Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Me vs The Flea: Round 3 (Pewaukee Triathlon Race Recap)

Shortly after crossing the finish line in Pewaukee in 2014, I swore that I would never do the Pewaukee triathlon again.  I had nothing against the course or the organizers, but I have a lot of issues with Pewaukee Lake!  It's dark, dirty, weedy, and (if the wind is kicking up) really choppy.

I really need to learn to stop saying 'never'. 

After first taste of the tri-life, Mr. R&R was itching to do another triathlon ASAP and Pewaukee fit the bill perfectly: it was a sprint distance race, 2 weeks after the race in Verona, and very close to home.  I debated the merits of racing as well, or just attending as a spectator/personal paparazzi for Mr. R&R.  Eventually I decided that since I'd be rolling out of bed at an unholy hour of the morning either way, I might as well race.  

The alarm went off at 3:30am and we were on the road by 4:30am.  Pewaukee is only about 20 minutes away, but transition and body marking were only open from 5am - 6am and we wanted to maximize the time available for all the necessary pre-race chores.  We were lucky enough to snag a parking spot 3 blocks from transition, so we pumped our bike tires, grabbed our gear and trekked over to transition.

Of the 3 triathlons I've done at Pewaukee, my assigned transition space was the best of them - right by bike/run out!  Bikes were racked, transition area was set up, and body-marking was super quick.  I wiggled into my wetsuit and we walked down to the beach for the 15 minute swim warm up time. 

The water was flat calm, which made me happy, but I wasn't too sure I actually wanted to get in the water since it was really chilly out and there was almost an hour between the time that the swim warm up closed and the time my wave started!  Eventually I talked myself into getting in the water so my wetsuit could flood in advance and I could get a look at the water clarity.  Surprisingly, the water was really warm and unsurprisingly, still the color of Guinness.

We stood on the beach and watched the international distance racers start and then it was time for the sprinters. Unlike Verona's mass wave start, Pewaukee employs a time trial start system where one athlete is released into the water every 3 seconds.  Both Mr. R&R and I were in the first sprint wave, but since he was raring to go, he started toward the front of our wave, while I hung back quite a bit to try to minimize the number of aggressive swimmers that could be behind me.

The Swim:
Finally it was my turn to go.  A race official counted down: 3...2...1... and I took off running into the water.  As soon as the water was thigh-high, I dropped down and started swimming.  I had promised myself before the race that I would take the swim one buoy at a time and try not to let all my negative feelings about the lake get in the way.    It worked!  Before I knew it, I was at the first sight buoy, surrounded only by bright pink and dark blue swim caps - meaning that none of the Wave 2 swimmers had caught up to me yet!  I put my head down and made it my business to get to the first turn buoy without incident.  Again, it worked!  I popped my head up and swam tight around the buoy (not taking chances on getting kicked in the head again).  The back stretch has always been the hardest for me at Pewaukee.  I did a little bit of sidestroke, but managed to hold it together and make it to the second turn buoy without any major panic attacks.  I got a little wide of the buoys on the way back in, but I was calm and in control.  Before I knew it, my hands touched the bottom once...twice...three times.  Time to stand up!  I threw my goggles on top of my head, removed my Garmin (and carried it in my mouth), stripped off the top half of my wetsuit, and waved to my mom as I ran up the beach toward transition.

Swim Time: 12:12 (Course PR by 31 seconds!)

The long run to T1 gave me plenty of time to put my watch back on, remove my goggles and swim cap, and run through the mental checklist of things to do when I got to my bike.

I got to my bike, finished stripping my wetsuit (and inevitably got caught up on my timing chip for a few seconds).  On went my glasses, helmet, race belt, and bike shoes. I grabbed my bike and booked it to the mount line.  

T1 Time: 2:47  (Best triathlon T1 time ever!)

Almost immediately I was on some rather bumpy roads and climbing hills - although my definition of what constitutes a hill has been drastically altered after Verona!  Less than 2 miles out of transition I started hearing a horrible rubbing sound.  I looked down and realized that the bumpy ride had caused my aero bottle bracket to shift and my water bottle was now rubbing against my front wheel.  I let off a string of curse words as I pulled over to try to fix it.  I managed to force the bracket back into place, but spent most of the bike periodically jamming my fingers under it to keep it from moving again.

It took a solid 9 miles before I found my groove on the bike - which has changed a bit since my first two attempts at this race.  The bike course is now 16.4 miles instead of 14.  My top speed (flying down a monster hill) was 33.4mph!

Before I found my groove
I was pretty happy to take the last turn back into transition due to the aforementioned water bottle issue and my bike saddle was starting to get pretty damned uncomfortable.

Bike Time: 1:00:32 (16.2 mph)

My legs felt surprisingly good off the bike and I actually ran my bike back to the rack instead of walking it.  I racked my bike, waved to my mom again, off came the the helmet and bike shoes, on went the socks (after a brief hiccup trying to get the left one on) and running shoes and I was outta there.

T2 Time: 1:53 (Best triathlon T2 time ever!)

5k run left - and it was mostly flat!  I felt fantastic coming out of T2, but I decided to let my watch dictate the pace, just like I had in Verona.  It was a good choice since my initial pace was in the 8:40's!  I dialed it back a bit, but probably not enough.  On my way to Mile 1, I heard someone shout 'Go TriWis!" followed by, "Atta girl, you know what to do now!"  In case you haven't already guessed, it was the Iron Cheerleader - there to cheer on his current (and allegedly final) group of newbies - and any graduates that happened to run by.

I hit Mile 1 in 9:16 - a little too fast, but not insanely too fast.  I hit the turnaround and walked through the water station so I could grab a drink and pour another cup of water over my head.  I passed the Iron Cheerleader and another newbie-herd alumnae from my year, L.  Of course the Iron Cheerleader had some more motivation for me. He started yelling, "How bad do you want it?" and my response was, "Almost as bad as I want a beer at the finish line!"  He promised I could have one of the beers he'd brought to celebrate with his herd.

I could feel myself slowing down as I approached Mile 2, but no matter what I did, I couldn't force myself to pick up the pace. It was getting hot and my feet were starting to burn.  Mile 2 was an abysmal 9:46. I started thinking about what the Iron Cheerleader had shouted - how bad did I want this?  The answer was: pretty damn bad.  I started ignoring the burning in my feet and focused on putting one foot in front of the other as fast as I could.  It worked because my average pace started falling again.  A few more turns and a brief cross-country section later, the finish line came into view. I picked up the pace a little more and watched the two dudes I had been trying to run down break into a sprint for the finish.  I wish I'd have had enough gas in the tank to try to go with them!

Run Time: 29:05 (9:22/mi) (Fastest triathlon run time ever!)

I crossed the finish line of my fourth triathlon in 1:46:27 and I couldn't be happier about it.  I PR'd pretty much every aspect of the race!

Rocking some spectacular swim cap/helmet hair

I grabbed my medal, a lukewarm bottle of water, and an enormous peanut butter cookie and met up with my mom and Mr. R&R (who turned in yet another awesome performance and is officially hooked on triathlon).  I tried to wait around for the Iron Cheerleader since he owed me a beer, but eventually the desire for breakfast and a nap won, so we said goodbye to my mom and made our way back to transition to collect all our stuff.

Photo Credit: My Mom

After a brief stop at Starbucks for coffee and breakfast sandwiches (my apologies to the other patrons for the horrendous smell) we headed home, dragged our bikes back to The Cave, devoured our food, and crashed hard for several hours.  When I woke up, the final results had been posted.

Overall Place: 248/424
Gender Place: 87/248
Age Group Place: 17/43 (F35-39)

Up Next: Adrenaline Sprint Triathlon on August 6th.

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