Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Harvest Moon Triathlon 2014 Race Recap

Our friends, Chris and Erica, in Denver, Colorado, are super awesome and kept asking when we were going to visit them again.  So, of course I had to plan it around a race.  Or at least try.  :).  I did find one and it was the Harvest Moon Tri in Aurora, CO.  This race is about 30 minutes from where Chris and Erica live (1 point), the race is smaller (1 point), the bike course is hilly (1 point for good training), and there is a slip n' slide at the end just after you cross the finish line (5 points!).  Not to give any spoiler alerts, but as cool as the slip n' slide is, I cramped half way through the darn thing.  My left inner thigh went totally concave and my right calf completely seized up.  A nice gentleman had to come into the slip n' slide and drag me out because I couldn't move.

Getting there:
Daniel and I flew into Denver on Friday, arriving around 5pm.  We flew Southwest, which I have to say is the best airline to take your bike on.  They are one of the cheapest ($75 each way and it does not count as one of the 2 free checked bags) and since it's an over-sized baggage they handle it separately from the other baggage.  The curb side assistant in Tampa was super nice.  He helped pulled the bike up to the side and explained the whole process of how they take care of the baggage.  The curb side assistant in Denver was effective, but not quite as helpful/friendly.  If you're trying to compare airlines, Frontier also only charges $75 each way and JetBlue charges $50 each way, but it counts as your 1 free checked bag.  All the others that I've checked are $150 each way.

I actually was able to break down my bike and pack it up all by myself.  I borrowed a friend's bike box.  Thank you Megan!

Prep Time:
Friday night we visited the Epic Brewery then went down the street to have pizza for dinner.  I refrained from drinking any alcohol until Sunday.  When we got back to the house, I pretty much just went to bed and didn't set my alarm.

Saturday I was up around 7am and we, minus Erica, all headed out for a couple mile hike in the Mount Evans area - Mt. Bierstadt.  We didn't go too far because I didn't want to wear myself out for Sunday.

When we were done, we went home to pick up Erica and then go grab some lunch and beer (for everyone else) to have that night since we weren't planning on going anywhere except for dinner.  I had vegetarian biscuits and gravy with fruit and we shared fries for lunch.  I wasn't really hungry, but it was delicious and once I started eating I didn't stop until it was all gone.  After lunch and going to the beer store, we went to an Organic Grocer's store to pick up some beet juice.  Thanks to Erica for helping wrangle the boys and getting me to the store and back to the house in time to set up my bike.

I started setting up my bike once we made it back home.  Daniel and Chris "supervised".  It took me about 45 - 60 min. to set up my bike.  I was taking my time for sure.  Once I was all done, I took my bike around the block for about 10 minutes to make sure that it wouldn't fall apart on me, everything was set properly and my power was working correctly.  All was good and I was a happy camper.  I took a shower and about 30 minutes later we headed out for some Sushi for dinner.  Daniel and I ordered 3 rolls and crab rangoons.  We ate almost all of it ourselves.  I think we shared a couple of slices with Chris.  Nice and full, I headed to bed around 10:30 and realized I hadn't painted my nails yet.  So, I got out of bed, did them real quick and hoped I didn't fall asleep and move around too move, messing them up.

Race Time:
Chris and Daniel got up with me and took me to the race.  I had a Smooth Caffeinator Picky Bar for breakfast.  1 hr before the race I took 2 SportsLegs pills, 30 minutes before the race I drank X2 Performance (I am really liking this stuff) and took an Gu electrolyte pill, and about 15 minutes before the race I ate half a bag of PowerBar strawberry/banana gels.  I sprayed on some TriSlide and used plastic bags to get on my wetsuit and I was able to get it on very quickly.  I was kind of in a hurry too because I wanted to warm up in the water before they kicked everyone out.  I made it in time for a quick 5 minute warm up that I thought was helpful, but turned out to be almost useless.  More on that below.

Gear and nutrition for the race:
  • Zoot Ultra trisuit with Tribal logo
  • Tyr earplugs
  • Tyr Special Ops 2.0 goggles
  • Wigwam socks
  • Nike sun visor
  • Louis Garneau x-tri-lite bike shoes
  • Tifosi sunglasses
  • Lazer Tardiz aero helmet
  • Xentis Mark 1 race wheels
  • Profile Design aero bullet bottle holder 
  • 2XU X2 Project X full wetsuit 
  • Scott T2C running shoes
  • Fuel Belt race belt
  • Bike nutrition:
  • 2 scoops Infinit mix and 1 scoop Fluid - Passion Fruit Tea 
  • Powerbar Waffle
  • 2 SportsLeg pills and 1 electrolyte pill that I lost on the bike course
  • Run nutrition:
  • EFS Liquid Shot - Kona Mocha 
  • oranges, water, and gatorade from the course

The Swim
Time - 33:27
Cat Place - 2

The swim is an out in back in the Aurora Reservoir.  It wasn't as clear as they made it out to be, but at least it didn't taste salty.  So, about the warm up.  I got in and dunked my head under and immediately was gasping for air because the water was so cold.  I dunked my head about 6 or 7 times before I finally started to get used to it.  Once I could hold my breath under water, I started swimming around to loosen up my wetsuit a bit.  I was in the second wave so I was off quickly.  I was only out of the water for about 4 minutes.  When my wave went, I got in about 2 strokes before I started gasping for air every time I put my head under the water.  I had to swim with my head above water for what felt like the first 400 yards, but was probably more like 200 or 300.  Which is still a lot.  When I was finally able to swim with my head under the water, I noticed my hair getting caught in the velcro of my wetsuit.  It kept pulling my head so I wasn't able to turn my head without extra effort.  Very annoying and it started early in the swim.  I finally got into a rhythm about half way and of course the water became choppy on the way back.  As I came out of the water, I had to yank my hair from the velcro.  Ouch!  Also, I didn't hit the start button (well, I hit it, twice, but I guess I didn't push hard enough because it didn't start) so I had no idea what my swim time was.

On a good note, even though my hair got caught in the velcro, my wetsuit felt good.  I didn't feel constricted around the neck and shoulders like I usually do.  I'm hoping it has a little to do with swimming a few times before the race in my wetsuit to get used to it.

Time - 1:44
Cat Place - 4

I had to walk for about 20 seconds coming out of the water to catch my breath.  I've been trying really hard to just get out and run, regardless of how slow or fast, into T1.  But, the initial freak out and having to pull my hair out of the velcro was enough to make me need a quick break.

The area from the beach to the entrance to T1 is on sand and concrete that is covered with a mat.  I really love this.  There are some races here at Sand Key in Clearwater and Ft. Desoto in St. Pete that do not cover any part of the concrete and it just kills my feet and slows me down to a walk.

The Transition area is set up as first come/first serve.  So, you can pick where you want to set up at.  I chose to set up near the bike exit taking a spot in a four bike stand.  They had the standard racks, but I like the stand better.  I don't have to worry about bumping bikes with anyone and I can just pull my bike out instead of trying to finagle it out from under the bars.  

The Bike
Time - 2:49:58
Cat Place - 2

The bike started off good.  I already had my shoes clipped in and was able to hop on and ride off quickly.  The first 10 miles was 5 miles out and back of rolling hills.  The way out was with the wind.  The way back was against, but didn't feel too hard I guess because it was still early in the race.  The next 25-ish miles were with the wind and slightly downhill.  It was great.  I was averaging 23 mph + the entire time.  Starting around mile 30 was when I started hitting the wind.  Some climbing started around 37.  Mile 42 is when I really started hitting the big hills.  I had one mile at 11.1 mph!  Thankfully the elevation never really hit me so at least I wasn't gasping for air for any other reason than just trying to get up the hills.  Going down was a lot of fun, but you can never regain the time lost going up the hill.

The bike course is a 10 mile out and back and then a big square back to the race site.  Pretty simple and very few turns.  There are 3 aid stations stocked with gels, gatorade and water.  I refilled my water bottle once.  From the point where you start the big square loop to the first turn of the square loop is about 7 miles.  This stretch is my least favorite (even considering the hills at the end).  There were these horizontal gashes every 10 feet or so across the whole road.  The gashes made the ride very bumpy which was unfortunate because I had the wind on my back and would have loved to just go.  But, I kept coming out of my seat because of the bumps and slowing down.  I also lost my salt stick dispenser with 2 additional SportsLegs pills and 1 electrolyte pill because of the bumps.  Semi trucks were allowed on this road and I almost got blown off the road by one.  I was so happy when I finally turned off this road.  The rest of the ride was nice.  The road was in good condition and the sites were nice and calming.


Time - :50
Cat Place - 1

I actually came in 1st overall for women and 9th overall all participants.  My T2's are lightning fast.  Still working on T1  :).

The Run
Time - 1:51:22
Cat Place - 1

I always come out of T2 too fast.  My first mile was 7:48 and I quickly slowed down as the miles went on.  I bounced around a lot from low to mid 8's.  My last two miles were 9:06 and 8:52.  Starting around mile 5.5 I couldn't feel my legs.  I just kept telling myself to keep going, as long as my legs were moving then I was ok.  Starting around mile 8.5 my calves started to cramp up.  They were more just kind of threatening, like at Beach2Battleship, so I just kept going.  Around mile 10 I could feel the stiffness working its way into my quads.  At my 11, my calves did cramp, but didn't totally seize up.  I had to throw cold water on my legs at the aid stations and stop a couple of times to rub my calves.  A couple of times I couldn't really even move my feet, they just felt like wood blocks when I would take step.  So, between mile 11 and the end I think I stopped around 4 times to stop and rub out my calves so I could keep running.

There is a slip n' slide at the end of the race and I knew I would totally cramp up when I went through it.  But, the slip n' slide was one of the reasons I picked this race so I was going to do it anyway, damn it!  I made it half way through the slip n' slide and my left quad seized up on me as did my right calf.  I couldn't get up or even try to crawl my way out.

I was expecting the run course to be fairly challenging.  It is all out in the open with no shade.  However, I was not expecting the rollers.  The were mild up and downs, but it was constant except for miles 5 - 7.  I love that there was an aid station at every mile.  Not all small races have that and it was greatly appreciated.  All of the stations were stocked and even if the volunteers weren't ready for you, it was easy to grab what you needed because everything was set out.

Time - 5:17:23
Cat Place - 1/18
Gen Place - 4/145 (3rd excluding elite)
Overall Place - 52/363

I didn't do as good as I was hoping, but I did do what I was expecting I could do.  I don't know if that's necessarily a good or bad thing.  I could maybe have pushed a little harder on the bike, but I know that would have meant cramping even earlier on the run.

I would recommend this race to others.  Especially if you live nearby.  I would also recommend it for anyone training for a hilly half or full distance race but don't want to pay Ironman price for a 70.3.  This race is super cheap if you sign up early enough and cheap (relatively speaking) if you wait and sign up a bit later.  You can also get discounts if you can volunteer or get some of your sherpa(s) to volunteer at the race.