Monday, August 20, 2007

Club Race, Saturday Ride & AFC Half-Marathon Race Report

I am a bit stuffed from the weekend. Felt a sore throat coming on but didn't listen. We'll see what happens. Knowing this week was a recovery week, I kind of pushed it.

Saturday, I volunteered for my club's race in Coronado ( It was an Olympic distance and I manned the bike-turn around at the end of the Silver Strand bike path--the 7.5 mile point (2 loops for 30 miles). I had to work hard to keep cyclists and pedestrians and roller bladers away from the turn-around. It was an open course but I didn't want anyone getting killed as crazy tri guys on their TT bikes with disc wheels and aero helmets came flying out.

The roller bladers were really interesting--Euro guys decked out in helmets and bike jerseys, zipping along in a paceline. They were clustered in the patch of shade where I had set Torch, making me nervous. I don't like strangers hovering around my bike. Maybe I need a bike alarm that hoots and whistles with a voice that says, "Back away from the Kuota!" in a very aggressive manner.

Afterwards, I started out on my bike ride. I had no takers that wanted to join me. Few wanted to come all the way to Coronado. Plus, since it was an 11:00 am start, few wanted to ride in the heat. It was crazy hot too. I didn't feel great and decided to count the 15 easy miles I had already ridden on the strand for the club race and just do an easy, flat 40-miler. Since I had the AFC half-marathon the next day, I rode on the Strand up the Bayshore Bikeway through Imperial Beach and Chula Vista to the Convention Center in downtown San Diego to pick up my race-packet for an even 20 miles out (and 20 miles back).

The ride was not pretty. Imperial Beach is sort of a dive town and I hurried through. When the bike path started again, it was surrounded by industries, factories, salt mines, and manufacturing plants. Once I crossed the Sweetwater River and headed north on Harbor Drive towards downtown, the pavement was rough and broken. I had to cross a million train tracks, which was really rough on Torch. There was a ton of glass and debris in the road.

Feeling pretty beat up in the mid-day heat and rough pavement, I was relieved to rest a bit at the air-conditioned Expo. Picked up my race packet, visited the bathroom (took Torch in with me--no way was I going to risk getting him stolen!), and stuffed myself with free samples at the Cliff station. I got lots of compliments on my bike and my jersey since I was donning my brand new UW-Madison Bucky Badger bike jersey. Plus, since the jersey is red, white and black, I matched Torch--Style Man would be proud.

I guess all the compliments jinxed me. I headed back towards Coronado feeling pretty good. About 1 mile down the road, I hit something that felt like an explosion--a grenade came to mind--especially since I was passing the military base and the pavement was so rough--maybe I was passing through a minefield? Anyway, I heard and felt this loud "Pop!" as shattered glass trinkled across the road. Wtf? This was immediately followed by a loud, "Psssssssssssssssh!" I knew instantly I had a blow-out and was already trying to stop as I felt the rear wheel wobble and the awful grinding sound of rim hitting pavement for a second before I stopped. Luckily, the rim was okay. Poor Torch! Our first flat.

Bluebell must have put a curse on us! She had 3 flats in a row on that front tire before I finally figured out the rim tape needed to be replaced. I had figured this out and fixed her up literally the night before. However, I had only ridden her on the trainer while I had taken Torch on my "big" weekend ride today. Last 2 weekends, I took her. I didn't realize she was the jealous type......ah, the saga of my bike drama continues.

Damn! I hate flats. Especially when I'm on my own. No worries. I had a complete flat kit. Plus, I had put the nice spare pump on Torch before heading out, just in case so I wouldn't have to blow through one of my CO2 cartridges. I proceeded to change the tube. I didn't even bother to pull out the patch kit. I knew the hole was huge before I even saw it. Yup, a huge diagonal tear like a saber-toothed tiger's fang had taken a chunk out of it. Then, I glanced at the tire. I stared for a moment, agape with shock. The rip in the tire was about twice as bad as the rip in the tube. Totally shredded. Slashed. Brand new tire ruined.

How was I going to get home? A new tube would poke right out of the tire and last about 5 seconds before popping. I remembered reading about patching up a hole in a tire with some duct tape (which fixes everything) or a dollar bill or even a Gu wrapper. Of course, I had none of these. I had my credit card and driver's license. Oh, and I had forgotten my cell phone.

Before the heat had really started to get to me (I was standing there racking my scientist brain, trying to play MacGyver), a car drove up. I realized I had just seen him at the Expo. He was one of my friend's boyfriends. The tri club sticker on the trunk confirmed this. I couldn't believe my luck. He tried to help me with the tire for a few minutes. When I told him I still had 20 miles to go, he offered me a ride. I took it. When I got back, I was invited to a tri club guy's house in Coronado for an afternoon BBQ. Much better than suffering on a slashed tire in the heat for 20 miles.

Maybe an easy 35 miles instead of 55 the day before a half marathon with a sore throat and headache in blazing heat was a blessing in disguise. I'd like to believe so. Plus, after the BBQ, I got to take Torch for a fix-up at my favorite bike shop--B&L. The guys who work there are all so nice and hot! I feel like a princess every time I leave.

Okay, half-marathon report:

Woke up Sunday at 4:00 am. Hadn't slept well the night before and had a hard time getting breakfast down. Still had a sore throat but didn't feel too terrible. Carpooled with some buds to the race. The start of the race is very chaotic. It was the 30th anniversary so it was sold out. The traffic was backed up on the highway and we had to get there by 5:30, even though the race started at 7, because we had to take a shuttle to the start at Cabrillo National Monument. That means you have to plan food, water, toilet and sunblock for that in-between time. We managed to make one of the last shuttles to the start. I really needed a toilet. San Diego doesn't have many bushes either (I'm really getting sick of finding a rock or dumpster to pee behind on my long runs and bikes)!

Made it to the start, stood in line for a Port-a-Potty for eternity and got to the toilet as the race was starting. Luckily, it was chip-timed. Crossed the timing mats with streams of the other 7,000 entrants about 8 minutes after the start.

It was hot. I had known rumors of a weekend cool-off were bullshit after Saturday's ride from hell hot ride. However, when the sun rose at 5:45 in the parking lot, I could see there would be no marine layer this morning. We would have nothing. Luckily, I had my fuel belt--all 4 bottles full, salt tablets, copious amounts of sunblock, a visor, sunglasses, a sports bra and running shorts. I felt pretty naked in nothing but a sports bra and tiny shorts but it was hot so whatever.

The first mile was rolling. Luckily my running buddy had reminded me b/c on the map, it looked like it was just straight downhill. I took it easy up the rollers and focused on keeping my breathing calm and low. There was enough shade that the heat wasn't too much of a bother.

Miles 2-5 were the best. Straight downhill through beautiful residential areas with a gorgeous view of the bay. Plus, lots of trees and shade. I loved it. I took off. Why hold back? Downhill is free speed. My knees felt good. Hey! I bike. I have quads, right? (I paid for it this morning. My quads are killing me! So are my knees...). Running downhill is fun.

Miles 5-9 took forever. We started to head into downtown but we had to run past the airport and around Harbor Island. Mentally, it was tough because it was excruciatingly boring. Planes, cars, building, the rental car parking lot. Ugh. Plus, there was no protection from the sun. It was bearing down and sweat was dripping off me. I'm not a huge sweater. I just kept drinking my fuel belt bottles. Lucky I brought them because the aid stations were few and far between--horrible on a hot day. They were ill-equipped for the vast number of participants. I tried to get cups of water at the stations to pour on my head. It was hard to fight for a cup, and the volunteers looked confused and overwhelmed. I managed to get my cups of water and poured them over my head, giving me 1/4 mile of bliss at every station (since there were only about 5 stations and I really didn't need the first 2--I was really hurting b/tw those 3 after the halfway point).

Miles 9-11--we started to head back downtown. I was worried it would be even hotter but luckily the shade offered by the giant concrete skyscrapers gave considerable relief. I started to perk up, anticipating the final massive hill ahead. After mile 10, I knew I could do it.

Miles 11-12--We started going up a little hill and one of my running buds asked if this was the hill. Since I had volunteered the year before and had biked the course while leading the handicapped athletes in the wheelchair division, I remembered the course with amazing detail. "Not yet, not yet", I said. "Wait until we turn left." She groaned because we were definitely already going up a hill. Knowing it would get much worse, I slowed up and took it easy. At mile 11.5, we turned left. An ambulance and medics were attending to a girl on the side. I tried not to look, not wanting to psych myself out. People were dropping like flies. Many were walking. I knew I felt well enough to push. I drank the last of my last Fuel belt bottle and turned left.

The mile hill stretched upward before me. "I can do this", I thought. "No problem." Then, Christina Aguilera's song, Fighter, came on, and it was an omen. I can totallly do this. I found my rhythm, settled in and pushed. People dropped behind me as I jogged up the hill. As I crested the hill, I began to pick up speed, my confidence snowballing. I turned right into Balboa Park and saw the bridge. I began striding. I couldn't help it. I thought the finish line was just up ahead. Once I crossed the bridge, I had to turn right again. I realized I had 1/4 mile still left to go. Crap! However, other people began to pick it up and from somewhere deep inside me, I found the strength to push even more. My pace picked up again. I could see the finish now, and I began to sprint. I was cooking! One guy tried to overtake me at the last minute, and I glanced at him, thinking, "Bring it." Then, I dropped him. Victory! (the photographers got him in the pic below, trying to sneak by).

I crossed the finish line and slowed to a walk. 2:05:30. 9:35 min/miles. Not bad. Not bad at all for a girl with a sore throat on a hot day and no taper. I'll take it. I tried to keep walking to keep the pukey feeling down as my pulse slowed. A volunteer asked if I wanted to sit down. "No!" I vehemently replied. The heat was starting to get to me. After a few minutes, I settled down. My stomach wasn't happy but it was nothing a few liters of water couldn't fix.

Aftewards, I headed to the Cove for a mile swim. We saw dolphins. I thought I would be exhausted but the swim was very refreshing and rejuvenating.

I'm beat. Thank God it's a recovery week!


jameson said...

I would say you definitely earned this recovery week. Enjoy it and then get back to kicking your ass!

bunnygirl said...

What amazing luck to get found by a friend of a friend on your bike ride! And good job on the half-marathon. I love that distance, even in the heat and under adverse conditions.

Cliff Tam said...

U swim after a hot Half mara? Nice :)

IM will have fun :D

Mike said...

Sheez, glad you got outta that bike predicament ok!

Congrats on the strong 1/2 mary finish...I did that race once and all i remember are the quad-killing downhills at the start and the monster hill at the tough mutha!

RunBubbaRun said...

Great job on the half mary while not feeling the best.

Sorry to hear about the flat. those are really annoying. Park Tool sells these big patches for tire rips.. Tire Boot..

Bill said...

IB is a dive? Say it isn't so. ;) At least that hasn't changed in the past 25 years.

Well done 1/2 mary, considering your non-tapering efforts leading up to it.

jessie said...

from flat to BBQ, nice ending to an ugly situation.

And a solid half mary performance the following day - not only did you not taper, but you did not even take it easy the day before!!! Wow. You are machine.

Enjoy your rest week - be sure to actually rest some and recover ;)