Saturday, June 9, 2012

Green Lakes Livestrong Triathlon Race Report

Updated with official times!

First race of the 2012 season is over and in the books! I've been so focused on training for the Musselman that this race really felt like it came out of nowhere. Luckily, despite the first race nerves and the fact that this race snuck up on me, I was well trained and ready to go this morning. Major thanks to my awesome coach Kelly for making sure of it, calming my nerves yesterday and even letting me wear her team tri top so I could represent T2! The people cheering for the girl in the T2 top definitely helped me dig a little deeper at the end.

You want to really know how badly this race took me by surprise? I was convinced it was on Sunday (like all my other races this year, so I do have an excuse). I even bought tickets to see Cirque Du Soliel at the War Memorial for Friday night, specifically thinking it would be a fun, low key way to spend a Friday night since I wouldn't my usual training to do after work. Well, I was right on that part. The show was awesome and really helped me take my mind off the pre-race nerves. Plus, since I didn't get home until after 10, I just went straight to bed and was actually able to fall asleep pretty quickly. Luckily the race didn't start until 8:30 (and was just 10 minutes from home!).

When the alarm went off at 5:30 I looked out the window and was pretty disappointed to see that it was raining. All week they've been saying it would be sunny on Saturday, then last night they had changed it so just a 30% chance. Well, I guess 30% is all you need. I got to the race nice and early, got body marked (though I walked all the way up to body marking without my number, so I had to go back and get it, but it gave me a chance to see how the run course was laid out), and started setting up my transition spot. After unsuccessfully trying to get my helmet to balance on my aero bars, I gave up and set it on my shoes. With transition all set it was time to put on lots of body glide, squeeze into the wetsuit and head down to the beach for the pre-race meeting.

The meeting was a little chaotic and I don't think I heard a lot of what was said, but after some quick recon with my friends we figured out the swim course. Green Lakes is one of my favorite places to run, so we've done a lot of training in and around the park and on the course, so the bike and run were very familiar.

Before I knew it, we were being counted into the water for the swim! Per Kelly's instructions, I went right to the front. My heart was pounding and I spent the three minute countdown trying to get it to calm down. After the longest 15 seconds ever, then gun sounded and we were off! I had lined up right in the middle of the pack, so I expected to get trampled a little bit, and was hoping to be able to draft of some fast feet. Well no such luck. Despite having a straight shot to the first buoy (and swimming what felt like a pretty straight line!) there was no one around me. I could see big groups to each side, but since I was having no trouble sighting the buoy, I just headed straight for it and didn't worry about other people. It wasn't until we made the two quick turns that I got caught up in a group. That was also when we caught the slower men who started 5 minutes ahead of us. I had to stop and reroute a few times, but the only bad/scary part was the guy who put his hand on the middle of my back and pushed straight down - twice! I got away from him as quickly as I could. Swimming back to the beach was a little hard to sight. They had a strobe light on a guard chair which helped a little, but there were no real landmarks to look for. There was an opening marked off for us to swim through that I almost missed. Had to stop and correct a bit, but once I was through that it was pretty much smooth sailing (swimming?) to the end.
Swim: 14:45 I accidentally stopped my watch instead of hitting the lap button.

Out of the water, I pulled my goggles up and started working on the wetsuit. It was good to have something to think about while running up to T1 instead of about how nauseous I was. (I don't know if this is only me or not, but I always feel sick when I get out of the water in race.) I ran into transition, successfully remembered where I put my bike and got to work taking off the rest of the wetsuit. It slipped right off! This felt like a big win, since I've only worn it twice before and both times I had a hard time getting out of it. I threw on my helmet and glasses, before realizing I couldn't see anything out of my glasses since it was raining so hard. I spent a few seconds trying to wipe them off on my (already soaked) towel, but I still couldn't see well, so I left them there. Socks and shoes went on smoothly and I was off!
T1: 1:30 I'm pretty sure this was my fastest ever. The rain actually helped - there was no point in even attempting to dry your feet and wet feet slip into wet socks without a problem. Who knew?

I ran to the mount line and once again, Kelly's advice was perfect. I moved way over to the side, stopped and mounted. By taking it slow and staying calm, I was able to get on and get clipped in with no issues. This race starts off with a pretty quick uphill, and my quads were protesting right away. I told them to shut up and get moving :). Luckily then it flattens out/goes downhill for the next 7/8 miles. I was really nervous about the rain on this bike course. There's one steep, downhill right turn that is pretty technical even in dry weather, so I was worried about that the whole time. I heard about a few people crashing and one girl got taken to the hospital. I hope she's ok! After making it through that turn, there's just a steep uphill back into the park and then a fun downhill back to transition. Unfortunately I nearly dropped my chain about 20 feet up. I quickly dismounted, spun my pedals around (I don't really know what I was thinking?) and looked back down, trying to decide if I should coast to the bottom and try to get clipped in on the flat or just try where I was standing. I went with the latter, even though I've never been good at clipping in at all, even on a flat. This time I was successful! And the bike was working! I did ride off into the grass a little, but I quickly got straightened out and started working up the hill. Before I knew it I was cresting the top and hitting 38 mph on the downhill. The race directors had the park police put up a radar detector, so it was fun to see the lights going off and flashing since we were all speeding. I slipped my shoes out a bit too early, but it was all good and I coasted into transition and hopped off!
Bike: 36:47

I felt like I was flying as I ran into transition and someone yelled out, "14th woman!" I racked my bike, buckled my race belt, slipped on my sneakers and started to run out. Notice I forgot to say that I took off my helmet? Yeah, I tried to run right out of T2 with my helmet still on. I'd like to think I was just being safety conscious but I had no idea. Huge thanks to the three guys standing just outside of transition yelling and pointing to their heads. I did a quick about face, threw my helmet on my towel and this time I was off for real.
T2: 00:47

I was a little nervous for the run. I've been battling some piriformis/shin/ankle/foot problems that are all related, so it was just a matter of which one was going to bug me today. Luckily this race is almost completely on trails, so nice soft dirt, mulch and gravel. I had tried to push a high cadence on the bike to save my butt and was concentrating on making sure my ankles were relaxed through my pedal stroke  so that my shins wouldn't tighten up when I tried to run. It worked like a charm. The beginning of the run was on pavement, so I didn't push to hard at the beginning. Grabbed some water and looked for the women I was going to start picking off :). Once we hit the trail I picked up the pace and tried to settle in. I was actually able to dial into a pace that was just shy of where my piriformis would start talking. I only got passed by one guy on the run, and actually passed him back later. I picked off a couple of women and set my sights on a girl in a white top. She had been about 25 yards in front of me when we started the run, and I had slowly gotten to within about 5 feet of her by the last mile. When we reached the beach, I felt like I was losing her, but all of the sudden as we came around the last turn it was like a repeat of Skinnyman last year: I found another gear and went into an all out sprint. Definitely helped that I heard lots of people cheering for me! I managed to pass her, another girl and a guy before the finish.
Run: 23:48

Can't believe I'm showing this race face to the world, but thanks to Mark for snapping this while screaming for me to catch her!

All in all, I'm marking this one down as a huge success. I didn't have a particular time goal in mind (probably thanks to the way this snuck up on me), but it worked just like I wanted it to when I signed up for it months ago. It was a great opportunity to practice transitions, remind myself what it feels like to race and see some results from all the training I've been doing. Plus, it was a fantastic start to the season with amazing friends and training partners. Not to mention we did pretty well, too :)
Total Time: 1:17:39

Conveniently we all color coordinated with our medals. It's a good thing I had Kelly's blue top instead of my pink one!
This was officially my last time racing against the 20-24 year old age group since this race wasn't USAT certified, so I got some pretty sweet hardware. I was first in my age group, 10th woman, and 74th overall.

Handmade 1st place medal!
While this was definitely not my 'A' race and there is still lots more work to do, I definitely didn't do it alone. Kelly, my awesome tri coach who looks at my crazy schedule,  shows me how to fit it all in and constantly challenges me to do way more than I thought I was capable of. My running coach Kevin, for making me tons faster and for his voice in my head saying, "push, push, push" on the run. My fabulous PT, Julie for fixing all my weird ailments even when I confuse her and just getting me. And of course, my training partners in crime. It's been amazing to always have people to swim, bike and run with. Plus, you're all pretty fun to be around :)

Most of us, Post Race: Ben, Eric, Me, Emily, Annie and Steve


  1. Great post! I'm so proud of you! You are the one doing all the hard work and it is showing! Congrats!!