Monday, August 15, 2011

Race Report: Luray Double

I completed the Luray Double (Virginia) this weekend, with an Olympic distance race on Saturday and a Sprint distance on Sunday. That brings me to a total of 12 triathlons in my two year triathlon "career". The double has been a goal of mine since last year when I did just the Olympic and really wondered how it would feel to do both. I can wonder no longer. I really enjoyed it, I felt great throughout, and the icing on the cake was a 3rd place Master’s finish Saturday and a 2nd place Master’s finish on Sunday. This whole town rallies to put on a top-notch event in a beautiful venue with phenomenal crowd support. That's why the event continues to grow in size and caliber.

Luray Olympic – August 13

Truth be told, I was nervous for this race. It was my first Olympic distance tri of the season (and only third ever) and just a week out from Age Group Nationals, also an Olympic. It was a dress-rehearsal and I wanted it to go well.

My car made the three hour trip to Luray (never a given anymore) and I settled into some kind of retro 1960-ish motel that was very clean and well-maintained but wow you don’t see bathrooms like this anymore. My friend and fellow-racer Tanya arrived that evening.

We drove to the race site pretty early and were rewarded with…. the furthest possible parking spot. However, the long trek to transition gave me the chance to discover that I can push my tri-bike from the seat rather than the handlebars! I used to think it was so cool when people could do that! I never could manage it on the roadbike but it was explained to me that the weight distribution and geometry makes it easy to do with a tri bike but not so much a roadbike. They also warned me that riding with no hands is not too smart on a tri bike, so I will cross that off my “learn-to-do” list.

This was my biggest race to date. (I know there are lots that are bigger, but for me from the sticks, this was big) The race sold out at 700+ and 388 men and 195 women (583 total) finished the race. There were imposing, smartly-uniformed teams from the DC area and one team arrived with multiple tents, a slew of logoed camp chairs, a buffet, and a massage tent. I, conversely, had a Gatorade, some granola bars, and my butt with which to sit on the ground! Eh, but the race is a great equalizer.

This was my last race weekend in my trademark blue and grey “One on One Endurance” trisuit. It’s one-of-a-kind and I’ve worn it for every race but my first. It's a little hard to let it go. But starting next week I’ll be wearing the Endurance Films Racing Team kit for the next year which is pretty gosh darn exciting!!
The swim is a crazy perimeter-then-triangle pattern to fit the course into the little lake. I felt solid on this swim, and drafted for probably half of it, which was new for me. I still ended up in about the 65th percentile so there is plenty of room for improvement. Swim speed remains an elusive mysterious concept for me and I’m not sure if it’s physical, mental, or some of each.

At the beginning of this season we set out to improve my bike leg and I’m happy to report this was my best bike ever. My bike split was the fourth fastest of all the women on this fairly technical course. At this race last year I lost my chain twice but on the new bike it was smooth sailing. I caught up to Melanie, another 40-year old, on the course and we passed each other several times. She looked strong and I knew I had to keep her close.

My energy and legs felt great starting the run. (You’d think I’d learn by now that how you feel at the start is a poor indicator of how you will feel at the end.) I was shoulder-to-shoulder with Melanie from the bike course. I accelerated to see if she would hang, and fortunately, she didn’t. Then I made my usual stupid decision to ignore my watch and my pace and just “go by feel”. That would come back to haunt me as my pace dropped with each passing mile: 7:06, 7:25, 7:29, 7:56, 8:15, 8:29. DOH! But I survived to hear the sweet sound of horns and cowbells calling from the finish chute!
9th overall; 3rd Master’s Female
1500m Swim - 32:25 (68/195)
T1 - 01:45 (5/195)
26+mile Bike - 01:16:34 (4/195)
T2 - 01:36 (75/195)
10k Run - 47:17 (9/195)
Total - 02:39:36

I did my post-race jump in the lake to cool down. Then I followed Coach Jim’s very specific recovery instructions which included hydration, food, stretching, compression socks, and sitting. He also cautioned me to resist my usual after-race on-my-feet socializing! He knows me too well. I did as I was told and sat in a chair at the massage tent and waited my turn for 15 minutes of bliss. I got back to the motel and iced, rolled, stretched, propped my legs up, and refueled. I had packed all my food and was glad for it. I tried to nap but to no avail; the endorphins prevented that. My friend Krista arrived and we headed into town to pick up our packets in a total downpour! She started to worry about the weather and I just figured if it was bad it would add to the adventure.

Luray Sprint – August 14

I woke up feeling pretty relaxed, loose, and ready to roll. Despite threats of horrible weather, the morning was quite nice! Coach Jim emailed me with a reminder just to to “have fun” today, but I figured I’d just see how I felt on each leg and go accordingly. I wasn’t going to give myself a big excuse to slack off as I kind of wanted to see what I had left.

The swim was more chaotic and opportunities to draft didn’t last long. I’m feeling more confident and comfortable in the swim but it's not translating to faster race times yet.

Because it had rained heavily the previous night and the roads were wet and gravelly I took the corners more conservatively. This was not the time to take risks. My legs felt good, but my pace was off what I had done the day before. Still, I passed a LOT of people and had a LOT of fun!

This was when I started to feel the effects of the previous day as the legs were a little sluggish on the run and I could feel my quads on the downhills. I wanted to run happy on this and had no desire to go to that last leg-burning, lung-searing final gear. Obviously I didn’t as my splits were 7:32, 7:31, 8:06. I saw my favorite rival and friend Ellen Sortore ahead of me a good bit on the run and she was going strong. She finished as the top Master’s. The real bar-setter was the overall female winner, Hillary Cairns at age 41! She was amazing (and tiny!) and her finish will keep me working hard to improve at the sport.

Somewhere on the run the lightbulb went off and I realized why Coach Jim had a number of back-to-back tough workout days on the training schedule. Those efforts helped me to stay strong all weekend.

13th/219 overall, 2nd Master’s Female
750m Swim - 16:00 (68/219)
T1 - 01:45 (7/219)
17 mile bike - 53:28 (8/219)
T2 - 01:18 (52/219)
5k Run - 23:49 (18/219)
01:36:19 (13/219)

Day two!

I made the 3-hour drive home then unloaded and helped my husband clean up and get laundry going from their camping adventure. Then I was in bed, asleep, by 8 pm. Today is starting with a recovery massage, then it’s work, family, and getting things packed up for Nationals. But that’s just one race. It should be a piece of cake!!

I am very thankful and indebted to Coach Jim, Kurt, and my family for their continued support and input! Next stop: Burlington!!