You must do the things you think you cannot do.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, September 26, 2011

YMCA Women's Sprint Tri Race Report

Unless you've been hiding under a rock lately, you know that I completed my first sprint triathlon on Sunday with an unexpectedly epic time of 1:21:36.

My very long race report...

Packet Pickup- The venue this year was Middletown High School which is nestled in Middletown Valley (which means it's surrounded by hills). This is a change from the previous 2 years when it was held in downtown Frederick (which is mostly f.l.a.t.). Frederick city is trying to make everyone fat and unhappy by giving race directors grief 9 ways to Sunday when applying for race permits.

My friends and I arrived, picked up our stuff and chatted up the RD, who in addition to being one heck of an athlete is also riotously funny.

We overheard a woman ask one of the volunteers if we'd have access to the locker room and showers - because she intends to shower, dry off and change clothes after the swim - because she refuses to ride her bike when she's all wet. I thought that was an interesting approach since the humidity would be hovering around 90-95% the next day and we'd all be drenched in either water or sweat, but I'm a newbie so what do I know??

Luna had a little tent there and were giving away free samples and selling shirts and water bottles. Their team is called "The Luna Chix." How fun is that! They were very, very nice and answered all our nervous newbie questions.

I was disappointed that the swag did not include a shirt because I feel awkward trying to work "by the way, I just completed my first triathlon" into every conversation. I would prefer to let the shirt speak for me.  Our premium is a frame engraved with the race name and date. The photographer will send (or email; I forget) our finish line photo for it. Pretty cool, but I can't exactly carry that around with me. Or can I....

Home, eat and head to bed. Only my pesky kids won't let me sleep.  And daddy was off duty since he was going to be on duty all day Sunday. Ok fine. Showers and stories.

Finish that, recheck my 3 alarm clocks (phone, clock, watch) and attempt to fall asleep around 9:00. As you can guess, I didn't sleep a wink.

Pre-race morning- I got up at 3 so I could eat and digest well before the 7am start. 1 1/2 pieces of toast with almond butter and 1/2 a cup of tea. Fiddled with my stuff. Rechecked my bag. My friend E was going to french braid my hair for me since I can never get it tight enough when I do it. I figured I'd give a whirl to kill some time. Well shoot, if I didn't do it right. Cool beans.

E and I were some of the first athletes there so we got our pick of racks. We decided to go with the end closest to the pool and farthest from the bike entry so we'd have those extra steps for our legs to feel normal before the run. Not that we had a clue because neither of us had ever done this before, but it seemed logical so we went with it.

As you can see from this terrible phone picture, it was pretty dark out when we got there

Then we walked around looking at other people's set up and I drooled over some gorgeous bikes.

Swim - They had us file into the pool area in [mostly] numerical order. I got to start in the first heat so I didn't have to stand around for a long time fretting. E was in the 4th heat so she had to wait for a while.  They had us two to a lane which made me nervous. I didn't want to bump or otherwise annoy another swimmer, but I'm a crappy swimmer and weave all over the place.  We bumped hands just a couple of times while one or both of us was doing the breast stroke, but it was otherwise uneventful.

My plan for the swim was to start slow and not drown. I hoped to alternate freestyle and breast stroke evenly, but  I ended up doing the breast stroke more than I wanted. My left google kept leaking which was very distracting, but I glanced at my watch on my way out of the water. 7:47. Over 2 minutes faster than I expected. And I wasn't the last one out either. Nice surprise.

Boogy out to transition. Sort of towel off my feet. Shoes, helmet, Garmin, gloves and glasses. I didn't worry about wet feet because the air was extremely humid.

Entertaining themselves waiting for mommy

Bike - The course was advertised as 'rolling hills' which around here means 'hilly enough to hurt you'. One thing I didn't like is that all the turns (right turn loop) were at the bottom of a hill. And the roads weren't closed to traffic so I had to slow down to turn and lost a lot of momentum. But that's my lack of experience and not the RD's fault.

I knew at least 4 other people were ahead of me coming out of the pool. I passed 1 person as I mounted my bike and then 2 more on the course. I ended up riding alone for the entire ride which was hard; I really struggled with a lot of negative chatter in my head. Going up the hills, slowly, by myself. My legs hurt. My heart was pounding and I started thinking

'How am I going to run after this? I can barely get up this hill. My legs are dead. I can't settle down and get my heart rate under control,' and so on.

Thankfully about half way up the worst hill I snapped out of it and remembered my run mantra - 'strength. you are strong' Ok, I'm not gonna die.

And then I started saying outloud, "I can do this" over and over. So it's probably a good thing I was by myself!  I hoped to finish in 40-45 minutes, and according to my Garmin, I finished in 42:34. Not bad on my heavy hybrid bike with all the hills.

I saw Bill, the kids and my friend L as I was pulling into transition. It was really nice to see friendly faces at that point. I got off my bike without falling over and somehow ran into transition.

Run - Rip off gloves and helmet. Grab race belt and take off. Originally we were going to run on the grass for quite a bit of the course. They changed the course that morning because the dew was so heavy and the grass was ankle high and soaking wet. We did have to run on the grass for about 50 yards, and I ran for a bit, but slogging through tall, wet grass was more work than I was ready for so I walked.

 I alternated walking and running for the whole first loop. I was able to run most of the second loop but I was seriously fading as you can tell by my terrible form below. Hunched over, elbows out. Good grief, did I not learn anything  from all the running clinics I attended this summer??

I ate half a Gu on the bike; I just couldn't make myself swallow anymore than that and drank just a little as well. My stomach actually held up and I didn't have any cramping....or crapping. Always a bonus, right?

 I forgot I had my glasses on and sweat kept dripping on them making it hard to see. Thankfully my friend L was on the course so I handed them off to her. I was so glad to have people out cheering for me because my legs were done. Doing more than 1 [sort of] brick to train for this would have been really helpful!

 I forgot they were taking our picture for our frames so I hope I didn't have snot dripping or a weird look on my face, but who knows... I was just so happy to be finished!

I was still soaking wet when I finished so I was cold. I ran to my car to get my gorgeous YMX tee and arm warmers and Bill took this picture - which is now one of my favorites.

Shane really, really wanted my Pringles. Stinker

Bill and the kids headed home while L and I stayed on to cheer for my friend E - who had no time to train at all (no swim, 2 bike rides and 1 run in the last month) and still finished in 1:50. Some people are just naturally bad a$$!

So my official time was 1:21:36 which put me at 12/26 in my age group and 25th overall...I stink at math but I think that means that almost half of the top 24 finishers were in my age group. There are some hard core, hard workin' mamas in the 40-44 AG! Go girls!

Everyone who told me tris are addictive are RIGHT. If my piggy bank allowed it, I would be in line for a road bike and a funny-looking tri suit today. It was hard. Really hard. But it was also FUN.

And everyone, from participants to volunteers to bystanders, was so encouraging. They cheered as much for the last woman as they did for the first. It was a very positive experience and I'm so glad I did it!

And yes, I'm looking at least one more tri next year. I'd like to do an open water swim, and maybe an Oly. Fun, fun!

1 comment:

misszippy said...

Great job Tracy! Tris are so much fun and I'm so glad you gave it a go. Sounds like you aced it. Now about the next one--come here! We have four right in my "backyard." go to


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