Sunday, May 31, 2015

Race Report: Win at Off the Rails Sprint Triathlon

Quickie race report from the Off the Rails Sprint Tri in Roanoke this past Saturday. This is a 300m pool swim, 15km bike, 5k run that is my closest local race with many of my local tri friends. Bryan from Solar Connexion and I volunteered for it last year when I was still recovering; this year he volunteered (thank you) and I was able to race!

I am realizing that the fantasy of the ideal "race-prep" is now a thing of the past for me. A few years ago I could get all "zen" about racing and control my world to a certain degree leading into races. Now it's about accepting the chaos around me and just rolling with it! 

Here are some of the things that "helped" me prepare for this race:
  • Managed to (without trying) destroy my legs at the gym Tuesday and they were still sore Saturday but better
  • Wednesday night of insomnia because of job stress for the hubs
  • Extra busy week with kids with last week of school and a last-minute rushed process for kid to skip 8th grade.
  • No time to shop/cook resulting in a lot of all of us eating "whatever"
  • Night-of-race smoke detector malfunction so all 11 of them in the house went off at once in an eardrum-piercing fashion, randomly, all night long (and kids had a friend sleeping over)
  • Just-in-time race arrival, 15 minutes before transition closed (lazy/late departure and pee-stop on the way)

On the plus side I generally show up to races pretty relaxed now because race days are a welcome break from the regular days, lol!

Swim. Pool swims crack me up. You are supposed to report your swim time when you register and then we are "seeded" from fastest to slowest swimmer, leaving at 15 second intervals. There was all kinds of confusion whether we should have reported a 100y time or 100m, and whether that was our best at that distance, or just the pace we could hold for that for 300m. Anyway, I have yet to see that seeding process work as intended. I passed three people in my three laps - one of which was swimming a very very slow backstroke. It was kind of crazy fun though, and I felt like I had a decent swim in 5:46. I kept envisioning my swim coach on deck pumping his fist and reminding me of all the things I needed to attend to!!

Thanks Kristen Chang for these next four photos!! 

Bike. The bike leg of my last race was not the effort it should have been and my coach rightly called me out on it. My goal here was to really "push the watts" and that was my mantra on this short 15k ride. Unfortunately the course is not closed to traffic and when I got to the one busy intersection at the base of a bridge, there was a giant truck of some sort that would not get out of the way even as the traffic cop yelled for him to MOVE! I stopped quickly and my chain dropped off the front despite my K-guard. It got sort of stuck behind the guard and it took me 59 seconds to get it back on (source: Garmin/TrainingPeaks). My hands were covered in grease and my bar tape is white. Not good.

I kept my cool and hopped back on and re-passed the people I had already passed. I really enjoyed the bike course along (and across) the N&S rail lines. Bike time: 26:52.9, avg moving pace 21.4 mph. Still room for improvement.

Heading into T2; pics from Kristen Chang

Run. Running is hard, no matter the distance. I cruised pretty well for the first half of the 5K, stopped at Bryan's water stop and threw two cups of water on me and drank part of one, then continued on with the awesome Mark Long behind me. I could hear him back there and felt good knowing I was holding him off as long as I did. He was sharing words of encouragement with runners headed out, and I heard people saying things to me, but in my "zone" I simply cannot speak. About a quarter mile from the finish, where a tiny hill ate me up and spit me out, Mark Long passed me decisively, afterburners engaged. Run time: 21:55.6.  I don't know if this is the start of the age-related speed decline, and I'm not super thrilled with my run times, but it is what it is.

photo from Kristen Chang

photo from Malin Fjällström-Hosack

I passed through the finish arch, then kept going a short distance to make a dive for a shady grassy patch where I sprawled. My final time was 56:01.2. (Full results here)

As athletes finished, we found our way back to the pool where we debriefed and enjoyed a bit of refreshing "pool party" time. I think that might have been the best part of the race!

This race was designated the USAT Virginia State Championship so as the winner I am technically the "Virginia State Champion." I really think that should come with a crown. Just saying.

Congratulations to all who raced especially Lynn Bradshaw (below right with me :-) and Liz Futrell who were 2nd and 3rd, making the overall women's podium a master's sweep! 

photo from Lynn Bradshaw

Thank you to Michael Clark who is shown in the awards photo at the top. This race and several others were his creation. He is off to NC for a new job opportunity but we are so grateful to him for leaving what we hope is a lasting legacy of these new local races. I met a few newly-minted triathletes at this race, reminding me how vitally important local sprint tris are for attracting new folks to the sport!