Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Gulf Coast Triathlon '08: Race Report

This was the most fun I’ve ever had while racing, hands down.

From Coffee County - Me, Mike, Tom and Chris C. and Chris P. were all doing the triathlon individually, and there were two relay teams: Tim, Kevin, and Lee were competing as a male relay team, and Holly and Heather were originally competing as a mixed team with Joe as their swimmer, but Joe had to back out because of a work assignment, so they had recruited a swimmer from Panama City(Pam).

Pam, Holly, Heather "Here For The Party"

Kevin, Lee, Tim

From the blogosphere, there was Patrick, Missy, and Ryan…and I found out after-the-fact – Kathleen.

We also saw Abby, Dee, Ryan(Gran Fondo), Lynn(also Gran Fondo), Jerry P., Ashley (swim coach) and many others that I kinda/sorta know. And…I met many more. This thing was one big party with a half-iron triathlon thrown in for good measure, I tell ya.

Let’s just cut to the chase – the waves were big, and I was terrified. I took a practice swim out into them Friday evening after Holly and I checked in at the expo, and I couldn’t get passed the second breakers without being completely out of breath and almost in a panic. I went out twice to get the feel of it, and then I went back up to my condo. Nervous. I had visions of seeing the lady pulled out of the water and rushed off as she passed away at IMFL ’07 - I was a volunteer. I thought about my kids, and I second guessed my ability. I worried as I got dressed for the “mandatory athlete meeting.” I met Tim, Lee, Mike, Holly and Heather for the pre-race dinner and athlete meeting, and I hashed it out with them…and I worried. I wasn’t worried that I couldn’t swim the 1.2 miles – I’ve done twice that tons of times lately. I wasn’t even really worried about the sharks any more, being as though there were going to be many others swimming around me. It wasn’t that I couldn’t handle being hit in the face with a wave as I turned to breathe, either. It was the unknown. It was the unknown of what was swimming with me, who might or might not kick me, and how I would feel or react as I made my way to each buoy. Would there be an undercurrent pulling me back out as I tried to swim in like Friday? Would the water be clear or murky? I haven’t been in the open water since last November, and then it was crystal clear and calm as could be. So I let the worries run their course, and then in perfect Lana-fashion, I threw my hands up in the air just before I went to bed, and said “Just go out and do the freaking swim, you pansy. You signed up for it, you paid for it, you trained for it - now shut up, get some sleep, and go do it.” And that is what I did…

Connie, Tom, Me, Holly at the pre-race pasta dinner

Connie, Holly, Me, Mike

Mary Beth and I just before I started

Support Crew minus Holly (Holly was snapping the pic) Left to right:Kyle,Craig,Nicholas,Matt,Bo, Mary Beth, Briar, Me, J.T.

The next morning, I found my family and friends on the beach and Holly snapped pics of us. I put my little blue swim cap on, and I told Abby and Lynn goodluck. Chris C. shook my hand and told me good luck as I walked to the edge of the water with the others in my age group. The gun went off and I ran into the water. I dove in, and I swam. I dove in under the waves when I could, and I fought through them when I couldn’t. I swam up on a yellow swim cap girl, and she kicked me solid in the jaw. I decided that wasn’t a big deal, and I swam around her. I made it to the first buoy, and I felt strong. I concentrated on getting from one buoy to another until I got to the turn. I was so proud of myself that I didn’t pay enough attention to how sharp of a turn I needed to make, and I swam out a little too far. I looked up to sight and not only could I not find a buoy, but I couldn’t find many other swimmers either. Being in survival mode, I didn’t panic, I just figured out which direction to swim, and I made my way back on course. Before I knew it, I was back to shore, and I was the happiest girl out there – guaranteed! I jumped and yelled as I got out of the water, and I did it again when I saw Holly. I wasn’t just happy to be out of the water, but I was ecstatic at how easy it had turned out to be! In retrospect, I think being so worried to begin with went in my favor. It put me into survival mode, and that’s when I do best. Back me up against a wall, and I’ll come back fighting. I fought through that water and came out with a swim time of 41:37. Better than my goal of 45 minutes.

I was pretty much on top of the world in T-1…just happy to be alive and donning the bike gear and setting out for my favorite leg of the race. I saw Gina (Kevin’s wife) cheering for me as I left T-1. T-1 Time: 3:27. The bike course was flat and fast, and other than the fact that I felt great the whole time and was very pleased with how great the volunteers were at the Gatorade/water handoffs, I don’t know what else to say about it. Yeah, there was a little drafting here and there, but there always is. I leave that stuff to the officials and just keep cranking. I followed my plan of drinking mostly Gatorade Endurance and a little water, and I ate a fig Newton after about 15 miles. Starting at mile 20, I ate a Cliff Shot Blok about every 10 minutes. I got passed by quite a few guys, and by two girls. I don’t like to get passed by girls, but I let them go. This was my first Half Iron distance, and I wasn’t about to let my pride on the bike sabotage my run. I ended up riding the 56 miles in 2:41:26, an average of 20.7. The only problem is that I told J.T. I thought it would take me about 3 hours…and I was out running before they came back to find me getting off the bike, so they missed me…but I’ll take that problem any day.

T-2 was quick because I had been practicing getting out of my shoes at the end of the ride and dismounting like Bigun…so I rode in with my feet on top of my shoes, swung my leg over the seat, and just kept going as I pushed the bike back to the rack. T-2 Time: 1:16.

I had no idea what to expect on this run, so I started out conservatively…I thought. My splits were all less than 9 minutes, though, and I felt great. Just like swimming from buoy to buoy, I only thought about running from one mile marker to another. My #1 goal was no walking, and my #2 goal was to run the 13.1 miles in around 2 hrs. Lynn passed by me with her smokin’ pace around mile 2, and I knew there was no keeping up with her. I had cloud cover for about the first 7 or 8 miles, and it just flew by. I took a Power-Gel at mile 2 and another one at mile 7.5. I drank Gatorade and/or water at every aid station. The volunteers were amazing. They had everything you needed – ice, cold sponges, fruit, gels, everything. Around mile 8 I met Larkin, another Tennessean that is on the same team as my friend, Leslie. We chatted for a minute, and I pushed on. I saw Lee heading out on his run around mile 8, and he looked SO happy for me! I gave him high five and told him ‘I’ve got it, now.’ Around mile 10 it was getting very hot, and I saw Heather heading out for her run. I kept pushing harder and harder as I got closer, and before I knew it I was running down the finish chute. I saw Holly, Kevin, Tim, Gina, J.T., Briar and Bo, and Mary Beth and her boys. My run time was 1:58:27, giving me a final time of 5:26:08. 12th out of 70 in the 30-34 Age Group. I really don’t know what to think about my time, because my goal was just to get under 6 hours. Regardless of a goal, though, if it’s an “A” race, the goal is really to just do the best I can possibly do.

Me and Holly celebrating

We celebrated the good times afterwards, and found out that Tim, Kevin, and Lee’s team got 6th place and Pam, Holly, and Heather’s team got 4th place. Actually, the preliminary results showed that they were 5th and 3rd, but somehow they changed between the time we looked and when they gave the awards at the ceremony that night. Either way, Holly had a smoking fast bike for someone who had only been on her road bike 2 times this year, and Heather had a great run in some serious heat. Tim had an awesome swim for the guys, despite no open-water practice; I think Kevin passed everyone left on the bike course, and Lee smoked the run as always (he didn't get passed by anyone). Lynn, Ashley, Katherine K. and Abby all placed in their divisions – Congrats guys!!

Congrats to all my friends – you all did great!! And I can’t wait to see you again at more races this summer!!!

Lee finishing the run

Heather finishing the run

Tim, Me, Kevin, Holly

Me and Patrick

Me, Heather, Holly

Lee, Tim and Kevin checking their results

Mike, Al, Me...deep in discussion

My dad keeps asking me why I do this stuff...why I risk swimming out into the ocean...why I put my body through miles and miles of riding and running. My only answer lies in the infamous quote:

The aim of life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting WOW! WHAT A RIDE!


Rae said...

Way to go!!! I'm so happy for you and proud for you too! This year is really getting off to a great start!

TriShannon said...

Nice race and great quote!

Anonymous said...

So inspiring. The pictures are great! You could really tell you were having fun and in the zone. Great job.

TriSaraTops said...

I am so, so HAPPY FOR YOU!

You have earned every second of this success!

You are such an inspiration to me. :)

kmholt7 said...

Great race report. You did an awesome job!

Cliff said...


Way to finish the race strong and faster than you thought. I know how you feel about those time estimate. It is very tough to let your love ones know when to meet you. I always tell them give them an hour before or after.

TriSonq said...

That was so much fun and you kicked some major a**.

BTW, I "borrowed" the picture of us. I hope you don;t mind.

triguyjt said...

lana...what a great race..loved all the you were smoking..
i like how you wanted a 2 hour ish run and you came in just under at 1:58...
congrats to all the bloggers and buddies who raced individually and with teams.....

now you can chill...for a ..little bit..haha

Benson said...

You did really well. Very nice race. You and your crew are super studs and studettes.
Great race report. Pumped me up.

Wes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wes said...

Way to go, Lana! That's what they say about heroes. They realize they are afraid but they get it done any ways :-) For Florida 70.3, I'll draw inspiration from you and call myself a pansy until I get out of the water :-D

Thanks for the well wishes... Have a great weekend!

Michele said...

Girl you are off to a kick a$$ start for 08. I am so proud of you. You didn't let some rough water mess up your race.
Love the race report.
Now rest up and get ready to start IM training June 15th!!!

faithrunner said...

Love the pics, looked like a ton of fun and excitement!! That's cool you had others to cheer you on and be there for the finish. Great job!!!

Lisa said...

Great report!
I totally live by the quote at the end.

tri-mama said...

Fantastic!!!!! What a great race, you are so ready for November! Wasn't the ocean cool?

Stephanie said...

Awesome job!

Have you gotten your foot checked out? I'm being a pest, because now I'm in a boot with a stress reaction (little better than a stress fracture - heals quicker) and won't be able to run for about 2 months or so. Would hate for that to happen to you. Get your foot looked at, girl!!!

theflash said...

your ole dad is proud of you, but he'd rest a little easier if you'd retire to nothing more than the chattanooga tri.

IronTriTim said...

Great race report Lana, heres hoping the sea is flatter come 1st Nov.

Steve Stenzel said...

WOW!!! Nice job!! Way to go in those waves!! And way to TOTALLY SMOKE what you thought you could do on the bike!!!