Sunday, July 28, 2013

5 days of Mountain Bike Guiding and a Triathlon

Winning my last triathlon by 8 minutes came as a huge surprise! I wasn't feeling all that strong coming into the weekend. I had been guiding 9 teenage boys on a 5 day mountain bike camp. Plus there were two Triathlon Clubs racing and they usually bring some good competition. Mountain biking for 5 days sounds like enough training, but mountain biking is very different than riding on the road and I've logged less then 10 hours total on my mountain bike for the summer. On top of guiding I was also Tri training before and after mountain biking all day. The camp pace wasn't that fast but being off road takes a lot out of you as well as managing the safety of teenage boys. I've been training at a high cadence to prep my legs for running, with mountain biking I am unable to sustain a high cad and my bike weights much more than my triathlon bike. Also Tuesday night, the second day of camp, was week 2 of the Great Glen Summer Bike Series. Most of the boys raced and I waited until they all returned safely. I raced the 5 miles in 24:41 then had a run immediately after. Then the next morning I had swim training at 5:30 am. On day 4 I had an obligation to speak at an after school program about unicycling. For those of you who don't know, I am the first female to unicycle up the Mt. Washington Auto Road! The Auto Road is 7.6 miles, avg grade is 12% with a 100 yd 22% at the very end. I shared my experiences with the teen club and played a few games before my track workout with Steve that evening. Finished that around 8pm then home to make dinner and get ready for swim training at 5:30 am and the last day of mountain bike camp.

All week I had the Tri in the back of my head. When Saturday came my legs were heavy and I was tired. I was going to try my hardest the next day but lower my expectations. The day before a race I have a specific brick workout and usually do it as I preview the race course in the afternoon. Because I worked Monday I had Saturday off and had more time to get to my race 2.5 hours away in Concord NH. I completed my workout on Saturday morning then Gina met me at my house, with groceries. I don't have much time to go food shopping so that was a surprise. I now had meals for the next two weeks.

We drove to Concord, checked into the Cozy Pond Campground a very small ma and pa owned business.

We set up camp, I took my nap and then drove 20 minutes into downtown Concord to preview the bike course and transition area. The race was on the NHTI campus. The swim was rectangle shape in the Merrimack River. The first part up river and then back down and exiting on the boat launch. Looking at last years results I knew there would be only about 100 athletes, this was the 2nd annual and by the small size of the transition area. We tried to follow the bike directions but it was tricky. We discovered a mile into the course it went off road. They had pieces of carpet stretching about 200 feet uphill with a narrow sidewalk on the side. I didn't know how this would play out.

The course went down main street and near the hospital. The back half of the course was hilly but the pavement was good. I knew the course went through the city and wasn't going to be closed to traffic so I really needed to pay attention to the course markings.

We drove back to the campground made dinner, had a fire and I painted my nails!

Went to bed and listened to a Screech owl for hours. We usually break down camp after the race but because it was 20 minutes out of the way we got up early and packed everything. Bagel and fruit for breakfast and we were on our way.

The air was thick and humid. We parked in the athlete lot, the other lot was reserved for NASCAR shuttles. Which got interesting during the race. I checked in, got marked and set up my spot. I went back to the lot to find Steve super gluing my rear tire. It had a few cracks in it.

That made me a little nervous. As I started my warm up I was already sweating. I rode to the carpet section. The course went up the hill single file and down the side walk which had 2 sets of train tracks and 2 mini rumble strips for the blind, also single file. I went out and back and switched to my run warmup. I was hungry. I returned to my spot and found it pretty crowded but I managed. The transition area was closing and now it was time to get into my wetsuit. I found a trick online to make it easier, put your foot inside a plastic shopping bag and it slips on like butter! Same for the arms. However trying to stretch the rest of it over a sweaty body is like molasses.  I ate a package of shot blocks and listened to the anthem.

Most races distinguish waves by different color caps, not this one, females had pink men wore blue. Females 19-39 were in the 4th wave. The course was in the river and because of all the rain and strong current reduced to 1/4 of a mile. I was able to see the top men finish. They called our wave and I made sure I got in the front. I turned around and only saw about 10 other girls. I panicked usually there are 40-50 in my wave. I asked another swimmer and she confirmed I was in the correct wave. Steve had a plan, swim as close to shore as possible to avoid the strong current.

I was out front for a while. I always start too fast and my heart rate sky rockets. I could see a girl passing me so I drafted her for as long as I could. The next part of the plan was to swing way high after the first turn so the current wouldn't take me past the second buoy. that didn't work either. The current was pretty strong right near the buoy and I was swimming in place for about 15 seconds. Once I made the turn it got easier and I passed the last turn for the boat launch. Swam in as far as I could and ran out and up to transition.
It was a short run to T1 and there was one girl sitting on the ground switching into her bike gear. I was out before she stood up. My legs weren't quite ready for the ride but I just pushed through it. 

I focused on getting through the single file section and luckily there was no one there. I made my way down Main Street trying to follow the small painted arrows on the pavement. The road was open to traffic and the cops were there for the vehicles more than the cyclists. I came up on a red light with two cars side by side and couldn't tell if I needed to go straight or turn right. I looked for arrows, didn't see any and went right in between the two vehicles and had no idea if they saw me. A few more left turns crossing traffic and I was out of the city. The back half was hilly with a long descent. As I approached the single file spot again I was lucky-no racers! Down the sidewalk over the tracks and less then a mile to T2. The course entered the college and there were a few speed bumps. During my warmup I spotted the flatter sections and tried aiming for them but there was a minivan I had to swerve around and almost got tossed off my bike!
T2 was fast as usual. I did not preview the run course and figured it would finish back at the transition like EVERY race I've done. I felt quick and light. It was hot so I paced myself. The course made its way through campus on the sidewalks which was nice and distracting. Some courses are out and back-boring! I really liked the winding and turning of this one. Almost every spectator I passed cheered me on and congratulated me for being the first female. I used that to run faster but also pushed it out of my head. They didn't realize I was in the first of three female waves so I may not have been completing the course the fastest.

There were no mile markers so I really couldn't tell where I was on course. I could sense the finish line getting closer. Steve yelled one mile to go just around the pond. Around the pond I thought to myself? That doesn't seem right! The finish was no where near the start area. I passed a few guys going around the pond and finally saw the finish. I sprinted past the line as hard as I could. It was awhile before the next female finished. I was hoping to jump in the river to cool off but it was nowhere to be seen. We were far from the start area. My friend Armand finished a few minutes behind me and he agreed how hot it was!

I drank my recovery drink and elevated my legs. The awards and food were set up near the finish. They had lots of great snacks. The results were posted- I was first!! I always look at the next female- she was 8 minutes behind me. That's never happened no matter where I've finished. It felt pretty awesome! 
Most races don't have a podium for winners to stand on most don't call up the top three for each age group for pictures but this one did and I was very excited to get up there. The announcer, the awards and the podium were in three totally different spots. They started announcing top female and top male before the awards were ready to be given out. The announcer immediately moved on to age group winners before I got my award, so no podium shot for me. I did get some pretty sweet prizes though. A granite brick, honey, gift card and a $220 heart rate monitor! I made sure the top guy hung around for pics after. And I got my podium shot!

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