Monday, July 28, 2008

A Tough Day on the Trails - Charlottesville Olympic Race Report

Yesterday, prompted by an invite by some C'Ville co-workers and encouraged by my coach as good practice for Timberman, I raced the Charlottesville Olympic. My personal goal for the Olympic was to practice my transitions (and the crazy shoe thing I hate), relax through my swim, and have a better run than White Lake. I managed the first two goals, but the third was a complete flop, much like my two face plants on the trails . . . more on that later.

We drove to C'Ville on Saturday afternoon and met my co-worker at the race site. Bart and I did our workouts for Saturday on site - a 30 minute bike and an easy 20 or so minute swim in Walton lake. As a result, I got to test the killer hill out of transition a couple of times and ease my fears about getting on my shoes while heading out of the park. After our swim, we loaded up into the car and headed out on the bike loop. In our car that isn't close to the ground and doesn't exactly corner like a race car, I was a little concerned about the hilliness of the course and curviness of the descents. Oh, well. Too late now.

On our way back to my colleague's house we detoured to the UVA aquatics center and watched his wife compete in the local championship "parent relay." Despite having not swum in a long time, she did awesome and her relay took 2nd. Her 3 kids were grinning ear to ear with pride.

Saturday night Bart and I did dinner on our own at Petit Pois on the Downtown Mall. Our dinner was fabulous, but although I was careful with my order, it must have contained something I can't eat (most likely culprit is a some non disclosed seafood other than the shrimp or some undisclosed flour). Post dinner my face was flushed and stomach that was far from happy. I downed 2 Benadryl to try and control things the best I could and went to sleep, hoping that my allergic reaction would be fairly contained.

Although I slept soundly thanks to the Benadryl, it was clear in the pre-race morning that my system still hadn't gotten rid of everything that bothered it. I ate my obligatory cup of white rice and banana and headed to the race course. My transition prep was interrupted by several more trips to the bathroom and I am sure I started the day on a close to empty, if not empty tank.

Swim - My goal for the swim was to stretch it out and try and find someone to draft, hopefully if possible one of my fast MW co-workers also in my age group. Unfortunately, she was too fast and I lost the lead pack quickly. Plus, my toes were a little crampy at the start. That eventually stopped at the first turn buoy, and I did settle in behind TG Coach Grandison and TG LMS to do a little drafting. I took it fairly easy through the swim, kept my breathing constant and steady and just stretched it out. Bart and I joked before the swim that he would pass me sometime in the water and he did. About 3/4 through the first lap I saw two white caps passing on my right. The second drafting swimmer had my hubby's distinct stroke, and I knew it was him. I think I laughed in the water and just kept swimming.

T1 - T1 was quick since I left my shoes on the bike. I mounted successfully and started up the first small hill. Still riding, I got 1 foot in. At the crest, however, I heard a rubbing noise on my bike. Thursday night when we rode, I had some brake rubbing issues and it sounded much the same. I didn't want to ride the whole course with my brake on, so I stopped my bike, put my other foot in my shoe and adjusted my front brake. Then I was off to face the big hill both feet in my shoes and ready to pull.

Bike - The bike was actually much better than I anticipated. On the bike, the course seemed less hilly and twisty than it did the night before. The worst hill was definitely the one out of the park. I struggled gaining my rhythm the first few miles, but then, on one climb about 4 miles in, I found it. The rest of the ride felt challenging, beautiful but comfortable. Definitely a ride that if I lived in Charlottesville, I would repeat for training. On the down side, my ave HRs were low in high zone 3 versus the mid to high zone 4 they were supposed to be, which means I didn't push myself hard enough on the bike. I also didn't do a good job of eating or drinking on the bike. It seemed we were either ascending or descending and I didn't have much time to fiddle with my bento box to find salt pills, eat a bar or drink much. As a result, my nutrition stunk, which added to my earlier stomach issues didn't bode well for the last leg. Total intake - probably 3/4 bottle of sports drink, 1 Gu and 1/5 a Cliff Nectar bar.

T2 - After successfully getting out of my shoes on the last flat and dismounting, I had a rather slow T2. Forgetting I had a big water bottle on the front, I tried to rack my bike by its handlebars versus the seat. After a few fumbles and a curse word, I finally turned it around and got it racked and plopped myself on the ground to get my shoes and socks on. I took my time a little bit in transition and headed off for the last leg with running belt in hand.

Run - As an after thought, I should have not used my fuel belt on this run because any less weight on these billy goat trails might have helped. I've did a few trail runs in training in order to practice for this but had never "raced" a trail. By this time in the race, I was hot, lacking in nutrition, and not feeling great. My legs felt awful and my HR immediately spiked as I labored up the first of many hills on the trail. I did get to meet and spend some time leap frogging with another EF teammate Brian who I learned is also doing Timberman. We both cautioned each other to watch our step and continued racing. I walked most of the uphills, but tried to keep plodding along. About mile 2, Brian was the first to trip. After making sure he was okay, I continued on the trail, reminding myself to watch 10 steps ahead. Towards the end of the top of the figure 8 on loop one, there was a big hill and then we headed down to the first aid station. They were out of water and I was hot, so I emptied my water bottle in my fuel belt on my head and headed back into the woods. The cool water felt good and I started to increase my cadence. I was running well then THUD! I tripped and did my first face plant of the day. My clothes, hands and knees were a little dirty, but I was more embarrassed than hurting at this point. I walked the next few minutes and then up the switch back hill and then started my run again right before the next aid station. Soon we were out of the woods. Thank heaven, I thought, only one more loop. As I ran by the finish line, my time was slow, my two C'ville colleagues were finished and I knew I needed to pick up the pace on the second loop. The start of the second loop seemed a little better. I took a GU at the aid station and headed back into the woods. I was cautious where I stepped and it seemed a little easier knowing it was the last loop. My chills, however, I get when I'm lacking in salt appeared some in the second loop. Towards the end before exiting to the aid station again, I hit a straight level stretch and I picked up my pace and started to feel good for the first time in the run. That must have been my curse. THUD! Down again I went, and this time it hurt. What spots of my body missed the dirt last time, caught it this time. My elbows were bloody and my left knee throbbed. All I could think was I hope I didn't hurt myself on this stupid trail before Timberman. I sat on the side of the trail for a minute collecting myself and even thought about quitting and walking back to the parking lot. By this time though, I only had about a mile or mile 1/4 left and I knew I could at least walk it. I remembered TG KO's awful feeling after a DNF and seeing strong pros walk their runs after bonking and decided I wouldn't quit. I walked a bunch and jogged a little bit to the opening by the aid station. The volunteer helped me wash off my hands with water (they had refilled by this point) and I headed back to the woods. I did run some of the second part of the figure 8 and was really happy to see the open clearing near the point when the trail heads back out to the road. With the finish line in sight, I wanted to finish as soon as possible, kicked it into high gear and tried my best to finish strong. My run/walk/fall time was terrible.

My race pictures ought to be lovely. Post race, I was covered in dirt from head to toe and required a dunk in the lake to get cleaned off and an ice pack to my already swelling left knee.

The day after, I think everything is still working. I'm definitely bruised and scraped up, but I think I'll be fine to return to training tomorrow with an easy run and swim and get back on track for Timberman. Lessons learned - pay more attention to my nutrition (and HRs) on the bike and eat at home the night before a race.

The good news - next year I won't have to do this race. Instead, I will hopefully be on my way to being an Ironman in Lake Placid.


Kate said...

Ocuh sounds rough out there, way to hang in there and get the job done!

TriGirl 40 (okay - 41) said...

Congrats on perservering through a challenging race and tough personal battles. The hot weather an added obstacle! Now you can finish fine tuning the details for an awesome race at Timberman.

TriGirl Kate O said...

I'm with you on the "glad we won't have to do this race next year" front! I absolutely hated the run--I'm afraid of permanent damage to my already compromised knees. Good job sticking it out!

Fave said...

hope your knee is feeling better. and just think - timberman run is on the road!

Michelle said...

So glad you finished the race! You stuck it out despite the heat, the falls, etc. That's great experience! Great report!