Friday, March 26, 2010

2010 Gator Half Iron Tri

Thanks, everyone, for the congrats, ankle condolences and baby shower wishes, too, LOL. I'm happy to report that the ankle is MUCH better now, almost normal looking. It's still weak, though, so I'll be taking things slow. No races until May, which is good.

As for being a superhero? No, not me. I just did what I've always done when I fell down: I got back up and found a way to get home. But more on that in a bit.

First of all, I chose the Gator Half Iron Tri because it was a small race with a flat course and hopefully cool weather being held in March. Last year, my training/racing was all about hills and heat and, to be honest, I was sick of it. I just wanted to see how fast I could go in flat, cool conditions for a change!

I was joined by three fellow BPY Tri Club members. Two of us on the left were half iron vets while the other two were newbs. The other woman, Jacklynn, is the coach of the club, however, and a very good swimmer, spinning instructor and a strong runner so I knew she'd do well even if it was her first half iron. We also had a few other tri club members and family members come out to spectate and support us adding to the fun.

With only ~80 participants, the race had just one "mass" swim start and it was actually my first in-water start (as opposed to a beach start). We lucked out with 68 deg water temps so I went with my sleeveless wetsuit. How that happened, I don't know but I'll take 68 over 58 any day!!

The swim course was two rectangular loops plus some and I swam fairly hard from the get-go, another first. Still, by the second lap I was swimming mostly by myself, as usual. Man, these folks are fast! (or is it I'm still slow?)

Whatev. Except for my wetsuit pull-string wrapping itself around my right arm and my swim cap creeping off my head, I was very pleased with my swim. I was only a few minutes behind many others and with a strong bike would be seeing them again soon.

1.2 mi Swim: 39:07 (1:51/100 yds), a 5-min PR!

In transition, I had a great spot on the end right next to the bike exit as I was one of the first to rack my bike the day before. Gotta love small races where you can rack your bike wherever you want, first come first serve.

T1: 2:25, one of my fastest T1 times but mainly because the transition area was very close to the water.

The bike course was FABULOUS, one big oblong-shaped flat loop. We had a 10-12 mph headwind starting out (notice flags in swim exit photo) that grew to 15-20 mph as a front moved in. But having ridden in much stronger winds the weekend before, it didn't seem bad to me. I just stayed down in aero and kept telling myself the wind is my friend, the wind is my friend ... I passed the two male tri club teammates by mile 20 or so and gave both guys a cheer. Probably never fun being chicked but at least if it's by a teammate or someone friendly maybe it's not as bad?

Mile 29 was where the course turned so we'd have the wind mostly at our backs. I'd averaged 18.6 mph up to that point and now it was time for the fun to begin!

WEEEE!!! I never saw my Garmin go below 20 mph again. Around mile 40, I finally caught up to Coach Jacklynn, who'd come out of the water 8 minutes ahead of me (she will no doubt be much harder to catch in the future). By then it was raining but the roads were straight and I saw no reason to slow down. In fact, I decided to speed UP a little knowing the weather would be getting worse soon. The last 5 miles or so, Dave found me on his bike and a couple tri club members drove by in a car cheering, which pumped me up even more. Thanks guys!!!

The hardest part of the bike course to me was this little maybe 50-yd dirt path between the bike mount/dismount point and the transition area. The rest I give 10 stars on a scale of 1 to 5.

56 mi Bike: 2:45:54 (20.3 mph), not a PR but only 16 sec slower than my fastest half iron bike split which was on a course that was actually 1.5-2 miles shorter.

T2: 1:15, fairly fast but the porta pottys outside of the transition area would be my next stop.

With that taken care of, I was now ready to blast the 2-lap run. The clouds, rain and wind kept temps well below 70 making this the coolest weather I've ever raced a half iron in by far and I felt very strong coming off the bike. I didn't start my Garmin until I got out of the porta-potty but ran my first mile at a 7:52 pace, which felt quite manageable. Hmm, a 1:45 half marathon might be doable?

I saw a couple of paper Gatorade cups on the ground from an aid station I'd just passed. No biggie to step on one, right?

WRONG!!! The next thing I knew I was down on the ground with a familiar sharp pain in my left ankle. ?#@$&%!!! Was there a rock or something in the cup?

I couldn't believe it. The race had gone superbly up to that point and now this stupid misstep. Fortunately, there was no one else around at the time as I HATE falling in front of people (the aid station was unmanned because they were short on volunteers). I got myself back up on my right foot and wiped off the dirt and asphalt pieces embedded in my right palm. My right knee was bleeding from a scrape but nothing major. Then I tried to put some weight on my left foot. OWWIE!!!!!!!

Crap! It was very painful so I was worried at first that I couldn't continue but then I remembered my last ankle incident at the Little Rock Marathon three years ago. Yes, unfortunately it's happened before ... There I'd rolled the same left ankle on, ironically, a little rock at mile 8. It was also very painful to walk on at first but I kept trying not wanting to have to come back and run another Arkansas marathon. At that race, the pain subsided some as I kept moving and eventually I was able to jog/run pretty well and go on to finish -- 16 more miles! Then my ankle swelled up like a melon and hurt like hell afterward ...

So I tried the same here. Sure enough, my initial very painful limp became just a painful limp, then a slow jog with a sorta painful limp, then a slow jog with a less painful limp and eventually a jog/run with tolerable pain on every left footstep. Adrenaline is a powerful painkiller! After a while, probably few could even tell I'd hurt my ankle but I knew. It felt weak and wobbly and I had to be super careful to make sure I didn't roll it again or it'd probably be the end of my race.

After a turnaround on an out-and-back section, I saw Coach Jacklynn coming towards me meaning she was a few minutes behind me. I told her what happened and she gave me some words of encouragement and a high five, which I very much needed. Then I saw a couple other tri club folks cheering for me on a corner which also helped raise my spirits. Then hubby Dave was at mile 3 helping out at an aid station (have I mentioned they were short on volunteers?). Having seen me run countless times, he knew something was not right.

Dave: What's wrong?
Me: I'm going to need ace bandages and ice when I finish.
Dave: What happened?
Me: I rolled my ankle back at mile 1.

Dave knew better than to ask me too many questions or try to baby me when I'm hurting. The next mile I felt my ankle stiffening up and was forced to slow down some more. Grrrrr ... I went through the 5 stages of grief and accepted the fact that Coach Jacklynn would probably be passing me soon but I'd try to hold off any other females if I could ;-)

Meanwhile, Dave hopped on his bike and began working at the next aid station for a bit while waiting for me to go by. He amazed some folks by appearing to be everywhere on the course handing out cups and food, snapping pictures, and cheering for folks, and not just me. What a guy!

Two of my tri club teammates.

As I came back to the transition area to begin lap 2, another tri club member who'd come to support us came up alongside and ran a few steps with me. I tried to tell him how I'd rolled my ankle, had probably blown my PR, blah-blah, wah-wah, but he wouldn't hear of it. He just kept telling me how awesome I was doing and to keep going and finish strong. Dang it, why won't he listen?

Then I realized that Coach Jacklynn hadn't passed me yet so perhaps I was doing OK. Maybe I still have a shot at a PR? No, Silly, your goal is to just finish this race. Focus on the ground and make sure you don't fall again!

The second lap required even more caution and concentration with more people on the run course and the thunderstorm fully upon us. We were running in squall-like conditions at times and everyone was encouraging each other while doing their best to avoid huge puddles, cars and each other. Jokes were being made about the rain coming down so hard that you wouldn't need a shower after the race and the rivers of water on the roads making you wish you had a canoe to paddle your way to the finish. And, the volunteers, OMG, what few there were, were still out there holding onto their umbrellas and raincoats while also trying to do their job in the driving rain and wind. Crazy!!

They actually made me think that running was easier, even with a sprained ankle. At least I was moving and staying warm and would be done soon. That is, provided I was able to stay upright on that same little stretch of dirt to the transition area that also led to the finish line, my least favorite part of the run course as well. Here's a little video clip of me finishing (TRT 14 sec):

So, as you can see, no heroics. I just kept moving which kept most of the swelling and pain at bay. The "No Way" comment was because I couldn't believe my ears when I heard my finish time (the overhead clock was knocked out by the rain but there was someone calling it out). I hadn't looked at my Garmin since my fall and had no clue what pace I was running or what my race time was. It was a total shock!

Final race time: 5:12:22, 1/3 F45-49, 7/22 Females
12* mi Run: 1:43:42 (8:38 pace).
*Again, the course was short.

Then I headed straight to the EMT to get my ankle wrapped up and iced as I knew it was going to balloon up as soon as I stopped. Coach Jacklynn finished a few minutes later with big smile on her face.

Oh, as for gators? The only gator I saw at this race were chunks in a rice dish they served at the finish. Tasted like chicken :-)

Thanks to Dave and my tri club buddies for a great day of racing, smiles and photos. And thank YOU, Dear Readers, for your patience!


KC (my 140 point 6 mile journey) said...

awesome race report! you are a warrior princess for finishing incredibly strong under all the circumstances. I'm doing the FIT oly distance on may you know if it is in the same place?

Jen said...

OOOO... you are a super hero! Great job and great report. I think I would have given up!!!

DaveP said...

I was working the aid stations because it was too wet and cold just to stand around and wait for Shirley. She didn't say that she looked so much stronger the 2nd loop of the run. She was her normal chipper self.

ShirleyPerly said...

Well, I don't know about "normal chipper self" but I was feeling better having made it halfway through and the weather was doing a good job of distracting me from the pain.

Lisa said...

Wow. What a great story. Congrats again.

Now rest and recover so that ankle can heal up!

X-Country2 said...

Just reading that made me long for a hot shower and a nap. You are a ROCK STAR!

Marathon Maritza said...

Oh man reading this, I felt like I was watching a MOVIE!!! So edge of your seat and exciting, complete with the drama in the middle, the triumph of the heroine and the happy ending!

Congratulations on an awesome, and HELLUVA gutsy race! I've said it once and I'll say it a thousand times, you are a freakin' rockstar and my hero! Take care of that ankle, chica!

Lesser is More said...

That's a pretty amazing race report - headwinds, ankle twists, torrential downpours, and eating gator!?!? Pretty much sounds like a super hero to me ;)

jen said...

Congratulations!! What a race. You were SO strong in the swim, bike, and especially on that run after falling!! It reminds me of when I fell at IMAZ- it was embarrassing but it happens to the best of us. :p

Rest up and heal that leg, and soak in the success of your race! Congrats again. :)

Marlene said...

You are the definition of a TROOPER! Congratulations... you exercised some serious strength and will!

Great photos - you actually make this look fun. :)

Kristi said...

Way to hang in there with the ankle, and glad it's getting back to normal. Great race report and congrats on the 1st place! Awesome!

Missy said...

Way to go sista! You rocked out, ankle and all. What a crazy damn day out there. Take care of it.

Janyne Kizer said...

Congratulations on the race and thanks for another great race report.

Take care of yourself. I hope that your ankle gets better soon.

aron said...

WOW seriously - you pulled off a FAST time with that ankle!!! you are amazinggggggg.

love your reports too cause of ALL the pics!!! so fun :)

Regina said...

You know, when I was reading your report I forgot about your ankle and was thinking, "she is going to kill this race!" Then you mentioned the 'incident' and still you killed this race. Maybe you aren't a superhero, but you are my hero! Way to tough it out. And gator for your reward, mmmmmm.

BTW, the comment you left about seeing bike shorts over tri shorts, brilliant. So the 'Perly" must stand for "pearls" in pearls of wisdom?

Sherry said...

Terrific race report... and totally worth the wait. ;) I thought about you and all of that rain... but goodness, you made it through that AND that ankle. You are a trooper, Shirley! I guess in this sport, one has to be. Big congrats again on an awesome job and on your new PR!

By the way, is that Jacklynn Stroz? I raced against her a few times in sprints. We have been neck-in-neck during the swim & bike, but she's a wee bit faster than me on the run (ok, a lot faster). I finally got a chance to chat with her last May after a race. What a super nice girl! You are lucky to have her as your club coach. Please tell her that, Sherry, the girl who came up to her at the Danskin Awards Ceremony said, 'hello!' :o)

Meg said...

Ok, just a few observations.
1. You are always smiling, very sincerely too.
2. You and your husband are totally in sync.
3. It looked like you were running in ankle-deep water.
4. You slipped and fell on a paper cup? Fell and kept running. Tough girl.
Thanks for the fun report, now please rest the ankle and your body!

Midwestern Dot said...

just a huge congrats on the race, the pr and the podium finish! well deserved, i'm not sure if i would have kept running!

Jenny said...

You never cease to amaze me, ShirleyPerly!!
Congratulations on your race. No rest up and heal up!

Jenny said...

I meant NOW rest up and heal up!!!

Kevin said...

You are a freackin rockstar. To pull off a 1:43 half with a sprained ankle. Way to go

lindsay said...

wait a sec... MILE ONE?!?!? you are nuts! (and awesome!) :) and a 1:43, with a sprained ankle?!? hellooo that is just crazy. i know i can hardly walk 10 feet with one, let alone truck it out for 12+ miles. wow, just wow!

things were going so great - hopefully you will get another shot to see how well you can pr soon withOUT any dangerous cups on the ground. big congrats for sticking it out and finishing. heck a 1:43 is not "just" finishing anyway!

lindsay said...

oh yeah, was it a boy or a girl? ;)

lizzie lee said...

Well, well... awesome as usual. I enjoy so much your stories, they make me feel so light. Life is good my friend. Life is good....As my hubby says the only thing who makes you or breaks you is yourself. That's our message. We keep going!!! Well done.

Anonymous said...


Awesome job out there in the tough weather we had.

David (we talked a bit day before the race)

Runner Leana said...

Wow, Shirley, what a race! You really persevered and that is so impresive! Congratulations on such a strong effort. Hope your ankle is healing up okay!!

EndorphinBuzz said...

Amazing stuff getting back out there and hammering it out despite the injury. Congrats!

You make it sound like a fun race despite the weather and ankle troubles.

Formulaic said...

Amazing Race and amazing RR. Way to go out there.

Rest up and get that ankle strong again.

Awesome swag too!

Irish Blue said...

OMG you never cease to amaze me lady! What a trooper and you look awesome. Congrats on a great finish under a less than ideal situation.

Rainmaker said...

Dang, very fast times - especially the bike - quite nice!


The Alien said...

What do you mean no heroics??? Running a 1:45 half marathon with an ankle like that??? Most people would had given up, that was amazing shirley!! I mean, SuperShirley, or is it Wonder Shirley? :p
Congrats, and I hope your ankle is doing better by now.

RoadBunner said...

Sorry I haven't stopped by in so long! First off, so sorry to hear about the ankle. I, too, suffer from repeated rolled ankles (always the same stupid one, too!). It sucks. Especially because it seems to happen out of nowhere :( It sounds like you sucked it up and went on to finish REALLY strong!

The photos of you on the bike -- you look like a ROCKSTAR!

Glad the ankle is feeling better. I once trained for and ran a marathon with an ankle brace on because I was psychologically so afraid of rolling it again!

Caratunk Girl said...

Great race report and way to tough out those last miles on the run with the sprained ankle (at mile 1 no less!) OH and for the record, I HATE it when my swim cap climbs up my head...why do they do that? Congrats on the great finish!

Petraruns said...

I can't believe it! WHat a fantastic, engaging and heroic race report! Well done girlfriend - way to go on an injury and bad weather. I'm so impressed - I mean running on a twisted ankle is probably NOT the smartest thing to do, but it sounds like a calculated risk on your part so well done. Now rest up!

Black Knight said...

Congrats on the race. Great report and beautiful pics. You look strong and fast. Have a good Easter.

Lily on the Road said...

I LOVE this race report and I truly agree with your Precurser!

Just catching up with all you've been doing. Holy Schnitzzzz girl, you are amazing!

get out... word verification is "rockin"

that's YOU, you're rockin for SURE!!

Jennifer Harrison said...

WAY to stay tough! Geez!!!!! Congrats on your race! :))

Sunshine said...

Congratulations and good recovery.
Thanks for your usual interesting report and great pictures.

Melissa said...

Great race report! A) Love the kit B) you look really strong C) Love the award!! How original.. D) Congrats on your time and place!!