Monday, June 6, 2011

Race Report: Salem YMCA Sprint Triathlon

Usually I do a pre-race blog reflection but did not this time because I knew I was doing something potentially risky and didn't want to put it in writing.

I rode the borrowed Q Roo Lucerno tri bike in the race after only riding it once. 

If you have made the switch from road bike to tri bike you know it takes some getting used to with the aerobar-end shifters, a lower front end, and different handling. After a single test ride late Friday, there was no turning back. Now that I have confessed, and there was a happy ending (3rd overall out of the females) here is the race report.

This was a new local race, a 45-50 minute drive from my house. My friend Jennifer and I rode up together, warmed up together, and kept each other occupied and calm.

Swim (300y)
This was my first pool swim and shortest ever tri swim. We were seeded based on estimated swim times and went off in 10s intervals.  Clearly a couple of people either didn't follow directions, grossly underestimated their times, or were completely delusional regarding their swim prowess. At any rate it created some havoc and turned some of the swim laps into something like that annoying windmill hole on the putt-putt golf course. The poor guy was flailing the width of the lane.

The group of us together in line agreed that "toe tap" meant "let me pass at the next wall".  I had to pass one flailing, miscalculating water obstacle and got tapped by the fellow behind me with about about 100y to go and I let him pass. (I passed him pretty quickly on the bike, sweet revenge!) This swim took more sighting than I expected! Recently I had been working on body rotation and a longer reach and glide in my stroke, but could tell I resorted to a slightly scrappier style. Brain capacity diminishes for me in races, so it's the whole "last-in-first-out" thing.

The swim was otherwise uneventful but I felt shaky and slow getting from the pool to the bike and was passed by a few people which is not normally the case.

Bike (15k)
This one gets me the award for my least graceful mount ever.  I did my usual version of a "flying mount" by propping my foot atop the left shoe to hoist myself over.....then I promptly ran over a traffic cone. Smooth. It took me a minute to get my feet in and balanced enough to fasten the velcro, meanwhile I was weaving like a drunk. I'm sure I lost some time there but luckily survived upright. Then it was all business and the bike felt FANtastic. I had a smile plastered to my face for the entire ride. I passed a half a dozen people but was passed by two or three others. It's a different race with the seeded swim start instead of a wave start.

Run (5k...5.4k actually)
This course has a lot of turns and a number of hills from long and gradual to short and steep. I just tried to run the tangents as best I could and keep the cadence steady.  I saw a few people walk up hills and was determined not to give into that.  Kimberly Patterson, new to triathlon who started the swim 20s behind me, was on my heels and passed me about 1/2 mile from the finish. I didn't have it in me to put 20s on her at that point.  She ran a great race coming in second overall and she earned it!!

My splits fell with a downhill first mile and hilly terrain for the remainder, but no major crash and burn: 7:03, 7:23, 7:36. Still, always could be better.  The tendinitis in my ankle never got above bothersome level and didn't seem to slow me down.

I just finished reading Chris McCormack's book I'm Here to Win and he talks about triathlon having four components - swim/bike/run plus the mental components.  (I'd probably add a fifth: nutrition/hydration.) I've done eight triathlons now so I'm not all that experienced, but I am finally starting to recognize and trust my unique patterns.  I am calm leading up to the start and that's OK.  I know that instinct will kick in at the start, and I'll roll up my sleeves and get to work. Today was no different.

Someone at today's race said, "I saw you on the course and wanted to say something but I had heard you get 'in the zone' and I just left you alone." Marshall Ulrich in Running on Empty refers to 'Road Trance" and yep, that's me. Road trance. All I can do in a race is continuously monitor my own exertion levels and make sure that I'm giving it all I can but at a level I can sustain without blowing up. One of the things I do appreciate about racing is that level of focus that blocks all else out.  There is never another time in my life that I'm not at least peripherally thinking of kid logistics, bills, work, groceries, etc. I feel confident I gave nearly everything I had that day to the race.
  • Swim: 300y - 5:34 (14/80 women)
  • T1: 0:59 (3rd)
  • Bike: 15k - 26:05 (4th)
  • T2: 0:43 (7th)
  • Run: 5.4k - 24:37 (4th)
  • Total: 57:56 (3rd, would have been 13/84 men) Full results here.
Again, one of the best parts of the triathlon experience is the people.  I enjoyed seeing a number of the members of the Roanoke Triathlon Club who I had first met online - Mark Taylor, Casey Mills, Jenny Kellinger, Dave Pait, and Sam Schneider. Plus I hung with my speedy local peeps - Jennifer McDonald (finished 10th), Anne Clelland (63rd), Denyse Sanderson (4th, top masters). Our big local club TriAdventure was well represented too.

No race report is complete without big thanks to Coach Jim McGehee of One-on-One Endurance for his coaching and counseling!!  I wish he and his family well on their upcoming two-month adventure to Queensland Australia!

Things to work on for next time: mounting and dismounting on the bike, not letting swim technique go to pot under pressure, and strength and endurance on hills for both the bike and the run. Just more miles, laps, and sweat....and all the more fun! The sport is growing, the talent pool among the master's athletes is expanding. It's no time to get complacent, time to raise the bar!

And by the way....I'm buying the bike :-)  
Thanks, Steve at Just the Right Gear for entrusting me with your bike
and for getting it race ready so quickly!