Friday, July 19, 2013

GWN - the race that used to be

There is a reason why you should post a race report shortly after the race is finished.  It's been nearly 2 weeks since GWN and a lot of the details and defining moments have now disappeared from my mind.  However, here's my best shot at remembering the day:

My alarm went off at 4:55am, which gave me plenty of time to get organized and eat before my ride arrived at 5:40am.  We arrived at the lake super early and I ran into my buddy Julie Anderson right away, which was awesome!  We chatted a bit then headed to our own transition areas to set up.  I got everything organized quite quickly and then decided to hit the porta potty line up.  30 minutes later, it was finally my turn.  Kind of annoying, but it wasn't a big deal as I had arrived so early.  

 Julie and I walking down to the transition - she ended up having an awesome day with a big PR!  (BTW, I 'borrowed' this pic from Julie's blog - hope she doesn't mind haha!)

I was looking forward to racing on the new course, which had been changed into a 1-loop swim, 2-loop out and back bike, and 2-loop run.  After I got wetsuited up, I made my way over to the swim start and swam around a bit for my half-assed warm up.  Race start was 7:30am this year - why so bloody early - and the race started precisely on schedule.  

The swim start was fair and I had no issues or contact with anyone.  There were a lot of fast swimmers around me and it stayed this way until we'd gotten past the first turn buoy.  I settled into a good pace after that and swam on the heels of another woman (who turned out to be Kristina Schultz), with a guy right beside me the whole rest of the way.  One thing I would suggest they could improve on would be adding more buoys.  2 single buoys on a 2km course doesn't quite cut it.  2 more buoys would have been great and i can't imagine that would increase costs very much, if anything. 

I came out of the water just behind Kristina and learned later there were 2 girls ahead of me, one who I passed just at the beginning of the bike, and the other was the eventual race winner.  My swim time was 23:47 so the course was definitely shorter than 2 km, as nice as that would be!  
Starting out on the 90km ride

Anyway, onto the bike, which went well for the first 20-30 km, anyway.  After that, the struggle fest began! I felt like I had no power, and there was a headwind in every direction.  I honestly looked down a few times to check if my brakes were rubbing or something.  It was one of *those* days.   The bike course was about 10km to the transition area, then 2 x 40km out and back sections.  Lots of hills, and that damn wind seemed fierce to me!  I maintained 4th female position until about 70 km, and then proceeded to get passed by 3 women in the next 10-15 km.  I felt like I was going nowhere, overall very uncomfortable and not in a happy mindset.  My quads were barking at me, they were extremely sore and fatigued, which is unusual.  I kept finding myself really forward on my saddle and having to continually slide back, and found out when I got home later that there was a good reason for that!   

Also, the turnaround point on the bike was stationed at the bottom of a huge hill, just before the railroad tracks on Hwy 779.  I was shocked to find this out on the first loop, as you had to brake the whole way down the hill, then do a sharp 180 degree turn, which got a little crowded on the 2nd loop with some of the slower athletes on their first loop.  Putting a turnaround at the bottom of a hill is a huge safety issue and liability and frankly, I'm surprised it was done.  I do not agree with that at all.  

I came off the bike in 7th with a bike split way slower than what I had anticipated and well above what I know I'm capable of.  Without transitions, 2:37, and with transitions it was a 2:39.  Should have been faster than that...

This is what i noticed when I got home after the race - my saddle must have been loose and tilted itself during the race.  This helps to explain why I was so uncomfortable and not riding well! 

With the way my legs were feeling, I had no idea how I was going to run a 1/2 marathon.  I didn't feel great for the first couple kilometers, but then my legs surprisingly came around and I started running pretty well.  I definitely liked the new run course, with the double out and back.  Around 9km, I had to duck into a porta-potty as I had to pee soooo bad and simply couldn't hold it anymore.  At the '10 km' marker sign, my watch said 45:36, which was only 10 sec slower than my ITU race 10k time.  However, I went through the halfway point (i.e. 10.5km) in 50:xx, so the 10K sign must have been in the wrong place, as I doubt I took 5 minutes for 0.5 km.  So the 10km marker was in the wrong spot.

Pretty much right after the 1/2 way point is when I sort of hit the wall and really started struggling.  Sharp side and upper trapezius stitches/cramps, and stomach cramps.  Ugh.  I had been taking only water and some gatorade at the aid stations, and decided to take a gel.  This crappy phase went on for about 5km, and I had to walk through 2 aid stations.  At the final turnaround aid station, around the 15km mark, is when I discovered coke at the aid stations. BAM!  I hadn't seen any before that.  This turned things around for me and I was able to pick it up again and run strong all the way to the finish, something I've never been able to do in a 1/2 ironman.  When I passed the 20km marker, I looked at my watch and the time was 1:36, so I started getting really excited that I'd be doing a HUGE run PR, but the minutes kept ticking by and there was still a fair amount of distance to cover till the finish chute.  So the 20 km marker was totally in the wrong spot.

I ended up with a 1:45 run (so apparently my last kilometer was 9min?? Yeah right), and a 4:48 overall finish, 9th for females.  I was glad to have a top 10 finish, although I had really been aiming for a top 5.  There was some disappointment but it was all because of the crappy bike ride, as my swim had been strong and my run was a 3min PR for a 1/2 iron run split.

Overall, I felt the race had kind of a weird vibe and for some reason it wasn't as fun as it's been in the past.  I must say I liked the "old" race a whole lot better, it seemed to have more of an intimate community feel to it and this time around was much different (and not in a good way).  It used to be such a great race.  While I can say that I did like the new course, there were issues such as the turnaround at the bottom of a hill on the bike, which didn't sit well with me.  I'm not sure that I'll do this race again for a while.

Next up is a fun little local race, tomorrow morning, in Leduc.  I'm so excited as my sister just got back from up North a few days ago, and signed up last minute!  Also Deborah is racing and a few other STARRT members, so we'll have a lot of fun.  It's a pool swim and I'm doing the Olympic, so the swim will be HARD!  


Joel Maley said...

Great report Lisa. Make sure you pass along your feedback of the race to Michael Brown. I know he wants to make the race as good as he can and I'm sure he'd like some constructive feedback.

Julie said...

Congratulations on your race Lisa!! And I don't mind at all any pics you want to use!! LOL!

I agree with you about the race having a weird vibe -- well said. You looked so strong and solid out there on the run -- it is amazing that you suffered like you did and pulled off that run!! Congrats again! :)

Lisa Ulrich said...

Thanks Joel - I will make sure to do that!

Julie- it was so great to see you and hang out with you briefly! You looked awesome out there, too! We'll have to do that swim camp sometime soon!

runningman said...

Hey Lisa, good job on the race despite the course, seat, and run problems. But really that's what halfs and fulls are all about eh. Dealing with adversity, which you def. aced. Keep it up!

Lisa Ulrich said...

Thanks Darryl! You are so right :) Hope all is well! What's your next race?