Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Iron Girl 2014 race report

Well I finally got my act together and signed up for another race.  After the Patriot Half, I briefly considered retiring on a high note, but naturally my friends wouldn't let me.  I had to take a couple weeks off of training due to a non-running-related surgery, so I struggled a bit getting going again.  Within just hours of Iron Girl registration closing online, I finally agreed to do it (with some aggressive suggesting by Coleen!).  Since Patriot, I had only swam twice and biked once on the road.  My running was doing okay but with some lingering issues from my surgery I wasn't running at 100%.  In the meantime, I somehow managed to get a flat tire even though I had it on the trainer.  I've gotten pretty good at changing tires, but getting the rear tire back onto the bike seems to be my hang up.

I was getting a bit nervous in the days leading up to the race because my quads were killing me.  I assume it was from Wednesday's track workout, but it was strange that it was lasting for so long.  Then I remembered I've been doing a lot of squats on my bosu ball, so I think it was a combination of both.  I ran 3.5 miles on Saturday to see if I could flush out my quads.  I normally wouldn't run that far the day before a race, but I'm glad I did because my legs felt a ton better afterwards.  Saturday night I figured I should probably just make sure my bike was working okay since I hadn't taken it on the road in a full four weeks.  I brought it outside and hopped on for a quick spin.  I didn't even wear my helmet because I was only going to ride it for about 20 seconds, but I was having so much fun I sprinted all the way up my hill.  Whoops!  While riding, I noticed my neighbors had porta-potties set up in their front yard.  Weird.

As I was getting tucked into bed, I texted Coleen and asked her to text me at 5am to make sure I was awake.  I've had a couple issues with my alarm lately and didn't want to oversleep!  We were carpooling together and I was supposed to be at her house at 5:15.  She's very punctual so I knew I could count on her.  Then... the music started.  It was weird music.  Heart thumping, shake-the-house loud music, and it was coming from my neighbor's house, but it sounded like it was inside my skull.  I had my windows closed and the fan on full blast, and couldn't escape the noise.  I was so angry, but I wasn't going to be a snitch and call the cops on my neighbors.  Unfortunately, the party lasted all night and I didn't get any sleep at all.  When my alarm went off at 4am, I was still trying to fall asleep!  I knew this was going to make for a rough race.  Finally at 4:30am I walked outside to move my truck and the music abruptly stopped, and I saw several police cruisers next door.  At 4:45am I texted Coleen and said, "no need to text me.  I'm awake and I've been up all night".  I finished getting ready and went to go pack my bike on my truck.  I lifted my bike off the ground and gave it a little bounce, and realized my rear tire was loose!  When I had changed the tube, I had trouble getting the tire back on securely but thought I finally got it on.  Turns out, I hadn't.  The skewer wasn't even locked down, and I very easily could've had a disaster.  I guess rolling up my hill last night without a helmet wasn't such a good idea!  So, I spent a couple minutes getting the wheel back on correctly, and ended up running late.  I texted Coleen at 5:15 saying I was running late and leaving my house now.  At 5:30 I pulled into Coleen's house and there was no sign of her!  I walked up to her house and she came bursting through the door, announcing her alarm never went off and she just woke up!  It was kind of hilarious.  Definitely not the best way to start a race, but all we could do was laugh.  We finally got to the race with just a few minutes to spare before the transition area closed.  Maybe that was a good thing, because I never had a chance to obsess over how to lay everything out.  My main priority was finding a porta-potty, so I quickly set up my transition area and made a beeline to the toilets!

It was a chilly morning, only in the low 60's.  The water was over 78 degrees so wetsuits weren't legal, which was fine with me because I wasn't using one.  It felt so warm in the water, which was such a nice change.  At Patriot the water was cold it took my breath away.  They split up our age groups into two swim starts to make the swim waves smaller, and there were 5 minutes in between each swim wave.  This was a great way to start the race.  Very relaxing and inviting for even the most timid swimmers (like me!)  Last year I had started in the far back and off to the side to stay away from everyone.  This year I was a little more confident so I started right in the middle and swam in traffic.  I swam next to and in between other swimmers and was very successful!  I didn't panic at all and had no trouble breathing.  I passed a few swimmers and a few passed me, and it was just a nice relaxing swim in clean water.  I know this doesn't sound like anything special, but I think I'm happier about this than anything.  Swimming has always been an issue for me, so I'm very proud of how far I've come!

Swim stats: .33 mile swim
Time: 13:51
Pace: 2:36/100m
Place in division: 48/82
Place overall: 302/583

I exited the water and jogged to the transition area.  For some reason my transitions are just always slow.  I should work on this, I guess.  It felt like it took me forever to get my feet wiped down and my socks and shoes on.  Finally 3:11 later I exited T1 with my bike and headed to the mount line.

My bike felt great.  I cruised out and felt like I was keeping a quick pace, passing people constantly.  No one passed me on the whole course, and I passed tons of people.  On the big hills where many people were walking their bike or zigzagging across the street trying to stay upright, I just kept pedaling.  I wasn't crushing the hill, but I was making steady progress and not killing my quads.  After the big hills I knew there was a long fast downhill and then some fun rollers, so I settled in and had a great ride.  I finished strong, hopped off my bike, and was happy to discover my quads didn't feel completely trashed like they had last year.  I remember last year thinking I wasn't even sure if I was going to be able to run my bike back into transition, let alone run 3 miles!

Bike stats: 12 miles
Time: 41:40
Pace: 17.3 mph
Place in division: 5/82
Place overall: 29/583

Once I got back into the transition area, I was miffed to see that there was a bike in my spot.  I know it's a crowded area and it's not 100% scientific, but in this case, someone's bike was literally laying on top of my running shoes.  I had to waste time moving that bike out of my way so I could rack my bike.  Quickly changed my shoes, tossed my helmet, and took off running.  My legs were tired but not too bad, and I passed a lot of people on the run.  I got passed but not too often.  Just after the turnaround spot I saw Coleen coming up behind me.  I figured she was only about 30 seconds behind me so my new goal was to try to hold her off as long as possible.  She had started 5 minutes behind me so I knew she was technically "ahead" of me, but this was my motivation to speed up!  I held her off as long as possible, and then heard her call out to me about a quarter mile from the finish.  Crap!  I sped up a bit, but then she caught me in the last tenth of a mile.  It gave me motivation to try to stay with her and finish strong, so it worked out great.  I think that's the key, I need a 5 minute head start in all my races!!

Run stats: 3 miles
Time: 26:49
Pace: 8:57 min/mile
Place in division: 29/82
Place overall: 177/583

Finish time:
Time: 1:27:50
Place in division: 12/82
Place overall: 76/583

As usual, Iron Girl did an awesome job putting on this race.  I heard my name as I crossed the finish line (albeit a bit botched: Jill Doohommy).  The post-race breakfast was amazing, but I just wasn't interested in eating.  I took a Greek yogurt and a chocolate milk.  I got very chilly and we couldn't get into the transition area for another hour, so I was relieved when Joe loaned me his jacket!

After the race I started rethinking my bike split.  During the race I really felt like I was cruising and I was happy, but then when I saw my time I realized I wasn't as fast as I thought I was.  I became fixated on this, and had to go find out how I did last year.  I looked up my Iron Girl results from last year, and sure enough, I was 12 seconds slower this year.  This made me crazy, because after all my bike training this year, I definitely should've been faster!  I looked back at my Garmin stats from last year and compared them side by side.  Note: Garmin has this course measured at 12:29 miles, which is why my pace is so much faster on Garmin versus the official results.  And since for 2 years in a row Garmin has measured it identically, I think Garmin is correct!

It looks like mile 5, "the hill" is where I lost the most time.  I also lost some time in the first couple miles, but made up time towards the last few miles.  I probably shouldn't be as annoyed by this as I am, but what can I say.  I'm not an age-group winner, so I compete against myself and don't like to see myself get slower.  However, this year's run split was 4 minutes and 11 seconds faster than last year!  So I'm very happy with that.  Maybe sacrificing 12 seconds on the bike helped give me such a positive run.  Imagine what I could do with a full night's sleep!