Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Race Report: Rev3 Full Rev Cedar Point 2012

Race: Rev3 Full Rev 
Date: September 9, 2012
Location: Cedar Point Amusement Park, Sandusky, OH  
Race Type: Iron-distance: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run 
Division: Age Group 45-49
Time: 15:42
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Race Report:

Pre-Race/Do you really want to read this? 
Some of you will get bored and stop after you read the "race report" section. Some of you will think "Tracy is a nutcase." Some of you will soak in every little word I say. Some of you will think "Tracy is a nutcase." Some of you will cry. Some of you will laugh. But, most of you will think "Tracy is a nutcase!" 

I've been asked for details so, here it goes... (BTW, I have some impatient friends...not going to mention any names, Wendy...oops...Anyway, I'll be posting a finish-line video here later).

Update: Here is the video! Thank you SO MUCH Lauren Glickman for creating this wonderful memory!!!

Over a year ago, I wrote an article about the Rev3 series for I had heard great things about this series but, interviewing Charlie Patten (owner of Rev3) and hearing all the excitement he has about the race actually got me more excited to sign up for my first full-distance! 

The whole signing up process is really something that shouldn't be overlooked. The amount of nerves shooting through your body as you press the "enter" button really takes a toll on a person. I recall talking on the phone with my good friend, Sandy Brown, the day we both registered for Rev3 - we were both basket cases! It wasn't enough that we had already gone through these feelings when her husband, Mike, signed up for his first full - Ironman Lake Placid - just a few months earlier. Oh, no...we had to go through it ourselves...we had to reach Zone 5 (that's triathlon speak for "my heart was about to jump out of my chest!") on day one!!! What did we just do? Oh my gosh - we're going to be training all summer! Will we be able to do this? It cost us HOW MUCH? Should we hire a full-time nanny? OH MY GOSH....WHAT DID WE JUST DO???!!! That energy pretty much carried over into the first 3 months of training!

For me, training began in May. I had just completed my 6th marathon at the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati, OH. Looking back, my race calendar for the year wasn't really laid out well. But, I was thankful to be able to complete both a marathon and an Ironman in the same year (as well as a few other races thrown in here and there).

When I began my training, I thought the scheduling of Ironman training couldn't be much worse than a half Ironman. I knew it would be longer - particularly on the weekends - but surely the weekday schedule couldn't be that much more difficult. So, let me give you an idea of a typical workout week:

Monday: 3-5 mile recovery run
Tuesday: 1 hour hill work on the bike, 1 hour swim (swim increased to 1.5 hours toward the end)
Wednesday: 1-2 hour run
Thursday: 1 hour speed work on the bike, 1 hour swim (again, swim increased...)
Friday: Off
Saturday: Long bike ride - anywhere between 30 - 120 miles depending on the week
Sunday: Long run - anywhere between 8 - 18 miles depending on the week

Rinse. Repeat.

Although I was thankful to cross the finish line of my race, it's really the day in and day out workouts that are the hard part. But, let me say right here before I continue...IF I CAN DO THIS, YOU CAN TOO! Remember, I'm the girl that didn't have the word marathon in my dictionary! Obviously, if you have certain medical reasons for not doing an Iron-distance race, that's different. But, if you don't have medical reasons then you have no excuse! Racing an Iron-distance race is all about getting a training plan, following that plan, and executing that plan on race day. If you have a good plan, you'll succeed! Will it be hard? Yes, at times. Will you have to juggle a tough schedule? You betcha. Will there be days you want to quit? Absolutely. Will you quit? NO! Why not? Because, YOU WILL BE AN IRONMAN in the end!

Anyway, back to the race...

One of the things I liked best about the Rev3 series is the fact it was so family and spectator-friendly. Growing up, I had been to Cedar Point several times. So, I was excited for my children to experience it as well. We had plans for them to be involved in the Kid's Adventure race and everything.

There is so much I would love to tell you in this race report but, seriously, you would all be sleeping before I even began talking about the race itself. Now would be a good time to grab a cup of coffee if you find yourself nodding off already!

Friday evening, however, storms moved into Sandusky that changed things rather quickly. Our trip to the amusement park was canceled and the kids weren't really prepared to participate in the Adventure race in the rain. I was saddened by this but, before I had a chance to feel sorry for myself I began thinking about others that were effected by the storm. My amazing coaches - Ed and Alexis - had spent the better part of two days setting up our Team Z "camp" at the finish line. All the tents, etc. had to be taken down due to the high winds that had moved into the area. Also, my Z-mates that were there to race the Sprint triathlon on Saturday morning were surprised with the change to a 5k run. High winds + Rip Tides = No triathlon. :(

I am super impressed by the support my team brings to any race. When no other team was there, Team Z stood, in the pouring rain, at the end of the Sprint-turned-5k, and cheered on the very last racer. And, of course, Rev3 folks were out in full force, too. Lovin' those guys more every day. Check it out:

This would not be the last time I would see such a huge outpouring of support from my team...or Rev3. More on that later...

Saturday afternoon we were supposed to have a pre-race workout but, again, thanks to the weather many things changed and we just rolled with the punches. My good friends Andrew and Jessica Jones allowed me to hang out with them as they drove part of the bike course and then we headed down to the expo area for some last-minute needs and to check out the water. While we were there we ran into Charlie Patten. We talked about how the buoy's for the race were now in Canada and that our swim course would be drastically different the next day! Yep, the storm had really created problems for the Rev3 folks but, you know what they did - they got the job done, worked through the night and had a FABULOUS race for us the next day...and we didn't even have to swim to Canada (thankfully! That much swimming would have REALLY thrown me off! LOL).

Charlie Patten and I

Jessica and Andrew Jones, Sandy Brown and I

I will briefly mention that the pre-race dinner was quite amazing. Tears all around, best-wishes videos sent out to a huge group of our team that raced Ironman Wisconsin the same day, good food, a coach "forcing" us to drink beers (just joking, Ed!), goofball moments, honoring the sprint-turned-5k racers, honoring the teammates who stood in the rain to support that race and, best of all, I got to almost get myself killed by taking the pic below. Fun times. Fun times! 

Race Morning:
Alarm: 3:30 am. Eat a few bites of peanut butter sandwich, drink water. Back to bed.
Alarm set: 4:30 am. Seriously, I wasn't sleeping so what's the point. I got up before my alarm.
5:00 am - at the race site.
5:15 am - Eating Nutella and pancakes!
6:00 am - trying to calm down
6:30 am - The pics below

Swim (2.4 Miles): 1:47:09
7:05 am - Swim begins. 
What a gorgeous day for a swim! Let's start off with a little picture or two from the swim course:

Photo by Jean Donnis

I was super pumped to begin my first full Iron-distance triathlon! I didn't want to rush into anything on the swim, though. Keeping my heart rate in Zone 2 was very important.

The swim course consisted of two 1.2 mile loops. The first loop I successfully completed in 48 minutes. It was really cool to stand up (yes, I said stand up - there was no way to swim because it was so shallow) at the turn-around buoy for the second loop and see two of my teammates - Sandy Brown and Linda Dunn. It made me realize I wasn't out there all alone! I was pretty excited about the 48 minutes and started calculating in my head what time I would be getting out of the water. But, as anyone who has read "Sex, Lies, and Triathlons" knows, it is impossible to do math calculations during a race! (Triathletes: This is a must-read book. You'll laugh so hard you cry! Thank you, Leib Dodell for such an entertaining read!). Anyway, double that 48 minutes and I'm out of the water in 1:30'ish. Of course, things never quite work out that way for me. And, as it turned out, my leg started cramping and I had to turn on my back and massage it. It's at that point I realized I hadn't taken a gel before my swim. That's okay, I thought...those things don't always settle well in my stomach. Besides, I had some Team Z breakfast of pancakes and NUTELLA - that should give me enough energy to get my through this swim...and it did! Now, on my list of race day "must eats" - NUTELLA!!! I mean, seriously - who WOULDN'T want to eat Nutella??? It's not just for breakfast, folks!

I was pretty excited when I exited the water. I estimated I would finish in 1:45'ish and my finish time of 1:47 was pretty dang close. Yeah, the swim is OVER!!!

T1: 5:49 
Transition for a full Iron-distance is much different than any other distance race. For Rev3 we had a "clean transition" which meant all our bags of transition stuff were hanging on hooks like the pic below instead of right beside our bike. When we came into transition we grabbed our bags, went into a gender-specific tent, changed our clothes (if desired), had a snack (if desired), put on sunscreen (next time I'll remember this for my face, too! OUCH!), put on Body Glide/Vaseline to prevent that annoying chaffing (next time - MORE!!!!), etc. Then, we ran out of the tent with all our bike gear on and headed out for our ride. (Special thanks to Cris Howard for the idea of the duct tape on my bag! Team Z green duct tape made my bags much easier to find!!)

Bike (112 mi): 7:21:35
The bike course was going to be my toughest leg of the race. Not because it was so long. Not because it would take me the better part of the day to finish. But, two things would be really important on this leg: 1) Making sure I stayed in Zone 2 by going slower than I knew I could go and 2) Making sure my nutrition was spot-on.

My goal time on the bike was to keep a 16 mph average which would give me a 7 hour bike time. There were a few things that kept that from happening but the biggest factor was getting a flat at mile 105. I had been messing with my tire for a few minutes before a sag driver came up to me and, even though he fixed my tire for me - PRAISE GOD - I still lost about 15 minutes over that ordeal! :( 

Another factor involved in my bike was the malfunction of my Garmin. After coming out of the water I supposedly swam 9.5 miles! Huh? No! Then, at one point I accidentally hit the "stop" button and it wasn't calculating my time for a few miles. So, I was confused as to where I was, how long I had been there, etc. The thing that scared me the most was my nutrition plan. I had made (again, at the suggestion of Cris) a nutrition plan to carry with me on the bike. 

Unfortunately, I had broken down my food by miles rather than time. So, when my miles came up incorrectly on my Garmin and I had to do math in my head again, I was screwed!

When it came time to pick up my special needs bag, there wasn't much I wanted/needed. I ate 2 oreo's, about 4 potato chips, and a few sips of coke. But, other than that, I just stuck with my typical gel/bonk breaker/Gu Roctane stuff.

I did feel that, overall, my nutrition was pretty good on the bike. I think, however, that I might try to increase the pace when I do it the next time (yeah, you heard time...!!!). 

T2: 9:07
I felt good coming off the bike and getting ready for the run. I accidentally grabbed the wrong bag so a volunteer went out and got the right one for me. It took me a while in T2 because there was only one volunteer in the tent helping at the time. I'm sure she was probably really tired by this point (4 pm'ish) but I'm not going to be concerned about being 1-2 minutes slower in my day because of it. Just not that big of a deal. Next time, though...I'm going to be hard core in those transition areas. I could have shaved off about 10 minutes from my time had I just done my typical fast transitions!  

Run (26.2 miles): 6:21:56
My slowest stand-alone marathon was my first marathon (Marine Corps Marathon 2004) where I finished at a blazing time of 6:30. Now, give me a little credit here - that was after throwing up 9 times on the course! So, throughout my training, my goal was "do better than MCM 2004." I knew if I came close to my anticipated swim and bike time I would have the pleasure of taking it easy on the run and that's exactly what I did! I hadn't had good sleep for about 4 days prior to the race and, two days prior to the race I had only had a total of 6 hours sleep. So, I wasn't sure if I was feeling the fatigue of the race or the lack of sleep. I felt it was the sleep because my legs were still feeling good. Either way, I had 26.2 more miles to put in my book on this day!

I started out on the run and there were still tons of people on the course - both full and half rev folks. It was great passing so many of my teammates out there. And, by "passing" I mean, they were heading into the finish line and I was heading out for my first (of two) 13.1 mile loop!

I felt pretty good at first. I think the adrenaline and the crowds of people were what really kept me going. I came to realize later in the night that it truly was the crowds that pushed me. When I found myself on a dark, lonely street I would begin to walk. I didn't have the energy to do it on my own. I NEEDED those crowds. I NEEDED my team. I NEEDED those cowbells and vuvuzela's that had annoyed me so much in the past! Because of the course layout, we ran up and down city streets for the bulk of our run. Hearing my team in the distance pushed me. But, the one thing that pushed me most were my kids.

Gotta tell this story...My kids have been real troopers throughout my entire training. Joshua is now old enough to babysit and he did a lot of it this summer. It was obvious to me that, toward the end of my training, Celeste was really starting to need me more. My kids knew what I was training for but I don't believe they truly understood what an IM was all about until race day. They were there with me when I started my journey into the water at 7:05 am. and it was now already dark outside and I was in the last 6 miles of the marathon. I was walking so they came by my side and walked with me. We chatted and they both told me how proud they were of me. But, the one thing that really got me was what my 6 year old said. She said: "Come on mom, you're doing great. Can you just start jogging with me a little? I know you can do this, mom. Come on. Just jog a little. I believe in you. You've got this!" So, I started jogging and they both jogged beside me. Then Joshua asked if I wanted them to jog with me to the next aid station (about a mile away by the course, 1 block if you cut the course). I said, "No, you just go there and cheer me on when I get there." And that's what they both did. As they left, I continued to re-live that moment in my mind for the next 6 miles. I even lifted my pace to around an 11-minute mile (which was my average long-run, zone 2 pace during training). I was flying past all the other triathletes who, by this time, were mostly walking. They were all cheering me on. The memory of "coach Celeste" and the encouragement from my 13-yr old son kept me focused all the way to the finish line.

When I came up to the finish line I saw a sea of green! That's my team!!! They were yelling so loud you could probably hear them in Virginia! It was so exciting to cross that finish line with such great support. Celeste had always planned to run across the finish line with me but, after the little talk at mile 20, Joshua wanted to cross the finish line with me as well. So, that's what we did!

Above three pics taken by Jordan Applebaum

Summary and lessons learned 
Rev3 helped to make my first-time Iron-distance race a huge success. I have to share this story, too... Cancer survivor, Patti Jackson (a teammate) was diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma a week before the race. Long story short, she knew going into the race she would have to really pay attention to her medical needs and just focus on finishing. Rev3 put it ALL OUT THERE for Patti. I can't even tell you the extent to which the OWNER of Rev3 (Charlie Patten) went to help Patti cross the finish line 19+ hours after she started. See, the "other guys" would have closed down the course in 17 hours and made Patti go home. But, that's not what Rev3 did. Matter of fact, they threw one of the biggest finish-line parties known to man! You've got to check out this video to believe it:

Next time I race an Iron-distance, I'll go for time. This one was just about finishing the race. I know what worked and what didn't work this time and I can hopefully put those same practices into play for the next one. 

Thank you's

So, so, SOOOO many people to thank and I'm going to try to name them all one by one...

MOST IMPORTANTLY: God! I can't tell you the amount of times I prayed and prayed and prayed to stay injury free during my training, to be able to muddle through a workout, to be able to be someone's inspiration. I give all my credit for this entire race and my ability to finish to Him!

My family: Wow. I don't know where to start. For all the hours I was training and away from the home, for all the hours you stood on your feet to support me at the race, for taking my place as the race photographer, for grillin' burgers for the team, for putting on a clown outfit (Yep, my 13-yr old son did that...proof below...), for saying encouraging words to me during my race rather than those phrases I encouraged you NOT to say, for giving me the energy to get through mile 20 - 26.2 of the marathon...THANK YOU!

Novia Plummer - without you, I would have NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER have begun this journey! I wouldn't have stepped one foot out the door for a run. I would have never gone on to race triathlons and then to the ultimate of all triathlons - Ironman! I don't know if you will ever understand what a huge impact you made in my life. I love you, girl!

My coaches and workout leaders: I've had a few. Laurie Bickart, Brian Crow, Susan Hefler, Jessica Jones, Ed Zerkle, Ryan Pettengill and Alexis Lopez-Buitrago. You have all taught me so many amazing lessons along the way. I appreciate all you did for me to get me to the point of even having a desire to race an Ironman. 

To my current Team Z were so amazing and had SO MUCH ENERGY every time I saw you on the course. 

Alexis - I think you need to bottle that energy and sell it - it's so contagious. You are one of the biggest reasons I decided to join this team (you and your sappy writing skillz!) and I am so glad I made the decision to join! I think you were also part of the reason my son got into a clown outfit. Seriously, how did you make THAT happen. We need to talk! Our discussion Friday night really sealed the deal why I joined this team. It went something like this:
Me: I might be the last Z'er on the run course. I have my family here so you can go ahead and start back to the finish line instead of waiting out here on the course for me.
You: We aren't leaving you out here. You are not alone. You have no choice in the matter. I'm out here until the end. 
Thank you for not leaving me out there alone. Thank you for not leaving ANY of us out there alone. You rock! 

Alexis running by Patti Jackson at the cheer station on the bike course

Ed - I can't even fathom the weight of the world you hold on your shoulders. All the logistics you have to deal with - particularly on this weekend with a huge part of our team at IM Moo and the huge storm that rolled through. You kept your cool, rolled with the punches and moved right along. As I've told you several times, I'm so glad to be part of this team and I will forever be grateful for all you have done and are doing to make us better and make us feel more  like a family every day! Are you getting misty yet? time can you warn me a little in advance when you're going to put my life at danger, though? :) Ahh...the life of a photographer...always an adventure! LOL

 Ed cheering at the Sprint-turned-5k

Ryan - dude - I LOVE your new haircut! I wish you could have been in two places at the same time. But, you've been there for me every week for the past six'ish months. Thank you for putting up with me when I thought I couldn't do it, for listening to my complaining and moaning all the time...particularly on uphill climbs and with my crazy swim stroke. Thank you for encouraging me to join the team YEARS ago and for never giving up on me! You totally rock! 

Coach Ryan cheering on athletes at IM Wisconsin - Photo by Michael Schmidt

Jessica - girl, you are amazing! I may not be super fast in my swim yet but you have really helped me more than you can imagine. We've got a long way to go still but you're helping me get there! 

Me and Jessica - Photo by Jordan Applebaum

Thank you to Charlie Patten and the entire Rev3 staff for putting on a fabulous race. I knew this would be a great experience and I was totally right. Let's see the "gang signs," folks!

Rose Fisher, Tammy Crowder, Christa Garoutte, Jan Stover, Brooke Rivera, Rebecca Hall - I know how hard you have been praying for me and supporting me in SO MANY WAYS!!! Your friendships mean the world to me and I can't imagine having gone through all this without you!

To my business partner and great friend, Sandy Brown. Girl, I don't think I could have done this without you! We started this journey together and we ended it together and now we are stronger than we ever thought we could be!  You have been an inspiration to so many - including myself - and I'm so proud to call you my friend...and an IRONMAN!!!

To my cycling girls who pushed me almost every weekend during my training - Sandy Brown, Mayra Krueger and Renee Remillard  - I got stronger on the bike this year just trying to keep up with you three (and a lot of help from Susan and Pierre over the winter)! We've laughed, we've cried, we've sweat together and I love you all for it! Now, let's celebrate!!!

To all my workout buddies: (this is where I might forget someone...) who have, at some point over the last year, pushed me to accomplish one (or more) of my daily workouts and, in turn, gave me much-needed companionship on this long, long journey! Molly Steele, Mike Reyes, Elena Steinke, Cindy Reevesman, David Green, Lester Benitez, Lisa and Eric Mackem, Janet Choi, Claudia Centeno, Melissa Gilkes-Smith, Dawn Danner, Christina Tragle, Leigh Schafer and all the teammates who I see regularly that push me to attain my goals!

Marce' Willard - you may not realize this but you were the ONLY triathlete I knew before I started doing them myself. Watching you do those crazy pushups while waiting for our kids karate was actually a really warped inspiration to me!

Transition Triathlon - Alex Korab and Steve Makranczy - You guys have been SO HELPFUL during my training. You've been sincerely interested in my progress. I'm so glad to have met you and that you have been part of my Ironman journey. You have become more than just "store owners" to me - you have become my friends and I am forever grateful! 

Bicycle Outfitters (particularly Rick!) - Thank you guys for always being there for me when I needed even the most minor of help with my bike. I'm no gear head but I'm slowly getting there because of you!

To all my friends who have supported me during my training and who have had to listen to my excuses of "I have a workout" and can't hang out on that day...THANK YOU! 

Michelle Mixell with Yin Yoga - I seriously don't know how I would have made it through the last six months without your classes! Thank you for offering them to me and for being such a kind, sweet face for me every Tuesday!

Thank you to Robin Dennis at FitPro Massage. I was in some serious pain the week before the race. I didn't let anyone but you know. You worked out those muscles and I was able to successfully complete my race. Your are my hero!

For those who made it to the end...THANK YOU! You rock!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Overcoming my running obstacles

Okay, I have to take a moment to admit something that is very hard for me to admit. Over the past few months I've really been struggling with my running. I go out to run a short (for me) hour run and end up walking SEVERAL times during the run. What used to be so easy for me has become a point of dissatisfaction and (emotional) pain.

Let me back up for a minute so you'll see where I came from...

When I started running REGULARLY back in 2002 I was running 6 miles 4x/week. I NEVER stopped unless I had to cross the street or something silly like that. When I trained for my first marathon in 2004, I was able to run 24 miles non-stop (never quite made it to 26.2 miles non-stop). So, what the heck happened???? Why is it so difficult for me to hammer out an hour run these days???

Is it because I'm 10 years older? Probably not. I mean, I've gotten stronger in the past ten years (overall), not weaker. Is it because of my weight? Although I've recently gained a bit of weight I still weigh 50+ lbs LESS today then I did when I first started running.

So, I started looking for that perfect excuse. I created a list (in my head) of Possible vs Probable reasons why I'm struggling so much.

Emotional Stress
Physical Stress (Ironman training coming to an end)
Racing a marathon at the beginning of my Ironman training
Incorrect (daily and workout) Nutrition
New running form
Running in the evening rather than the morning
Continually forgetting my ear buds to listen to music
Need new running shoes
Trying to run too fast for my new running form

Not doing well at self-motivation/self-talk
Running solo (i.e. nobody kicking me in the butt to help me move along)

Although some of those "possible" excuses are my current reality, none of them will truly keep me from running an hour without stopping. What I came to realize is I'm at a point in my running "career" where my self-motivation/self-talk is really keeping me from reaching my goals. Some of those "possible" excuses might be playing a role in that, too. I mean, when you're trying to change your running form and muscles in your body start aching that you've never felt before you just want to stop! When your new form quickens your pace and you start hyperventilating, you want to stop. But, the reality is I just wasn't emotionally strong enough to tell myself to JUST KEEP SWIMMING (oh...wait...that's that OTHER sport!). But, you get what I mean.

I came close to leaving my Garmin behind today (you know, that little "watch" that tells you how far you've run and how horribly slow you are running). But, I put it on anyway. I just tried really hard not to look at it. There were times today that my run was so slow that walkers could have passed me but I was NOT going to give up and stop. I kept telling myself to continue on (and kept thinking I'd have a great story to tell if I did!). I struggled with my run for sure but I NEVER.GAVE.UP!!! And, for the first time in months I can honestly say I finished an hour run without walking!

So, what do I do from here on out so this doesn't happen again? Well, I'm already starting to line up running buddies that can help push me through this time. See, if I'm running with other people I won't typically stop and walk because I don't want to be one to hold them back. I'm also going to start running in the morning again. That will hopefully knock out two of my "possible" issues (second being the heat/humidity). I'm going to get new running shoes and continue working on my new running form/pace. Those are just some starting points but I think that'll help!

For those of you that are struggling - I'm right there with you. And I hope this little article will be something to motivate you to move forward, push through those struggles, and run happy!!!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Race: General Smallwood Olympic
Date: July 7, 2012
Location: General Smallwood State Park, Indian Head, MD 
Race Type: Olympic: 1500 meter bay swim, 24 mi bike, 6.2 mi run
Division: Age Group 45-49
Time: 3:41:58
Place: 134th female; 18th in age group 

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Race Report:
I'm in love with the Setup Events races! That's the first thing I need to say! These folks have got it going on. I'm always impressed by the ease of packet pickup, the way the event is organized, the swag, the post-race food...pretty much everything! I would highly recommend races in this series to anyone!

This race, unfortunately, would not be my best race. I knew it going into the race with temperatures soaring to 104 degrees and a heat index somewhere between OMG and WTH! (i.e. 112 degrees!). Three days earlier I had run the worst (time-wise) 5k in years and my thighs were still yelling at me the night before this race. On top of that, I wanted to treat this race more like a long workout rather than going full guns blazing to the end. I had to focus my mind VERY differently for this race because of that and keep my end-goal A-race in mind.

Swim (1500 Meters): 45:54 - 145th female
Today was a first for me in many ways in the swim. I had my different focus from the beginning of the race but I knew the swim would be a little difficult in that regard.

I started the swim in wave 6 of 7. That is always intimidating to me because I'm always one of the slowest swimmers out there. I knew people in the last wave would catch up to me and I would be one of the very last out of the water. Of course, that is typically never true but it's always my fear - particularly when I'm in one of the last waves. But, my focus on this day would be to stay in Zone 2 (easy pace/breathing) for the entire swim knowing that I would have more energy for the remainder of the race once I got out of the water. I had to not lose focus of Zone 2 even when swimmers in the wave behind me would begin passing me. I was excited, however, when I started passing folks in the waves ahead of me. In my mind it was huge - I wouldn't be last! 

Another first in the swim was the fact I didn't get off course. I tend to do that a lot! I don't always see the buoy's (hello old age eye sight!) and get way off. But, I stayed on course on this day - so much so that I got a little too close to the last buoy and got tangled up in the "anchor" line attached to it. It was the only time I had to stop during the swim.

I had heard "horror" stories about the swim portion of this race before. Mattawoman Bay is known for having an abundance of hydrilla (see pic) and folks had told me about feeling like a swamp monster coming out of the water having to peel hydrilla off their bodies. 

After going through the first two buoys I thought: "Hey, this isn't bad. What's all the hydrilla hype about!" Then, I turned after the third buoy and realized there was hydrilla all around me! It was sometimes tough to muddle through the stuff. It was hitting me in the face, getting stuck on my goggles, I was pulling it out of the water with each stroke. It was just yuck. But, I figured the first 3/4 of the swim was pretty decent so I'd deal with the last 1/4 of the swim muddling through the hydrilla.

T1: 2:48 - 72nd female
As I headed out of the water into T1 I heard lots of cheers from my new tri team - Team Z. It was really refreshing to have such support from a big team like Z. It was a new experience for me. I felt like a pro athlete that everyone knew! LOL

I'm always pretty quick in transition but on this day I took the time to get out of my tri top and put on a t-shirt because I had a sunburn I didn't want to worsen. I was pleased I did this because now my team could see I was one of their own and I would, from this point on, be cheered on by a sea of Team Z green!

Bike (24 mi): 1:26:11 (16.7 mph) 101st female
I was a little surprised by the many rolling hills in this course. I guess that's what I get for having never looked at the course maps. Because of this, my time went up and my mph went way down. That was okay, though. I needed to save my legs for the run so I didn't push anything hard. Plus, again...temps were in the 100's!!!

I took in 1 bottle of water and 1 bottle of Gu Roctane during my ride plus one gel and a small bite of Bonk Breaker (my new favorite). I felt that was probably a little too much fluid for only a 24 mile ride but I wanted to be prepared for the run.

T2: 1:21 - 35th female 
Not much to do here. Finished it pretty quickly with no incidents. 
Run (6.2 miles): 1:25:46 (13:49 min/mile)- 153rd female

I knew going into the run it was going to be kinda horrific. So, instead of focusing on how bad I was going to feel, I channeled that into cheering for others. One spectator even commented I had two jobs "racing and being a cheerleader." That was exactly what I was going for! The first mile had a pretty substantial hill and I decided that, instead of killing myself in the first mile I would go ahead and walk that hill. And, since it was in the direct sunlight I think that was a wise choice. 

After the hill, I picked up the pace but then around mile two I started feeling a little dizzy. I did NOT want to DNF (did not finish). I would have CRAWLED across the finish line if I had to but I would NOT DNF! So, I stopped and walked again. This would continue to be my M.O. throughout the remainder of the run. I'd get a little energy, feel dizzy, walk. Get energy, feel dizzy, walk. I ended up walking most of the 10k and would finish with my worst 10k time to date. But, I didn't get carried away in the ambulance, my children still have a mother and I was actually able to run the last (SHADED) mile without incident. I truly think the heat was the cause of my entire problem. My thighs weren't aching (like I anticipated they would be after my 5k run days before) but my body was starting to crash for sure. I was thankful for another 40-something dude to help me out in the last mile and we kept a similar pace to the end...although he picked up the pace when spectators came into view and left me! LOL

Summary and lessons learned 
I may have been completely nuts to have raced in these temperatures. But, being able to say I finished it was refreshing. I definitely had a lot left in my tank by the end of the race but that was really kinda how I wanted to feel. I hydrated like crazy after the race and can say I had no pain/problems that day or the day after. 

I'd love to race another Olympic distance before my Ironman in September only this time in some normal weather conditions just to see how my training is really coming along. 

Zone 2 swims rock! Must do that again! :)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Race Report: BRATS Salute to the Military Tri

Race: BRATS Salute to the Military Triathlon
Date: May 27, 2012
Location: Vint Hill, VA
Race Type: Sprint: 300 meter pool swim, 11.75 mi bike, 3.1 mi run
Division: Age Group 45-49
Time: 1:22:02
Place: 2nd in Age Group

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Race Report:

I've got to tell you - this is such a great little race. Each year the race directors recognize all the military members (serving or served) at the awards ceremony. It's one of the most touching parts of the whole race event. Each year the group recognized gets bigger and bigger. Soon there won't be enough space under the gazebo for them all! 

The race is very well organized, has both adult and youth races, and a great course. The course is a pool swim, rolling hills on the bike and a pretty flat (in the sun) run. I would highly recommend this race to anyone (except those in my age group that are faster than me - you can just stay home for this one!). :)

Disclaimer: Two days prior to this event I came down with a really bad cold/flu. I had gone to sleep two nights in a row with Niquil and was dizzy and light-headed (more than normal!) for those two days. I was just thankful to be able to get out and race this one - let alone do so well. 

I love the promptness of the race timers! My results had already been sent to my email before I made it home. A few stats on the day: The weather was sunny, 75 degrees F, 83% humidity, SSW wind of 8 mph. My overall finish place was 71st, my gender finish place was 13th, and, of course, my age group place was 2nd. Pretty happy with that!

Swim (300 Meters): 7:10 (2 seconds slower than last year) - 1st in age group
They say that you can win or lose a race based on your swim times. Well, even though I still feel slow, I guess being 1st in my age group makes that comment a little untrue. I think I would have beat my time last year had there not been an issue with seeding of swimmers. There were three guys behind me that ended up passing me and they weren't very nice about it. I never felt a tap on my foot or anything so I didn't even realize they were coming up behind me. But, having to let them go when we reached the wall made me 2 second + slower.
T1: 1:52 - (19 seconds slower than last year) 1st in age group
I'm always pretty quick in transition and T1 was no exception when it came to the rankings. HOWEVER, I had several issues in T1 this time (including my race belt getting caught in my tire) so I feel I could have made up some really good time here.

Bike (11.75 mi): 42:44 (1:07 slower than last year) @ 16.5 mph - 2nd in age group

I was very disappointed in this result. Since this race last year I feel I have gotten considerably stronger than last year on the bike. Today I blame my slowness on two things: 1) I had to blow a LOT of snot rockets (yep, I do that) because I've been sick for the past few days. 2) There were three times I had to slow down to wipe salty sweat out of my eyes. I literally couldn't see anything. I'm not sure what happened here because that has never happened to me before. Maybe I need to sunglasses or a new helmet or something to hold in the sweat. Don't know. But, I feel this is what slowed me down today. I also had a little birdie in the back of my mind saying "don't give everything on the bike today because you want to save something for the run." I'm glad I listened to that birdie.

I've not had the fastest pace on this course before because of the rolling hills but, more importantly, because of the 4 tight U-turns on the course. I can't wait to do a race where no U-turns are required to see what kind of pace I can hold.

T2: 0:46:00 (0:03:05 faster than last year) - 4th place in age group 
Could have gotten on my shoes a little faster and saved a few more seconds here. 
Run (3.1 miles): 29:28 (9:30 min/mile pace) (10 seconds faster than last year) - 7th place in age group

Although I was VERY pleased with my personal result, this is what stopped me from winning first place (again!) in my age group. I've really got to work on getting faster on the run and that means two things: 1) weight loss and 2) speed work. Not sure I'm ready for either of those but...I've gotta do what I've gotta do if I want to win 1st place!

Summary and lessons learned 

This is the third time I have raced this course. The first time I raced was in 2009 and I ended up coming in 3rd place in my age group. The second year, 2011, I also placed 3rd. This year I wanted to grab that 1st place age group really bad. But, having been sick for two days I was just thrilled to have made it across the finish line. I knew my friend Amy was on the course today and knew she was both a really strong biker and runner and, sure enough, she got 1st! I'm very proud of her!!! 

Today was no personal record but I'm one step closer to that 1st place trophy! It's a great way to start the tri season for sure! 

I need to remember that when I race a sprint I need to leave everything out there in EVERY sport. I shouldn't have held back on the bike. I should have just pressed on. I should have read my race report from last year that told me that EVERY SECOND COUNTS - particularly in a sprint! Lesson learned.