Wednesday, August 14, 2013

2013 Barb's Half Ironman Race Review

1.2 Mile Swim, 56 Mile Bike, 13.1 Mile Run

Barb's Race is the only "women's only" triathlon. It was developed as a fundraising event to be held simultaneously with the Full Vineman. Over $700,000 has been raised for cancer related organizations since the inception of Barb's Race in 2001.

** Barb's Story**
Barb Recchia volunteered for the Vineman events every year since they began in 1990. Then Barb was diagnosed with cancer in 1999.
Barb’s positive outlook and resolve in beating cancer made a big impression. It became clear that an event in her honor to raise funds for helping people like her beat cancer. The next year, Barb’s Race was started.

When I began the race, I thought to myself.. " I'm Never doing this again".. but once I finished, I said to myself.. "I can do better." Since this was my first time participating, I didn't know which hotel to stay at, so I trusted the hotel sponsors on the Vineman website. Lesson time, (if there is a next time), I do not recommend this. The hotel was SO FAR from the start or finish. It would have been better to have stayed at a hotel toward the beginning or end. The hotel we were at was in the middle, neither here nor there.. It took 20 mins to get to either the start or finish. Next time, I know better.

The Swim: 
We started the swim in the Russian River. I really liked how the corral started in the water, rather than making you 'run' into the water. 

The water was the perfect temperature, not too hot, not too cold. The water level is pretty shallow, at most 5 or 6 feet deep. Several parts of the swim course, the water is so shallow you can't even stroke cus you hit the ground, so many actually "walk". I really appreciated that the race directors carpeted the swim exit. Its just awful to swim 1.2 miles then have to stagger your way back to your bike over sharp rocks, etc. I'm very thankful for the carpet they laid down. They also had a crew that helped you take off your wetsuit. 


There were 2 transitions locations. At first it seems kinda weird, but it makes sense. You have to put all your run stuff at T2 the day before, which is at the finish line. Then you put all your swim and bike stuff at T1 (near the start line) the morning of. You're given a bag with your number on it, where you put all your swim stuff, and ride off. The race people will gather all the bags of swim stuff and take it to the finish line where you can pick it up. OR if you have a "cheerleader" with you, you can give your bag to them before you 'Bike Out' so then they have your stuff. Then the race people collapse and take down T1, and in an hour, its as if we were never there. 

Bike Out: 

T1 was muddy. I had so much mud in my bike clips I couldn't clip in. The start of the 'Bike Out' is a short but steep uphill. I walked my bike up the path before I clipped in, no point in wasting extra energy on that. 

The course was beautiful, passing through many many vineyards. I installed the hydration system Speedfil which is amazing! Around mile 30 I started to run low on my liquids, I grabbed a gatorade bottle from next the bike station, stuck bottle upside-down into the speedfil opening. In seconds, the gatorade bottle was emptied into my Speedfil container, all without missing a cadence beat.

By mile 40, I was already over biking. I hated seeing more vineyards. I thought to myself, "I never want to ride this long ever again!" On the Barb's website, they said there was a 'big hill' at mile 45. Around mile 41, I thought I conquired the rumored 'big hill'. It was tough, but I powered through it feeling really proud of myself. 
I passed through more rollling hills, I look down at my bike computer, mile 45. I look forward and I'm approaching a monster of a hill. I couldn't even see where it ended. I plow forward, barely going 5 mphs. At many points I even thought of getting off my bike and walking up the hill. Close to giving up, a well placed volunteer at an upcoming curve cheering "You're almost there, just around this turn!" Believing her, I said her words over in my head.. "arouond the turn.. around the turn".. I made it past her, smiled, but when I looked... there was ANOTHER TURN! She LIED! And I was MAD! (but it was a well-placed lie) Wanting to give up again, some well placed children volunteers where cheering us on, "Just around the turn!" 
I would not let myself fail infront of children, what kind of example would I be? So I pushed on.. There were a few more turns (kickback style) until we finally finally finally reached the peak. 
It was the most blessed downhill I've ever experienced. The rest were rolling  hills heading to T2. 

Strangely, the last 3 miles were the longest and most painful. I could see the school, I could hear the crowds.. but I WASNT there yet! I pedaled fasters.. looked at my meter only .3 miles had passed. ARGH!!! 
Eventually, painfully, and thankfully, I made it to T2. 

The run transition was great. I placed a cooler full of ice at my area, so my drinks were cold and it felt so good to splash ice all overmyself. I soaked my hat in the melted ice before I ran off. I have really long transitions, which I know I should be more hasty, but I just swam 1.2 miles, and biked 56 miles, and conquered the Monster Hill of Hell.. I'm sitting down, and I'm going to pamper myself. LOL 
I washed my feet, changed my socks, drank my liquids. 

Run Out: 

The run was two 3.3 mile loops. You run out to 3.3 miles, turn around and go back to the start, 6.6 miles, then back out again, 9.9 miles, then back to the finish, 13.1 miles. They had the most amazing water stations. Water, gatorades, fruits, cookies, chips, and the most amazing peaches and nectarines sliced up. I called each station, the "Peach stop". My only driving force at that moment was knowing there were peaches at the next mile. 

Crossing the finish line was a relief. It was over, I could sit and lie down. 

The funniest part, was when we got back to our hotel, I took one step up the stairs and froze. My legs would not work. I almost had to be carried back to the room. It took me a day to regain the use of my legs.

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