Friday, October 31, 2014

Race report: B2B Half Ironman 2014

       To kick-off my Exercise Physiology lecture this past Thursday, I showed clips from this video of last year's race- B2B 2013. I did not "publicize" my participation in this year's race for several reasons but primarily because our baby REFUSED TO SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT the four or so weeks around the time I should have been peaking in my training. Needless to say, my expectations were fairly low in terms of performance. Sure, we've covered a half and full distance in the past (um, two years ago), so when I say I was relying on muscle memory to get me to the finish line, I am not exaggerating.
        Anyway, my students were astounded by this feat. They asked all kinds of questions, mostly involving caloric consumption and "whether I had a steady stream of bacon cheeseburgers in my diet" after finishing such a crazy event and so on. I gave them a brief summary of my preparation (rather, a lack thereof) and the final outcome, and it was cute how amazed they were that I could complete an event like this...period. We didn't even discuss the logistics I will share momentarily that really REALLY emphasized how much planning was involved with this particular race. They were in awe of me, and it was super cute. I hope those sentiments will pop up at the end of the semester on my course evaluations saying something like "my professor is a badass triathlete mom".... just a suggestion :)
       SO, how it went. I'm going to keep it brief. I hit a PR (WHAT?!) of 5:32. My swim time was ridiculous, on paper, because the current carried us like whoa despite my error of "being a follower" of the people in front of me and we all got carried downstream a bit too far, having to then double-back against current somewhat to get where we needed to go. Here's the shocking part: I shaved almost 20 MINUTES off my bike time from Patriot's Half in 2012. This, to me, is a welcomed outcome, namely because I can already tell outdoor cycling is going to be a logistical nightmare as our family expands (NO I AM NOT CURRENTLY PREGNANT) so indoor riding is the much easier (and cheaper) way to go. That said, guess how many outdoor miles I have cycled in the past six months? 25ish... and that was probably 6 weeks ago. ALL of my 2+ hour rides have been indoors. All of them. And when I say all, I mean like four in total. I waited a long LONG time to get back in the saddle, literally, because of tearing from pregnancy, so my window of cycle training was already somewhat short. Anyway, the fact that I cut that much time off my bike despite the above factors essentially detracting from my training volume is just awesome. I know some people don't enjoy indoor rides, but I've learned to love them, and this bike performance just makes me feel that much better about it.
      Coming in to this race, I was really hoping for a strong run time. Unlike the other two events, I have been running like a maniac. Again, my running volume has not been what it should have been, not even close. I ran 10 miles like two months ago and I've been scaling back ever since. I do run 4-5 miles at lunch most days, and those runs are very hard and fast fartlek intervals, so my lunchtime runs are definitely quality, but the quantity just wasn't there. Also, I did ZERO brick workouts leading up to this race. For my fellow triathletes reading this post, you are probably thinking 'that's so dumb, why wouldn't you do at least one brick before a half Ironman'?? Trust me, I wanted to, but when you are sleep-deprived for days and weeks on end, sleep trumps training. I can't tell you how many Friday nights I would go to bed hoping for a solid 4-5 hours of sleep so I could wake up somewhat refreshed and at LEAST get a swim-bike workout in before we started our day. Well, when your infant son decides to hit a growth spurt and start teething 4-6 weeks out from your event, guess what? Your training falls victim to the baby monster sleep interval schedule of doom and predictability of training becomes virtually impossible. All that said, the fact that despite some quality runs my race 13.1 time really sucked is a result of lack of "proper" brick training.
      So there's my race outcome, and I'm super pumped I managed to PR despite all this other stuff going on, but here's why I wanted to post this in hopes my blog will exist online forever and my son will one day read this and appreciate the lengths I took to keep up with breastfeeding: I packed my pump in my T1 bag. YEP. I considered all the options- waking up super early and pumping, then leaving my pump with a volunteer at the finish line. I considered paying someone to watch my pump at the finish line and bring it to me when I crossed. I considered not bringing it at all and risking engorgement for the sake of not wanting to lose my very expensive breast pump (which I didn't have to buy, thanks Obamacare!). I realized the safest bet was to A- pump early, before the race, and B- pump immediately before the race, like as close to race time as possible, so that in the event something happened on my bike, I could still run hard and not be engorged leaking milk as I crossed the finish line. Guess what: it worked! I bought a battery pack and pumped on the bus from the downtown hotel to T1 (if you're not familiar with the B2B tri, it's a point-to-point, and planning your transition bags is somewhat of a headache up front but nice on race day). I brought a small cooler with ice pack in which I snugly placed my freshly-pumped milk and tightly wrapped the pump/cooler in a separate plastic bag then placed THAT bag inside my T1 bag. I wrote all over my bag CAUTION- CONTAINS BREAST PUMP AND MILK- DO NOT DROP, HANDLE WITH CARE, etc. I prayed to the breastfeeding gods that the volunteer who picked up my bag would read my words of caution. I even took an extra 30 seconds or so during my swim-to-bike transition to wrap my wetsuit around the pump plastic bag as a "cushion" just in case the cautionary words were not heeded. In the end, I got my pump back all in one piece, properly functioning, like nothing had happened, and I finished in time to feed our baby when we got back to our rental house. BOOM, triathlon breastfeeding success.
       I definitely recommend this race to anyone considering a long-course triathlon. We've now done the half and full distance of both, and despite the point-to-point issues up front, as I mentioned it's nice to not have to worry about that stuff on race day. It takes a lot of planning up front but chances are if you like this kind of race, you're more of a Type-A person anyway, so such extra steps are your cup of tea already. If you're a breastfeeding mom looking to try a tri, I do recommend investing in lots and lots of Bodyglide or similar product, this is definitely key to making sure elapsed time does not work against you in how your sports bra supports your race efforts, literally and figuratively :)
     As for the doctors Bowersock, we are taking a hiatus from the long-course races for a while. Time to relax, catch up on sleep (if that's possible), and enjoy our little pumpkin who's growing up way too fast. Before we know it, he'll be racing along beside us, and while I would say I can't wait for that day, we are totally enjoying stage of his growth and don't want to wish it away.  HAPPY HALLOWEEN friends!

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