Accompanied by my good friend, Ruth, I journeyed to Colonial Beach, VA to race the Olympic distance triathlon. It was a quaint little town with a small pebble beach (by that I mean little pebbles rather than sand) and we had a hotel in a FANTASTIC location. The race start was on the beach directly in front of our hotel and the finish and transition area was immediately behind our hotel! That meant that I didn’t have to stand in the porta potty lines when I had my standard race-day nervous diarrhea (which was extra purple because of my beet juice loading – you’re welcome). 😉 Hotel location was key because our room smelled like urine and our bathtub was dirty.
Ruth and I had a fun drive up and a good time just hanging out in the hotel room the evening before the race. Coach Dai even joined us for a bit since he was sleeping in his van all weekend and running a snack stand at the race site. We let him come use our internet and watch the Bourne Identity with us. 🙂
Ruth grabbed this photo re-race on the rocky beach after I’d had jumped into the water for a few minutes.
I was in the second wave of the day and it appeared to be a hybrid between a beach and an in-water start since everyone kept wading into the water deeper and deeper as we waited for the start horn. It was not a wetsuit legal swim so I knew it would be a bit slower than my ideal swim time but at the beginning of the race, I was hoping to break 2:30 for my overall finish time. I took off on the swim feeling relatively confident.
Not a clear picture because of the back-lighting but this is coming out of the swim and heading to T1.
Holy smokes was that a craptastic swim! The swim was shaped like a rectangle so that we went straight out then to the right for a long segment (which was with the current) then turned right, again, for a short segment, then turned right for a longer segment against the current and then had a left turn to head straight for the beach. The current was virtually useless on the long segment out because the windy day was causing so much chop on the water. I knew that everybody else was dealing with similar conditions so I just kept my focus and kept going. Eventually, I dragged myself out of the Potomac River and on to land with a swim time of 34 minutes… yikes! Undeterred, I headed into T1 and executed a fast and smooth transition.
I was happy with my time coming off of the bike leg, but here I am shrugging in disbelief and telling Ruth “My tire just blew right at the dismount line!” Talk about good timing…
The bike course was actually a bit more difficult than I had expected it to be, but I did find it manageable. There were some rather substantial hills in the middle of the course. I also had a difficult time dealing with a guy who kept playing leap frog with me throughout the entire bike course until I finally left him in the last few miles. It was incredibly frustrating because he would pass me and then slow down substantially while I was maintaining a steady pace, other than when I would have to slow down following being overtaken. I ended up in a situation where he passed me while I was passing another female cyclist and then he slowed down substantially. At the time, I wasn’t quite sure how to best handle the situation but I’ve since discussed it with others and I really should have asserted myself in front of the female cyclists and then slowed down to avoid a penalty for failing to back up when overtaken. I don’t remember exactly what I did but… I earned my first penalty. 😦 Grrr. I HATE breaking rules and I would never do so intentionally. I did learn from the experience but… ugh! Haha.
Annnnnnnnnyway, I was very pleased with my bike split when I came off of the bike leg. Dai had asked me to race without race wheels so that we could use the information from my Powertap power hub and also to make it just a bit more difficult for me. I passed a ton of women on the bike (darn swimmers!) and no women passed me during the bike leg. Thankfully, I did NOT know about the penalty until later so I headed out on my run full of confidence.
And here is a fascinating picture of me putting on socks in T2! I think I’ll skip this step at my next race. Funny story, I forgot to tell Ruth about my “don’t talk to me while I’m transitioning” rule and so she proceeded to ask me repeatedly how I was feeling. I tried to ignore her but she was impressively insistent… so then I said “no talking to me in transition!” She replied by repeating her question. haha. So I blame her for the fact that I put my sock on backwards. 😛
Here I am out on the run… No, I don’t look like I’m going very fast but give me a break! This was only the first mile!
The run was pancake flat but a bit windy since it was already a windy day and the course ran along the shoreline. It was a lovely view, though! I was passed by one girl at the beginning of the run… and she passed me like I was standing still so seeya later, sista’. Another girl passed me later in the run and I sped up and tried to hang with her. She was in my age group so I really didn’t want to let her slip away. I was with her until almost the last mile and then I just started to fade. I always imagine the last mile of my race as a blaze of glory… I’ve saved just enough of my energy stores to pass that last girl at the finish, to kick it in with perfect form… except it is usually more like “Oh my God where is the freaking timing matt!? Where is the water? I can’t breath. Woah, what happened to my pace?!” *Sigh* So, I REALLY thought I was going to break 2:30 and I was so so very close! 2:30:54 (but 2:32:54 with my penalty). Still, I was happy with my performance and I know I could have broken 2:30 if the swim had been less miserable or even if I had been riding with race wheels. I’ve definitely got it in me! It did take me a few days to emotionally accept the penalty. I’m JUST NOT a RULE BREAKER… but, maybe I am now… maybe… I’m a rebel!
We enjoyed basking in the shade of Dai’s food tent post-race.
Though I did have a lot of fun at this race, I was feeling a bit chafed by all of the thought/pressure I’ve been putting on myself to focus on my Olympic distance so that I can perform well at Nationals. As a result, I decided to jump into a race the following weekend at the last minute. It was a run/swim/run race that really had nothing to do with my goals for Nationals. It was also sponsoring a great cause – the Allen Stone Braveheart Memorial. He is a deceased Navy SEAL and I had wanted to run this race for the last few years but had been unable to for various reason. I still had my long run to do (which was only 10 miles but the race wouldn’t cover it) so I went out early and got in about 5.5 miles before the race start. The race is 1k run on the beach, 1k swim in the ocean and then a 5k run on the boardwalk. The 1k run was fine and I just took it out easy because I knew I was there for a good time. The swim… holy heaven.
Here is a screenshot of part of the garmin upload from my swim… garmin error? Maybe. However, I feel like this accurately depicts the experience I had on the swim. It took me 34 minutes to swim a 1k. For real. The waves were large by Virginia Beach standards and I kept trying to swim out past the white caps but the waves were braking so far out that it was basically impossible unless I wanted to just swim out to sea.
I jumped in this race for fun but I was totally annoyed at how badly my butt was kicked by others on the swim. I was on a MISSION on that 5k… pass as many people as possible.
Coming into the finish – my husband was surprised to see so many women come out of the water ahead of me. He assumed it must have been a wave start (he was out running during the start) but I had to tell him “No, I just did that poorly on the swim.” ha. I think I passed about 8 women during the run.
I took home the first place military female award (I wanted the military discount so I was registered in the military category rather than age group but I would have had 1st place AG). It was also fun to see so many of my local training buddies/friends take home awards at this challenging race!
As a reward for two busy weekends in a row, we took a midweek trip to a little water park on one of the local military bases with our good friends, the Yorks. It was a rather small park and I didn’t think it would be that much adult fun but… we had a blast! And you know that adult-only swim time that you used to hate as a kid? Um, it’s AWESOME when you’re an adult! NO LINES ON THE SLIDES! And I decided to consider this a day of cross training.
We will definitely miss these guys when we move to San Diego. See that little girl with the sassy hand-on-hip pose? I think she’s going to cause some trouble in the next few years. 😉
I know this is a long post (that’s what happens when I slack off for nearly a month) but I want to close by reminding you all that the National Championship Race is only a few weeks away and I’m still working to race funds for the LIFT Program. This program has only been running since May and look at all of the good it has done:
Please visit my fundraising page to donate. I have one friend who has agreed to match my pledge to donate a dollar for every female in my age group that I beat in the Olympic distance race. That means that, as of now, there will be $2 donated in total for every girl that I beat! I have also decided (because I’m slightly crazy) that I will race the Sprint distance race the day after the Olympic distance race. This increases my chances of qualifying for one of the AG teams for the World Championships… and… I have decided to donate an additional $50 if I qualify for Team USA! (Seriously, I just registered for the Sprint an hour ago after running it by my coach via text. Am I crazy?!)