Sunday, August 4, 2013

I feel the need... the need for SPEED!!!

After IMTX my new goal became to work on my speed.  I refuse to say that I had a "bad" race at IMTX because there is no such thing, but I do feel that I could do better... minus the heat exhaustion!  Training for an Ironman was a lot different than training for a sprint, olympic, or even a half Ironman.  My focus had switched from speed to endurance, which meant my training times were a tad slower than I was use to.  So after sitting down with Coachie & planning my life after Ironman, we decided that Longhorn 70.3 will be my next A race, with a few Olympic tri's before that to amp up my speed.  I told Allen my new goal & he told me I needed to visualize speed, feel speed around me, and be speed!  He may have regretted that advice because for the past few weeks I have been like a crack addict, speed freak, focusing on all things... FAST!!! :-)  It worked though:

First came Tri for Old Glory, an Olympic distance, in San Marcos.  I had sat on the idea of registering for a while, being that none of my Iron-Whiners were doing it too.  The weekend before was Buffalo Springs 70.3, a super hot & tough course that Kris & Dawn were racing.  I virtually cheered for them all day watching them CRUSH the course & setting PRs!  Well, that's all it takes to get pumped up and sign up for a race of your own.  That day I bit the bullet and signed up for Tri for Old Glory, alone!  Race morning came & I drove out to San Marcos, alone.  I set up my gear in transition, a strange feeling because I had not done a race with a true transition in a long time.  Ironman races give you bags that you prepare & drop off the night before.  I looked to my left & looked to my right, no familiar bikes racked next to me, that's ok.  Then like a ray of light from the heavens, I saw a brand spanking new CervĂ©lo, similar to mine... Denise!!!  I was so excited to see a familiar face!  She introduced me to her friend Anita who was also racing & we chatted & passed the time until it was time to start the swim.
Transition piled into my helmet due to ants!
Denise & I & our beautiful bikes!
My age group was the second group in the water, time trial start.  Coachie had given us all a pep talk about how she had won her age group at Buffalo Springs, mainly on the swim.  So keeping that in mind I left it all out there.  It was an out and back swim with buoys to our left.  About half way out I took a left at one of the buoys and then realized there was no one in front of me. Yikes!  I turned at the wrong buoy!  Luckily, I had only taken a stroke or two before I realized I was not at the turn around yet!  I got back on course and kept the pressure on.  I remembered reading on Hillary's blog once that it is the athletes responsibility to know the course.  Mental note to self, this includes the swim course!  As I rounded the last buoy I spotted the swim exit and gave it all I had.  I noticed a lot of people breaststroking their way out of the water, not me!  I heard Coachie's voice telling me to push until the end.  Finally, my hand touched the bottom and I knew it was time to stand up & exit.

I got on my bike and put the pressure on!  A mile into the course, chip seal... yuck!  Oh well, you get what you get & you don't throw a fit!  Keep pedaling... hard!  I had put a lot of thought into my water bottle situation and asked my friends for their advice the night before.  I decided to go with one bottle & to freeze half of it the night before, hoping it would melt but still be cold by  the time I got on my bike.  At mile 4, I reached back for a drink; Ahhhh, cool & refreshing!  As I went to put it back, pot hole!  I Jack Motted my bottle of Infinit!!!  I quickly tapped my breaks, then thought, "Hell, NO!"  19 miles to go and now I have NO reason to get out of aero position!  Stay down & pedal on!  I thought about asking fellow riders for some water as I passed them, but wasn't sure how well that would have been received.  Around mile 19, the first female passed me going up a slight incline.  It was Anita!  "Go, Anita!"  This is where doing my homework had paid off.  I knew the last 3-4miles on the bike elevation map were downhill, so I thought "Get on her wheel & don't let go!"  Much to my surprise we rode into transition together.

I quickly threw on my running shoes, which had speed laces on them now ;-) and headed out on the run.  As I was leaving transition, I saw Anita out of the corner of my eye still by her bike.  I took off at a decent pace, trying to keep the gas on, as Coachie tells us.  At the first water station I saw Kelly who was volunteering.  She yelled to me that I was in first place and to keep it up!  I knew I wasn't in first, but wanted to at least keep my position.  Anxiety kept building as I kept waiting for Anita to pass me by.  I don't like the feeling of being chased, so this made me mentally stronger.  And in her defense, Anita was just coming back from injury & was not 100%.  I saw Denise on a few of the turn arounds as well & her beaming smile energized me.  By the second lap I felt slow as molasses and wanted to walk just a little bit.  I looked down at my Garmin after much resistance & realized I was at a much faster pace than expected.  Alright, let's finish this, I can keep this up until the finish.  Second place in my age group, but more importantly a 14min PR for the Olympic distance!

Next came Marble Falls, Spri-lympic, not quite an Olympic distance, the swim was only 1000m & the run was 4.4mi.  Team Alvarez was back in action & Team Loftin was in as well, along with Denise.  Something about knowing that you have friends out on the course suffering with you makes it a little more enjoyable.  I had set a few goals for this race: 1) to catch Brian on the swim.  His wave went off 3min. before Orissa & mine.  2) to hold Denise off for as long as I could.  Her wave went off 6min after ours. 3) because it was a short race... Balls to the Wall!!!

Orissa, Karen, Kevin, & Michelle
Team Alvarez
The swim was great to was a mass start by age group.  Orissa & I made our way into the water and I quickly got a front & left position in order to hug the buoys.  I yelled to Orissa to get on my feet, then Boom!... it was Go Time!  I got into my rhythm and tried to keep the pressure on.  I learned from the previous tri to know your swim route!  I counted the buoys while still on land so I wouldn't have any doubt where the turn around was.  I passed the first blue cap (men's wave before us) before I got to the turn around buoy.  The whole way back I tried to sight the next buoy and the next blue cap I was going to pass.  I swam full throttle until the very end until my hand touched bottom & I knew I could stand & run!  I ran up the delightful hill that brought us to transition & ran to my bike rack.  First thing I noticed was Brian's bike (with his mini American flag)!  My first thought was "I hope Brian's ok!"  My next thought was "Did I really beat him out of the water?"  Goal #1, check!

I grabbed my bike & took off as fast as I could.  I knew now that the next goal was to hold him off on the bike as long as I could!  That didn't last long, by mile 2 or 3 I heard him coming up behind me, "Go, Aixa!"  I tried to grab onto his wheel but that only lasted until the next hill.  At the turn around I saw Orlando & was energized by his cheers!  On the way back I saw and cheered for Orissa, Karen, Michelle, & Kevin... all wearing Smash!  How could you miss those beauties!?  The course was tough with some good climbs and even better descents.  I rolled into transition, grabbed my shoes and took off.

It was hot & my legs were feeling the effects of the tough bike course.  I tried to keep the pressure on as best I could, but I felt like I was fading.  About half way through I saw Brian already on his way back, he looked super strong & gave me a burst of energy.  On the homestretch I saw Orissa and gave her a weak Holla!  Brian was waiting for us at the last turn.  He yelled to me that the finish was just around the corner after those trees!  What he failed to mention (purposely, I'm sure) was the nasty little hill we had to beast up to reach the finish.  I pumped my arms as best I could to get up the hill and... D.O.N.E.!  Somehow that 4.4mi run seemed 10x harder than the 6.2mi I had done a few weeks before.  I assume the bike had taken a lot out of my legs.  Regardless, I was super excited with a 1st place age group finish!

The following day Allen & I took off for a week long of rest & relaxation in Ocho Rios, Jamaica! :-)