Well, I did it! Got it done! The race was not really anything like last year. Much tougher than anticipated. But I got through it unharmed (and not everyone else was so fortunate). So let’s start from the beginning… (WARNING: LONG POST)
Friday, November 6, 2015:
After I got out of work all my focus was on packing. I knew as soon as I got that done, my anxiety would be lifted a bit. I had made a pretty detailed list, which helped a lot. My parents came over to wish my husband a happy birthday and also to give us an early anniversary present. I cooked a clean dinner (ground turkey, sautéed veggies, and a salad) and Mike and I were in bed by 9:00.
Saturday, November 7, 2015:
Woke up at 4:30am and got everything loaded in the car. We hit the road by 5:00 and met up with Jeremy and Cristina at a big Stripes gas station after the checkpoint. From there we followed each other to the Travis County Expo Center in Austin. It was gray, chilly, and rainy the whole way up. We arrived in Austin just a little before 11:00am.
We did our race check-in and got all our “swag”. Looked around the shop a bit and found our names on the race shirt.
Can you see it? Can you see it? Super tiny!
It was really chilly outside and I knew I was going to need arm warmers for the bike portion the next day so we went out to Ironman Village and luckily I got the last pair of sleeves in a small! They weren’t arm warmers, they were compression sleeves, but I was told they’d still do the trick. We met up with Natalie and all made our way to the athlete briefing at noon in the rodeo arena.
The race meeting was similar to last year’s. The one thing that was different was the swim course would run clockwise. Meaning we would have the buoys to our right the whole time instead of left. To be honest, this kind of threw me off because I had been visualizing last year’s swim course (I’m all about the pre-race visualization), but I knew it shouldn’t make too big of a difference.
After the meeting we met up with Laura and Jordan and we all drove our bikes over the the T1 site in Walter E. Long Park. By this point this Brownsville girl was freezing and it was sprinkling rain. The T1 area was completely muddy (like where your feet are sinking into the mud). I found my rack spot (#2097) and noticed the grass wasn’t as muddy in that area and that the stretch to the “bike out” wasn’t too far away.
After we all racked our bikes we drove to a late lunch/early dinner at Shady Grove, which was awesome. We had chips and salsa and huge glasses of water while we waited for our food. I ordered the Hippie Chick half sandwich and salad which was perfect. We all sat and visited and caught up. No one seemed too nervous about the race the next day; we were just enjoying each other’s company.
We made a quick stop and Jack and Adam’s Bike Shop. Mike and I got gloves because we figured our hands would be really cold on the bike. (Keep in mind we have been training in 80 and 90 degree weather!) We also made a Whole Foods stop and got breakfast food (bagel, banana, almond butter) and a quinoa salad, spinach, sweet potatoes, and avocadoes for dinner later that evening. We all went our separate ways and Mike and I drove to our friends’ condo where we would be staying.
Even though I was freezing and so badly just wanted to take a hot shower, Mike and I got right to organizing our 3 transition bags: morning clothes bag (wetsuit, goggles, cap, flip flops), bike gear bag (helmet, sunglasses, bike shoes, arm warmers, gloves, water bottles) and run gear bag (running shoes, socks, visor, race belt).
My chaos of tri gear!
It took us about 45 minutes to get it all situated. Finally I got to take a steamy shower. After we showered we baked our sweet potatoes and chopped up the avocado and mixed them in with our quinoa salad. It was delicious, light, and filling. Was in bed by 8:15 and asleep by 8:30.
Sunday, November 8, 2015:
RACE DAY! Woke up at 3:50am. Checked the weather and it said it was 52 degrees outside. I knew I was going to be cold all the way up till I got into the lake (and I was right). I put on my tri kit,flip flops, and a thermal long-sleeved shirt (definitely not warm enough). Mike and I shared our bagel breakfast (I probably only ate about 4 bites). We were on the road by 4:30am. We left early enough and didn’t encounter any traffic. Got to the expo center and parked. Jeremy and Cristina had gotten there the same time we had and were parked a couple of cars away from us. We grabbed our 3 bags and walked over to the T2 area.
I found my number on the rack and tied my run gear bag to it. I made note of where I was and a game plan of how I’d run my bike in and find my rack. Had a quick port-o-potty stop and then we made our way to the buses who would shuttle us to the T1 area. The bus was so nice and warm. I was already freezing in my shorts and flip flops, so my legs and feet were bare and exposed to the chilly wind. Yes that’s right, I said WIND. Last year it was not windy at all AND it was extremely warm. Completely opposite this year. I knew I would appreciate the cooler weather when I got to the run, but that was several hours away from now.
When we got dropped off at T1 we made our way back to our bikes. The mud had been packed down a little better, but it was still annoying. I calmly laid out my transition area and said hello to the girl setting up beside me. Jeremy happened to be at the rack right behind me and he came and checked on me and pumped my tires. “It almost seemed too easy to set up transition,” I told him. I guess that’s because I’ve got quite a few triathlons under my belt by now. I visualized my transition and what order I would put everything on. The arm sleeves and gloves were a new addition and I knew it would take me a bit longer to get them on, but I also knew it’d be worth it.
Met up with Mike, Cristina, and Jeremy and pulled my wetsuit on for more warmth. Didn’t help too much because it’s sleeveless and only goes down to my knees. I was shivering like crazy, partly from being cold, and partly from nerves. But luckily my stomach was calm and settled. The sunrise was breath-taking; purples and pinks and oranges. We heard the cannon go off for the pros to start swimming at 7:00. About 15 minutes later we started making our way down to the lake. We stood around (well, more like danced around to keep warm!) as each wave went in 5 minutes apart. Cristina’s wave was at 7:45, so Mike, Jeremy and I stood with her as her wave slowly moved closer to the lake.
As we were standing there waiting I felt someone bump into me from behind. I turned and saw it was my dad! He hadn’t even seen me! I called out, “Daddy!” and he turned around. He called my mom over (they had been on the hunt for us in the sea of wetsuits and swim caps). It was so perfect to see them then. And my mom was layered up so she let me put on her coat and gloves which felt SO much better.
Cristina gave hugs all around and headed down for her swim. I got in line with my wave and stayed with my family until they called us to head to the water.
All I could think about was how warm the water would feel and how badly I had to pee. I stepped in and instantly felt relief in my feet. As I waded in up to my shoulders I instantly felt relief in my bladder ;). It felt awesome. The water was a little chilly on my arms, but not too bad. I tried to position myself to the back and right of my wave. They counted us down and we were off!
That’s my swim wave in the water.
SWIM-The first 100 meters flew by; I was at the first buoy before I knew it. The water was pretty choppy. Between the first and second buoy I had a split-second panic creep in. I had started to feel my body being tossed with the waves a bit, and felt my weird panic sensation start in my stomach. I immediately squashed it. I am so grateful that I am able to recognize and overcome that feeling (I had a bad race experience in Kemah in 2014 where I had to pull out of the swim, and I never want to go back to that feeling again). Just pushed through it and did my best to get my rhythm. Since I don’t like swimming with people on top of me, I tried to stay far right near the buoys, but it seems I was too far because when I’d look up to sight, I was way off-path and had to swim in extra to straighten myself out. Finally at the 600m buoy we made our first right turn. When we did that, we were swimming into the sun which made it tricky to sight. This was also the point where I caught up to some men from another swim wave and man, they were vicious in the water. Thrashing all around. I made sure to protect my face and head as I swam around them. I didn’t feel as if I was fighting the waves while I was swimming in this direction, which was nice. But then we made our last right turn and those choppy waves were back. I could not, for the life of me, swim in a straight line. I know I swam at least an extra 100m! It felt so good to hear the announcer and the crowd as I neared land. Finally my feet felt the ground and I ran out of the water.
I spotted my parents near the end of the swim exit and my mom called out, “How was it?!” “Good!” I said. “We’ll meet you at the bike line!” she called out.
T1- I found my bike easily and began my transition. The same girl I had said hi to that morning was in transition next to me. I sat down, grabbed my towel and dried off my arms and muddy feet. Got my right arm sleeve on and as I was pulling my left one on my fingers slipped and I punched myself right in the nose! It brought tears to my eyes, ringing to my ears, and my left nostril started bleeding! What?!?! LOL! I laughed and said, “Oh my God, I just punched myself in the face!” The girl beside me was completely uninterested so I said, “I’m okay” and refocused on what I was doing. Got bike shoes on, helmet, sunglasses, gloves. Threw wetsuit, cap and goggles in bike gear bag, ate a Gu chomp and grabbed my bike. The run to bike out wasn’t easy because of the mud and I was carrying my bike on my shoulder, so I wasn’t going very fast. Mom and Dad were waiting at the mount line and I set my bike down. “Hardest part is over, now you just have to ride your bike!” my mom called out. She’s. Hilarious.
BIKE- Got up on my seat and pushed down on my pedal but didn’t feel my shoe clip in on either side. There was too much mud! I saw a lot of people pulled over cleaning out their clips, but I just figured I’d pedal a bit more and they’d find their way. Luckily they did. Off on the bike! Right away I noticed the wind. I was thankful I had put on my sleeves and gloves because it was still very chilly.
The first 5 miles went by quickly. We hit some steep climbs right from the start. Around mile 6 I saw Mike ride past me. I called out his name like five times but he was “in the zone”. About 30 seconds later Jeremy came up and said, “You got this Jenna!” At least he spotted me. I continued on my merry way.
The roads were bumpy as expected. Around mile 15 I kept a lookout because I knew there was a steep short uphill that really kicked my butt last year. I set my bike to my small chain and noticed a sign and many race volunteers ahead. The sign said, “Slow” and they were calling out to us to watch out for oncoming traffic. Around a down hill turn and there it was! I got out of my saddle and sped up that baby! No problem! I was so proud of myself I said, “Yes!” out loud. It really made me feel good and feel stronger than I was last year.
We hit mile 20 and I still felt great. I was still chilly and had been eating on my Honey Stinger waffles (that I had rolled up into little balls to put in my Xlab) every 30 minutes. About mile 25 I started feeling the urge to pee. It wasn’t too bad so I rode through the aid station thinking I’d be fine. Once we hit 30 miles the hills got serious.
At about mile 32 I saw the famous patch of road that everyone had been talking about.:
Very damaged from the flooding and deep big potholes. I took it slow and made it through okay. I had seen many people with flats on the side of the road. As we approached mile 35 my urge to pee was so bad I decided I’d let myself try to pee on the bike since there was nowhere to stop. But I couldn’t do it! I decided I’d stop at the next aid station to go, but as I approached it I saw a line of about 4 people standing outside! So I continued riding. When we got to mile 45 I started to get excited. I knew it wouldn’t be long till we were headed back to T2!
When we got to mile 50 we hit a long rolling hill. That’s when I spotted Laura! I came up behind her and encouraged her. It felt great to see someone I knew. I continued on, so excited to finish so that I could finally pee! Turned into where I thought the expo center was and came upon the people already on the run. I thought we’d turn our bikes in right there, but we had to go about another mile around the expo center…what a tease!
Finally we turned into T2! I unclipped and desperately tried to run my bike to my rack but it was tough after having sat and climbed for so long (and having to pee so bad!)
T2- Finally I racked my bike and sat down to change my shoes. And then it happened, I couldn’t hold it anymore, I peed! (TMI, but there’s no shame in my game, friends). Right there in the parking lot! Luckily no one was around me, and I felt such relief! I put on my socks, run shoes, visor and took off my sleeves and gloves. I covered my pee spot with my run gear bag, haha. Threw on my motivational quote bracelet (one quote for each of the 13 miles) and race belt. Grabbed my water bottle and “rinsed off” my shorts. Then I headed off to run 13.1 miles!
RUN- My absolute favorite part about this race is the crowd you get to run through 6 times (2 for every loop). I finally spotted my crew. It was so awesome to see them!
I had already decided to follow the same run plan as last year: run and only stop to walk at the water stations. And I did just that. Just knowing I’d be able to walk is what kept me running in between. After about a mile and a half I spotted Mike running in finishing his first loop. I waved to him excitedly and as he got nearer I called out, “Hey!!!” and the first thing he said was, “I fell off my bike. Bad.” “Are you okay?!” I asked and he said, “No!” (mind you, we were running past each other this whole time). So I continued to run but I thought to myself, “He must not be too badly hurt if he’s running.”
I spotted Jeremy too, and then inside the park I finally spotted Cristina. I figured I was probably a mile or so behind her and we kept it pretty consistent like that the whole run. When I headed out of the park I saw Laura. I waved to her and as I got closer she held up her knuckles to me. I couldn’t really see, but she told me she had fallen off her bike right at the end. I gave her a hug and she said she was okay (didn’t realize how bad her OR Mike’s bike crashes were until after the race).
The rest of the run wasn’t crazy eventful. I felt pretty great the first two loops. It was the third loop when all the little pains started to be noticeable. My left hip flexor was getting tight and my left foot was achy (like last year). The good news is that the back of my knee felt great! I wore my compression calf sleeves during the whole race and I really think that helped.
It took all I had not to walk more than just the water stands those last two miles. But I knew I was almost done. Finally I got to the turn to head into the rodeo arena for the finish line. There was a man who had been running with me towards the end of that loop and when we started to head inside I ran my heart out and sprinted past him. I was so happy I jumped through the finish line. No tears streaming down my face like last year, but complete joy in my heart!
[sorry for the stolen pics 😦 ]
Everyone that had already finished met up and we took a finisher pic.
Mike got to tell me a bit more about his fall, and he was pretty badly hurt. I could see his hip already swelling from under his tri suit and his shoulder and arm had road rash. I felt bad for him, but he’s no quitter, that’s for sure!
Natalie came through, then we found out Laura had a bad headache during the run and had to take it slow. When she came through the finish, she had the medics take a look at her knuckles and cheek (her head had hit the pavement and cracked her helmet!) Luckily nothing was broken or fractured. God is good.
Of course we all checked our race times and were not surprised to see slower times than last year. The conditions were just completely different. But it was a tough race for EVERYONE, so I am proud to say I completed it!
We showered and ubered to Rainey Street. Had a delicious chicken sausage among other delicious foods and of course a celebratory drink!
So there you have it! Another 70.3 in the books! It’s time to recover and rebuild. After the holidays it’s full swing into Ironman Texas training! Woohoo!
TRI WITH JOY!