Monday, July 16, 2012

Race Report: Third at Colonial Beach International Triathlon

This was my first time racing the Pohanka Honda YMCA Colonial Beach International Triathlon in the Virginia Triathlon Series. It is my 19th triathlon and my 5th at the Olympic/International distance. It's my 4th race of the year.

I had only a vague idea where Colonial Beach was; geography is not my strong suit. It’s along the Potomac just east of and midway between DC and Richmond. It turns out it is NOT very close to Fredericksburg, which was where I had my hotel reservation. (on my iPhone screen they "looked" close.)

As I drove up on Saturday and passed through Fredericksburg, I realized it would be about a 50 minute drive from the hotel to the race site. I began to work backwards to figure out how early I would have to get up to drive for the 6:50 am race start. Ugh!! But I was about to get a lucky break. The hotel that is literally adjacent to transition was in “receivership” but had reopened. I stopped in to discover a vacancy. I even had a nice water view, it was affordable, and the coffee was ready at 5 am. The photo below shows transition and the hotel. How sweet is that?

The weekend started well and finished even better with a third-place overall finish among the women and my best Olympic distance race to date. It was my fastest 10K run by 1:51, beating my 45:30 time from Nationals last year. It was my best bike too, averaging 22.7 mph according to Garmin (course seemed a little shy of the 40k).
  • Swim (1500m) – 34:10 (24/86 women; would have been 54/150 men) 
  • T1 – 1:14 (2/86 women; 11/150men) 
  • Bike (40k) – 1:00:55 (2/86; 16/150 men) - 22.7 mph 
  • T2 – 1:15 (10/86 women; 41/150 men) 
  • Run (10k) – 43:39 (4/86 women; 26/150 men) – 7:01 pace 
  • Total – 2:21:10 (3/86; 27/150 men) 
The woman who won, Molly Roohi, also won the sprint distance race the day before...and she beat all the men! Go Molly! Molly was almost 7 minutes faster than me, and my compatriot Edie Nault, who came in second, was  5-1/2 minutes faster than me. Fourth place was 5 minutes after me so there was quite a spread among the top women. Here are the women's results.
The night before, I had my typical pre-race dinner, waterfront, where shoes were NOT required. I enjoyed steak with roasted sweet and red potatoes and a bit of Stubb's spicy BBQ sauce.

Afterward I strolled along the riverfront and took in a nice cover the fence containing the paying patrons.

Race morning
I slept really well and was up before my 4:30 alarm, caffeinated, oatmeal-ed, and at transition at 5:15 am. I was not THE first one there. But close.

i'm such a nerd

sunrise over the Potomac. I love this picture.

This was my first 1500m open water swim since Nationals last year. I think I am starting to get used to the distance as it didn't look daunting (i.e. terrifying, impossibly long, or vomit-inspiring) like it has in the past. The tide had the current flowing down river so after watching the first three waves of swimmers end up too far right as they got pushed along, I knew to adjust for it. The first long side of the swim rectangle was with the current and fast. Coming back though we paid for that with a slog upriver to the final turn buoy.

I like swimming. I just wish there were not so many people around (or on, under, over, next to) me when I am trying to do it.

I felt strong, confident, fairly straight, and I did my thing in the brackish water. It's too bad my "thing" seems to be slower than nearly 1/3 of the other women. I'm working on it...patience.

This was an out-and-back course, mainly flatish but with some rollers mid-way. The road surface was about the nicest I've seen at a race and I was able to just FLY. Thinking back, I didn't see anyone sidelined with a flat either! (No Tour de France thumbtack nonsense either.)

One little bummer is there was NO cone at the turnaround, and no one ahead to watch to see where they made the turn, just a sign. I was worried about turning too soon then I overshot it by about 15'. I kindly made the cone suggestion as I rode by. 

It was so humid my glasses were covered in a hazy film from the salt air. A few times we were so spread out that I couldn't see anyone ahead and I had a few moments of brief panic wondering if in my la-la-land race focus state I'd gone off course. Fortunately, I hadn't.

I had Perpetuem in my aero bottle and took one gel midway on the ride. That seemed about right.

I got my heart rate up about 5 bpm higher than the last triathlon and was rewarded with my fastest average pace on the bike for any race at about 22.7 mph. HOO-ray! I love the bike leg. It went by so quickly and like always I was a little sad when it was over.

The out-and-back run course was really cute. Yes cute! It was on a small water-front road that encircled the peninsula between the river and a small bay. There were charming beach cottages all along and residents set up sprinklers and fans and yelled encouragement. 

I opted for socks. I had them in transition for a "game-time" decision and noted some hot spots on the feet during the bike. It wasn't worth taking a chance in such muggy conditions so on they went. I grabbed a gel and never ended up using it on the run. In hindsight, I think I should have.

I was excited to test out my running. I've had a few recent PRs in training and hoped they would carry over to the race. I saw three women ahead of me at the turnaround including Molly and Edie. My swim wave was 6 minutes back from theirs (less than a mile of running time) and I knew they were probably two miles ahead. The number three girl I figured I had a chance to get but I knew I was about at my max pace. My goal was to maintain.

My heart rate was in the mid-160's to low 170's (redline!) but mentally I felt positive. The last mile got hard, but I thought about how it didn't even compare to the pain of the final miles of a marathon. So I pushed on. Suck it up, Buttercup. I was rewarded with the 10k run PR shaving 1:51 off my previous best.

One great thing about having a fast friend who finishes 5+ minutes ahead of you, is it means she can come back around and be there to YELL you to the finish. Yes, Edie YELLED me to the finish. And I'll tell you what, my legs listened! LOL! 

Post Race
A perk to staying in the hotel by transition is that I knew I'd have time to take a shower and pack up before awards. WRONG! The "word" was that awards would be at 11:00. Well, as I moseyed down at 10:45, Edie sent me a text. I had missed the awards. DOH! Lesson learned, lesson learned. I felt really bad. Not because I have some need for accolades but because it just seems quite rude to skip without a reason. Awards are an opportunity to show appreciation for the organizers, volunteers, and community. A shower, which was actually a shower plus Facebook and chit-chat with random people and texting and yes...eating a chocolate pop-tart grabbed from the hotel breakfast bar,  isn't really a very good reason. I felt extra bad because I won $75 and a yoga mat too!! 

I really am sorry :-(
That won't happen again.

This is my only Olympic-distance race before Nationals and I'm pretty happy with how it went. There's not a lot I would change, other than not missing the awards ceremony and maybe swimming faster. I have five weeks left to train with one little sprint tri in the mix there. My season is about half over. How did that happen? The kids will be back in school in a month. I'm not ready! I still have to sort through their school stuff from last year!

Huge thanks go to the family and to Robert for holding down the fort and delivering one child to camp so I could race. Thanks go also to Coach Jim, Kurt Weidner, my Endurance Films sponsors and teammates, Solar Connexion, Hyperion Consulting, Just the Right Gear, my "equipment coach", and my individual sponsors. It really does help to race with the support of so many wonderful and encouraging folks!

I'm grateful to the communities such as Colonial Beach that invite us in and disrupt their lives so we can swim, bike and run in beautiful venues! Thanks Virginia Triathlon Series and Setup for putting on top-quality events.

Rest day is nearly over, it's back at it tomorrow! Wishing you all a great week of training, racing, and adventure....