Monday, June 22, 2009
Race Recap (1 of 3) INNSBROOK QUARTERMAX
Innsbrook Quartermax is an Ultramax event that is a very challenging tri. Probably one of the most technically difficult in MO due to its large climbs on the bike and on the run. The first year I participated in the Innsbrook race it was a contest between boys and girls... and they tagged it "WHO TRI'S HARDER." That title stuck for a few years and it was cute and catchy. Boys used to be on one day and girls on another.
The first year I attempted this race, I went as a team with one person swimming (me), one cycling, and one runner. We called ourselves IRONWOMEN and I'll have to admit our team was pretty stacked. I was a competitve swimmer growing up so I can hold my own pretty good on that part, our cyclist was our super stud spinning instructor who just never met a hill she couldn't conquer, and our runner.. man she was a machine! Needless to say, we won that event, and several others when competing as a team. It was so much fun.
However....I felt like I was missing out on something by only swimming...being done....and watching all the other competitors push through this grueling course and cross the finish line with a greater sense of accomplishment.
So a few years ago, I had to try it ALL by myself. I did the Octomax which was a shorter version (sprint) and finished. The next year I upped my challenge and entered the Quartermax, and finished that. So this year was my 3rd year competing in the Innsbrook race and 2nd time doing the Quartermax. Even though this course is hellahilly.... and a grueling challenge.. I LOVE IT. I love the obstacles you have to overcome to cross the finish line-and what a relief when it's all done!
Here's how this years race was.
June 6, 2009.
When we got to the race site, my bike had a flat tire. I went over to the Big Shark area to have them air it up and help me with a new tube and waited for about 10 minutes until they told me to go somewhere else to have it done. urgh. So graciously Matt agreed to take my bike up to them while I got my transition area set up. They put a new tube in for me and aired it up. Phew..
I had a goal for my swim time this year of 15 min which would take about 1 min off last year's time. It was actually wet suit legal this year which is a first in a long while for any Quarter/Octomax event. A good majority of triathletes live for the words.. WET SUIT LEGAL because they are weaker swimmers compared to how they do on the bike and run and rely on the wet suit's bouyancy to help them through the open water swim. Well, Ok.. so I wore mine too just because-it does help. As the Quartermax women were called to the beach I surveyed the competition and started to place myself to the outside and front of the pack. In my experience, people get all excited and start to place themselves in the front of the pack, and go out hard, then die. I usually end up crawling over them and passing them. (Now I'm not saying this to be braggy of my swim abilities..but I was a swimmer and that is the leg that I can at least hold my own in.. --((as opposed to the run leg, where I am usually close to dead last)). ) I started out in the swim and was having a hard time catching my breath. These women were really being quite aggressive and it seemed like they were TRYING to swim on top of each other. I tried to swim towards the inside of the bouys to get away from the pack until we had to round the outside of them, but it seems there was just one girl always on my legs. We had about 6 bouys to swim around and each time I went around I saw I had a clear spot to swim through. Until I felt this girl on my feet again. Now, drafting in the swim is allowed, but she was literally PUSHING my feet down with each stroke.. and she needed to trim her fingernails. I had a small scratch on my foot when I got out. No biggie..but it stung. She wouldn't get off me no matter how much I zig zagged through the water either. This was really starting to tick me off. So I started to kick a little hoping she would get the hint. It worked for a bit until I stopped kicking and then I felt her swimming on my calves. I wanted so badly to stop, turn around and push her head underwater and tell her to KNOCK IT OFF. (but I didn't). Well then we came up on the mens division that started a few minutes ahead of us. The slower men were forming a side by side wall that I just couldn't break through. It was about 5 people wide so I would have to take a considerable detour to get around them, and I was NOT going to dive down below to swim under them. I am absolutely terrrrrrrified of open water where I can't see the bottom, and even if I could see the bottom, I think it may terrify me more to see what was actually down there. ((snakes could be down there)) So finally I got to the last of the bouys and I sprinted up to the shore ran out and looked at my watch.. whoo hoo. I had actually done it in 14 min and some change. yay!.. But I quickly glanced back to see who the girl was who was on me the whole time and I just saw the men.. I was gonna def have to say something to her if I saw her.
So up the long hill and to the bike. I had my sunglasses on my face as we walked down to the swim beach and the transition area was already closed. I put my glasses on the TrainingBible table and kept repeating to myself.. sunglasses, sunglasses so I wouldn't forget to pick them up on the way out of the water. Slight detour there. T1 went pretty bad as I am using a new water bottle in between my aero bars and it got stuck on the rack so I had to tip it and duck under the rack spilling most of my water to even get out of the transition area. DUHHH. That was a dumb move on my part. Had I even given it 2 seconds thought I would have put my bike on the rack differently and set up my transition area accordingly.
I mounted my bike, and started to pedal then started to groan. I had a bubble in my tube/tire area. This problem had happened with my rear tire when I bought the bike and the guys at Ghisallo had to work some special magic to seed my tube right. Apparently these wheels I have are problematic with this. So the ENTIRE 28 mile bike ride I bounced as if I was going over a speed bump with every revolution. My water was sloshing out of my aero bottle because of the extra motion. Urgh!!! I just hoped I didn't flat! Since there was nothing I could do about it at this point I just had to maintain and try to make the best out of it. It was a little frustrating because I could tell it created a bit of rolling resistance and going up hills with a bump in your tire was even more difficult. The rhythm of the bump and water sloshing gave me a song to sing (that I made up) to pass the time. M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I SWISH SWISH SLOSH GOES MY BIKE. (the mississippi was the rhythm my bumpy tire made.. annoying...)
Back into T2 with my super slow bike time, I grabbed my lucky Fleet Feet hat, race belt, and a GU, and was off, only to find my hat had broken. DARNIT! I tried to tie it or make it somehow work, but that effort was lost. So I carried it with me for a while. Why? I don't know. I dropped my GU trying to mess with my hat and didn't realize it until I went to grab it and it was gone. BUMMER!
2 loops of the hilly run were really taking a lot out of my legs. I made myself run up the steep hills on the first loop but realized how high my heart rate was going and told myself I could run up half way and walk the second half of the hills on the second loop. Smart decision because I was walking up the hills faster than some of the runners trying to run up them. This race is really cool because the support on the course is top notch. Not only did they have plenty of volunteers there to help guide you, and aid you at the aid stations, but they did a fantastic job of cheering you on and keeping your spirits up. I needed that at this point.
As I started my second loop of the run, I realized my feet were COMPLETELY numb and painful. But more on the numb side so I tried to let that override the pain. I also saw my friend Erica whom we call Beaver, because of her ability to just chug up hills like a beaver chews through wood. Make sense? No? Well it's ok. Because it made sense to us girls who named her that... plus it's now just funny to yell out 'Beaver' to her. Beaver was just ahead of me and at one point when she started walking I caught up to her and we agreed to finish this darned run together. We contemplated holding hands and skipping to the finish line even, but that fell through because the terrain changed as you headed towards the chute and it was pretty uneven. Pretty difficult to keep yourself steady, much less hold contact with someone else. We challenged each other to a sprint to the finish and it was SO much fun to just haul it down the chute together. Spectators get a kick out of a challenging close finish and we loved the excitement and cheering we heard from them.
FINISH LINE..YEAH BABY. GIVE ME MY BEER MUG AND POINT ME TOWARDS THE KEG!
Ok, so maybe that's why I love this race. Free beer at the end......
Took me about an hour to be able to eat that. All I wanted at the end was my frozen Pedialyte pop and a chair!
Well, this year Innsbrook was a race to work out all the kinks. Nothing major happened, but it definitely wasn't a perfect race. Few usually are, but this one had its hiccups on each leg. I had to keep telling myself to just push through and adapt and adjust accordingly. Ironman will be a LOOOOOOONNNNG time out on the race course and I'm sure things will happen unexpectedly. Races like this are good practice for mental preparation if nothing else. I was not thrilled with my time this year, even though I managed to drop almost 3 minutes from last year. But I did learn some things.
STARTING WITH TAKING THIS DARN BIKE BACK TO GHISALLO AND HAVING THEM WORK THEIR MAGIC ON THE FRONT TIRE....