Monday, May 5, 2008

White Lake Race Report

I finished my first half! How was it? Hard, challenging, fun, uplifting, fulfilling, emotional and definitely rewarding. And, I'm already looking forward to the next. But before then, here are the details:

Despite having my usual pre-race restless sleep, I awoke Saturday morning feeling rested and my stomach, eerily calm. I ate my banana and my cup of white rice with butter and put the last minute touches on my transition bag and bike. I had premixed my Endura the night before and thanks to the helpful suggestion of TG40 even froze the bottles on my fuel belt in an attempt to keep the cold before I got to the run.

Here is the Lake Place Condo gang ready to ride down to the start, our bags packed in Sherpa of the Race Gregg's car.

After arriving at transition, I unpacked my transition bag, got my bike ready for a quick grab and rubberbanded my shoes to my bike. TG Charlotte and I shared side by side spots in transition and TGs SanDee, Lynn and Susie and Bart were close by. By now, having observed the racks and racks of bikes, my stomach decided to reach its normal, pre-race nervous state. Thank heavens for lots of port-o-potties. We then picked up our chips, got body marked (with an age a year older than I am) and headed to the water front with our wetsuits.

Bart and I exchanged good luck wishes and kisses. It was awesome to have him competing with me, help calm my nerves and to be able to share this experience. Bart was in the swim wave before me so I got to seem him start from in the water with TGs Karen, Liz and Lynn.

The swim start sounded for my wave and I was off. I tried to get in a quick rhythm early, stay at the front of the pack and find some speedy straight swimmer to draft off of. I soon found a swimmer, no wet suit, whose feet I drafted off of for a significant portion of the first leg of the swim. Then we turned, and my rhythm seemed to disappear. I started seeing purple caps (the wave behind me) and I wondered if I had moved to the back of my wave. The crowd seemed to get rougher too and I got elbowed hard and swallowed a good gulp of White Lake. After a few breast stroke strokes, I collected myself, and went back at it, hoping to find my straight, wetsuitless swimmer to draft off of again. I never did, but soon I rounded the corner and started to push it again to the swim finish. Finally, after what seemed like a long time in the water, I was out and I headed to transition.
As I ran into T1, I was relieved to hear some girl yell out to a spectator, "How many blue caps are out?" The spectator responded, "Not too many" and I knew I had at least had a solid swim. I pulled out of my wetsuit, put on my helmet and sunglasses and ran out of T1.
After a fairly successful flying mount, I struggled with putting on my cycling shoes as I pedaled down the road. My left foot kept getting stuck and didn't want to easily glide in as I had practiced. Finally, however, I was settled, shoes fastened and I then began to take inventory of my HR. The plan was to ride in zone 3. At first check from the swim, I was high. So as I winded through the center of WL, I took the opportunity to take it slow, settle in and just get my legs at a high cadence. I purposefully picked a Garmin screen that showed no distance or speed... only total time, cadence and HR. My goal for the bike - stay in zone 3 and pedal around an 85 cadence as much as possible and not drop below 80. The bike, despite some very windy head winds at times, was definitely my favorite part. My legs felt strong throughout, I stuck to my nutrition and hydration plan and I kept a fairly even effort, even passing lots of folks towards the end of the ride. The scenery was nothing spectacular, but I kept myself focused and just enjoyed it. Other than the wind, the only negative was that towards mile 45 the road had a bunch of seams and I was already suffering in the female sensitive areas, so every bump hurt. Once back in WL, the bike finish quickly neared. I had decided the morning of the race after looking at the dismount area not to stress about the dismount and to just undo my shoes on the bike, but dismount like a normal person without the "flying" part. Thankfully, taking off my shoes was much easier than putting them on. I successfully dismounted sans shoes, without falling or stubbing a toe, and I was back in transition.
Although I tried to be efficient in T2, I did take the time to wipe my dirty feet off and put on socks with my running shoes. I tried to be speedy and carry my running belt as I exited, but kept losing water bottles so ultimately stopped, put it on and then ran out of transition. Just as I was finishing the exit chute, I remembered my Garmin, which was safely stowed on my bike. The quick strap I had worn all race was empty. After a frustrated expletive, I headed out to the run with no HR monitor and nothing to judge my pace.

The run was HOT and my body struggles with heat. Early into the first lap, I got goosebumps and slightly chilled and I knew the run was going to be a battle between my willpower and my body's desire to call it a day. I felt nauseated and as hard as I tried, I couldn't find my rhythm. My saving grace? Cold towels and a bunch of familiar faces. Because the run essentially consisted of two out and back loops, I got to see Bart and a bunch of my TG friends often. And their smiles and their own determination kept me going. Quickly after the start of the run I had to deal with the cards this race dealt me and my goal soon changed from a 10-10:15 pace to just keeping it going between the water stops. I got a wet cold towel at virtually each station and managed most times to make it. After each station, however, I really had to dig deep and push myself to go again. As I got to the final "back" leg of the run, it was clear I was going to finish, and I tried to get myself into a rhythm. Less than a mile from the end, TG Lynn darted past. She was having a phenomenal run and it pushed me to finish strong. I laugh now, but as I passed the final aid station, I must have looked rough. One of the volunteers shouted out "Are you ok?" and repeated his question two more times until finally I answered not with a nod but with a convincing "yes."
I quickened my stride into the finish and as I rounded the corner and saw the finish line balloon, my emotions started to take over. I was so overwhelmed with the day, my accomplishment and the physical effort my body had put forth. And, to top it all off, waiting at the finish, with his big blue eyes and the biggest smile ever was Bart. I know my eyes teared as I crossed the line and he gave me a hug. Without sounding odd, at that moment, I was so proud of myself for trying something new, pushing myself beyond my comfort zone, sticking with my training and finishing the half. I had finally proven that my non-athletic and non-sports oriented image was definitely in the past. As I grabbed Bart's hand, I knew too that I was lucky. I get to share the experience, training and love for this sport with my husband who understands me and all my emotions about this day perfectly.
After I finished, Bart helped me hobble over to the lake to try and cool off. The water felt great but every step in the sand caused my toes and feet to cramp miserably. After a banana, a water and many attempts to walking off the cramps, I finally left the lake and rejoined the group to watch some of the others TGs finish.
All in all it was an amazing day. The smiles and strong positive attitudes were certainly infectious and reiterated why I TRI.
My stats:
Total time: 6:26.25 (101/203 overall women; 24/45 age group)
Swim 42:09
T1 2:15
Bike 3:11.05
T2 2:35
Run 2:28.23


Kate said...

A great result for your first attempt on what was a very tough day out there. Congrats!

TriGirl 40 (okay - 41) said...

Wonderful race report! You rocked White Lake, even with the hot run. And I agree, you need to add a few years to that calf marking so we can start in the same wave (and I can draft off you, maybe).

SusieQ said...

Congrats on finishing your first half!


Diane said...

Congratulations! You have come a long way in such a very short time and I am soooo impressed with you and your mad skills!