Thursday, July 14, 2011

Muncie 70.3

And then there was Muncie. 2011 is the first year of the Muncie 70.3 but the race itself has over 30 years of history as the Muncie Endurothon. Why did I pick Munice? My goal this year was to qualify for the 70.3 World Championships. I knew they had changed the location of the championships from Clearwater, FL to Las Vegas, NV and I was excited about the new venue and the rumor of the new and very challenging course. I started off the season without the knowledge that they had also changed the date so initially I looked into racing in the Augusta 70.3 for a qualifying slot. When I realized the date change was not going to work with the Augusta race I looked into alternates. This is when I noticed the race in Muncie, just an hour northeast of Indianapolis where my brother lives with his family. I could not pass up the opportunity to pet two dogs with one hand (the animal friendly version of the saying) by visiting family and racing at the same time. Thanks to an entry fee donation from my mom I was excited to sign up for the inaugural Ironman Muncie 70.3.

Maisie communicating how
she feels about spectating.  
Like most race mornings it started early. 4AM alarm and 4:30 departure time would give us plenty of time to get to the race site. It is about an hour drive to Muncie from Indianapolis and a 6:30 sprint triathlon start time meant we had to get there at least 2 hours before my wave hit the water. Luckily my brother was ready and willing to get up early and cart me to the race site. For a race with 1800 participants there was surprisingly plenty of parking and little to no race traffic to delay our arrival. Setting up my transition was uneventful so I was left with more than enough time to fret about my outfit for the day. I think I made 15 laps around the race site evaluating porto-potty lines, checking my transition, looking for Graeme, looking for water, warming up in the lake, changing my outfit, etc. I should have been ready when the cannon went off to start the first heat of pro men but I was way too busy dilly-dallying. The whole wave start was a bit of a surprise to me. I scowered the athlete's guide and it never mentioned a wave start. I just figured it would be a mass start with a pro wave. Silly me. I was a little dismayed to find I would be one of the last waves to start and especially the last female wave to take the plunge. The late start meant there would be a lot of people ahead of me but most importantly it meant it would be hotter and sunnier when I found my way onto the run course. BUT everyone has to race the same race and everyone in my heat was facing the same challenges so when the florescent yellow caps moved toward the start line I, too, bellied up to the bar (one Shirley Temple on the rocks, please!).

Swim - 29.16
The knee deep in-water start gave me the opportunity to execute a couple of dolphin dives and establish an early lead among my heat. I caught the majority of the next heat ahead of me before we hit the first turn buoy. It was somewhat game-like to picking off cap colors one wave at a time, something like a combination of Frogger and Bejeweled. The good news is I had to pay a lot less attention to sighting as the bobbing heads in front of me offered a more than adequate guide towards the finish. Despite the late start, this was one of the smoothest swims I have had in a race. No one clocked me and no one tested my patience - as long as I kept my eye out for the sidestroke-breaststokers it was pretty smooth to navigate.

T1 - 1.35

Bike - 2.30.00
Hoping on the bike I felt calm, relaxed and refreshed. It did not feel nearly as hot as it was so I focused on meeting my nutrition targets and not pushing too hard on the first half of the course. The bike course rolled through the very rural areas surrounding the reservoir. Everyone said it was flat as a pancake. While it was not hilly by any means it still wasn’t as flat as the lowcountry! Like the lowcountry, however, the biggest challenge was the wind. At any given moment you either had a headwind or a tailwind. The trick was not pushing too hard against the headwind but saving your energy to really push it with the tailwind. Since we had such a strong headwind as we headed south along the west shore of the reservoir, I knew after the turn around I would have a long stretch of tailwind heading back north. I really saved up for this stretch and worked it. By the time I got to the 50 mile mark and I was feeling great and ready to hit the run.  

T2 - 1.39

Run - 1.43.36
Catching some air with
my trademark gangsta lean
I felt pretty good coming off the bike into T2. I was very surprised to find T2 deserted. There were very few bikes on the racks and even fewer racers milling about. The Muncie MultiSport website said a hat on the run was a must have. Mr Visor would have been proud as I ALMOST broke down and bought a $23 visor at the expo but ultimately I did not. I just couldn't do it. So my T2 was just a matter of getting my shoes and socks and taking off. The first couple felt pretty good but I started to feel those early warning signs of cramping. The run course was really hot so I knew I had to get on top of any potentially debilitating cramps so I ended up taking all the salt and Endurolyte tablets I had left. I did not have many left to begin with so by mile 4 they were all gone. You have to treat cramping like you treat the competition; you can't just run side by side you have to be ahead! I could get ahead of any cramping issues then I could just rely on the course nutrition the rest of the way. Luckily the cramping twinges did subside and I finished the run cramp free. I also like to pat my back here and say this is the first 1/2 ironman I have competed in where I did not stop and walk. I usually end up walking at least every even rest stop or all the rest stops, depending. I also refused to look at my watch. I am a very conscientious that my run is my weakest leg. At White Lake I was watching my run pace like a hawk and I think when I started to see my pace slipping my confidence just tanked. So on this run, I check my watch periodically but I forced myself to quit with the calculations so I would not find my confidence dropping with my pace. All the little games I played worked and I crossed the finish line feeling good and confident.
Total - 4:46:01, 1st 30-34, 3rd overall