Race Coverage

Lendway's Words


By Heather Lendway

Timberman Race Report - After racing through some constant pain my last pro year in 2017 I finally had an MRI to find partial tears in the high hamstring tendons. It took about three years to find the right combo of care to feel mostly recovered. Then COIVID hit so I tread back into the racing waters last summer to see if I could find any joy in racing again after a discouraging end to my pro career. My first race back I was pleasantly surprised that my body just kind of knew what to do minus a few details like dismounting a bike, where I lost a shoe and almost crashed, but it turned out OK. I generally had a good time, enjoyed seeing some old friends and making some new ones. After that I decided to do Timberman, and fell I love with the venue. This included crystal clear water, cool enough for a reasonably comfortable wetsuit swim, safe roads for riding (so safe I accidentally did a little extra mileage in ‘21) and a perfect run course with plenty of water stops and a few rolling hills. After the race I booked a room for ‘22 and Patrick and I registered the day registration opened (hence being #3 and #4 race bibs)....

Last year I didn’t get to stay at the venue so I was very much looking forward to the ease of the morning at the lodge. My alarm woke me at my 5AM wake up time. I started with my usual large bottle of water, breakfast and coffee. I rolled the bike over to transition at 6AM and headed back to the room to relax with coffee and to listen to race playlists of old with Patrick. At about 6:30 I did my run warmup with bands in the room, then went back to transition to take the bike out for a quick check, a jog and final transition setup.

dogandheather.jpgThe race is a self-seeded time-trial start. I gladly took the first spot so there would be fewer less commotion during the swim. The crowd gave a five second count down and I was off sprinting through the water. The first 100+/- yards is shallow so it’s mainly high knee running. Several steps in I felt a snap/tug/severe stretch and I knew immediately I had re-tweaked my high hamstring tendon. I was able to keep going so it couldn’t be too bad, right? Henry Jessen, super star runner, sprinted by me on the run into the water so I had someone to chase to the first turn buoy. I tried to hold a steady pace into the beach and exited first from the water. I’ve been working on keeping my head down while swimming and I could tell I wasn’t sighting quite enough. Reviewing the swim data afterwards, my lines were slightly ajar. I added some unintended yardage but either way the swim was about 150-200 yards longer than anticipated.

Transition was uneventful and continues to feel like second nature going through the motions. My bike mount on the other hand could clearly use some practice. I hopped on my bike, got one foot down on a shoe and the other shoe flipped upside down. I was just about at a standstill when I was able to get the shoe flipped and under foot. After navigating the first rolling hills out of the resort I got my feet in and saw I had no power data. I thought about going on without any data but knew I’d regret it. I spent the next couple minutes of pedaling reconnecting my power meter. I don’t constantly monitor my wattage during the ride but every so often I like to have a check where I’m at, i.e. not going too hard or taking it too easy. I was lucky to have the lead moto to guide me but I assumed it wouldn’t last long with the men storming behind me. Overall the ride felt pretty good. There was a serious false flat that you had to do twice, it felt like you’re going very slowly downhill while actually climbing. That was followed by some nice 30-40mph downhills to reinvigorate the confidence. Every so often I looked back expecting to see someone chomping at my (w)heels but the moto guided me through lap two and I was first back to transition.
patrickkoala.jpgTransition was quick and I was off running. I try to focus on soft, relaxed hands (thanks P) and fast arms for a good run cadence. The first mile and a half ticked by quickly as it was filled with sprinters and super-sprinters so I could cheer for them as a distraction. The middle three miles were quiet and lonely. I took it one water stop and one mile at a time; taking a small sip of water at each mile marker but mainly tossing the cold water on my face, head and body. After the turnaround I was still in the lead but saw Henry was close behind and Josh Blankenheim just behind him. The thoughts of “why am I doing this?” started to kick in but I pushed them out of my mind and focused on the next water stop. Mile 4, Mile 5, somewhere in there Josh passed me. Nearing the resort with less than a minute to go, I checked my watch for the first time (I never want to know my run speed), I saw the number 37 and was a bit in shock. This encouraged me to book it home and make it a little more painful knowing I might have one of my best runs. Running, sprinting (?) to the finish I saw Patrick running out and excitedly offered a high five, which was not noticed. After crossing the finish line I was more than pleased to see my run split of 38:16, a whole 1:14 faster than last year, which I was already proud of! My run felt smooth, strong and the heat didn’t feel too bad (maybe that’s due to the 3-4x a week sauna regiment).

It’s been fun racing again and I do hope to do more. The hamstring isn’t doing great so I’m hoping it’s not another long hiatus, but I’m confident I have the right team and routine to get things back in order.

Lastly, I’d like to leave you with a snip of Patrick’s race report, which probably would be more entertaining to read than mine. Around mile 4 of the run there was a very generous woman standing on the road with her hose offering runners a cold shower as they passed. When she offered Patrick a shower he responded, “no thank you, I would like to suffer.” That’s my husband :)