Monday, May 26, 2014

Tri for the YMCA - Tri #3

Another two hour drive to Maine but the morning was beautiful heading into the sunrise. I felt so good and confident the whole morning, not cocky by any means but strong and confident. Packet pick up, body marking and transition area set up all went smoothly. I practiced a run through the TA and got a super good warm up in both on the bike and run. I did confused 8 volunteers, when I warmed up on the run course. They all thought I was already racing and gave me praise. Even the photographer got a few shots.

I saw a few girls that looked strong and one had a different looking seat so I asked her about it. I am not comfortable on my seat most of the time. She loved it and put her on her sit bones as apposed to leaning on the nose. It also had groove to hang on the rack in transitions. With a regular seat the nose has to hang and when taking it off you have to lift and go back to get the bike under the rack. This way you just lift and go! I researched them and they are only $224.00!!! Who wants to sponsor my butt??

During the pre race meeting the sun gave way to clouds and the temp dropped. The bike course changed again due to construction and was 2 miles shorter making it 11 miles over 2 loops. That makes it super confusing for racers and volunteers. Volunteers have no idea who is on what lap and even some athletes don’t even know. There were quite a few waves for the pool swim. The first wave started at 9am but I was in wave 6 and didn’t start until 9:45 so I had time to get my run warm up in and suppress the pre race jitters yes I still get them. The swim was just 325 yds = 13 lengths, pretty easy to count, well I lost count and pretty sure I swam an extra lap. The volunteers put an orange board in the water on your second to last length so you just swim to the other end and get out. I watched how they facilitated this and it looked pretty simple and there was no communication just a few waves of the board in the water. Well I saw the board and heard my counter yell “you’re done!” so embarrassing. As I got out there was no one left in the pool. I already suck on the swim and now I’m back an extra lap…great. I booked it out of the pool and got through T1 in 37 seconds passing 4 racers. The first 4 miles were on Rt 1 with lots of traffic and moderate headwinds so frustrating. My legs were chilly so it was hard to keep a good pace but I pushed through it. The first turn was nice; not too sharp and no sand. It’s better to sweep wide and cut in towards then end which always freeks out the volunteers, they think your going to miss the turn. I kept speed throughout and got right back up to where I was in a few seconds. That’s crucial time; entering and exiting a turn and being in the right gear. The back of the course was soooo nice and smooth and I could really open up it felt soooo good and I felt soooo strong I passed a few more racers. I started up a small hill I was about to pass an older women but she wanted none of that! She stood up to keep with up me, and did until we crested the hill. I rarely stand up, it wastes energy. I spin at a high cadence so my legs don’t get tired. We crested and I got out in front of her. Out on Rt 1 again but it was nice to know what to expect. I passed a few more people and was never passed. I tried catching some of the guys ahead of me but couldn’t. Coming into T2 I spun higher to get my legs ready to run. I do slow down just a bit but I make it up if my legs aren’t pumped from killing a big gear. Got through T2 in 32 seconds.

How timing works in Triathlon: We wear timing chips and as we go over set timing mats it reads our number clocks us in/out. There aren’t separate mats for each leg AND transitions. So when we get our of the water or pool we run a certain distance, some races farther than others and when we hit the mat it ends our swim time and starts the first transition time. As we exit transition that stops our T1 time and begins our bike time. Same coming in for the bike to run. Then it stops our time when we cross the finish. In photos the time isn’t accurate unless you are in the first wave. They adjust your time for your actually start time.

Back to the run my legs were heavier then they usually are but I had to push through it. The course trended up for the first mile with a few flat spots. Then down to a turn around spot after the aid station we turned the cornet and it went up and up and up. About a 12-15% grade I didn’t see that on the warm up. I kept my feet moving and craved the downhill. The quicker I got up the quicker I could go down. I was feeling really good and tried to pick up the pace as I got closer to the finish. About 30 yds from the finish we had nearly a 180º turn, I hate that it throws off your momentum. I ran hard to the finish and felt really good!!

Found Gina and she had a big smile she was proud as always! The sun never came out and I got chilled pretty quickly. Went inside and put layers on while drinking recovrite and elevating my legs. We looked at results and I was 2nd female so far. Wahooo. I jogged for 10 mins and returned to find I was pushed down to 3rd. Still pretty happy. I looked at the bike time for the new 1st place female. It was 8 mins faster than the top male. That is very very rare but maybe. I matched her number with her and she looked strong but looked at her swim and run time and it didn’t match up. Maybe she only did one lap?

They started awards and I was 2nd and she was not first it was a mistake. Another mix up in results. Now you can see why I NEVER trust preliminary results.

The food was awesome here and was open to spectators –that’s a first. They started age group results and I didn’t think I’d get called up again but I did for winning my AG. In most races if the age group winner places in the top three overall they roll down the age group awards so 2nd-4th are recognized. I’m torn with that policy. Regardless if I win my AG. That person worked had and deserves 1st place in AG good for them they also placed in top 3. I once was 2nd in my AG but was given a first place medal I felt funny.

After looking at the results online. Only 3 of us ran a sub 7 min per mile pace. Me and the 1st and 3rd male so I was also the only female to run sub 7 min mile pace. Super pumped with that.

I ended up chatting with Jenny, the seat girl after the race. She races with a team out of Maine and is racing the Franconia Tri on June 8th. We are hoping to pre ride that bike course together!

Overall: 5/128
Female: 2/76
Age Group: 1/9

View online results here

Season Opener - Tri #2

So this summer we will be traveling to races the day of, it’s less expensive and will train me to be ready for any distraction. Of course the 2nd race of the season is 3 hours away! It doesn’t start until 9 so you’d think we could leave at 5-5:30 but I need time to get my packet and do my 1 hour bike run swim warm up. So my alarm went off at 3am and I got up and made breakfast, a nice breakfast sandwich minus the cheese. I triple checked my race bag and had everything. This was the first race of the season with an open water swim. Due to the cold spring I was only able to swim twice in Echo lake. The first time it was too cold to stay in for a length of time so Steve and I swam a few strokes to get the feel of a wetsuit again.

Steve arrived at 4 and we packed my car; bike, tri bag, extra clothes bag, Steve's bag, Gina's bag, the cooler and food bag and of course Laura’s presto chango!  Gina drove while I wrote about the previous race in the back seat. Her and Steve chatted most of the way down.

I read the athlete race day packet and checked the website. I scrolled down to the bike leg and noticed they had to change the course due to construction. They cut the course in half!! It was now only 8 miles. I did not receive an email nor did they make it very clear on homepage of the website. I was also getting extra nervous due to the competition being closer to Boston and the contingent of Elite and Collegiate triathletes. When we arrived we discovered the parking was first come first served and was split into separate coves with not much direction as to where transition area was. As we were unloading the car I watched to see where athletes were going and ended up following them.

I checked in, got body marked and set up transition. The rules for this race stated that once you check your bike into TA they strongly suggested against taking it out. Well that doesn’t work for me or most serious Triathletes who get a good warm up in. I asked about that when I checked in and she was hesitant to let me do it. The other rule was that your run number had to be on during the bike. Most races it’s just required for the run. I’ve never ridden with my run number on. I wear it on a race belt so the bottom is not pinned to my suit therefore causing it to flap at high speeds. Oh well those are the rules. I set up and went out for my warm up: 10 mins then 2 x 3min hard efforts with 5 min recovery in between.  Half way through it I was at mile 4 so I figured I’d ride the whole course, which I never get to do. Now I knew what to expect.

Back to TA and out for my run. I felt so scatter brained and didn’t feel confident in my routine. I needed to refocus and know that I had this I know what I’m doing. Finished my run and squeezed into my wetsuit. Steve and I walked down to the water. I walked in and it nearly took my breath away. There were only a handful of athletes warming up. I didn’t want to dunk my face in but knew I had too. WHOA!! I swam up and around the buoy and back to Steve. Booties were allowed for this race so I borrowed Leah’s. This would be the first time to swim with booties so I was hesitant but I didn’t want my toes to freeze!! I swam to the buoy and back and it was too distracting plus I haven’t practiced taking them off at speed so I went without.

We walked to the pre race meeting and then it was time to start. Steve and Gina wished me luck. They said do your best and don’t think about the others. I found the group of women with yellow caps.

The swim was a point to point so we walked in wave down the shore to the start. It was an in water start so no running, just treading until the horn blew. We walked in and everyone’s breath was taken away. The sign said 58º, yea felt more like 48º. It was a little choppy but the wind was at our backs so that helps. I tried to find the best position. I know I’m not fast so I put myself in the middle. Bad idea. It was the worst swim start ever. I got hung up pretty good and couldn’t break out of it for a while. Once I did I felt better. I got through it and was about 35th out about the middle of the pack according to Steve. Now to get the suit off and on the bike, need to practice that more.  I only had 8 miles to get my time back so I had to go super hard plus I knew the course. The road in the park had some good cracks but I knew that so I let a little air out before I left my bike in TA. That helped a little. I still hit them at speed while in the aero bars and almost got tossed off. I hammered as hard as I could and passed a lot of racers. I didn’t get passed so that always helps me mentally.

Back into TA and onto the run. It started with a steady up hill not the best terrain to start with but everyone had to face it. My legs felt ok and once it crested the hill I picked up the pace. I stared getting stomach cramps and they lasted for the entire run. Maybe my breakfast didn’t sit well or my pre race nerves got the best of me. I don’t but man it was uncomfortable. After the 1st mile the course changed to grass and slowed us down. I could see runners on the last part of the course as it crossed the top of the damn I was excited for that. I passed some more runners and up another hill to the top of the damn. As I was getting passed the wind was strong. I yelled out Come on!! He agreed. He passed me on the left and blocked the wind for a few seconds. So I was able to keep up with him for a few strides. He read that and dropped back behind me on the right. I didn’t want to drop back and play that game so I just kept running. I had to shut my mind off to the cramps I was dealing with otherwise I would have stopped and couldn’t let that happen. He ended up passing me back just as we got off the damn and I tried as hard as I could to catch him but I couldn’t. I finished with all I had.

I found Steve and Gina they were happy with my times, which always feels good. I talked about how it went and then walked to the bathroom hoping for relief. I could barely stand up straight it hurt so bad. No luck. Steve found some ginger minty liquid stomach relief at the expo and encouraged me to drink it. I really don’t like ginger but I drank it. After awhile it started to help I still didn’t want to eat anything. I tried to jog again but couldn’t. I drank my recoverite and tried to relax. We checked the results and I was 5th female.

We stayed for awards and I got a glass and a flower and hope for prizes too. We packed food and hung out I still didn’t want to eat but I knew I had too the cramps were nearly gone so I got a sandwich down. We began the 3 hour drive home and I felt happy about my effort.

Overall: 52/433
Female: 5/167
Age Group: 1/25

View online results here.

Polar Bear Tri - Tri #1

That was the earliest Triathlon I’ve ever done. It was a chilly morning as to be expected for the coast of Maine and with the winterish spring we’ve had. I was worried about staying warm during the bike. The swim was held in the Bowdin College pool. IT WAS HUGE, well normal for most but the pool we train in is 2 lanes, 4 feet deep, 13 yards long. This pool was 16 lanes, 15 feet deep and 25 yards long. My warmup had to be carefully calculated because of the designated swim practice time and when the transition was closing. I typically warm up by biking, running then swimming all in about an hour before I start. The pool was open from 7:30-8 transition closed at 8:10 and my wave wasn’t starting until 9:15. So I made sure I had an extra pair of sneakers because I had no access to my race shoes after 8:10. 

After swim warm up and the shock of swimming in 15 feet of water I stepped outside to see how the air temp would feel when soaking wet, burrrr. I quickly ran a long sleeve in transition just in case. The waves were assigned but not the lanes. So I figured there would be a free for all for the lane closest to the door to transition. There wasn’t so I grabbed it and shared it will a guy named Jeff. Every athlete had to submit a time they could swim the 525 yards in. Maury suggested 8:30 for me. Wave 5 was up and we jumped into the water it was chilly. I swam up and back and we started 30 secs later. I really don’t know what happened in the pool it kinda fell apart and I was slow but didn’t feel that slow. When I’m training in the winter, I don’t focus on perfecting my flip turns because I am an open water swimmer but flip turns are crucial for speed in the pool. 

When I finished my 21 lengths I got out and looked at my watch, it said 10 mins I was shocked. As soon as I entered the transition area I shut that out and refocused on the bike. I put my shoes and helmet on and ran to the mount line. I passed a few racers, so many athletes, the less competitive ones, are not quick here but that’s ok. I love the bike leg, it’s the fastest, I’m the strongest here and I make up so much lost time. That needs to change. I passed between 20-25 athletes and was only passed by one guy rgggg. I also passed a few guys with super expensive bikes and aero helmets- love that feeling! It’s all about the training! The course was very nice and the town had swept the shoulders it was so smooth for spring racing. There were no real hills and I maintained an average speed of 22.7 mph. 

As I approached the TA I shift up to an easier gear and spin a bit faster to get my legs ready to run, I dismounted and ran right to my spot. I forgot to put my sunglasses on before my helmet in T1 so I had to take them off then put them back on, not good. As I ran towards the timing mat I wrapped my number belt around my waist that saves some time, I strongly suggest that technique. I came up on a guy with in 2 mins and he said I knew you’d get me in the run. It was the guy that passed me on the bike!! I was so excited inside. 80% of the run was on grass/in the woods on trail, which was nice and engaging. There were mile markers but I read the athlete guide and it stated that both mile 1 and 2 were at the aid stations. When I reached the first one I hit the split button and looked, it said 5:11 I didn’t think I was running that fast but cool!! I kept running and turned the corner and there was a big Mile 1 sign. I looked at the time and it was 6:41 I should have hit split again so I could see my second mile split but I got confused and thought it would change my overall time somehow. The mind doesn’t always work well in race mode. The course was split into 2 laps with the second lap being shorter so that threw me off a little. Each time I passed a runner I made sure to say good job, it makes me feel good and I know how awesome it makes me feel when it’s said to me. I’m going to work on being a little nicer during races. Not that I am ever the opposite but I don’t ever say anything to anyone because I am so focused. Interacting makes me smile, which in turn will hopefully make me faster, and more relaxed. After the 2nd lap split I had just a little more to go. The course popped out of the woods into the finish chute and was lined with spectators. I’ve raced tri for 6 summers now and that feeling never gets old and I don’t think it ever will. If it does then I need to move on. Some how you always find a little more in you to go just a little faster. As I neared the line the announcer Andy Schlact announced my name along with “one of the premier triathletes in the granite state who represented the US very well in the World Tri Championships in London” I gave it all I had left and crossed the finish line with a huge smile. 

After my heart rate went down I made sure to go for a jog so my legs didn’t cramp up. When I returned Gina looked at the results. I was 3rd female!! As I said in previous blogs I never believe the results until I hear for sure when they announce the podium. I drank my recovery drink and put my legs up keeping the lactic acid from pooling. I went for another longer run and as I passed the TA someone yelled to get my attention. It was the guy I passed on the run. He asked what my bike time was and we chatted about the race. He is racing the White Mountains Tri in Franconia so we agreed we see each other there. He finished the conversation with “Well gotta go have my jack and coke” Really you just raced why do you need alcohol. That totally turned me off.

I studied the results a bit more and the top two females swam 2 mins quicker than me and I finished about 3 mins behind them, it’s so frustrating but it just makes me more determined to work harder.

The award ceremony started with the top 3 females. “In 3rd place Angela Cox, in a time of 1:02:00” then he announced 2nd and 1st place. Unmm wait what about me? I scanned the results again and saw Angela at the bottom with about 10 other athletes who didn’t have complete results. So they must have manually added her chip time. 4th is still pretty good though and I was first in my age group!

I found the race director and thanked her for a great race something else I’m going to start doing. She thanked me for coming down from N. Conway and asked if I was racing the Pirate Tri again. It’s conflicting with another race so I won’t be racing it. It was a beautiful sunny day but I was having a hard time enjoying it. I had mixed feelings about my race, I was so mad at my slow swim time but happy about the rest of the race. I work so hard all winter training three mornings a week and then I swim a 10 min 525 yards.  I have gotten faster but I’m still missing something. My lower half doesn’t float that well so I have some drag especially in the pool. Eventually something will click for me in the swim! 

Overall: 30/ 253
Female: 4/119
Age Group: 1/23

View results online here