Grandman Triathlon Race Report

Fore score and 7 years ago…

Ok, more like….

2 weeks ago we traveled to Fairhope, Alabama for our 1st race since the Memorial Herman 70.3.

Heading into this event, there were a couple a lil’ “issues” …

A big one, no surprise, was my knee/ITB injury. I hadn’t been logging any consistent running miles since Galveston.

The week prior to Grandman, I was finally able to run 3-4 miles, 3 times/wk, without pain.

NOT fast….

NOT without stopping for oxygen…

NOT without breaking for a side of the road stretch and pep talk…

I was merely able to DO IT.

Grandman was going to be a “test” of whether my leg could tolerate the stress of racing (and that word is used very loosely). NOLA 5150 was approaching and would be a smidge longer, so I really needed to know how I’d hold up on a shorter distance race before determining if I was indeed going to make the trip into New Orleans in late June.

I also wasn’t real sure how I would fare on the hilly Alabama course I signed up for back in January. And then there was my husband….

looking calm the day prior…10k was the length of the ENTIRE bridge (there and back)

2 weeks prior to Grandman, we went to Pensacola so he could participate in a 10K open water race/event. THATswim broke him. It chewed him up and spit him out like bad candy. It was a windy morning and the water was extremely choppy which led to him becoming horribly sea-sick.

He started throwing up  just before the 1 mile marker and it never stopped. Then came the cramps.

His forearms/shoulders started seizing and the physician part of his mind took over. He decided he really didn’t want to die trying to prove a point. It was there, at 3.5 miles, he climbed aboard a support boat. He was both mentally and physically beat up, not to mention a bit dehydrated.

All in all, he swam 3.5 horrid miles in 2 hours. I tried to console him with the fact that he knew he could manage the worst of the worst Ironman swims AND the fact that many did just as he did (and they weren’t ill either), but he was not interested in hearing it. He was pissed off at mother nature, his equilibrium, and himself.

As a result, he had lost his Joie de vivre. He hadn’t trained AT ALL since that fateful day and had no real desire to do so (still doesn’t, but that’s a WHOLE nother post). He was going to race Grandman, but I was a bit worried about how the day would end for him……mentally and physically.

The day before we drove from Pensacola to Fairhope so we could pick up our packets at the race site. I was warned this was a hilly course, but what I saw left me speechless. I only wish I had taken a picture.

Transition was going to be set up at the bottom of a valley with a 10-20% climb out (on both the ride and the run) into town, towards the highway, and out to the remainder of the course. The run I could wrap my mind around, but on the bike?? How was I going to get out of this hell hole?

The wind/whitecaps= flashbacks…

Oh and the bay was really choppy! THAT had my husband all stirred up, but all I could do was stare at that climb into town.

This is the stuff pre-race nightmares are made of ….

It’s a little over an hour from Pensacola to Fairhope so that meant a 3:30am wake-up…..that is just entirely too damn early to be getting up!!

On a side note, my brother and his family were driving in from Houston and WHEN I got up, bright and early at 3:30am, my mom, brother, and sister-in-law had yet to make it to bed!!!!

Party On!

So we get to Fairhope and the bay, while not calm, certainly wasn’t the churning toilet bowl it was the day before. The climb out of transition however, had not changed and I was suddenly overcome with nausea. It looked and I now felt much worse about things with my bike racked knowing I was REALLY going to have to do this….and SOON!

Reality Bites!

I double and triple checked my bike to be sure it was in the lowest gear possible and we headed to the water. Once there, I was fortunate enough to listen to everyone’s theory on how to climb out of transition, how THAT wasn’t near as bad as the climb out-of-town (they were correct!), and how the run out of transition was even worse (right again!)….

As we were lining up, I was seriously wondering WHY IN THE HELL I signed up for this crap.

Too late now!

SWIM -1/3 mile

This was the oddest swim I’ve ever done. It was a time trial start, but that wasn’t the issue.

The problem was they put the timing mats on the shore…ok fine….but didn’t count the distance from shore to the 1st buoy (or the last buoy to shore) in the race distance.

So while it was billed as 1/3 mile swim, the distance from timing mat to timing mat was actually 1/2 mile. Weird in my opinion, but doesn’t really effect the race results as a whole.

The swim itself was rather uneventful.

It was wavy so there was some thinking involved and that made it a bit more enjoyable. Sometimes breaststroke was a better option to tackle to waves and so I went with it. Swimming back in with the current was a real treat after fighting it on the way out.

I don’t care how far the swim distance, I never seem to be able to “push” as hard as I think I should. Definitely a goal for next weekends 5150.

TIME: 12:48 

T1

One of my objectives, for this race, was to work on transition times. I was disappointed in what I saw after the race, but I really FELT like I was moving swiftly. I had a long ass run from the water to the far side of transition where I was racked. I was on a mission….I had a mountain to climb!

Time: 2:51

BIKE -18 miles

I’m happy to report I made it OUT of transition and did so on my bike!

And the initial climb was NOTHING compared to what we met at the top of that hill….

See, it lulls you into security thinking its going to be a short quick attack and in reality its a long brutal offensive that goes on and on. I was looking for an oxygen tank by the time I found flat ground….there wasn’t one… and then there was another hill to climb.

This went on and on for the 1st 10 miles or so. WHO KNEW Alabama was so hilly. And big hills too….

The kind you see wayyyyy ahead and think, “Ho-ly Shit!”….or at least I do and did quite often on this day.

Around 10-11 miles in, it leveled out to a mix of gentle rollers and flats. Pretty soon we were making our way back DOWN into the valley of transition.

One thing I did differently this go round, is I finally re-mounted my bike computer  and it really helped me push when I needed to do so. I have found I need to take it off for day-to-day training rides otherwise I end up working myself harder than desired, but I definitely need it for racing day.

Another goal, for this race, was to really focus on riding harder during the bike leg, not saving my legs for the run, and I think I did so successfully. I slowed and chatted with a guy from La. for 3-4 miles and so I slowed down for a while, but…..

Whattaya gonna do??!!

TIME: 56:03 (19.3mph)

T2

My Garmin wasn’t doing its multi-sport thing, so I got a bit distracted. Yea’ there was the long run from bike dismount to my bike rack, but I spent a good minute fiddling with my watch…grrrrr

Time: 2:58

RUN -3.1 miles

What to say…

We had to climb that huge ass hill out of transition….AGAIN…and then climb through town.

FYI: I walked the hill as I was not willing to wear myself or my knee/ITB out so early in the game.

I was able to handle the climbs in and around town, but had to walk back DOWN that monster hill as my knee was having none of that stress. I also walked through the aid stations to conserve strength.

heading up the “hill”

My husband came in a few minutes prior so he was there cheering me to the finish.

We waited for a few of our other friends to come across as I assessed my knee and the mental status of my racing parter.

Everything and everyone seemed in order. PHEW!

As for my knee, it seemed the worse was over and for that I was so grateful. I honestly didn’t care WHAT my run split was….

Well, maybe I was just a little curious…

Time: 28:55 (9:20/mi)

Not a bad day all things considered.

  • Overall Time:  1:43:33
  • 10/21 40-44 AG  
  • Female Rank  42/165
  • Overall Rank  267/590

The rest of the week was spent enjoying a low pressure system which brought HUGE waves to Pensacola Beach!

And of course we got some riding in as well….. 😉

I’ve been home for about a week now and have been doing the vacation detox while also trying to build my run miles, ever so slightly, since NOLA 5150 is…..oh… about a week away!!

I have no idea what the day will bring, but the plan will be the same as it has been all season….

Do what my body will allow and simply enjoy the fact that I’m able to participate!

Y’all have a fabulous weekend AND….

Happy Father’s Day to all you great dad’s out there; showing your kids that living a fun, healthy, competitive lifestyle never has to stop!

Train Happy, My Friends!

8 thoughts on “Grandman Triathlon Race Report

  1. Loved the rundown on Grandman. So glad you made it out of the transition valley alive. Great pix too!

  2. Congrats!! You still kick ass on a itb knee!! I kind of like seeing those hills ahead of time, it gives me time to mentally prepare and pep talk myself into getting over it.. “it’s just a hill, get over it” HEHEHE 🙂
    That’s incredible what your husband did, 3.5 mile swim?!! Crazy, courageous, just awesome!

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