Sunday, June 2, 2013

Deuces Wild 70.3 Race Recap!!

I did it! I did my first 70.3 half-ironman race! It was hard and VERY hot but I did it! That being said, I don't think I would do this particular race event again. I might do the Olympic distance up there, but I don't think I would do the 70.3.

We left for Show Low on Thursday after work and got up there around 9pm. Quickly checked in and headed to the only place that was still open for dinner- Native New Yorker. We got it to-go and ate it in our hotel room and watched a movie. Perfection.

Friday, which was my birthday, we woke up and went for a swim in the lake there to test out the full sleeve wet suit I rented and to see how cold the water was. Surprisingly, not as cold as I thought it was going to be. I kept struggling with my goggles filling up with water which was very frustrating and made me nervous I would have the same issues during the race.

Once we left the lake we found a bike store and picked up a couple race day necessities. Then we decided to go to The Pizza Factory which was right next door to the bike shop. Best decision EVER! Their bread sticks and pizza were amazing and I've been craving them ever since. SO good!

Then it was time to go to packet pick-up. I went by myself while 'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter' went on a bike ride. Packet pick-up took over an hour and a half. I got in line and when I got up there I handed her my ID and my USAT card. She noticed that my USAT card expired 6/1- which is tomorrow, AKA race day. I told her I had renewed it and hadn't received my new card yet. She told me I would need to bring it up on my phone to show her that I renewed it.

So... I stepped out of line and tried to find it as quickly as possible on my dying phone. Once I found it I tried to go back up to her and show her but she asked me to get back in the ridiculously long line? I did and I waited. I got up to the front again and a different girl helped me (who didn't even want to see my confirmation on my phone) and then told me I had already picked up my number/bag. I assured her I had not gotten anything and that's where things went down hill.

She was really confused and started asking everyone else for help. Long story short, they gave my number/bag to someone else and now needed to get me re-registered with a new number. None of the volunteers could do that so they got the race director. She was helping someone and said she would be right with me, so I took a seat on a beach right in front of her.

I waited and waited. She walked by me several times and kept saying she would "be right back". After I waited for about an hour, I didn't know where she had gone, so I asked another volunteer if there was anyone else who could help me. She went and got the race director, and when she came back over she said she had been looking for me and didn't know where I went. (I never left the bench?)

Anyway, she got me re-registered with a new number and gave me a bag. FINALLY!

Once I made it back to the hotel room 'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter' finished his ride and we both got ready to go to dinner with some friends at Native New Yorker. It was good to talk to everyone about the race (they all had previously done it and knew the course) and have my usual pre-race meal: pasta with chicken and broccoli.

After dinner, I packed everything for the race and got everything together that I needed and went to bed.

We woke up super early and grabbed breakfast at the hotel before heading to the lake.

Once we got there, I quickly got my transition area set up, picked up my timing chip, and got body marked. I double checked my transition area and then headed out to find 'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter' and started to make my way down to the start. I think it hit me as I was walking down to the water that I was actually about to do a half ironman- to say I was terrified was probably an understatement.

'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter' helped me get into my wet suit, we watched Dan sing the National Anthem, and then the males wave went off. They started 5 minutes before we did, so we just waited in the water and chatted about how there wasn't very many of us and we would most likely all make it to the podium. (Spoiler alert: I think we all did! There were not very many of us at all!)

The entire women's wave
10 second count down and we were off. I tried not to start out too fast, because I was worried about how the thin air would effect me towards the end of the swim. We pretty much swam 2 big loops and then headed back in. It was a very good, uneventful swim. Since there wasn't that many of us, I had plenty of room and had no trouble siting the large buoys.  

I finished the swim and heard my friends (who were waiting for the Olympic to start) and 'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter' cheering and took off for transition. Inside of transition, I quickly put on my bike shoes and tried to drink some Gatorade before heading out.

 Nothing to say about the bike course except lots of rolling hills and then more hills. I still cannot believe some of the hills we had to climb! I went to the athletes meeting and we were told there would be an aid station every 10-15 miles which was great because right when I got on the bike I really needed to go to the bathroom! I could not wait to hit the first aid station knowing that I would be at least 10-15 miles in. I got a little concerned when I felt I had been riding for well over an hour and still hadn't run into an aid station (I had everything I needed nutrition wise, I just really needed a bathroom!) Was I really going that slow?!

I finally passed an aid station.... and by aid station I mean 2 older gentlemen sitting in lawn chairs with a couple gallons of water on the side of the road. I didn't even realize they were the "aid station" until I just about passed them. I asked them if they knew how far in we were and they said I was just over half way done. AWESOME! Totally made me happy to realize I was half way done with the bike. Unfortunately, still no bathroom. The next 2 aid stations were very similar in set up. Few volunteers with no bathroom. However, the volunteers were extremely supportive and very encouraging!

I kept going on the bike, it was really nice to just be out there riding. I was pretty much by myself the entire ride and it was nice to take in the scenery and 'enjoy' the ride. It was really pretty going through all the farm fields. But when we weren't going through farm fields (about half the time) we were on the major highway. A major highway with traffic and nothing blocked off. Some parts didn't even have paved shoulders to ride on. To say it was scary at times would definitely be an understatement. Try to stay in the 2 foot gravel shoulder, avoiding pot holes and debris, while cars and semi's are flying by you at 80 miles an hour- absolutely terrifying! I don't think I've ever held onto my handle bars tighter.

I was so unbelievably relieved when I saw the turn into the transition area from the bike. I quickly changed my bike shoes for my running shoes. One of our friends, Dorothy, who had raced the Olympic and already finished, came over and gave me a water bottle to take with me. It was so extremely hot and I was so grateful for the cold water. I quickly took the bottle and headed out on the run. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a port-a-potty! Out of the way but I knew I couldn't make it 13.1 miles with the chance of not seeing another one.

I saw 'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter' and it definitely gave me the motivation I needed to keep going. He is so encouraging and supportive it blows my mind. Love him!

I took off on the run and it immediately turned to a dirt trail. It was a nice change of pace to be off the road and running around the beautiful lake. Since the run course was just 2 large loops I knew I would be able to see 'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter' when I was about half way through. Another thing that kept me going was that I read that the aid stations would have gummy bears and other fun snacks- SCORE!

I hit the first aid stations and they didn't have anything but water and ice cold sponges. I never used sponges before- but they were amazing! I took 2 and tucked them into my shirt on my shoulders and they definitely helped keep me cool. From then on, I grabbed some at every station.

The run course started out great and then went downhill. Part of the course we ran through a camp site. It was probably my favorite part of the course- there were so many people out cheering, with loud music and offering water. The kids were writing encouraging things on the road with chalk and some people even offered to squirt us with water guns! It was so much fun! I think we pretty much ran through the whole camp site, and at every turn there was adult volunteers supervising the jumping kids shouting to "Turn left!" or "Go Right!" The support was awesome!

Then we reached the middle of the loop where it was a straight out and back on a dirt road. B.O.R.I.N.G.! There wasn't even anything good to look at in the fields- nothing. The most eventful thing that happened was a truck went flying by us (again, nothing blocked off and no shoulders) and left us in a huge cloud of dust, hardly able to breathe.

Right before the turn around point was my favorite aid station. They had cold water, Gatorade and pretzels. Since it was right before the turn around I ended up passing them 4 times and they were all so sweet! They had my 'order' ready to go when they saw me coming and offered to dump water on me every time. All of them would tell me how good I was doing and to keep going.

I saw 'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter' at the start of the second loop and knew I was almost done. I just kept thinking to myself- the next time I see him I will be done!

What do you know, MORE hills! 
The second loop was absolutely NOTHING like the first. It was so hot out and I knew I was loosing energy. The aid stations were now self serve and most were pretty much out of everything. Remember that super awesome camp site we ran through? It was now a ghost town with no one and trying to figure out which way to go was a nightmare. I still am unsure if I did all the turns right? The only highlight was my favorite aid station with the girls. The mom recognized me and told me I over 3/4th done and to just push through to the finish. It was so good to hear the support- especially when I was out in the middle of a dirt field practically by myself!

I made my way back through the hills and I faintly hear the music playing from the finish line.  I kept going and as I turned the last corner there was a little boy there cheering with his mom. He was clapping and singing "You. Are. Awesome! Welcome to Awesome-town! Population... you!!" I couldn't help but laugh, he was so cute!

I finally saw the finish and dug up everything left I had in me and ran through the finish line. The announcer saw me coming and "Good job, I have no idea who you are." I'm assuming because of the re-registration and bib number change. haha! I was so unbelievable happy to be done and immediately saw 'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter' waiting for me. We sat down on a curb for a couple minutes and then I made my way to pack up my things in transition and he went to board the bus shuttle so he could get the truck.

So happy to be done! 
I ended up riding on the shuttle bus with him back to the truck. I couldn't do anything but sit there. I'm so grateful 'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter' was there and helped me get my bike and everything in and out of the bus.
On the way home we stopped at Dairy Queen. OMG! It was perfect! Just what I needed after being in the sun all day.

My overall time was 7:42:48- not the best but given the hard course and the heat I'm happy with it. I managed to get last place in my Age Group-- which also equaled second place so I get a really cool wine cork. :) (I really think all the ladies who did this race made it to the podium in their age group.)

I'm super glad I did this race. It was hard, but it really left me with no one to rely on but myself and I think that will help prepare me for other races that may not have much support either.

I think I may do the Olympic course up there again (it has a different bike course), but I don't think I would do the 70.3 again. There just wasn't much support and I really didn't like the bike course on the highway- being that close to cars going 80+mph was pretty scary.

Did anyone else race this weekend?