Why? Well, after cheering us on in Galveston in April, my sister’s sister-in-law, Melanie, was inspired to try a 70.3 race herself. As the emails started flying (it’s more fun to coerce friends and family to do a race with you….) I said I’d sign up for the Oilman Triathlon in November if …. IF my older brother, Jim, would do it, too. Jim agreed so the training was on! My sister, Mary, also signed up for the fun.
The Oilman 70.3 race was held at the La Torretta Del Lago Resort and Spa on Lake Conroe, north of Houston, in Montgomery, TX. Nearly a full year of drought and a summer with temperatures at or exceeding 100 degrees – Lake Conroe was several feet below its normal levels. This caused the race directors to make adjustments the swim course several times before race day. I arrived on the Thursday before the event – they had been having very cold mornings in Texas and so we were lucky that the day of the event, it warmed up to 60 degrees in the morning and 80 by the time we were on the run. (For me… that was a little hot, but the Texas folks are used to it.)
Because the course was changed so many times, I didn’t really know the path of the swim course. There were buoys everywhere and the race director tried to explain the odd shaped course. I was in the first wave of “Under 34 and Athenas“. I’m a mid-pack swimmer, so I was able to just follow the swimmers in front of me. As the other waves came through, I did get a good kick in the jaw as I got sandwiched in-between two male swimmers. For this race I rented a sleeveless suit. In my full wetsuit, my arms and chest feel constricted on longer distance swims. I’m just not comfortable. So, I thought I’d give a sleeveless suit a try. In pool practice I really LOVED the feel of the sleeveless suit, so I was excited to try it out for the event. I do believe the sleeveless is the way to go. Free rotation of my arms along with the right flotation assistance in my core was awesome. I did, however, repeat a mistake I’ve made in the past. About half way through the swim I got that classic constricted feeling. The anxiety of being in “race mode” always seems to have me feeling like I’m being choked by my wetsuit. It wasn’t until I finally ripped the Velcro open on the suit’s neck, did I feel comfortable. You’d think I’d learn this by now for as many tri’s that I’ve done! As I rounded the last buoy, I saw a lot of the racers standing up and wading in the water toward transition. It wasn’t until I reached the same point did I realize that the water was so shallow, that my hands would drag the bottom of every stroke. But if I stood up to walk, the muddy bottom wasn’t easy to get traction on. So, I ended up doing a combination of dolphin dives and walking to reach the end of the swim.
T1 – I really needed to use the bathroom! So, my T1 transition time was 7+ minutes. Not good, but necessary.
56 bumpy, lumpy miles. I averaged 15.1 on the bike…. which surprised me because there was a lot of chip seal, false flats and rolling hills to contend with. Some of the chip seal was “unfinished”, too. Cyclists know was a delight chip seal is to ride on… but unfinished chip seal is even worse. I think all-in-all there was approximately 11 miles of unfinished chip seal. Once I hit the regular road, it felt like I was riding on b-u-t-t-e-r. The beginning of the course was beautiful, Sam Houston National Forest. We had nice cloud cover for the bike. I tried to attack as much as I could on the rolling hills. (I had flashbacks to Lake Stevens.) For this race I had a goal of trying to do much better on the run, but that was not going to be possible after the challenging bike course. I guess you have to roll with the punches on race day.
My T2 transition was slow again… 4 minutes. I’m not a pro so it shouldn’t really matter, but you add the transitions up and 11 minutes in transition is a lot. I usually don’t have transitions THAT long, so that’s a reminder for next time to get in, and get out!
The run was a 3 loop course through the resort grounds and through nearby residential homes. I tried to keep my legs moving, but as always, it’s tough after that many miles, so I stuck to a combination of running and walking. I think music would have really helped me here, but of course you can’t have it during an event. I needed to just “zone out” during the run, but I was really focused on EVERY LITTLE THING that was bothering me from my tri shorts rubbing (in all the wrong places) to the heat. Some of the run course was a little “Xterra”, if you know what I mean. On each loop we ran through a rocky driveway, concrete paths and over grass. It didn’t bother me that much, although I was concerned about twisting an ankle on the rocks. A 3 loop course also allowed me to see Melanie, Jim and Mary a few times on the course and cheer them on. I also was able to see the best crew of cheerleaders there are, my family… Paula, Todd, Michelle, Matthew and Tony. I asked if anyone wanted to finish the run for me… but there were no takers.
I finished in 8:07:33 – unfortunately, well beyond any goal I had in my mind. And, much worse than my Ironman Texas finish in April. But I did finish. In this off-season, I’ll go back to the drawing board once again to keep trying to loose that 10-20 lbs and become a stronger, faster me.
I just keep moving forward.
Congrats to my brother, Jim, who rocked a sub 6:30 in his first ever 70.3 race! Also kudos to Melanie and Mary who won awards in their respective categories. Awesome race guys!
Likes: This race NOT being an “Ironman” branded event made it 1/2 the price! The swag was awesome… a great shirt… samples, AND SOCKS! Loved having a sleeveless wetsuit. I bought a aero drink container (which I never had before). I liked the convenience of not having to leave the aero position or reach down to drink.
Dislikes: 11+ miles of chip seal can really take it out of your legs! My tri shorts (too small) rubbed in all the wrong places and my cycling top didn’t work out too well either since it started to chafe the back of my arms as I ran. Gotta get the gear right!