Sunday, September 14, 2014

Onalaska 70.3- Reporting from the Piney Woods

     Today I completed my 2nd ever 70.3  distance triathlon! I participated in the Onalaska Half Triathlon. I chose this race because of several things:

1. It is really close to where I grew up, so not only could my mom come, but also I thought it was good to support a local race where I came from, and figured I'd see a few people I knew along the way (and I did!)
2. It was so much cheaper than an Ironman branded race. Last year's 70.3 cost me over $300! This one was $150 for the same distance. No, I didn't get as fancy of a swag bag, but we got some great goodies, an adorable medal, and raced just as hard of a course, so I thought it was awesome.
3. Local races! It is so important to support smaller race companies as they build races and provide opportunities. i Tri Events has a good reputation from what I can see online, so I'm glad to have been able to support them. Also, the field is way smaller (only like 100 athletes rather than 1,000) so your chances of a podium go way up. Sure, it may seem silly, but a win is a win!

      I had a really great time at this race and would like to share my thoughts and then my pictures from the day! First of all, thank you so much to my mom and my friend Sandra for coming out to cheer me on with signs and support. And thanks to my mom's coworker Julie and my friend from High School Britney for watching me during the run so my mom didn't send out a search party when I took too long!

     Race check-in was easy. Like I said, I'm from Livingston, so I knew exactly where the KOA in Onalaska was. And even if I didn't- you can't miss it! I got my packet, as well as goodie bags from Polk County and the City of Onalaska, which I thought was cool for them to support the race like that. The race bags were great- lots of awesome samples, including 5 Hammer Gels, which is awesome because those are expensive and I like them! There was also Advil, which came in handy, as well as leg cramp pills and good soothing gel to rub on tired muscles later. My legs are very tingly right now and I'm glad for those samples!
Waiting for the race to start.
     Being a small race meant some good perks in my book. Parking was simple, although a little confusing as to why we couldn't park there and had to be shuttled. My mom and Sandra didn't want to use the shuttle because they knew they wanted breakfast and coffee while I was on the bike. THANKFULLY they broke the rules and stayed parked at the KOA (sorry, race director!) because I forgot my helmet in the car and my mom was able to go grab it for me while I was in transition! Whew! There were also NO lines for the bathrooms (amazing!), plenty of room on the bike racks, and the swim start was perfect. Enough people to get your blood pumping and get competitive, but not so many that it's a madhouse.

Waving to my fans.
      The swim was set up just how I like it. The course was straight out and back, with about 50 yards between the two rows of buoys. I liked being able to sight the shoreline the whole way back because it made it go by faster. We started 5 minutes after the men, and I ended up passing several of them, so that was encouraging! I definitely did much better on the swim here than at the Austin  70.3. I was confident, calm, and swam strong the whole way. I ended up finishing mid-pack, which was really exciting! I didn't like swallowing all the Lake Livingston water that I did, but you can't really help it when the water gets choppy. I liked that the start was shallow, so you didn't have to tread water as well, because that helps keep me level-headed when the gun goes off.

Quick video of the swim start for women. Love the pink swim caps!

      The bike course was excellent. It was tough enough that it provided a challenge, but quiet, safe (besides the one truck I cussed out for trying to kill all of us) and well-marked. The weather couldn't have been better- I was actually chilly on the first 10 miles of the bike- so that helped a lot. My new tri bike has made a big difference in my overall times. Instead of 15mph, I averaged 17.2, which is slower than I did at TriWaco, but was spot on with what I wanted for a longer bike leg on tougher terrain! 
Mom- I need my helmet!

OK, ready to go!
       I bombed on the run for a few reasons. I have an encroaching hamstring issue that I am not going to be forced to properly address, so I had to stop at every aid station and stretch well. I also had an upset tummy because I got hungry before I was able to eat my last snack, which threw things out of whack. However, I set my mind to walking .25miles and running .75 miles each mile, and that helped me get in a good flow  and stay on track. The volunteers were all locals, mostly older men, and they were so sweet and encouraging. I chatted with a lot of them, and even saw my friend's dad working for the EMT team. I did the run slower than I wanted, but I'm OK with it considering the circumstances. My Brooks PureFlows are working out great though, as far as comfort. 

         I wanted to cut my time from last year down by an hour, and only ended up chopping off 27mins. However, since I had to wait to get my helmet, stretch every mile, wrangle and upset tummy, AND stop to potty, I'm pretty happy! What I thought was really cool is that they waited until the whole field was done with the race to give awards. I know people who finished really soon probably got tired of waiting, but it was good to not embarrass those coming in last by having everything broken down and put away before they got there. The medals were small, but super cute and really original, 
       When all was said and done, I got 2nd place in my age group!"Yea, but how many people were in your group?" You might ask. I'll never tell- but it was more than 2! :)   Overall, it was a great race that ran smoothly, gave just what it promised, and was a fun, good experience. I hope to come back next year!

Post race massage didn't have a line, either!

2nd place Age Group!

Mom and I with my award.

Don't forget about my fundraiser contest for Team Mercy Project!

     To donate, visit my Pledge Page and pledge! After you donate, make sure you make a comment on any blog post, either today's or future posts during the contest, saying "Hook 'em, Horns!" or "Gig 'em, Ags!" with your name and your donation will be added to the tally. Longhorns are in the lead so far! I'll be updating every week to keep track! Let's do this! I will also have labeled jars on site at other events I host, and those will count too, so come visit me at my yard sale if you want!

     Of course, this is all pending making it through the Onalaska 70.3 this weekend immediately following my 30-mile ride with the awesome ladies at the eSprit ride. Wish me luck- a race report will be coming next week!

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 Dallasthe 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!

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