Friday, October 5, 2012

Orangeman Triathlon 2012 - 70.3 Race Recap

by Rachel

Training Dreams vs. Reality

This year I decided to tackle a 70.3 triathlon, aka long course triathlon, aka half-distance triathlon. It starts with a 1.2 mile swim, follows with a 56 mile bike, and finishes up with a 13.1 mile run (a 1/2 marathon).

The Orangeman Triathlon is unique, in that the bike leg heads up a scenic highway, into the San Juan Mountains - a huge elevation change that you have to get through before your 1/2 marathon run. This was the 2nd year of their race, and they're still working out all the bits to make it a perfect race - but I thought it was great! It's a beautiful race, and I would recommend it to anyone that wants a 70.3 triathlon that is not quite the norm!

I started training for this race with a goal of finishing under 6 hours - quite a feat if I could do it! I felt that if I trained hard and smart enough, I could pull it off. I started my official training plan in April, with the intent of working really hard all summer - in fact, I had already been in pre-training mode, but within the first week of my training plan, I decided not to go for a 6 hour finish. I felt like it would be too stressful on me and my family, so I started backing off, and trying to have more fun and enjoy the training more. I just wanted to finish and enjoy my race!

In my 7th week of training, I bruised my rib - and my training plan pretty much went out the door. Then, in June I contracted plantar warts on the bottom of my right foot. Trying to run when it feels like you're stepping on a pebble in your shoe with EVERY step is not great - in fact it completely sucks! It's also not something that you can just get rid of quickly (it took me months to be completely rid of them). THEN, in August, I fractured a bone in my right foot, with only 6 weeks til race day. If that wasn't bad enough, I then fractured the tip of my middle toe on my right foot on Labor Day - 3 weeks before my race...

I trained as best I could throughout all the crap that I was going through - I started swimming A LOT more than I normally would have! But when you can barely walk, and you can't bike, swimming is the perfect workout! I met Kim at the La Jolla Swim & Run (race report to follow) in July, and we became swimming buddies for the rest of the summer. She has been great - swam with me as often as I wanted, and also got me to try some different coves in Mission Bay besides De Anza (Ventura Cove became our favorite in MB). Then Kim signed up for the Orangeman too - so we would be racing together! It was her first triathlon, and I wanted her to be successful so I tried to help her with training and passed on whatever information I could. 2 weeks before the race, I was able to slowly get back into running, and by race week I knew that I would be finishing this race!!

Pre-Race Prep

We went up to Dana Point on Saturday, and fortunately for us, our 15yo son's XC meet was in Dana Point too! Talk about great timing! After his race, we went to the race registration meeting - then it was time to RELAX! Went to bed at a decent time, but when I woke up in the morning, it was about 1 hour before my alarm... I tried to go back to sleep but it wasn't happening. So I was up nice and early! It gave me extra time to get ready so I'm glad it happened that way! Oatmeal and coffee for breakfast...

In Transition

My husband and my two kids were awesome - being there for me every step of the way and cheering me on - they hung out with me in the early morning darkness while I set up my transition spot! Then they hung out all day waiting to see me for brief moments in transition - taking pictures and giving me words of encouragement - I love them!!

Kim got a spot right next to me and we spent all the time we could making sure things were in the right spot, and that we were totally ready for this. Before I knew it, we were being called out to the beach for the start of the race!

Swimming in the milky ocean

Kim and I were in the 4th wave - the yellow caps. This was it - I was nervous but calm, and Kim was super-excited! Before we knew it we were off! A flock of birds flew over us as we started - I knew it was a good omen and we would both have a good race.

The water was a milky color, and the visibility wasn't that great. The swim was fairly uneventful for me, except that I swam towards the third buoy totally thinking it was the turnaround, but when I got there everyone just kept going straight - talk about annoying that I couldn't turn there! Towards the end of the swim, I was so ready for the swim to be done - I actually just felt kind of bored and wanted to do something else... but I knew as soon as I was done with this swim, things were going to get FUN! (I was right...)
swim time: 45:40

T1 Now we're talking!

Started running up the beach and pulled my arms out of my wetsuit - ran by people that were walking (?) and headed towards my bike. Followed my transition script and got myself out of there as soon as I could! Ran my bike out and got out of there!
T1 time: 3:44

Biking the Ortega Highway

This leg was the one I was looking forward to the most - I bought a new carbon bike this year, and put aero bars on it. I went on many long rides on that bike, preparing for this awesome bike ride. I knew I was ready for it, and I had a blast! The bike course is what makes Orangeman unique, I think - they block off highway 74, and we get to bike from the coast, up into the San Juan Mountains, with a turnaround all the way up at 2480 ft!

Which means... a blast to fly back down the mountain! It was a HOT day, but I had two bottles with me (water in one, electrolyte drink in the other) - and the aid stations were awesome with getting us ICE water and HEED! During my ride I had a GU, a CLIF Mojo bar, and 2 Honey Stinger Waffles.

There was a serious hill at ~mile 6-8, then the major climbing portion of this race occurred from mile 20 to mile 30. Serious climbing! But I just followed my mantra of steady and smooth, and kicked it to my lowest gear possible - and as soon as I saw that turnaround in the road I whooped with joy! I screamed and hollered and I couldn't understand why nobody else was happy about this - it was time to FLY!

After the 10 miles back down that major climbing section, it was rolling hills, then neighborhood roads, and then finished it off on the bike path we began on several hours earlier... SO glad to make it up that mountain and back down in one piece, and still feeling great!
bike time: 3:40:50 (15.2mph avg)

T2 on wobbly legs

I knew my legs were going to give me grief after a bike ride like that - I just told myself to keep running and it would subside. Ran in to transition and got all swapped out as fast as I could - then zipped out for a quick 1/2 marathon! Right... actually running with lead legs out of the transition area and smiling, hoping that it would keep me from looking like a complete idiot trying to run when my legs weren't working!
T2 time: 2:35

Run around in circles

I knew going in to this race that I was going to "race" the swim and bike, and then because of all the crap with my foot, just get through the run whatever way was necessary - even if I had to walk the whole thing. So when I was able to start at a running pace, I told myself I was going to just keep jogging as long as I could.

After about 1 mile, we dropped down onto the beach and did .7 miles on SOFT SAND - but I kept running. Once we got past the first sand portion, the first aid station awaited with GUs, water, HEED, salt tabs, and ICE! Someone poured ice down my back and WOW that felt good! I had sand in my shoes so I stopped to dump out my shoes. Once I left that aid station, things started to go south. I hadn't worn socks for my run (which I DID train for), and I was wearing my trail shoes for extra support (which I DID NOT train for). I didn't get all the sand out of my shoe, and then the water from the ice started leaking into my shoes - which led to blisters on both of my arches.

At this point, I got to the section of the race where we did three 3mile loops on a path next to the PCH. Once I got to the first turnaround, I had to stop. My blisters were killing me and I had to find some way of relieving them so I could go on. Nobody had Body Glide, or BandAids even - but someone did happen to have a towel in their car so they let me use it. I tried my best to dry the shoes and my feet off, then trudged out of the aid station to go another loop. I ended up jogging between the aid stations on each end of the loop, and each time I got back to the "towel" aid station I would stop, take my shoes off, and try to dry things out some more. I knew I was wasting time, but it was helping - and I was OK with the wasted time because I knew my run goal was just to finish.

I had seen Kim out on the loops section and knew she was running faster than me - she did catch up with me on the last loop and we ran together to the end of the last loop. I started feeling nauseated and knew I was going to have to walk for a few minutes. I told her she should go on - I didn't want to hold her back from finishing - so she went ahead and ran to the finish. I walked for a couple minutes, even hyperventilated for a few maddening seconds, but I managed to get myself together and start running again.

Now back onto the soft sand for another .7 mile - I wasn't going to let myself walk on that sand even though my legs were screaming for it. I just started channeling Dory and repeated over and over and over, "Just keep swimming, Just keep swimming, Just keep swimming swimming swimming" - HAHA! It worked to get me through the soft sand!

As I was coming up to what I had been staring at and just knew had to be the finish, I saw my husband and my 7yo son! They both ran with me... past the finish line... on more soft sand... then finally to the turnaround and back around to the FINISH!
run time: 3:02:42 (13:57/mile avg)

I finished my very first 70.3 triathlon in 7:35:33! I was so happy that I was able to finish it - and I was totally exhausted! I made a beeline for the ocean, kicked off my shoes, and dove in - it felt so wonderful!

Kim did such a great job - and this was her very first triathlon! Still has a smile on her face after 7.5 hours of racing, a bloody knee, and a killer run!

I was so wasted after the race - we put everything in the car and then had pizza and beer at the finish line. After we drove home and I had time to clean up and relax a little bit, Paul took me out to celebrate at Sipz (LOVE that place!) - I was dragging... I had absolutely no energy, and it was hard to even keep my head up to eat. Not only that, it HURT to eat! The roof of my mouth was killing me - it felt like it had been burned and was swollen. I went to my friend, Google, who helped me find others that this has happened to - someone said it had something to do with breathing with your mouth open for hours on end (which we don't usually do) - the lining on the roof of our mouth is thin and easily irritated...

But everything has healed up now, and I feel great about this race! Through all the crap that I went through, I made the best of it - I believe I was smart about letting my injuries heal up enough - and my foot was totally fine after the race. I know my next 70.3 will be awesome!!


  1. You are amazing, girl!! So proud of you! xo

  2. WOOOO!!! That is amazing! Way to dig deep!

  3. Oh, my goodness! That was SOME killer race! I'm just blown away by your grit and stick-to-it-iveness!

    Way to go! And yes, I bet your NEXT 70+ tri will be a cake-walk compared to this one!