Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Kerrville Half Iron 2015 Race Report

I'm training for Ironman Cozumel again this year, so of course that's my main focus, but I wanted to have a good race at Kerrville too. I knew my training had been going well and I'd been feeling good.

Goals for Kerrville this year:
1. as always, have fun, finish, be safe
2. PR, 7:14:56 from Longhorn 2009 is the time to beat
3. on a perfect day- sub 7:00, which I've been dreaming of since 2009

As usual, Jeff and I had a great time in Kerrville on Friday and Saturday. Ate at Grapejuice a few times, hung out with friends at packet pick up. Swam part of the course with Julie. Explored the campground a little. At some point I realized I had left my favorite tri shorts at home! We went on a crazy search around town, really just the expo and the Hill Country tri shop, for another pair of my favs, of course we didn't find them, but we found a pair of my 2nd favs and bought them. In the end it was all for naught, as I decided to wear my Tri Zones shorts even though I had only worn them for 14 miles on the bike at Couples. Now that I'm writing it, that sounds like a terrible idea!
Julie and I swimming on Friday with Richard kayaking for us
Race morning was beautiful! Chilly but not crazy cold. Watching the moon set over the water was the pre-race highlight. As usual, I hung out with friends and chatted waiting for race start. I was in the last wave of the half, but I wasn't too worried about that. When I got to the start line Logan said "look at that smile Heather!, I hope you're smiling like that at the finish!" I gave him a thumbs up and walked carefully (as instructed) into the water. I took a few really fast strokes to warm up and then got into my rhythm. The swim felt great! I didn't feel super fast, just good. I checked my watch around the halfway point- 22 minutes, right where it should be. I didn't recognize anyone in the swim. I usually see people I know in the water and I know I passed a few friends out there, but I didn't see any of them this time. I got to the ramp and let the awesome volunteers help me out of the water for a 46:04 swim time, which is pretty much what I always swim for a half iron without a wetsuit.

I tried something new this time. I put my old running shoes near the swim exit and put them on to run up the long hill into T1. I've never done that before, but Julie and I found a lot of stickers on the carpet going up the hill and I hate getting those in my feet! I saw Jeff and told him I had a good swim, then ran up the hill giving thumbs ups and smiles to friends calling my name along the way. T1 was 3:35, my fastest T1 in Kerrville by 30 seconds, so I think the shoes were a good idea!

I jumped on my bike and felt a little chilly but not too bad. I knew I wanted to go as fast as possible on the first 12 miles on hwy 27 because the road is better, and it's a little downhill there compared to rougher roads and more turns on the second half of the loop. I was going for a 3:30 bike time, which is 16mph average. I knew I needed to go faster than that for the first stretch, so I pushed the pace as much as I could. At about 12 miles in, I looked down and my average speed was 18.3mph, I'm pretty sure I have NEVER seen an average that fast for more than a mile! Julie passed me just before the turn onto Center Point road, and I told her I had hoped to hold her off until after the turn, I almost made it! I got onto that awful, miserable chip seal and just tried to remember that it's only 2-3 miles. I was super happy to turn off that road and cross the river! I made it up the Wharton hill and onto 173, just 6 miles to go to start lap 2! And my average pace was 16.5, not bad! I passed by Jeff and Richard at the campground and told them I was feeling great! I started loop 2 and tried hard to pick up the pace again on hwy 27. I got back up above 17 mph and was feeling great about my ride. The second time on the rough chip sealy Center Point road I started to think maybe the Tri Zones shorts were a mistake... but that may have been an issue no matter what shorts I wore. I actually got to pass a few people on loop 2 and tried hard to be really encouraging when I passed. By the time I made it up the Wharton hill I knew as long as I didn't get a flat or have a crash I would have a big half iron bike PR and I was really happy about it!! I was actually smiling and singing for most of loop 2 :) I passed by Jeff and Shayla and told them I had a GREAT ride! Bike time was 3:22:48 16.6mph, that's 11 minutes faster than my previous fastest half iron bike!

I got into T2 and started changing shoes, etc when Charles came over and told me he hadn't had a great day. I had passed him at the end of loop 1 so I knew he wasn't having a great day, but I was sad he wasn't able to finish. He's training for Ironman Cozumel this year too. I was kind of talking with him, while trying to get my run stuff on. Sorry if I was rude or said anything weird Charles! T2 was 3:58.

I was really excited about the new run course at Kerrville! I was hoping for river views and shade from big bald cypress trees the entire 13 miles. My running has been going really well this year since I started going to PT with Ryan Stukel and let her fix and strengthen my feet, hip, back...pretty much my entire lower body! I was hoping for a 2:30 run (11:27 min/mile pace) which is 9 minutes faster than my best half iron run. It was a big goal, but I felt with the new course and since my running was going well, I had a good shot.

I started the run and felt great, had a nice view of the river and shade, my first mile was 10:18...wow! Then the shade ended, I had seen part of the run course from the bike, so I knew it was going to happen. The next 2 miles were still faster than goal pace, but I was feeling pretty hot and the sun was blazing. By the turn around I was happy they had ice to give me at the aid station. After the turn around run course director, John Chung, rode by in his mule and asked "want some ice water Heather?" I said "yes" and he pulled out a big orange cooler half full of water & ice. He said "are you sure?" I said "DO IT!!" He dumped half a cooler of ice water on my head, and it felt GREAT!! Shortly after that the sun went behind some clouds, and I got back to the shadier part of the run. I was happy I was still feeling good and told Jeff and Shayla that when I passed them. Jeff asked if I needed anything and I asked if he had vaseline for the chafe on my arms. I had been running like a chicken with my wings out to not aggravate the spots on my arms. He took off to go find my bag balm so I could get some when I passed him again in 1.5 miles. Then I saw Rhonda and asked her for vaseline too. She ran to the med tent and met me on the other side of the finish line with vaseline for my arms...aahhh, that felt good! I slathered on some bag balm when I saw Jeff again too.

I know a lot of people hate running by the finish line before they are actually finished, but I like it. Lots of people cheering and it always motivates me to run a little faster :) I saw people floating in the river and it looked like fun! The short side of the run course was more what I had expected, with river views and lots of shade, I ran by the finish and started loop 2, still feeling really good. I took a few longer walk breaks on loop 2 to drink some coke and eat more ice, but the cloud cover mostly stayed around and I wasn't feeling overly hot. I feel like I passed a lot of people on the run and again I tried to be really encouraging to each person I passed. After the turn around I only had about 3 miles to go and I realized I was definitely going to make my 2:30 goal, and I might even be a couple minutes faster! My stand alone half marathon PR at 3M is 2:25:05, so I was feeling great about my run! I ran by the finish line again and saw Red, Judy, Devon & Steve tubing in the river, I couldn't wait to go join them. One of them actually yelled "hurry up and come join us Heather" I ran up the last part of the course, turned around and came back and just before the finish told Kim H & Julie that this was going to be a HUGE PR for me! Run time was 2:25:10 (11:05 min/mile pace), just 5 seconds slower than my fastest half marathon ever!

I crossed the finish line and felt happy beyond belief!! My official time was 6:41:37, MUCH faster than I thought possible! I had hoped for 6:50-6:55 on a perfect day! That's a PR for me by 33 minutes!
SO HAPPY, right after finishing!
post race river floating
 I really enjoyed the post race river floating and stayed near the finish cheering on friends until the very end of the race.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains pictures


Big Bend entrance
Casa Grande from our Chisos Basin campsite
Window from our campground campsite
Jeff (in the middle of the pic) on Oak Springs trail
The Window view
Starting the backcountry hike, Laguna Meadows trail. We estimate Jeff's pack weighed about 50 lbs and mine about 35 lbs, both 10 lbs more than we should ideally carry, mostly due to 3 days worth of water.
Mexican jays were everywhere, this one begged for our snacks
Jeff relaxing after the long uphill hike with heavy packs
Deer at our Colima backcountry campsite
Juniper Canyon trailhead sign
Southwest rim we watched for peregrine falcons, may have seen a couple
Emory Peak from the Boot Canyon trail
Emory Peak, closer to the top
Chilling after hiking up to Emory Peak
Sunset at our Toll Mt backcountry campsite
didn't see any live mountain lions, but we did hear a couple at Toll Mountain
Clouds rolling into the Chisos Basin
Ready to hike down the mountain on the Pinnacles trail
the packs are MUCH lighter now!
The only showers in all of Big Bend are at Rio Grande Village, so we drove 30 miles each way to shower, totally worth it! Had to get a pick of the Rio Grande while there, that's Mexico behind us.
Santa Elena Canyon, the other side of the park from Rio Grande Village, again, totally worth the drive!
Cattail Falls trailhead
Cattail Falls
Longspur columbine and maidenhair ferns in the background, didn't expect to see those at Big Bend!
Guadalupe Mountains entrance
view from campsite
sun rising over the Apache plumes
Devi's Hall trail
Devil's Hall
Guadalupe Peak trailhead
rocky trail
we counted 41 switchbacks to the top
cool wooden bridge
just past the bridge
El Capitan behind us
made it to the top!
Highest point in Texas 8751 feet
Smith Spring
I had to taste the water at Smith Spring
Carlsbad Cavern entrance
Rainbow near Van Horn
Veranda Inn Ft. Davis
Veranda back yard
Veranda dining room
Tipster the pet pig at the Veranda
McDonald Obseratory
Harlan J. Smith 107 inch telescope, I even got to make it move!