Monday, June 6, 2011

Mooseman 70.3 Race Report

starting to suffer on the run

Mooseman 70.3 is in the books now.  My 7th Half Ironman race was a success.  Before starting the race on Sunday, my friend Mary and I recalled our first Half at Timberman in 2008. We hugged each other and wished one another good luck as if we'd never see each other again. Over the past 4 years both of us have gained so much experience  That uncertainty is gone.  I know I can race, not just complete anymore, but race 70.3 miles. But it is not any easier. With each new race comes bigger goals and harder challenges.
Here's my story.

After doing my best to squelch my pre-race anxiety & nerves for several days, I finally settled in on one thing. I am never going to stop being anxious or nervous for a race. Never. It's who I am. As I stated in a previous post, my nerves are for different things each time I hit a course.  But that wound up feeling inside is a signal to me that I care. I have been to some races without that feeling. And I was flat. My race was dull. My head was elsewhere. So, as much as I dislike the feeling it gives me for the last 3 days prior to a big event, I must have it or else the race is bound to fall short of my expectations.  Saturday night, I stayed at my hotel alone while my family and Mary's family went out for dinner. I needed that time to gather my thoughts and relax in quiet before I went to bed. Hard to be antisocial, but it's what I needed.  I made the decision to stop thinking about all the different scenerios. To stop obsessing about what if this or what if that. To stop thinking and overthinking every single leg. I was going to just head out on that course and do what I do best all day long. Every day I train. I can jump in the pool any day and hammer out 1000s of yards. I ride and ride and ride many days each week and I work hard while I'm doing it. And finally, I run. I run a lot and I have been running well lately. I know that. In my heart and in my head I know my body is totally prepared. So my plan for Sunday? Go out and swim, bike ,and run just like I do. That is what I do best and I know exactly how to do it when I get out there. That was that.  Lights out 8:58 and I was ready to race.

After laying awake  for the final few hours of the night, the alarm disturbed us all at 3:45a.m. Ahh...race day. Gotta love how early we all have to start! I gulped down my new pre-race breakfast , got dressed, kissed the 4 boys then Mary and I were off.  We chit chatted about things for our 30 min drive, avoided All traffic, and after smiling and sweet talking the friendly officer, we got a perfect parking spot IN the park instead of 1/2 mile away like most of the people. Score! So far so good.

Transition set up was freezing. It was a beautiful day but barely 40 degrees. We were shaking it was so cold. Otherwise, it was methodical and uneventful.  I just went through the motions and got ready to go. 

Now we were walking to the swim start. Down the long beach with freezing cold rough sand on our bare feet. I was more conscious of how much my feet hurt than the 70.3 miles I was about to race. Interestingly, this is where a semi-calm  feeling comes over me. Now, it'sTIME to do what I've been waiting to do! No more thinking about it!
The water at NewFoundlake is notoriously cold at the beginning of June. This year, our spring weather was  wet and cool so we expected the lake to be pretty chilly.  Somone said 60 degrees but I don't believe that. As a result, I didn't get in to warm up. I thought standing on the beach shivering with my muscles tensing seemed worse than what a short swim would do for me.  That's why this race starts so tough...

Swim Time---
The main clock said 7:12 and wave 5 was moving. Our turn.  I moved through the arch activating my ankle band. No turning back. not that I had considered such a thing....
I lined up with the other women in my age group and the 35-39 year olds. In fact, I think our wave had 35-49 women?? I'm not sure.
focus...find the buoy line....fix  the goggles.... stretch shoulders...fix goggles.... deep breath..... focus.... and
10-9-8-7...... Goooooooooooooooooo
Time to THRASH!
It's just nuts to start these races. I wanted to get out into clear water. I wanted to win this wave. I know... I put a lot on myself but I can't help it.  I put my head down and Sprinted for a little while.  I was out there but so were a few other white caps. 
My Heartrate was soaring. My breathing almost hurt inside my chest. Nothing felt good. After  sitting on my butt resting and eating for the last 2 days before this race and then Suddenly Sprinting in freezing cold water  my body  was in a bit of shock.  The 1.2 mile swim ahead of me  felt long even though I knew it shouldn't take me more than 27-29 minutes....
Just go Ange. Just swim. Back to my motto for the day... just do what I do best all day long.

I just worked on staying strong, focusing on a strong pull, a light kick, and settling into the rhythm of the swim.  Eventually, I got there. My heart settled down, I was no longer gasping and thrashing, I was swimming. 

I made the turn at the final buoy. Unfortunately, I cut it too sharp and headed back to the buoy that I thought was straight across but was actually the 2nd down. I had to angle back and get that last buoy. I lost some time there... darn. I swore under water and just did the swim. I began to catch the waves ahead of us at this point. I successfully found a few holes to wiggle through people and only smashed arms with a few. I only swam into one.Sorry!!!  I always feel bad....

One guy was doing backstroke... does one site in open water while swimming backstroke? Whatever...
Just go go go go go ......

Finally I could make out the white archon the beach. The swim exit. Then it was the crowd on the shore. It's such a good feeling. I knew my parents, my husband, my children, my friends and my coach were all there and I let their support pull me in.  I stood up at the last moment and ripped off my goggles. My frozen hands lost grip and then flew off and behind me. I glanced back for a split second but they weren't in my sight so I shrugged and ran on. Not about to take time to search for those! It's Race time!

(final time: 28:14) I lost track of what place I was in that wave. 2nd in age group for sure though.

I fumbled with my wetsuit velcro, grabbed the cord and got the upper half off. I hurried to the strippers, made eye contact with the 2 guys that Didn't look 12 and yelled, "BIG GUYS! Right here!"  I wanted the ones who could RIP that thing off fast!
I was on my way. 

At the bike. Hands were useless. I couldn't get my rolled up socks on--- so I didn't. Glasses on. Fogged. helmet. Go!

Ok--hard part starts now. The bike. What would happen. 56 miles to go and from what I was hearing, this new course was intense.

My heartrate and breathing were off the charts. This is normal when starting but I don't like it. But worse, there was a noise. A rubbing. Friction. Something was not right.  Luckily, I was able to determine pretty quickly what it was. My front brake pad was rubbing on the wheel!!!??? Rookie problem. I was Mad!  I reached down and tried to pull it to the side to loosen it without chopping my hand off in the wheel. It worked. But then, it slipped back. This went on for a while. 8 miles? who knows. Too long. I contemplated just opening the brake so it wouldn't hit it at all. However.....  there are  huge descents on this course and that was Not a safe choice to make. So, I continued to fiddle until I got it. Thank goodness I didn't have to stop.

Before mile 10 of this course, we hit 'the Hill.'  It's bad folks. I didn't look at my computer for this # but I was told it was a 3.5 mile climb. It goes on and on and on and on and at the very end when you think you can't go any more, it pitches to a 16% grade. It's unreal. It's  SO steep. I absolutely had to stand to get up this and it's Long! It was brutal. Then, you go down. It sounds nice but they limit the speed limit to 30 because at the bottom, there's a Sharp right hand turn.  Sharp. It's scary for wimpy riders like myself! And, the cop was at the bottom with is radar gun making sure there were no violators!

I felt strong on the ride I must say. This was my first long course race with a power meter. I didn't stare at the #s obsessively but it was great to stay on target with that computer. I worked so hard at maintaining good aero position at every possible chance. I felt powerful on most of the ride and felt like the course was reasonable other than the insanely long climb that we got to do....twice! yup! the course looped around and we did it again! On loop 2, I was greeted by Coach Kurt at the bottom.

I started smiling and chit chatting, "Hey Kurt! these hills are great..." blah blah just random chatter to say Hi until he quickly  got me back into race focus by simply speaking in his quiet yet audible race course voice, "Angela...she's right there. Girl #1 is ahead on 40 seconds. go get her. Red and yellow. Go! Get her! "
alrigthy then... back to business!!  

It was great. I searched for that girl but never really saw her. I found out later, from coach, that I overtook her by the endnof the ride. She was history. Ha!  Good! I just wished I had enjoyed the pass! 

Meanwhile... I kept seeing this girl Jessie.  Hmmm.... who are you?? 

I also kept seeing the same guys over and over and over. We'd pass and then drop back, then we'd do it again. Over and over.

And of course, like is usually the case, I'd occasionally have a faassssssssst group of men come upon me. All at once. Interesint how they happen to be all together. Oh I get it, they're Drafting like madmen.  In a few instances, I smiled inside as the Referee motorcycle eased up on them and starting taking numbers. Ha! Busted.  Other times, I laughed and wanted to say, "HEY! where have you guys been?? How was that swim?" And then, I wanted to say, "see ya on the run!"  So many hot-shot bikers need to learn to tone it down a notch on the bike so they can still run....

The bike was good. I got in all my nutrtion. I avoided All stomach pain which was a Huge relief. ( Hmmm--new pre race breakfast perhaps??? ) 

Mile 54-55- I hear GO ANGE and glance to see a red shirt. I think it's Bob! Hey
Bob! ... 56-- There's Mark and the boys and Andy! Hi guys!!! big smiles.  DONE!  (2:55.27)
love finishing the bike.... 

 Now, it was time to put it all together.  Run time. 13.1 miles coming at ya....

While the bike is the hard part.....the run is where one suffers. And if you want a good race, this is where you need to be the toughest and dig the deepest.

Into T2--- it went well. Got the socks and shoes on, threw off helmet and glasses, grabbed gel flask, garmin and visor and I was off. Stuffed flask in shirt, hat in mouth, strapped on garmin, hat on, held onto flask.

I ran by my parents... Hi guys! I smile and assured them I was  good to go.

I see Kurt and he gives me a supportive and assuring smile saying, "you're doing awesome." Cool. So good hear. I'm off....

legs are turning over fast... I feel good.
mile 1 6:37
Um... reel it in Ange. That's a bit fast. It Is flat to start but still....
Find your legs for the first 5K. That's the first job.
mile 2 6:55, mi 3  6:58. that's better. There's a decent climb between 2-3.... I think that's where it is. It wasn't too bad that first time.
Into the neighborhood to make the turn around...
Moment of truth.
You get to turn back and see who is coming to getcha........ 
How many women are on my heels. What am I up against? And who is ahead of me?? By now, the age  numbers are basically washed  off our calves.  But I wanted all women. Not just my age group. Starting in waves makes it tricky....  the Pro women are FLYING by us in the other directions. One pro women is just attacking the run like an animal. I want to run like her. Impressive.

Back to my race.... 
Back up the hill out of the neighborhood...that kind of hurt. I see some women coming my way.... no time to relax. Keep it going girl.
  Now it get's long 3.5-3.8 into it and about 9-10 miles to go.  The Middle section. Time to hold steady and strong. Don't be foolish but don't back off.. can I do it?
mile 4  7:08 ( a climb there..)
mile 5 6:45 good ....let's go.   I tried to take some of the gel flask now. ICK! Thick and sweet and NOT what my body wanted. I thought I might gag. No water in sight. My mouth felt like maple syrup was poured into it.  It ooozed all over my hand too.... yuck.
Next aid station I grabbled sponges and water and just got a bit of fluid in. Not sure what to do about nutrion now...body was starting to be done with sweet stuff.
Legs were turning over...still ok. 
mile 6  6:56
almost making the turn around. This course is 2 loops---out and back and out and back the same way. So you run back and forth seeing everyone at various stages of pain.
I see Mark, Andy, the kids, Bob, my parents... SUCH a boost! But I can't talk or smile now... I just nod and give my "I'm doing it" glance. Kurt gives me a high five, tells me to keep on.....

Here I am running around mile 6. You can hear my husband Mark, one of my kids, my buddy Bob and at the end, my Dad is heard whispering to my Mom, "that's not a happy face."  Too funny. It's not that I wasn't happy but more that I was suffering!!

I make the turn, up and out of the park again.

Time for some self talk. There are some women near me.... when I made the first turn at mile 3.5,  I saw a bunch coming my way.  I was running away now.....NOT in the mood to be caught. I was Not going to be run down....
Heading back out for the hardest segment. Lap 3. So far into it and so far to go.... .Get through this and then let it rip. That was my plan.

Kurt met me on way back out and said, "2:30 ... you're up a a solid 2:30..." I it.
mile 7   7:20  Mile 8  7:05 It's ugly now. I was hurting.
Legs were wobbling....they felt like they might buckle. They ached, my feet were intensely on fire. My energy was good....but my legs were getting close to being done.
I channeled long runs I had nailed over the past months.
I thought of the pain I endured on the Force machine during some winter training
5 more miles... I can suffer big time for 5 more miles. I have endured hard training sessions that were a lot longer than 5 short miles. I can hang on. Of course I can. Five miles is Nothing.....  this is the chatter going on my my brain.  I'm reached deeper and deeper into my memory to pull back specific workouts that challenged me for hours at a time. Workouts that trained me for these moments. They trained me to Hold on when things got tough. It's those moments after all, that makes the champion. You can not get to the front without pain and hurt. You dont' just hit cruise control and sail into the win. You. must. suffer. My head was fighting now. Fighting hard to stay in the game. To finish the job I started this day. You see, it' would be so so easy to just stop. To slow down. Fight it Ange, fight it.

Back to the real race on the road. I turned 5 miles into 4 miles and then final 1 for the victory lap. ( ha....that's not really how it works...last last mile doesn't go by fast. It goes by sloooooooooowly. 12.1, 12.14, 12.16, 12.2 yes!, will I PaLEASE get to 13!!!)

I battled back and forth with late in the race head-demons.  I think it might be ok if I got caught. I am doing the best I can but mabye it's not in me anymore.  ARE YOU KIDDING?? IF IT WASN'T IN YOU, YOU WOULDN'T BE HOLDING A 6:58 PACE FOR THIS! I think I'll drop out of lake placid. I want to spend more time relaxing at camp this summer.  maybe someone would like my place in te he rental house. would it be so bad? this really really doesnt' seem to be so much fun anymore. Mabye I've had it. STOP IT! lOOK HOW WELL YOU'RE RACING! OF COURSE YOU WANT THIS!!!  
And then, miraculously, those demons got poisoned and died and fell off my shoulder and I loved the sport again!! Close one!  Maybe that's why I love racing so much. Maybe it's because the High you get when you fight through and kill those end of  the race strength and power killing demons is so euphoric that you just want to see if you can do it again. The feeling of overcoming that is almost worth all the pain you go through that puts you in that nasty place to begin with!

mile 9
7:44 climbing out of the hill at the turn around... one foot in front of the other. just keep going. If it's hurting you, it's hurting them more.  (that's what I was trying to convince myself of....)
I was so close.
My head was back in the game.
mile 10
7:16 hanging on...
you've got this.... 
then it got so so hard.... I was drawing inward and focusing so hard.
I let it go  a bit here and looking back, it angers me. Did I have more? I dont' think so...but somehow Maybe I could have grabbed and found a bit more.
mile 11  7:37 oops  slowing down..

mile 12 7:26

just ONE more mile!!! GO !

I fought and just could not go faster ..... I was so happy to be nearing the lake. I could hear the announcer...
2nd loop---- to the right
finish--go left
YES! I get to go left! I turned it on....
last mile 7:25.

I broke 5 hrs

Final run time 1:33:14. And That is a PR run for a 70.3 race. Take THAT age 40+. 

Mark and the boys greeted me with a blue freeze pop. perfect. I sat and took it all in. I struggled to breath. I drank and drank and drank more water.

I'm really happy with this race.  I dug deep and fought through all those noises that told me to just slow down....
at 41 I think I've still got it and that feels Goooood!!!!

1st age group
4th amateur woman finisher  ( only ~30 seconds ahh!!)
10th woman finisher if Pro field mixed in ( fun to see that the #3 pro woman finisher was only 6 minutes ahead of me. )
splits: 2nd in my age in the swim, 1st in my age for bike and run.

(And I forgot to talk about the Jessie girl.....she went on to win for amateurs in addition to beating out a bunch of pros! she rocked with 4:51. I had no idea she was going to go on to do that or that she was close to the top when we were riding together. I wish I had been able to hang on!!! )

Today! I feel like I got hit by a truck! But-- I am Happy and fired up even more for Ironman Lake Placid! 

post-race fog---my little buddies looking over me

Finish line happiness

how our kids spent the day!!
Nicholas---only a 7 year old would find that sand comfy

I can't make this turn around. I have no idea why...but it's me, Mary and our friend Jared. 

1st in age group, Mary 3rd


Beth said...

Awesome racing Ange!! So happy for you and great to see all your hard work pay off. IMLP here you COME! :)

Kim said...

amazing ange. breaking 5 on that course is unbelievable. and PRing on the run? you rule. congrats!!!

Kim said...

oh, i think jessie is a qt2 gal?!

mtanner said...

Huge props! Love the "take that 40+"

Emilie said...

so amazing.

Melissa said...

THIS is hysterical!

"And, the cop was at the bottom with is radar gun making sure there were no violators! "

And your demons are bad and also hysterical "I think I'll drop out of lake placid"

I like how you can recall every thought. Nice report Ange.


Christi said...

Great job! You had an awesome race!

Mary IronMatron said...

I really liked that paragraph about the demons... That is exactly how it is! It's the apathy! The It would be okay If I just didn't do LP, if I just stopped, I'm tired... it's okay If number 2 catches me.... You have to fight so hard to fight those thoughts back---to remember that yes, You care so much!
I had a very similar swim experience.
You raced so well. I'm proud of you. And you look super strong, fit and thin in those pics! xoxoxox congrats!

Michelle Simmons said...

Super! Sounds like an awesome race. Great job!

MaineSport said...

Fantastic effort and result Angela!

Marni said...

what a great race report! It is nice to know that I will get faster with age (ok- confess to me how to run sub 1:40 off the bike...let alone 1:33!!!). I'm so proud of you and for the athlete, woman and mother that you are. Congrats! The pics are great, I'm so happy for you. PLEASE qualify for Kona..I'm missing you!

Caratunk Girl said...

Congrats Ange!! Treat RR! You are so freaking tough!! I am a marshmellow compared to you!! Way to gut it out and congrats on the AG win!! From what I hear that is a TOUGH TOUGH course. And that water was cold - my friend did that race and said he was freezing. Way to rock it.

Rural Girl said...

I love your race reports! Great job!

runputt said...

"the cop was at the bottom with [h]is radar gun"

I swear I will never understand tris. Get out there and race! But not too fast, too fast is bad. ;)

Great race.

Jennifer Harrison said...

YOU had a great race - NO surprise there, Ange!!!!!!! hope you are recovering well! :)) AND feeling good for LP soon....!!

Anonymous said...

Awesome race was a mind changing post for me :)

Also, I referenced you in my blog, hopefully you don't mind my public admiration for your racing :)