Monday, July 20, 2009

The Dam Tri

This was by far the hardest triathlon course I have ever raced. Nothing in northeast ohio even comes close, nor does the Mountaineer course in West Virginia.

We drove out to Meadville, Pa on Saturday and picked up our packets and packets for EG and his wife AM. We then spent a little over an hour driving the bicycle course and laughing at all the hills and then about a half hour trying to figure out where the observatory on Allegheny campus was so we could get our keys to the dorms we had rented for $15/night. We were less than 10 miles from the start of the race and only a mile or two from part of the bike course. I highly recommend doing this for $15 if anyone does this race in the future.

The dorms had 4 rooms so we knew we might be sharing with 2 other people and it just so happened it was EG and AM. We were all stoked to be put together.

We unpacked and rode about 10 miles of the course. I was dying to say the least. I hadn't been on my bike since Tuesday due to my exploding tire and f&cked up deraileur. It had been in the shop. My legs hadn't felt too hot before the NEO tri either, so I wasn't too concerned. Maybe, I just have dead legs day before a race.
This would not be the case.

The race started at 9:00am and we were there at 6:30am...uuuugggghh!!! We had a prime parking spot, but it was raining and I didn't want my gear to get wet, so after getting body marked and racking my bike I laid in the van waiting until the last possible minute to put out my gear in transision.

The weather finally broke about 30 minutes before the race start and I set-up and hit a 2 mile run for my warm-up.

My wave started around 9:15-9:20am, so I was able to watch the wave of elites and men's oly age groupers go off. AM and I started next with about 30 other women. We were to swim one big rectangle. It seemed a lot longer than what I thought 1500 meters was. The swim was also counter-clockwise and I breathe on my right (DRAT!)which means the shore and the buoys would not be within sight and as luck would NOT have it I had been pulling to the right a lot lately. Grrrrr!!!

Swim - decided to start on the outside and take a line straight at the far back buoy to avoid swimmers in the first hundred meters. It was not a good idea. The front of the pack broke away immediately (does this sound familiar?), but this time so did I!! They however broke forward and I broke to the right. I corrected myself and swam back to the left and tried to get in with a few girls nearby, but I passed them and again I was alone. I tried to get into a rythm, but when I sighted I was over to the right again. Uuggghhh!!! Got back over the the left and just as I was approaching that back buoy I got tangled in some weeds. I didn't want to mess with them, so I just left them hanging over my right shoulder. I have a sleeveless wetsuit, so I could feel them hanging over my shoulder with every stroke. It was gross. I made the turn to swim the backside, but I couldn't see the buoys ahead. I could only see a few colored caps. I swam toward them hoping they had chosen a good line. I saw one guy swimming even farther to the right than me!! I chose not to follow him. I continued to battle my pulling to the right by over correcting every few minutes and knew my swim time was getting L-O-N-G-G-G-G-G. When I look back on the swim I had also not kept my hips down and my body planed out, so my legs were dragging in the water that day. I also had to pee twice while swimming. I can't relax enough to pee while kicking, so I had to switch to just pulling, but it worked. Yeah I pee in the water!! Everybody does!!! I had made the turn back to shore and got caught up with some swimmers from the sprint wave. I tried to get on this one girl's feet, but she was way too fast for me and I got dusted after about 4 strokes. Swimming alone though, I still managed to smack face first into one of the buoys. It was more embarassing than anything, but at least I was swimmng straight. The swim seemed to take forever and it did as I define forever as 31:43.

T1 - was a long run up the beach, through the grass and gates of the park and down the parking lot. It was an event in itself. I ran for so long I forgot to hit the rinse bucket Adam had set up in transition for my feet. I was putting my bike gear on when I noticed I had forgotten to untie one of my running shoes. Dam!! I stopped what I was doing to undo it. I figured better now then in T2 when my legs would feel heavy. Grabbed my arm warmers just in case it was cold on the bike and off I went. Time was 3:13.

Bike - exiting transition I looped around the parking lot and made a little climb up the road that exits the park. It is not very steep that you have to stand, but it wasn't flat either. Exiting the park I turned right to start my first loop. I can some up the course like this....if your not climbing up a hill, you are riding on a false flat. The first few miles have one nice climb where I had to get out of the saddle and mash away. My legs felt just as heavy as the day before and I could not get into a rhythm. I was definitely not feeling it. There is one section in the middle where I was able to pick up some speed, but it seemed more like people needed it to recover than race as I passed a few through this seciton, but I felt tight and uncomfortable. There are a few quick rollers after that and then I hit the one nice downhill on the course. I easily stayed over 30+ mph for the entire descent, but I knew what was to come. I made the right at the ice cream shop wishing I could stop and have a sundae and hit the long climb on the course that was 2-3 miles. As I was climbing up the hill, I got passed by JL, who was in the elite wave and was a man on fire that day. He yelled "Go CTC!!" as he passed me and I yelled "Go Jim!!!!" His passing me inspired me a little and I pumped away up the hill to the final turn to head back to the park to start my second loop. There was a little downhill here, but it was really windy and my bike was getting blown left and right and then there was another dam climb!!! I dropped down to my little ring and worked way harder than I wanted to get up and over it. This course was killing me and I had another loop to go. Loop 1 down in about 42 minutes. That was an ouchie to my ego. The second loop had an extra section added in which you make a figure 8 and then turn right and climb up the steep section in the beginning, so this time you can't gain any speed as you hit the hill. You just turn right and start the climb. Well right before that the one and only girl who passed me on the bike that day came by on her fancy fucking Cervelo tri bike with this other guy who was pacing her. I was still in a funk and suffering on the bike couse when this happened. I was so mad at myself, at the race, at the girl that I refused to let them get away. I started pedaling harder and as we turned right to make the turn to climb the hill I quickly dropped down a gear before, but my chain fell off! I stopped hopped off my bike and fixed it in less than a minute, but the girl had pulled out of sight. I was really not happy about having to start this steep climb from a dead stop. What if I didn't make it and tipped over? I pushed that thought out of my head and hopped on my bike, "C'mon Heier, get back in this! It's not over yet!" I climbed up the hill a lot easier than what I thought I would and something snapped in me. My legs "woke up." I began cranking away and passed more people in the last 10 miles than in the first 15!! I even passed a few guys on tri-bikes with aero helmets. I don't know what had gotten into me. Made it back to transition in 1:24:27.

T2 - it was a grab and go. I was in and out, but just as I was about to cross the mat I felt a rock in my shoe. I stopped and bent down to pull it out. It took me a few seconds to find it and then re-tie my shoe. 10k with a rock in the shoe is a no-no, so I picked up a few unwanted seconds. Time 1:18.

Run - This is probably the best I have ever coming off the bike on the run in a triathlon and I started pushing from the get-go. I realized this and forced myself to run at a pace I thought was a bit too slow, which would actually be right on as I know the first mile or so is usually not a problem, but then the second mile hits and "whoops" should have gone out slower. I had six today, not three, so slowed down a bit. Had to play it safe. The terrain was rolling and it was on pavement, a soft path and on loose gravel. We headed out across the damn to the turnaround where I could see other girls coming back. The sprint racers did not run the dam so I could see who was in front of me. Assuming no one was off the dam and in the woods yet I was about 8-10th female in the age groupers. I figured I could get about 3 or 4 on the run, as they were not moving as fast. I passed one before mile 3 and I got another one before mile 5 and one more with about a half mile to go. The other girl was just too far ahead and as I was running through the woods with about .2 to go I hear the music from the finish and pushed. I popped out as the kid's triathlon was going on and this little boy about 6 with his bike helmet came sprinting up next to me. We were both going fot the finish. I shouted "Come on! You can do this!!" to the little boy and I picked up the pace as I had just passed 3 guys in the last .2 and did not want to get rundown and crossed the finish mat with a run time of 51:08.

Total time was 2:51:47. It was a PR from my one and only other olympic by about 3 minutes, but it was ugly. This bike course was significantly harder and so was the run. I ended up 2nd in my age group and 6th overall out of the age groupers. The girl that just happened to get 1st in our age group was the one who passed me on the bike :(

AH managed 2nd in his AG
EG won his AG
AM took 3rd in her AG

so our dorm room brought home lots of hardware :)

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