Monday, May 21, 2012

Don't Forget to Smile: It's a Beautiful Day to be Alive

There were a few goals of this race. 1. Qualify to Kona. Check! 2. Break 10 hours. 3 measly minutes!! 3. Win the overall amateur title. Came in 5th, 2nd in my AG. Want more? Read on, my fellow readers, read on. You may need a cup of coffee or a glass of vino!

Ironman Texas 2.0 was Saturday in the Woodlands, TX. I was excited for the race, but not as nervous as usual- which enables things to go down a bit more smoothly, like my pre race breakfast!

I flew to The Woodlands on Wednesday and was picked up by Sarah and whisked away to our next door neighbor home stays. I can't say enough good things about both of our home stays. We were literally next door to each other and both families were just spectacular. Familiar with racing and my family was exactly like coffee and keep the house at 80 degrees. Was I in Texas or paradise? Did you say you make smoothies every morning with kale and cherries? What a warm welcome over a hotel. THANK YOU to Nancy and Eric for hosting me and for cheering me on all day long Saturday and then indulging in a massive pizza with me apr├Ęs race. I hope to one day be able to return the favor.

Thursday and Friday were spent doing the usual pre race duties...packing bags, counting calories for the bike, laying out race day outfit and then sitting with my feet up and doing a little bit of work. Funny how work will keep your mind off of the race and keep you calm...I may have to try that more often! Having a good friend at a race is so great, keeps you calm when you have other things to talk about than the race.

Race morning came with as usual not much sleep the night before. I have learned that this is just how it goes, and the important night of sleep is really Thursday for a Saturday race. So when I can't sleep the night before a race, there is no panic, just oh well, let me think about how I am going to execute my race plan and how much fun I'll have the next day and just relax in bed.

Pre race fuel: large bowl steel cut oats, brown sugar, banana, packet of Justin's nut butter, 2scoops Cytomax with water. About 900 calories.

Transition is about a mile from the swim start so Sarah and I got dropped off at transition after listening to some SWEET pump you up music and pumped up tires and re visited race bags. I had frozen my gel flasks so that they were not steamy hot by the time the bike rolled around. Ran through transition one more time so that in the heat of racing I would just be on auto pilot. Ready!

The pink cap on the far right is me

Swim: 2nd in the AG 1:03:22
After walking to the swim and waiting in the bathroom line one last time, it was time to get in...only 10 minutes to go, the pros were already off. I decided to start all the way to the right and front. I prefer to start away from the buoy line and work my way over in clear water as opposed to getting smashed from the start. Perfect plan, I was off and running and not getting pummeled Kona 2012 style. I have definitely been working on my swim and was really pleased with a 1:03...2 minutes better than last year. I tried to keep my focus on the effort and not let up and day dream. Seeing Sonja as i swam down the canal was super and definitely made me smile. I think there is definitely a quicker swim to be had without much more energy used so that is what I will work towards. Thank you Stanford Masters!!

Bike: 5:19:26
Again, only a 3 minute improvement from last year. Kind of disappointed with this one to be honest. I was really gunning for a 5:10. I thought that this was an EXTREMELY achievable goal. I was on pace, hitting 66 miles in exactly 3 hours, but then the head winds started, I got a bit fatigued and the average went way down. I packed one flask that I always use for gels and another that I use for water but have also used for gels with water added. I used it for all gels for the race and the spout was not wide enough for the gel to come out...1st problem, I just unscrewed the cap each half hour and guzzled like that and then put the top back on. Nothing we can't overcome right?!! I kept the nutrition up and took a water bottle for hydrating and keeping me cool at each aid station. As the back side saw the winds pick up, it also saw the drafting pick up. A group of 20 guys passed me and I said to one of them "Hi guys!! Draft much?!!". To which the reply from one was "little bit". The wind was strong and it was oh so tempting, but I chose to stay on my own and watch them fly up the road using 30% less energy than I was. Did I mention I later saw most of them on the run? The drafting Marshall's were out and I saw them give some cards out to the group of guys, but it is just so frustrating to see that and to have guy after guy come by and have to observe the other part of the drafting rule which is that I have to drop back after being passed by said gentleman...thus slowing my roll a bit. Not an excuse for my time, I lost my edge on the back half of the course (and I will be working on that!). I had the usual low spot around mile 70-90. Do those miles not move for anyone else out there? Once you get to 90 you can see 100 and then you turn into the Woodlands and you can smell the barn! I did a flying dismount which could have been disastrous but with a heavy lean of the bike and some careful breaking, I managed to stay upright and fly into transition with my bike caught by an awesome volunteer!

Total calories on the bike 180 calories first bottle of Cytomax, then only water and 1500 calories of gels. Yes, all one flavor. I can handle that monotony like a champ. Mmmm, yes please may I have another strawberry vanilla slam gel?!! But not at least for three more weeks please.

Run: 3:35:11  3rd Best in AG
This is where I saw the biggest time drop from last years race and this is only 3 minutes off my PR run from Kona this past October. Which I almost couldn't believe when I crossed the finish line...the run is three laps of almost 9 miles a piece. A very doable course in terms of breaking it down into manageable chunks, but just like in New Orleans, I had such a hard time getting the first lap going. I felt like my heart was going to explode out of my chest, I kept walking and my HR was still beeping at me telling me I wasn't working hard enough. Note to self, must evaluate HR...they are lower than your average gals and this is OK and doesn't mean I am not working hard. Looking at the IM tracking page says that my first lap averaged 7:34's and I seriously thought it was going to be a death march to a 4 hour marathon and no Kona slot. Time to get mentally tough! Gels, coke and the cheers of lively Texans kept me going. I hit the second lap and things were starting to come around. That lap felt great. Luckily Sonja was out on the run being super supporter and was able to tell me that the gal in first was wayyyyy up the road (she was the overall amateur and finished 6th Overall Female) and that third was trying to run me down. You want a Kona slot Hailey? You had better sort your self out and start running! There will only be two slots due to The number of IM races out there and every girl within striking distance wants one of those slots. Dreams of Hawaiian beaches and honu? Better start running like you stole it sista! I had 4 minutes on 3rd place after the 1st lap and built my lead up another minute going into the final loop. Thank goodness for diesel engines.

Total time was 10:03, a 15 minute PR on this course and a 3 minute IM PR. I will take it! I also got my Kona slot and was 5th amateur overall and 12th female including the pros. I am most proud of the fact that had I been a pro, I would have finished 8th.

The race was more challenging than last year in my opinion, with no cloud cover throughout the entire day and no shade out on course. You would see people running from one side of the street to the other I searched the odd tree with some shade. There is one section that has some shade and the volunteer was not wrong when he was telling people, you will be so happy to be on that mile section. Sir you were SOOOO right, it was the only reprieve. Going out today even with just a minor sunburn (some things not even a 100 SPF can prevent) my skin was like, get indoors right now!!!

I was so thankful to have support from Sarah, Sonja and my home stay out on course. I know that there is a better race inside of me so I will be back at it making sure that it can show up soon! The other awesome thing on the run course were some of the signs, like "suck it up, buttercup", and "don't be fooled, you are NO where near the finish".

Today was filled with food, friends and a very swollen flight home. Seriously, my ankles have disappeared and my feet feel like they may explode with water. Gonna be wearing my double wide shoes tomorrow!

Next up is Escape from Alcatraz in 3 weeks in San Francisco, our backyard. I haven't done this race for at least three years and I am excited to take it on again!


Tri-Jess said...

Awesome race report, well done on you PR!

Loved that second to last photo :)

Beth said...

Congrats Hailey!!! Love that huge course PR!! And love that this race served the main purpose to get you to Kona where I KNOW you will wow them all with you sub 10 hour podium finish!!! Recover well!! :-)

MissFancyPants said...

Hailey! So happy for you!! Great job!!

mtanner said...

Love following along. You are KILLING it!

hailey said...

Thanks for all the cheers guys!!

Katie said...

Awesome job and great perspective knowing that this gets you to Kona where you can have the day of your dreams!! Recover well and enjoy Alcatraz :)

Katie said...

I'm so happy for you! Congrats on the PR, look at that run!!!!

Libby said...

Wow you drilled it on a super hot day!! Amazing and congrats on returning to Kona!!!!

Haley Chura said...

Congrats! Way to fight! So glad we finally got to meet! Good luck at Alcatraz!!!

jameson said...

"not getting pummeled Kona 2012 style"

I am still scarred!

Sarah Piampiano said...

Great blog Hails....It has been so great sharing the last two races with you! My partner in racing crime! Many more to come, I hope! Miss you! xxxx