Monday, August 18, 2014

Jordanelle Tri - slow, slow, slow

I have never done this race and it was not on my schedule this year either since I just got back from USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals last weekend. However, I found out my good friend, Carmen, was going to do the Olympic distance for the first time so I just had to be up there. And if I was going to get up that early to travel 75 miles, I figured I would compete in the Sprint distance for a training day.

There is no parking at the race start/transition area. Everyone has to park about 3 miles away in Francis and the athletes ride their bikes while spectators can catch the bus. The morning was beautiful but at 5:30 am it was about 48 degrees so the ride was chilly. Note to self, remember to bring gloves next time!

As always, TriUtah has the greatest setup for transitions. Every spot numbered, USA Triathlon officials on site and really pretty settings for a race.

I got everything set up and then wandered around to see who else had arrived. I had a great surprise running into Teena, whom I haven't seen in a couple of years. I knew this was one of her favorite races but we've just kind of lost contact so it was a happy reunion!

The race started a few minutes late with the Olympic distance first and I was to be in the last wave. The water was great! I only got bumped a few times. I think the swim was a tad longer than half mile and I felt a little slow which was to be the theme of the day. I forgot to hit the lap button at the right moment in T1 so I can't compare apples to apples. According to the timers, my swim was slower but transition was faster than my last sprint.

The bike is longer than a normal Sprint - about 14.5 miles.
We climbed and climbed and then turned onto the river road which had loose rocks for quite a few miles. I felt like I was going 10 mph but I just kept going since there was no other option! The turnaround was one final climb to get back up into Francis and then the fun started. I ended up averaging just 16.4 mph but what helped that number was the back end of the race. I don't think I've ever gone faster than about 36 mph and on this one I pr'd by hitting 42.8 mph. And that was even feathering my brakes a little!

I'm working on getting my transition times down, so with a 2 minute T2, I headed out on the run. The bike thrashed my legs more than I expected so my run was so so. We ran on the road for a mile and then it became a cross country race which was kind of fun. My time was about the same pace-wise as it's been in my last few races.

It was fun having so many of my Salt Lake teammates at the finish line. I race for the team from Atlanta and I'm the only one that is here local. I imagine that having my Salt Lake Tri club and BAM fam around me is what it's like for the other teammates to race the local Georgia races!

The finish line food was great, especially the watermelon which was to die for since the weather had warmed up a lot from the early morning! I waited around for the Sprint awards ceremony to cheer on my mates and learned that I actually won my age group! And not by default either - there was one other person and it looks like we were neck and neck on everything but I got her on the swim and T1.

I think I always avoided this race because I knew it was hard but I've come to realize it's good to do hard races. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger!  Next up Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

No illusions - USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals

When I qualified for the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championship last year, I had no idea what to expect. It was a year in the future and there were many other races for me to overcome. As the time grew closer, I made the statement many times that I had no illusions that I would do anything but finish the race but deep down I hoped that I would finish at least in the top 50 percent of my age group. Hmmm. Little did I know how competitive this event really is!

The weekend started with me meeting Barbara Nelson at the airport and then we flew together the rest of the way to Milwaukee. We were going to be roomies for the weekend and it was nice to be able to spend some time with her and hear about her Ironman Boulder experience from a few days earlier. We saw very quickly that we were in the perfect part of town. Walking distance to everything!

We headed over to the expo and packet pickup. Our timing was perfect, we were there before the rush. We had a slight disappointment discovering the race jackets in our packet ran small and we couldn't exchange them until after the race. As luck would have it, we actually were able to do this on Saturday! Pretty happy about that! We saw the finish line set up -
Walked around a little more and found our teammates and bike transport guys. Jeff and Adrian were so great to drive our bikes from SLC and make sure they were in good working order. Plans were made for our pre-race workouts the next morning then Barb & I were off to find food. One of the cool things about Milwaukee is the waterway running through the city. We had to wait for drawbridges by our hotel several times. While a little annoying when you're in a hurry, it was cool to watch!

On Friday, our SLC group met up for a pre-race swim, bike and run.
 And after dropping our bikes into transition
we got ready for our group dinner that night! Barb and I stuck to our walking and found a cheese shop on the way - yummy!
Race morning started about 4:30 am with breakfast and final preparations. We walked the mile to transition and finished setting up.
The swim start times were spread out over a couple of hours but I luckily was in the fourth wave and the first of the group to start. The swim, bike and run were all one loop courses. In all my races, I've never been beat up as bad in the swim as I was with this group. These old ladies are tough! I got in the groove pretty quick though and pr'd my swim by 9 minutes. It was about a quarter mile transition to T1 so my time seemed a little long even though I thought I got out of there pretty quickly.
The bike was a little more hilly than I anticipated but I was still able to maintain an average just under 17 mph. It helped that I maxed out at 32 mph. Wasn't great but I'll take it! It was starting to get warm so I was a little worried about the run. I managed to finish the bike with high cadence and my legs were ready to roll out of T2. I stuck with my run/walk plan that works for me and finished the run just a tad off pace from normal. I grabbed water at every stop and dumped ice down my top to stay cool.

It was fun to see a couple of other team members out there. To the guy I hugged before the swim - sorry! I just was so excited to see ya! And to Thom who passed me on the run, thanks for saying something. You were looking strong!
This post is going on too long but I wanted to give a shout out to our youth that raced on Sunday in the sprint and our very own pro, Zara,
who took 3rd in the Super Sprint race on Saturday. Super exciting to watch up close how speedy and just allover great the athletes are.

Back to my no illusions thought from the beginning of this - I beat only 5 people in my age group of 110 so didn't even come close to the top 50%. Very competitive ladies! This was one of the most humbling, inspiring and awesome experiences of my short racing career!


Monday, August 4, 2014

East Canyon Triathlon 2014

This race was not on my schedule. Last year was the inaugural race and I did it and thought it was a great venue. I had an Olympic distance last weekend and one coming up next weekend so it took some cajoling and pleading with my coach but she said I could do it if it was a training race! I really like competing in the TriUtah races. They are very organized and professional and will most likely be on schedule year after year.
TriUtah leader, Dan

This is a two transition race, starting with the swim and T1 at East Canyon Reservoir and ending down the canyon in Morgan. I took my bike up to T1 Friday night and dropped it off to save some time in the morning. Saturday started with a 4 am alarm and I met a fellow tri club member at 5 am to make the drive to T2.
Since I am chronically early, we arrive at Riverside Park in the dark and are some of first to set up our stuff and get body marked. We got on the shuttle bus and had some resting before it loaded full enough to head up the canyon. Back up at T1, we finished setting up our area and then played the waiting game.
I was in the last wave start. I saw a bunch of people I knew and met some new friends.
After the race meeting, it was finally time to get started. The air and water temperatures were perfect. I got in the water just before my wave started and made sure the goggles were working. I felt good on my swim and saw that I was about five minutes faster from last year. We have to run up the boat ramp to T1. They had most of it covered with carpet and some people left shoes to put on but I went barefoot.

With a 3 minute transition, I was out of there. It's a mostly downhill ride but there is about a mile out of transition that climbs out of the park. The next few miles are full of hairpin turns and I was not able to stay in aero. There were some crashes. I was able to slow down enough to stay upright. Since I was in the last swim wave I had quite a few people to catch up to. I safely passed a few dozen and was in the home stretch before I knew it. The bike is a little longer than a normal sprint at 14.5 miles. I was almost 2.5 minutes faster than last year. And I managed to top the 20 mph average speed I've been reaching for!

With a minute slower transition than last year, I was on the run. The first part is on the grass out of Riverside Park and then on a trail by the river. There was a water stop at mile one and on the way back at mile two. I came on the sprint turnaround faster than I expected but then found the run to be only 2.7 miles according to my Garmin. I think I'm finally dialing in on my breathing and was able to maintain a sub-11 minute pace.

They throw a great spread of watermelon, cookies, etc. so I grabbed some and found a few friends to find out how they did. It took a little while for them to bring our T1 bags down which was perfect since I was waiting for Caroline to finish her first ever Olympic distance.
We waited for the awards ceremony and they started with the Olympic distance athletes. Caroline won her age group of 20-25! There were a few of the Salt Lake Tri Club and BAM athletes that were on the podium. I missed out on first place by 2.5 minutes but had a 9 minute faster total time than last year so was not too bummed!
I had planned on going on a hike later in the afternoon with my boys and dogs. What had been a happy day, quickly turned sad when my older dog, Belle, started having problems on the hike. We got her to the Animal ER but she did not make it. We are not sure what happened but it was probably a combination of overexertion and an underlying kidney or liver issue. I'm not sure how we will get through this loss but get through we must. She will be missed a whole bunch, especially by her Boomer pup. He's never been alone.

RIP Our Sweetheart Belle