Liberty Triathlon “70.3” Race Report: Adversity Adventure

Hmmm…I have so many thoughts about this race, but I should probably start at the beginning. Be prepared for a LONG report about the sh*t show…errrr…adversity adventure that was the Liberty Triathlon “70.3” race! Grab your favorite beverage and dessert to enjoy while you get a feel for my experience.

When the Iron Hippie and I decided to sign up for the Liberty Triathlon 70.3 race, we were waffling back and forth between the Liberty Triathlon 70.3 and Ironman Wisconsin 70.3. We raced Ironman Wisconsin 70.3 last year (when it was non-branded) and knew it was a GREAT race, but had heard good things about Liberty Triathlon as well. We opted for the cheaper race…Liberty Triathlon 70.3 (remember this for later…you get what you pay for).

Pre-Race:

We finally received an email from the race director Thursday (our race was Saturday). This was rather late correspondence in my opinion, but at least I knew I was actually registered!

Liberty Triathlon – It’s getting hot in here!
Race day is coming up and it’s looking to be a hot one! Due to the expected temp on Saturday, we are allowing participants to transfer from the Long course to the Olympic course free of charge. Please email us at info@finalstretch to transfer your distance.

We will also have ice water and towels at the waters stops for participants to cool off.”

I had no intentions of transferring to the Olympic distance event, so I ignored it, packed my bags and was ready to leave Friday morning. I checked my email Friday morning before packing up All. The. Gear. for two athletes into the vehicle. We had an updated message from the race director:

Liberty Triathlon – Note from the Race Director
Changes due to Weather for Liberty Triathlon

Do to the 103 plus extreme heat index for Saturday there is going to be changes to the timetable for the Long Course participants. This change is not only for the athletes but all the volunteers that will be out on the course helping direct runners and manning the water stops.

Olympic will stay the same.

Long Course

1. Swim will be the same
2. Bike will be the same
3. You must be in from the bike no later than 12:30 pm to continue on the run
4. If you get in from the bike from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm, you will be required to run the 6.2 mile (10K) run course. This is so that all runners are in from the run by no later than 2:00 pm when the heat index gets very high.

Thank you everyone for your understanding with this difficult weather situation.

Questions: email info@finalstretch.com

What?! NOOOO!! With wave starts, this did not offer an equal opportunity for ALL athletes! Since my swim wave was not scheduled to go off until 7:45 am, I would have to finish the 1.2 mile swim + 56 mile bike in 3:45…doable, but with the extreme heat we should be conserving energy to avoid dehydration, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke. I immediately emailed the race director and asked them to consider starting the race earlier (even 7 am would give us an additional 30 minutes) to allow more time for all athletes to have a fair shake at meeting this 11:30 am cut off. Here was their response:

“We’ve considered it. Due to other factors including permits, set up, police, volunteers, medical staff, and out of town athletes, we are not able to start the race any earlier.”

In actuality, they could have applied for an emergency change in the permits, but they didn’t want to mess with it. I get it (not really)…so I emailed them again and asked them if they would consider combining swim waves since they were encouraging people to switch from the long course to the Olympic course. Nope…not happening:

“We will not be combining swim waves. If enough people switch to the Olympic course, we will shorten the time between waves from 3 minutes to 2 or 2.5 minutes between waves to get people in the water sooner.”

Ok, so they are not willing to make accommodations for athletes to make this a fair experience for ALL athletes. Now the question is do I stick to my race plan knowing I will likely miss this time cut-off, or do I put the hammer down and try to make the time cut-off?! I decided to wait to talk to Coach Kelly about this until after I had checked in at packet pick-up to make sure there weren’t any more changes being made (good thing I waited…more changes to come).

The 3+ hour commute to the race site was uneventful. After checking out the lake and checking into our hotel, it was time to go to packet pick-up (which was at our hotel). While waiting in line, the first lady said there was another change to the 11:30 time cut-off. We now had to finish the 1.2 mile swim, the 56 mile bike, and get to 3.1 miles on the run by 11:30 in order to be able to continue for the full 13.1 miles. I IMMEDIATELY spoke up! “This is not what the email said and they have NOT communicated this with the athletes in any email. This is not acceptable!” The lady at the 2nd table knew many of the athletes in the line were frustrated. She called the race director for clarification and relayed his new decision to us:

We actually had until 3.1 miles on the run to catch the sag bike that would leave transition with the last cyclist to arrive into T2 at 11:30. If you are a strong runner, this will give you an opportunity to continue even if you get into T2 after the 11:30 time. This also meant if you were not a strong runner, you may get passed by the sag bike even if you made the 11:30 time cut into T2…HELLO SH*T SHOW!!!

Grrr…now it is time to call Coach Kelly! After eating Mexican food at El Azteca in Plymouth, MN, I relayed all of this information to Coach Kelly and said, “What do I do? Do I put the hammer down and try to make the time cut-off, or do I stick to my race plan?” Coach was LIVID with the decisions the race director had made. This was not only unfair to all athletes, it encouraged athletes to push harder and risk dehydration, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke on a day when we should be conserving a bit more than normal. Since this was not my “A” race for 2017, I was told to stick to the race plan and if I didn’t make the 11:30 time cut-off or catch the bike, it would still be a good training day…hello 97F heat index and 20-25 mph sustained winds with gusts up to 35 mph from the SSW.

Ok…I have a plan and know what I need to do.

I received the BEST email from my Coeur Sports tribe:

“WISHING YOU ALL KINDS OF GOODNESS ON RACE DAY!!
Rumor has it you have a race coming up.
Well, the Coeur Cowbell Team is ringing their bell (virtually, because otherwise the neighbors get annoyed) for you!
We hope your race is all that you wished for and more.
Heart and Courage my friend!
Let us know how it went!”

I told you this would be a long post, but I’m finally to race day! 🙂

Race Day:

The alarm went off at 3:45 am. After eating my typical pre-race breakfast (muesli + peanut butter + Pure Clean Beet Powder and Karma Kombucha), donning my beautiful Coeur Sports race kit, and loading the car with all the gear, it was time to travel the 30 minutes to Lake Rebecca.

The sh*t show continued when we got to the race site…we could set up our transition area where ever we wanted, no one was making announcements, (What was the water temperature? Was the water wetsuit legal?), and no one seemed to know where body marking was. There was no one working the entrances to the transition area, so anyone could enter (including spectators). I’ve experienced this at smaller local races, but NEVER at a 70.3 event!

Mojo is ready for a fun day on a new playground!

After setting up our transition area and relaxing at the car for a bit, it was time to put on the wetsuit (I had found the one and only USAT referee earlier who said the water was wetsuit legal) and head to the lake for a short pre-race swim and the pre-race informational meeting on the shore at 7:15 am. Thankfully I saw my Coeur sister, Megan, before the race and she gave me a quick hug. This is just what I needed to calm the climbing nerves. We were reminded of the changes to the time cut-offs, told there would be ice, wet rags, water, and heed at every aid station on the run. We were also informed that there would be 2 minutes between wave starts instead of the original 3 minutes. After the National Anthem, it was time to line up on the beach for the race start. One more quick hug on the beach from Megan and we were ready for the swim!

These waters look much calmer than they actually were when we got into them!

Swim: 51:10 for 1.2 miles at 2:26/100 yard pace

The first wave (Elites/Athenas/Clydesdales) was supposed to start at 7:30 am, but it was delayed because of other athletes swimming back to shore from their warm-up. So…my swim wave (women 40+) started at 7:42 am (3 minutes before the originally scheduled time). With the winds already at 20 mph, the lake was very choppy, and we were swimming straight into the chop on the way to the turn around buoys. It was rough! Hello first open water swim of the year…yep…on race day! I started out trying to swim with bilateral breathing, but that was short lived. I couldn’t get in a rhythm that allowed me to breathe and not consume 1/2 of the lake water because of the waves crashing back into my face. Like all of the other swimmers, I fought my way to the turn around buoys, and then got a free ride on the waves back to transition. Throughout the entire swim, I just kept telling myself to enjoy the adversity adventure that was just beginning! Learn from it, grow from it, and keep moving forward! This was officially my slowest swim time on a 1.2 mile distance EVER!

T1: 2:27

After quickly making my way to my bike, getting a random stranger out of the way of my bike (he was just hanging out in the transition right in front of my transition area…not sure what he was doing in there), stripping out of my wetsuit, throwing on my helmet, socks, and bike shoes, I was out of the transition area and on the bike!

Bike: 3:16:09 for 56 miles at 17.1 mph average speed

The first 10-12 miles were straight SSW into the headwind that had picked up since the swim start. The winds were now closer to 22-25 mph sustained winds, with gusts up to 35 mph and boy could we feel it! Let the adversity adventure continue! Mojo and I just buckled down, found our groove, and sang our way to the turn. Once we turned, the cross wind was SO strong that I got blown off the road twice! I screamed out loud that I wish I weighed about 100 pounds more so I would stay on the road (but later found out from the Iron Hippie that the extra weight didn’t help him either…). Only a few short miles to the turn and a tailwind! Hello 25+ mph speeds climbing up a hill in my most challenging gear…you are a VERY welcome sight! Unfortunately we had to do the loop again, so back into the headwind we went! Let the singing commence…

  • “I feel good”
  • “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”
  • “Full throttle, wide open, you get tired and you don’t show it, dig a little deeper when you think you can’t dig no more, that’s the only way I know”
  • “Vanilla ice ice baby”…I was dreaming of ice and cold temperatures at this point as the outdoor temps were really climbing
  • “I saw the sign”…HELLO HWY 10 sign + tailwind all the way back to transition! What a welcome sign!

I also may have startled other athletes by screaming “Wahoo! St. Bonifacius you are a welcome sight! No more headwind!” Hee!! Hee!! Let the adversity adventure continue!

T2: 1:41

After cruising into transition and learning that I was between 1 and 2 miles behind the sag bike (it was after 11:50 am), I decided to leave my hydration bottle in transition and run hard for the 10K that I was going to be forced to run.

Run: 1:01:17 for a 10K at an average pace of 9:53/mile

As I exited transition, I ran into my Coeur sister Megan! She stopped at the loo, and I continued on my way! I was pushing a bit harder than I should have been. My heart rate was high…too high! I periodically walked to get my HR back to a respectable beat. I took in Base Salt and water at every aid station, but there was NO ice or rags at any of the aid stations on the run like the race director said there would be. Let the adversity adventure continue! Then at mile 2, I caught the sag bike. What?! How did I catch him? I decided to walk for a minute and ask the athlete how I had caught up with him. In briefly chatting with him, I learned that he had decided to walk the entire first 5K to give as many of the women an opportunity to make the decision to run the 1/2 marathon if they wanted to since our swim waves started so late. I thanked him for allowing me to make this decision and ran on. Shortly after this, I saw the Iron Hippie heading back and quickly learned he was only doing the 10K by choice. As I ran to the 5K mark, I did some thinking and data analysis…could I run the full 1/2 marathon? Yes, but I had no hydration with me (I left it in transition remember?!), there was no ice or rags at the aid stations, it was HOT and only getting hotter, and this was not my “A” race. Coach Kelly told me to not end up dehydrated, with heat stroke, with heat exhaustion, or hyponatremic…it would prolong my recovery. Based on all of the data I had in my arsenal, I opted to turn around and only do the 10K run. As I crossed the finish line, I was happy with my decision to turn around, but was immediately disappointed because there was no water at the finish line for the athletes. SERIOUSLY?! What an adversity adventure…or is it a sh*t show?!

Since it doesn’t say “70.3” on it, I guess I can keep it.

Overall: 5:12:43 for 63.4 miles

I set a PR on a new distance (since I didn’t do the official 70.3)…63.4 miles. I got to meet some amazing new athletes and ladies decked out in Coeur tri kits. I overcame a lot of adversity that was mostly out of my control. I learned that you get what you pay for! I’m disappointed that the race director did not make the time cut-offs equal for all participants and I’m very disappointed in the lack of care for the athletes at this race. Many athletes were in the med tent at the end of the race…likely because they pushed too hard in the heat and wind to make time cut-offs, but not having ice and rags/sponges at the aid stations on the run definitely didn’t help. I wasn’t the only one who was disappointed. The timing company was separate from the racing company. They were very angry with how things were handled as well. All athletes who ran the 10K were disqualified…whether they were forced to only run the 10K (because of the rule the race director implemented) or because they chose to. I ended up spending about 30 minutes helping the timing company figure out who had actually run the full 1/2 marathon in all of the age groups before the award ceremony, because the man in charge of the timing was VERY frustrated! If someone were to pay for my entry into this race in the future, I would turn it down. I want to support smaller, local races, but not at the expense of the athletes and their safety!

The heat index was 97F with sustained winds of 22-25 mph and gusts up to 35 mph. It was a rough day! Not what we’ve trained for, but we each set a new PR since we did a new distance…

Well, that’s a wrap! My adversity adventure or sh*t show…

How we make it work

When you and your spouse are both juggling full time jobs (40+ hour work weeks), Ironman athletes (who train 15-24 hours each week, depending on the time of year), enjoy spending time with family and friends, and still have a home life to balance and maintain, life can get hard…if you let it. Triathlete Magazine recently posted a great article on couples that train and race “together,” how it impacts their lives, and how they make it work. The irony is that the week before this article was published, the Iron Hippie and I were generating our own list of things we do each week to make our lives run more smoothly. Every couple has to find their own way and what works best for them, but these are some of the ways we make it work:

  1. Communication is key…We review our schedule daily for the next day, even though every Monday looks nearly the same as every other Monday, we take time to communicate what it will look like this week. What time will we be home? Are we working out together or separate? Who will be home at feeding time to feed the dogs? What leftovers are we having for dinner?
  2. Food preparation happens on the weekends…After our long workouts on Saturday and Sunday, we take the time to prepare food for the coming week, making sure to have plenty of leftovers so we don’t have to worry about preparing a meal after a long day of work and a tiring workout. We often freeze a lot of our meals and pull them out as we need them. Salads are one of our summertime favorites and super easy to make after an evening workout.
  3. Laundry, laundry and more laundry…With each of us producing mountains of laundry each week, it is critical that we stay on top of this. The best time saving hack we’ve found for laundry…drum roll…wash and dry laundry while we are on the trainer riding. During recovery sections of a workout, we can put the clothes in the drier and start a new load…now if we could just find a magic fairy to fold all of it and put it away…

    IMG_2644
    All the Coeur gear!!
  4. Post workout smoothie…The Vitamix is one of the BEST inventions and time savers that we have experienced!! In the morning we throw all the fruits and veggies into the Vitamix with some Pure Clean Beet Powder and Osmo Recovery Powder. This is the perfect way to refuel post workout and it is quick and easy to prepare and clean!
  5. Prepare for the coming day the night before…The Iron Hippie and I both set out our work clothes and workout clothes for the next day the night before. We also pack our lunches and all the bags that we will need the next day. Some days I get referred to as the “bag lady” as I’m walking into or out of school by students and colleagues. It is part of what comes with this lifestyle 😉
  6. Piggy backing workouts…When time permits, it is great to complete workouts one after the other. This often occurs for us more on the weekends than during the weekdays, but it allows us to take fewer showers, saves us time, and often produces less laundry…BONUS!!
  7. Shop once a week for groceries and goods…Typically after our long brick on Saturdays, we run errands around town purchasing groceries and any additional supplies we will need for the coming week(s). If we go to the grocery store during the week, it is usually immediately after a workout when our stomachs are ravenous. This is NEVER good for our pocket book or diet! This isn't even all of it!!
  8. Riding the trainer…Living in central Iowa, we spend all winter on the trainer, but even in the summer, we choose to ride on the trainer at least twice a week. It is safer since we are not on the roads with vehicles during prime times of work commuters. We don’t have to wait at stop lights, which saves time. We are in a controlled environment so we can compare our results from one workout to another. I personally love a good trainer workout! It allows me to get physically and mentally stronger on the bike by teaching me about focus, strength, and fortitude.
  9. Take workout gear to work with us…Sometimes we go straight from work to the gym for a workout, or ride our bikes from the school when the weather is nice. By packing up all of the gear we will need before work, we can experience a smooth transition to our workout without having to make the extra trip home for workout gear.
  10. Extra food is stashed everywhere…We keep extra food all over the place! We typically have Barnana bites, goldfish crackers, or Honey Stinger Chews in our swim bag, gym bag, desk drawer, car, yoga bag, on the table next to our trainers…you name it, we have probably stashed food there. Since we both workout between 15 and 24 hours a week (depending on how close race day is), we both burn through A LOT of calories! When I get hungry, there is a VERY short window before it turns hangry. Keeping food everywhere helps me prevent the hangry feeling as best as possible.
  11. We both share responsibilities…I am SUPER lucky to have a husband who can do it all (and is willing to)!! We both cook our meals, wash dishes, clean the house, do laundry, mow the lawn, shovel snow, tend to the dogs, take out the trash…there isn’t one task I can think of that we both don’t do. I’m truly blessed!!

How do you balance life and training/racing? What tricks or time saving hacks do you have to help keep you sane and on track?

Tri My Favorites

The following is a list of my favorites…most are triathlon related, but not all of them 🙂

  1. Orca Wetsuit…I love the flexibility in the armpits, that it sits lower around my neck and the buoyancy it provides me while in the water.The Iron Hippie, Allen and I getting ready to take the plunge into the cool, murky waters at Peterson Pits.
  2. TYR Nest Pro Goggles…I love how they sit on my eye sockets, remain fog free and leak free and that they come in clear (for cloudy days) as well as tinted (for those bright, sunny days).swim 1
  3. Mojo (Specialized Transition)…I love the way she rides, her fit is perfect for me and she understands me better than I understand myself sometimes. 🙂IMG_3813
  4. Terry Butterfly Saddle…This is the perfect fit for my girlie parts as I ride for long distances 😉  I’ve spent so much time on this saddle, that I have burned a hole in the side of it, so I just ordered a new one.  YAY for new saddles 🙂

    Screen shot 2014-07-09 at 8.10.22 AM
    image from terrybicycles.com
  5. Speedfill…I love having my water available to me at all times.  Even when it is really windy, I don’t have to take my hands off my bike to drink. 🙂            IMG_3869
  6. Bell Helmet…I love the ability to adjust the helmet to fit snuggly to my head, the protection it provides (which I hope I never have to take advantage of) and of course the fact that it matches Mojo 😉    IMG_3868
  7. Garmin 310XT…I love that I can use this device for cycling and running.  It keeps track of my distances, time, pace/speed, power, heart rate, elevation, cadence, etc.IMG_3497
  8. Tifosi Sunglasses…I love that these sunglasses protect my eyes from the suns rays, flying debris and the occasional harsh winds. IMG_3867
  9. Brooks PureFlow…I love that they make my feet happy and allow me to put a spring in my step.Who's up for some line running?  Tuesday I ran for 50 minutes around the track.
  10. Coeur Triathlon Kit…I love the seamless chamois in the shorts, the number of pockets in the shorts and top, the snug fit, the flattering style…what can I say?!?!?!  I love this kit so much that I now own the Chinese New Year and Chevron kits as well 😉  I also love what this company stands for…#heartandcourageIMG_3628
  11. HeadSweat Visor…I love the snug fit, the sweat absorption and the sun protection this visor provides.Tuesday morning we woke up to a BEAUTIFUL July morning.  It was 61 degrees at 5:15 am when we started our 8 mile run.  It is mornings like these that make me feel like I could run forever!!
  12. TYR Transition Bag…I love all of the compartments it has while providing me with enough space to store everything I could possibly need on race day into one confined location.IMG_0742
  13. Body Glide…I love that it helps prevent chafing in all of those unwanted areas. 🙂  IMG_3864
  14. Hoo Ha Ride Glide…I love the protection it provides when I am going to be in the saddle for a while.  I even know a few men who prefer to use this chamois cream over others out on the market.  So while it was designed for women, everyone can benefit from it!!IMG_3184
  15. Osmo Nutrition…I love the flavors, the simplicity of the product, and the women specific formula.  After all, #womenarenotsmallmenIMG_3798
  16. Honey Stinger Chews…I love the flavor of the Pink Lemonade and the quick burst of energy I feel shortly after consuming them.IMG_3870
  17. Bonk Breaker Bars…I love the Peanut Butter & Banana flavor the most.  They provide me with the fuel and energy I need to complete long workouts while training for Ironman Wisconsin.

    Photo courtesy of Bonk Breaker
    Photo courtesy of Bonk Breaker
  18. CEP compression socks…I love the snug feeling they provide my feet and calves.IMG_1521
  19. Road ID Bracelet…I love that I can wear my Road ID bracelet 24/7 and if I were to get in an accident, first responders would have all of my necessary information, including blood type, allergies, contact information, etc.IMG_3280
  20. Chaco Flips…After a workout, my feet crave the open air.  I love the breathability my Chacos provide while being durable and lasting forever.      IMG_3865
  21. Coeur compression tights…I love the tight squeeze that these tights provide my tired (and sometimes sore) legs and glutes.IMG_3820
  22. Karma Kombucha…I LOVE MY BOOCH!!  Karma is by far THE BEST Kombucha on the market!!  The flavors are AMAZING…Peach and Enchantment (summer and winter seasonal flavors) are two of my favorites 🙂

    Photo courtesy of Karma Kombucha a Conscious Minds Product
    Photo courtesy of Karma Kombucha a Conscious Minds Product
  23. Foam Roller and Stick…I love my massage tools to help release tension from my tight muscles after completing tough workouts.  Sometimes they provide me with a little pain, but I know they are doing their job to release tension from my tired (and sometimes sore) muscles.IMG_3183
  24. PowerTap…I love the power data I am able to obtain and use to help me become a stronger and faster cyclist. IMG_3036
  25. Justin’s Maple Almond Butter…I love putting a heaping spoonful of this into my cream of rice cereal in the mornings for breakfast…YUMMY!! 🙂     IMG_3871

I am not sponsored by any of these products, and do not receive compensation for promoting them.  These are truly my favorites 🙂

What are some of your favorites?

Nutrition Part 1 – Osmo Review

As you may recall, I had nutrition troubles at IRONMAN Wisconsin 2011.  These troubles have lead me to practice a variety of different nutrition options.

I am thankful that Erin has referred me to Osmo Nutrition.  I decided to try Osmo for Women after doing some research, reading some reviews from other athletes and asking a friend/nutritionist his valued opinion.

The longest workout I’ve had so far this year was Saturday’s 4 hour brick…20 min run, 3:10 bike, 30 min run.  Osmo nutrition has been my go to for hydration during my bike and run workouts since late February.  When I have long or taxing workouts, I use the preload before my workout (both the night before and the morning of) and the active hydration during the workout.  I have not used the recovery formula due to the caffeine…my body is SUPER sensitive to caffeine and doesn’t respond well to it.

During Saturday’s 4 hour brick workout, I noticed the following:

  • It was 84F and humid during the last run portion.
  • It was mostly sunny for the duration of the workout.
  • There were strong winds from the SSW at 20+ mph.
  • While on the bike, I consumed 4 bottles of water, 1 bottle of Osmo Active Hydration (3 scoops), 2 Kind granola bars, 2 packages of Honey Stinger Chews.
  • On the 2nd run, I got very hungry.  Next time I need to take in calories closer to the run while on the bike.
  • I sweat out a LOT of salt…my blue Coeur tri kit was covered in white salt when I was done working out.
  • I was not dehydrated or hyponatremic at any point during the workout or post workout. 🙂

So far, I am a HUGE fan of Osmo Nutrition and I am definitely looking forward to testing it during races and longer workouts as this summer progresses…the heat and humidity in central Iowa will be the true test 😉

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Week #14 Totals:

Swim:  4500 yards

Bike:  79.1 miles

Run:  34.5 miles

Strength Training:  2 hours & 15 minutes

Hot Yoga:  1 hour

Week #14 in the green 😉