Monday, June 17, 2013

Ashland Triathlon Olympic

At the suggestion of my coach I added a Oly to my pre-IM race schedule. I have not done an Oly Tri since 2009. The distance seem super short now with all my longer distance tri and running races under my belt. I was given permission to really race it and see what I was made of! And I had Speedy back so I was super excited to race on Sunday.

The Thur prior I ran an 18 miler at a faster pace on the same route I used last month. It was hilly and I felt really good the whole time. For the first time on my long runs I felt that I could have kept running at that pace. By Saturday I felt pretty recovered from the run.

The day started at 5 am with my usual large coffee and PB and banana. I slept well the night before and was feeling ready to race that day. There was not a cloud in the sky and it was in the high 50s. Perfect. There had been very little communication from the race director prior to the race so I was unsure when I was starting. The race started at 8 am so I wanted to give myself a good 90 minutes just in case. Turns out there were only two waves for the Oly and two for the sprint. I got in a very short swim warm up. The water felt nice, 72 degrees with a clear sky. The threw the Clydesdales in with all the womyn. This concerned me a bit 'cause I am little, but I managed to position myself well to avoid too much chaos. Big dudes really like to swim over me. I am strong enough now that I can keep going and it does not freak me out, but its annoying.

I started off nice and strong and rapidly progressed through my wave. I felt floaty and powerful in the water. I choose to go with the wetsuit for extra bouyancy. I managed to catch up to some of the men. The course was a counterclockwise oval shape (??). It was well marked until the last 500 yards or so. It was very difficulty to site the swim exit as it was just beyond a dock. Word on the street is that folks were swimming to the dock instead of making the hard right. I was fortunate enough to be able to follow a group of swimmers. Like good little doobey I swam until it was very shallow.

From the waters edge to Transition involved running up a .5 mile trail that was laden with rocks, roots, and mud. I had Crocs at the waters edge which allowed me to very cautiously run up the transition. All of this spelled disaster waiting to happen!! I was SUPER careful 'cause my luck I would twist my ankle. And that would have SUCKED this close to Ironman. Despite all of that my T1 was pretty fast! I slipped out of my wetsuit and hopped on Speedy. oooo how sweet it was to have her back.

The bike course was 26 miles. A walk in the park for me. 26 miles is my warm up these days. So I would ride HARD. It was hilly but nothing I couldn't do. The tricky part was pacing and nutrition on such a short course. I drank all of a PowerBar drink mix and had one caffeinated Clif Shot. I felt fantastic on the first loop of the course and averaged 20 mph. I slowed down a bit on the second, but still averaged around 18. There were some longish climbs, but nothing steep. And some killer descents. I've forgotten how good it feels to be down in aero. A few more rides on Speedy and I'll be 100% back on my TT riding form.

Quick T2 and off I went. Amy was voluntering near the finish line. I saw her heading out on the run. yeah! My legs were screaming a bit after that ride, but I felt good on the first mile of the run. The first 1.5 or so of the run shared the course with the bike. It was very crowded and many athletes were seemingly not conscious of other runners or riders. I pushed the pace a bit up and over the first two hills. I felt really good, but had to pee! whoops. It was only 6 miles but I wanted to be able to hydrate. Soooo I found a place in the woods around mile 4. phew. That was around the time that my legs decided they had had enough. My pace dropped up the last few hills, but was able to push the pace on the flats and the downhills. Part of that was pacing on the bike and early on the run. And that 18 miler three days prior. I finished strong in just over 1:57. I came in 6th in my AG. Over all I am pleased. I forgot how much fun this distance is. Long enough to feel a bit challenging, but short enough to be able to push it and not feel like toast at the end.

FIRMs Ashland tri was a super fun course. Challenging and beautiful. But it was poorly run. Race staff did not warn us about the trail run at any point during the days and hours before start time. It was unclear until moments before the start what the swim waves were. There were not clear signs to the swim start (it was hidden by trees). Transition was not clearly labeled. And there were apparently a few bike accidents involving cars. Also, the food at the end was terrible. Our options were hot dogs and salad. That's it. Amy and I ate at Whole Foods! So much better!! I am not sure that I would do another FIRM race.

There are 42 days left until Ironman Lake Placid. This week is a short 4 day recovery week, ending with a 100/7 brick. My next training block will have LP on in. yikes. I am feeling more and more ready every week. I am ready to have some free time on the weekends and S:B:R because I want to (fast or slow) and not 'cause I have to. I love Ironman training. I love the how my body changes. I love how my mind changes. How 18 miles on the run and 90 on the bike seems like nothing towards the end. I love the muscle burn. I love discovering how much I can push myself, my perseverance, determination, and tenacity. But I also love sitting in the sun on a Saturday afternoon with a fruity drink after doing an easy 20 miles with my girlfriend. Or hiking all day. I am ready to have variety back in my life. But I am also ready to have a great long weekend in Lake Placid, NY with my friends, family, and girl friend. I am ready to spend 12+ hours swimming, biking, and running with a whole lotta awesome people. I am ready to be surrounded by like minded folks. I am ready to kick some serious ass. Final KICK!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Rev3 Quassy

A week before the race I started tracking the weather, as usual. A week before the race I got confirmation that I would have Speedy back for the race. A week before the race I had a rest week and was feeling awesome. All things were falling in place and I was getting excited to race Quassy 70.3. Well, not "race" it per instructions from my coach Will, at TriHard. I was to complete as a training day staying in my zones and not pushing to hard. The Thursday before the race the forecast was calling for high of 82 but I would not have my bike back. SIGH. I have done plenty of racing and training on Gladys Svetlana Ole Reliable before, but I was spoiled with Speedy for 2 years. AND this was going to be a tough course. I finally convinced myself to stop whining and just enjoy myself. I am damn lucky to be able to race. So I gave her a good cleaning and got her ready to race.

Amy and I drove down to Middlebury, CT after her first 5k in Concord, MA (which she rocked btw). That day was hot and I tried to avoid the sun both at the race and at the expo. The energy was good at the expo and I checked in without any issue. A good meal was had a Olive Garden and then a nice relaxing night in the hotel watching the Bruins and doing my nails. wait. Doing my nails? New race tradition of orange nails. It added a little fun to my routine and got some comments. I also had to put on my race number tattoos. A much easier ordeal than standing in line on race morning!!

The day started at 5 am with my usual coffee and pb n J. Bike check in was Sat so I had only my pack to lug to the race site. AND we were lucky enough to get parking right near transition. So far the race day was going well. My race wave went off at 7:35 but race started at 6 something so I only had a few minutes in transition. Enough time to pump my tires and organize. The water in Lake Quassapaug was 72 degrees and the air temp close to 70 at the start of the race. There was not a cloud in the sky for most of the morning. It was an on beach start and I positioned myself at the back. I'd only been in open water twice this season so was feeling a bit anxious about it. It took me a long time to warm up, but once I did I felt great in the water. It was a triangular clockwise course. Coming across the lake we swam into the sun with zero visibility! That was fun. I basically sighted the swimmers in front of me. I finished strong and ran up to my bike. Quick transition and off I went.

I was careful to pace myself as I knew there was 4,000 feet of climbing and it was getting hot. I felt great on the hills and even pushed myself a little, careful not to over due it. Most of the ride the sun was beating down on my back. I handled the bottle exchanges like a pro, but still cannot pee on the bike. DARN. There were some very tough climbs, great flats, and killer downhills. It was a gorgeous course riding by farm after farm with amazing views of the mountains (maybe NY??). I was psyched at how well I descended and the energy I felt during the bike. Some of the descends where so fast I was grinning ear to ear and may have let of our "yippee". I passed many a race on fancy TT bikes with fancy aero wheels and aero helmets. It reminded me that it is very much the person behind the bike that counts the most. Sure all that fancy equipment helps but you also have to be strong! I got off the bike feeling great. Legs were ready to go!!

At this point it was about noon and the hottest part of the day. I felt fantastic in the first three miles and then dizziness and nausea hit me like a brick. I tried to run it off but was eventually forced to walk. It was so bad at one point I actually considered dropping out. I thought about all the people who lost limbs in the Marathon Bombings and who might never get to run. I thought about the lives lost that day. I thought about my Grammy Davis who we lost this year. I kept walking, running when I could. Taking small sips of gatorade, Coke, or water and eating pretzels. I started feeling a little better and was able to run most of the second half of the run. In the last mile of the course the was a half mile ascent. I started running but lost gas. My fueling had been nill on the run because of the nausea. I started bargining with myself: run to that tree and walk 10 steps. I got myself over the hill and the finishing shoot was close by. As I turned the corner I saw the park and heard the announcer. I ramped up my pace. As I made the left turn into the park I sprinted in.

I haven't walked a portion of a race in over two years. This was my worst 70.3 time ever. Looking at the data alone I am disappointed. But I still averaged 16 mph on the bike and 11 min miles on the run, with walking. My swim time was OK but not faster than seasons past. I am not sure I have ever felt this terrible during a triathlon. I have never been naseous or dizzy during a race. But I am most proud of this race in so many ways. I kept going and persevered through the heat. O and did I mention that my allergies were out of control and I started my period three days prior? I learned a lot about myself yesterday. I can finish a race in extreme heat. I need to work on how to deal with extreme heat. I love hilly courses (I may have known that already). I can do anything was confirmed. I will take that with me to IMLP. Speedy is in Boston and I'll finish my season with her.

Rev3 puts on a great race. Quassy was an amazing and challenging course. I will absolutely do the race again. It was wonderful having Amy there to cheer me on and be at the finish line. I cannot articulate how wonderful it is to not be at these races alone. Today I am mostly recovered from the heat exhaustion but battling allergies. I am feeling better as the day progresses. I look forward to the remainder of my training and next race: Ashland Olympic. ROAR.