Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Rev3 Quassy 70.3 a.k.a the Hill Monster!

This year seems to be all about tough, hard races. This past weekend, I completed by far the toughest half ironman to date – Rev3 Quassy. The course itself was absolutely beautiful, and Rev3 is a top notch organization that knows how to put on a great race! They have cool race numbers too, and you don't have to get written on by a stranger at 4 am in the morning!

I drove the bike and most of the run course the night before the race with my coach, and even though this wasn’t quite the American Zofingen deal, it was pretty close! I am not joking when I say that you were either going UP, and UP, and UP or sometimes DOWN on either the bike or run course. It’s also pretty safe to say there was absolutely no flat ground! By the end of the drive, neither one of us were really sure if we were going up or down anymore! FUN! If you are looking for a challenge – sing up NOW, but if you are looking for a PR, this is not the course for you.

I have read a few race reports from last year of people that have placed in the top 10 overall, and the common theme was quite obvious! HILLS! HILLS and more HILLS! Another common theme heard leading up to the weekend was about the swim! The swim was supposedly the “EASIEST” part of the day! Hmmmm – let’s think about this! The day when swim will be the easiest part of the day can’t come fast enough, but for now it’s just the leg of the race that I can’t wait to be done with! One would think I never swim, but I do! I really do! And I am gonna keep on swimming until I can’t swim anymore, and until I will no longer be coming out of the water chasing swimmers like I stole something! And so here comes the supposedly easiest part of the day – the SWIM!

I think I was still half awake! Getting up at 4 am is just not all that fun!


THE SWIM!

I had spent some time in the pool, and I had high hopes of swimming somewhere around the 35 min mark – better yet sub 35. My pool times have been getting better, and I have generally been feeling better in the water so I had somewhat of a confidence I could do it! I started in the front row in the hopes of hopping on someone’s feet and let them carry me for a bit, but that didn’t last long. I was soon in the middle of a big mess, but at least still moving forward. I actually didn’t feel bad, and stayed positive in my head, with my eyes on the prize. It was a triangle swim – so you swam out to the buoy, across, and then back to the beach. Once I rounded the first turn buoy, I all of a sudden found myself in the midst of a mess – flailing arms, and bodies everywhere, and I was thrown out of my rhythm. It was then; I began to think about the length of this swim! It started to feel like I have been in the water FOREVER, which could NOT be a good sign! My shoulders started to get tired, and so did my quads! My quads were getting tired and I didn’t even get on the bike! That couldn’t be a good sign. It must have been that black cat that ran right in front of our car on the way to the race! I am usually not superstitious, but my thoughts were running all over the place, and I really couldn’t wait to get out of the water, and hop on my bike! I had issues sighting on the way back, and for some reason couldn’t spot the gigantic muscle milk bottle at the water exit. I glanced at my watch and saw 30 min. I didn’t think I was that far off shore, and thought I could make it out of the water by my goal time of 35 min, but I guess I was way further than I thought I was. I got out of the water in 37 min and change, going over the mat at exactly 38 min mark. Oh oh – time to hurry up through transition and start making up all this lost time!


Come on wetsuit! :)


T1

The first transition was a bit long. You had to run up a hill to get there. Better get used to the word “hills”. This one was a tiny one compare to the rest of the hills on the bike/run course but when you just get out of water any hill feels worse than it really is. No wetsuit strippers in this race, but I actually managed to get my wetsuit of very fast, and didn’t wipe out when trying to get it off.  Success! J

THE BIKE

Time to go get them! The first few miles were actually sort of downhill, so I absolutely flu by everyone yet staying within my watts! I LOVE my bike position. I am able to cut through wind so easily, and I am super AERO! Gotta love free speed! The first 10 or so miles had a bunch of rollers, maybe a couple of longish climbs, but no major climbs that were about to greet us in the second half of the course. I picked of lots of people in the first half of the course, and especially on the downhills! Did I say that I LOVE how aerodynamic I am on my Felt? J I spent most of my time riding in the middle of the road since screaming on your left every 10 seconds was getting old real fast. That was until Mr. Unknown that I had blown by on one of the downhills decided to play games, which went on for good 30 miles. This usually happens every race, but this dude was relentless. I would FLY by him on all the downhill’s, or gradual inclines (notice I am not saying flats cuz there weren’t any), and he would fly by me, absolutely hammering ALL the steeper uphills, getting out of his seat, and making a comment every time he passed me.  One of his comments went like this: “I only go by you on the uphills because your back wheel is too heavy” REALLY? Did he just say the HED Jet 9 is a super heavy wheel? I just chuckled and told him I’ll see him later, as I spun up these monsters with ease. Maybe not ease, but definitely NOT hammering like Mr. Uknown was. I was letting as my coach would say “burn his matches”. The rolling terrain continued, and I was able to keep my momentum throughout which was key, and playing cat and mouse with Mr. Uknown. I tried to “hammer” (within my watts) all the downhills until I ran out of gears so I could pick up as much speed as I could to carry me up into the uphills, which was key! I absolutely lose most of my fear of long/fast downhills when racing and I ride most downhills (when I know the course) very aggressively! I have time to make up, remember? J Then mile 23 or so showed up and with that about a 5-6 mile steady climb! It honestly looked like we were climbing into the sky, and really couldn’t go much higher than that. As we are spinning or some people hammering up this long hill, one of the guys I am going by says: “wow – are we going to heaven or what?” Another dude decides to comment and says – “Sure looks like it, but it feels like we are going the other way” … you had to be there, but in the midst of suffering up this hill it was very funny! Insert laugh here! J

I could keep going, and start listing all the uphills we were greeted by, but honestly, there are way too many to list. There were couple more that stuck out in my mind. I am “borrowing” this number from someone else’s blog, but apparently there were 80 uphills on the bike course ?  I don’t remember the exact mileage, but it was definitely past the 30 mile marker or so when I knew at that point there weren’t that many girls in front of me anymore as someone at one of the water stops told me that. Sweet! I continued strong on my mission to hopefully catch them all. It was when I got to the out and back section – yes a loooooooooooong screaming fast downhill with a turn around at the bottom of it,and a loooooooong track back up it when another Mr. Unknown 2 decided to NOT be passed by a chick and decided to ignore my multiple on your left shouts! Since this was the out and back section and he was hugging the yellow middle line, I was forced to brake on a downhill until it was clear enough for me to go into the other lane and pass him … things like that make me soooooooooooooo mad! Just because I am a girl, and don’t way 200 lbs, doesn’t mean I can’t fly downhill! Yup – my aero position rocks! Just thought I would tell you all one more time! J Few more hills to deal with, whether it was up and down, and before I knew it, I was getting back into T2. Just to give you even a better idea of how horrible my swim was – I came out of the water 105th overall/32nd in my age group, and by 38.6 miles on the bike, I was 9th overall/2nd in my age group. By the end of the 56 miles, I was 5th overall, and 2nd in my AG. Yes – I am going to live in the pool from now on!

In the end, this was a GREAT roller coaster ride! I ended up with an avg. of 182 or so Watts which was right on target. I think I am really starting to get used riding with power without really looking at the numbers. I really never looked at my avg. power. I glanced down every now and then especially on the uphills to make sure I don’t cross my CP at all or too many times, and especially given a hilly course like this, I was glad to see I hit the power goal on the dot. I knew my avg. speed wasn’t going to be super fast, but I was happy to see I was able to ride 20.2 mph on a hilly course like Quassy is.  I still remember the days when I was trying to avg. over 20 mph on a flat 20 mile ride around Walden! What makes this even better is that I probably rode half as many miles this year than I have last year at this point in time. Training with power and with coach Jorge rocks (http://e3ts.com/), and I can’t wait to get even faster! Mega Legs! I rode without socks – it was for once actually sunny and warm enough. I did my flying dismount without any hiccups, and stormed into T2 with yet another guy in my way … don’t they know I am on a mission? Final time 2:47:46 with a maximum speed of 47mph!  


T2

Fast! No bikes in site except for the only girl in my AG I didn’t end up passing, but I got her in transition … racked my bike, put my socks/shoes on and off I was. Jorge said I was out of there in 45 seconds, but since the timing mat was quite a ways outside of the transition, the official results say 1:05.



THE RUN

We drove the run course as well – and I am not so sure it was a great idea! I think I would have rather not known! First 1.5 pretty much slightly down, 2nd 1.5 rollers but nothing too crazy. I went through the first 3 miles in 21 minutes trying to hold back for what was to come! Oh yeah – my garmin also decided to conveniently die over night even though I charged it the night before, so I had for the first time ever raced with my regular watch and without mile by mile splits. In all honestly, it was probably better that way, and I may actually keep it like that going forward. Then we hit the corner and turned, turned UPHILL! Dirt road (at least no single track this time) that felt like was never going to end. I think it was about 1.5 miles. It was one of those hills that just when you think it’s over, you turn the corner and there is more! I caught up to a descent group of guys and one girl (she was in another AG though that started 10 min ahead of me so I knew I didn’t have to race her just yet). It was nice to see everyone suffering and shuffling up this hill at the same time. Once we made it up this hill, you would think a nice long downhill would follow – negative. Couple of rollers and more hills! It was around this time when the bottom of my calves started to tighten up, and my left side of my Achilles was starting to really hurt, and the pain kept getting louder and louder. Ugh! This was going to be a long 6 hilly miles! Another mean up and down section, where at least you got to see who was coming after you and then we were headed back into the park. Not to the finish line though! How about one more turn, and you guessed it, go up and down and few more hills, with the last 1.5miles being entirely uphill! Now that is just mean!

This is at about mile 9

 I tried to push it a bit on the downhill part, but my Achilles or calf or whatever it is just wanted none of it. With every step, I was feeling all kinds of weird pain, but there was no stopping! With about 2 miles left the going got really tough, and the miles just got really really long. The top of the hill couldn’t come fast enough, and then the last few hundred yards on a “FLAT” road, through the park, through the finish line where I passed one more guy who I am pretty sure was a bit upset I ruined his finish line photo … (sorry Mr. Uknown 3 but I mean business until I cross the finish line), and I was done!


Final time: 5:07:06 with a 1:39:16 run split which I am super excited about! This was one tough run course after a tough bike, and I was able to almost run as fast as in pancake flat Clearwater! (Only 45 seconds slower)


My nutrition throughout the day was great, except for the time I decided to go for “coke” also referred to by my coach as “jet fuel”, which I was in desperate need of. I proceeded to take the cup, and as I took one huge sip, I overheard one of the volunteers sayin how the coke should be bubbles free, but it wasn’t! Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat! I really wasn’t looking for bubbles floating in my stomach and being bloated, hence I proceeded to spit ALL of it out and move on. Now that was a close call! Other than that, it was getting a bit hot out, so I made sure I took water at every single aid station. One to take a sip and one to cool myself off! Ice water never felt so good. I had 2 gels on the run – roughly mile 3 and 9, and my stomach felt fine.

Overall great race, great atmosphere, awesome prizes – I came in 1st in my AG, and 5th overall, and I won a pair of Avia Racing Flats, 1 year subscription to Inside Triathlon, $20 off from all3sports.com, TYR goggles and water bottle and couple of other small things! I am pretty sure I want to come back next year and go sub 5! Who is in? BTW – I promise that after doing either Zofingen or Quassy your definition of hills will forever change! J

Here are some post race pics:



Coach Jorge or also the photographer for the day!


 
I have also posted a very similar RR on beginnertriathlete. You can czech it out here: http://beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=255724

And most importantly all the thanks goes out to all my supporters (you know who you are), and my coach Jorge (E3 Training Solutions - http://www.e3ts.com/)! It will soon be one year since we started working together, and I have already seen a tremendous improvement! Looking forward to what’s to come! 

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