Monday, August 21, 2006

Race Report: Degray Lake/CATS Sprint & Half-Ironman

We signed up to do the “double” in Arkadelphia and were really looking forward to the weekend. Justin’s dad was coming down to do his first triathlon, too, so it was going to be a great weekend. As the weekend neared, I was becoming less and less enthused about the weather predictions – over 100 degrees with humidity. As a consolation, I suppose, the race director posted that the half-ironman run would be shortened to 6.1 miles if the heat index exceeded 111 degrees. Luckily (hear the sarcasm fall from my mouth), the heat index was only 107 for Saturday’s race, the half-ironman…

To spare you the details in case you aren’t interested, I DNF’ed. I had a reasonable swim, although I was a little disappointed to not hang onto the lead women (my split was 32:06, and the lead woman’s split was 30:59), but I caught everyone on the bike. I went back and forth changing places (we were the lead women) at least 7-8 times (it seemed like a million times) with Caroline Smith on the bike (she ended up as the first amateur woman for the day). I wasn’t feeling fantastic on the bike…nothing I could really put my finger on, but a general awareness that I was surprised that I wasn’t feeling great was creeping over me. I came in to transition with Caroline right behind me. I dropped my race belt in transition and had to run back to retrieve it, so I left T2 on Caroline’s heels. The run felt awful. I was hot, and my stomach wasn’t feeling well. I took water at the first aid station and caught up to Caroline, and we ran together for a little bit before a chick ran right between us. Caroline said, “Who was that?” and we watched the girl fly past us into the sunset. I was feeling worse and worse and finally let Caroline go – she said a few nice words and took off. The next woman, Kristi Darby, passed me not too much later. At the second aid station which didn’t come an inch too soon, I was walking and trying to cool down as much as I could, taking everything they would give me. As I began running again, cramps set in (from drinking too much freaking water!)…I ran a bit further and then decided to call it a day since I was feeling so badly. It simply wasn’t worth it to me to spend hours in the medical tent afterwards if I was not doing well with the heat. I’m not sure what went wrong, but I may have pushed too hard on the bike, may not have drank enough on the bike, or some combination that also includes that I still need to learn a lot about racing in the heat. I hitched a ride back to transition in time to hear the announcer say to all of the spectators that I had pulled out of the race (talk about feeling like a loser!). Another really competitive girl and amazing runner, Amy Simonetta, also pulled out, and I went over to talk to her. One of the highlights of the day, in fact, as she was a really classy girl – she’s had a nagging injury in her calf, and it kicked in at about mile 7. As we were talking, the announcer reannounced that we both had pulled out, and then I heard the announcer say that Justin was out walking on the course…I guess the announcer wanted to give the spectators an idea of the conditions that everyone was racing in, but it seemed like it just reinforced my feeling of being a drop-out. I spent the rest of the day cheering for Justin and other folks I knew, especially the Tri-OKC contingent that had come to the race. Justin had a good race up until a few miles into the run, and the heat started to take its toll on him. I think that he has decided that his nutrition plan had been completely inadequate. We also agreed that we’d not willingly do a half-ironman in those types of conditions anytime in the near future (maybe never).

That night, I slept like crap. I replayed the race over and over and over in my head. Next time, I better get it figured out because not finishing simply sucks. I am probably too hard on myself. Luckily, I had the sprint race on Sunday to think about, so that took my mind off of Saturday. Sunday’s race was going to be Dave’s (Justin’s dad) first triathlon – we’re so proud of him. He has done several duathlons now, but did not start swimming seriously until just a few months ago, so this was going to be his first experience with an open water, mass-start swim. I was secretly amazed that he did not seem to be fazed by the prospect, at all, and I certainly didn’t want to bring it to his attention that many people are generally freaked out by the potential washing machine action. He had a great race, though, and finished 3rd in his age-group, earning him some hardware! He was racing against 7 other guys in his age-group, so that was a great finish! My race went well. I had a good swim (I think I passed Dave at one of the turn buoys) and was out of the water right behind Caroline Smith. She left T1 a few seconds ahead of me, but I passed her quickly and settled in for a hard ride on the bike. I felt like I was flying and passed a lot of people (the guys had started a few minutes ahead in one big mass start, so I was catching slower swimmers/slower cyclists). The course was flat and fast, and it felt like a time trial for me…I am much more comfortable on these types of courses, but hopefully will be doing a lot of work in the off-season to improve my bike performance on hillier courses. I came into T2 as the first woman, and took off on the run. I was not sure how far back Caroline would be, but after how well she stuck to me on the bike, I half-expected her to be close. She might have been tired or simply not used to hammering in the flats (which is what I had done), but I ended up putting three minutes into her on the bike alone. I had a decent run (it was 3.2 miles apparently), and finished almost five minutes ahead of Caroline, who ended up as the second female overall. I was pretty happy to actually be “only” 7 and 6 minutes behind the two racing monsters in the region (Greg Rouault and Chuck Sloan) – most of the time is due to their amazing runs. Justin had a good race, too, considering that he was tired from the day before. He won his age-group easily and also had a fun time on the bike. Then, we got into the car and raced home to try to beat my sister (who’d been driving from Seattle) to the house…

2006 CATS Half-Ironman Results
2006 Degray Lake Sprint Results

Monday, August 07, 2006

Race Report: Rivercities Triathlon

1/2m Swim, 18.2-mi Bike, 5k Run

What a fun race! Our friend, Norman, had said that this race was a blast, and it really lived up to our expectations. Registration opened on the first of June…and all 1400 slots were taken within 3 hours! The race boasts a fantastic goodie bag, and it was – a rolling duffle bag, running shorts, two shirts (including a groovy tie-dye shirt that fit the theme of the race: the sixties), socks, a hat, sunglasses, and a few other things. We left early morning on Saturday for Shreveport, hoping that everything would calm down a bit – our car battery died at 3pm the day before, and our friend, Marcy, had some family come into town unexpectedly, so we had to make some last minute arrangements for our dogs. The drive to Shreveport was uneventful, and we picked up our packets in the most amazingly efficient way that I have ever seen…we essentially entered a building and walked through the hallways picking up this and that…we were done in less than 5 minutes! And there were all of these people who were excited to help you with anything! It was really nice!

We hung out at the hotel until the pasta dinner, which was held at the Isle Capri (now Diamond Jacks Casino). For $10, there was a really good dinner, and lots of really good raffle prizes (next time we know to buy some extra raffle tickets!). Got back to our cheapskate motel and slept well.

We had breakfast at our old standby – IHOP – oatmeal, but we changed it up a bit and ordered a short stack of pancakes, too. We got to the race site with plenty of time to spare. A monster thunderstorm had blown through the night before, relocating swim buoys, blowing down speakers, and blowing out the fences. Apparently, it was a miracle that the race got off with only a 15 minute or so delay. Justin took off in the 3rd or 4th wave, while I had to wait until the 7th wave. I got to see Clay and Norman exit the water, and I cheered them on. While I was lined up ready for my start to go, I saw Justin leave the water. I really hoped that he had had a great swim, but I never saw how many guys from his wave were ahead of him. My gun went off, and I was surprised that there were not many women around me at all. One woman took off, and I just tried to keep her in sight. I was really hoping to have a good swim to make up for my poor showing at KC, and I think I did a pretty good job of keeping focused (not letting my mind wander!). I pulled someone the whole time – I guess I should take it as a compliment that she thought I was going well enough in the correct direction, but technically, it slows you down a bit, so I kept trying to pull away from her…but she held on. Oh well. I exited as the second woman from my AG. I got to my bike and took off thinking to myself that I needed to catch that first woman, and I must have caught her early when there was a lot of congestion, because I never saw her really. With six waves of people ahead of me, I really passed a ton of people. In fact, no one ever passed me, on the bike or the run. I pushed the bike really hard and was amazed at how much faster I was going than most people – several miles per hour easily. I was able to keep my HR above 165 (my goal), so I was pretty happy about that. The bike leg was over way too quickly, and I transitioned to the run. The run went fine, although I saw a really fast woman (Melisa Christian) from Dallas who has qualified for the 2008 Olympic trials for the marathon – she is one fast runner. I panicked a little and started to feel the pain a lot more. I’m actually disappointed that I didn’t channel my adrenaline a little more to have an even better run after I saw her, but I sort of just tried to hold on (instead of kicking it up a notch). I ended up beating her by a good margin, but was disappointed in my reaction – I think I’m still learning how to embrace the discomfort on the run. Anyway, I finished well and found out that I had the top woman’s time! My splits and total time:

Swim - 13:38
T1 - 1:19
Bike - 45:23
T2 - 1:01
Run - 20:56
Total - 1:22:15

I’m quite happy with my bike split – I averaged just over 24 mph…definitely a personal best. I need to keep working on the swim and run. I really think I can do much better on the run, but I am struggling to go into that zone of pain/discomfort…I’d like to get my tri-5k down to 20 minutes. We’ll do a bunch of 5 and 10k’s this winter, so I’ll keep working on it.

My award, by the way, was a 3-foot tall lava lamp, a pair of Oakley sunglasses, and a bike shop gift certificate. A groovy day…

Rivercities 2006 Results

Friday, August 04, 2006

Buffalo belly!

One of J's co-workers is heading to Australia to open an office for the company in Sydney (lucky guy!), so they had a going away party for him last night at Buffalo Wild Wings (, so we were there to send him off. I ordered a chicken salad (I didn't look carefully at the menu), and I should have known when they asked what kind of sauce I wanted on the chicken to be suspicious of what I was about to was a "salad" with iceberg lettuce topped with boneless buffalo wings, served right up with ranch dressing. It tasted alright - a bit heavy. Our friends, Lance and Tanya, arrived a little later, and Tanya also ordered a chicken salad, although she was asked if she wanted dressing on hers (they had just brought me ranch)...she asked for honey mustard...and they actually brought her two containers of MUSTARD! Anyhow, it was quite the odd place - bar food, really, so now we know what the restaurant is like. My point to all of this is that eventually we got home and went for a run...which started out as a tempo run...but 2.5 miles into it, I had to hurl on the side of the road. Spicy buffalo chicken stuff in my mouth and in my nose. I finished the run well behind J, who was just dancing on ahead (he was having a great run despite stopping out of courtesy for my puking). He ended up under 7-minute pace for the 6 miles, despite the stop, and although the run was agonizing for me, my time was respectable given the conditions (I'm calling it "buffalo belly") - 43 minutes and change. After finishing, I hurled some more and felt much, much, much better. I need to stop eating crap (even though it tastes good) because I always feel awful after I do.

I am boycotting buffalo chicken anything and defintely Buffalo Wild Wings...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Facing the swim again…

We did a 1000 yd TT today in the pool. Both Justin and I have been feeling like our swims have slipped. They’ve not felt good, and my performance at Nationals was not at all confidence-inspiring. I’ve been probably overly-analytical with my stroke and have been tweaking little things to see how things feel different. But…we decided to face our fear of the clock showing a much slower time than what we had been doing the TT’s during the spring, and we swam 1000 yards straight through in the indoor pool…the temperature must have been mid-80’s (essentially bathwater). Justin set a PR, and I was only about 10 seconds off of my best time…averaging approximately 1:24’s per 100. I’m feeling better about things…I still want to get my swim times down quite a bit further (who wouldn’t?), but I’m not too far off of where I was!