Waterman's Half: course preview

I decided last week to do Waterman's Half instead of Poconos 70.3, and with that, planned to go down over the weekend and check out the course.  Fortunately, Lauren had already done a course recon, so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect.  

I headed down early Sunday morning.  The state park is about 50 minutes from my house, and I pulled up to the gate only to realize that I had left my wallet sitting on the dresser.  Fortunately, the poet was willing to drive my way with it (my hero!), so after an hour of banging my head on the steering wheel and cursing my poor packing skills, I was back at the front gate with my $3 to head in.  I unpacked and headed out...only to get 15 feet out of the parking lot and realize I had forgotten to put on any ride glide (a mistake I make fairly often).  I looped back, threw a handful of goo in my shorts, and finally - FINALLY - headed out.

The first stretch of the course is on the side of a small highway.  Traffic was sparse, but the cars that went by were flying, and it made me a little nervous.  After a few miles, the shoulder widened out.  The rest of the course was pretty quiet.  My cue sheet was easy to follow, the roads were (mostly) clearly marked, and there weren't a lot of turns to worry about anyway.  I spent the first 2:30 in zone 2, so I had a lot of time to fool look around.
The course labels itself as "rolling," and I think that's a decent description.  Lots of little rollers and some unfortunate false flat, but I only spent a few minutes grinding at 8mph in my lowest gear.  However, I've spent most of my summer working on my climbing skills in anticipation of Poconos (and CdA to follow).  Most of my long rides have been on really hilly terrain.  This means I'll spend 45 minutes grinding up an 13% incline, but then I'll get to easy spin down the back side and recover.  A course like Waterman's is different.  Small rollers and flats mean that your legs are constantly pushing, with very little recovery time.  It's hard in a different way, and it scares me quite a bit to feel unprepared for that kind of riding.  Some will say that it's "easier" riding than a very hilly course, but I disagree.  I also discovered that it's more difficult to keep my HR in the zone I want with lots of small rollers, while at Skyline it's actually pretty easy - downshift until you run out of gears, spin until you're in the right zone, and then just continue onwards until you get to the top.  I spent a lot of time yesterday shifting through (note to self: get a tune-up before the race), trying to find the right gear for my HR.  
I needed to do a 4-hour ride, so I planned to ride a lap of the course and then out-and-back the first 10-15 miles as needed.  However, I made a wrong turn about 45 miles into the ride and didn't realize it until my next labeled turn (almost 5 miles later) didn't show up.  I stopped to pee in a bush check the cue sheet, and then google maps, and shook my little fist when I realized what I had done.  Sighs all around.
However, the wrong turn meant I ended up back at the car about 5 minutes shy of 4 hours.  It started to rain pretty hard during the last 20 minutes I was riding so I figured I would skip doing 48 laps of the parking lot to get to 4 hours and just head out on the run.  As I was changing my shoes, the rain stopped, which meant I got to do my transition run in heavy, wet, steaming, muggy air.  Up a hill that felt like the side of the mountain I'm used to running up after my Skyline ride.  There isn't a map of the run course on the Waterman's Half, and I haven't done the research to track down what it is.  Bad Katie, no soup for you.  However, a T run is pretty easy - just run in one direction until I'm slightly more than halfway done, then run back.  Yesterday, this meant some pretty serious hills.
Don't give me any crap, that's tough on the run.  This was hard, and it hurt, and my little fist-shaped heart was trying to explode most of the time, and I was real pumped when it was over.
I also used yesterday as race-day practice in quite a few ways.  I bought a SOAS racing kit last week, and while I somehow managed to buy the wrong size in the top AND the bottoms (too big, too small), it works pretty well.  I rode it on Thursday for my short brick (and then to lift), and I'm kind of in love with it.  The face of CONCENTRATION:
Yesterday was the first time I've done a long ride with it, and it's the least amount of material that's ever been between my hooter and my bike seat since I started riding, and I was really surprised to not even notice.  I also switched out my nutrition yesterday, and while I under-calculated a bit and ran out at the 3:20 mark, this is the first long brick I've done since I switched to liquid-only nutrition where I haven't spent the rest of the day with a really cranky tummy (Everybody out!  No, not the way you came in, the other way!).  I had my pre-race meal an hour before I got on the bike, and when my wallet-forgetting put a crinkle in the timing of that, I just dug some old crusty chomps out of my bag and ate those while unpacking.  I think that also might have been why I ran out of nutrition on the bike, because of the time.  Still, a huge win, and a huge race-day relief, as I spent quite a bit of time on the run at Kinetic setting my bike nutrition free.  

How was your weekend?  Were you surprised by a comfortable crotch like I was?