Sunday, June 21, 2015

Race Report: Bath County Sprint Triathlon and Downtown Sundown 5K

I had a double race day on Saturday - the Bath County Sprint Triathlon at 8 am, and the local Downtown Sundown 5K at 8:30 pm.

Bath County Sprint Tri

The Bath County Triathlon is one of my favorite races. Lake Moomaw is a spectacularly beautiful lake tucked quietly away in the mountains, lots of friends show up, and the bike and run courses are simple out-and-backs closed to traffic. The weather forecast was iffy and I was expecting rain, but we ended up having a sunny, dry, and not-too-hot day!

I had a good race, finishing in third. There was a pretty large spread among the top female finishers, and the winner Kate Buss (daughter of my swim partner) just crushed it in 1:06:13...she was third OVERALL among the men!!

I really wanted to title this post "The Pigs Have Flown" because something happened at this race that I never EVER ever thought would happen (hence the "when pigs fly" expression comes to mind)  In terms of rank, I swam better/more competitively than I ran. Eek!

I was happy to have put in a decent swim and strong bike, but it was a bit of a wake-up call on the run. I've been going into races this year with this mindset:
  • Swim: dial in stroke technique, swim strong, maintain a sharp mental focus...GO!
  • Bike: push those watts, keep the effort up, focus...GO!
  • Run: hang on, run with whatever is left over...kind of try, sort of!
And that's pretty much how it played out. Interesting how that mindset calls the shots.

Swim - This was a barely wetsuit legal swim so most of us opted to wear them. I took off from the start hoping to draft some off of Kate Buss. I'm proud to say I stayed with her for a full two or three strokes (haha) and then she was GONE!  By the first turn buoy I was already feeling the heat of the wetsuit. I knew I'd only get hotter but that I had to put it out of my mind because there was nothing I could do about it. With my stroke better established now, I have more brain power to notice what is going on around me, to draft a bit, chase after swimmers ahead, and keep an eye on my line to the buoy. I'm actually starting to have fun with the swim! I attribute that to consistent work and so many sessions and sets with Janet and Coach Tom where we regularly have to maintain a race-like intensity and stroke. 

 where is my zipper pull?

  OK this is not funny, where is my zipper pull?

 for CRYING OUT LOUD where is my zipper pull? Oh, there it is.

Bike - I managed to forget (despite Coach Jim telling me in the pre-race notes) that this course is uphill out and downhill back. I got a little discouraged seeing my time at the turnaround, but oh my GOSH did I have fun on the return trip!!! I had an absolute blast...and happy racing always makes for faster racing. I turned in the second fastest bike split (still two minutes behind Wonder Woman Kate...she has some mad skills and talent). This is the second race in a row where I did a good job of waiting until pretty close to the dismount line to come out of my shoes. I used to think I needed half a mile for that. 

Clearly up out, down back...can you say "terrain-induced negative split"

Run - As I started the run, I heard someone tell me there were two girls ahead of me, which, according to my impressive deductive skills of 2+1=3, could mean an overall podium for me. I wondered who was behind me. I took the first big hill very conservatively at the slowest pace that could be technically considered a "run." I saw fast Kate and fast Kyra wayyyy ahead of me. Then past the turnaround I saw Kate Fisher coming the other way but with enough of a gap that if I stayed steady I'd be OK. It's harder to push yourself when you really can't catch up or be caught. I ran a 23:10 5K. At a 7:27 pace, that was not much faster than my 7:38 half-marathon pace in the fall.

But I was happy with my 1:13:02 finish. It was an improvement over my 1:16:16 finish in 2013, but not quite that epic finish of 1:11:47 I had in 2012.

the anti-fast-and-flat course

I think I see the finish line there! Yes, YES I do! 

Thank you Coach Jim!!

Roanoke Tri Club boys...I think I crashed the photo!

Cool award on a beautifully finished wedge of wood.

Downtown Sundown 5K

I finished very happy with my overall race but I couldn't help but be a little annoyed with myself about that run (slowest 5K time ever for me). Fortunately I had another opportunity to test my 5K legs. Later that day, our town hosted the Downtown Sundown 5K that started at 8:30 pm in celebration of the Summer Solstice. I wasn't pre-registered and only told Coach Jim that morning (surprise!) that I was considering doing it. He said if I did it as a slow 25-minute 5K that would be OK. He and his family would be there as his son was running it too.

I told myself if the forecasted heavy rains held off I'd run it. I felt extremely confident that it would rain a LOT. Plan B was a Netflix binge-watching session of Season 3 of Orange is the New Black.  It didn't rain. Sigh. No couch potato time for me.

there's me haha

So I towed the line with 215 members of the local running community, each of us with some kind of light or glowlight for the dusk run. Yeah, I was looking for a little redemption. My legs were a bit tight so I just figured to run hard, but well within myself. I was not willing to risk injury.

I had a MUCH better run and felt so much better than on the morning tri run. My stride was more relaxed and I got some great flow going. I was happy and felt strong!

I saw Coach Jim and his family (minus their running son who was on the course) around mile 2.25 and heard him yell something along the lines of "So much for the easy jog!" I gave him a smile and a thumbs up that I hoped would convey that I was pushing but it was plenty manageable.

I was in a good position, keeping friend Marcia (3rd overall!) in my sights, and I was ahead of friends Kristen and Eric. With maybe 200m left to go, Kristen and Eric gunned past me, and I made a split-second decision to maintain my gear, and I don't think I could have matched them. Plus I was not willing to risk a big sprint effort, risk injury, for a run that Coach Jim said I should "jog" (lol). I finished in 21:14 (6th female), enough for the top female master's spot! I was VERY happy with that time!

photo courtesy of Runabout Sports;
THAT'S the way to run, totally different look than the morning!

Yeah running off the bike is not the same as just running, but I think this says a lot about mindset and running relaxed. It was a good experiment on the day.

So four races in three weeks. I was going to ask Coach Jim and suggest a two-day break, then I looked at my schedule and saw that he was way ahead of me - that was already his plan! Yay! I think it will be good for me. But I am already excited for the races to come...Colonial Beach, Nationals, and Worlds!!!!

Last but no least, Happy Father's day to my awesome dad, Ted. Thank you for always having an active role in my hobbies, be that horses or triathlon! Thanks for giving me a love of speed, showing me the importance of a work ethic, and for calling me "Cort the Sport." It took a while, but that prophesy finally came true and I'm loving it, and loving you!