Sunday, August 24, 2008

Lighthouse Triathlon

What!!??!! Two blogs in less than a week...hell yeah!

Again, this was a month ago, so I will probably fail to mention a large amount of details that had I done this sooner I would have included.

First, I really like this triathlon as it is cheap at $25 and the course is FAST. The swim is a 500 meter, parallel out and back within the breakwalls of Fairport Harbor, followed by a possible windy 12.4 mile out and back on the bike and then a looped 5k run.

Since the marathon, it seems I had misplaced my drive to push myself. I had debated whether or not I should go all out for this one as the HIM was only two weeks away or just take it easy. I had done a 35 mile ride the day before in hopes of finding some clarity for race day strategy. I finally concluded that going all out was the best plan. I figured I would be one of the faster women at this triathlon and I was going to hunt every woman down in front of me until there were none left!

I was there early enough to get my choice of rack, which was nice as last year I remember there being so many bikes just laying in the grass as there was no rack space left! I chose a spot on the end, one row back from the bike exit/entrance.

**There is always some thing that seems to annoy me at a race so here is the first. I was thinking I had a sweet spot, but of course this guy shows up with his mechanic's bike stand and sets his bike up at the end of mine so I can't even squeeze in on the left to get to my bike (CHUMP!) I found the guy and made him move over. I have just as much right to a spot as he does and he was in kayak race anyway. They should have racked all those participants together in my opinion.

I warmed up with a mile or so run and then threw on my wetsuit and finished off with a swim. I noticed it takes me about ten minutes of swimming before my core loosens up to let me glide through the water. I only came out of the water to let the kayakers start, but as soon as they called the first men's wave I was back in. The water was nice and smooth. I planned on swimming harder than normal, focusing on my pull and keeping my elbows high and in. I started on the outside, thinking then I wouldn't have to fight through the clusterf*ck that is a tri swim. I wished TZ and JC's friend good luck (see I can't remember her name because it has been nearly a month).

The horn went off and I hit it. I decided I had been swimming fairly straight lately so sighting would be minimized today, however within in the first 150 meters my dumbass was headed toward the center of Lake Erie. I immediately fixed it but I had lost some time, so I started swimming harder and telling myself "C'mon Heier, pull!! Get your lazy ass through this!" I had no idea where I was in my wave. I figured I was in the top half, but I can never tell because the field always pulls away at the start and then I swim people down after about 5 minutes. At this point I was also catching men in the slower waves ahead of me, some where even run/walking through the chest deep water as swimming was no longer there best method of travel through the water. I kind of laughed to myself at this point as I remember my first sprint when I had to run for part of it as I was so tired I thought I might actually drown. I knew my heart rate was up there, but at this point I no longer care anymore in a sprint. If I wanted to go after the a top spot there would be no room for holding back. I swam until my hand smacked the ground and then jumped up and ran my ass up to transition. Swim and run time 10:44, not good I had my work cut out for me.

I dicked around in transition for 1:31, which probably could have been 1:00, but I always worry about not getting the sand off my feet or forgetting something for the bike. Should I ever get my shit together I should practice transitioning.

The bike exits UP a nice steep climb and goes left through a neighborhood for about 2 miles before you hit the open road going east. I had to focus and have the best bike yet this season as there were women ahead of me from my so-so swim and there was an additional wave of 35+ women, 5 minutes behind me that I would have to contend with. If any of them caught me they would beat me on time. This course is flat as a pancake and usually has a tailwind that allows me to push 23-30mph on the way out. I was hoping for only 23-25mph as the faster out you go the harder back you will have to work. I managed to pass quite a few people (mostly men) about 5 women. I was at the 6.2 mile turn-around in less than 18 minutes. I saw about 10 women still ahead of me, but some were in the kayak race and I figured I could get a few more as I was closing the gap. I knew I could keep the splits pretty close, but I was going to have to work my butt off the second half. I was still following the plan of going all out too. I knew I could blow up on the run for pushing too hard on the bike, but I didn't care. All to often, people hold back or give up because they worry they may not make it, but I always make it, to not go hard would only put me farther behind the leaders and today I wanted to be one of those leaders. My back was getting tight from riding on my aeros the entire time, but I knew it was saving me time. I could hear my labored breathing as I caught another girl and then another. 2 DOWN, 8 TO GO!! I came up on these two guys with about 4 miles to go and there was some blatant drafting. I shook my head and blew by them. The guy drafting said something to me and gave me a dirty look. Now, on my motorcycle if that was a guy in a car giving me some shit I probably would have kicked the door, but I was clipped in and didn't want to waste time unclipping, trying to kick him and getting DQ, nor could did I want to waste my breathe saying something back so I kept moving (I am a frickin' badass!! Good thing there are no triathlon cops or I'd be getting a reckless op. from them too!) I passed another girl and then with about 3 miles to go I caught one more girl. I could tell she was getting tired of fighting the wind. I told her to keep pushing as we only had one more mile to go to get out of this wind. She seemed renewed with energy and stayed with me just a few bike lengths back the rest of the way. I hammered it as soon as we hit the neighborhood again and was pushing 22-24mph back in, hit my split at the dismount line and racked my bike. Back in a little over 19 minutes. Damn, I had worked hard and still lost over a minute with that wind.

I was completely driven at this point. I didn't care about anything, but the women between me and that finish line. I pulled on my racing flats, which I should have put Yankz on as I again lost time in T2 to tie those bad boys. I didn't even bother putting on the visor or sunglasses until I was already running for the transition exit. Somehow, my goggles had gotten attached to my visor and I noticed I had them in my hand. Crap! I didn't have time to go put them back with my gear so I just dropped them right on the pavement in transition. I would have to get them after the race. T2 - 1:00

I grabbed some fluid at the aide station and started running up that same steep hill. The girl that had stuck with me on the bike had beaten my 1 minute T2 time and was running ahead of me. Hmmm, she didn't look as good on the run as I did and I closed the gap. I caught her and said she was doing great. She told me this was her worst event and she was dying. I told her everybody dies on this part, but just hold on. I had other plans though. I didn't give a shit how bad it hurt today. I was on a mission. I couldn't believe my legs were holding from the hard bike throught the run. I felt hot and my breathing was labored, but it was controlled. I just kept running by people one at a time. There were 2 or 3 guys that passed me on the run, but I didn't care they were not going to make up 5 minutes on the run, so I had all them. I managed to run 2 more girls down. Yay!! There couldn't be more than 3 or 4 in front of me. I saw one more girl with about a mile to go way ahead. I could catch her, but I would have to maintain this pace and throw in some surges to pull within striking distance. I knew the only way I was going to get here is if I could out sprint her at the finish. There was no way I was going to expel all this energy surging and then be able to hold her off for 3 more minutes. I would only have one shot at this. The other key would be to hope she didn't look back, see me and take off like a bat out of hell to the finish. My plan was working, I was almost there when out of nowhere this other chick comes running by me. Aaarrgghh!! "Don't let her go!" I thought. I had to stay with her. I picked up the pace and wow did it really start hurting. We had less than a half mile to go, but I was hurting badly. We caught the girl I had been working my way up to and no sooner had we pulled even then she took off!! "For the Love of GOD!" I am at a sprint and still minutes away from the finish. My breathing went to hell at that point as I tried to hold on, but the 2 girls, both in the 25-29 AG had gotten into a pissing contest and pulled ahead. I kept pushing, but they kept pulling away. I ran down the hill to the beach and hit the sand. Almost there, just get to the boardwalk and then less than a minute. I caught two guys at this point, but the girls were too far ahead. Finish time PR. Run time was 25:00, but according to many the course was .2-.3 too long for a 5k, but it was equally skewed for everybody.

I was about 4th/5th overall until the 2nd wave of women finished then I got bumped down to 9th (I think), but rumor has it a few women that beat me were drafting. It kind of bums me out, because without the drafting they might not have beaten me :( I won my age group and got a really nice trophy and a hot pink gear bag (what's wrong with blue or green for girl?). Best news of all, I only missed winning the women's overall by 2:10. Heck, if I fix my transition times, swim straight and run a little better, maybe next year I will win the damn thing!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Johnny Cake 5-mile Again

Although I ran this race a month ago, here is the late-late rundown.

The weather was humid, which to any runner is a bummer. I really wasn't stoked or trained to run this race, but since it was our team race and we were "representing" I felt obligated to participate.

I made a quicker bathroom trip than the walrus, which never happens (he said the line was forever - yeah right, he is so uptight, haha). I decided to warm-up in my short sleeve dri-fit shirt instead of a my racing tank top just to see exactly how hot I was going to get. It was only a matter of a few minutes before the super slow jog brought about an overabundance of sweat. My shirt was soaked! It was going to be a rough one. I jogged the course backwards down Mentor Avenue about a half mile and back to wrap it up before changing shirts. I stopped at my truck to take 2 Endurolytes as they seem to have been minimizing the cramps in my hamstrings this seaosn, made a quick decision to tuck my tank under my sports bra as it is loose fitting and annoys the shit out of me when it gets wet and moves around and went to the starting line. Belly hanging out and all, I was ready :)

The entire course is flat with the exception of one hill at the beginning of mile 2. It is also USAT certified and has a cash purse, so quite frequently Kenyans have shown up to participate, along with some former members of TGR. This year there seemed to only be local competition. Hmmm, the non locals are probably gearing up for the Olympics ;)

The start was fairly tight as the course was changed due to construction and we had to run around the fairgrounds on a dirt path. Unfortunately, someone went down and cut her head pretty good at the start. I saw my teammates and a few of the Mentor varsity girls pull ahead of me almost immediately. I wanted to try to stick with them, but going out too fast in this heat would cost me dearly on the backside so I stayed where I was.

I felt a little tight coming through the first mile at 7:30, but had expected myself to go out too fast like usual. I have now just accepted it. I will always run my first mile faster than projected unless I have a pacer or wear my garmin.

I hit the hill and whoa!! I felt like my legs had just stopped. I tried to pump my arms and look ahead. I was just not feeling it, but then I heard this terrible awful labored breathing like an animal that is suffering and should just be shot and put out of its misery. It was a girl and she was H-U-R-T-I-N-G! It was only the start of mile 2. I thought, "how could you run like that and hold on? She definitely needs to slow down." Not to mention her breathing was bugging the heck out of me. She was literally breathing down my neck. She was thankfully, running with two guys that told her it was okay to slow. They realized her breathing was severely labored and eventually the slower jog dropped to a walk. Bang! Just like that the humidity had taken a runner out at the start of mile 2. I made it to the top and made the turn relieved I would have some shade and a nice flat road ahead. I could see my 2 teammates up ahead. They had put a good distance between us. I really wanted to catch up to them, but it seemed impossible and now was not the time for me to start pushing. I was pretty much completely recovered by mile 2, but the hill had cost me. Time 8:08.

The next 2 miles I could only keep my teammates in sight and slowly work my way up. I was consistently passing people who were succumbing to the heat. I thought for a second maybe I had picked up the pace after mile 3, but no my splits showed I was holding, which meant others were fading. I grabbed 2 cups of water, one to drink and one to pour on myself. I had to stay cool or risk overheating. There was a moment in the race at the end of mile 4 when everything seemed to go still and the heat settled in on me. I recognized this feeling. It is one of the first major signs for heat problems for me before I become dizzy and nauseated and then passout. I shook it off and tried to focus. Mile 3 - 7:36 and Mile 4 - 7:40.

Finally, the last mile. This is somewhat brutal as it is straight down Mentor Avenue for what seems like forever, there is no shade and with the construction you can not see the end until you come around the CAT equipment by the bank. I checked for my teammates and to my surprise had closed the gap. I caught the first one. I tried to encourage her to run with me and catch our other teammate, but she was completely red faced and not breathing normally. I asked if she was okay, but I knew she wasn't. She told me to go and try to catch my other teammate. I was worried, but she said she would be okay, so I plodded on. Only a half mile to go and I caught my other teammate. She said I looked great and was getting faster all the time. She is a police officer so I admittedly told her how all the blood doping I was doing truly was the key. She smiled and told me to keep going. I passed her and headed for home.

Now, on top of chasing my teammates, there was this one chick that had beaten me at the Jim Klett 10k, who happened to be at this race too. I had kept her in my sights and until the last 1.5 miles or so I had not made up any ground on her. I was getting closer and closer, but I was running out of road! I wasn't going to make it. I needed another mile. Damn! She finished about 20 seconds ahead of me and to top it off this other chick came flying by me at the very finish. ARGH!! And yep, she was in my age group too. Last mile 7:36 with a half ass kick.

I finished in 38:31 taking 5th in my age group. Of course, 3rd and 4th had to be those other two girls I mentioned (someone has a bad sense of humor). I missed my PR by 13 stupid seconds, but have I mentioned how humid it was? I grabbed some water immediately. The nauseated feeling passed within a few minutes and I knew I would be okay. There were however, quite a few people dry heaving and puking what little they had in their stomachs in the garbage barrels near by. I was satisfied with my performance. Not an "A" race, but I had put forth a consistent effort. I have been all over the place with my times this year and I know I am in triathlon season right now, but man can't I be good at everything?