped boost my moral, after a bummer bike ride. I got to see Wendy on my way back, and just after passing her, I saw a snake cross just a few feet in front of me! Yikes!! I'm glad Wendy didn't see that. :) I grabbed another water and an orange slice at the next stop, then started to pick up the pace again. I would feel wonderful, then I would hit a large section of sandy road, that would slow me down and frustrate the crap out of me! I passed a college kid about half a mile in, then another guy, as I emerged from the trail. I saw Gina off to the side, cheering me on. Made a sharp right turn, then picked it up to cross the finish line! Yes! So happy to be done with my first Olympic distance triathlon! Run time - 56:04

On my way to the finish!

Finish time - 2:58:34
3rd in age group and 14th women finisher

Sarasota Half Marathon

Pre race with Carolyn, Sandi and Gina

March 19, 2017
Half #73

I love running the Sarasota Half. This was my 9 year running it! I had signed up to run a trail race the day before, but I figured I needed a bike and swim workout on Saturday more then back to back halfs, so I skipped the trail half. Since I rode 30 miles and swam half a mile on Saturday, I wasn't sure how I would feel for the race. My goal was to try and get in at 2 hours. Carolyn, Gina and I got up just in front of the 2 hour pacer. We saw lots of local runner friends in the coral, which is always fun. We listened to the national anthem and then we were off!

I started off a bit fast, which is normal. I just wanted to get around the massive crowd of runners. The first half is an out and back over the Ringling bridge, to St Armands Circle, and back. Gina pulled ahead right away. I wasn't even going to try and stay with her. She was running the relay, so she could push the pace faster. Running up the bridge, I could tell I hadn't done that in a while. Need to add back in bridge repeats to my workouts! Down the bridge was great. Heading out towards the circle, we started to see the leaders coming back. It was hard to see them though, it was still pretty dark. Once again, the bridge slowed me down a bit on the way back, then that slight incline into the mid way point, were the relay people hand off. I was able to pick up the pace a little there, as I got a boost from seeing friends on the sidelines cheering! Miles 1 through 7 - 8:17, 8:34, 8:27, 8:23, 8:58, 8:44, 9:06

Edith got a great photo of me running it in, less then
a quarter mile to the finish.

Love the new route that they kept this year. We were off of the main road pretty quickly. Running through the neighborhood to the west of 41, with the beautiful houses and Bay views. It is so much better then looking at old style hotels and businesses (with the occasional hooker sighting!) The next few miles went by uneventful. Slight slow down, but I was actually feeling pretty good. The warmer weather wasn't bothering my and for once in a long while, I wasn't having any issues with hips, back or calves! Picked up the pace in the last mile. Got a little boost from seeing friends near the finish. Made the last right turn, then picked it up even more! finished 3 and a half minutes under my goal. Miles 8 through 13.1 - 9:00, 8:55, 9:07, 9:02, 9:26, 8:56, 1:21

Half #731