Sunday, April 18, 2010


The first tri of the year is now in the books.  There was some good.  Some bad.  And some ugly.

T and I drove up mid-day and we made it there *plenty* early.  Probably too early, as we had a ton of time to sit around, wander about, check things out, and generally get bored.   But it was nice to be able to get set up, check out the transition ins/outs, eat some lunch, and especially people watch.  It just amazes me how super fit the majority of triathletes are, even at a small, local race.  And it still intimidates me.  I guess I just don't consider myself an athlete, even after all these years of participating in running events and tris.  Oh, and we had to go thru body marking, of course.  Where I was disappointed that they weren't marking ages on the calves.  Partly because it's both humorous and inspiring when the 60+ folks fly by me, but  this would have been my first "40".  Ah well, maybe the next one.

Some ugly:  we knew that there was a 'hill' out of transition that in previous years you had to ride up.  This year you were going to have to run up, either with bike shoes on, or with bare feet, pushing your bike.  We made sure to walk the hill just to see what it was like.  Uh, yeah.  About 1/4 mile long, a steeper almost 'hairpin' at the bottom and then gradually up, up, up to the mount/dismount line.  And literally about 8 feet wide.  For traffic going two ways.  Now I see why there were some issues with people riding up/down.  The up would be slow enough you could literally fall over, especially if some people were walking their bikes, and the down would be a screamer.  And not a nicely paved path either.  Yes, it was paved.  About a 100 years ago.  Very rough, some tree roots pushing parts up, some pot holes.  Awesome.  Oh, and how about a few flights of stairs out of T2?  Not a fan.

Eventually the time crept closer and we listened to the instructions at the athlete's meeting, suited up, and headed to the beach for our warm up swim. 

Some good:  It was announced that the water was 68 degrees!  Fabulous.  I had been so worried about the cold, cold water.  My plan had been to wear my full wetsuit, get in a good warm up, and hope for the best.  Of course, I'm almost positive that they were lying about the 68.  I did a quick practice swim at the small lake by my house the previous day and the underwater thermometer there had read about 63.  And it felt a lot warmer than the water at the event. But at least it wasn't 55 like they had projected.

We did a nice warm up swim, where I was reminded again that salt water swimming is not my favorite thing.  And before we knew it, we were heading back up the beach to line up.  Yep, a beach start.  It seemed like no one wanted to be at the front.  We thought we were front-middle, but very few people were in front of us.  I will admit there was a little fear of getting plowed under.  And then.....with a countdown from 10, we were off.  Run, run, dive, swim.  The swim went by both much faster than I expected and at the same time seemed to take forever.  I tend to have a very hard time catching my breath during a sprint swim. So I was breathing every stroke for quite a while, not finding any rhythm.  And there was more contact at this race than any other race I've done, including Ironman.  I had someone bumping me on both sides for almost the entire swim.  And often someone grabbing at my feet with feet right in front of me.  But the buoys were going by quite quickly and before I knew it I was heading for shore.  I swam until my hands brushed the bottom and then popped up and started running to T1.  I finished up the swim in a little over 6 minutes, which is much faster than I had anticipated.  I'm thinking the course may have been short, because I am just *not* that fast.

Up into transition, strip off the wet suit, sunglasses and helmet mashed onto my head.  I had decided to leave my shoes on my bike and I grabbed Ruby and took off running up the hill.  And then I was jogging up the hill. And then I was trotting.  And I finally made it to the top.  I think it's a good thing my feet were still numbed up from the cold water.  Or the adrenaline.  Or both.  I didn't feel the awful surface of the path too much.  I did have a bit of a hard time shoving my wet, numb feet into the shoes once on the bike.  But I eventually got them in there.

The one thing T and I realized (after the fact) was that we should have taken some of that spare time to drive the bike course.  Then we would have had some idea what to expect.  It wasn't bad really, just constantly rolling.  And a bit windy.  And as usual, I got passed by everyone and their great grandmother on the bike (only a *very* slight exaggeration).  I have come to the conclusion that I may be the anti-bicyclist.  Maybe I just don't have cycling muscles.  Maybe I just need to pipe down and work a little harder.  Probably the latter.

Some bad:  I'm unsure how hard is HARD when it comes to the bike.  I see women up out of the saddle for some hills, and wonder how they do it.  I try, then plop back down into the saddle.  I still have a long way to go with the bike. Participate, learn, train some more.

The bike was over, not quite as quickly as I'd have liked.  I didn't make my internal goal. With about a half mile left to go, I was trying to figure out when to slide out of my shoes so I could run down the hill, leaving my shoes on the bike.  Unfortunately, here again is where it would have been good to have scoped out the course.  Down a hill, into a sweeping left hand turn, and then....uphill to the dismount line.  Damnit.  There is no sliding out of shoes on an uphill, at least for me.  So I had to go into the dismount line with my shoes still on my feet.  I started to run down the hill with my shoes still on and sucked.  So I pulled to the side and pulled of my shoes as quickly as I could and started running down that damn hill again.  I could feel my feet a little more this time and it wasn't so nice.  But I could see people struggling to keep from slipping and sliding in their cycling shoes, so I'm not sure what the better choice really was.

I made it into transition and despite heading down the wrong aisle, I was able to get in and out pretty quickly.  Sat down to slide on my socks and running shoes, plop down my helmet and put a hat on my head.  I grabbed my race belt and took off running, fastening it as I went.  And then...the stairs.  &*$&*#* stairs!  I have to admit, midway up I slowed to a trot.  Maybe even a walk.  Okay, yes a walk.  But as soon as I got up to the top, I pushed off and started working on getting my legs back.  I had a side stitch for about half the run, but getting to the turn around was a turning point.  Figuratively and literally.  I knew I only had a mile and a half to go and I tried to pick up the pace.  It wasn't what I had hoped for, but was probably my best run in a sprint to date.  I won't complain too much.  Oh, except about that hill...again....coming in to the the final 3/4 mile.  Uphill....but then a nice downhill to a flat finish line.

I realized (again) after the race that sprints are hard.  I feel like I can't catch my breath for the entire race.  It starts on the swim, with me gasping on every stroke.  Then just when I feel like I can find a small groove, it's time to pop up and run into transition.  Just when I feel my bike legs coming the bike and run again.  Then just warm up the run legs, and it's time to stop.  Everything is HARD effort, which I guess is the definition of "sprint".   But then afterward, the high kicks in and I'm ready so sign up for another one. Go figure.

Now it's time to get back at the training.  And Coach Liz says we have plenty of time to find the bike HURT before the next race.  Joy.

Swim: 6:06
T1:     1:14
Bike: 36:55 (yes, this includes running both up/down that blasted hill)
T2:      1:25
Run:  27:28

More good:  4th in my AG (and not out of 4 like I suspected, but out of 20! woot!) and some of the fastest transitions out there (*the* fastest T1 thankyouverymuch). Too bad they don't give awards for transitions...I'd be golden. 

Lastly....more bad:  The bottoms of my feet are totally bruised from that stupid path. Ouch.


Molly said...

You are not alone with the foot bruising - mine are insane right now. I ran up the hill in bike shoes because I had decided the mount line was too narrow to try to get them on with everyone else trying to ride out. I ran down without shoes and felt those cracks and rocks every step of the way.

You did great!!! The salt water makes us more buoyant and even faster than freshwater swimming, and I felt that difference. But you're right about temperature - no WAY it was that much warmer than Quarry Lakes.

Congrats on getting the 1st one of the year done!

jennabul said...

Great Job! I felt very similar to you the entire race. Never able to catch my breath, running with side cramps. Oh. So. Fun. I didn't see the granny passing me on my bike either, but it certainly could have happened! Sorry about your feet, like I said - glad I had mountain biking shoes.

Congrats on getting the first TRI of the year DONE! And those Transition times are way awesome. Good luck with the rest of your training. Looks like you're off to a good start. Sorry we didn't get to see you. I swear we looked!

Jo Lynn said...

You're NOT 40 yet!

Congratulations on (to me) a great race. Great transition times too. ;)

ShirleyPerly said...

Congrats on your race!!!

Your race report reminds me why I rarely ever do sprint tris. My transitions really suck and I hate going HARD. Glad I don't have your coach :-)