Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Springs Back Sprint Tri Race Recap

First and foremost:  I DIDN'T DROWN!!!

That right there is cause for celebration!  And the fact that I can write about it...yay!

I mentioned my trepidation about open water swimming so I won't beat that dead horse any further. Bottom line, I was way out of my comfort zone.  But I was sucking it up and faking strength for my friend...who was scared shitless.  She almost didn't come to the race having battled a sinus infection for what seems years.  Poor thing...she hadn't even been in the pool in over a month and yet she was going to come out.  Her plan was to check it out and make a game time call...worst case, she would be my spectator.  Of course, she's much like me...once your foot is in the water, what the hell, race the whole dang thing.  Right?

So...when she told me she was terrified, I wasn't about to tell her that "oh, shit, me too!"  Rather, I tried to pass along the tidbid of good advice that I had received in the prior week or so.  The whole flip on your back and breathe bit, that the breast stroke and even the doggie paddle were options and that there were people everywhere on kayaks and boats to save us if necessary, I told her.  And also, good news is that there was only ONE alligator in the lake, so odds are it was a pet, fed and caged for such an event.  (wink, wink)
Oh goody, just one!
Honestly, we are swimming in a lake with an ALLIGATOR?!  I have lived near and travelled often to the Everglades...seeing those suckers in a body of water is best from an airboat.  Just sayin'.

Having been thrilled that I had company to this event really helped my jitters and all kidding aside, my friend has a very calming effect on me.  She's positive and reassuring (even when she's terrified). We talked about imagining the beach, swimming in the ocean with the sun beating on us.  And after a collective "yeah, right", we decided to just watch all the waves heading out before us and try to determine how in the heck the buoys were set up and how far we needed to go.

All the olympic distance waves went out first.  This was great for two reasons...1- the alligator had plenty to choose for breakfast before we got in the water. 2- it got warmer AND lighter out and we can see where exactly the "turn" for the sprint wave was (since us old fogies were one of the last waves).

SWIM

We agreed that we would remain calm.  Backstroke if necessary the whole way but calm nonetheless.  And then the fog horn goes off.  What it in the hell?  Everyone of us (22 female over 40) jumped out our skins and took off!  So much for that zen moment!

The temperature of the water was at 77 (perfect) and the sun was out to make it warm but nonetheless, those conditions did not make the visibility any better.  Also, I was wearing a brand new pair of goggles so that I would ensure that the anti-fog coating was spot on.  I wished I had tested them first...fear of leaks was also in the back of my mind.  :\

Hard as I tried to just "swim", regular freestyle, not being able to see has a way of making things very claustrophobic.   I really didn't think of all things, that that would be the issue.  But it was.  I probably swam a decent 25M before I start thinking that I needed to flip.  The more I thought of it, the more irregular my breath would get.  And uuuugggghhh...here we go.  A quick flip to regain composure, right?  Uh, no.  I backstroked until I ran over a body (indicating that I was at least moving in the forward direction to exit the lake!)  I am sure "I" was the one to piss plenty of people off by bumping them...sorry ladies! :/  I tried the side arm swim, a little doggie paddle and then a few "regular" strokes.  It wasn't awful but it was shortlived and when I came back up, I was way off course.  Ahh!  More strokes to get back to where I was.  I had plenty of time later to think about just how fast I was "regular" swimming to get off course in just a few strokes.  If only I could kick my own ass to get it together and GO I'd be out of the damn lake so much faster!

Clearly, there is LOTS of room for improvement and we can all agree that swimming my forte, is not. Out of 10 in my age group, my swim came in 8th.  Meh.  Not surprised but ok with it just the same.
Final time was right about the same as it was in the pool with my "mock" race.  11 minutes...at least I can say I know how to simulate like a mofo.  Lol.  ...and the goggles were PERFECT! No leaking, no discomfort or fog!

On to transition but first, uh...rocks at the exit of the lake.  Not little rocks...like BOULDERS. OUCH! More on this later. :/

T1

A quick goofy "I made it" grin to the photographer (OMG, most hilarious picture ever)  and running to T1.  Why again did we rack in the LAST possible rack?  Good grief, it felt like a half hour in there but luckily that wasn't the case.  Still...I was tied 6/7 place in transition but better than 3+ minutes at the last tri!

BIKE

Oh, the bike.  Yay, the bike!  I heart the bike!

I quickly settled in and started scrolling through all my dad's advice in my head.  First, fuel.  I PRE-opened my Hammer Gel and had already mixed some Hammer Heed into one of my water bottles. (I have never tried either but my dad has done some extensive research...he is an all around guru and when he researches and endorses, you listen!)  I ate my gel and quickly discovered that like bike grease on my calf, getting sticky fingers (and handlebars) is inevitable for a clutzo like me.  However, this is better than the alternative of trying to open the package while riding.  I have attempted this and have given up (see clutzo comment above) in fear that I'd topple and eat it (the pavement, not the gel).

It was a fairly flat course with slight hills back in the more rural areas.  It was quite scenic and enjoyable.  However, it was windy!  It cried Mary as my dad would say.  I didn't realize how windy it was until afterwards when I heard others speaking of it AND seeing some of the bike speed results.  I was expecting low 20s, high teens for the uber fast in the age group but I was surprised to see it top off at 17.8...my average mph was 16.7 so I'm glad to have held my own.

Again, I charged up my old Garmin (secured to the charger with packing tape to get a true charge) and hoped it would work for my bike and run segments of the race.  They sorta did.  The bike didn't show me what I needed (speed, cadence) only total "lap" time.  I really had no idea what my mph was at the time other than each mile was 3:40, 3:22, 3:07 etc.  It took me a few miles to see a pattern and after that I just tried to "beat" the last mile.  That, coupled with trying to pass people kept me trucking along.

No road kill this time or bugs in my mouth (thank goodness)...just country smells that seem extra potent first thing in the morning...manure, bacon, fresh cut grass, jasmine.   No complaints but am glad I took an allergy pill before heading out first thing!

T2

It was clearly faster than the last transition but it's a blur.  I just remember seeing the girl who we racked our bikes by heading out for her run (I caught up!).

RUN

This is so tough.  It's so not like "just" going for a run.  Everything feels so different and some things, numb even.  My legs were on autopilot and I took that time to sort out my technology issues.  I didn't exactly nail the Garmin button pushing from to T2 to Run but I noticed from the get go that it was not on "MultiSport" (which I had double checked the night before...ugh!) so my running pace was again, not helping.  In the mean time, my much bigger phone was sitting in my race belt and began thumping against me at every step.  I had to take it out and while there, decided to run Nike+ for the sake of pacing.

After the initial distraction, I was back to realizing my legs felt awful but still better than the last time.  I also felt tired!  A 5k seemed like a long way at that moment.  But then I turned on the mind game.  I looked around and the scenery was so quiet and peaceful out in the 'burbs!  The route went out of the subdivision into a trail that backs up around it and was all paved.  There were quite a few bridges and elevations so it did not seem as flat a course as I thought.

I wanted to stop so bad.  So many times.  But I gave myself some random point to achieve before allowing myself to think of it again (the bench, bridge, end of the pond) and when I got there, I moved the target further.  Seems silly, but it worked.  The further I went, the hotter I got. When I arrived at the fork in the road where the Olympic and Sprint courses divided,  I realized I was happy to be racing Sprint and wondered how I could possibly EVER do the other.  I was pooped!

I saw a young boy on the course walking and I tried hard to motivate him to go, he smiled at me but was not budging...and the words just stuck to ME and kept me moving forward.  I started visualizing different muscles in my legs doing their job and I think my quads must have been sleeping.  I felt like once I engaged them, I was able to move faster and with more determination to finish.  I caught up to someone in my age group (that had passed me on the bike) and felt a little victory and then later, caught up to and passed the girl we racked by (that I saw in transition).  These two things were my final motivators to not stop and push to finish strong.

I couldn't help but fist pump through the finish (with giant phone in hand)! Garmin had very little use to me and Nike, which I started late in the game, came in with a 3.3 distance.  It's no wonder when I asked the volunteer jokingly on the course "are we there yet?!", I was surprised he said "just over a mile" when I would be done in about a 1/4 mile by my calculation.  Yikes!

FINISH!

After sending a text home about my survival and scoping out the after race scene, I headed back to the finish line and right then, my friend was coming through!  SOOOOOO excited to watch her cross!!  We did it!! Yay!!!  She was sick and undertrained and she kicked some serious booty.  I am so proud!  We grabbed our breakfast tacos (the true reward at the end of the race!), bananas and KIND bars and took a second to sit and chat.  I remembered I had left my flip flops by the dock and ran over there to get them.  It felt so far!  Haha! But when I got back, my shoes suddenly felt tight.  I kicked them off and noticed a huge gash on the inside of my right foot!!  OMG.  That rock on the lake exit got me good.  I'm so glad I didn't know of it until after the race!  It is right under on the flip flop strap so I hobbled all the way to the car.  Ouch! I've got my first official triathlon war wound! Haha.



I'm not signed up for another race until the Oktoberfest Sprint that I learned is the exact same course as this.  I am tempted to switch that to an Olympic but I still have a few bigger decisions to make by the end of the month regarding HIM.  I have a race in July, August and September to sign up for too but again, the distances will hinge on 70.3.

Stay tuned!!

Valerie


My Last Race Report: No Label Sprint Tri
My Swimming Trepidation: Here and Here