Whew! Well, I've been away for a couple of weeks with not much time to blog, but after this weekend there is some much needed recovery time in the works, so it's time to catch up!
First and foremost, it's time to announce the winner of the FREE entry to the Athleta eSprit de She Austin Bike tour!
Berri P. from Austin- you're the winner! I have sent you a message with your code for your free entry! If you didn't win, never fear! I have a discount code for both The Austin Bike Tour and the Dallas Duathlon- just contact me for details! I am looking forward to both of these events, and am so excited to know I'll have some fun, fit ladies there with me to race!
|All my crafty materials needed!|
I spent the next three hours carefully tracing portions of my bike's paint job on to parchment paper. Then, I would cut out the parchment stencils, flip them, and trace them on the back of the vinyl. Next, I used an exacto knife to cut out the vinyl piece, removed the backing, and laid the sticker over the corresponding part of the bike frame. It was so nerve-wracking the first time! Thankfully, vinyl is resilient and when I got crooked, I could easily peel it back up and re-lay it. There were a few wrinkles, bubbles, and foibles along the way, but I am so in love with the end result! My bike now matches my personality and looks awesome. I was so pumped to race it this weekend. Check it out!
Before I get to my race review of TriWaco, I want to make a quick PSA! If you get a new bike, make sure you know what size stem the tubes you need are. I got this new bike and thought nothing of it until I hit another rock and put a hole in my other tire the Friday before my race. I thought, "no big deal, I'll just change the flat and limp home so I can go buy a new tire." Except when I put a tube I had in my flat kit that fit my old bike in, it wouldn't go through the hole in the rim! That meant my CO2 was useless. I was 8 miles from home on an empty road on a Friday morning. My boyfriend was in a meeting and 30mins driving distance away, and I didn't have any other friends close by. I had to kick off my bike shoes and start walking back home barefoot! Thankfully, a nice person in a suburban rolled up and asked if I needed help. I swallowed my pride and my fear of strangers (my feet were burning after only half a mile!) and hopped in. He was a really nice guy who worked in Austin and took that road every day, and said I was definitely not the first stranded cyclist he'd helped out. Thankfully that didn't mean he had a meat locker full of bodies hanging from their helmet straps, and he simply dropped me off at the house and waved good bye. I am sticking with my Michelin Pro 4's from now on!
OK! On to a review of my new favorite race!
I signed up for TriWaco to serve as a mid-training assessment for my next 70.3, which is coming up quick in September! The Olympic distance race took place this past Sunday and I have to say, I was really impressed with the whole operation from start to finish. Walk with me now-
My mom came in from Livingston on Friday to go with me to the race. She and I drove up to Waco from Austin Sunday morning, stopping first at the Best Western in Belton we were supposed to stay at. Thankfully, the hotel wasn't ready for us to check in yet, so we drove a few miles back down South to the Waco Convention Center to pick up my packet. It was easy to find, and best of all, the parking all around was free, including the hotel and business parking around the center.
We walked upstairs to grab my packet, which was quick and easy. I was really relieved they let me choose my shirt size at the event, because I am one of those people who wavers between all sizes, depending on the brand and cut. Apparently, I am a small in Women's Nike dri-fit (which these were, and super cute!) and a large in Brooks running shirts, but that's a separate story. We perused the expo, which was small, but had some great vendors. The Waco Chamber of Commerce puts on the event, and they were very friendly, welcoming, and best of all, helpful. They were able to answer all of our questions about the area and give us ideas about what to do with the rest of our day.
The swag was awesome! I know races are expensive, and the registration costs do go to important things
like insurance, road closures, permits, etc., but still, it's always cool to know I paid $100, and got some great memorabilia for it. The bag included our shirts, some gel and bar samples, a transition towel (so handy!), a pint glass with the race logo, our chips with a strap we got to keep, and super cool TriTats, instead of having to Sharpie myself the next day. I also really liked that the bike numbers were put on with twistie ties instead of stickers, because I hate having sticker residue on my frame!
|I don't even have everything pictured here- that's a lot!|
My mom and I surveyed the scene, and decided it was probably worth it to see if one of the hotels right by transition had a room available. We tried the Hilton first, since USAT members get a discount, but they were full. The Courtyard Marriot right across the street had one King bed room left, originally at $180. Ugh! But, my mom is of the age where getting up earlier and struggling for parking just didn't sound appealing, plus the Best Western was going to be $120 anyhow, so we decided to go for it. She is also the woman who is unafraid to ask about discounts, and thankfully she did! Marriot gives government worker discounts, and I had my city ID in my bag, so the grand total for our room dropped to $87!! Woo hoo!
|My blackberry mojito. Mmm.|
|Yellowfin tuna tacos|
|My momma enjoying her wine and our stuffed avacado.|
We got drinks- a blackberry mojito for me, which was so good I was glad I could only afford one! Then, we ordered a stuffed avacado, because even though all our menu options sounded good, we couldn't pass it up. It came with won-ton chips, which was cool and a fun new flavor combo, and then was stuffed with adobo chicken.
I wanted something light and not greasy for my meal, so I ordered the Yellowfin Tuna tacos. They were awesome! Fish is great for me pre-race, because it's full of protein and comes with healthy fats like avocado, veggies, and carbs in the rice, all packed in a light, easy to digest package. This isn't a food blog, I know, but for real, if you need a place to eat in Waco, check them out!
|Dorky picture- no shame!|
On to the race! Like I said, our packets came with TriTats , so that night before I went to bed, I put on my tattoos and modeled my new look for my mom. I liked that they were clearly visible, and most of all, that they weren't going to wash right off by the end of the swim. My sweat has some kind of anti-sharpie enzyme in it; it's hard to keep a race number on me.
The morning of the race, I got up and put on my new Pearl Izumi tri suit that I got for a smokin' deal on Amazon. (Pink. Like my new awesome bike.) I walked across the street with my bike to check in to transition. I had a great spot because of my number, but arrived late, so I had to squeeze in on the rack and set my bag up carefully. Then, with plenty of time to kill before the meeting, I walked back over to the hotel and got my mom moving. The pre-race meeting covered all the basics- the swim course, wave start times, things to watch for on the bike and run, and then we were off! The race directors did a great job. My wave was supposed to start at 7:24, and almost on the dot they told us to go.
The Swim- The Brazos river was warm, murky, and running muddy, "like she's run all along." The wave start had most people treading water, but myself and a few other smarties stuck to the side where we could touch to save energy. The girl next to me had a pretty worried look on her face, so I asked if this was her first race. She said no, just her first Olympic, and that she was training for the Austin 70.3. Basically, she was me this
time last year. I told her a few tips- stay to the sides, breast stroke if you need to to calm down, and remember to breath, and then we were off. This time last year at Marble Falls Tri I was in my first open water competitive swim. I was terrified and struggled the whole time. This go-round, I did great! I swam front crawl the whole way, kept up with my wave, and even passed a good number of people in the wave before us! I swam the whole 1,500m in under 30mins, which is right on point for me, and exited the water feeling so relieved, strong, and accomplished. The course was well-marked, there was plenty of assistance and safety measures in place, and most of the swimmers were considerate. I did have to jaw-jack a guy for trying to swim over me for no reason at all. We literally had the whole width of the river. He knew I was there because he'd already grabbed my leg twice. You try to swim on top of me and push me under water, you will get elbowed in the teeth. Other than that, incident free, and up the ramp I went to transition. :)
|Photo from TriWaco's site of one of the swim waves.|
The Bike-When I got to my bike, to my joy, I was far from the last bike left to leave. I dried my feet with my new towel, slapped on my shoes, helmet, and Handana, and hit the road running, sucking down a gel on the way. I mounted at the line and took off, remembering to start my TomTom (yay!). Seriously, not half a
mile in to it, a girl on a bike in front of me absolutely ate it. She lost control around a curve and the next thing I know, her bike if flying through the air and she is turning barrel rolls in the grass embankment. To her credit, she popped right back up and waved me on when I slowed down to help. After that, the ride was smooth sailing. The roads got a little gritty every once in a while, but most of the course was flat, smooth pavement with very few hills (no climbs at all.) Traffic was controlled really well, so I felt safe to go as fast as I wanted the whole time. I ended up averaging 18.5mph! That's 3mph faster than I was going this time last year! Bike upgrade and consistent training- worth it. There were no aid stations on the bike course, but since it was only 25miles, I didn't really expect one. I had some energy chews with my I got on the Hippie aisle at HEB that were great real food, and drank my Nuun from my bottle cage. Before I got to the end, I saw friends of ours who waved and cheered, pumping me up through the last half mile. (Thanks for coming, Dane and Jenny!) By the time I got back to the transition area for the run, the day was definitely getting hotter, and things were about to go- I want to say "downhill," for me, but it was actually the complete, horrible opposite!
|Right before the swim start, mom wishing me good luck.|
The Run- I put on my new Brooks PureConnect 3 shoes and a visor, grabbed my water bottle and lighted out for the run. I started strong, pulling back on my pace to keep it between 9 and 10mph, and took in some water, both in my mouth and on my head. The first part of the course wasn't bad at all. It was nice and shady, mostly flat, and great scenery along the river. Then, at about mile 2, everything changed. The course hit a hill that makes Mt. Bonnell in Austin look like a road bump. Almost everyone was walking up it, and with no shame. I never knew Waco had mountains, and woe was me. I had been taking it light on the running because until two days before the race, I was stuck with a pair of ASICS that I hated and were giving me shin splints. Needless to say, I was unprepared for the terrain, and it beat my butt. My final run average was 13:00min/miles, which was actually faster than I thought. I had to slow down to keep from puking, but it's a bummer because I was on course to come out pretty high in my age group, and ended up being second from
last. Even still, it was my own doing that slowed me down so much, and I knew it, so I still trudged ahead and enjoyed the course. There were plenty of aid stations on the course with ice cold water and glorious, glorious blue Powerade!! We also got icy towels, which were located right before the end of the course, where the shade ended and sorrows began. By 10am it was easily in the mid-90s because it's July in Texas and that's how we roll. It did flatten out significantly though, so I ran a good portion of the last 2 miles. My mom and boyfriend caught me walking from their bridge view, though, but I said hey, that was hard! I definitely, absolutely, need to get my run game together! My plan is to take it easier on the bike, and swim since I am doing well in both and feel comfortable and confident with the Half IM distances I need, and focusing on my run- my form, my speed, and my endurance. I know I can do better, and am determined to do so!
|Really nice medals! Mister action in the background!|
The Finish- The finish to the race is across the suspension bridge, which was really fun. The medals were awesome, high quality medals, and they had fans with misters to stand in, which were like angel perfume on my face. I downed a whole additional bottle of water, scarfed some Oreos (sugar-free diet be damned, I needed chemical-cookie goodness to sustain me.) Bryce and my mom met me at the finish and snapped some gross, sweaty pictures. Then, Bryce and I stood in line for the cool, free photo booth at the end and got a great picture to take home with us. Transition security was so great, that when I left Bryce standing, holding my bike over the fence so I could ask a race official a question, he was surrounded by suspicious volunteers in like 30 seconds and I had to rescue him. Literally, my only negative for the whole event was that I needed a potty on the run course bad (I don't know how- I sweated so much!) and there wasn't one. However, with the terrain, I can understand why putting one up might not have been possible.
I really enjoyed this event. It was well run, an excellent course with the right amount of challenge that still kept safety in mind, and came with awesome extras. The course is great for spectators, who have plenty of shady spots to hang out, as well as great bird's eye views on the bridge for the swim and the run. It was well worth the money, and absolutely a race I would do again. This time, at least, I'll be prepared for the hills!
|Thanks to my family and friends for coming out to support me!|
|Use code "jennyp" for 10% off your purchase of your favorite new running accessory!|
This blog is following my training as I get ready for the Athleta eSprit de She event season. Three events happen in Texas, the Duathlon in Dallas, the Katy 5k & 10k, and the Cycle Tour in Austin. I'll be doing Austin and Dallas, come join the fun! Enter Comp Code EDS57 for the chance to win some cool prizes!