Wednesday, February 8, 2023

2022 recap part 1 (really a Waterman's Half race report)

ohhhh, hey guys!

Well, it's been (or hasn't been) since August that I've blogged, but surprisingly 2022 was my most blogged year (16 entries) since 2015 (17 entries). Oh yeah, there was definitely some blog revitalization going on the first half of the year, and I absolutely had full intentions of recapping my post-knee surgery return to racing on "Wongstar Wednesdays".

That fizzled out by August, but then I figured I would at least do race reports on my 2 races--Waterman's half ironman and JFK 50. And then, meh. But I'm still getting random spam comments on old entries as far back as 2016, just re-read my 2015 recap, and you know what? In 7 years, I'll appreciate having done a 2022 recap! Especially thanks to my fondness for the time travel genre--I'm currently loving Paper Girls on Amazon Prime and the new Quantum Leap reboot. (Am I biased that there are AAPI protagonists? Unapologetically, yes.) So I absolutely appreciated re-reading all about 2015, the year we moved, started new jobs, bought a house, got MARRIED, and so much more! I may never get back to my blogging heyday of the "aughts" or early 2010's, but that was before the sweet and easy micro-blogging tendencies of Instagram. In the meantime, I will still write these for my future self to enjoy.

You know, I had such high hopes for 2022. That first year postpartum (2021), I really just wanted to give myself time to not rush into things. I would still get soreness in my groin if I ran more than an hour (growing an almost 12-pounder will do that to you), so I didn't. 2022 would be my year! Until I blew my knee out. And I'm not going to use the phrase "blessing in disguise" because *barf*, but it did force me to back TF up and realize that I'm too old to just randomly bust out long epic workouts or races without properly building up for them.

I'm really proud of how I progressed from having knee surgery in mid-May to getting through a half Ironman 4.5 months later (early October), and then completing the JFK 50 just 6 months post-op. For a fairly rough timeline of how I got back into it--

End of June: cleared to bike outdoors. Started with a 1-hour easy ride (14.4 miles) and boosted it up to a few 3-hour (50+ mile) rides. I ended up with only 3 rides over 50 miles, 2 rides between 40 and 44 miles, and 2 rides in the 32-35 mile range.

Mid-July: cleared to start run/walks
Mid-August: cleared to try running without walk breaks (but still needed walk breaks)
End of August: actually able to run without walk breaks
Mid-September: longest run was just 9 miles holding sub-9 pace, which was so thrilling!

I started training 10 weeks out from the half ironman, and had a pretty solid 6 or so weeks until our household had a daycare germ battle for the last 3 weeks leading up to race day (ERGGG). That was so frustrating as I ended up missing some key final 50+ mile rides and definitely felt that lack of fitness on race day. Then there was a potential hurricane (Ian) coming through the area and the conditions were supposed to be blasting cold and wind. Several local athletes opted to defer but no sir, not me! This would be my only triathlon of the year, and I'd be damned if I was gonna miss it because of non-ideal weather.

The swim:
The water was somewhat choppy and apparently there were jellyfish but I didn't notice. I also didn't notice missing the swim exit (ERGGGGG) as it was a 2-loop swim going on at the same time as the Olympic distance (like 1.5 loops). Usually there's the inflatable air dancing man (like at car sales lots) at the swim exits of this race series but apparently it was too windy for him to be out. The swim has always been my weakest event but I can't say I've ever accidentally swam extra (facepalm!!!). Like an extra 500 yards...probably an extra 10 minutes since I felt pretty dejected crawling my way back through the field after starting a third loop by mistake. 54 minutes. Shockingly slow (that's like a great ironman swim time there; not my own though), but I guess not terrible for going off course 10 minutes, and only swimming 1-2x per week.

I actually kissed Ainsley on the way into T1 and asked if she ate yet. Such an Asian mom!! It was cold and windy, so I did take some extra time to put on socks (I really never bike in socks, ever) and a sleeved bolero type thing (that I had got for keeping my arms warm while breastfeeding, haha!!) OVER the top of arm warmers. 

The bike:
It was very windy, and almost immediately uphill. I had to pee because it was cold. I also heard and felt the brake pad rubbing, stopped to check it twice, stopped to pee, didn't find anything wrong with my brakes (though after the race realized that yes, my brake pad was rubbing the whole time. ERGGGG). My time was just over 3 hours. Eh. (Also notice I am wearing my sweet $7 clear safety goggles since I knew it would be misty and overcast.)

It was clear and warmer! I hadn't thought much about my nutrition and had a small handheld bottle filled with Skratch.

The run:
The handheld got annoying really fast. But I saw Ainsley, and Kevin, and my college buddy Matt in that first mile! I threw my handheld into the stroller as my body wanted to run FAST. Like high 7's, low 8's. What?! I had to hold back. Easy, tiger!

 Like I said, I didn't really think about what my nutrition plan would be since I spent all summer just worried if I would be able to get my mileage up high enough to just DO THE THING. So I was doing the thing...and figuring it out on the fly--I should probably take a gel like every 4 miles? I started to slow down just from lack of fitness and lack of calories. By mile 8, I was really hungry and sat down at an aid station to eat a banana. It was a 3-loop run which was fun because I got to see my little family each loop (it went right by our AirBNB) and it always passed by this neighbor's house that would offer beer and Fireball shots. I agreed to take a shot at the start of the last loop, mile 9! Kathy said to have fun, so I was there to have fun! There was definitely some shuffling and grimacing the last few miles, and with one mile to go, I was like HTFU and somehow grinded out a 8:15 final mile! 

Final splits:
swim (35th woman) - 54:31.9 
T1 5:53.3
bike (9th) 3:09:14.7 17.6MPH
T2 2:44.0
run (9th) 1:53:58.9 8:42/M
final (12th) 6:06:23.0
1st AG in 40-44!

12th woman...out of 35. I just looked up the results and just realized I had the slowest swim out of all the women! ahhh. SO bad! 

Initially post-race, I had feelings of feeling really dejected and disappointed while also feeling really elated that my knee held up for the whole race. I was pretty bummed that I haven't NOT broken 6 hours overall and 3 hours on the bike since 2008 (World's Toughest Half in Auburn, CA) BUT, I was still an hour faster than my slowest half (that would be Wildflower Long Course circa 2004 in over 7 hours, yech!). 

But it's now been 4 months since that race, and I am honestly nothing but proud of myself, especially looking back at everything I overcame to get to that finish line. I had also never had knee surgery and never had a baby before doing a half ironman. So there's that! And I think about 12 months prior to that race, when there was no way I could even fathom doing a half ironman in my first year postpartum. It just wasn't happening. And I had to keep reminding myself that this was really just building my aerobic fitness to run the JFK 50, since I definitely couldn't start running for hours right away.

So now that we're in year 3, barring doing anything stupid like blowing out my meniscus with a sneeze, I just want to be able to train somewhat solidly (just 2 each of swim, bike, and run a week is all I'm asking!) and see where that takes me. And now this 2022 recap is getting so long that I think I actually have to have a part 2 just to get to the JFK 50 part. Stay tuned!

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