Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Race Report: Colonial Beach Sprint and International Triathlons

The short version:

I raced the Colonial Beach Sprint Tri Saturday and finished in 1:17:28, third overall (out of 143 women), and 2+ minutes faster than last year (results here).

The next day I raced the Colonial Beach International Tri and finished in 2:29:16, 12th female (out of 135), 1st Master's Female, and 4+ minutes faster than last year (results here).

Compared to last year, I ran a little faster, biked about the same, and swam quite a bit faster. With just 7 weeks of training, I did not expect those results. I am VERY VERY pleased. (and my leg felt great...no problems now or expected in the future)

Me, happy.

The longer version:

In my usual race reports I tend to rehash splits, paces, seconds gained and lost, blah blah blah blah. If anyone cares, rest assured, it's all neatly recorded in my Google spreadsheet of results. But I felt different going into these races, and I feel different even now in how I think about them. The quantitative seems to matter less than the qualitative.

I was pretty relaxed heading into these. My only real concern was that with so little training time behind me I would pick a 10k run pace that I would not be able to hold. I wasn't worried about other things I couldn't control. I didn't feel a need to get real keyed up about it all.
  • I skipped most of the gadgets like an aero helmet or speed suit. (race wheels stayed)
  • I got to transition 45 minutes before race start instead of my usual 75-90 minutes
  • I didn't care where my transition rack was or if I got "the best rack space."  I was close to the outside fence both days and that was fine.
  • I wore socks to run even if it meant a slower T2. I wanted to be comfortable.
It was nice that my hotel room was 100 feet from transition and I could see it and the swim start out my window.

When I set my alarms Friday night (yes, one was for PM, oops) I thought carefully about the words I wanted to read when I awoke. Above all, when things felt hard, I wanted to fall back on gratitude for the chance to be racing again. That was never a "given" and never is a "given" for any of us.

Sprint Race

Saturday was the sprint race. Highlights included standing with an uncharacteristic calm at the swim start; swimming the way I have been practicing with Coach Tom's swim group; hearing "fifth out" (of my wave) at the exit; and smiling as I realized I was a lot closer to the front of the pack than the middle. Other notables: logging the second fastest female bike split and running a 5k with nearly exact even splits of 7:04-5 per mile despite not looking at my watch after the first mile. Perhaps I am starting to get a sense of pacing.

I shared the overall podium with 47-year-old Teresa Koebel (awesome swimmer who was a whopping 2-1/2 minutes ahead of me) and 17-year-old Lacie Robinson. Pretty cool how we spanned the ages.

Race recovery meant an early lunch at Denson's Grocery and Oyster Bar, a nice nap, then dinner at the Lighthouse. I was amazed that the owners and wait staff at both places remembered us from last year. What a welcoming town with some awesome food!

Olympic Race

Sunday morning I was ready to roll - no soreness, no real tiredness, and some quality bed head.

The water in the Potomac was quite a bit choppier on this day, but I enjoyed the added challenge, and I had another strong swim that was 4+ minutes faster than the prior year.

I even raced folks out there including that girl behind me who I passed after the final turn buoy.

The bike leg was about a minute slower than last year which I am OK with. I am not at prime fitness. Frankly, I am just happy to have finished in one piece considering I nearly got T-boned during the race. About 16 miles in, a car traveling in the opposite direction made a left turn into a very small side street as I was passing through it. Fortunately, in my panic I accelerated, and the car just missed me, just barely. I never thought to keep an eye on the cars in the opposite lane, but I sure will do so now. There's just no way to put a flagger at every single side road so it is up to the athletes to be vigilant.

The run was tough but thankfully we had overcast skies and slight cooling breezes on the scenic river-front course. Thank you race organizers and volunteers for the cold soaked towels handed out along the run course, they were very much appreciated!

The short training window meant I only had three runs of 10k or more. The plan was to hold back for the first half and then turn it on and race the second half. I started off at 7:35 for the first 5k but by the turnaround it was clear I had no other gears and would be lucky just to hang on. But hang on, I did! That seems to be a recurring theme with me this season. Whatever gear I start in, I seem to stay in. (Hi to Victoria who I met on the run course! Meet her at obligatorytriblog.blogspot.com)

start of the 10k

Post-race is always fun and I enjoyed hanging with the Roanoke Tri Club folks and other athletes from the New River Valley and elsewhere.

Lynn, Nancy, and Cheryl representing the women of the Roanoke Tri Club!
Nancy had done two open water races the previous day!!

To the victor goes the spoils, or at least the comfy place to sit.


What this weekend taught me is that it's OK to be relaxed heading into a race, remain that way up until the airhorn sounds, and even for a a second after that. Yes, some adrenaline is just part of the process, but one can choose to manage the mental side of that and not let it manage you!

I enjoyed these races more and probably performed better by not overthinking. This is how I want to be moving forward.

Each training-interrupting injury I have had has been like a careful "pruning." I come back changed, a little more rooted, and I hope a little healthier in my thinking.

BIG thanks go to Coach Jim for seeing me through this latest rough patch and carefully and methodically getting me back on track to swim, bike, and run my best. He sets me up for success. He sees the forest when I only see the trees. I cannot say enough about the value of working with a knowledgeable and experienced coach over the long haul!! He continues to keep the training interesting, challenging, and fun.

Thank you to Coach Tom and our Tues/Thurs swim group! Having a coach on deck to give form checks, to push us, and to prove to us what really IS faster is so key. I was able to go into these races confidently with a more efficient stroke dialed in and it paid off in much better swims! I am SO SO excited by this improvement!!!

Thank you "Equipment Coach" Bryan who was influential in my decision to focus less on "equipment" and more on a relaxed mindset. But I still draw the line at riding a beach cruiser and running in combat boots.

Thank you Dr. Jesse Davidson, for fixing my left external iliac artery and allowing me to run and race again without pain or fear. I cannot believe how good I feel, just 3-1/2 months post-surgery!

Robert, Spencer, and Grant, I appreciate your support and recognize the sacrifices you make and inconveniences you deal with because of my sport. Love you!

Sorry for so much me-me-me. By the time I finish writing one of these I am tired of myself. This chapter is closed. It's back to work, family, and training.


Next up: Draper Mile (for fun) and then USAT Nationals. Three weeks to squeeze in a little more training.