The Fat Man is a tough course - a 2 loop run which involves a long downhill followed by an equally long uphill, a bike course that starts with a few rollers before hitting a LONG climb out past Bandelier National Monument and parts of Los Alamos National Laboratory, and then a 1 loop run on the same run course as the first run.
|Fat Man Run Course|
|Fat Man Bike course|
Scott was busy with race organizing duties on Saturday, but I was able to relax at home except for a few small things that I needed to get done around the house. Packet pick up was from 5:00-7:00 at our wonderful Los Alamos Cooperative Market, so I headed out to packet pick up around 6:00 and then stopped over to say goodbye to some friends who are moving to Florida this week. I was home with more than enough time to eat dinner, get my gear together, and get to bed a little early.
I woke up Sunday morning feeling great and ready to race. I got to the race venue around 7:00, and even though all of the prime transition spots were taken, I still squeezed into a pretty good spot right near the bike in/bike out part of the transition. I quickly set up my gear (the amount of gear for just running and biking always seems significantly less than what is required for swim-bike-run!). The last thing I needed to do was make sure that my ponytail was low enough that I could easily get my aero helmet on during transition. I pulled my aero helmet down onto my head and seconds later heard (and felt) and loud SNAP. I took off my helmet and saw that the plastic "spider lock" that tightens the helmet had completely snapped, rendering it totally useless.
|Taken post-race - there is supposed to be another plastic piece coming out of the top!|
|That little plastic piece is SUPPOSED to bridge across the red strap ...|
The start went off without a hitch - the Little Boy racers go off a half hour before the Fat Man racers, so that most of them are off of the run course and out on the bike course before the Fat Man racers begin. I took the first 2 miles of the first run a little easy - despite warming up my legs still needed to get moving, and the hassle of dealing with the helmet left me a little frazzled. The first part of the run course is good for warming up since it's downhill, and once I hit the uphill I was able to hold about the same pace and pass a fair number of people. Near the end of the first run, I caught up to two other women and we ran about the last mile together - we definitely helped push each other to the transition! I ended up entering transition in 5th, with the 2nd place woman leaving transition as I was entering, and the 3rd and 4th place women entering right in front of me. First run time: 47:20, 7:38 pace. A little slower than I wanted, but overall not too bad.
Once I got out on the bike course, I started into my nutrition and settled in. The rollers at the beginning of the course help you keep your speed up, but after making the bombing descent down into Ancho Canyon, there's a 6+ mile climb up to the turnaround point. It's a long, slow slog that really takes a toll on your legs.
This was my first race with my power meter, and the goal was to stay in my 'Olympic' wattage range, which is about 156-163 watts. Biking with power is all about steady pressure on the pedals, which is tough to learn when you're used to mashing up all the hills around here! I tried not to obsess over power, but I also made sure to check on my power numbers every so often during the climb. On really long climbs, I tend to get kind of complacent and bored, so I don't work very hard. And on the flattish uphill sections, I noticed that my power would drop significantly - by shifting gears and pushing a little harder, I was able to maintain a higher power output and get a little further with each pedal stroke. Flats aren't for recovering, they're for pushing the same amount of watts but going faster!
After reaching the bike turnaround, it's a 6+ mile downhill bomb back to the bottom of Ancho Canyon. There was a slightly headwind, so the descent was a little slower than usual, but I was able to stay down in my aero bars for almost the whole descent, despite rough road conditions. The wind kept me pedaling most of the time, which was a good thing - keeping your legs stationary for 6+ miles after all that climbing is just asking for cramping.
I came into T2 in 3rd place - I managed to get out of T1 faster than one woman, which put me in 4th, and I passed two women on the bike, but was passed by another woman which put me in 3rd. Unfortunately there are no T2 times - I was curious, since I had the fastest T1 time out of the women, and was hoping to make T2 just as fast. Bike time: 1:32:12. 4th fastest time for the women.
The second run was brutal. It starts with a slight downhill, which makes you THINK that your legs feel good, until you hit the flat and realize just how hard it's going to be. The second run was all about staying strong mentally - I just kept thinking that the winner is the person who is willing to accept the pain, and I wasn't scared of it! I managed to pass two people on the run (I even got a "Whoa!" out of one guy), which wasn't too bad, considering all of the racers were pretty spread out at that point. Second run time: 28:02, 9:03 pace. REALLY slow for me, but it was still the 3rd fastest run time for women, so that's a good testament to how hot (and miserable) it was on the course by that time.
|Accepting my award - $50 and a wine glass filled with Gin-Gins!|
|Top 3 - Amy Regan (on the right) is a TriSports Champion Team Member, so we were both rocking the TriSports gear!|
|All of the racing women - only 8 of us!|