This past Sunday I took on the Rev3 Quassy Half. As I mentioned I didn't think that this was going to be a race where Coach P thought I should push it and I was right. But I didn't have the reasoning behind this plan figured out as much as I thought I had! On Friday I taught my spin class and got on the phone with Coach P to determine my plan. He said the plan was to stay right above the top of Zone 1 for the bike and then 10 beats above my bike average for the run.
I knew the course was hilly and so I wanted to pick his brain for a strategy for the hills, so I didn't feel wasted after the bike. We discussed why I was feeling so inefficient on the bike and then I got my orders. I was to drop to my lowest gear and push the highest cadence I could get to 90 on all large hills. And that was when he informed me he was looking at the elevation charts and basically the whole ride was hilly, with the major climb begin from miles 20-30. Yup you read that right 10 miles of climbing! Seriously!!!???
So then I started thinking. if I was going to climb that much on the bike how was I not going to bonk on the run. And then he hit me with some more information. The run was actually just a hard if not harder than the bike! The run had a nice 1.5 mile hill at mile 4 and from then on would be just rolling hills all the way to 13.2. I got off the phone basically shitting my pants and headed home to check out the elevation charts. Turns out he wasn't lying.
On Saturday we got up and started carbo loading. We made a quick stop at the wedding invite store and then hit the road to Quassy, me, Nick and the pooch. We got there and headed to check-in and dropped off my bike. At this point I was starting to get nervous so we decided to drive the bike course. Well it was no joke, but I was here, nothing I could do besides suck it up!
Sunday we got to the start and I was feeling ok. I figured I would just follow Coach P's plan and hope all worked out for the best. At 7:30 we hit the water. It was a lake swim, they yelled go and it was on! The swim really wasn't that bad, it was the sighting that was hard. I came in at 36:37, 19th out of 77. I took off out of the water trying to ignore the feeling of impending doom.
Again T1 was a little slow 3:20, now it included a run up the beach but I think the main thing is my new gloves, they are not stretched out enough and it takes time to put them on. But I digress, I got dressed grabbed my bike and headed out.
Now the funny thing about the ride was that I followed my prescribed HR the entire time, which is new for me, and it worked! In the beginning I was getting a little upset, I kept getting passed by people. But once I hit that 10 mile hill, I manged to catch up with most of them and I was fresh for the climb, so at that moment I was then able to pass them. All in all it was a hilly bike course. I feel like were were climbing over 75% of the time, but I didn't feel too awful so I started looking forward to the run. I came into T2 at 3:38:31. For sure, not my fastest but way better than I could have imagined I would have done on this course.
T2 went a little quicker (1:56) and before I knew it, it was back on the road. And I felt great! I took off on the run and pulled a 7:57 for the first mile. I noticed my HR climb a bit and I had to tame myself and make sure I continued to follow the rules. The first 4 miles were great. I was moving quick and I felt good. Then I turned onto a dirt/gravel road and saw the huge climb ahead of me. All I could think was HOLY SHIT!! I started the climb and was watching my HR. Once I hit 20 beats above where I was supposed to be I made the executive decision to walk. I knew I couldn't keep that kind of HR up for another 9 miles. And that would be the theme for the next 9 miles.
It was crazy, all these hills!! Every time you thought you were going to get a break, you would turn the corner and see another one. By mile 6 or 7 I began to feel like I was going to puke, I would start a climb, my HR would soar and then I would want to vomit. So I knew I needed to watch out. Luckily everyone was walking so I didn't feel so bad. I managed to buddy up with a guy who was my pace and feeling the same way. And thank god for him! We pushed each other through a walk/run for the next 6 miles. When we turned the last corner and saw the last huge climb all we could do was laugh and say "this may be the only half where most people end up having to walk across the finish line". Thankfully it flattened out when we hit the final half mile. We headed to the finish celebrated the game we had just won against our brains and bodies and called it a day. (2:07:17 not good but again not bad for the course)
I can honestly say that was one of the hardest races I have ever done. After the bike I knew I wasn't going to PR, then it became all about finishing. A lot of people dropped out after the bike and then more dropped during the run. I watched people flag down the sweeper bus and just give up in the middle of the run. So for me it was about finishing. And I did it! I can't say that I will ever go back to that race again, but you never know.
But now it has made me want to fit in 1 more Half this year. I feel like I need a normal course. I keep selected courses that are super challenging (without realizing it) and I end up not even getting the chance to "race", I just try to survive. So now I am looking for 1 more and a few sprints to add to the season. So much for only 4 races this season!
Now I am off to soak my legs! I am falling apart here!