Monday, April 28, 2008

Its Almost Here!

After over six months of preparation, only 5 days until race day.

Tonight, I made one trip to the grocery store to start gathering all our pre-race food needs for 5 days at White Lake and then I started to pack.

Only a handful of taper workouts on my schedule. Nothing hard, just a few things to keep my body "fine tuned" as Michael describes it and my mental edge alert.

I'm feeling excited, calm, nervous, prepared and scared all at the same time if that's possible.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Race Report - Kinetic Sprint

Cold, wet and muddy. These three words about sum up my race experience at the Kinetic Sprint.

Bart and I entered the Kinetic for one reason only - to practice race day conditions (particularly our new transition techniques) and to help Coach Harlow fine tune our race paces for the upcoming Half. Post-race, I'm not sure we achieved any of those goals.

When we arrived at Lake Anna Sunday morning, it had already began to rain. We picked up our race packets in a slight drizzle, got body marked (an ugly "36" for me) and headed back to the car to get our gear to put in transition. By then, the rain started streaming down at a faster pace. We prepared as much as possible at the car - adjusting our tire pressure for the rainy conditions, applying our race numbers, etc. I donned the fashionable trash bag and we headed with our bikes over to the racks.

The transition area had already started to get muddy. The day before was the Kinetic Half and the grass had been worn away in lots of places, including the area where I was to rack my bike. I chose a great spot next to one of the dividers and laid out my new simplified transition equipment. I made a last minute decision due to the conditions not to perform my new, still shaky bike/shoe mounts and dismounts under the rainy and muddy conditions and included my unclipped bike shoes in the transition area. Bart and I covered our transition mats with plastic garbage bags to attempt to keep things as dry as possible, and then headed back to the car to stay warm.

With about 20 minutes before race time, we took our wetsuits to the changing rooms and prepared to race. I've never had issues getting my wetsuit on before, but with my legs cold and wet from the rain, it was quite a challenge. However, for the first time that morning, with my wet suit on, I was warm.

Swim - I was disappointed I was in the last wave of swimmers. For me, I knew it would mean having to deal with traffic in the lake and traffic on the bike. Plus, the anticipation is never good for my nerves. The horn sounded for my wave, and I was off. Running and then dolphining my way out into the water. The water was very cold (around 65) and I struggled as a result getting into any rhythm until the first buoy. However, each time I sighted, I knew I was towards the front of my wave and I could see my Tuckahoe Y Masters buddy swimming right next to me. After the first turn, we hit the traffic in the water. I kept trying to find someone to draft off of, but everyone in front of me, it seemed, was from the waves before and swimming a slower pace. So I ultimately gave up on the draft, and just aimed for the straightest line. I never was able to feel my pull the way I do when I am swimming strong at the pool and really stretched out. My sighting techniques pretty much stunk and I reverted to my 10 strokes free, one quick breast, technique to sight better. This is something I definitely need to practice. But like everything with a sprint, the swim was over quickly, I stripped down the top of my wetsuit, and headed for transition.

T1 - Already transition was a muddy mess. The spot next to my bike (which was not the spot I originally picked thanks to number 441's "friend" moving my bike and transition stuff off the nice spot near the divider I picked and further into the mud - I think I would have complained post race if she hadn't quit after the swim) was all mud and after stripping my wetsuit completely, it was impossible not to step in the gooey brown mess. I then put my muddy feet into my tri shoes, without socks, and started to negotiate my way towards the bike mounting area. I couldn't run to the start for fear I'd go down in the mud, so I quickly walked my bike to the mount line.

Bike - The first part of the bike was about a mile and a half ascent out of the park. Prior to racking, I had shifted into an easier gear and the ascent out seemed easy. I was already passing folks and my legs felt great. By now, however, the rain was a constant pour and the traffic on the course was extremely busy. There were cyclists everywhere - many with no clue of the rules of the road - i.e., if you are not passing at the moment, stay to the right. My race plan said to stay in zone 4 of my HR, but I was having trouble seeing my HR since I couldn't get my Garmin to switch directions on my wrist so I could read it. In addition, with all the traffic and the extremely wet roads, I played it conservative - using my brakes a bunch on the descents and being cautious passing traffic around me. I caught a couple of glimpses of my HR throughout and each time was close to the right zone but many times was low. The 18 miles went by quickly. I'm not sure if it was because I was so on edge due to the wet roads or just in the moment. Soon we were descending back towards transition - for me the scariest part. The descent by now was all wet, and I feared that if I didn't take it cautiously, I would end up missing the turn before the dismount and careening into the transition area. So yes, in a race, I again applied my brakes multiple times. I was thankfully able to stop at the dismount area, get off my bike safely, then wade through the mud bath towards my bike station. My favorite part of the bike - all the comments along the lines of "Love your bike! Awesome paint job!" I received along the way.

T2 - I missed my rack and went down the wrong isle. Next time I need to remember a bright cap to put on my rack area. So I trodded back up through the mud and went and down the next isle. I racked the bike, took off my wet muddy bike shoes and started to put on my running shoes. My wet muddy right foot didn't want to go into my right Newton. After what seemed like a minute struggle, I finally had success and dashed towards the transition exit.

Run - Like the bike start, the run start was all up hill. About halfway up, I decided to look at my HR. Crap! I realized then that my Garmin didn't start and that my HR was sky high almost at my max. Slow down. I forced myself to slow down which gave me a chance to at least adjust my Garmin, get the right pace and HR screen and keep running. Right around this time, a guy came up from behind me and said, "Are you the one with the great paint job?" My reply, "The pink polka dots?" His response "Yes, that is an awesome bike. I recognize your number from watching it from behind during the bike." My reaction - huge smile. Love my bike and I love having a fairly in-shape man say I was ahead of him the whole bike. By the time we reached the top of the hill, I was feeling good. My running legs were beneath me and I knew I could push myself on the run. It was now downpouring at such a rate that I just laughed out loud. I stayed within my target for the next mile and then during the descent back to the lake started to push my pace. For the first time in the race, I felt like I was racing the race I was supposed to practice. Soon, the finish line was there and I pushed it to the end. Time on the official clock 2:0something.

I had no Garmin time, no HRs recorded to feed back and I have never been so happy for the finish line, a silver warm blanket from the medical tent and to gather my stuff from the transition area. Nothing felt good about the race except for the fact that I knew I had the mental toughness to finish and I felt that I had at least had a good run. As for the rest, I was not looking forward to the results. I knew I didn't have the strongest swim and my bike was conservative all the way. We loaded up our muddy wet equipment into garbage bags and left the site as soon as possible. The warmth of the car was great and the hot shower and time on the couch post-race, even better.

Last night the results came out. In the end, not as bad as I expected. Surprising in some ways and what I expected in others. The official stats:
Swim: 17:18 (82nd)
T1: 2:54 (30th)
Bike: 57:08 (40th)
T2: 2:58 (141th)
Run: 28:35 (110th)

Total: 1:48.51 (63/192 overall finishers; 5/25 in age group)

Post-race reflections: I need to work on my transitions. The conditions definitely contributed, but I am leaving easy time on the table here. Swim - in an area where I'm usually much stronger, I wasn't Sunday. A few open water practices and more efficient sightings will hopefully help this. Surprise- my bike was actually my strongest and I averaged around 18.9 mph. My legs felt good and I felt like I left a lot out on the course due to conditions so hopefully this bodes well for race season. Run - even though my ranking here is the lowest out of the three disciplines, I was still really happy about my run. Compared to last year, I have taken about a minute and 20 seconds per mile off of my pace.

Overall, a wet start to the tri-season and by far, the most miserable race conditions ever. But I have one under my belt going into White Lake and that, for my nerves, was the goal. So if it pours on May 3rd, which hopefully it won't, I'm ready.

Friday, April 18, 2008


As I sit here in the Atlanta Airport counting the minutes down until I can finally board that plane to Richmond, I realize that although this past week in Germany was a wonderful experience, I am definitely homesick.

I miss Bart more than I could ever describe in this silly blog;

I miss Lulu's wagging tail and snuggly personality;

I miss vegetables not prepared in any sauce and normal salads;

I miss the routine of my normal training (and, since I've only been able to run for a week I really miss the diversity of swimming and biking);

I miss catching up with my training partners on a regular basis, whether in group workouts, phone calls or emails or the forum or blog exchanges.

It is wonderful to be back! Can't wait to see everybody!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Rain, Rain Go Away

The rain was supposed to stop today. But it never really did.

We delayed our fun ride around Ashland with TGSanDee and Gregg first an hour, then another. Then we cancelled. Bart and I still had to get our 3 plus hour ride in but, for a while, I crawled back in bed.

Finally, around 1, we knew the day was not going to get any longer, or the weather much better, so we packed up our gear and drove out to West Creek. After debating some alternate routes, we decided on our usual 27ish mile tour of Goochland on our road bikes. It was drizzling, the wind blowing, my legs completely flat from yesterday's race and post-race swim, and my mood extremely grumpy. I wish I could say it improved, but it didn't. As we came back towards our car, I felt frozen, disappointed in my turtle-like slow ride and called it quits for outside.

Then the guilt came. I am headed for Germany on Friday for a week with little options for training and I knew that finishing my scheduled time on the bike was important. So, when we returned home, as much as I wanted to crawl back in bed, Bart and I changed to dry clothes and got on our trainers to finish our rides. While slightly warmer, I still was not having a good day. We watched part of a movie and then somehow, while watching the pros grind up the huge climbs in the Tour of Flanders, I was able to get through the rest of my session on the trainer. Finally, I was done with my workout. It was not fun or easy but I finished. And finally, with that thought, I found my smile.

Some Sunshine on a Rainy Race Day

Despite the rainy drizzle, yesterday's Monument Avenue 10K was definitely a sunny race for me. Pre-race, TG40, TG SanDee, Bart and I met up in the fan and walked down to the start sporting stylish large trash bags in an effort to stay as dry as possible before the start. At Monroe Park, we made our last minute trips to the port-o-potties and then headed over to corral H for the start.

We ran into a whole sea of pink in corral H, including TGs Lynn, Molly, Sharon, Kate, Jill, Mary, Debbie and Shawn. A bunch of the girls had already put in their morning workout of an hour and a half on their trainers and a run to the start.

Soon we were off and running. TG40 and I had our race plan - start the first mile at 9:30 pace and drop 5 seconds with each mile - and our Garmins were activated and ready to help pace us. TG Lynn also joined us from the start - with the promise that if she paced with us, she would talk and/or sing.

From the start, the miles ticked off quickly. We all felt good and Deanna and I abandoned race plan A for race plan B (holding a 9:15 pace) which was reserved for "if we felt good." We often found ourselves looking at our Garmins saying "too fast." After the first mile, I tried to stay in my HR zone 4 for the majority of the race. Towards miles 4 and 5, my heart rate kept creeping up towards my AT range and I was afraid I was going to burn out before the finish. But, we were headed down towards the finish and the crowds and numbers of racers were inspiring. It was great to have my weekend training partner on one side and another TG friend on the other side, occasionally singing out a little "Kung Foo Fighting" or pointing out someone on the course. TG40 pushed me through a hard mile 5, and then all three of us picked it up for the finish. With the finish in site, TG Lynn turned on her rocket burners. I was determined to not lose ground and TG40 and I put in our final kick and crossed the finish line together. The results - PRs.

All smiles we met up with Bart and the other TGs at the "T" in the park for some photos and race story swapping. Then, it was on to ANNNs for the official post-race celebration. She outdid herself with plenty of pink champagne and yummy chocolate covered bananas and marshmallows. A perfect sunny ending to a great race day.

My official time - 57:04. Ave pace 9:11. Place in my age group - 261/1818.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Icing on the Cake

My husband emailed me this picture at work today! ZIPP-A-DEE-DO-DAH!