Monday, August 8, 2016

Adrenaline Triathlon Race Recap

A better title for this recap might be: The Race Where EVERYTHING Finally Clicked.  I had no idea that it was coming, although in hindsight, there were signs that it might be coming. 

Race day began as all race mornings do: Stupid O'Clock alarm, shower, race clothes, load the bikes, coffee and Clif Bar on the way to the race venue.  Yesterday's race was in the town of Random Lake, WI which is an hour away from our house - or 45 minutes when there's absolutely no traffic - so we arrived about 15 minutes before packet pick up/body marking/transition opened!

Mr. R&R and I walked down to the beach and checked out the turn buoy placement.  Did I mention that Mr. R&R was signed up for the olympic distance race (.9 mile swim/28 mile bike/6.2 mile run)?  His turn buoys looked so far away to me - and conversely my buoys looked so close!  That's definitely a first since usually looking at the turn buoys freaks me out.  Looking back, this should have been my first clue that something about this day was going to be different.

Pre-Race and The Swim:

We picked up our packets, stopped back at the car to drop off t-shirts and such and pick up our bikes, and made our way into the transition area to get set up.  I actually had considerate neighbors (a first this season) who racked their bikes correctly and didn't take up more than their fair share of space so I was ready to go in record time.  I wiggled into the bottom half of my wetsuit and went in search of Mr. R&R and Yada Yada by the olympic racks.  Yada Yada was still getting set up, so Mr. R&R and I made our way back to the beach for the swim warm up.  I pulled the rest of my wetsuit, slapped on my swim cap, and stepped into the water.  It was really warm and the sand was soft under my feet.  I dunked my goggles in the water and as I did so, I SPOTTED A FISH SWIMMING 2 INCHES FROM ME!!!!  If you've been reading here for more than 5 minutes you know that a huge part of my open water issues comes from my completely irrational fear of fish. I don't know why or how, but somehow I didn't freak out.  I looked at said fish, acknowledged that he was there, splashed around a little, and he went away. I took a few more steps and found myself standing in muck that was sucking at my feet and weeds that were wrapping around my legs.  Again, I didn't freak out. I pulled my goggles on, took a breath, and started swimming toward one of the turn buoys as a warm up. I looked up to sight the buoy and was a little shocked that it was right in my face - not 25 yards away like I had expected.  I turned around and swam back to the shore; taking care not to stop until my hands touched sand because I didn't want to stand in muck if I could help it.  All of this should have been my second sign.

I crawled out of the water as the swim warm up closed and walked over to the start area with Mr. R&R so he could begin his first olympic distance tri. The elites went of as a mass start and then the age groupers went off in a time trial start.  I watched Mr. R&R and Yada Yada run into the water and kept my eyes on them as long as I could before they were lost in the sea of splashing swimmers.  I made my way across the beach to the swim exit because the olympic swimmers had to exit the water, run across a timing mat on the beach, and back into the water for a second loop. While I waited, I bumped into Texas who was there to spectate (she wasn't racing due to a broken arm).  It was nice to have company - especially company that didn't mind that I periodically went to dunk myself in the water to prevent overheating in my wetsuit!  We cheered as they guys came out of the water and ran to their second loop.  I was able to hang out long enough to watch the first few olympic racers finish the swim before I had to line up for my own start.  

Like the olympic distance, the sprint race was a time trial start - with starting order determined by swim cap color. Blue caps would start. Then orange. Then pink. Then white.  My cap was pink.  I watched the first two waves filter into the water.  Then it was the pink caps' turn.  I put myself in the middle of the pack - which should have been another sign since I usually stay toward the back.  I stood behind the starting mat and as soon as the race official said 'go', I ran into the water dropped onto my belly the second the water hit my thighs, and started swimming.  All of a sudden, something clicked.  There was no fear. There was no panic.  There was only my 1-2-3-breathe-1-2-3 pattern.  I hit the first turn buoy and found myself in a war zone of thrashing legs and arms.  I popped my head up (still not interested in another kick to the head), pushed a few legs out of my way, and put my head down and went back to my 1-2-3 pattern. There were bodies everywhere around me.  I looked up as I rounded the second buoy and was shocked to see a mix of pink and orange caps around me.  I had caught up to some of the slower swimmers from the wave in front of me! I took a second to let that sink in and it was back to the 1-2-3 pattern and shoving rogue legs and arms out of my path.  I popped my head up and swam a little breaststroke again to figure out how close I was to the end.  I was so close! Back to the 1-2-3 pattern until my hands hit muck once - twice - three times.  On my feet, goggles on top of my head, unzip the wetsuit.  Flash huge smile at Texas (who knows my open water issues well) screaming "Way to go! The hard part is over now!"  

Swim Time: 9:45 (1:36 PR!!!!)

I ran up to transition, finished stripping my suit, slammed on my bike gear, and ran like hell to the mount line.

T1 Time: 2:29 (new best T1 time ever!)

The Bike:

Going into this race, I was excited for the bike leg.  Mr. R&R and I took a preview ride on it a week earlier with Yada Yada and his training partner, BAM (short for Bad-@$$-Mother; seriously, she's ridiculous!).  I had such an amazing ride that day and couldn't wait to do it again.  I used the first mile to catch my breathe, scarf down a Shot Blok, take a drink, and get ready to throw down.  I took the turn out of town and into the corn fields, dropped into my aerobars, and started passing people.  I seriously think I spent the first 4-5 miles of the bike saying 'on your left' as I passed people.  I. Was. Flying.  I didn't get passed on the bike until 7.5 miles in - and that was by the lead olympic rider who was on his second lap of the course (they did 2 loops of the bike course)!

The only sprint racer who passed me, did so on the second part of a two stage hill in Mile 10 - and I passed her right back on the way back down.  Everything was going like clockwork.  Whenever I started getting tired and thought about easing up, I'd hear the Iron Cheerleader in my head yelling 'How bad to you want it?' or BAM telling me 'Whatever you did on this practice ride, do that shit in the race!' or Mr. R&R telling me, 'You've got this' - and I didn't let up.

Bike Time: 51:53 (16.9 mph - new speed PR!)

I dismounted right at the line and ran like hell back to my rack - almost knocking someone out of my way when she stopped short in front of me!  Off came the helmet and bike shoes. On went the socks and running shoes and I was outta there.

T2 Time: 1:31 (new best T2 time ever!)

Fatigue hit almost immediately on the run course - and I had expected it to - just not this much.  Once again, I tried to let my watch dictate my pace as I wound my way through a residential neighborhood.  I kept picking off women to the best of my ability, but my splits just kept creeping up and up and up.

Finally the finish line came into view and somehow I sped up and thundered across the line.

Run Time: 29:22 (9:28/mile)

My finishing time of 1:34:58 blew my mind - and left me 27 seconds off of the age group podium.  At first I was really pissed, but after venting to Texas for a minute, I got over myself and pride took over.  I had PR'd every aspect of the race except for the run!  I'm sitting here, 2 days later, and I'm still in shock.

I grabbed my medal and a bottle of water and Texas and I staked out some space by the final turn to wait for Mr. R&R and Yada Yada to finish. Mr. R&R looked amazing as he turned into the chute - and the finish of his first olympic tri.

It's amazing to think that this was only his third triathlon ever - and he kicked some serious ass - enough to take 2nd in his age group! Look out triathlon world, because Mr. R&R is coming for you!

As soon as Yada Yada finished, we all packed up our stuff and did what we do best: Go Eat!  The four of us went to and awesome diner and consumed and obscene amount of food before heading home and crashing hard.

I woke up from an epic nap and final results had been posted - and I'm already hungry for next year's tri season.

Overall Place: 76/150
Gender Place: 22/82
Age Group Place: 4/11 (F35-39)

Up Next: Shoreline Duathlon on August 21st.