Wildflower; Race Report
Here is my attempt at documenting the ups and downs of the Olympic distance course at Wildflower.
Prerace for me started the night before. I have never been to a race in the company of other athletes. It's always been myself with my husband and girls. I didn't know how I would feel or react. I thought I would find myself to be social and talkative with the others. Not the case. It turns out, I needed to be more quiet and to myself. I spent several hours reading and relaxing in the RV. Hopefully, this was not misconstrued by others as antisocial. It was just what felt right for me at the time. Surprisingly, I got a good night of sleep and found myself awake at 4:45 am. Pretty early given that my wave would not go off until 10:35am. We made our way to the transition area via the pontoon boat (so cool) and found ourselves with about 2 hours to spare. Several trips to the porta-potty later and lots of mental rehashing of strategy and the game was on. The best prerace part was seeing Bolder and Jetpack in the transition area before our waves went off.
The swim was .93 mile in a counterclockwise rectangle. My plan was to swim based on perceived exertion and go about an 8 on a 0-10 scale. I started myself in the middle of the second row. This typically tends to work well for me as I'm not going to be first out of the water but I'm not going to be in the middle or end either. One lesson learned; pink goggles are not the best choice for a high bright sun creating good glare off the water. My biggest issue was sighting. I couldn't see the buoys and basically tried to follow colored swimcaps ahead of me. I got off course a few times. In the future, dark-colored goggles are a must. Other than the sighting difficulty, I felt strong in the swim and ready for more. Swim time-31:03
I generally enjoy the transition area as it is a place to make up a few seconds without spending any additional energy. It's all about being methodical and calm. I follow the same sequence every time and it has turned into a nice routine. However, this was one big transition area and it just took time to get from one end to the other. T1 time-2:03
Oh, how I love the bike! This was the best part of my whole day. I say this all the time, but it felt like I was flying. An earlier indoor power test showed my functional threshold power to be at 176 watts. So, my plan was to keep it in the 150-160's range. I knew the hills would blow me well past that but I definitely did not want to go over 160's in the flatter sections (as if there were any). I thought the hills were awesome. Before working with a coach and a power meter, I really didn't understand the concept of spinning. I used to push way too hard of a gear. Now I try to think of myself as a 'hummingbird' just spinning away up that hill. I was by no means the fastest biker in my age group, but out on the course only a handful of people in my age group passed me. I'm sure I was totally irritating to others as I was talking to myself, cheering on bikers as I passed by and just generally having myself one good ole' time. When the bike portion ended I felt good and thought I had a decent amount of leg left for the run. Bike time-1:30:34; 16.4 mph pace
Transition 2 also went fairly well. I did have trouble reracking my bike. With my old bike, I could hang it off the rack by the brakes levers. The Zipp Vuka aerobar was not allowing me this option because of its design and after one failed attempt, I spun the bike around and racked it by the saddle. T2 time-2:08
Ok, here we go. The pain and suffering began. The run is my weakest link. But, I've been trying to work on my mental strategy to convince myself otherwise. I still need work. I knew I was in for hills on the bike. I've heard this over and over. But for some reason in my pea-brain, I thought the run would be flatter. My plan was to take the first several miles easy and continue to pick up the pace as the miles went by. What was I smoking? Of the 6.2 mile course, the first 4 miles were a general incline with a few massive straight-up slants thrown in for fun. I walked up the big hills which was not really a choice but a necessity. I knew if I tried to run up the hills I would not gain that much time and it would only cause bigger problems down the line. This was very discouraging to me. But I thought, if I have to walk I will at least try to walk FAST (yeah right). The best part of the race was the last 1.5 mile downhill section which took you into the finishing shoot. That was fun. I felt like I was at least moving. The finishing section was totally great with grandstands on one side and people to your left and right carrying you in with their encouragement. Seeing the time clock and hearing the crowd makes it all worth it. Run time- 58:09; 9:22 mph pace
My plan was to drink every 10 minutes while on the bike. I used Heed by Hammer nutrition for my carbs and Nuun for electrolyte replacement. It was hard to drink because you were either working to get up a hill or hanging on to get down a hill. I used a rear hydration set-up. In retrospect, I wonder if a front system would have been better based on the terrain. I took in one gel while on the bike and had planned to take in 2. I hate the taste of these gels but thought I could stand to take in 2. I was wrong. I plan to experiment with more solids because these gels make me want to puke. On the run, I drank mainly water at every aid station with a little Gatorade at one.
My total time for the race was 3:03:57. I was 28th in my age group out of a field of 165. I came in 189th overall in a field of 1104 women. My goal was to come in at 2:50. But you don't know what you don't know. It is a hard race. I was about 1 min slow in the swim, 5 min slow on the bike and 10 min slow on the run based on what my desired times were. My biggest problem was definitely the run. I totally underestimated the hills and how bad they would kick my butt. At the end of the day, I was generally pleased. It was a lot of fun and I would certainly do it again.