Wednesday, April 22, 2015

2015 Try Charleston 70.3 Race Report

Before I even signed up for this race I told myself Charleston was a 6 hour drive from DC -- false, very very false.  With limited options for early season 70.3s in the mid-Atlantic it was the closest and best timed race for a warm-up to IM Texas.  I love Kinetic, and it's much closer, but alas it is the week before IMTX.  Lucky for me, Adam also wanted to race Charleston.  We had a super fun weekend and were lucky enough to be joined by my mom, Gary and doggie - Charlie.  It was rainy for most of the weekend but we were able to get out and enjoy Charleston Harbor after the race.  I wouldn't mind going back and spending some more time there and on the beach.

Pre-Race: Friday

Since Try Charleston is a Saturday race we left DC on Thursday afternoon and drove about 75% of the way down.  Friday morning we woke up to dense fog and finished up our drive before finding a great spot along the course to stage our shakeout brick from.  It wasn't too hot, but it was VERY humid.  We worked out a glitch with my power meter and got our legs moving again after the 9-ish hours we had spent in the car.

Once we were done with our brick we headed on over to check in to our "Camping Cabin" at the KOA - the site of race start and T1.  Our cabin was super tiny but fit the bill nicely for the weekend.  Nothing fancy, but my mom splurged on a Deluxe cabin, so we were able to utilize the kitchen for our prerace breakfast (thanks, Mom!).  We were able to grab our packets Friday afternoon and get our bikes ready for checkin.  Unfortunately, the never ending rain also hit us Friday afternoon.  Since we were staying maybe 1/4 mile from T1 we chose to keep our bikes in the cabin for the night and rack them in the morning (hopefully keeping them dry).

Pre-Race: Saturday AM

This was my first time doing a race with 2 separate transition areas.  After our early wake up and breakfast it was time to rack our bikes and set up T1.  Once we were done there we boarded the shuttle over to T2 to set out our run stuff.  While at T2 we took advantage of the port-a-pots that were completely empty (and clean).  On our shuttle ride over to T2 we were with a few athletes who had already been there, but missed the timing chip pick up, so we weren't going to make that mistake.  Once we had our timing chips it was back on the shuttle to T1 and then to our cabin to get into our wetsuits.  As we were walking back to our cabin I felt like I had already had a full day shuttling around and setting up T1 and T2.  Definitely makes me thankful that we drop gear bags and bikes the day before at IM.

THE SWIM - 1.2 Miles - 42:47 (3rd AG, 23rd OA)

I'm not proud of this swim.  I actually didn't swim poorly, per-say.  I trusted feet I didn't know and let stubbornness get the best of me.  I didn't sight once for the first 300 or so of the swim.  All the female AGers started in the same wave - we swam way off course and wide of the first turn buoy.  It's never a good sign when you are approaching the turn buoy from the far left and don't actually have to turn at it.  I actually felt really good during the swim, stayed near the front and thought this was going better than it was when I started passing men from the waves in front of us.  My actual pace wasn't bad, but my actual distance was definitely more than 1.2 miles.  I couldn't be too disappointed as this was the first OWS of the year and I at least came out top 3 in my AG.

T1 - 1:19 (1st AG, 5th OA)

T1 wasn't too long and was relatively simple.  I skipped the wetsuit peelers, but one of them was nice enough to run along side me and unzip my wetsuit.  I'll take it!  Wetsuit off, shoes on, sunglasses and helmet on.  I grabbed Mr and had to dodge my way through sprint athletes who started their race at 7:30.  The exit to T1 was muddy...ugh.

THE BIKE - 56 Miles - 2:23:45 (1st AG, 3rd OA)

The bike course for this race is pancake flat with minimal traffic.  It is one huge loop so there is also not much congestion of athletes.   My first attempt of clipping in failed, thanks to the above stated mud.  I had to stop for a hot second and stomp my foot out on the pavement.  Once I was clipped in, I was able to settle in and really focus on some power and heart rate goals.  This was a great course for my first race with a power meter.  There was a short section of out and back where I was able to see Adam (and scare him into going faster).  There's a section of road on the back half of the loop that has brand new pavement - it was like cycling heaven, it felt effortless.  I was able to nail my nutrition plan as much as I could.  My nutrition plan was written with a 2:45-3:00 hour bike split in mind so I just didn't have time to get everything in, but got in what I needed to.  I nailed my hydration plan thanks to Osmo Active for Women.  There were 3 aid stations well stocked and plenty of volunteers to hand off bottles.  I was very happy with this ride and felt as if I had plenty of matches left for the run.

T2 - 1:09 (1st AG, 3rd OA)

I got a little confused upon first arriving to T2.  Luckily my mom and Gary were standing near my stuff and screaming my name so I quickly oriented myself and got to work. A quick change of the shoes and grabbed the race belt and bottle of Osmo Preload+Active and I was off.  I made a quick exit and took some water from the aid station to dump over myself.

THE RUN - 13.1 Miles - 1:44:49 (1st AG, 4th OA)
Unfortunately the aid station volunteers weren't directing run course traffic correctly so I got to do a bonus .25 mile at the beginning of the run.  I was hot (mentally, not physically) after this and took the first mile a little to quickly.  I caught myself about halfway through and started bringing my HR down and settling in to where I needed to be.  Once on the correct run course I was able to settle in and zone out.  It was a simple double out and back with plenty of aid stations.  For the first time I really felt like I was running people down.  My goal had been to catch some of the women that
started in the Open Wave (15 minutes before the AG wave).  I saw a few way too far ahead to really catch, but by the time I was halfway through the course I knew catching 1 or 2 of them was feasible.  I kept the fluids coming in, got a few cups of ice to dump down my jersey and some ice cold rags to help cool me.  The run was pretty much flat and somewhat shaded.  Even though Adam and I were both fast enough to not have to race in the rain we did have to run through huge puddles.  Oi, wet feet!

FINISH:  4:53:44 (1st AG, 5th OA)
A shiny new 70.3 PR with obvious potential to cut even more time off of it!  This was a great tune up race to check where I'm at and test the plan before IM Texas.  I'm feeling good going into my final push before taper!

Women 25-29 Podium

Overall this race could have been a bit more well organized but for a low-key, early season 70.3 I was happy with it.  The bike course is screaming fast, the lake you swim in is nice (though has potential for alligators), and the run course isn't bad (just don't expect a lot of cheering fans other than at the finish).  Everyone we met before, during, and after the race was very nice and happy to be there, doing there thing.
Celebrating our Victories!
A big congrats to Adam - he ran .75 miles extra and still won his AG and beat me.  The chase continues.  He's got an exciting year of 70.3's coming his way.  Thank you most of all to my mom for spending her birthday supporting us and waiting for awards in the rain!  We had a wonderful birthday celebration in Charleston and at the bonfire on Saturday night.  Thank you Gary and Charlie for being fabulous supporters and photographers.

Thank you to my sponsors: Snapple Triathlon, DC Tri Club, Osmo Nutrition, Xterra Wetsuits, Louis Garneau Apparel, Rudy Project and Rose Physical Therapy Group.  You all help keep me going fast, strong and healthy.  And of course, thank you to my coach for being on this crazy journey with me.  I'm looking forward to the year ahead with all of you by my side.