Oilman 2013 Race Report

This race report is going to be lengthy, so you’ve been warned… but I like to post details for those interested in doing this race and also so I remember later πŸ™‚

Sunday morning I woke up ready to race!  First things first, I did some serious Body Glide & sunscreen action, then donned my race kit and warm layers.  I ate my simple breakfast of wasa crackers with toppings, half banana & granola, read some inspiring/happy quotes, and then around 5 AM headed out. 

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 { breakfast & race nutrition set out }

I had a playlist set up with a few “pumped up” songs I could listen to on the drive & I ate half a bonk breaker on the drive. I got to the venue where the volunteers directed us to park then I had a ~1/2 or more mile walk with my bike/gear to transition area.  I got marked, got my time chip, then went to rack my bike & set up my transition area. 

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I had a little more to set up since I had additional nutrition and some warm gear (it was in the mid-40’s); after talking with Marni, I decided after the swim I’d towel off and wear arm warmers, gloves, a headband and I’d have toe warmers already on my bike shoes.  I did a quick 15 minute jog then returned to transition, hit the bathroom one last time and got my wetsuit on before a final check & leaving for the start line.  I was sipping on some water with HEED throughout the morning too.

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{ transition set up and ready to roll! }

I met my in-laws before the race and we chatted and stayed warm before I finally gave them my jacket, hat and old socks and then headed to the swim start and wetted my goggles. 

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It was a running start and my wave was all females under 35.  We were [as usual] the last wave at 7:20.  I really prefer the in-water starts so I get one last chance to pee before the race- sorry, but it’s true.  I positioned myself left-to-middle of the pack of girls (buoys would be right) and sort of near the front.  I was with some friends and none of us heard the announcer, until suddenly there was a chanting of “4…3…2…1!!”  That was fast… I jogged into the water until it was thigh deep and took off swimming thinking of keeping my long strokes and just continuing to swim even if it was crazy & crowded. 

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{ I am NOT the girl diving in at the front! }

The first couple hundred meters were protected and for a little while I even got a little draft.  After 10 minutes of swimming I started to wonder why my Garmin hadn’t buzzed yet (I had it set it to notify every 500m), then realized – oh crap, with all the commotion and running start, I hadn’t pressed start!  Whoops.  Well no biggie, just less data; I hit the start button underwater quickly.  The plan was to get to the first buoy then pick it up if I felt okay.  I was feeling really good, until I realized the swim was getting more choppy & difficult.  Then it was full on waves.  There is a reason I don’t do ocean swims y’all – I don’t like swimming in waves!  I’ve been known to get seasick so it’s not my favorite feeling.  I saw a wakeboarding boat nearby and thought “seriously, who wakeboards near a tri at 7 AM?!”  But I knew that while the large boats might have contributed a little, the wind must have picked up and were causing significant chop.  It was definitely the waviest swim I’ve ever done!  I went off course a little too, and stopped a couple of times to double check where I was.  The worst part was because of the waves I ended up swallowing a LOT of water, which I knew wouldn’t be great for later on.  Every time I got a little frustrated about the conditions, I remembered they were out of my control, that I needed to keep taking long strokes and hold my form.  I thought about all the difficult swim training sessions I’d done with my swim coach, Regina, and remembered I was prepared.  I stayed with it at a strong pace, but not overtaxing myself.  Still, I was so happy to see the Muscle Milk arch and exit those waves.  I got out, got my wetsuit stripped and yelled hi to my mother in law and said “that swim was HARD” as I ran by.  I didn’t know my time exactly, but figured it was around 40 minutes.  Later I found out it was 38:48 and 6th of 44 in my AG, which totally amazed this non-swimmer!  I also later found out even my friends that swam in school thought it was difficult and swam at least 2 minutes slower than they had expected.

I got to T1 and considered using the port-a-potty because I barely had the urge to pee, but decided that might take too long.  I should have even if the slightest urge was there.  Anyway, I didn’t and continued on to dry myself off and tug my arm warmers on (this took a little extra time, but I was happy I had them after all).  While we were in transition, my friend Cara who is on my same swim team was racked next to me and while were were putting on our stuff we both were like “that swim was wavy and hard!!”  We didn’t have time to talk, but I was sort of glad it wasn’t just me that though it was difficult.

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Oh, I was happy to be on my bike – I had a minor worry in the first mile because even though I had turned my Garmin 500 on in transition set up, it had turned itself off, then when I hit power it just said “WORKING” for a whole minute or two. I waited, waited, and then, phew, it started.  I cycled on then noticed I had SO much energy the first 5 or 6 miles of the race; I had started on perceived exertion, then realized I needed to hold back a little based on my power readings.  I settled into a good rhythm and spun up the hills but really enjoyed my free speed and switched to my big ring on the down hills.  It was pretty funny that so many people around me whole hammer up the hills and pass me, then stop pedaling on the downhill and I’d pass them!  There were a couple people I kept leap-frogging, but I remembered I was racing my own race and not to worry about what they were doing.  My legs had felt great and I even held back a little on the first half of the bike, then pushed a little harder on the second half.  Despite the harder effort, I was moving much slower on the second half due to the wind, but I reminded myself this was just another 3 hour training ride.  I remembered not to worry about speed but to save myself for the run and stay within a reasonable power effort.  I enjoyed the bike, minus some saddle issues I’m still dealing with.

During the ride, I was trying to take in fluids, but my stomach was so full of water from the swim that I was concerned on getting in too many liquids.  I felt full and I kept burping (lovely I know).  Since I was so full, I took in my gels and a half a bonk breaker, and managed 2 bottles of fluid which contained my electrolytes (instead of 3) over the course of the ride.  It was also the first time I’d used a gel flask on the bike; I had 3 gels in the flask and I took what I thought were small swigs, but before I knew it the flask was almost empty!  Whoops, I’d just taken too many calories in the first half but not enough fluid.  I knew all this was not good, but every time I was drinking I was feeling more full, and I had to go pee more.  I didn’t see a port-a-potty on the second half of the course, so figured I’d just wait until T2. 

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{ Before I knew it my β€œ3 hour training ride” was done – the mental trick worked }

T2 was fairly quick; I was glad Marni had suggested some Tums in T2 because I felt my stomach was slightly unsettled and I took them immediately.  After getting my shoes on, visor and race bib, I jetted to the port-a-potty for a quick pee, then was off to the run! 

I was actually feeling really great once I settled into the run.  I was really used to running off the bike from all my runs off the bike in training and it felt normal.  The course was 3 loops and I had a walk-break strategy that really split up the 13 miles nicely.  Mile 3 with my first short break was there before I knew it!  Then at mile 4, I was back to the spectator area.  I saw Mr. & Mrs. B and yelled “I’m feeling GREAT!” – because I really was.  I was holding back; my body wanted to run 8:00 minute miles, but I held back to 8:35 and felt like I could run it all day.  I felt totally prepared, and so happy things were going so well.  I was also enjoying the nature of the course, where I could see a number of my Sportsbra Slingshot teammates, my training buddy Alex, my cycling friend Tom, and many others from swim team.

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{ happy to see I am not shuffling so much anymore }

The miles ticked off, and while I had a gel flask I was still unable to take too much of it, so I tried to sip slowly every once in awhile.  It was warming up, so I dumped water on my head at every aid station to keep my temperature down.  Around mile 8-9 something changed very quickly and drastically – it was like my senses were heightened – I felt like my feet were pounding harder, my head felt tight – not really dizzy, but off.  I wonder if it was an electrolyte imbalance or just lack of calories?  I could feel lots of salt on my face.  Anyway, I had to slow down a little; I’d hate to push too hard and pass out or anything crazy.  I figured my nutrition was off, so at the next few aid stations I took some Coke and around mile 10 decided I’d try a salt tab since I saw there were giving them out.  I don’t know if it helped or not since it was so late in the race.  I was still going at the best pace I could, but my muscles were getting really tight, so I took a quick walk at each remaining aid station (no specific issues, just general hamstring/calf tightness).  I was a little disappointed at myself during those last few miles, but thought “what’s done is done, continue your race to the best of your ability for these last 3 miles!  This is still a great race!”  So I continued on and got in a strong sprint to the finish, finishing at 5:53, a HUGE 31 minute PR from one year ago!! 

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Final Stats

  • 5:53:06, 6/44 AG
  • 38:48 swim, 1:54min/100m pace, 6/44
  • 3:10 bike, 17.7 mph pace, 10/44
  • 1:57 run, 8:57 pace, 8/44

Post-race I chatted with my family and friends, took a quick dunk in an ice bath and got some pizza and a quick massage.  Overall, this was a really well organized race I’d definitely recommend!

My final thoughts – first, having a smart, supportive coach and solid training plan makes a world of difference. Yes, I would have liked to keep that 8:35 pace throughout the run; I don’t think my fitness or mind was holding me back, but rather a mistake I made in nutrition. But sometimes when conditions change, you have to make decisions on the fly, and I’m still learning what works best for me!  I’m thinking maybe salt tablets are something I should try out in the future.  Speaking of the future – on those last three miles of the run, I was seriously questioning why I would want to do a full ironman?!  I know, I’ll be at a slower pace but gosh, I have a lot of work to do, thank goodness I have a coach I fully trust in and friends that are already signed up too!

Today I’m feeling pretty okay, just eating a lot of frequent snacks/meals.  I think that’s the biggest testament to my training and preparation – I don’t feel like I’ve been hit by a bus today πŸ™‚  Sure, I’m a little sore, but it’s very manageable.  I did get a little chaffing near one armpit, I must have missed a small spot with the body glide, but it’s not bad.  Though I did wake up dreaming of cookies. I might have to bake something later on this week….

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8 thoughts on “Oilman 2013 Race Report

  1. 31 minute PR? That’s awesome! (especially considering the less-than-ideal swim conditions) Congrats on a great race!
    I can see the benefits of training with a power meter on the bike, but do you think it helped you during the race too? Do you feel like it kept you from pushing too hard and paying for it later on?

    1. Thank you! Oh yes- the power meter is almost like cheating πŸ™‚ Definitely saved me for a great run. You can go be feeling once you know your power output, but I think it’s a nice data point to have, esp when conditions change (like when it gets windy)

  2. Fantastic race, Brittany! Even with a couple hiccups, you kept your head in the game for a killer PR! Thirty-one minutes is huge! Congrats! Happy for you! You definitely have a great full IM in ya πŸ™‚

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