Monday, May 6, 2013

Race Report: Smith Mountain Lake Sprint Triathlon - 3rd Overall Female

Here is the short version of the race report: Cold. Grumpy morning. Decent race. Glad to meet up with friends. Mojo returning. Ready to train.

Here is the more detailed version:

Swim (400m) - 8:27 (20/128 women; would have been 70/192 men)
T1 - 1:41 (10/128)
Bike (20k)- 38:11 (1/128; would have been 32/192 men)
T2 - 0:56 (14/128)
Run (5k) - 22:02 (6/128; would have been 36/192 men)
Total - 1:11:16 (3/128; would have been 32/192 men)


I really really REALLY do not like cold races. REALLY :-(  Race morning it was "Feels Like 43 degrees" and the swim was shortened from 750m to 400m at the request of local officials. The water temp was just 56 degrees and since the race does attract a fair number of newbies I can understand the decision. It beat cancelling the swim because as much as the temps sucked, triathlon is not about being comfortable and I accept that this is part of the sport.

I was bundled up in all my winter gear until the last minute but was pleased to discover that relative to the air temp, the water actually felt alright! There were, of course, a few brave souls without wetsuits who put the cold into perspective.

Discussions in transition centered around...what else...what to wear on the bike. I set out arm warmers, a jacket, and socks (only because there was no room for a down comforter or heat lamps) figuring it would be a game-time decision made as I came up from the swim.

me with Coach Jim prior to the swim. how excited am I?!
(thanks Mindy King for the photo!)


The swim went alright. My Garmin put me at 1:37 per 100y and 38 strokes per minute (or 76 since I opted to use two arms) which if accurate, is not awful for me. I went out at the front and stayed with the lead swimmers until the first turn buoy then lost them. I felt like I swam more aggressively than last year, and kept my SPM up better, but in hindsight I think I was swimming a bit frantically and flat - not really taking advantage of my new found power and physics of the body rotation. I also stopped on the return leg, briefly, to get my bearings and find the finish. Now that this first race is under my belt, I am committed to a better focus on power at the next race to do my training justice.

 picture by Elizabeth and Casey Mills


My game-time decision was there was NO WAY I was going to take time to put any extra clothes on for the bike. It turned out I was really just fine. I passed a lot of people and never got passed, but I always remind myself not to get complacent because the faster people remain ahead. Another cyclist said something about "two ahead of you, go get them" so I sure tried! There was traffic on the course and I passed one vehicle, but only did so where I could pass without crossing the center dividing line. I had a lot of fun on the bike! I ended up with the fastest female bike split, but it was 2-1/2 minutes slower than last year which is a substantial shortfall and a little disconcerting. I've got some work to do.

Not sure why I look like I'm standing up, but there was a hill coming into the dismount line
 pic by Casey and Elizabeth Mills


While I did not notice my (numb) feet on the bike, I sure did notice them (or lack of them) on the run. My friend Mark described it as "running on stumps" for the first two miles. I'd agree -- my proprioception was clearly affected by the cold. Nearly everyone I spoke to had the same issue. During the run, I was convinced my right shoelace had loosened and that my shoe was falling off but I decided I wouldn't worry about it or even look unless it truly fell off my foot. As I ran, I thought a bit about Boston, and about the dancer who lost her foot. "Boston Strong" echoed in my head. After the race I looked down to discover my shoe was snug, all just imagined, courtesy of frozen feet.

My run was not great at all - over a minute slower than last year. Again, this just serves to motivate me to work to reclaim that top end speed. It's OK, because I *should* have to work specifically for that last 5%!

It didn't help that I managed to lock the buttons on the new Garmin at the start of the run and had no idea how to unlock them so I had no data and no feedback. I shrugged it off and reasoned that maybe it was a good thing to just run by feel on this day. I just focused on passing the next person and the next and I really did enjoy this run (probably enjoyable because I was slacking!!).

  pics by Casey and Elizabeth Mills


My number at this race was 169. My Boston number was 16922. My Boston room number was 169. I saw a government license plate during the bike that said either I69 or 169. 169 is 13 squared. Just one of those things that make you go "hmmmm."


This race was a good season opener. I'm satisfied in that I feel like I did a good job of minimizing losses and making the most of what I had on the day. Transitions were decent, there were no moments of panic or fumbling, and I didn't do anything dumb.

I was down a race wheel, the watch messed up, I had some slipping in my shifting, I thought my shoe was falling off, it was cold...whatever. I think one of the "secrets" of the sport is not letting things mess with you and just keeping your head together!

This race has left me very motivated to dig in, get back to my triathlon focus, and train hard. Tomorrow marks the real return to tri-specific training. After a long winter of solo training, I was so glad to have this race to reconnect with friends and teammates. There is no better way to recharge the "mojo" and to move forward than to plug into that energetic and encouraging (and crazy!) community.

Thank you Coach Jim for putting on your sports psychologist hat and gently guiding me through the last three weeks. You always seem to know just what to say -- helping me figure things out so that I can keep triathlon training and racing as that happy and peaceful part of my world. I'm ready to move forward!

To my readers and friends I would also like to express, once again, my deep appreciation for your support and encouragement over the last few weeks. It feels good to be "back"!

Triathlon in the books!

Love this exchange between Scott Moir and Coach Jim just after the finish.
pic by Elizabeth and Casey Mills

 Scott Moir (in sunglasses) shared this photo that he captioned the "post race analysis" - so true!

with Coach Jim!

 Back in warm clothes.
With Donna Williams and Betsy Henderson, both multi-time Team USA members

With the One-on-One crew including Coach Jim, me,
Trip, Kimberly, Edwin, Tanya, Justin, Michelle.

(Photo by Bill Huckle)

 Receiving my award (thanks Kimberly Arbouw for the pic!)

The morning after the race. So nice to look at the lake and not have to swim in it!
Thank you Hobarts for the use of your fantastic lake house!