Monday, May 29, 2006

Race Report: DeSoto American TTT

What a weekend! For a complete overview of the race, click here, because I can’t even begin to describe what this race is all about! It’s exhausting even to think about it, so I’m only going to talk about it in highlights. Justin and I were ranked 33rd & 34th (HFP Racing figures out ranks based on your USAT ranking from the previous year), and there was one other coed team that was ranked higher than us (I believe they were in the high 20’s). This was a good place for us, since we didn’t want to be the targets. We were hoping that our similar swim and run splits would be an advantage, and that we could capitalize on Justin’s strong cycling skills (and my ability to hold with him in the draft J). We had read several articles/journals from folks that did the race in the past, so we did our homework and understood that this race needed to be treated as an ironman-distance race (i.e., don’t go anywhere near crazy for the first three races…). The venue was absolutely beautiful. We were given race singlets to wear for the entire weekend with our numbers, 33 and 34, on them. Nice shirts, but mine was pink (yuck). We had a motel approximately 30 minutes away (unfortunately), but at least it was cheap!

Race 1: Prologue: 250m Swim - 5 mi Bike - 1 mi Run

This was a quick race – 20 minutes! This race would not win the weekend, so we took it pretty conservatively. All of the swims for the weekend were time-trial format, which was great! We were introduced to the first of many, many, many hills for the weekend. I was the first woman, so I was able to earn some bonus time points for us. We made sure we got our massages and headed back to the motel after dinner for some rest.

Race 1 Results

Race 2: Individual Triathlon: 1500m Swim - 24.8 mi Bike - 6.55 mi Run

We arrived early enough to pick out awesome spots in transition again and got set up pretty quickly. Justin started his race, and then I started right behind him. We ended up exiting the swim together, and of course, he took off on the bike course, never to be seen again by moi, until the run turn-around. The hills and descents on the bike course were pretty fun, but I knew what I thought was charming initially would later turn into “evil” – and sure enough, I did get tired of the hilly bike courses as the weekend wore on! The run course was actually pretty nice, off-road and in the shade, generally, but with a few hills. We were both pretty happy with our races, and after the race, we pulled out our blanket and slept/rested until the third race. I ended up being the 2nd woman (by 3 seconds), but still earned some bonus time. Got our massages, happily!

Race 2 Results

Race 3: Team Triathlon: 24.8 mi Bike - 1500mi Swim - 6.55 mi Run

This race started on the bike, in time trial format with your teammate. We had a great ride, but we realized later that we had gone too hard (major mistake). After the bike, we were in T1 helping each other maneuver the damn wetsuits on our sweaty bodies, but we managed it well enough. We did our two laps, during the swim, I began to fully appreciate what a tough weekend it would be. My arms were definitely telling me they were getting tired. We did our two laps around the buoys and exited to start the run…and the run was where it got really hard. Justin was having difficulties, and I wasn’t feeling superb, so we kept easing off to be able to finish the race and have something left for the next day. We finally reached the finish line, and Justin laid down…he was not doing well at all. He tolerated a massage, but pretty soon was throwing up. I loaded up the car and drove down to transition to carry him off to the nice bed back at the motel. I expected him to perk up pretty soon, but he was pretty sick and only wanted to crawl in bed. I got everything ready for the next day and got into the bed with him, trying to encourage him to eat (he had not been able to keep anything down for hours). It wasn’t until after midnight that he was able to start eating. Thankfully, he was doing much better and was starting to think about the next day’s race, but I was incredibly worried because he should have been fueling up for the past six hours! He started eating slowly, but kept pushing food down every half hour or so until we had to get up…

Race 3 Results

Race 4: Team Triathlon: 1.2 mi Swim - 55.5 mi Bike - 13.1 mi Run

Justin seemed chipper enough, so we got everything together, loaded the bikes onto the car, and then proceeded to 1) back over my transition bag (which I had forgotten to actually load INTO the car, and 2) discover that the front right tire was completely flat because I hit a piece of metal in the road on the drive back from the race site the day before. Luckily, my bag and its contents were not too damaged, and we were able to change the tire quickly because we’d had plenty of practice recently trying to change our brake pads. However, we quickly discovered when we got to the race site that the race time had changed from the time we were expecting it to start – it was starting a half-hour earlier than we thought, so we essentially had 10 minutes to get set-up and pick up our chips and everything that you need to do before a half-ironman distance race! We did it, though, and I felt much better after 10 minutes into the swim. I had been so tied up worrying about how Justin would do and then dealing with the issues that we had to fix, it was almost a relief just to get racing again. We had a good swim, a decent T1 (our transitions were all pretty good), and headed out on the bike. We decided to back off on the bike a bit more than we originally had planned, and I pulled a lot more, as well. The course was two laps, and we had to pull into transition and switch our bike bottles (we stashed our own bottles), which went just fine. Despite easing off, we had a good ride. We both knew, though, that the run would be the serious obstacle to get through, so we took things very conservatively, stopping at the aid stations to get as much ice as possible to deal with the increasing temperature (and we’re told, humidity). It was such a relief to get through the first of the two-loop course. We went back and forth with another team that seemed to be dealing with issues of their own (one team member was having problems on the run). As the run wore on, we power-walked a few of the hills, but eventually we were out of the forest and could see the finish…we were comfortably ahead of the next team, so all we had to do was make it to the finish line! We did, and we were so happy…unfortunately, Justin’s stomach issues came back again, so I spent three hours talking to medics, watching him lay down on a cot, watching him throw up a bit more, trying to coax him to drink just a bit more, etc. Poor guy. He’s a trooper, and he recovered just in time to make it to the awards ceremony (once there, the pizza smelled really good to him, so he recovered even more taking little bites of pizza!). When we went up to get our award for the 1st place co-ed team, he said some wonderful things. I am terrible about being able to think on my feet, so I’ll say the things I wish I had thought of to say here…I have the most wonderful teammate in the world – the TTT experience is analogous to what life is…many, many, many uphills with lots of technical, fun descents, a long road at times that seems to go on and on...but it’s all achievable, especially with an amazing teammate who can provide encouragement and guidance with or without words. Seeing how sick he was made me really sick with worry – what if I woke up one day without him? He’s a part of everything in life that I love. Since each day we live is one day closer to the day that we die, I need to make sure that I remind him, each day, what he means to me.

Race 4 Results

We loved the race, even with all of our issues, so we’ll be back…

Monday, May 22, 2006

Race Report: Memphis in May Oly Triathlon

We raced the Saturday MTB race, and then went back to Justin’s grandparent’s house to relax and rest up for the big race the next day. I had a tough time sleeping, though. First, I couldn’t keep my mind quiet. Second, I got a call dealing with a house alarm for my bosses, who were out of town. I was not watching their house, so I had to get in touch with the person who was, at 11pm. He went out to the house, verified everything was fine, but then had to call me back after an hour because he needed the number to the alarm company…ugh. Not great preparation for a big race. I felt bad for Justin – he probably would have slept fine except for all of my restlessness and phone calls. I don’t think either of us slept well, at all.

We got up super early to get to the race site in plenty of time. I really prefer to get there early and wait around, rather than take the risk of being late. It was amazing what a transition area with ~1700 triathletes and all of their gear looks like. I hardly looked around, though, because I only wanted to focus on me and what I needed to do. I wasn’t interested in getting intimidated by all of the really fit people that I’m sure were around me. I did see Chris McCormack, though, and since he’s a bit out of my category, it was interesting to see how he sets up his transition area. I saw the local professional triathlete from OKC, Amanda Stevens, and exchanged a few supportive words with her. With the TT start, we were able to watch the pros go off – pretty interesting. After they were all off, I kissed Justin and told him to race well, so that I could go get in line for my start (my number was in the 217, while his was in the 600’s). I sat on the curb in the middle of a huge melee of people in wetsuits. I tried to ignore everyone else and just focused on what I wanted to do with my race.

When my time came, I dove off the ramp and took off, trying to be smooth and even. Justin’s sighting trick that he mentioned to me the day before worked really well (he’s pretty nice about sharing all his fun, little tricks that work well!), and I passed a lot of people on the swim. I exited the water and tried to run quickly through transition. T1 went well, although my chip caught on my wetsuit for a second. I started out on the bike course and really just got in a groove where I was completely focused on hitting my HR targets. I had no issues and enjoyed passing people J. I was conservative about getting out of my shoes with plenty of time before the dismount line (there was a small hill, and I didn’t want to be rushing to get out of the shoes as my bike sped up going downhill). I was in and out of T2 well, and early into the run, was feeling like the run was going to be really hard. But, I kept to my plan of keeping below 165 bpm for 1-1.5 miles and sure enough, I started feeling much better and stronger on the run since I didn’t go out too hard. I saw Amanda Stevens fly by me on her way to the finish and was astounded that she would use some precious energy to tell me, “Go girl!” It made me feel good, and I said something encouraging to her, too. Water was available on the course every mile, and I took the opportunity to dump as much of it as I could on my head and drink a swallow. I reached the turnaround and began to see the amateur women who seemed to me to be catching me on the run. With the TT start, you had to do math when you saw someone’s number (e.g., my number was 217…someone whose number was 234 would have started 51 seconds after me because we all started 3 seconds apart) to see how much time you “owed” them or how much they “owed” you. I think I just tried to put the panic out of my head that they might all be catching me and tried to run as well as I could. I finally made it to the berm that led to the finish line, and it was so nice to cross it! I looked at the time on my watch: 2:06:30 and could not quite believe it. I saw that the timing people were putting up results quickly, so after I cooled off for a minute in the lake, I verified that my HR monitor wasn’t messing with my mind.

How could I have taken almost 20 minutes off of my PR in a race? The swim and bike were on the short side and supposedly, the run was a bit long... The course was incredibly fast, though, and I'm sure it would have been a PR had all of the distances been measured perfectly, so I guess the training – physical and mental – pay off! I think I put together the best race I’ve ever had so far. I waited at the finish line for Justin to finally come through – he’d had a decent race, but was not as happy with his run. I kept tabs on the results, since other women who started behind me could have posted a faster time, but it continued to show me as the 3rd overall woman, behind two pros (the first woman pro was Amanda Stevens! Go Oklahoma!). I was pretty happy, to say the least. They did the awards, and with the amateur challenge that Justin and I did by competing the day before in the mtb race, we took home some moolah and a really nice Zoot backpack. We’ll be back again!

Memphis in May 2006 Results

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Race Report: Memphis in May MTB Triathlon

The Memphis in May weekend extravaganza that we signed up to do included a mountain bike race on Saturday, and then an olympic-distance race on Sunday. We wanted to do both so that we could compete in the amateur challenge, where they were actually paying some money to winners 15 deep! We’ve done pretty well in off-road races, so it was a pretty easy decision.

The race went pretty well for me. The swim had two mass starts – one for the guys and one for the girls, so I only had about 50 people to deal with (the swim start is not my favorite part of the race). I think the gun took most of the women by surprise, but I took off! The swim was pretty uneventful – I passed a lot of people and felt really good. I love my new sleeveless Quintana Roo Superfull (Justin bought it for me at an unbelievable price online); it’s been one of the best buys ever for me for triathlon. I’m so comfortable in it, and my arms have a complete range of motion that my other full-sleeve wetsuit really didn’t give me. The bike started well enough. The route was over fields and then moved into a singletrack area. I passed several guys early in the open field area (marked by these little flags…it was pretty hilarious). When I entered the single-track area, I was impressed because it was more technical than I was expecting. There were a few decent-sized logs, pretty twisty areas that were surprisingly narrow, and a huge mound of kudzu that seemed to grab at my chain ring as I rode over it! There was also a ravine, were I had to dismount and carry the bike across. A super nice volunteer pulled my bike up the other side…so nice, since it was pretty steep and my bike shoes generally aren’t optimal for hiking up enormous hills. About half-way through the ride, my damn saddle began to slip on the seat post, so that it was inching skyward…unbelievably annoying to try and sit on a saddle that is pointing north. And, I looked like a dork. It was a good exercise for me to try and be tough about the situation and just deal with it so that it wasn’t a race-breaker. I got back to transition, funky seat position and all, and took off on the run, which was a 3-mile loop through the field and into a few areas of singletrack. I put my foot into a hole and freaked out about injuring myself with the road race the next day and the TTT the following week (we have a lot invested in these two weeks!). I was a bit disappointed that there was only one waterstop, but managed to finish fine, although I felt more tired and hot than I expected. I was the first woman by ~10 minutes, so I was pleased with the results. I think I was 13th overall, and since Justin and I assumed that they would be awarding the amateur challenge awards to the top 15 (not the top 15 men and top 15 women which is what they ended up doing), I was pleased to be in the top 15. Justin did great with an 8th overall and an age-group win. I think we both did a good job of racing pretty conservatively in light of the following day’s race and next weekend’s TTT. We really enjoyed the post race barbecue!

Memphis in May 2006 MTB Results

Monday, May 15, 2006

Race Report: Lazy E Duathlon

The triathlon club that we belong to here in the Oklahoma City area, Tri-OKC, does a fantastic job of putting on duathlons and triathlons. This race is a formula 1 duathlon, meaning that you end up doing: 2 mile run-10 mile bike-2 mile run-10 mile bike-2 mile run. Lots of transitions! Justin and I like transitions...we're not too bad at them. The race went just fine for me. It was pretty fun, though, because the really nice guy who I bought my new tri-bike (a Cervelo dual) from, Steve S., is an amazing cyclist and has just become a bit more interested in he's started running. Well, I completely expected to have him go blowing by me on the first bike leg, and he did...he's so fast! However, I caught him on the second run, setting him up perfectly to come screaming by me again on the second bike. However, I caught him again on the last run. He's such a nice guy, though...each time we passed, we said "hey" or "good job." I started looking forward to seeing him each leg!

The race went fine for me. I wanted to just have a decent showing, and I ended up winning the overall for females. I may actually get a decent ranking in the region for duathlon (not my cup of tea, generally), as this was a Grand Prix event and was worth 105 points (instead of just 100). Justin had a pretty good race...he looked like he was about to barf a lung when I saw him on the last loop of the last run. He's such a good competitor and pushes himself really hard.

Lazy E Duathlon 2006 Results

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Race Report: Tribbey Time-Trial

Such a dreary day to be trying to push as hard as you can on the bike for 26 miles...but we did anyway. Tribbey is a tiny town east of us, and we took the scenic, circuitious route (not Highway 9) to the race. Perhaps 25 cyclists showed up, and I was one of two women. The course was pretty fun, in a nasty sort of way - many, many, many hills. Central Oklahoma has plenty of hills, by the way, in case you were thinking of Oklahoma as an extension of definitely is its own topographical identity. I pushed hard, tried to pass people, tried to avoid getting passed (but was unsuccessful - Steve S. from the bike store came roaring by, as did one of the top riders in the area...there were not many people who started behind me, though). Final time 1:13:09 for 26.2 miles or so. Good effort, I suppose. I was the first female, and Justin won the overall for the cat 4/5 guys. We both took home some cash, which is always fun!