Race Report: Patriot Half-Ironman Aquabike

 

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Patriot Half!

I signed up for this race back in December hoping that I would have a good solid race before my final build to Lake Placid. However, sometimes life throws you curveballs and you just need to change your plan. I decided a month ago after my knee/hip issues started that I would drop down to the aquabike. I didn’t really want to, but I decided to be smart and not do anything stupid… like run a half-marathon with an injured leg. 

The week before the race I managed to come down with a nasty cold (again). I succeeded to do absolutely nothing last weekend in order to get rid of the cold. It helped, but my nose was still pretty runny and I pretty much lost my voice. I hadn’t been in open water yet either. Luckily, one of my co-workers offered (okay, maybe I bribed him) to kayak for me Thursday night so I could try on my wetsuit and get in the water for a bit of swimming. This week was pretty crappy weather-wise. Lots of rain so the lake was freezing. It was also windy and choppy. I lasted a whole 7 minutes in the water. Yikes! Hopefully race day will be much better!

Excited to swim in Sebago Lake

Excited to swim in Sebago Lake

I headed down to Massachusetts on Friday night and stayed at my coaches house. I got to see her herd of puppies. They are completely crazy and lovable at the same time! I had a pretty good night of sleep. Going into this race I wasn’t really nervous. At this point, mentally I was considering this more of a training day than a pure race. The ultimate goal is Lake Placid so I treated this as a day to a) complete my first real open water swim of the year, b) get nutrition timing down, and c) work on pacing throughout the bike course.

Pre-race:

I got up at 4:15 and had a quick breakfast of a bagel with cream cheese and applesauce. No issues with breakfast going down. Guess I really wasn’t that nervous. Got in the car and turned the GPS on. Had issues with the GPS losing satellite the entire drive to Freetown. Awesome. I made it with plenty of time. Got my race packet. Racked bike. Set up transition. Felt like I was missing everything since I didn’t need my running shoes. Took Azul (my bike) for a quick spin. Used the porta-potty. Put on the wetsuit. Quick warm-up in the lake. Water temperature was about 60 degrees. Waited about 40 minutes until my swim wave went off.

The Swim:

I was in the last wave with both men and women aquabikers and the relay peeps. I seeded myself in the semi-middle third row back. The gun went off and so did we. I found open water pretty quickly. I didn’t have any major issues of anyone swimming over me or kicking me. I kind of wish that they did in a way so I could “practice” for Lake Placid! The first third of my swim was rough. I couldn’t settle in. My stroke was horrible. I’m sure I looked like a dying fish out of water. Finally, I was able to settle into my swim stroke and was making my way towards to first turn buoy. It felt like it took forever to get there! As you got further out into the lake it got a bit choppy. I made the first turn and headed for the second one. I could see that I was passing a few people in the previous waves so I was feeling okay about my swim, but I knew that I was slow. Before I started the race I set my watch to beep every 10 minutes during the swim so I had an idea of the time. The second beep went off shortly after I rounded the first buoy. I made it around the second turn buoy and started to pick up the pace towards “home.” The third beep went off and I knew I was looking at a 40+ minute swim. Definitely very slow for me, which I was slightly bummed about. However, I guess that’s what you get when you haven’t swam open water since last August. Finally I made it shore!

Swim: 42:02 (2:00/100 yards) 5/12 AG; 20/49 OA

T1

Did my hair. Did my make-up. Just Kidding. I had a hell of a time getting my wetsuit off. It took forever. Best part of it was the fact that I managed to strain my left calf muscle while taking my suit off. Awesome. An hour later…

T1: 3:53 min

The Bike

The course is a two loop 28-mile course that is relatively flat with some rollers. It was a pretty course with views of lakes and nice houses. It reminded me a lot of Pumpkinman and a little bit of the Maine Rev3 course. It took me a bit to settle into the bike. My head was still a bit cloudy from the swim. The first couple of miles had a bunch of turns so it wasn’t very fast, but I did managed to pass a few people right off the bat. I concentrated on staying in my power zones and riding the course smart and consistently. My goal was to do the first loop a bit easier and then pick it up for the second loop. About 10 miles into the course I passed a woman and she asked if I was on my second loop. I laughed and told her I was only on my first loop. She said “oh, you have a pointy helmet so I thought you were on your second.” Thanks for thinking I’m super fast lady! I just might have to wear my aero helmet from now on. Ha! Shortly after that I came upon two tom turkeys trying to cross the road. Both were running around in the middle of the road like deer in headlights. Great! Luckily, they moved quickly to the side of the road and I was able to pass them without coming to a complete stop. At this point I started to play cat and mouse with an older woman named Shirley. This would go on throughout the entire ride. I would pass her and then she’d get a second wind and pass me only to have me pass her later on down the road. Great fun and a great motivator! Around mile 15 or so we came up to a road between two lakes. Just as a came around the bend a flock of Canadian geese and baby geese were trying to cross the road. Seriously! Turkeys and now geese! I kind of made a “no no” sound to get them to stay on the side of the road so I could pass and one of them hissed at me! I didn’t think Geese could hiss! Yikes!

I kept moving and soon Melissa passed me like a rocket! I skipped the bottle exchange at mile 18 and kept plugging along. Soon I passed by transition and headed out for my second loop. I picked up the speed and started focusing on passing anyone I could. At this point the headwind picked up again. It was there on the first loop, but definitely picked up a bit more on the second. This time I passed both mile 10 and 15 without any birds trying the cross the road. I did see a turtle at one point. Around mile 45 or so Shirley and I started playing cat and mouse with a man named Craig. Right around this point the bike traffic started to pick up a bit and becoming a bit of a cluster-f***. The roads were a bit narrow and there were cars trying to pass. Things got a bit slow. At this point I was getting frustrated and finally when I had a chance I just put my head low and hauled ass by about 10+ cyclists. Shirley and Craig were long gone at this point. I passed the bottle exchange again and knew I had roughly 10 miles left. At this point I picked it up again. I passed a bunch of people knowing that I didn’t have the run. In the final miles I saw the elite men heading to the finish of the run looking strong. Then I saw transition and was done. It was a nice feeling knowing I didn’t have the run now. But, I sort of missed not being able to run….

Bike: 3:11:56 (17.5mph) 6 AG; 29 OA

Overall, I felt good during the race. I was a bit disappointed with my time overall. I was slow, but I haven’t been training much in my half-ironman zones. That coupled with my cold, I did the best I could on that day. I was just glad that I didn’t have any major coughing spells during the swim or bike. Looking at the results afterwards there were a lot of slow bike times. I was really hoping to go sub-3 on the course and it is definitely within my capability. I think the headwind played a role in the slower times. I compared how I did in the aquabike to my age group for the Half and I would have placed well there if I didn’t have my knee injury. But you never really know. I did accomplish my goal of the day – to have a good solid ride. My VI for the ride was 1.09, which is really really good for me! I was happy about that. My legs felt good at the end, minus the calf strain. Now, onwards to my final build to Ironman Lake Placid!

Overall: 3:57:48.6 6/12 AG (Women under 44); 10/28 Females; 26/49 Overall

My awesome Garmin watch tan lines!

My awesome Garmin watch tan lines!

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