Even though Duran and I raced two weeks ago we were really excited to compete in the Carolina Half put on by Setup Events. It was the first year for the race in Charlotte and was getting a great following on their Facebook page. We headed to Charlotte Friday night to stay with one of Duran’s close friends. The race was on a Sunday which was really nice since we were able to have Saturday to get in a short pre-race warm up and then relax for the day aka watch College Football.
Saturday, we got up and did a 30 minute swim, an hour bike and a short 20 minute run to stay loose before the race. After the warm up all we had to do was check – in and rack our bikes at T1. Once all checked in – we thought it may be a good idea to take a look at the profiles for the bike and run. Much to our surprise, this race looked like it may be more difficult than we thought. It looked like it would be a lot of rolling hills for the bike and the run not too bad (we underestimated both!).
Swim: 36:52 – 24th female
Race morning – we woke up bright and early and headed to T2. A few people asked me to talk about what I eat before and during the race so before the race: I had two rice cakes with PB and Jelly on them. The Carolina Half is a point to point race so we went to T2 first to drop off our running shoes then took a bus to T1 to get ready for the swim. It was a chilly morning and the walk from T1 down to the swim start was a little over a ¼ mile, which meant a very long run into T1 after the swim. The race directors allowed people to put shoes down by the swim exit to put on to run up to T1 because of the length and some parts with gravel.
The swim was a beach start and the female wave was 2nd to last to go. After doing a setup event before, I knew the distance was going to fairly accurate and to not use the sight buoys but just to head straight to the triangle turn buoys. The water was perfect for a wetsuit swim. Once the gun went off – I ran as far as I could and just started swimming. I felt strong but more importantly smooth and efficient. The best part was I could see other pink caps around me, which rarely happens! I stayed with one chick side by side pretty much the entire swim until the last turn buoy where I felt I started to draw ahead. Once exiting the swim, pumped about my time (I swam a 46 half in Raleigh) – I started the long run up to transition. I thought about taking my wetsuit off before the run but decided to make the jog up with it on and I didn’t leave shoes down at the exit because I thought I was tough enough to handle the gravel areas. Looking back – I took a bit longer to deal with the rocks but I’m still glad I went barefoot. In to T1 as quick as I could then I was out on the bike.
Bike 2:44 – 3rd female
As I exited T1 – I noticed my heart rate was pretty high and felt a little out of control. I took the next 20 minutes to try and settle in and feel comfortable. Once I felt good, it was time to start my way through the field. This bike course is tough. You not only have to deal with the rolling hills but also the wind, terrible pavement and a million turns on the course. I knew going in I wanted to push on the bike because I really wanted to place 1st for female age grouper. The key for me on the hills was staying steady on the way up and powering down them. The guys that I would pass thought it would be a fun game that when I would pass them they would work hard to pass me but as we made out way up the hill I would power down and never see them again. That was until one guy came pass me with a fancy USA kit on with his last name on his butt and an age in the 20s. I was really confused on why he was back there when that wave went off way before mine and I hadn’t seen anyone on the side with a flat. But, as he went by I knew it was my opportunity to stay with him and legally draft off of him. This helped a ton except the fact he would slow down at random times…which meant I had to pass him and play that fun game over and over. Eventually, I had enough and as I made my way past him he muttered, “I flippin hate this course”. Probably not the best attitude to have, but after that I pressed on and just made my way into T2. The only annoying part about the last couple of miles is they had written 55 on the road and I was pumped to only have a mile left and my time was really good, but I noticed my Garmin only said 53 miles. I thought, they might have cut the bike a bit short to make up for the long run after the swim. Well, I was wrong again by the time I got to T2 my Garmin read 56 miles on the dot. Heading into T2 the guy in front of me did the fancy dismount and I could only laugh as I simply clipped out of my shoes and threw my leg around the bike like a true amateur!
Run 1:40 – 4th female
To be honest, I don’t remember much about this run and to be even more honest what I do remember isn’t that all exciting. It was a hilly run with a good stretch of it on cross country trails on Davidson College campus. I ran out of T2 feeling pretty good and once you hit mile 2 and 3 the hills start a bit. In the beginning it wasn’t necessarily going up that was tough it was knowing as you went down you would have those hills on the way back. I saw the men’s leader James Haycraft who looked like he had barely run a mile towards the end and then passed Duran who also looked super strong. He had mentioned I was in 1st, which I knew he meant age grouper since I had seen the leader Jenny pass me already. I was pumped and knew to keep a strong pace but save some for the end. Little did I know, as I headed out on the out and back on the trails, I saw a girl with a 300 number on her arm. She was first, I was second. She was pretty far ahead and looked very strong. All I could do was keep running and do the best I could for that day. Nutrition wise: I tried to get water or HEED at every station and took 2 Gu’s during the run. As we got towards mile 11, my legs were feeling it. I made the final few climbs, saw Duran close to the finish and ran in as strong as I could.
Overall: 5:06 4th female (2nd Age Group female)
At the end of the race I felt like one of these girls…always the bridesmaid. Another 2nd place. My goal was to break 5 hours for this race but fell short at 5:06 with a 1:40 half marathon, which for me isn’t that great. Looking back now, I’m fairly happy with the race I had and the improvement of my swim. It’s too bad the swim once again is what caused me to lose out on first place. Duran did awesome and finished 1st in his age group and 8th overall! I am super pumped and can’t wait to see what is in store for both of us the rest of the season. B2B and IM Cozumel is all we have left!