Monday, June 28, 2010

Charlottesville Sprint Tri

There was a lot riding on this sprint triathlon.  As the 3rd attempt of the year, it was hopefully going to be my first finish.  In May, Deb and I were babies and decided that in 40 degrees we had no desire to jump into a lake and skipped out on the Lake Anna tri... then there was the disaster that we refer to as Eagleman... and now here we are, is the third time the charm?  Deb and I headed down Saturday afternoon to preview the course and set up the campsite.  Fail on both... the bike course was ridiculously hilly, like seriously!  Huge hill coming out of the park, and then we started going down... and down... and down... I really thought we were going under sea level, knowing that in this out and back course, what went down was eventually going to go up again.  Definitely the hardest bike course I've ever seen.  Oh boy.  Then.. we didn't have a tent... or headlamps / flashlights / lantern anything.  What was wrong with us, this was not even the first time this year we've been camping!  Quick stop at Target and Deb is the proud owner of a new tent.. we had dinner at Ruby Tuesday and built a campfire.  I could not stop thinking about this bike course though... this was going to be a doozy.

5AM came pretty quickly and we packed up camp and headed to Walnut Creek Park... this was a small race, which means a good chance of me being DFL.  Bleh.  Too warm for wetsuits, we made our way down to the beach and listened to announcements.  I was really nervous for this race, more so than normal for a sprint distance.  I was 4th wave (out of 6) and we finally made our way into the water... we're off and I felt that I was really kicking ass on the swim.  I didn't know how I was doing on time but I felt good, even without a wetsuit.  I was passing buoy after buoy, staying on course, seeing my sights.. awesome.  Finally the last turn, and oh my goodness... a guy with a SNORKEL passed me!!!  What the heck?!!  The end of the swim was pretty nasty, lots of mud and clay and rocks... but then the shore and a short uphill run to transition.  wished there was a water stop, but was glad to be out of the water and on to the dreaded bike... 13:56 for the swim.

The very first thing we hit coming out of transition was the long steep hill, over a mile long, to get outside of the park.  About 1/4 mile up I started having an asthma attack... I unclipped and went for my inhaler, which I couldn't find... great (later found it in transition where it must have fallen out my jersey as I was putting it on).  A volunteer came over to me and asked if I needed help... um, HELL NO, I was finishing this race!!!!  Instead of just standing there, I decided to try to walk the bike a little just so I was covering some ground.. started feeling a little better and re-mounted.. reached the top of that first hill passing 6-7 other people walking their bikes.  Sadly, I knew that this was not the worst of the course.  The good news the course was shady but OMG, some of those hills were hellacious.  Since I'd already opened up the option for myself to walk my bike, I mentally told myself that I could walk if I needed to.... but I didn't!  I did stop one other time when I came up on a guy in the middle of the road.  I asked if he was ok, and he said no and asked if I knew how to fix a chain.  So I stopped and spent about 10 minutes putting his broken chain back together.  I glanced down at my watch but I must have accidentally stopped it at some point so I had no idea how much longer I had to go.. These hills were like nothing I'd ever seen before.  A couple years ago I set Columbia triathlon as the bar for hilliest course... nope!  On one downhill, something hit my face and I spent the next half mile or so with bug guts on my sunglasses (thank GOODNESS I was wearing sunglasses)... then about a mile later something flew into me and stung my chest (possibly a bee considering the huge red spot a day later).  Finally, finally, finally, on yet another steep hill I see the sign for the turn back into the park, knowing it was going to be mostly downhill to transition from this point.  Wow.  Finished the bike in 1:31:04.  Good golly.

I was very pleased with my transition times in this race.  There was a time where I had everything including the kitchen sink in my transition area.... I've reduced that to just the necessities.  Helmet, gloves, sunglasses, jersey resting on my bike... socks tucked into cycling shoes.. visor and race number sitting on top of running shoes.  I was able to quickly throw my bike on the rack and switch shoes before I was off again... again, could've used a water stop, but was just so happy to finally be on the run.. err... walk :-)  Yep, I walked a good bit as my legs were absolutely shot from those hills, and this was a trail run so was worried about rolling an ankle or twisting a knee.. I needed a finish time!  I got to a water stop, chugged some gatorade, my first nutrition for the race, and spent what seemed like forever before I saw the first mile marker.  Wow.  Only a mile in all this time?  I started running and only walked only the up hills and actually came on the 2nd mile marker much quicker.. the 1st one must have been mis-marked.  Passed the water stop again and knew I was in the home stretch.. except now the run trail seemed to be all uphill also.. ugh.  Then I see Deb who had come back to cheer and she said only 0.2 miles left - woo hoo!!  I picked up the pace, ran out of the woods and into the hot sun but it didn't matter.. just a short downhill and over the finish line and I finally finished a race this season!!  Total time, 2:44:15.

After I grabbed some water, the guy whose chain I'd helped fix was waiting for me and asked me to come over and meet his family.. he called me his guardian angel and was so thankful that I'd helped him fix his bike so he could finish.  It was his first ever triathlon, and was so happy.. totally made my day that I was able to help out.  Then, as I was waiting for Deb to come back (she wanted to stay and cheer for the last person, which is awesome of her!) I ended up talking to a lady who is planning to move up to Northern Virginia, so we exchanged emails and decided to meet up for some bike rides.. a good day all around!  We grabbed sandwiches at Take It Away, one of my favorites at UVA, and took our lunch to the winery we'd stopped at the day before, grabbed a bottle and relaxed.. finally got home around 3:00 with plenty of time to lounge on the couch (oh, and do homework).  Deb and I also both got several compliments on our new jerseys... go team Mamma's Fools!!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Eagleman Ironman 70.3

Well, this race sucked.  Yuck.

Deb and I packed up and hit the road a little after 1:00 on Saturday to make the drive to Cambridge.  When we arrived at the expo, it was a clusterf*ck.  One line for the race waiver form.  Another line for bib number.  Another line for the bracelet.  Yet another line for chip.  Then onto a line for t-shirts, which.. they were out of all women's sizes except XS.  Great.  Put our names on a list to have one mailed (yeah, I'm holding my breath) and get into the final line for water bottles and socks.  Phew.  We spent a bit of time looking around the expo and stocking up on 70.3 merchandise before finally making our way to Great Marsh Park for bike racking and a practice swim.

Even a simple task like racking our bikes was difficult as several people in our rows didn't seem to know how to properly rack a bike and were taking up way too much room.   Finally after talking to some race officials, we were able to rack our bike and headed down to the water.  The water was NICE.. we only swam in the little protected area near the finish, but the current wasn't too bad, and the temperature was perfect.  We finished our practice swim, met up with Maria (who I met at Eagleman AquaBike 2 years ago) and Brian, and headed to her place for the evening.

Maria was nice enough to let Deb and I borrow her car so we went to a local supermarket to pick up supplies (bagels, gatorade, bananas, etc) and then found a nice seafood restaurant for carb loading... is a dozen crabs considered carb loading??  Doesn't matter case they were good!  After dinner, we made our way back, organized all of our race stuff and had no problem falling asleep.

We left Maria's at 5:30 and were dropped off at transition by 5:40 only to hear that the water temperature was a little *too* perfect.  Wetsuits not allowed.  WHAT??!!!!!  The temperature measured at 79 degrees, which understandably is above the cutoff to receive awards, but let's face it.. I'm not in contention for any prize other than maybe DFL (Dead F'ing Last).  But, the RD decided that it would be too hard to keep track of who was and wasn't wearing a wetsuit so made the call to ban them altogether.  Great.  And of course my planned ensemble, consisting of my bike jersey/tank, was not exactly swim ready.  I mean, it would've been fine smashed under the wetsuit, but alone it was going to create a significant amount of drag.  Oh well, nothing I can do about that now.  On to set up transition, apply the body glide and make last minute checks....

The bathroom lines were insane.  Not only that but after transition closed, with everything except your cap and goggles stored with your gear, you had to use the port-o-potty without shoes on... yuck.  Lucky for me I ran out of time while waiting in the line and headed over to the swim start.  With the 15 minute race delay my wave went off about 8:00 AM.  The current was stronger in this part of the river, and this time of day.  I felt like I wasn't moving at all and it took what seemed FOREVER to make it to the first buoy.  I was getting kicked and grabbed and finally made my way to the side to avoid other swimmers... only I seem to have gone a little too much to the side because by the time I was even with the next buoy it was a good 50 meters to my right.  And with the current, it seemed impossible to get back on track.  This was by far my worst swim ever, both by feel and by time.  As I rounded the 2nd orange buoy (finally), a girl kicked my wrist.  Worried that she had stopped my watch timer, I glanced at it... 1:05 had passed already... WHAT???  I had done this exact swim 2 years earlier in 53 minutes, albeit with a wetsuit.  No way I was going to make it back in time, but I kept moving forward.... even the second half of this swim was against the current, how can that be?  I didn't feel like I was getting any closer to the shore.  Finally, the water became shallow enough to stand and I realized many people were just standing up and running.  I decided to do the same, and started running with another girl.  I was in the water for 1:11 by this point, knowing the cutoff is 1:10.. the girl I was next to made a comment that it appeared they weren't enforcing the cutoff, as we were both past it.. and indeed, I was allowed to run up the shoot and proceed to my bike for a total swim time of 1:14.  Pathetic.

I grabbed my bike, helmet, shoes, gloves and sunglasses and I was off.  I really just never felt right on the bike.  Nutrition-wise, it took awhile for my stomach to settle down, probably because I was so mad about that horrible swim.  I was peddling like normal but didn't feel that I was getting any power at all.. in retrospect, I believe my tire was low and had been losing air for awhile, but this struggle on the bike made me even madder about my performance.  Sadly, I didn't make the entire bike and ended up getting a lift back to transition by a nice cop who was working the race.... mind you, I got a ride back after sitting there for over half hour waiting for a race official.

I was dropped off at Great Marsh, loaded my bike onto the back of Deb's car and walked down to transition to look for my mom and find a place to cheer for Deb.  I went into transition to pack up my stuff just to have one less thing to do later, and I see Deb standing around transition... wha??  I walked over and immediately she tells me she's been DQ'ed.. WHAT?  What on earth did she do?  She showed me the duct tape placed over her name on the bike rack and explained it was because she didn't make the swim cutoff.. Hmm... so I walk back over to my spot and sure enough, I'd been DQ'ed also.. WTF?!  And how come they didn't catch us BEFORE the bike to save me a miserable 2.5 hours.. and for the first time all day I was pleased that I had a crappy bike.. but either way, what a sucky day.  And worse for Deb because A) it was her first 70.3 triathlon and B) aside from a long swim, had an amazing bike (19mph) and was on target for a fantastic finish.  //sigh//

Later we heard that the course was actually measured closer to 1.5 miles, and that nearly 40% of the field was DQ'ed... now sure, some of those numbers might be slightly off, but suffice it to say there were a lot of disappointed - and angry - racers!  Luckily, Deb still had time to sign up for Rhode Island 70.3 so she'll at least get to finish one this summer.  As for me, I'll be looking at Nations Triathlon in September as my new "A" race, and will refocus on the half ironman for next summer....

Might try to learn how to change a flat before September also :-)