Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pitch Pine Challenge

A 1/2 mile into the three mile run I see her, the only women ahead of me that started in my wave. She's got long hair and has turned to look back a few times, which is a no no in my book. I never look back, it messes with my focus and form. I felt strong and light on my feet, she looked tired. My pace was a little bit faster than hers but I didn't want to overtake her too soon, not knowing what she had left. That's not to say I slowed down, I think she knew I was coming and kept trying to widen the gap.

I felt like a fisherman reeling in a huge fish; slow and steady focusing on small increments of time and distance. At the turn around I knew I was going to pass her, but knowing when to is like pulling the rod too soon, you don't want to loose the fish. Mentally it was challenging, she was racing for a club and had tons of support on the course, me-I've got myself out there. With about 3/4 of a mile left I landed the fish. As I passed her she was breathing a lot heavier than me and that gave me all I needed; she didn't have it in her. One of her teammates yelled from behind the both of us "Don't let her get away, stay with her" As the sound of her footsteps faded, I knew she wouldn't be able to catch me. I never looked back I just kept running a little bit faster. As I broke out of the woods I could see the finish line and heard my name announced, I found a little more in me and finished almost loosing my breakfast. I was the first female to cross the finish line! That felt so awesome!

Last year I raced this course in 1:17:35 this year I took 5 minutes off, finishing in 1:12:48, 3rd female overall and 1st in my age group. The forecast was sunny and 70, well they were wrong. At the start of the race it was misting making for a chilly warm up. The water wasn't too bad, glad I wore my wetsuit though.  The transition area at this race is in a gravel parking lot, not ideal, especially for me- I cannot stand sand on my feet, in my shoes or anywhere else on me. It drives me nuts. If I go swimming I need to dry my feet off at the shore, put dry shoes on and walk ever so cautiously to the car making sure not a single grain of sand gets in my shoe. Back to the race...

Gina, Tami and I headed down to camp at the venue-White Lakes State Park the night before. Picked up my race packet and drove the course. Although I raced last year I needed to see it again. It's pretty flat, 90% smooth pavement with a gradual five tier hill. Cleaned and checked over my bike, which my brother named Turbo! Thanks Aust, I love it!

Chicken and veggies for pre race dinner, a camp fire and in bed by 9. Oh and painted my nails bright green. The only time I wear nail polish is for a race, a tradition I started this summer.

We didn't have far to walk to the transition area so I didn't have to get up super early, which gives me less time to be nervous.  I had a banana and an egg, cheese and tomato sandwich for breakfast. On the way over, it started to mist adding to the chilly temps. I racked my bike and set up, got my body marked which is usually done by volunteers. This time the race director was headed in my direction with a marker. I felt pretty special and it was nice to know he was interacting with the racers.

I had about 20 minutes for a warm up. Usually it's just an easy jog and easy ride. After training this summer with my coach, Steve has taught me how to warm up properly. I always conserved on my warm up making sure I saved some for the actual race. Steve explained during one of my field tests that it's better to give hard efforts to "prime" the system. This time I made sure I put in a good warm up, especially because it was cold and rainy. I ran for 10 minutes and didn't have time to ride but got my wetsuit on and did about 10 minutes in the water. After the National Anthem played we still had about 10 minutes to start. Being wet and cold is not the best way to start a race. I made sure I stayed warm by doing calisthenics. 

There were about 30 racers in my wave. My goal was to focus on drafting and when the horn sounded, I stayed with a guy for about 30 seconds, then he was gone. I can't wait to work on getting faster in the water during the off season.
I have been trying different breathing techniques and I think during this race I nailed it. Prior to the race I was breathing bilaterally, once on each side, this meant holding my breath for a longer period of time. Then I tried five on right then five on left and that was a little better. The week leading up to the race I tried breathing on the right side and it felt much better, my heart rate wasn't through the sky and I could really focus on technique. I took two minutes off my swim time this year!

Because it was chilly I debated riding with a jersey vs. just my tri suit, this would mean swimming with it under my wetsuit because I wasn't going to try to put it on after being wet during T1.  I went back and forth and decided to leave it in my bag. I could have used another layer on my legs, they felt like icebergs for the majority of the ride, it was uncomfortable but I was used to it. I've been out training on some chilly mornings leading up to the race, so I knew the feeling all to well.

I was 6th female out of the water in my wave. I passed a few girls and guys on the bike and was passed by some as well. One girl passed me, I saw her age, she was in my age group. I tried to stay with her but couldn't.  I kept her in sight for the remainder of the ride, except when she turned back into the campground. I kept thinking I might be faster than her on the run. Much to my surprise, she was still in the transition and right next to me when I came in.

I have to admit here that I pulled a rookie move during T2. I always go through the entire transition area so I know how it flows and exactly where my spot is from all angles. I totally forgot to run through the bike-in section. I came in and went down the wrong lane then had to look for my stuff which never looks the same after T1. I finally spotted it, racked my bike and said to the girl who passed me "man it's cold" she responded "yea, nothing's working right" I stuffed my cold, wet, sandy feet into my shoes, grabbed my race belt and took off.

As I ran through the chute, Tami yelled "TWO!" I didn't know if that meant two ahead of me or I was second. A 1/2 mile into the three mile run I see her....

Of course after the race was over, the sun came out but not before some photos!
Tami, Julia, Jamie and Regina-thanks for the signs!

My finishers medal

Jamie, Julia, Sue, Susan, Me, Sandi, Tami, Trish and Regina
Thanks to everyone who came and stood in the rain to support me! Thanks Jamie and Julia for the signs they helped me go faster!

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