Monday, June 27, 2011

Race Report: TriAdventure Summer Sprint Triathlon

Sunday I raced in the first home-town tri we have had in the area in more than ten years. With over 200 racers, and legions of volunteers, many of whom I know from the gym, it was a great time.

While I was excited to have so many local folks at the race, I have to admit that I felt a little pressure to perform up to my capabilities (e.g. avoid a major blowup). At the same time, I was feeling a bit of….I’m not sure….maybe racing burnout. Or maybe it's that I knew that I had these two back-to-back trips right after the race (I'm in Vancouver as I type). At any rate, I wanted to finish out June with a good race and be able to turn my attention from racing back to training until I race again in August. I switched my thinking around by reminding myself that I love to swim, I love to bike, and I love to run. So during each leg, my mantra would just be “I love to ___”

Swim - 400m (8:08, 22/104 women)

This was a pool swim, in a fairly new facility that was designed in part as the competitive pool for the Virginia Tech Hokies. It was set up in 50m lanes for a 400m snake swim, so just four laps. One look at the swim start seeding and we were all left second-guessing our self-reported pool swim times. I knew there were faster swimmers behind me so the pressure was on to deliver the times I reported. In the pool, it’s clear when you are passing or being passed. In open water, there is anonymity. I think I got a little psyched out, a bit intimidated knowing swimming is not my strength.

There were no ladders, stairs, ramps, or levitation spells to get us out of the pool, so we’d have to hoist ourselves up with spent arms.

I was passed by one person on the swim, my One-on-One Endurance teammate, John King. I actually stopped at the wall, grabbed on, and uttered an entire time-wasting polite sentence like “after you, John, go ahead and pass.” Then I tried to draft off his feet for a bit but pathetically couldn’t hang for the final lap. Not soon enough, the swim was done and I somehow climbed/rolled/flopped onto the pool deck and moved on.  (Despite the mantra, I did NOT love this swim. I'm not super thrilled with my swim time/placement....slacker!!)

T1 (14/108) - This involved some major bike shoe fumbling. With a steep hill and sharp turn out of T1, I had little choice but to put my bike shoes on and run my bike out to the line to mount. Having shoes pre-clipped in could prove tricky or dangerous and as I told others, safety is faster than an accident.

Bike - 20k (38:17, 4/108)

The bike leg was my favorite at this race. Most of it is on a fairly tame (well, for the Blue Ridge Mountains anyway) straight, rolling, freshly paved road. Teddy Roo and I bounded off for some fun, passing a fair number of folks. I saw John King up ahead and focused on keeping him in my sights. And I did, even catching him near the end at which point I chided him to “speed it up”. I averaged a bit over 20 MPH, a good pace for me.

Coming into T2 I heard the announcer, who I later discovered was Cole Harden from the bike shop, say something about “Here comes Cortney Martin into T2 about to head off on the run which is her specialty.” Uh-oh, NO pressure there!!! But just maybe that helped me to believe in myself a little more.

T2 (30/104) - Not good, especially considering Coach is the king of T2! Sloppy! Maybe time to reconsider the socks.

Run - 5k (22:08 - 3/104)

The run began with a sharp turn through a narrow chute and up a flight of perhaps 20 stairs (and major face-plant potential) before heading out on the road. It was an out-and-back course and as I was heading into the turnaround, who should I see coming out but my nemesis, Ellen Sortore (I adore her-- truly) , who beat me by five seconds the week before!! She issued a friendly “come and get me” and I took her up on her kind invitation. I saw Tanya and we exchanged a high-five of unspoken encouragement. I took the suffering up a level, closed the gap, and overtook Ellen. YES!! THIS is racing!! I was jazzed, just thrilled, to come out on top of a head-to-head chase. I felt a surge of adrenaline.

The final half mile is up a pretty good hill and I could not let up no matter how much it hurt. There were plenty of other strong racers on my heels. Two things flashed through my mind: (1) I’ve endured worse burn doing leg workouts with Kurt so don’t be a wuss and (2) I want Coach Jim to see my heart rate on this hill and say “Wow you were working hard, that was some major red-lining there in the final mile” I didn’t want to leave any doubt that I had given it all I had.

The last tenth of a mile has a hairpin turn into the finish and I heard my husband and friends cheering and yelling frantically. I looked back, saw no one, and burned what was left in the tank coming into that sweet finish. I’m pleased to say I ran a negative split. Did you catch that Coach!? Neg-a-tive split!  Miles were 7:13, 7:05, 6:58.

Results - Team

Team One-on-One is small but mighty with Ryan Day winning the overall men’s division, Edie Nault taking second among the women, me fourth overall and top master’s, John King and Tanya Leroith winning their AGs, Matt Pugh winning Clydesdales, and George Santopietro 2nd in his AG. We make quite the rainbow out there.

Results - Individual
Here are the full race results.
4th/104 women, 1st Master's.
Would have been 11th/121 men

I burned all the fuel in the tank, so I feel good about that.

Handing out wet wipes to everyone.
Always the MOM and such a dork.

Lessons Learned
  • I am learning that I can race. Up to now, it’s been more about running my own race and letting the chips fall where they may, but now I know I have the guts to race, head-to-head.
  • I don't think I swam up to my potential. Why? I'm curious to know how my race swimming compares to my swimming in training. Am I as fast or not? Does my technique slip? Is the limited warmup a factor? Am I afraid to push myself harder? If so, why?
  • Embrace the uniqueness of the course. Every course has its challenges due to layout and topography. For this course it was the narrow and steep bike start/stop and the stairway start to the run. it's these differences (assuming it's safe) that make it fun to race at different venues.
  • There's still plenty of slack to take out of my racing, particularly in T1 and T2. 
Its always nice meeting new triathletes. Hi Kristine and Anna!

I got a mention in the paper. Along with my age. I guess I will have to stop telling people I'm 25 ;-) haha.