Friday, November 1, 2013

Austin 70.3 Race Report

“Put it in the big ring. Giddy up!” said Chris McCormack at the 2010 awards ceremony the first year I was in Kona. That was kind of my theme for the second half of the 2013 season and also my most recent race in Austin. Neither one came up short in the fun factor – the past few months since Ironman CdA have been a lot of fun and the trip to Austin was an absolute blast. I was able to put together a solid race on Sunday and walk (well, run) away with a 6 minute half Ironman PR. I flew down on Friday morning with Gerry (the BF) and my friends Arielle and Garth Knutson. We’re not related; it’s just a coincidence (and a lot of fun) that we have the same last name. Julie, our 5th roommate in the AirBNB house flew down a bit later on Friday. The rental house was pretty cool – huge community garden, at least a dozen chickens and ducks, good outdoor space for sharing meals together, and a little man cave area equipped with neon bar signs, and ESPN Red Zone for the guys who could stay up late watching football Saturday night. We all bonded over drinks, food, and triathlon.

From left: with Arielle, Julie, and the party bus parked outside our rental house, pre-race pic with the BF, Gerry packing my bike on Sunday.
I definitely need to work on taking more pictures at races next year!
But you probably don’t care about how we bonded over free-range chickens and organic lettuce; so instead, here’s how the race went down:

Sunday morning I woke up 5 minutes before my alarm to the sound of thunder. There was lightning and more thunder, but we stuck with our plan to leave the house by 5:30 to make it to transition in time for our 8:30 swim wave. Garth and Gerry joked that their biggest worries would be, “having to share the one umbrella in the rental house” and “having to pack those ponchos.” Thanks fellas. The house was about a 20 minute drive from the race, so we figured 3 hours would be more than plenty of time. But with a traffic back-up near the lake, we ended up cutting it quite close; we got off the shuttle around 7:05, got body marked, and made it out of T1 by the mandated 7:15. The start was delayed 15 minutes and we had time for multiple bathroom stops, a shakeout run, and some more waiting around.

Swim – Ugh, the frigging swim! I felt like I had a good start and was on some solid feet through the first two turn buoys. But on the way back, there was a little chop, not waves or anything, just current/ripples/not flat, and crowded water. Gotta love being in the wave #13 or 15 or whatever it was way back. I tried to swim inside the sight buoys, but there were kayaks lined up and safety volunteers telling me not to swim that way. So, I trudged along and eventually made my way out of the water in 34:07 – far from my best, but not a total disaster. Swim times were on the slower end that day and I’d say I left a minute or two in the water.

T1 – The day before we were warned about the goat head thorns in transition that could hurt our feet and puncture our tires. I even stopped once while running up the hill from the lake to pluck a thorn out of my foot. After throwing on my bike shoes and helmet, I carried (instead of wheeled) my bike to the mount line. My HR was pretty high and my typical breeze through transition felt like I was in slow motion. I saw my friends Teresa and Rebecca and thought, “I hope I look ripped carrying my bike, because I am working really hard.” I made it out of T1 in 2:37 and was lucky enough to not have any damage to my feet, cleats, or tires. Gerry and Garth were at the mount line and later said there were dozens of people with flats coming out of T1 and there were volunteers helping rider clean mud from cleats, so athletes could clip in.

Bike- In my opinion, the bike course isn’t anything special. It’s pretty flat, a couple technical turns, some tough road conditions, and no major climbs. Other than a little spin on Saturday, it was my first introduction to riding on Texas roads. And I can assure you, there will be far fewer complaints about road surfaces anywhere else. There weren’t major potholes, just poor chip seal, lots of bumps, and some uneven areas. Being in the third to last wave, the roads were really crowded. There were a couple times when I had to brake or jockey around to not get caught up in someone’s draft. It was a bit frustrating and definitely made starting in the women’s pro field seem more enticing. I was getting a little bored of the course toward the end of the ride, so at mile 41, a completely flat mile with no turns, I counted people. I passed 10 people in 1 mile. That’s kind of a lot, considering each mile lasts less than 3 minutes. I felt okay on the ride, not great, but pretty solid, and I kept pushing 56 miles until I got to the dismount line in 2:34:43.

Run – T2 was nothing fancy, no mud or goat heads. I was out on the run in 2:11. The run was tougher than I thought it would be when I signed up for this race. It’s a three loop course and the loop basically runs from T2/finish arena to the lake and back with a little off-road, grassy, gravel portion and a hill that you run up and down in the middle. My first couple miles were fast and by the time I got to the lake I made myself take some PERFORM and settle my heart rate. By the time I finished my first loop, I felt like I was running a lot stronger, even though my pace had slowed down a bit. The guys told me what position I was in off the bike (9th – ouch!), but with the crowds of people, I couldn’t tell where the other W30-34 were. I just kept running hard and telling myself, “it might be an ugly run course, but don’t make it an ugly run.” Perhaps I could have gone for a little more positive self-talk? It didn’t feel like I slowed down that much on the run, but I’m frustrated in my 1:35:11. I realize it’s not horrible, but I was hoping to break 1:30 this year and I really thought it was in the cards on Sunday. The finish line in the rodeo arena was cool and it was really fun to see Gerry and Garth out on the course, as well as other Seattle friends who made the trip down.

Check out this link to see the video Garth put together from the race. It features Matt Chrabot and Rebekah Keat (pro winners), me, Julie Vieselmeyer, Arielle Knutson, Graeme Roche, Gerry, and our rental house. There are a lot of “Go Knutsons” in there, as well as punctured tires, muddy cleats, and a new girl rock song, “Pumpin’ Blood” by NONONO (chosen by best friend Sydnie).

My overall time was 4:48:49, which is a PR for me and a pretty solid time. This landed me in 6th place for W30-34, which was a little disappointing, but I’m getting over it. I took solace in seeing that I stacked up okay against some female pros (and I wouldn’t have been the last out of the water) and that my time at last year’s race would have been 2nd in my AG. I know I still need to sharpen my skills at the 70.3 distance and this excites me. It’s a fun distance to race and there are many more opportunities to prove myself down the road. Sunday night we gorged on Mexican food, margaritas, and took a stroll down 6th St. On Saturday night Garth and Gerry set up a bet that whatever girl stayed out the latest on Sunday, Gerry would pack their bike. I was so thankful when Julie and Arielle called it a night – we stayed out pretty late for W30-34 triathletes!

Now the season is over and I’m decompressing, debriefing, planning my offseason (there’s some good stuff in there), and figuring out what the heck I’m doing in 2014. Lots of exciting stuff to come, including my thoughts on 2013 (mostly positive)! Thanks for reading.
With Heart,


  1. A few things:

    1. You definitely looked ripped cyclocross-carrying your bike to the mount line.
    2. I love your photographer-forced finisher's picture with Jason after you both crossed.
    3. Speaking of those thorns/barbs, after Jason finished, he said, "I think I got a huge blister or something on my toe because it was killing me the entire run." And then he removed his shoe, exclaimed "WTF," and plucked a long-ass barb out of his toe. It was super gross.
    4. Seemed like a pretty stacked field of talent out there -- course records being broken and all the fast shassholes (she-assholes) in our age group showing up.
    5. Watching you race was a blast! You're getting me pumped to get back out there next season and suck wind several spots behind you. Congrats on a PR and another impressive season.

    1. 1. haha - thanks, should have thrown the bike over my shoulder.
      2. I loved that pic too. I was all excited to get it taken, Jason was a bit reluctant. I like the pic you took too of me with the dorky smile and Jas chugging water.
      3. Yeah, pretty shitty that so many people had flats coming out of T1.
      4. It's always a toss up on who will toe the line at certain races. Fast fields inspire me to work harder. I just wish I would have been able to tell where I was on the run.
      5. Thanks so much. You are so supportive as a friend. I'm excited to see 2014 unfold for you! Big year!!