Monday, February 13, 2012

My Race Adventure in Panama!

Picking up my 2nd place award at Ironman 70.3 Panama!
It came up  so fast.  My second race of the year was here and I didn't feel 100% prepared.  It was Thursday 2/09/12 and we were off to the airport headed for Panama to race the 70.3 Ironman event.  I was confident Daisy, Tigger and Spec were in good hands with my client Jeff G.  I felt pangs of guilt as I said goodbye to all of them and headed out the door for my next adventure.  We already completed one race for the year in January, we ran the Phoenix marathon.  I felt my run was strong but didn't put nearly enough time on the bike training for this race.  The swim is 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles and run 13.1.  The weather was going to be HOT and this is coming from a Vegas girl.  Hot and humid is much worse than what we have in Vegas, the heat in Panama was mid 90's and the humidity was in the 60-70% range!  This is apparently the low humidity season for them and their dry season...clearly this was long day at the office on Sunday.  We thought we signed up for a fairly flat, simple race with a pretty easy bike course.  That is until we drove the course and saw lots of these:

Not only was the course hilly, there were some technical turns.  At this point I am just hoping to finish with a respectable time and not die! 

We found out that Lance Armstrong was racing this race, this would be  his entry back into triathlons.  Maybe we would get to see him...and we did!
There were many pro's doing the race and staying at the same hotel that we were at.  I am not too familiar with their names but my boyfriend seems to know many of them.  Whenever he spotted one he would fill me in on who it was.  We ran into one several times and her name was Yvone van Vlerken from the Netherlands, she was really cool and it seems like everywhere we went throughout the weekend we ran into her .  She is blond and told me to be careful running or riding around alone with my blond hair!  I guess we stand out in Panama. She said she was hoping to finish top 3, she ended up coming in 6th but she mentioned for the amount of training she had for this race she was happy with that finish. 

Friday we went to pick up our packets, here is a photo of us at packet pick-up.  I was excited about swimming in the mouth to the Panama Canal and riding across the bridge that separates North America and South cool is that?  Back at the hotel we saw many other pro's like Chris Lieto, Matt Reid, Leanda Cave, and Magali Tisseyre.  Friday we decided to do a little swim at the hotel pool, we got out and were sitting around the pool and saw Leanda and Magali doing a pre race workout.  Saturday we went for a short 2 mile run mid-day, it was exceptional hot and humid. After two miles I was thinking to myself, what have I gotten myself into, this was going to be a hard 13 mile run!  When back at the hotel I wanted to go for a quick swim in the pool to cool down, getting into the pool to swim a few laps I realize Matt Reid is swimming next to me!  He is one of the only pro men that I can identify, mainly because he is really tall and really good looking!  I have to admit that on my rotation under water I was trying to sneak a glance at him swimming next me.  I may have been over rotating slightly on this swim!  My boyfriend was upstairs on the 27th floor, looking down and watching me swim and said that I looked like a guppy swimming next to a whale shark because he is so big! 

Race Day
I once again used www.endurancesportstravel for this event. They are the best company when traveling to an event like this out of the country. Ken and the crew are very professional and understand the needs of a triathlete and planned to leave 2 hours early for the race! (we on the other hand were only planning on getting up much later, luckily they didn't leave without us , we were rushing a few minutes late).  We heard the swim was really fast and the current that day was moving pretty good.  The fastest pro got out of the water in something like 18 minutes!  At least I knew my swim was going to be a personal best, I got out of the water in a record time for me of 25 minutes!  Great so far now I just have to ride 56 miles of hills and wind and run in a sauna for 13.1 miles.  The bike was no joke!  It was not only hilly but there was a lot of wind, I finished in 3 hours.  Then comes the hard part the run.  At that point its about the hottest part of the day and most of this run was in the direct sun.  I had some trouble in transition with my Garmin watch but I finally got it working, it cost me about a minute.  I had the volunteers slather sunscreen on my face and hands and I was wearing my favorite Skin Cooler shirt by Desoto.  The volunteers were yelling at us as we ran through the aid stations.  They were yelling heilo as we ran by. I thought hielo (pronounced yellow) meant Gatorade but the Gatorade was orange so I was slightly confused.  I found out later that hielo means ice.  My Spanish is not good or should I say non-existent. I started to feel better once I got to about mile 7 or 8.  I was able to pick up my pace.  I was really hot and tired.  I must say the aid stations and people yelling are what got me through to the finish.  The local men shouted VAMANO BEBE.   Kids put their hands out for high fives as we ran by.  I crossed the finish in 5 hours and 30 minutes.  This was not my fastest time but all things considered I was pretty happy with my performance.  I didn't come close to Lance Armstrongs time of 3:50 but then again not many average people can beat or come close to that.  He finished 2nd overall in his first comeback triathlon against top pro triathletes! 

I wasn't sure of my placing so we went to check the results.  It showed that I was 3rd in my age group.  There are two spots in my age group for the 70.3 Championships in Las Vegas.  I thought I had just missed it by one.  I figured I would go to the roll down in case one of the other athletes did not want the spot.  I would also go to pick up my first Ironman award because I thought I got third.  Come to find out the first place girl in my age group got disqualified for drafting.  That put me in second and gave me a spot to the Championships in Vegas.  I was pretty happy and took the spot immediately!  So here I am on a plane back from Panama with a really strange sunburn and a nice trophy!
My sunburn! The picture does not really show how bad it is!
I had calf sleeves on so just the back of my knees and front of thighs got it.

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