Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Longhorn 70.3 - Oct 15 2009 -

Warning !! Long ! I was going to make it short and sweet for you to read. But i realised that at the end of the day, this blog is really for me to be able to look back in 50 years, and relive the glory days.. haha. just kidding . But seriously, this time is about creating great memories, and i want to remember it all ! so here it goes......

My first Half Ironman, and was it ever.

Leading up to this race i was so excited, more than i have been for any race ever before.

The reasons why :
1. Firstly for the obvious reason, the new exciting distance and all the challenges that come with it.
2. Because it was a hometown race and there were going to be alot of people i knew out on the course with me, aswell as all the friends out there supporting and volunteering is an even bigger bonus.
3. I had done the course and was confident in it and felt like i knew what i was capable of doing out there.
4. It was my last race of a very long season
5. I had been training the hardest i had ever trained before since signing up with my new coach - Siri Lindley, and within the month and a half of following a specific plan that she had given me i had seen HUGE improvement. I was so confident that the coaching plan i had followed and traning i had done would come into play and give me the results i was hoping for.
6. This was a chance for me to once again try to race as hard as i could and hope for a top 3 spot , and earn my elite status, so that i could race against the best in the world next year.
7. Finally , the race was a celebration of my hard work and commitment to improving, all done at the crack of dawn!

The days leading up to the race i was feeling good, i wasnt sick for the first time this year prior to a big race. so i was actually able to follow the taper program Siri had given me, instead of staying in bed the whole week prior, and wondering if i will survive race day.

Friday i got to go to the expo with Marcela, a pro from Mexico that trains with Siri, and we got to run the course, which felt great. That night we went to Karen's house, another teammate and my training partner, and had an awesome dinner. Saturday was the usual pre race prep of running, biking and swimming to just feel good for the next day, and i went to drop my bike and run stuff off for the since it was a 2 transition race. That afternoon i just laid at home on the couch watching football, stretching at half times, and eating bon bons.. just kidding. That night was the first night i found it hard to sleep before the race, usually i have no problem. I am not sure whether is was because i was nervous, excited or because i could not stop singing "Gold digger' in my head. I know... random,, but Steve especially loves that song, and we had listened to it all day. Anyways, i had slept well last night and i heard that that is the most important night of sleep. Which was true because i woke up feeling great Sun.

What a bonus it was to be able to see and chat to all the people i have met this year in triathlon, those racing and volunteering. But the best part was right before the swim we got to see two guys jumping out of a plane. one flying the American flag while someone sang the American anthem. the ended up landing right where we get out the water to run to t1. Sharing that moment with Steve was really cool..

Cut to ....
THE RACE .....


I started out really strong. I was going to give it all i had all day, just focusing on what i was doing now and not worrying about the next sport that i had to do. The first 100m or so , when breathing i could see i was in the lead. Unfortunately , that lead was shortended, when i realised i had swum out to the right a little too much . the bouys were way the left, oh no.. anyways, a change of course and by the time i got back on path, i was behind about 3 girls, and was able to swim side by side with someone that helped me keep straight. I kept working really hard, probably the hardest i have ever swum in a race before. i kept on reminding myself how hard i had trained and tried to picture all the sets i had done swimming as hard as i can in the pool. This was my last race of the season and i didnt want to have any what if's coming out of the water. so i kept on pushing it , even when i could feel my heartrate was sky rocketing. When we turned the first bouy , we ran into a sea or people, and the group i was swimming with and following got broken up. It was fend for yourself time, as we got thrown in the "washing maching" trying to fight through the crowd. At one point someone's elbow knocked me square in the jaw. luckily it didnt hurt too much but my goggles did start to leak after that.. :(. anyways, to finish the swim i ended up going way too right again, this time not because i was swimming askew , but because i thought clear water was better than swimming through hundreds of people. which i think i might have done it differently next time and just swum over everyone.. hmmm

Finish time 1:36 per 100m pace, i think 31min and something... HR coming out of the water 178. man , i need to work on open water swimming. what is the point of being able to knock out 1:15 for my 100's in the pool when i cant swim in a straight line...


First thing, get the wetsuit off. This is where a bunch of T3ers where volunteering. so it was great to get to hear them all shout for me as they helped me get my wetsuit off . After that it was a run up the hill , stuff my wetsuit in a bag and run. Steve was on the top of the hill cheering. He shouted that i was in 6th place coming out of the water. 6th ?? seriously ?? i thought after my swim that i would be waaayy back, so i got immediately excited and ready to hunt down 5 girls on the bike.


Go time ... The Bike is my strength of the 3 , and i always go into it knowing that i have to give it all i got to make up time from the swim and to put a lead on others before the run. Right as i got on the bike i passed a girl in my age group that looked strong and i knew she would be a tough competitor. Immediately i wanted to leave her in the dust and hope that mentally that would have an effect on her. so i stood up and started sprinting up the first hill. no problem right .. i would recover later, time to give it everything i have. I looked down at my HR - 183 / 95 % . way too high, at least i know i was working as hard as i could, but i knew i had to bring it down. Right as i started to settle into the bike , HR was coming down a touch, that girl i passed right at the start came by me. Oh, no she didnt ! :). I let her get her 3 bike lengths , well 2 :), and then i put on a surge. "Noone puts baby in the corner"... I didnt want her thinking that she could hang on, so i thought now was the time to just drop her completely. I couldnt immediately because there were alot of hills on the back end, and i noticed she was on a road bike..hmmm.. so we stayed together for the hills both trying to drop each other, and in the meantime passing 3 other girls. we were 2nd and 3rd after the first 10 miles. 1 more girl to go. as soon as we got to a flatter stretch, i noticed that i was able to break away from her. Thank you Felt Time Trial bike.

I started passing alot of guys that looked really strong and when i turned a corner i gave a quick sideways glance and she was nowhere in sight. yay !! ok, now it was time to catch Girl no 1. I out my head down and continued to ask myself "am i giving it all i got?" the answer was a big YES, and my HR was there to prove it. 178 hmmm. lower, but still way too high.. Time to settle it down. Until ... wait.. there she was. Girl number 1. She was tall and was in a bikini verson of a tri outfit... Anytime i see this , i know that this is a strong competitor and a RUNNER. Why ? Anyone who is confident to not wear tri shorts but just a bathing suite bottom, has worked really hard and usually have long lean legs, which runners do. To not leave you in suspense, this girl ended up winning with a 1:19 half marathon. i called it ! Back to the race. I had caught the girl in the lead, knew she was probably a better runner than i was , and made the decision once again to try to blow by her on the bike. I stood and surged , passing her and leaving her. I tucked down and treated the next few miles as the last few miles of a sprint race. HR back up to 183. ouch,, but mission accomplished i dropped her. I am in the LEAD..yay.. now to hold it..

I tried to settle into a groove, singing songs in my head, tried to drink some of my carbo pro, eat some shot blocks, mind you we were now 25 miles into the bike, and no nutrition till now.. I was so focused on taking the lead. but.. i would be fine , right ? i would eat for the rest of the bike ,drink alot and i would be fine. i had not eaten on many long training rides and felt just fine. Well, the first shot block i put into my mouth , i choked on, spat out, 2nd, i was able to chew , but not without it feeling like it was going up my nose. ok, thats enough for now, i thought, time to hammer down and make a bigger lead , i dont want to be passed by that runner.

about 45 miles into it, i started to gradually fade. Ave pace up to this point 23.2.. i thought i was still fine, everyone should be fading right? that , and i still hadnt been passed. well, not yet. within 2 min Girl no 2 yes, the one i went back and forth with in the beginning blew by stronger than she was earlier, oh no. then girl no 1, she passed me, but stayed about 100 m infront for the next 5 miles . 2 min later a girl no 3 passed me, and boy did i feel like i was just passed by Lance Armstrong, not because of her speed but because of "the Look " she gave me when she went by. Was i going to let her do that, no way, i stood up to try to put a surge on and give it my last big go and it happened. Huge cramp in my right quad. whimper.... I immediately sat back down and tried to pedal, but the quad would grip me with pain with any movement. Crap ... what to do, what to do ..

Unclipped the right leg, pedal with the left. i do this in training all the time, and it was my only option. i shook out my right leg as it hung back out the way and pedaled with one leg as hard as i could.. Bad mistake... cramp. now the left leg.. oh no.... I clipped back in. Pedaled in slow motion , 1 , 2 and coast, 1, 2 and coast.. I had never experienced this pain before. i have had cramps, but nothing like this. i feel like i have to give what happened to my body another term, because "cramps" just doesnt justify it.

anyways, 6 brutal miles later of grimacing and pity looks by everyone that went by, i made it to the end of the bike. i reached down to get my foot out of my shoe on the bike. and BIG mistake, what was leg cramps was now full body cramps 10 times worse. stupid. but the foot was out, what do i do. run with one shoe one or go for the other..it couldnt get any worse right. i went down for the other shoe and thought i was going to fall off my bike from the pain that gripped me, but was able to steady myself and shout out to the heavens "help"...

I got off my bike veee..rrrr...yy.. slowly with Leilanni shouting on the microphone" GO Natasha" . i hobbled into T2.

Bike time 1:37 , Ave pace 21.5 ( hmm .. not quite what i was hoping, but still not horrible )


Pretty much could not find my stuff. I ran down the right aisle but all the bags looked the same and i could not see the sticker of my number. why didnt i think yesterday that this would happen. i ran by my shoes , came back and finally saw them. thank goodness, i was about to run out barefoot if i needed to.

I started the run really slowly since my legs had still slight cramp in them. ran through the Arena which was awesome, so try to pick up the pace and pick my legs up , since i had 100's of eyes on me and since right out of the arena was the t3 tent and water stop with all my teammates cheering. i was still in 4th at this point and on pretty good pace to have a great time. Well, as you guessed it. Bad mistake. me picking my legs up for those 30 seconds led to my total demise. Cramps ripped through my whole body, and i could not take another step. I stopped to stretch, walked, stretched, got to another Texas Iron water station and they came running with a ton of water and salt tablets. i took those, stretched, tried to run, no such luck....my race was over. I had a ton of people run by me and say, just run it out, it will get better, yeah right ... They probably thought i was just sore /stiff from the bike , not having a total body shutdown.

Part of me wanted to quit right there. i could barely walk , let alone run, i was started to feel nauseous and faint. I truly didnt think i would make it to the finish line... and i was upset if i did get to the finish line, i would have a crappy time and be beat by alot of people that i didnt want to be beat by. Lastly, i wasnt going to make my ulitimate goal of top 3. My chance of achieving what i have dreamt of was over for this year...

Then i kept on thinking how what a priveledge it was to be doing this in the first place. How Mary, a lady in my team, is out here too , just hoping to make it to the finish line in the cut off time, and what a big accomplishment and deal that is for her and anybody. Was i going to downplay this huge accomplishment just because i couldnt run in it for the last 13.1 miles. I COULD walk....and there are many people out there that dream about being able to walk for that amount of time.

Along the way alot of grace was showed to me through all the friends racing and volunteering.

Tammy , a teammate, came up to me and said sternfully "you are NOT WALKING, you CAN and you WILL run". so i started to run/jog with her and we stayed together and chatted away the next 3 miles or so.My legs were feeling a bit better, but i still could not pick them off the ground more than a few inches without them cramping again. so i shuffled. She slowed for a second and i slowed down to stay with her since she was the reason i was still out there. She insisted i continue ahead and not stop so i did. She caught up to me again 5 min later :)

I must have heard my name called a thousand times from people on the sideline, alot who i recognised the faces from tri's but didnt know them personally. And the rest from my teammates at T3, who erupted when i ran by the tailgate tent aswell as all the T3ers on the course , friends who i had met at triathlons this year, my training partner Karen, Merideth a T3 teammate who had a knack for saying the right thing everytime i came by, and Steve who at times pedaled his bike along me for 5 sec here and there, and anxiously waited on the side for me to come by and offer support and love. at one time, there were so many people shouting my name that a guy that a Washinton tri top on, came by and said "Man, you are famous around here" and the other guy running on the other side said "seriously!"... i couldnt help but smile.

Captain Jim Ryan, an great athlete who is on my Jack and Adams team came by me from behind and slowed to put his hand on my shoulder for a sec. He felt for me ,and he didnt have to say anything. And i started crying, just overwhelmed by how people were reaching out to me amongst their own pain.

To finish, i shuffled my way for 13.1 miles to finish with a 2:10 Half marathon time , 9:44 m/m
I wasnt sure how i would feel emotionally at the end, but as i crossed the line, i couldnt help break out into a huge smile . I had done a Half Ironman !!



Can't wait for the next one ! Galveston. April 2010.

My goal :

not to cramp !! not to walk !! Run my own race !!
And have as much fun and an attitude of gratitude like i had in the first one!!


  1. So engrossed reading the race report, almost didn't want it to end :o) You are a hero, a great role model and a TRUE champ in the minds and heart of folks who "really" know what you made of. You gave it all you had for that day and completed what you started and so for that hats out to you Natasha! Galveston 2010, better watch out...someone's hungry for more :)

  2. A great race report and a true testament to your strength of character. A lot of people would have quit when their day went south, but you worked through it and came out stronger. And you are famous! And I will be proud to say "I knew her before she was a pro!"

  3. Natasha,

    Congrats on your first half! I had no idea that it was. It sounds like you persevered through some tough moments of your body and mind not cooperating, and you can be very proud of that!

    Looking forward to seeing what you do next year!