Tuesday, June 10, 2014

White Mountains Olympic - Tri #5

Well that went way better than expected and I had no expectations nor did I set any goals. I finished my first Olympic in 9th place over all out of 94 men and women and I was the 2nd fastest female!! Wow even I’m shocked. I know I’m fit but you never know who’s fitter or what will happen on race day. Today went perfectly except for bathroom issues just before the start. I couldn’t go but knew I had too otherwise I’d get stomach cramps. And using the bathroom was much more important than a swim warm up in the long run. The TA was in a way different location then I had planned on.  It was 1/3 of a mile up hill from the beach.

Rewind to the morning, Gina and I drove over from Randolph. The morning was perfect not a single cloud in the sky and I was in a super good mood. 

We arrived to discover TA wasn’t in the parking lot by the beach instead it was at the Peabody lodge of Cannon Mountain Ski Area 1/3 of a mile away, uphill. And the run course didn’t finish there either. Instead it was also at the base lodge but we had to run past the TA and lodge down part of 3 mile hill and back up the access road through the base area up the stairs to the back of the lodge.

I checked in and again was asked about Team Skidmore, most think it is in relation to Skidmore College. I explained and got my goodie bag. Numbers were tattoos but there weren’t any volunteers helping to apply them. Gina and I stepped into the bathroom to put them on. Seems pretty simple but I forgot to take the clear plastic off before I stuck it one on and I messed it up. So I had to get written on, one side and had the tattoo on the other.

I found my spot and began to set up. Due to the longer race I taped 2 gels to my bar. I planned on taking one on the bike and had the extra if I needed it.  I went out for my warm up and wasn’t nervous at all. I just wanted to do everything the best I could and had no expectations on my finish time or placement. I came back and went for my run.

Steve caught me and had checked out the last ½ mile of the course and advised that I use that for my run warm up. It was down hill then back up for a long steady climb up a set of stairs and around a corner to the finish line. Wow more hills. So glad I did that. Having the advantage of knowing the whole course helped me mentally so I could perform physically.

I walked through TA a few times so I knew exactly where my bike was and I saw Jenny who I met at the Tri for a Y. We chatted and were exited to race together.

Next it was down, down, down to the beach and T1A, I’ll call it. We were given a big plastic bag and were ok’d to wear sneakers from the beach up the long hill to T1. They set up some fake grass carpet for us to strip off wetsuits and leave there so we could run the hill with no extra gear. I only had flip flops with me but Steve let me borrow his sneakers. Glad he had an extra pair of shoes in his car. Come to find out they were crocs. He moves around a lot during my races and sometimes runs next to me so I felt really bad he would be doing that in crocs.

I lubed up my neck to prevent chafing, and writs and calves so my suit would slip off easier. 

Stuffed myself into my wetsuit and set my bag, shoes and arm warmers up.  I walked away and turned to pretend I was racing and made sure I knew where my spot was. I strongly suggest that for any race, take the time to get your bearings because when you are in race mode everything looks different.

We walked down towards the beach, race start was at 7:30. I had to use the bathroom, I started to feel cramps and didn’t want to deal with them later. So I tried and couldn’t go. I pictured a line outside waiting for me and nothing. I looked at my watch and it said 7:09 so I had plenty of time, still I couldn’t go. I opened the door and there was no line at all. Phewww. I talked with Steve and told him about it. He said well race starts in 4 mins. My jaw dropped WHAT!!?? Its only 10 after he looked at his watch. It read 7:26. My watch still said 7:09 it was switched to my stopwatch and had my last spilt time displayed. Ooops. But I still had to go so he said hurry up. I went back and knew there would be pre race talk and different wave starts. I relaxed and went!!

Now to get in the water to warm up before the start. I made my way over to the beach and they were doing pre race announcements and said they were going to start the half iron man racers 10 mins late so that put our start at 8:15 ish. Wasn’t planning for that. Meaning I didn’t have my water mixed with Scratch – all natural hydration mix- with me. I could have easily taken in more food and calories. There wasn’t a day of schedule on the website or posted anywhere so no one knew what times things would start. 

Both courses had 2 loops both requiring us to exit the water run 50 yds on the beach and back in for the second loop. The half course was a longer loop and they started first. We had to wait until all waves finished the first loop before we began our race.

I got in and warmed up quite a bit. It was cold but it got better the longer I was in. One women was messing with her goggles so I asked her if they were good and offered her my extra pair if she needed them. I once forgot my helmet and was give the 2nd chance to race because someone had an extra and offered it to me. I will always pay that forward whenever I can. I was worried about getting too cold so I got out and stood in the sun for a while. My stomach was settling and I felt good. I was surprised by the distance. I know what mile is but actually seeing it and then knowing I had to swim two loops was a little overwhelming but I shut that out.

Steve and I had a last minute chat, thinking back I honestly can't recall what he was telling me here. But it was something along the lines of have fun and be smart. Or why didn't you bring your own shoes now I have suffer in these green things with socks. I'm probably looking at the bear on the slopes of Cannon behind the mirrored lens of my goggles.

We were called to the start line, all women started together. I like that format then with the help of  Steve and Gina they know where I am during the race and can relay that info to me. We got in and had the count down I was still calm and ready to get through the swim and onto the bike. 

 The horn blew and I was off. I sight on my right so I got to look at Cannon Mtn Ski area for the first 1/3 of the swim. 

I was enjoying that until I got t-boned. Yes t-boned in a swim race. The girl on my left apparently wasn’t the best at swimming straight. I didn’t see her but I sure felt her. That’s a first, I’ve been swam over and kicked but never taken out from the side. After the race Gina and Steve said they watched the whole thing happen. It must have been so funny and frustrating not being able to do anything about it.

After the mix up I got into a really nice rhythm. I held it the whole swim and tried to draft when possible it only happened twice for about 10 strokes. I was swimming a tight line to the imaginary rectangle and everyone seemed to be just outside it. Steve and I talked after and staying in the pack to draft would have been better. I’ll keep that in my pocket, well somewhere in my wetsuit for next time.

I got out after my second lap in 29:10 not bad. Ran up to T1A 

I started pulling my wetsuit down and a girl came over and asked if I wanted a strip. There were volunteers there pulling suits off. It saves some time. I didn’t know they would be there otherwise I would have just sat down vs. trying to get it off myself. I put Steve’s size 10 shoes on and started to jog to the real TA. I was running with another girl she had a good pace. Lots were walking or running really slow so I made up some time here.

I came up into T1,  the plan was to drink a lot and take a half gel but I didn’t want to. I took a few swigs and pulled my shoes on. I ripped the special loop on the back of my shoe right off. Crap I yelled. I had the shoe on but now its going to flap the whole 20 mile bike ride. I finished up and began the 3 mile descent into Franconia. It was all about surviving. The road was horrible pot holes, cracks, big huge bumps. Steve and I had ridden it last week and I knew what to expect. I did take a different line and it didn’t feel as scary. I got to the bottom and opened up a gel. Took 1/3 of it and stuck it in my shorts upside down. Bad idea, it started sliming down my leg as I began to climb. The guy next to me was shocked at the wall in front of us. I smiled inside – he didn’t preview the course- I won’t see him again. I passed a few going up and never saw him. I topped out after forever and pulled away.

The next few miles were a series of step climbs. I executed perfectly according to the plan Steve and I set. The next descent was steep but not as long. I didn’t need to pedal but I had to keep my legs moving. Always moving, there is no coasting.

We turned right onto Rt 302 and headed out of Bethlehem to begin a steady climb past the golf course. I passed a girl who had the same bike as me and I yelled nice bike and passed her. The next guy I passed had a full disk wheel and aero helmet. I have neither. It felt good to go by him. He never caught me. Next; long down hill to a flat turn on Trodeau Rd. It was patched and shimmed and had lots of potholes for 3 miles. I stayed in my aero bars and pedaled I almost caught the guy in front of me. Got thought that horrible section and passed two more guys. The last 6 or so miles were on Rt 3 a steady grade of 4-5% but on super smooth pavement. During our preview we were riding at 11-12 mph and Steve said during the race Id be at 15-17 mph. I laughed when he said that. It seemed so hard. But half way through that last section I looked down and I was at 16 and got up to 20 at one point. I was so happy I was doing exactly what we discussed. I didn’t care where I was in the field I just was in my own world and kept it up for the rest of the bike. I drank just about all of my water bottle and tore the 2nd gel off for the run. I climbed the last section and hit T2. 

I switched over and ran out in :36 seconds. As I ran out I heard the MC, John DeVivo call out my name, he said that I knew him which I did. I never do this but I totally soaked it up and gave him huge wave. It felt awesome.

The course dropped down a steep hill and onto gravel towards the Tram. A spectator yelled to me I was 3rd female. My hart rate spiked and I smiled so big. No way I’m in 3rd place at my first Olympic tri. Ok Meg keep it together and DON’T let it go to your head. Keep your pace. I usually look at my watch and get my splits for each mile but this time I didn’t I wanted  to go by how I felt. It was hot a sunny day but the course wound through the Franconia bike path, most of which was in the shade. Steve and I had ridded this course too so I knew what I had ahead of me.

The course was an out and back and longer and longer I didn’t see the lead female, the happier I got. Then I saw her she was keeping at great pace much faster than I was and I knew I couldn’t catch her. After a few mins I saw 2nd place. I noted where I was and looked at my watch. Down a little hill, through a tunnel, around the corner for the 180 turn. There is always a volunteer at the turn around, always. The only thing there was a closed container of pretzels and something else in a container and 2 big water jugs with no pre filled cups. It was self serve. Are you kidding??!! I wasn’t stopping and I bet most didn’t and I bet some turned early when no one was looking.

I made the turn and back through the tunnel. I looked at my watch, she only had about 30 seconds on me. Ok I thought. That it ,just ok. I didn’t make a decision to consciously catch her or worry about how much course was left. Just ok. I was curious to see her again so I just kept that thought; curiosity. Then I saw 4th place and didn’t think shed catch me but you never know. I ran some more and 4th place never appeared in my thoughts again. I started focusing on keeping my pace in check while hoping to see 2nd. Up down twist turn down up. Before I hit the half way mark I did get a glimpse of her and knew I’d catch her. I didn’t surge I kept my pace and reeled her in. The course crossed the ramp for the Tram where 2 volunteers were directing traffic. I thanked them for helping today.

Not once during the whole race did I ever get to the sprint distance marks and think oh no I’m going beyond my comfort race distance, not once.  I hit 3 miles on the run and thought ok half way done. I’m good.

As I got closer to her I got excited and my heart rate started climbing. I had no idea what she would do when I passed her. Would she surge and not let it happen? Would she keep my pace for a while? Or would it just happen. I debated on saying something to her but what do I say. I’m taking 2nd place from her. So I simply said good pace, she responded Go get em’. Not at all what I expected. So that meant to me she wasn’t going to try. Ok but maybe she would later. I saw the 2nd aid station and it had 3 people at it handing water. I took a cup spilled ½ of it on me and got a swig in. I focused on the guy ahead of me and heard her ask for water. She wasn’t a far back as I though. I caught the next guy after we turned the corner to a wall. I knew it was there, he didn’t and expressed that very clearly. I had him. I smiled again. He stayed with me for a few seconds. I helped him by saying small quick steps. I don’t know if he tried it or not but I just kept thinking that. My heart rate spiked again and I got scared but didn’t stop. I slowed a bit and kept calm as possible. I topped out and the course still climbed at 5% until Rt 18 and over 93. It flattened out and went down past a volunteer. Who I thanked. I looked back which I never do. I could still see her, she didn’t give up.

Then the 2nd to last climb went past the spectators and Steve with his bright green crocs.
Oh yeah, he still had them on. Only athletes are allowed in TA. I should have thrown his shoes out for him. He jogged with me up the hill and said I was doing awesome. Gina was on the other side of the road practically in tears. She was shocked at what place I was in. Steve told me I had about 7 mins left to race. I crested that hill and down about a football field to the last turn. Then up the last killer hill. It wasn’t very steep just steady and went on forever. I could see Steve’s green crocs again. He was cheering me on. I really slowed down. It was so hard my legs just didn’t want to go any more. I looked back one more time and knew she couldn’t catch me. I put myself in her shoes and knew how hard that must have been to watch. I tried to go a little faster.

I ran through the shoot and under the building. I climbed the stairs and booked it to the finish.

Wow that was hard but I did it!! I pulled off my timing chip and got water. My legs almost gave out but I made it to the deck and into the shade. I hugged Gina and cried then hugged Steve they were both so proud of me. I went back to congratulate Erin she slapped me on the back and said the same thing.

Wow I did it and I placed. It was so fun in a weird way. I had no time goals I just went with how I felt and I felt good. I like this distance and I’m so ready for the next one. King Pine Olympic, June 22

I saw the first place female and told her great race and asked he if she knew when the awards were. She heard 1pm. I had time to cool down and change. I met another racer Katie Dywer who also raced the Tri for a Y where I met Jenny. We chatted for 20 mins and I gave her my card.  I met 2 more triathletes it was great! I’m not a super social person and shy when meeting new people but I’m getting more comfortable with it.

I showed up at 12:45 and they are already ½ way through the ceremony. I missed the podium, and so did Stacey. She was as shocked as I was. I ate and then gave Stacey my card. We also chatted for 20 mins she was so nice and humble. It was an awesome day!!

Results: 9/94
Female: 2/37
Age Group:1/8
Women: 14th in the swim, 2nd on the bike avg speed 18.2 and I was the fastest on the run with a pace of 7:14!! I guess Stacey was running downhill when I saw her. 

Overall: 41st in the swim, 10th on the bike, 7th on the run

View online results here

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