Saturday was my fourth year racing the Bath County Sprint Tri at Lake Moomaw near Warm Springs, Virginia. Four years?! I'm becoming one of those 'fixtures' I guess!!
This race attracts many triathletes (like Tanya in the photo above) from our region so it was great to be there and to be able to join in on a picture-perfect morning with so many friends. The lake was temperate in the mid-70's and as calm and clean as you could ever wish for. The out-and-back bike and run courses are rolling and challenging but safe and closed to traffic. It's a spectacularly gorgeous and unspoiled area nestled in the Alleghany Highlands of the Shenandoah Valley and such a treat to race there.
I was really happy to finish as the fourth woman out of 83. That also meant that three of the top four are from my town of Blacksburg, Virginia: Kate Buss (1st) and Edie Nault (2nd)!
Here's the numbers. (I like to see where my time would rank among the men so I include that too.)
Swim (750m) - 13:49 (9th/83 women; would have been 12/128 men)
T1 - 1:14 (16th/83)
Bike (20k) - 38:02 (3rd/83; 20/128 men)
T2 - 0:50 (11th/83)
Run (5k) - 22:22 (4th/83; 33/128 men)
Total - 1:16:16 (9th/83 women, 22nd/128 men)
Full results online at SetUp.
Race morning I was pretty calm. Having done so many races (this was #27) I've finally learned that I don't need to get worked up to race well and I've stopped worrying about not being worried!! When the air horn sounds, we all know what to do.
A BIG win in the swim!
This this was perhaps my best open water swim. Granted, swim courses can vary in distance from year to year, but I was nearly two minutes faster than last year, and where I was 2-1/2 minutes slower than Edie in 2012, I was less than a minute off her time this year. I am going to call this progress! I felt like I swam strong, consistently, and even straight! It sure helped to have a flat, calm lake and good visibility. Right away I had the opportunity to draft off a slightly-faster than me swimmer and did so to the first turn buoy after which I went solo. I thought about getting the most out of each stroke, my arm entry, pulling toward my hip, and accelerating the pull. I kept my cadence up (Garmin said 39 strokes per minute) found myself passing plenty of swimmers from the previous waves.
To finish in the top 11% of women and top 10% of men on the swim feels really good. Instead of my usual imbalance of upper-mid pack swimming and strong bike/run, I was a bit more balanced at this race.
I think a number of things have come together to start to improve my swim. Four years of patient help and the watchful eye of Coach Jim has of course been the foundation. Then in January I added the Vasa Swim Ergometer to the mix with supplemental workouts through Vasa from Coach Eric Neilsen. For me the Erg has been a great tool that has enabled me to learn -- and to see for myself with the power meter -- how to generate swim-specific power. I'm working on "avoiding the single speed arm pull" that Coach Eric talked about in a recent blog post. I also think doing the 2.5 mile swim a week prior in choppy lake water gave the the confidence and right mind-set to be more aggressive on the swim here.
I had a pretty decent ride and run, but slower than last year. Frankly, my bike and run have not quite been where I would like them to be all race season. However, in this case, I was just happy to finish this race as well as I did because for the past two weeks I've been babying an overuse injury on my left quad. I'm not complaining or blaming -- it's just something to be managed, and comes with the territory. Recent runs had given me cause for concern, but I did my best to put them aside for the race.
I left T1 behind fellow master's athlete Ellen Sortore and she took off strong on the bike! I told myself not to rush to catch her and just to work patiently and do my thing. In the final miles, Ellen and I passed and repassed each other numerous times which only left me more determined to secure the lead, which I did by only six seconds! It was fun though, and I appreciated the push from Ellen!
The run here starts with a climb so I went conservatively up that first hill wanting to save my quad for later efforts. I passed a few walkers on the hill and kept my cadence up and drove with my arms. The mental pain of giving in and walking is far worse than the physical pain of keeping going. After that hill it seemed like a lot of going down-down-down and in your mind you just know that after the turnaround that means up-up-up!! One of my tricks is I keep my focus pretty close in so rather than thinking wow, I need to get to the top of that hill, I am just thinking of a few footfalls ahead. You don't notice elevation changes much if you are only looking ten feet ahead.
I saw Kate coming back the other way and started checking for other girls. I saw Edie then one or two others so I figured I was in pretty good position. I had started at least two waves back from the under 40 women. That final downhill is a fun one and it really sets you up to gun it into the finish! I was so relieved to have put in a good race, with no blowups, no major quad complaints, and no big mistakes. There is not a lot I would change about how this race went.
(Thanks Scott Moir and Michelle Kaiser for the photo!)
(thanks Bill and Tanya for the photo!)
Mike, Scott, and Mark (above) are three of the five "Crazy 8-s" who were at the race. This group is training for IM Lake Placid and Solar Connexion is one of the sponsors of their very sharp kits!
Edie and I got a few photos together. She will be graduating with her MS in Dietetics and will be leaving for Pittsburgh to start on her internship next year. She will be sorely missed but I'm very happy for this exciting new chapter of her life!
Tanya, Jim and Kate Fisher, and John King