Swim, Bike, and NO RUN… aka Aquabike!

For those of you who don’t know what the Aquabike is, I will make it simple… 70.3-13.1 = 57.2 :) Yup there is just no running the half marathon. Seems perfect to swim hard and hammer the bike, right? I guess so if you don’t like to run, but I do. I was originally scheduled to do the Sprint, but coming off the foot injury, it was safer to go with the longer swim and bike and then a short run on my own post race. All my decisions are based on what will get me to the start line at Kona injury free, and in tip top shape.

Timberman weekend is always such a blast. I went up on Saturday and volunteered at the FastSplits tent for a few hours late morning. Always a fun time hanging out with the crew. We had a visit from Andy (hot) Potts :) I just stared and then got a talking to from Dave for not going over to say hi. Ha! Oh well, I was in a daze. Hehehehe! Anyway…
My friend Tory was doing the race again this year. We met up to register and drop our bikes off at transition. Registering was very quick and painless. The goodie bags were pretty GREEN and filled with some decent stuff. The funny thing is I ended up with a white swim cap when all other races in my swim wave would be wearing turquoise. Apparently they only ordered the exact # of swim caps for participants who signed up well before race day. Seeing I switched the week before the race into the aquabike, I was given the leftovers. Ha… check it out. Who brought the cool kid???

White or Turquoise? HA!

White or Turquoise? HA!

Before my races I like to have Brian do a once over on my bike…aka Turbo :) A couple things… I forgot a skewer for my front race wheel, I did not bring my training wheels, and I somehow got my rear race wheel jammed in the process of switching out my wheels. Obviously, I need to SLOW DOWN! I ended up buying new skewers for 50 bucks and Brian was able to fix my rear wheel issue. It was just the brake lever actually. Tory got her bike looked at by Pat and we were then good to go. When I went to drop my bike off I did the usual test ride to be sure all was in good order. Hmmm…. Something was not right. I heard a very strange grinding sound when switching gears. My friend Tory agreed it was just not right. So, it was back to Gunstock to have Brian check it out. Well, I was right; there was something wrong that could not be fixed. His suggestion was to switch back wheels for the race and deal with it during the week back at the shop. Well, that is all well in good, but no one, and I mean no one, rides on 650 wheels! The question of the day… where was I going to find a spare 650?

After an hour or so of panic, I remembered a fellow tri friend also rides a mini bike too! Michelle R-Q came to the rescue. I also got an offer from Molly’s friend as well. I was in luck. I took the wheel from Molly’s friend and the spare tube from Michelle. I would race with a race wheel in the front and a training wheel in the back. I guess it is better than no wheel. The only problem was there would be no wheel until race morning. Ugh. For those of you who know me that would mean HIGH STRESS until the wheel was securely fastened to the frame…with the new skewer ;)

Race morning did not go as planed. Molly and I thought it would be OK to leave at 5 AM to get to the race site for 5:30 AM. I could eat my race breakfast in the car at 5:15 and sleep for an hour or so when we made it into the lot. Uhm not so much a good idea. We ended up waiting in line for an hour and then got directed to Gunstock. Oh no! It was 6:30 and I was driving to Gunstock to get on a bus. That would put me at race site around 7 AM. I still had to get my bike in order. Panic mode!

After a bumpy ride on the big yellow bus I made it to race transition to find out that the race had been delayed. Phew…I had more time! I grabbed my bike from transition, got the wheel and ran over to Brian at the FastSplits tent. He took care of my wheel change and took it for a spin to be sure it was in check. He did look quite funny riding Turbo. My bike was OK, but it was not completely fixed. I would have to make due with it for the race and worry about it later. Thanks for the help Brian!

Finally, it was time to get my bike to transition and setup my things. All was in order and I was beginning to get my head in check and focus on the race. I made my way over to the water to wait for my wave, which was the very last one. Not sure why they stick the relay and aquabike participants last. I would say the majority of the relay folks are speedy and the aquabike folks should be able to hold their own. I was not looking forward to swimming over people for 1.2 miles. Down at the waterfront I ran into Kitty, my new swim instructor… boy does she have her work cutout for her ;) She was doing the relay… yeah she is super fast so I would not be on her feet. Kitty was giving me a pep talk. I think she could tell I was stressed out a bit. I always get nervous about the swim and the whole bike debacle did not help. I did my warm-up, took my Powergel and was ready to get the show on the road.

According to Jesse, my target was a 32-33 minute swim, which was doable. I remembered this to be a tough swim. My time last year was 34:47. Could I shave off a minute or two? Our wave was finally called to the water and within a few minutes we were off. It had been a while since I raced, so it took me a while to settle in. After getting through the cluster, I was able to break away and swim on my own, which I like to do. I really need to start drafting in the swim. The water was a bit choppy and there were several people to swim over, but other than that I was ok. I felt a little tired, but managed to get through with a time of 32:29. Awesome! Over two minutes faster than last year. Yippee… all the pool time is paying off.

I was able to run to transition pain free. I was a bit worried about running out of the water, through the sand, and over the stumps, en route to my bike. Surprisingly, I made it through no problem. I ripped of my wetsuit, got my bike gear on and I headed out to the bike mounting area. I was on my bike and focused on my SRM. My target was to maintain 170 watts with a 220 watt cap. To date, I had yet to have a good bike split, but I always made up for it with my run. This time I could not do that, so it was game time. As Jesse would say, this would be my last chance to get it right. Well, I started off a bit too conservative, but picked it up. I was playing the cat and mouse game with a few people thought the ride… kind of funny how that works. I was just focusing on my race and not looking to outride anyone. After the turnaround, I had to make up some watts I lost in the beginning. I was only averaging 156 at the time. I was starting to feel hungry as I lost some of my nutrition heading out of transition. I just continued to eat the Powergel and surge ahead. I was picking up watts and was at 160 average going into the last 6 or so miles. I was forced to push harder to get at my target. The last few miles I got a second wind and was way over my 220 watt cap. Oops. I pulled off the 56 mile ride in 2:40:51 with a 163 watt average (20.9mph). Not quite 170 watts, but not bad for me. It was 15 minutes faster than last year’s bike split. I’ll take it! I ended up finishing second female overall and took home some maple syrup.

Another race behind me and some lessons to be learned…

Lesson #1- always bring your training wheels to the race, especially when you ride 650’s. Lesson#2- always put your bike together before transporting, which eliminates careless mishaps like forgetting a skewer.
Lesson #3- Get out of bed at 4 AM race morning in order to get parking at race transition.
Lesson #4- Secure race nutrition in the bento box to avoid losing snacks in route to the bike mount area.
Lesson #5- Ride the bike right from the start to avoid going over the 50 watt cap the last few miles.

… and many more lessons to be learned I am sure!

Less than 6 weeks to Kona … YOWSA!

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