Monday, June 27, 2011

Crossfit Triathlon

I had never done this race before and I was very hesitant to sign up for it this year having only swam one time about a month or 2 ago in a swimming pool with e-speed, but I thought it's only 400 yards, how bad could it be, right?  It was also A-Train's 41st birthday and some of his training buddies would be there and even my parents were going to come down to watch.  It was a done deal, I had to race (or try). 

We arrived in plenty of time and I actually got to rack on the end for once.  I hoped it was a good sign.  I realized I had not packed a gel while I was setting up, but wasn't too worried.  It was only a sprint.  I rummaged around in my packet and to my delight found a complimentary one!  I successfully taped it to my top tube on my bike and thought - SCORE!  Then my first bad sign of the morning occurred.  A girl was asking me about where to rack her bike (the racks were clearly marked) and as I looked up to answer her I saw it was "pink shirt" from this race. Oh crap!!  Not her again.  She started to put her gear by me on the rack and I told her she could go to any of the four around me and there was even an end spot open on a different one.  Lucky for me that idea appealed to her way more than racking by me and she headed over there - whew!

The women 34 and under were to go off at 7:06am in the first wave.  Usually, the women all go off in one wave (and last for that matter), but surprisingly this race drew quite a decent size of women participants and we had two waves with mine going first!  This I knew was going to be weird.  There were 6 minutes between waves and although BH had once told me how he had swam over a ton of slow old ladies and "clobbered them," I wasn't worried.

I lined up more on the outside and toward the front for the swim, not wanting to get trapped between the lane line and swimmers, course being near the outside would have it's own challenges I would find out.  It felt so weird standing in the water about to race.  It seemed like another lifetime ago when I had raced a triathlon.  I was nervous and praying by some miracle of God I would make it out of the water and be able to put in at least an average performance.  The horn sounded and arms were a flying!!  There was more body contact than I am used to on the way out, my arms hitting others and vice a versa, a couple women swimming on my ankles and legs.  I felt my heart rate going up and up and before long I was gasping for air.  Swimming on the outside allowed me to see the lane line and sight easily, but it put a lot of girls between me and the ropes and more times then not I had to hold my line and take an arm to the body to keep them from pushing me wide of my line.  My arms and back were on fire even before I made it to the turn around.  I had a little trouble getting under the lane line and practically clothes lined myself trying to dive under it at the same instance some girl grabbed it and lifted it up.  I was completely anaerobic, just trying to hang onto the pace and relax.  I found some feet and hung on them for part of the way back.  I had a much clearer path, but then there was another lane line and I was a little confused as to where to exit.  This time however, I successfully cleared it without mishap. 

(My dad got a good laugh out of the stupid look on my face)

I hit the beach and felt how much the swim had taken out of me.  My arms felt like dead weight and as I ran for transitioin, I reminded myself "this is fun and it's only going to hurt more - weeeeeee!!!"  I had put my chip on outside my wetsuit and I struggled to get it off (rookie mistake #1).  I ended up sitting down and wrestling with my right leg for what seemed like two minutes.  Finally, with one quick burst of strength and my dead arms I got the thing off.  I pulled on my bike helmet and realized my hari bun was too high on my head and my helmet was choking me a little (rookie mistake #2)  I tried my best to re-adjust it, but I had to go.  I had already wasted too much time trying to get my wetsuit off (tick-tock, tick-tock).

I sprinted for the transition exit and noticed my legs felt okay (surprisingly).  I figured there were about 15 girls ahead of me.  We climbed up out of the park and I was immediately able to pass 4-5 of them in the first 400 meters. 

The bike course was 2 loops of rollers with right turns.  The climb up route 91 at the end of each loop was the most challenging part of the course.  I noticed a weird sensation on my back end when braking and  noticed when I was in my easiest gear I was working really hard.  My legs felt the same as always, but I didn't seem to have any power.  I assumed the swim had just killed my body from top to bottom.  I decided to ignore my computer and just go with it.  What other choice did I have?  (Later, KP and A-Train were working on my bike and noticed my brake was rubbing (every time I don't check it before the race, it seems to happen!!  DARN IT!!! rookie mistake #3).  I got another 4 or so girls on the first loop and after that couldn't tell anymore with other waves merging.  I rode alone for most of the race.  No girls passed me on the bike, but as I re-entered the park one girl had caught up to me.  I started ripping my feet out of my shoes and soft pedaling on the downhill a few hundred meters from transition.  I jumped off my bike and after not doing it for nearly 2 years managed to successfully complete a flying dismount - WOOT!!  I was on the ground and running when my pedal flipped and my shoe dragged and went flying as I was running.  "Shit!!" I said.  I went back for it, even though I wouldn't have gotten a penalty for abandonment of gear as this was not USAT race.  A volunteer tossed it to me and I ran back and grabbed my bike where I had leaned it against the transition tent, but the nose of my seat go stuck on the tent pole and I wrestled with it trying to get the bike lose without taking out the entire tent.  Arrrgggghhhhh!!!!  Come On!!!!  It was only a matter of seconds, but in triathlon, it always feels like forever. 

I finally racked my bike changed my shoes and blew out of T2 (Some people's forte is the bike or the swim or even the run, mine is unfortunately transition, even when it's bad, it is usually faster than most.  Too bad it doesn't buy me a lot of time back).

I saw my mom and the Bails and I waved and yelled "Hi Buddy!!"  That was a mistake, apparently he became super excited to see me and wanted to run too.  He spent the latter part of the race trying to drag my mother on to the course for her own unsanctioned 5k.  I grabbed some water and gatorade at the turnaround table and headed out for my first loop.  I saw my dad taking pics and cheering for me right after that.  I was breathing really hard and blubbering and wheezing from the get-go, but my legs felt way better than normal.  The run was thankfully shaded most of the way and flat too boot.  I was alone and it was dead quiet.  At about 0.5 miles in there is a little turn around area near the main gates and I saw a girl less than a minute behind me.  Yikes!!!  Her stride looked fresh and strong.  I was holding steady, but knew if my breathing got worse or my legs got tired I was D-O-N-E.  I yelled at her "Good job!!  You look great!!!"  She yelled "Thanks, you too!!" 

Around one mile we hit the only climb on the course and I saw A-train coming into the park off the bike.  I knew he had put up some insane bike time as soon as I saw him.  I worked my way up the hill.  I had no idea how many girls were in front of me.  I saw nobody.  BM passed me as he entered on his bike and yelled some encouragement.  He too had had a good bike.  As I was working the downhill, a young man blew by me like I was standing still.  Without thinking I just said "Holy Shit!"  as he passed me.  The kid never slowed and later I would come to learn it was DJ, a former Perry HS cross country runner.  We had taken him with us to Footlocker Nationals a few years ago in Wisconsin, now I experienced first hand why!!! 

As I started the second loop I was still holding off that girl, but not wanting to look back I forced myself to run hard every few cones, trying to gap her and let her think it was impossible to catch me.  At the turn-around she was still about the same distance away.  My dad had yelled at me that A-Train was only about a quarter mile ahead and I could catch him (haha, funny!!).  I had a little less than a mile to go to hold her off, but then out of the blue a female KG also a recent graduate HS cross country runner, went by me.  I was in shock.  She would go on to finish in 18:00 with one of the top 5 runs out of the women and men!!  At the hill I finally started to tire and it took a lot more energy to climb it the second time.  Over the top and heading for home I tried to open up my stride until I hit the grass and then I just cruised on in, prepared to kill myself if someone tried to sprint me down at the line (thankfully, that didn't happen).  I crossed the line in 1:10:xx.  Again, opted not to do splits and just go with it, just glad it was over and I had survived.

(I was waving my arms saying "Thank God that's over!")

It wasn't even close to my best performance ever, but I had put out a lot of effort (all that I had as a matter of fact), just to finish where I had.  The stupid mistakes definitely needed fixing, but because it was A-Train's birthday and my parents had come down (my mom had never seen me race a triathlon before), not to mention it was a beautiful day, how could I not be on cloud 9 about the day!! 
--------- Edit-----------------------
Splits for the Race
Swim 400 meters: 7:07.7
T1: 1:34.1
Bike 12 miles: 37:16.8
T2: 0:39.5
Run: 23:32.7
Total: 1:10:10.9 (6:09.4 back from the leader and most of my time was lost to her on the bike)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Twinsburg Duathlon

To summarize this race, it was pain and puking. 

I had worked all nights the past week and by the time I finally got to sleep on Saturday afternoon, I was whipped.  I woke up around 9pm, having missed the Captains game Saturday night, only to fall back asleep within a half hour and not stir again until 2:45am on Sunday.  Having nothing better to do for a few hours I got up at 3am.

I left for the race a little after 6am, so I was there in plenty of time to set-up.  It would be my first multisport race in nearly a year and only my 2nd since September 20th, 2009.  It had been awhile.  I loved the RD and whole heartedly supported North Coast Multisport by volunteering and racing any chance I got.  I had just volunteered at the Tallmadge 5k for him on Memorial Day and just a week later I was about to compete in one of his duathlons.  (I hate duathlons by the way.  I would rather do an entire marathon).
I saw my buddy MK and we ran a short warm-up before the race meeting.  I feared she was going to completely kick my a$$, along with a few of my Snake Bite teammates

The race was a 2 mile run, 10 mile bike and 2 mile run.  It started out downhill and in the sun.  I had a side-stitch almost immediately and like a baby ended up kinda spitting-up/vomiting on myself before mile 1.  The course wound around my old high school and then up into the woods and into the shade, except it was uphill.  I could see a lot of familiar faces pulling away from me.  I looked at my watch and saw I could make it in 15 mins if I pushed.  I made it to transition in 15:03.

There were no mats exiting the bike to transition or re-entering so our bike times would include T1 and T2.  If one multisport skilled of mine has remained with me, it was my ability to transition quickly.  I definitely made up time on a few chicks that were at least 20 seconds ahead of me on the first run. 

As we exited the parking lot we headed into Twinsurg.  The first few miles of the course we climbed up out of the town.  It was a little congested throughout the first few miles.  There was some inadvertent blocking and definitely one chick, "pink shirt" drafting.  I was so proud of myself when I caught her trying to hang on my wheel that I only yelled at her "you can't draft!" without dropping one "F" bomb at the cheater.  She would continue to hang back behind me on and off throughout the race drafting off another girl until we finally dropped her in the last 2 miles.  One of my teammates "P" BLEW by me like I was on a stationary bike and ended up crushing the course and placing 2nd overall.  My computer had been messed up on my bike for the last week, so the only true number I had was time (no cadence, speed, or distance available).  My stomach was not getting any better and I puked again on the bike (seems to be the norm these days -- I did that a week ago trying to beat a storm home too).  At about mile 6 there is a section that I knew could be bombed and I hit it hard, hoping to get back some time.  We had to go through an intersection and as I passed a girl (who would later get a penalty for blocking), I yelled "On your left!!!"  and she pulled LEFT!!  I screamed again and she continued to stay on the left.  I was debating pulling right, but feared she might figure it out at the last second and side swipe me into a crash, so I did what any bada$$ would do -- I broke the rules!!  I pulled into the oncoming lane of traffic blew by her and rode outside the course cones for a minute (techinically I could be DQ'd, but the girl put me in an unsafe and unavoidable spot).  As I cruised, she came back on me and passed me a mile or so later.  She apologized and I told her it was ok.  I wasn't mad.  I didn't care, she wasn't doing it on purpose like "pink shirt" was who, had also come back on me riding the other girls wheel up to me. 

Thankfully, we hit the climb on Glenwood right then and I watched the girl who passed me pull away from me as I shifted into my easiest gear and started spinning up it.  "Pink shirt" was so close to my back wheel she said, "Aren't you wishing for a downhill now?"  I was lit at that point!!  I dropped it down 2 gears stood up and climbed away from her.  I made it to the top and hammered it!  I had had enough.  I had already puked twice and was killing myself and NOT about to give another chick a free ride. 

Back into transition.  I racked my bike and for some reason felt compelled to straighten up my transition gear in a neat pile before leaving (I have no idea why), so I did.  As, I ran out I asked the RD jokingly, "does my hair look okay?"  He said "Yep, you look great!!" 

I felt like poop, by this point.  I was panting and gasping for air and my legs were like bricks.  I wished so bad at this point it was a biathlon.  I was slowing down....a lot.  I could tell I was outta gas.  There was a mom and her 2 kids ringing a cowbell directing runners about a 1/2 mile in and I thanked them and hi-fived them both (carry over from Boston, I guess).  The hill the first time had been challenging, now it was just rough.  I staggered up it and managed to pass a few people (all guys).  The chick on the bike I had been battling with was also right there with me.  I saw one guy doing the "pissed off, I can't do this, someone ruined my race walk."   I yelled at him not to give up, but he didn't even look up or acknowledge me.  Fine!  Be pissed you got chicked, a lot.

With less than 3/4 of a mile one of my teammates, ND who I had passed on the bike came flying by me like she hadn't just run 2 miles or biked 10.  I was totally impressed, but I had nothing and she literally ran away from me.  Finally, with about a 1/4 mile to go I started pushing, but so did the chick I had been battling with since the bike.  I started to make up ground on her, but just couldn't run her down and she finished a few seconds in front of me and man was I glad that was over --- whew!! 

I had projected my finish time at 1:30:00 for imATHLETE, but managed to finish in 1:06:xx.  I have not paid attention to my finishing time in a race for a long time now.  I figured I was about 20th for the women and in the 50s overall.  I had a lot of fun racing, but I was feeling a little rough and my tummy was not happy with me. 

USAT results finely came out after a few penalties were issued.  I was happy to see a lot of the people blocking and drafting got caught.  A-Train raced super well and was in 6th place when I saw him, but unfortunately, the official drove by him at some point and gave him a drafting penalty.  He did so well and was extremely upset, the official would ever think that of him.  He hates cheaters as much as I do and he ended up 11th overall  with a 2:00 minute penalty.  He is still bummed now, but his spirits seem a little better.  He had the 3rd fastest bike split on the day (including his T1 and T2 times). 

Overall, I felt a lot of mediocrity about my race performance.  My training just hasn't been the same since before starting nursing school and I thought I would be able to get it back, but I am definitely struggling to get in the training and to accept the fact that this just might be all I got now.  Kind of stinks after finally having my breakthrough year in triathlon in '09, only to take a year off for school and now just not being able to get it back for whatever reason.

I came home took a shower, took some Excedrin and drank a beer.  I felt like I had a bad hangover.  It was sad but true, after starting an exciting sunny day at 3:00am, I spent a large part of the remainder of my day laying in my bed, in the dark fighting a headache and a nauseated stomach.  It was still a great day and the funnest of the 3 duathlons I've ever done. 

Oh and to boot, there were 4 girls from SBR racing and we all placed in the top 10, and not one of us drafted, blocked or cheated.  It makes me proud to know that I am on a team in which the members race their butts off, but do it clean and still kill it!!