Monday, June 3, 2013

I won my first Triathlon of the season!

Running through the finish line knowing I had pretty much left all of it out there felt amazing but not the amazing most can associate with. Amazing that I’m learning to mentally push myself physically. It’s a new and exciting level of training.

The alarm went off at 3:12 am. Bedtime is usually 9pm before a race, but the clock read 11:20pm as I closed my eyes. Libby’s Bistro hosted a fundraiser dinner for Team Skidmore the night before so I was there a little later than I wanted but had a great time with friends.

I have a really hard time eating on race morning even more so when it’s super early. It was a 2.5 hour drive to the town of Bath, Me and packet pickup was between 6:30 and 7:30. I usually don’t eat out the night before a race but I had no choice. The food was incredible but I wasn’t digesting it well. I had also eaten out a few times during the week. I haven't had time to go food shopping but I made good choices at the restaurants I did go to. Gina and I departed at 4:15 it was still dark. I did manage to get half a bagel down and a banana but knew I needed more. My stomach was gurgling all the way there, the sunrise was beautiful though!

We had stopped a few times to use the bathroom. We didn’t pack a breakfast and planned on stopping somewhere. That somewhere was McDonald’s yup..McDonalds. I didn’t want to eat at a new place and I’ve had McD’s breakfast sandwiches before so I knew I was safe. Plus there were no diners open that early. Egg sausage and cheese it was good. Didn’t settle my stomach but at least there was food in it.  Due to the wave assignments I still had two hours to my start time. We arrived at the Bath YMCA and straight to the bathroom I went.

I checked in and got my race packet which almost always consists of race number for the run, race number for the bike, a timing chip worn around the ankle, a swim cap color coordinated to your wave assignment, some coupons and gels. I opened mine and found the two race numbers and a coupon. I always have an extra swim cap in my race bag but used it last week and never put it back, apparently I didn’t learn as a child to always but things back.  I asked about the timing chip and they weren’t using them. I was a little concerned since the race was sanctioned by the USA Triathlon association. I wondered how they would get the splits including T1 and T2. There are several mats that read the electronic timing chip. One after the swim, another as you go out on the bike, one coming in on the bike, one leaving the transition area on the run and one at the finish. This way swim time, T1, bike time, T2 and run time are all recorded. After looking at the results it seems they added the T1 to the bike and T2 to the run, I'm really not sure about that.

The swim portion was in the pool so I was worried about having to count my laps 10 ½ or 21 lengths.

I hit the bathroom again and went for a quick ride. The pool and the transition area closed at 7:30 and my wave wasn’t starting until 8:45. All other tris I’ve done are in open water and the wave times are just a few minutes apart. After my spin with power accelerations I checked in, got inked, and set up my transition area.

 The racks were pretty full but I made do. 

As Gina and I listened to the pre race meeting, I checked out the competition. Most seemed pretty relaxed and looked like they weren’t super competitive. But I’ve learned you can’t judge by suits or personality. The race director went over the rules, the run and bike courses and then the teens started at 8am. 

I went back and forth from the spectator area to the bathroom a few more times. I still had 30 minutes to start. I knew I need to run but didn’t want to stray too far from the bathroom and I didn’t bring an extra pair of running shoes. I forced my somewhat functioning body ready to race. I borrowed Gina’s sneakers two sizes to small and took off. It was very hot and humid, I really don’t do well in the heat and felt pretty crummy but I knew I had to do this, plus Gina made me. It was a good thing because the elastic in my hair was stretched out and wasn’t  holding my hair well. I returned and found another elastic. It's funny how things play out. Back to the bathroom and then to the pool.

It was pretty confusing, there were still swimmers in the water and I couldn’t tell if they were racing or warming up. You’d think one could differentiate between race pace and warm up but there were many beginners in this race.  I hung out on the deck, I hesitated asking the volunteers because they were counting laps. 
Yup there I am not knowing whats going on, thanks Gina for capturing my finest moment!
I finally asked what lane I was in and was told “any lane you want, some lanes have two swimmers and some have one.” The swimmers that were in the water were warming up! Well, glad they made that apparent in the race meeting. I got in and heard “30 seconds to start”, awesome, no warm up. I was so nervous I didn’t want to loose count and there were so many people watching. I especially didn’t want to be the last out of the pool in my wave. The kid next to me said good luck and I responded with the same I could tell he was a strong swimmer. The whistle blew and I swam pretty hard but after a few laps I just couldn’t get there mentally and wasn’t swimming fast. It was a huge disappointment because I’ve worked so hard on my swim since August. I swam a 9:48 and was the last out of the pool. 
That's me in the closest lane in last place in the wave
With the help of Steve and Maury, I seeded myself in the 8:00 minute wave. It was so frustrating but I just put it behind me and ran like heck to my bike, my specialty. 

Got on and instantly felt fast. Steve wanted me to cover up my computer so I’d be racing by feel not constantly studying the numbers which I’ve also done since August. Well I forgot the tape but I really only looked at it twice over the 10 miles. I did what I could to reel in and pass riders, some in my wave some in the previous wave.  Steve’s last words to me were “absolutely hammer it on the bike and pick up the pieces in the run”  I was on the line of suffering the whole time but knew I’ve have the data and Steve to answer to if I wasn’t.  The road surface was pretty rough which makes it really hard to stay focused and in the zone. I kept my cadence high and passed a few riders and was not passed by any from the wave behind me. That’s always a confidence booster! The roads stay open to car traffic so all rules apply but there are cops and volunteers stopping traffic so that helps. It’s still confusing at times. I got pretty turned around and didn’t realize how close I was to returning back to the transition area, like I said I only looked at my computer twice and didn’t scroll to the next screen to see mileage. I popped off my bike and ran in to T2. I raced 10 miles in 32:21 fifth overall and may or may not include T1 or T2. 

Depending on the terrain of  the transition area I slip out of my shoes while still on the bike. It’s much easier to run barefoot than with cleats. Picture running with reversed heeled shoes, really funny and awkward since your legs are spent. 

Ripped off my helmet and bike shoes pulled on my running shoes and grabbed my race belt. The key to a fast T2 is the race belt -it holds your run number so your not wearing it the whole race. I was in and out of T2 and on my way. 

It was hot out about 85 or 90F and I ran with a fast turn over quickly reeling other racers in. I saw another female who was part of a Tri club and knew she started in my wave so I had to catch her. She passed one of her teammates and they slapped hands. “Aww how cute” I said in my head with a scowl on my face. I get jealous of the camaraderie that comes racing with a club. The closest tri club to me is two hours away. I try to funnel that into going harder knowing I’m representing myself.  I didn’t want to pass her too soon because I didn’t know what she had left. Luckily I could watch her pace for quite awhile on the straight away. After a few minutes I realized I had her. I passed her at the half way point and never heard her again. The run seemed to go on forever, there were no mile markers. I passed a few more and one guy yelled “you’re an animal!” as I looked over to him I barely gasped “come on let's go a little faster we’re almost there” I rarely communicate with other racers but I feel incredible when someone faster than me encourages me. I’m working on returning that favor. Yes I’m racing hard and in the zone but my positive comments may entice a first time competitor to race again. I pushed it harder through the finish shoot and stopped my watch at 1:02:30. 

I was so spent but thrilled that I pushed myself into the suffer zone. I ran the 3 miles in 20:29 which again I think included the T2 time. I was third fastest runner overall!

I caught my breath grabbed some water and checked the results. NO WAY! I was the second to finish and first female?! I held the excitement in because they were unofficial and not all athletes had finished. Gina recorded all my splits and was very happy but said did you forget how to swim? I’d like to erase it but racing is all about gaining experience and dealing with the unforeseen events on race morning. We walked to the car to get my recovery drink and found some shade to elevate and stretch my legs.

We looked at the results again and I had dropped down to 4th overall but I was still the 1st female, it was starting to sink in a little and it brought a sly smirk to my face. A few more racers finished and I cheered them in. I looked up the race number on the girl I passed and she finished one minute behind me. She was second female. She swam a 7:50, thank god I can ride and run but it still means I’ve got a lot of work to do.

We gathered in the gym for awards. The race director thanked all who raced and acknowledged the sponsors. They awarded the teens and went right into overall winners. I started getting butterflies I really don’t like being the center of attention but I earned it! Most races recognize the top three overall and top three for all age groups. Today they only went two deep. Hearing my name as overall winner was so awesome!! It’s the first race I’ve won I was hoping for a podium so I could shake hands with the second and third place finishers,  be up there in front of the crowd with others and of course get that podium photo. But that didn’t happen, oh well.

Gina got one shot of me and we hit the road. 

I was the fastest female to complete the course that day! It won’t set in for a while. As we drove away I looked at my legs and slapped them a few times “great job today girls!” Then I told my arms they sucked, we both laughed hysterically.

What a great start to my tri season! I’ve got five days until my next tri. I'm excited and nervous but this one is an open water swim and won't be as hectic, I hope!

2013 Y-Tri Triathlon Overall 1st Place!

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations Meg,
    love the write up commentary!
    Good luck @ the next race.