Thursday, July 7, 2011

GWN 2011 - when things don't go as planned

So, my race on Sunday definitely did not go according to plan!  But it's all about adapting and the thing about triathlon racing is that sometimes (mid-race) you have to re-group and adapt to/deal with whatever challenges are thrown your way, all the while making sure to keep your mind and head in a good place.  I got some really good practice at this on Sunday!

The week leading up to the race was a good taper, I went into the race feeling like I was in pretty great shape and with high confidence that I was going to race fast!  Race morning arrived with a 5:30am wake up call.  One of the (many) great things about GWN is the fact that I get to sleep in my own bed!  And waking up at 5:30 ain't so bad...

Stephen and I made our way to the lake and arrived with just over an hour until the 8am start.  I got everything set up pretty quickly and chatted to a few friends, leaving a bit of time to wander into the water and swim a couple strokes.  I was feeling ready and fired up to race by the time we made our way to the start line. 

Swim - 27:00 (2nd female)
-The start went pretty well for me and I was lucky not to experience any pushing or shoving from the men around me.  I got some clear water right off the start, with several guys just ahead.  I tried to sit at their feet/hips to get a draft, while keeping an eye on the yellow caps (females) around me and making sure that none were ahead of me.  After the second buoy, I went around the guy I was drafting and swam the next little bit with clear water in front of me - just the way I like it!  Second loop was tough, I was redlining all throughout the swim and was aware that there was a yellow cap only about 5-10 seconds behind me, who seemed to be gaining on me.  Yikes!!  I was swimming scared!  With about 200m to go, she caught up and we were swimming neck and neck, and I was basically sprinting (if you can even call what I was doing sprinting at the end of a 2km swim!).  As we came toward the beach, we both stood up at the same time....

And then I stumbled as I stood up and she got me at the line by 1 second!  D'oh!  So I missed the swim prime.  And know now that it's time to practice my exit a little bit more!  I was still pretty happy with my swim, and thinking to myself that if I had the race I was capable of, there was a chance I could make the top 5 overall in the race.  My swim time ended up being 10 seconds off my 2009 PB there. 

Bike - 2:58
-I was onto my bike first woman and powered up the little hill right out of transition.  Once I turned the first corner, i was powering along pretty good and feeling strong.  All of a sudden, and all of 8 minutes into my bike ride, I heard this crunching and crackling noise as I found myself riding through a pile of broken glass, which I regrettably did not see ahead of time, and BOOM!  I had a tire puncture.  Somehow, I managed to switch into a much lower gear as I was slowing to a stop (I was in the biggest gear possible when I hit the glass), as I was thinking about when I would start biking again, and didn't want to be in my biggest gear.  Don't ask me how this came to mind!  I guess it's good to be always thinking ahead! 

So I got off my bike and discovered it was the rear wheel that was completely flat.  I got to work on removing it, and proceeded to remove the tire, and the tube, and changed it in pretty good time (for me!), managing to keep relaxed, composed, and in good spirits.  Everything went really smoothly and I had no problems at all with my CO2 cartridge.  Yay!  However, I did check the tire and to my dismay, I saw a huge gash/hole in it, but was hopeful that maybe there was a chance I can still ride on it and would be okay.  When I got back on my bike, I think I had only been on the side of the road for 12 minutes, so I was pretty darn proud of myself for that!  As I got rolling, it was only a few seconds before I heard PHEWWWWW, and the wheel was flat again.  I got off my bike and checked it, and saw the shredded tire and then knew I was in trouble, as the tire was completely unusable and I had no tubes left.  By the way, I should note that this was the FIRST time in all my entire 9 years of racing triathlons that I have EVER had a flat in a race - and now I had two!  Well, I guess I got that out of the way now...

I wasn't really sure what to do, so I just started walking with my bike towards the lake, while the whole field whizzed by.  A motorcycle eventually went by and I was able to flag them down - they turned around and I asked if there was a tech support vehicle.  They were able to call one that was still at the lake, and 5-10 minutes later, the support vehicle arrived and saved the day!  I would like to say a shout-out and huge thank you to Tom from Way Past Fast, as he provided a new tire/tube, and helped me to change it.  I'm really grateful and lucky to have had the opportunity to be able to get back on my bike and finish the race.  I also sent him a thank you/appreciation note.

By the time I was back on my bike, I had been at the side of the road for nearly 30 minutes.  I thought to myself, if Mirinda Carfrae can do it [2 flats and losing 20 mins at IM New Zealand and still salvaged a good race], so can I!  Once I got going again, I was riding like I was possessed and proceeded to ride through as many people as possible!  It is certainly a much different dynamic not starting the bike out at the front.  Normally I know exactly where I am in the race, and what place I am in when people pass me on the bike.  So this was fun for me - focusing on passing as many people as possible, and not getting passed once after my lengthy stop.  My computer didn't work anymore after the multiple flats, and I don't wear a watch, so the rest of the ride was done by feel. 

Run - 1:48
The run turned out awesome for me!  I didn't feel very good the first couple of km's, but settled into a good rhythm and pace after that, and started feeling great for the rest of the half marathon.  I felt like I was flying along, smooth/light/fast, and felt like I was able to keep my pace consistent without slowing down.  And I didn't walk at all, apart from an aid station where I walked a few seconds in order to drink a full cup of coke, as I had been continually spilling half of each cup down the front of my jersey!  So to sum up, this was the first half ironman in my life where I:
 a) didn't feel the need to walk, b) didn't blow up, c) didn't feel like crap, d) was able to pick up the pace the last km and finish strong, and e) passed a lot of people in the run! 

Based on how amazing I felt, I was actually quite surprised at my time of 1:48, because although it is a PB by a couple minutes, I honestly felt like I was running way faster than that, like for sure sub-1:45.  I don't understand how that works?  You're feeling amazing and fast and smooth and don't have to walk, and then your time doesn't reflect it.  Maybe I should have worn a watch. Anyway, no use wondering about it; the things to focus on were the positive points a-e that I mentioned above. 

Final time: 5:14.02 (17th in age group)

I'm so glad I was able to complete the race despite the tire issues, and feel like I salvaged a decent race.  It was so wonderful seeing and cheering for so many friends and new faces out there on the course and at the race dinner.  This is what racing is all about.  The atmosphere out there was electric as always and huge kudos goes out to Wade for hosting such a spectacular race for 20 amazing years.  I was quite saddened to hear he is stepping down as race director but it sounds like his new protege will be able to carry on the legacy that Wade has created. 

Onto other news - one of my goals leading into this race was to qualify for Ironman Canada 2011.  When I was on the side of the road dealing with the flat tire, the thought crossed my mind that I would likely no longer be able to get my spot.  But - I DID get a spot at the awards dinner and so happy to announce that my next race will be IM Canada on Aug. 28!  Yes, time is tight for training, but I love a good challenge!  I'm excited to do some longer stuff and to get out there and race on the beautiful course next month. 

Sorry- no pics whatsoever of GWN race so i will leave you instead with these wonderful words of wisdom: 


Julie said...

WOW!! Talk about staying in the present for the whole race and keeping your emotions in check. What a success!! The fact that you had the instinctive presence of mind to immediately switch gears when you realized you had a flat speaks volumes about your mental preparedness!!

If there is one thing I have learned from triathlon, it is that sometimes the most important lessons and greatest successes are found in the least likely places! What a race you had and a run PB to boot....AND qualifying for IMC. COOL BABY!! :) :) :) :)

Darin Hunter said...

Great race Lisa, you race long enough and things like that will happen. I just can't believe you went 9 years without a flat in a race! I had two flats in the Chinook half one year but I look back and don't feel disappointed in that race, it was a great testament to hang in there and not drop out despite the adversity. If it's a difficult day and you have the will to finish what you start that says so much about how you approach life, great work!

Andre said...

I knew something happened on the bike when I saw that I was ahead of you on the run :-( I was waiting all week for your RR to find out what happened. Way to persevere through this mechanical, re-group, and push to a PB on the run. Have fun at IMC!

runningman said...

Great attitude Lisa and congratz on nailing the run!! Also congratz on getting the IMC slot. I think I'll be out there to cheer, so I guess that means I'll have to make sure to see the first women come out of the water so I don't miss you uh? ;) hee hee Train hard girl!

Stephen said...

Just like Wildflower for me this year, which was one of my all time fav races!

Great job, and SO great to race together again :)

Miss you already. Hope all the Ironman training is going well. I am kinda sad now I didnt take my spot. I will not miss the pain though.

Have a great 6 weeks of training. I am cheering for you already!