Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tellico Sprint Race Report - July 18th 2010

Ok, so I'm almost caught up on race reports, LOL! To date I've done three triathlons, all sprint distance. For the record, a sprint distance is anything less than an Olympic distance (which incidentally is .9 mile swim, 25 mile bike, and 6.2 mile run). The Tellico Sprint was the longest sprint of my career, as it was 800m swim (about 1/2 a mile) then 16 miles on the bike, and a 5K run. So I was pretty nervous - mainly about the bike since me and hills.... well, let's just say we have a love hate relationship. I hate them, and they love to mock me, which makes me hate them some more! Coach Andy asked me to set three goals for this race, 1 goal that I was 90% sure I would achieve, 1 goal I hoped to achieve, and 1 goal that "AHHHH would make the angels sing from Heaven above" if I could achieve. Goal #1 = finish under 2:28. Goal #2 = Run the whole 5K without walking, and Goal #3 = Ride all of the entire bike course without having to walk any of the hills.

Anyway, Andria and I went up the day before, since it's a 2 hour drive from here, and we just got a hotel room to just stay up there after packet pickup. We got my packet and got the arrangements made for Andria to volunteer, and then we drove the bike course to get an idea of what I was in for. I wanted to preview the run course too, but they didn't have it marked yet when we were there. We thought about driving back out there after dinner, but by the time we ate, that was all she wrote, and we just went back to the hotel and crashed, LOL! On race morning, of course we were up and at the race site bright and early... or should I say, dark and early, cause y'all know how I hate to be late, LOL!!! I got all my stuff set up at my spot on the rack, and then went down and got my body marked.

The awesome girl at the body marking station was sweet enough to Sharpie my uncle's and great aunt's names on the back of my calf, as they both are cancer patients and very dear to me. I wanted to race with them and in honor of them, and I think they would have liked that! Just a week after the race, my uncle passed away from his cancer, so I'm really glad I had the opportunity to do that beforehand.

Anyway, I was really hoping for nice cool water, but knew it would be like swimming in a hot tub since it has been so freaking hot here this summer! However, I was pleasantly surprized to find it right in the middle, and the swim went pretty well for me. Andria tried to take pictures of the swim start, but she took them of the wrong lady, HAHAHA! Anyway, I felt pretty strong in the swim... well, at least not 100% zapped by the finish, and I finished the leg quite a few seconds ahead of Sarah, who is my rabbit! She always is just ahead of me, and (here's a real southern expression fer ya) by cracky, I'm a'gonna ketch me a rabbit one of these days :) However, I digress.... Once the swim was done, I managed to jog all the way to T1, and felt pretty strong as I headed out on the bike.

Since we had previewed the course, it really helped me to pick milestones and carve up the course to make it seem like it was passing faster... ok, just gotta make it to this point, just gotta make it to that point, etc. And I was feeling pretty strong! Right up until I got about half way through the bike course, and I was getting tired. The hills weren't as steep as some I've walked, but I was really getting worn out. And I was sooo close to just caving and getting off the dang bike to walk the hills... just to stop the suffering. But I really really wanted to reach that goal and bust through the wicked mental block I'd created for myself. So I came up with a new race mantra on the fly and was screaming it out loud! "Damn you, Hills... You can't frigging BEAT ME!!!" And just kept telling the hills off over and over out loud, and getting mad and just "screw you, hills!!!"... I sure was glad no one was around to hear me, LOL!!!! And somehow, I was getting up those hills... on my bike! And then it happened... I saw a dude just up ahead, pedalling away on his carbon steed. According to USAT rules, you have to stay 3 bike lengths apart, unless you're going to pass, cause they consider that the draft zone, which means you can cheat and not have to work as hard agains the wind resistance. Anyway, when you pass, you have 15 seconds to do it. I toyed with the idea for a few seconds, and thought - what the heck, I'm a hill-destroyer, I'll give it a shot. I pumped the pedals a few times and there I was right on his heel! So with a valiant, in-your-face, loud-n-proud "ON YOUR LEFT", I zoomed right by him! I freaking CHICKED that dude! WOOT WOOT, go me! I'm a dude chicker :) Apparently, guys hang their heads in shame when girls pass them, and Coach Andy says they call it getting chicked. :) He tried to regain his manhood by passing me, which was ok, because it was short lived. A few moments later I promptly revoked his man card once again, and chicked him a second time! It was simply glorious. Before I knew it, I was back at Transition, having successfully ridden the entire bike course .... YEHAWWW!

The run course ended up being quite a nice layout. There were alot of loops and such, but it was a really nice setup, with plenty of water-bearing volunteers who were full of encouragement and smiles. There was even one cheesy guy who said "oh I see they saved the best looking for last" hahaha, that made me laugh and almost pee my pants, but it was the push I needed to kick it into gear and keep jogging a little farther before walking. I did have to walk, unfortunately, but I am pretty sure it's because my legs were just spent after working so hard to ride the entire bike course. Plus, my knee and hip started giving me a few fits, so I was ok with walking when I had to. Did I mention that Sarah got ahead of me on the bike? So I spent the run a few minutes behind her, once again, but it was nice to see her doing well.
When I rounded the corner to the finish, I see Andria holding this sign! Apparently it was one of the cool little extras that the race organizers made available to spectators... they provided poster board and markers for anyone who wanted to make signs to cheer on their racers! Isn't that the coolest thing you've ever seen????
All finishers got really nice medals, so it was cool to walk away with some bling! Especially since I finished at the back of the pack :) Here's the final breakdown of my performance: 800 meter swim - 22:23. T1 - 3:41. 16 mile bike - 1:15:15. T2 - 3:41. 5K Run - 48:16. Overall time was 2:33:14, and I came in 7th of 7 in my division, and 198/200 overall. As far as the goals go, I was 5:14 over my time goal, and I certainly didn't run the whole 5K, but I freaking made the biggest goal of the three with riding the entire bike course. And as I looked at the overall standings, the chick right above me in 6th place only had me by 32 seconds! 32 freaking seconds!! That waskully wabbit, however, took 5th place by finishing 5 minutes ahead of me. LOL! Good thing I like her :) All in all, it was an awesome success, and I was really thrilled with my performance! I'll leave you with a few random post-race shots :) I'm off to fret about the Olympic Distance race I have coming in 4 days!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Race Report #2 - Cysco Cycles Sprint June 13, 2010

After my first race experience, and the shock of completing it without the aid of an ambulance, I knew I wanted to see what else I could do... how much farther I could ride the Tri Train. After all anything can be done once. But to only do it once doesn't rule out the possibility that the success was just a fluke. I mean even scientists know (ha - I say "EVEN" scientists, like they're the last people that would know, LOL! Shame on me!) anyway, even they know that any good experiment must be repeated more than once to be considered credible. SO I set my sights on the Cysco Cycles sprint triathlon - it's local, and small, and run by the same organization that directed my first race. And bonus - it was a teensy bit shorter :). (the first one I did was 600m swim, 14 mile bike, and 5K run... this one was 400m swim, 11 miles on the bike, and 5k run) I took about a week or so off of training after my first race and didn't do a dadgum thing! For all you non-southerners, dadgum means cotton-pickin', or gosh darned, or *&%* for those of you who want to insert a swear word, LOL! And once I got back to training, I kind of felt a little lost, because my focus had changed a little from just surviving the experience to improving a little. So I made the decision to hire a training coach. Crazy huh? I decided to go with Gaia Fitness, and I'm so glad I did! It has been the most helpful to learn more about the why's behind things and learning how to train smarter, not harder! Anyway, I digress.....

With Andy's help (my coach), I trained and worked, and got ready for Race #2.... THe extra exciting part about this race is that Bailey decided to tri, and she chose this race to make her triathlon debut. Unfortunately we don't have as many pictures this time, but I'll share what I have.

Here we are, me and Bailey, after body markings and check-in, and here is all our gear in transition. I have an obsession with getting to everything early since I'm still so new at this - I don't want to be late and risk missing a crucial detail or update, LOL! So Transition was pretty well a ghost town when we got there, but it filled up a bit, even though this was still a pretty small race.

Another difference in this race is that it was a mass start at the swim, which means everyone starts at the same time, and it can turn into a frenzy which looks remarkably similar (and feels that way for us slower swimmers) to a school of pirhanas chowing down on some poor unsuspecting mammal that drifted into the Amazon. But again, this is where the small numbers make it easier, as does staying to the outside and letting the crazy folks get on out front :). Did I mention yet that Bailey's #1 goal was to come in ahead of me? LOL, big surprise, huh? She couldn't stand the thought of her old lumpy mama being faster than her - so she was determined to give it her all. Anyway, you can see us all here waiting on the swim start - Bailey and I are in the middle, although you can't really see me.

Once we got in the water and the horn sounded, of course we fell to the back of the pack and just did our thang. Much to Bailey's relief, she came out of the water about 30 seconds or so ahead of me and was able to run it back up the steep hill to T1 and she was off an gone on the bike before I even got there. Naturally I had to walk - that hill looked like Mount Everest when I got out of the water, and for the record - that water was SOOO WARM! For me, it's so much harder to swim in warm water - your body already heats up from the activity, and then the high temps just make it feel like you're swimming in a hot tub. Not fun. Plus wetsuits are not legal above a certian temp, so no help there either. But, I did manage to make it out of the water and get to transition to head out on the bike. Similar to the last race I did, there was a nice hill (and I do say nice with sarcasm, LOL) only this time it was UPHILL out of transition. But I figured I'd been training more with a coach and hoped that hills should be easier on this race, especially since I'd previewed all but about 1 mile or so of this course and did just fine. I was so freaking tired from the warm swim and that hill right out of the gate... well, it was a toughie. But I managed to get to the top of it, and after that the ride got a little easier, especially when ..what? What is that??? What do I see ahead of me... Could it be.. BAILEY??? MUAAHAHAHHAHAHHA I saw her and it was like somebody hit the NOS on my bike, LOL!!! I was determined to get ahead of her and show her the old lady CAN out do her, LOL... Aww cmon, now, I wouldn't have rubbed her nose in it.... much, LOL! I passed her and man - that was the best, LOL! My goal for the rest of the ride was just to STAY ahead of her, LOL. I was doing so well, riding comfortably, except for when I had to grab water. I meant to bring my CamelBak, but figured I'd look like a geek. See, the problem is that I'm still unsteady and have a problem tring to take a hand off the handlebars to grab the water. Couple that with having to look at my hand grabbing the bottle... well you can imagine what a one-armed blind man might look like trying to ride a bike - that's me! And remember that 1 single solitary mile that I didn't preview? Well, guess what was hiding on that mile... a freaking MONDO hill!!! Well, it's not really mondo, but still - sure felt like it to me in that heat, and I had to walk it. Was awful. But it is what it is, and ain't no way back to the finish line but to get over it :) Besides... Ain't no way I could let Bailey catch me, lol. So I took the walking times as opportunities to drink water, and I did actually manage to grab my water bottle and drink and put it back once without wrecking or dropping the bottle. WOOT WOOT! Once I got back into the park, I headed down that big hill right into transition, although I had a moment or two where I didn't think I was going to get slowed down enough before making the turn in. It all worked out though, as I got my bike racked and number on and headed off on the run.... all before Bailey was anywhere in sight hee hee hee. The first half off the run was on a trail, and I have to admit, it was a nice change of scenery and a break from the sun beating down. But it was still BLAZING hot, and I had run out of water on the bike. The first waterstop was said to be 1.25 miles into the run, but it felt like 10 miles when you're overheated and dehydrated - it didn't seem like I'd ever see it. About half way to the water stop, I glanced back and saw Bailey ... she was gaining ground on me, dangit! I tried to dig in, but finally I just succumbed and let her pass me, LOL... As if I wasn't suffering enough from the heat and exhaustion, the unsavory gifts of childbirth started rearing it's uglyhead again... Cmon now - I thought being this dehydrated would save me, but nope! Apparently I still had some moisture in my body, cause I could feel the leaking with every pound of my feet, LOL! GROAN - how embarassing! Luckily I was in black this time, and sweating like a hog, so it wasn't as noticeable. And then, like an OASIS in the desert, there is the water stop, and all I could see were the giant coolers full of Powerade and ice cold water. So I drank a few, and poured what felt like gallons over my head. It felt SOOOOO good to cool off, and, with the effects of motherhood nicely camoflauged now, I was re-energized to go a little bit farther. Of course, my shoes and socks were soaked, but whatever! We got through the race, and Bailey came in about 5 minutes ahead of me, so she was THRILLED about that! And I was not last - I came in second to last ahead of a man! WOOT! Nevermind the fact that he was only a few months post back surgery... so what? Why do you want to rob me of this little shallow victory? LOL! Here are a few pictures of us coming up on the finish line, and then us getting our awards. Bailey won her division, and I took 4th in mine. How do ya like my muscles?