Sunday, September 24, 2006

Race Report: Redman Half-Ironman Triathlon

What a weekend we’ve had! The 2nd annual Redman Triathlon was on Saturday. I raced the half-ironman distance race, even though I was originally gearing for the full back in May. After I qualified to go to the Best of the US amateur triathlon competition, I decided not to race the full distance, so that I could focus more on improving my run (something I didn’t quite accomplish since I had a sore hamstring for a few weeks leading up to the race). Justin had also originally decided to cut back to the half-ironman, but then he went back to his original plan and committed to the full-ironman. Crazy man.

We both took off of work on Friday to put our feet up and take our time getting all of our stuff ready for the race. Justin’s folks drove over from Arkansas to watch the race, and they came over on Friday afternoon. We took our bikes up to the transition area and went to both the athlete and the volunteer pre-race meeting (I was planning on volunteering after my race was done) Friday evening. It was amazing to see how much the whole race organization had improved in just one year. Everything looked so professional and well-organized, and I got excited about the race the following day. This race would be our last triathlon of the season, and frankly, I think both of us were more looking forward to the rest and relaxation that we were allowing ourselves after the season than we were to actually racing…but we’re both competitors, and at least for me, when I go to pre-race meetings and see the fit-looking people, it’s hard not to regroup and think about what needs to be done to put together a good race. For me, I had decided that this would be the first half-ironman I’ve done where I actually have a decent run. My goal was to simply get to the start of the half-marathon fresh and ready to run well.

Saturday morning came quickly, and we were on our way to the race site by 4:45am. Justin and I each got our transition areas set-up, and then pulled on our wetsuits. The forecast for the day was pretty good – 70’s with low humidity, but with a bit of wind…20-30 mph! Since we’ve gotten accustomed to riding in Oklahoma, we’re used to the wind, so that wasn’t too big of a deal – the temperature, though, was fantastic news. Last year at this race, we both raced the half-ironman distance and were pretty miserable because it was very hot and humid (just thinking of it makes me cringe). The wind was already blowing a bit, so we were expecting a few small waves during the swim. The water level in the lake where the swim was to be held was pretty low, since Oklahoma has had a pretty dry summer, so getting out to water deep enough to swim in was going to require running through shallow water for 100 feet or so, with 400+ other people, when the gun went off. When the gun did go off we all took off, and I was able to get comfortable swimming pretty easily. We swam west first, and with the building northerly wind, there were some pretty good waves rolling across all of us as we battled to the first buoy of the triangle course. Once I made the rounding buoy and headed south, I was pretty much able to surf down the waves and that was pretty fun. I rounded the last buoy and was headed back to the beach with no incident. As I was getting closer to being done with my swim, a swimmer crossed my path…a bit too distinctive, though – it was Justin, swimming right with me! I was a little surprised, considering that his plan was to take the swim “easy”. I veered towards the beach, though, and he started back on his second loop. I came into transition with another woman right next to me. I heard Jeff Kragh announce that we were the 2nd and 3rd women out of the water, so that was pretty good to hear!

I transitioned onto the bike with no incident and took off onto the course – Justin’s dad, Dave, told me I was first woman onto the bike. The bike course was a big 56-mile loop. The first part of the course was into the wind, and it wasn’t too bad. I was passed by a few guys early in the ride, and then I was pretty much by myself for the remainder of the ride. No incidents, and the ride back towards the lake with the wind behind me was nice! I decided during the ride that I was getting hydration easily and that I would not put on my Fuelbelt for the run (it sometimes chafes, and I also didn’t want the extra weight if I thought I could rely on the aid stations alone). I got into transition again, put my running shoes on, grabbed one of my Fuelbelt bottles, and took off on the run. The spectators were great – they lined the shoot where the athletes were coming out of transition to head onto the run course and cheered loudly – it was hard not to head out with a huge grin! The run went really fantastic for me – I took splits at each mile to see the pace I was running at my target heartrate and was really please to see 7:15’s and 7:20’s. I made it to the turnaround and hit my split button because I would soon find out how far ahead of the next woman I was…and sure enough, I had lots of time (more than 10 minutes). What a relief! The last three miles were into a wall of wind and my splits were showing it, but I made it to the finish line thinking that I should try to run like I was a fast runner (even though I felt like I was running in slow motion trying to make headway into the wind). I crossed the line in 4:55:52, a PR for me by a long shot. This was a 46-minute improvement over my performance last year in meltdown conditions, so I was quite pleased with my race!

I finished my race a bit after noon, so I had a while to wait for Justin to finish his race. I cleaned up as best as I could with a hose and put on my neon-yellow volunteer shirt to go help out where I could. Justin came in off the bike at around 1:45pm, and I was able to talk to him a little when he was in transition. He asked how my race went and told me he was doing good. He looked really strong coming in and pretty comfortable as he took off on the run. The next guy came in 20 minutes after him, and then the third guy came in after another 10 more minutes. Justin’s lead seemed like a lot, but a marathon is a long race and anything can really happen. He came back around in 1:45 (15 minutes ahead of his goal pace-time), and other than a skirmish to try and get his special needs run bag, he looked comfortable and strong. The next part of the wait until the finish was by far the longest. Now and then, Jeff Kragh would announce where the leader was, but I didn’t know if the 2nd and 3rd place guys were closing in on him or not. Finally, we saw him coming towards the finish line, and when he finally crossed the line, he dropped to his knees (out of happiness/joy/relief/too much emotion…who knows!). He was definitely emotional, and it was impossible not to be teary-eyed seeing him. I walked him over to the med tent and sat with him for the next two hours as they gave him 3.5 bags of fluid. He finished his first ironman-distance race in 10:24 and won it, on top of everything!

It was fantastic to be able to share this special day for both of us with family and friends. A reporter from the Oklahoman called us to get an interview, and the article was in the paper today.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home