Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Timberman Race Report

First, I apologize for the lack of pictures to accompany this post. My mom was responsible for capturing the moments at the race and they left for whale watching before I remembered to download the pictures from her camera. I'll try and post some later.

Overall, I had a great day and a great race.

Our morning started extremely early - the alarm went off at 3:45 am. By 4:30 we were dressed and ready to go, gear packed in the car, breakfast in hand. We picked up my mom and dad at their hotel and immediately issued a warning: "I'm sorry if I am grumpy or quiet this morning. I promise I'll be better after the race is over." For whatever reason, my anxiety before a race is horrible. Pre-race I'd pretty much rather do anything than wait around to race. The stress of it all turns my stomach in knots and is by far the worst part of racing.

Because of our early departure, we were able to get a pretty good parking spot at Ellacoya State Park in the shaded section in the lot by the swim start. Bart and I walked over to transition, took the tarps covering our bikes off and prepared our transition area and bikes for the race. At the last minute, I wimped out and decided to put on my bike shoes in transition rather than trying to put them on while on the bike. Although I've done it many times before, on race morning, it just seemed like too much for this particular race with this many people around.

After our transition areas were ready, Bart and I headed back to the car to try and eat some breakfast. I managed to gag down a banana and a half a cup of white rice before my stomach started to do flip flops. Thankfully there was a port-o-potty nearby and I went to stand in line. Back at the car my mom started asking questions about the race: "Why do some people have Rs on their legs versus an age? What is the distance again of the bike? etc" Finally I had to just ask her to not ask any more questions. The more I thought about the race (and answered the questions) the more my nerves got to me. So yep... back to the port-o-potty again. This time when I returned to the car, it was time to put on my wetsuit and head to the beach for the swim start. I was amazed at how quickly 2 and a half hours passed.

Once on the beach I was able to spot some familiar faces - TGs Lynn, Sharon, Karen and Shawn, plus Blake and Fred were wading in the water getting ready for the swim to start. The pros (both men and women) were off first. It is amazing how quickly they move through the water and how close they swim to one another. The 50 and older men were off next, including the Hoyts. I continue to be inspired by the strength and accomplishment of the Hoyts. As the pros were headed back to shore, it was time to test my goggles, swim a few strokes and head towards the start. Finally, around 7:50, TG Karen, Sharon and I were off.

The swim was much choppier than what I had experienced in my practice swim two days earlier. The buoys were easy to spot and I felt like I was making solid headway, although working hard, on the way out to the first turn buoy. Unfortunately, I wasn't having much success in finding someone to draft off of. It seemed the people around me were either too fast, and I would lose their feet, or too slow and I was climbing up their legs. So I just kept at it and swam. After the turn, while we swam parallel to the shore, I felt a little stronger and more comfortable. I was able to stretch out my stroke a bit and relax some in the water. Then, as I neared the last turn buoy, the waves started. Yes, I meant to write waves. Around the last turn buoy there seemed to be considerable chop and current. Almost every time I lifted my head to sight, I encountered a wave of water in my face. I felt like I was going nowhere. At that point, I wanted to be done with the swim, and I felt like it was taking me forever to get from buoy to buoy. Finally, after about 3 buoys, the current slowed some, the water calmed and it was a quick swim into shore.

I stripped my wetsuit down to my waist, and jogged off towards transition. My dad was alongside the swim exit and I got a big smile and "Go Beth" to help me on my way. One of my favorite parts was next... the wetsuit strippers. I plopped my body down on the AstroTurf and two kids yanked my wetsuit off in record time. As I started down my row, I noticed Bart leaving transition and realized my swim must not have been as slow as I thought.

T1 was purposefully on the slower side. I put my shoes on, took time to take electrolyte tablets, added my glasses and helmet and headed out to the bike. By then, my mom and dad had made their way to the bike shoot and were there to see me off with cheers and smiles.

Bike - My goal for the bike was to keep my heart rate in check - in zone 3 - for the entire leg other than a few of the killer hills and to eat and drink plenty on the back half of the course after getting through the initial 12 miles. The first 12 miles were as challenging as I thought they'd be. The worst hill was the "Monster" at mile 10. As I was grinding pedal by pedal slowly up the hill, Andy Potts was flying down in the opposite direction, followed quickly by a few more male pros and my favorite woman triathlete, Chrissie Wellington. Before I reached the top and right when I needed it, Blake also passed me and gave some encouraging words. Finally, the hills were over and fun part of the course began. I was very thankful that I had trained on what few hills we have in Richmond and also biked on the Blue Ridge a few times in training. The Blue Ridge rides were especially great preparation. The middle of the bike course was more typical of triathlons I've raced and I felt like I was flying. I ate well, drank lots and by the time I hit the turn around, I was much closer to my White Lake time than I expected and that bit of surprise gave me a little more energy for the next half. The return up the hills was easier than the trip out and I started to pass more people than I was passed (which was frequent by the 45-50 age group men in the beginning). Soon I was headed back into the park taking my shoes off on the bike and surprising my parents by my earlier than I anticipated arrival.

T2 - Again I took my time in transition, dried off my feet and body glided my blister spots, took some more electrolytes, grabbed my visor and took off for the run. I decided to wear my run belt after all just in case I needed water at a time it wasn't available. If I do this race again, I would leave it in transition.

Run - For the first time this year since the Kinetic Sprint, I actually felt good on the run. My heart rate stayed where it was supposed to and, while my legs were certainly hurting during the second lap, I didn't feel like I was going to die out there on the run course. Although I haven't looked at my splits yet, I'm pretty sure I ran a negative split. The support on the run course was better than any race I've ever done. I loved the man handing out snowballs (which I promptly put down my sports bra to help keep me cool) and the block of neighbors at the turn around who sang barbershop quartet and played Broadway show tunes. I took a cup of water and a cold sponge at every water stop and did my best to keep myself cool. The double out and back course was great for cheering on and seeing all of my fellow TGs (Karen, Susie, Shawn, Sharon, Lynn, Melissa, Mary, Kate, Sarah) , Coach Blake, my fellow Endorphin teammates Fred, Missy and Brian and of course my hubby Bart. I'm pretty sure I had a smile on my face the entire run. Having volunteered at Placid, I made sure I thanked each of the volunteers who handed me a cup, sponge, food or cheered me on. Final Kick's arch before the last half mile of each loop played motivating tunes when I needed them and helped me push the end of each loop. Despite the harder course, I ran about 4 minutes faster than White Lake and almost reached my run goal of sub 11 min miles.

As I neared the finish line chute, Bart was there to cheer me on. I missed seeing anyone I knew as I ran down the chute but as soon as I got my medal and my frozen ice pop, my parents were there to give me a big hug and congrats. I was so glad they made the trip and were able to be a part of my race experience. I think it gave them new insight into this sport I love and for me, it certainly made me want to work harder out there on the course. It was awesome to see their smiles and I know they were proud of both Bart and I.

While this doesn't fit in my race schedule next year because of Placid, I definitely will put it on the list of possible races for future years.

Here are my race stats:
Swim 42:12 (35:10 mile pace)
T1 3:34
Bike 3:23.42 (16.5 ave)
T2 3:46
Run 2:25.53 (11.09 pace)

Final Time: 6:39:05 (59/101 in my age group)


Kate said...

Boy did you have a fantastic race!!! Awesome job Bethany, I know you will do great at Placid.

Kim said...

Nice race post and great job on tiberman!! That was an exciting and thanks for stopping by my blog. I'm going to keep up with you now!

TriGirl 40 (okay - 41) said...

Congratulations on an awesome race! So inspired by what you accomplished. Can't imagine what it would be like to see the Hoyts during a race.