Race: Iron Girl Columbia
Date: Sunday, August 23, 2009
Location: Columbia, MD
Race Type: Triathlon - Sprint Distance
Age Group: Athena 40+
I had a pretty good sleep the night before the race and I woke up at 4:40 am - 10 minutes before my alarm went off. I felt a little stiff when I woke so I did a few range of motion type of exercises to get myself moving and then I got in the car and headed on my one-hour drive to Columbia, MD. Once I got to the main street in front of Centennial park the traffic was insane (i.e. not moving). I thought I would still have enough time to get all my pre-race agenda taken care of but with every 10 minutes I kept getting a little more nervous. I finally got up to the main gate and just as I did they were closing the gate and sending people farther down the road. I remembered parking in the very back of the park last year and thought there would be no way to get a spot farther away from the transition area...but I was totally wrong. I ended up parking on a side street and had to (speed) walk 15 minutes to get to the transition area!!! As I was walking through the park I saw not only grass parking available but an entire parking lot available! I was less than happy about this! Normally this wouldn't be a problem but with the traffic backup, my 6 am arrival (on the main road) and the start of the race at 6:50 a.m. I knew I was going to be cutting it close. As I finally made it to the transition area I heard the announcer say "5 minutes until the transition area will be closed!" I just about died!!! I hadn't set up one thing in my transition area, didn't have my race number on my belt or my helmet, didn't have my tires pumped on my bike, nothing! Thankfully I ran into Tracy Sinclair (a local triathlete I met last year at my very first triathlon!) as soon as I walked into the transition area. Tracy helped me TREMENDOUSLY!!! If it weren't for her I would have NEVER made the 5-minute time limit that I had. Of course, being in that situation made me very stressed and I really felt uneasy about the race from that point on. I tried to put it behind me but so many little things happened just getting to the swim start that made me a little more unnerved each time. I had the pleasure to finally meet Catherine Hall - a local triathlete I've been virtual friends with for a long time - and just talking to her pre-race helped calm me down a little.
(I don't have the official times yet)
Swim (0.62 mi) : Approx 29 min
The swim was a little scary to me this time. I had a really bad ocean swim in July that was also this distance. It took me a VERY long time to complete it and today I felt I was still recovering from the "trauma" of that race. I finished this swim in 25 minutes last year so I was hoping to complete it in a little less time this year but that wasn't meant to be. I've been following the Total Immersion plan and felt I was gaining some speed so I don't know what's going on with that. The last few weeks before this race I felt I was swimming in a peanut butter lake several times. So, I guess I better get back to the basics with my swimming. Maybe I should get Katie "Speedy" Davison to watch me swim sometime!
I was moving slow and was very disorganized during my first transition. Because I didn't get that pre-race time to set things up like I normally do I ended up forgetting my water bottle on my bike. So, as I headed out for the ride I had NOTHING to drink...nothing since my ride to the race. NOT good.
Bike (17.5 mi): Approx 1 hour
Before I even got out of the transition area I knew I had made a big mistake not having my Gatorade with me but I didn't want to run back (on the other side of T1) to get it either. I knew they would have water & Gatorade at the turn around point so I figured I'd just wait. Not a wise decision. About a mile into the ride I started getting this pounding headache. I knew it was going to be a long ride. For some people this bike course is considered nice "rolling hills" and for others they say there are some "killer hills." I kinda fall somewhere in the middle of those two. But, today I sided more will the killer hills people than the other. Hills were NOT my friend today....well, the UPhills weren't! Thanks to my wonderful little guys over at Spokes in Ashburn (gotta plug these guys every chance I get - just love them there!) I was able to ride the race today using my trip computer! However, this just help me see exactly where my weakness was. Give me a downhill ride and I'm going 40 mph! Whoo hoo!!! Give me an uphill climb and I drop to like 4...and that's no exaggeration! But, what I came to realize today is that I need something on my bike. New Gears? More Gears? Something. (I'm obviously a newbie cyclist!). Why do I say that? Well, I was in my lowest gears going up these hills and people my size (or bigger) were passing me and their peddles were spinning round and round while I was cranking the crap out of mine. Cyclists...help me here! What do I need to do? Anyway, the first part of my ride was miserable without anything to drink but once I got some fluids in me I started grinding away to the transition.
SUPER slow. I racked my bike...it fell...I racked it again. I took off my cycling shoes...I almost fell...then put on my running shoes. I was getting ready to go out the gate and some guy told me I forgot my bib number...I ran back...
Run (3.3 miles): Approx 35 minutes
The good thing is I got through the run. My last tri run was where I injured my IT band so it felt good to be able to just finish this run. The run was kinda uneventful with the exception of having a "rabbit" to chase. But, the last 100 yards or so I saw three women in front of me that were in my category so I kicked it up and passed them all at the finish line. Fun times.
You know you are looking bad when the people at the finish line ask you if you are okay! I was pretty sure I was on the verge (or had already crossed the line) of dehydration and the little Dixie cup of water they gave us at the finish line was of no help. I looked around for a bagel or a banana and didn't see them anywhere. Were they there and I had missed them? Shouldn't they have been more obviously placed near the finish line? Hmmm...Oh well, I knew I had a chocolate milk and a Lara Bar (Thanks for the awesome suggestion, Laurie!) waiting in transition for me so I started heading back there. About that time I ran into Catherine again. She had a great race but we both complained a little about the humidity. Hot? No, it was only about 80-85 degrees...but the humidity was 92%!!! So, yeah, we got a little hot out there. Anyway, I got to meet her awesome family and friends and spend some time chatting with them and then headed back to the transition area.
The walk from transition to my car was grueling! Now I had to carry all my transition stuff AND my bike back to the car. 20 minutes later I arrived at my car exhausted. I planned to stay at the race for the awards ceremony but there was no way I was going to walk back from my parking space. So, I hopped into the car and planned on driving back to the park and getting a space a little closer. Well, guess what - the police weren't letting people back into the park!!! So, I ended up going home.
All in all I'd say this race is becoming the "Race for the Cure" for triathlons. EVERYONE...and their mother... is racing it and the organization of the race (on race day, at least) is getting a little sloppy. I've got to hand it to them, though - the registration/packet pickup organization was spot on!
Summary and lessons learned
Always have a water bottle on my bike before the race begins
Always have my race numbers ready and attached the night before the race.
Learn more about cycling
Go back to basics with the swim