Monday, June 30, 2014

ITU: the good, the bad, and the very important lessons

This is the Cliff Notes version.... Maybe someday I'll post the long version....

The good:
- My swim was 20:23. Compared to August, that's 12 minutes faster!!! I still ended up back-stroking most of it due to panic, but I swam with 2 other ladies who also did the back-stroke. It's not weird if you're in a "group," right?! ;)  Honestly? I'm okay with a backstroke if it means no panic attacks and a faster swim! (Lifetime was all freestyle.) 
- My bike was 42:43, averaging 17.4 mph, my fastest so far! I've gone from 15 mph in August to 16 mph 3 weeks ago to 17 now! It was a great, flat bike course, and I was SO thankful that a part of it was on Lower Wacker out of the sun and heat. 
- My husband came to watch and I saw him twice on the bike course and twice on the run. :) 
- My unofficial time was around 1:53, which is about what I expected... 22 minutes faster than August. 

The bad:
- My time is unofficial because officially I was disqualified. I, along with 21% of the sprint participants, missed a lap on the run. I studied the course map in the weeks leading up to the race, but once I was actually DOING the race, the lack of signage and my dehydrated brain just made a mistake. I'm mad at myself, but I find comfort that approximately 210 out of 970 triathletes made the same mistake I did. A bit of OCD research later, I found the average DSQ/DNF each race is 3-5%. So 21% DSQ was way abnormal.
- (sneaking in a good: My mistake only cost me a race. On my first bike loop I saw a woman who must have misjudged a turn and crashed into a wall; her bike was mangled and she wasn't getting up. I thought about stopping but there were already 3 people with her. The ambulances where there on my second loop. I'm grateful I finished in one piece and I'm praying she's ok.)
- It was SO hot that I started the race dehydrated. There was no water by the Swim start (like they've had at Lifetime) and the heat index was 85° by 11:30 am. I heard from another triathlete that it passed 90° some point during the race. 
- It was very disorganized. I spent a lot of time on Saturday and Sunday morning trying up get to where I needed to be. Google estimates I walked 2 miles Sunday morning before I even started. 

Lessons learned:
- Attend the course talk, even if there is only one offered and its at the worst time possible. (Hint hint ITU...) 
- Watch your watch or Garmin. I had purposely turned mine under so that I couldn't see it and stress over my time. If I'd been watching it I would have realized that I've never run a 24 minute 5k in my life, and hopefully asked someone about the loops before finishing. 
- Over plan hydration and overpack nutrition. I ate my pre-race meal at 8 am. I had my coffee and some water. I didn't start until 11:50 am. Halfway through the bike my stomach was growling (it was lunch time!) and I had nothing to eat. I'm used to eating at 5, racing at 7, and eating when I finish. I was so under fueled this race. And don't forget your new run water bottles in the hotel fridge....
- Get new sunscreen. :) I think mine is expired because I applied it 3 times pre-race and still burned.

I crossed the finish line and I got a medal... I don't feel right about it though, since I didn't technically finish the entire course, so it's tucked away right now. In time maybe I'll hang it with the others to remind myself of my swim, bike, and lessons learned. The t-shirt I'm going to wear; it actually fits, unlike half the other race shirts I've gotten in the past. 

I gave myself 24 hours to wallow and grieve, so now I'm letting it go and moving on. I did very well prior to my DSQ, and I will never make these mistakes again. I have three more triathlons already scheduled, including Lifetime Chicago Triathlon. 

I met a 50-year-old Kona finisher on Saturday, and she told me it takes 7 years to reach our tri potential, so I'm putting this down as a "3rd year newbie road bump" on my way to meeting my potential. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Will race for beer!

I had a funny conversation with another triathlete on Tuesday night.

Her: Did you have a good race [at Esprit de She]?
Me: It was great! I took off a half an hour from last year!
Her: Awesome! ...
[insert small talk]
Me: ... I was a little disappointed that there was no beer or wine though. 
Her: [stunned silence] What? I've never seen alcohol at a race....
Me: There was a picture on the website... 
Her: [still looking at me like I had two heads]
Me: I've only done Lifetime tris before, but they have an athlete beer tent! 

End conversation. 

Just to make sure I wasn't crazy or dreaming it, I doubled checked....

Yeah, that's wine....

Ok, not just wishful thinking. That grapefruit drink looks soooooo good! 

We ended up going to two breweries in the area and had a fantastic time sampling different beers.  

However, I will admit that seeing this in the email for my next triathlon makes me very happy: 

You can find me there after I finish running! I'll be stinky, wet, sweaty, glowing with pride, and surrounded by other like-minded triathletes celebrating our achievements!!


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Race report- Athleta Esprit de She 2014

Its been almost three weeks since the Athleta Esprit de She triathlon, so my race report is a little late.... Better late than never, right?

It was a great race to start off the season! The morning was COLD and cloudy. Cold enough that everyone with wetsuits was already zipped into their wetsuits before transition even closed just to try to stay warm. My sister has a sleeveless wetsuit, so she was wearing that, her husband's hoodie, and my fleece jacket! I was shaking, but that was probably 1/2 cold and 1/2 nerves. The sun started peeking out during the bike and was out in full force by the run portion. Fortunately, a lot of the run was through a tree lined neighborhood and a shady park.

That's me in the blue wetsuit. :) My sister was two waves after mine, and I also had my mom and little brother there cheering us on! It was a pretty even mix of wetsuits, swimsuits, trisuits, and a few random "they're wearing that?!" outfits.
The swim was a challenge, and yet I really surprised myself. There were around 80 women in each wave, and it was in a quarry. Imagine a huge stone pool, shallow sandy beach at one end and 15" deep at the other, with lanes.... It was a back and forth zig-zag swim, totaling 6 lengths. The first length was a chaos of bodies, and I tried to do my front stroke. By the end of the first length I was questioning my abilities... "Why am I doing this?! I can't swim this. I'm never going to improve my times. Blah blah blah." The typical swim voices-in-my-head I battle with every time I get into the water. So I flipped onto my back and started backstroking to calm myself down and slow my breathing. The next thing I knew I was done with the second length. So I kept backstroking..... And finished the rest of the swim doing the backstroke.

As I climbed out of the water I looked at my watch.... Time???? 15:53!!!!!!! That is HALF the time of my last sprint!!!! Half!!!
T1 4:34.

Bike was good too. It was a pretty smooth closed course, 2 loop ride. Very windy though! There were points that I was just pedaling against wind, and not going very fast. My sister mentioned that she couldn't use her aerobars because the wind would nearly knock her right over!

Time 49:39, averaging 16.07 mph, which is also an improvement from last year. (I KNOW I would have been even faster without the wind.)

T2 2:16. And that pisses me off. At the Bike In, I got stuck behind a lady who clearly hadn't done a race before and was having trouble locating her aisle. With TERRIBLE luck, it was MY aisle too, and she couldn't find her transition mat, so guess what? She put her bike right over MY transition area!! I had no place to rack my bike! I even told her, "That's my stuff" and she didn't move her bike! I finally shoved my bike against her's, tossed my helmet on my mat, and took off running. I was a new triathlete too once, but at least I knew not to rack my bike over someone else's mat.

Run was challenging but good! I caught up to my sister at the Run Out and thought it would be so cool to finish together. :) Then my shoelace came untied and Katie kept going. LOL It is a race after all. Note to self: double knot the shoe laces. The run started and finished in the park, and was a pretty straightforward loop. It was hot in the sun but nice in the shade. I alternated running and walking, until some guy was like "You're almost there! Only a half a mile to go!" And I was like, "I can totally run that!"

He lied.

Time was 33:13, averaging 10:42 min/mile. Certainly not my fastest 5k, but a huge improvement over last year's 12:31 pace. :) In hindsight I wish I had tried harder to run more of it.

Overall, my final time was 1:45! I took off a half an hour from last August! I'm very pleased with my time and my race, and I hope I can do just as well at my next triathlon.

Next up: ITU World Triathlon Series Chicago!