Race Report by Athlete Ann D.
Lake Murray Sprint
I didn’t sleep exceptionally well. Stayed overnight with some good friends who live less than 10 minutes away from the event site so that was a plus. Got to set up an hour before the race started and was surprised how crowded it was. Seemed like a LOT more participants this year than before. Had to park in a less than legal spot on the grass. Had a hard time using hand pump to fill my bike tires. Chip pick up and marking was well organized. I made it to my rack in transition (which was close to the bike in/out area) and set up. I felt good. Excited but not nervous. The water temp was announced as 75 degrees and wetsuit legal. My decision was to go with the wetsuit. I would say that about 80% of the participants had some form of wetsuit-most were sleeveless. I brought my sleeveless as well.
I hopped into the water to get acclimated. I had no problems. Water was pretty calm (thank God!) The race had a deep water start about 100 yards from the dock. I swam out to there and back, practicing sighting every 6 strokes. The sun was strong, so I knew it would be a challenge sighting the buoys after the first turn. This race did have green sighting buoys between the yellow turn buoys. This was very helpful. After the second turn, it was a straight shot to the dock. The only thing marking it was an orange buoy. (I really wish they use large flags which are easier to see…)
After the prayer and National Anthem, the song “Lose Yourself” started blasting over the PA system. I was stoked! I love that song. I’ve kept that on my running playlist for years. “Lose yourself in the music, in the moment…” “You’ve got one shot, one opportunity to prove yourself…” It speaks of digging down deep and finding that strength to succeed. After I heard that I knew that this was my moment to DO IT.
I was in the 3rd wave, which started precisely at 8:06 AM. In a rare move, I positioned myself near the front. When the gun went off, there was chaos. I stuck to my plan. “1-2-3-4-5-6 sight” I kept repeating this even as I was kicked, bumped, etc. Before I knew it, I was at the first green sighting buoy. I heard the last wave horn going off. Excellent! I was that far already in the race! I turned by the first yellow buoy. Things then got difficult because of the sun. I could only spot the green buoy every other sighting or so. I was still in a pack of other ladies, so I knew I was (hopefully!) going in the right direction. I know it’s really mean, but when I saw myself pass a pink cap (the men in wave 2 wore pink) I was secretly happy. I didn’t let a crowd of people around me upset me because as long as I saw others I knew I was “in the pack” and not lagging behind. The only time I stopped to “tarzan swim” was when I really needed to figure out where I was because of the sun. I found the buoys and motored on. When I rounded the second yellow buoy, I knew it was a straight shot to the shore. Just like last year, it was hard to sight, but I stayed the course. “1-2-3-4-5-6 sight.” When I saw that there was no one around me, I realized that I had drifted to the right. I had taken the turn fairly wide. I had to started shifting to the left to get to the dock. I’m pretty sure that was where I added on 50 yards or so to my swim. As I got closer to the shore, I kicked it up a notch. Brian was waiting for me and shouted that I was under 20 minutes. I was elated. My unspoken goal was 20 minutes. I bettered that goal. I shaved 7 minutes off of last year AND I wasn’t dead last.
I’m no speedster in transition. I was able to peel off and out of the wetsuit relatively quickly (for me) and after a quick drink of water I headed out. It was starting to warm up.
The race actually starts on an island. About a mile in, there is a causeway that you cross. It is deceptively flat, meaning it looks flat but there is actually an incline. And headwinds. Not sure how I could have forgotten this. I then realized I didn’t have any strategy for the bike. I was trucking along at 10mph, and everyone I beat out of the water was starting to pass me. Every time I heard their Tri bikes come up behind me and pass me, I got angry. <Note to self: Work with Coach Jay about cycling! > I had to rope myself back in the moment. I had a tough time for the first half of the bike. Lots of gradual inclines. I just wasn’t getting the speeds I wanted. My legs were tired. I had water with me and drank every so often. Probably not enough but I was fearful of losing control of the bike. The roads were in bad condition. Lots of potholes. And then there was traffic. Some crazy drivers with trucks pulling boats. Some of them weren’t leaving enough clearance as they passed us cyclists. I watch one car slowly follow some cyclists head of me for about a mile before they finally passed. The one that scared me the most was the truck that was pulling a pontoon boat. As it whizzed by me, the cover on the pontoon had an unsecured rope that was whipping around in the back and nearly hit me! I was playing a passing game with a girl on a mountain bike, but she was the only person to this time that I passed. At about mile 10 I saw our friends cheering me on and I perked up. After that, it was another steady incline to the turn back onto the island. I caught up to these 2 little boys that were being marked just before me at pre-race. Mean thing #2 about me. I was going to pass those little snots! It wasn’t too hard. The worst incline of the race is at mile 14 back on the island. This was where I gave up last year and walked my bike. I wasn’t going to do that this year. I hunkered down and climbed that hill, passing those 2 boys like a champ! I looked at my time. Unspoken goal #2 was to do the ride in 1 hour. I wasn’t going to make that goal. I started off too slow. When I got to transition, I was at 1:05. <Note to self: Work with Coach Jay about cycling!>
As I got off my bike, my left hip was sore. The time in the saddle, the effort on that last hill took its toll. I moved as quickly as I could and started out. It was now 80+ degrees out. All the volunteers were cautioning people to HYDRATE.
I saw Brian. He reminded me that if I could run my pace, I could finish in 2 hours. I really wanted to do this and my mind was all in. Unfortunately, my body wasn’t. As I started running, my left hip was “pinching” with every step. Not cool. I was only 1/4 mile into the 5K. I stopped to shake it out and stretch. I started up again. Within a few steps, I felt this sharp, take your breath away pain in my left pelvic area. The pain shot down my left leg and I couldn't move. I stopped. I needed to figure out what to do. I was past the first-aid booth, so at first no one saw me. I didn’t want a DNF, but I couldn’t move. So I did was pretty much every female would do; I cried. And I mean I UGLY cried. Big, pitiful sobs of anger and frustration. My greatest fear JUST materialized. Two guys from behind came to me and asked if I was OK. I’m sure I convinced them when I said “I’m fine.” between sobs. I was determined to finish, tears and all. I walked mostly and tried to run when I could. I have NO doubt I made my situation that much worse for the attempt. At one point I was basically dragging my left leg and hopping on my right. The course was hillier than I remembered and there were many people walking, which only made me feel slightly better. I kept looking at my watch, and then I’d cry. I wasn’t going to make my 2:00 goal. In the end, I beat last year’s time despite a 39 minute 5K (my worst 5K ever)
When I passed Brian and our friends in the Finisher’s shoot, he saw my face and knew something was wrong. I limped across the finish, turned in my chip and headed to the car. We stopped for ice before going back to our friends’ house and I never looked at my results until the next day.
I know that I need to appreciate the gains that I made instead of dwelling on the negative. But in the end, this damn race got me…again. My friends promised they’d race with me next year if I attempt it again. Sigh. I’m crazy enough to take them up on it.
Every race is an opportunity to learn. So we should always look at what went right and what we can improve on.
You had a great swim. You proved to yourself you can change your mindset and overcome. 2 weeks before this race you were considering not doing the race because of the 2 bad practice OWS you had. From that to a sub 20 swim is a HUGE accomplishment. Your transitions were good, not blazing fast but not slow either. Your bike was solid. Yes, we can make a lot of gains there, but you still had a good ride. You stayed focused on the moment and were able to bring your mind back when it wandered.
What can we improve on:
What can I say about your run? I'll start with I'm sorry. As your coach I have the responsibility to get you to Race Day healthy. I feel like I failed you. Your hip injury got quiet for a while and I lost focus on it. I'm proud of you for finishing the race. You are a fighter and you proved it by not giving up. We knew the hip injury might show up on race day and unfortunately it did. Going forward, your run mileage will be more closely monitored and a longer run taper will be implemented.
I view this race as a success. The swim was your biggest hurdle and you crushed it. Your mental game is getting so much better. And if it wasn't for the hip, you would have finished 3rd or 4th in your age group. Congrats. Now it’s time to get that hip healed up and get you ready for Age Group Nationals in Ohio!
Thank you for putting your trust in me. I appreciate it and you. Coach Jay
Race Report by Athlete Rose S.
The weather was perfect; the start was 52 and high was 74.
I was in wave 12 so I had a lot of time before I started. 1.2 miles in the channel seem daunting. I usually get really nervous and the swim is the hardest part for me. The current is strong this year. The water temperature is 70 degrees so I was excited about wearing a wetsuit and having salt water. My friend, Carmen, found me and we talked which relaxed me. No warm-up time was allowed. So I started to play with my watch and accidentally pushed the start button with 2 minutes to go. I tried to stop it. Then, it went into transition mode. I quickly try to get it restarted. The horn blows so I just went. I never made it to the far section of the water like I usually do. So I just started swimming. I had practiced breathing every 2 strokes. So I felt relaxed. I was concentrating staying near the buoys to get the best pull from current. I was drafting and bumped others. But It's like I was in a trance because I was not getting overwhelmed. I started seeing some white caps, the prior wave, which I am pink. So I just kept swimming. It went by fast. Swim: 29:46.
It is long but I just kept moving. Awesome .25 mile run and I felt great to be able breathe. I thought I needed arm warmers but now I felt warm and just ditch them. T1: 7:22. (There is major time to improve here.)
The bike is my strongest part. I felt good even though it was hard to hold back in the beginning. I really wanted to follow the race plan even though everyone was passing me now. I held back in zone 2&3 and concentrated on eating and drinking. There are 3 metal bridges which some people walked. There was no way I was getting off my bike. So I ignored the volunteers along with a few men. Someone had an accident.
I was eating a full Larabar and Scratch bottle every hour. I only practiced with half a bar but I was hungry like I predicted. At mile 40, I started picking it up zone 4 and felt great even though there was some wind. It was time for me to have fun, and start passing people. I saw my coach and friends and the last descend and a zealous feeling came over me. Bike 3:06:48
I was pumped up but I needed to concentrate which is not good for my ADHD. So I tried to go slow down. I put on my shoes without my calve socks. So I had to take off my shoes and redo it. Then I need a bathroom stop I forgot to take off my gloves so I threw them away. T2: 5:26
I was stoked because this is the first half marathon I have run in 7 years. It is a answered prayer so I have to slow myself down. My plan was to hold a 9:30 pace and go faster. The first mile was 9:38. I saw my hubby and I was so excited. I walked the water breaks to actually drink gatorade, and soda. Mile 4, Kieth rode his bike and talked to me for a while. Eight butterflies flew right near me while running. The run was idyllic through running in the woods.
Mile 8, the fatigue sets in.. I tell my self to stay on pace.
Mile 13: It felt great. I sped up to 8:56 pace and can't wait to stop running. The last .20 was glorious with the energy and the crowd. Run: 2:07:57
Total time 5:57:19
I did not dream of breaking 6 hours. I enjoyed the race and stayed present. I felt God's presence through the race and I was so grateful for my ability to do this. I can honestly say, it was a blast!
I really wanted to be there when Rose completed her first 70.3 Triathlon. There were also other local athletes competing in the race so Heather, Teresa, and I made the short 1:15 hour drive to Wilmington to cheer for everyone. It was a beautiful day and so much fun being the spectator (and not the athlete for once).
Here are a few Coaches Notes from Rose's race:
Positives: There are a lot of positives about this race. From a coaching and athletes perspective. Rose did amazing. She trained hard and she trained smart. She trusted me when my style of training differed from what she was accustomed to. She followed the Race plan and had a successful first Half Ironman. We kept the goals simple for this race... get to race day healthy and complete the race. I'd say we nailed both of those goals!
Things that need to be addressed: Not much to say here. If/when Rose decides to do another 70.3 there are a few areas we can work on. If she wants to be more competitive (she will) then we'll work on getting her in/out of transition faster. We will continue to work on long course pacing and endurance.
It was an honor and privilege to coach Rose to her first 70.3 finish. I'm looking forward to next year and to see what she's capable of.
Race Report by Athlete Brian K.
White Lake Fall 70.3
It was a strange week leading up to race day, I was calm. I wasn’t nervous, the taper wasn’t even bothering me. I was confident. I felt strong. For the first time in as long as I can remember I was going into my “A” race healthy and mentally prepared. I didn’t think I was going to have a good race, I KNEW it! As my coach, Jay Hamvas, says “You put in the hard work and suffering into training and race day becomes a reward”. He was right, there was plenty of hard work leading up to this race and I knew I was set up for a successful day.
Race morning, we got to White Lake and it was chilly, 58 degrees or so. Water temp was in the mid 70’s. I remember saying I couldn’t wait to get to the swim so I could warm up. Pre-race went smooth, plenty of time to check in and set everything up. Jay and I did a walkthrough of all the transition entrances and exits to be familiar with them come race time. The overall atmosphere was relaxed and friendly. I was ready.
Swim time! I got into the water a little early to do some warm up strokes. The wind was blowing pretty good and the lake had some chop to it. At the time, I didn’t think much of it, that will change shortly. There were 3 swim waves and each one was small. That makes for a nice and easy mass start. The gun goes off, we start and then the wheels fall off. We start on the 2-loop course and it is directly into the chop. I made it about 100m before I start to panic. I got kicked and a couple face fulls of water and I’m frozen. I can’t swim, hell I can barely breathe. I immediately turn over and float on my back. So many negative thoughts are shooting through my head, I know one of them was to call over a support craft.
Then something happened. A random guy stopped his swim and asked if I was okay. He didn’t know me, and I will never know him but that one sentence was enough to pull me out of my dark place that I had put myself in. I put my face in the water and swam. After a few strokes and a couple successful breaths I started to get into a rhythm. When I got out of the water I wasn’t tired and overall, I felt good. My time wasn’t what I wanted but considering where I was 50 minutes ago I was satisfied.
The run to T1 was long but I was able to get on the bike in only a couple minutes. My plan on the bike was to take the first 10miles easy and slowly ramp it up from there. Here comes the wind! I started fueling and hydrating early and often. It was good to be on the bike after that swim. I’m comfortable on the bike, it’s my strongest leg of the race. Miles were flying under my wheels, I only looked at my speed a couple times. I held to the race plan. My HR and perceived effort were my focus. Coming into the last few miles of the bike I took some time to assess how I felt. One word: Amazing! I couldn’t wait to get on the run.
T2 took a little longer than I wanted. I had so much dirt on my feet from T1 and I needed to get that cleaned off or I knew I would pay for it later on the run. I left on the run and I was shocked to see that everything was lining up perfectly. Pace and HR were exactly where they needed to be. Legs felt strong. I had this…or so I thought. The aid stations were spaced very far apart, too far for me and it was getting hot. I was able to tick off my first 5k in 27-28 minutes which was perfect for my race goal. Then I tried to eat my gel and my stomach said “NO”.
I really don’t know how I made it through the rest of the run. It was horrible, I was in pain. I was hot and more importantly I was disappointed in myself. I got to the turnaround at mile 7.5 and looked at my elapsed time. With some rough calculations, I figured that I could run 12:00 minute miles and still make my 6:00 hour PR goal. I had this, nothing was going to stop me from that. I put my head down and just ran as hard as I could. I would go from traffic cone to traffic cone. The last mile was the most painful I have ever run.
I was so happy to see the finish line. I can’t believe that I snuck in under 6 hours with a 5:52:30. I will take it! Looking back, I would like to think that I would’ve pushed myself that hard on the run if I had gone through all the training alone, but I didn’t. My coach had just as much invested in me as I did and I would be damned if I was going to let him down that close to my goal. I know that without his help and preparation I wouldn’t have been able to be in the position to have 2 of the 3 legs of my race go horribly wrong and still get a PR. I knocked almost 24 minutes off my old record! That folks is a good ending to a very hard and trying day. I went to bed happy that night….at 7:00PM.
As a #coachthatraces I know how hard tough races can be as an athlete. But I was a little surprised at how hard it was waiting for one of my athletes to cross the finish line. I started getting worried when Brian hadn’t finished when I expected him to. I started second guessing all of his training. Wondering if I had done something wrong and could have done things better.
Ultimately every race is an opportunity to learn. For the Athlete and for the Coach. There are no bad races. Only learning experiences. So here are a few Coaches notes and my takeaways from Brian’s race.
Positives: Great T1 and T2 times. Transitions are free time if you use them properly and Brian did. Awesome bike split. We had a plan for the bike leg and Brian executed it perfectly. All the training in the world can’t always perfectly prepare you for race day. Things happen. He had things go wrong in his race but he dug deep and gutted it out. That in of itself is a huge Win. Plus a new PR! Congrats.
Things that need to be addressed: I should have encouraged Brian to do more Open Water Swims. The swim was very choppy and I didn’t prepare him for that. We should have done more “worst case scenario” mental training. Practicing visualizing how things might go wrong, and how you would handle them, really helps on race day when things go sideways. We need to address his nutrition on the bike and run. Even though he felt good coming off the bike, it’s possible he was already behind on calories. Better heat acclimatization and fueling on the run will also be addressed and perfected before his next race.