Sunday, July 19, 2009

Two Races in Seven Days

Since my last post, I've completed two sprint distance triathlons. (If you follow my Facebook page, you know the basic, most important info.) For those of you who don't and are at all interested, here is the story:

Sunday, the 12th, competed in the Schaumburg Splash/Pedal/Dash Sprint Triathlon. The swim was 400 meters in a 50 meter, outdoor pool. 15 mile bike ride through residential neighborhoods, and a 3 mile run. This was my third year competing, so I know the course well.

It is the ONLY race I've done in 15 years that has a different finish than start location, thus, T2 is located away from the start near the finish. Not a big deal--dropped off my running shoes and hat there before going to the start line and checking in. The race starts at 6:30, so it's really nice that it's only about a 45 minute drive in the early a.m.

As usual, met some interesting people waiting in line for my swim start. (An older (50 ish?) gentleman who has completed over 280 triathlons--his body has paid the price, so now he sticks to sprint distances!) It's a time trial start with fastest swimmers first. I think I was number 172, which meant there were 171 people who started ahead of me. People don't always seed themselves properly, but I only passed about 4 people, and only one guy passed me (he had a low number, so I'm guessing he missed his start time). I had an OK swim, not my fastest, but better than last year.

The bike course is really fun--not really fast because you feel like you are constantly turning. I never really know where I am on the course, location-wise. I felt like I had a good ride, but my stomach had been bothering me since Saturday afternoon, and I still felt a little queasy on the bike.

I thought I had a terrible run. My legs felt tired and heavy, and my stomach was bloated and really yukky. I couldn't wait to finish. Turns out I had the fastest bike time of the three times I've done the race (averaged 21.03 mph), and my run time was just a few seconds slower than my fastest time (8:32 pace).

Finished 77th overall, first in my age group, 14th overall female, 7th fastest female bike. It was a great day with great weather. Rested the remainder of the day--I was tired but felt good.

Since I was racing the following Saturday at the Evergreen Sprint, my training during the week was tricky. I wanted to continue training for my A race--Olympic in Septemter--but also rest for Saturday's race. I rode a couple times, swam every day except Friday, and ran once. Friday was a workout free day--seems like the only days I rest completely are before races. I hoped it would be enough.

As usual, I slept short and fitfully Friday night--about 4 hours total. Up at 3:00 a.m., left the house around 4:00. It took us about 1:45 to get there, including one stop for a bathroom break. While waiting inside for Jerry, a youngish man walked into the convenience store, walked up to me and asked if I was going to Evergreen. Guess he could tell by the way I was dressed. He commented on how we "passed him going about 90 mph." Jerry was driving pretty fast. It was early and the roads were deserted, so he figured it would be OK. Turns out he was a coach and had 30 athletes competing in the races. (I saw him after the race and we spoke briefly. He asked me how I did--when I told him he asked if I would have done anything differently if I had known the outcome and I said YES! Keep reading and this will make more sense.)

Arrived at the race sight around 5:45. Saw a couple people I knew--Waddler, met Trisharkie, Perry, and Lisa. During the swim warm-up, I saw Jenny Garrison and introduced myself. She's a real sweetheart and she finished 3rd female in the elite olympice distance. The water was 76 degrees, which sounds cold so I warmed up with my wetsuit. Decided it was too warm and uncomfortable and swam without it. Good call--I would have melted. Plus, I hate swimming in a wetsuit unless I absolutely have to. It does make me faster, but I'm just not comfortable in it. I guess I've been swimming too long without one. For 500 meters, it wasn't worth the inconvenience.

The swim was crazy. There were only two waves of the sprint distance, which left no time for the crowd to thin out. While I wouldn't say I was beat up, I did get stuck in a group of slower swimmers. I should have listened to Jerry and started near the front. My swim time was slower than I'm capable of--when I looked at my watch it said 12:18--I was hoping for around 11:00.

Jerry handed me my glasses so I could find my bike in transition, but even though I knew where it was, it still took me a bit to find it. Our racks were in the back of the transition, so we had the farthest to run out and in on the bike. I had an OK transition.

The bike course was fun. Since I started in the last wave, I passed a lot of people on the course. I had my disc wheel, and there was a strong cross wind the first 6 or 7 miles. I was not happy. But then it settled down and wasn't really a factor. The course had a couple small, challenging hills, but that just made it more fun. I saw Waddler on the bike course and she waved!

My best time on this course is around 1:09, but I knew that wasn't going to happen today. I was hoping for 1:12, which is what I did--averaged about 20.6 mph. Definitely not my best for this distance.

I felt good when I started the run--felt strong and was running what I thought was a good pace. I carried my gel with me and walked for about 10 seconds at the water stops and gulped a little gel. I really pushed the last mile. I wanted to break two hours. My final time was 1:58:45.

I was really disappointed when I found out my run time was 29:04/9:23 pace. Last week when I felt HORRIBLE my pace was 8:32. Well, I guess the additional 10 miles on the bike and racing six days later could have contributed to the slower time. Who knows? My run is what it is. I KNOW I would be faster on the bike and run if I could get rid of this extra weight I've put on the last two years. That will be my goal (again) in the off season! It's easier to control my appetite when I'm not training 20 hours a week, too!

We walked back to the car to pack up. I brought stuff to take a shower at the beach house. A woman walked up to me and complimented me on my bike ride. I guess I passed her and she was convinced I finished in the top women--she even thought I may have won. She won her age group (45-49) so she was sure I won mine. I knew there were only two of us, and I was pretty sure I won my age group.

Jerry always checks the results for me--I don't have the patience to stand in the crowd to find my time, plus I'm too short and it's hard for me to see. But here they have a computerized sysem. You tell them your number, and they are able to print all your information and hand it to you. I went to take a shower, and when I came out, he had my little sticker with all my info.

They started the awards with the sprint race first. First award was overall women--top three. The race announcer started with third place first--there was a long pause as he looked several times at the paper--the third place woman's time was 18 SECONDS FASTER THAN ME! I couldn't believe I came that close to getting an award for overall woman in a race. The first place woman was 20 years old, 2nd place 35 (she had the fastest bike--1:10. We went back and forth for most of the bike, but she passed me near the end). 3rd place was 37--her final time was 1:58:27 . Finals stats: 4th out of 55 women with the second fastest bike time.

The top two women in my age group in the Olympic distance race always finish one/two when they go head to head. I can bike about the same as the number two woman, but the first woman is an animal on the bike (time of 1:06!) and can run 7:30 pace for a 10K. I've NEVER been able to run like that. She was a top collegiate runner and still holds a bunch of records.

While it wasn't my best race ever, I really enjoyed it and had a lot of fun! Got to talk with Perry and Lisa after the race, but never did see Waddler or TriSharkie. I was looking for Jenny to congratulate her, but couldn't find her either. We didn't hang around for the Olympic race awards, as Jerry had to work later in the afternoon and wanted to get home.

So, the bottom line is I love racing. Sometimes I do good, many times not so good. But it's always fun. I met a lady who looked really familiar. Turns out we know each other from Edward Fitness Center where I spent 17 years as a member. She still goes there. She's 49 and yesterday was her first race in years. She had a great swim, but her bike was knocked in transition and she wasn't able to finish the bike course due to mechanical issues. But when I saw her after the race, she wasn't upset at all because she still had such a great time just being there. She's excited to race again. I hope I see her at other races. To me, that's what this sport is all about.

When you get to be older like me, and you've done this so long, it really is about the journey and having fun. I was speaking with a woman about the same age as me, and she commented on how fun it is to do the shorter distance races. Our bodies are not so beat up when we're done, we can enjoy the rest of the day still being able to walk without limping, and the recovery time is not as difficult. When you're in your 50's, it takes much longer to recover even when you're in great shape, than when you're in your 40's or 30's. I never believed that when I was younger. I thought people just used that as an excuse, but it really is true. Plus, I started running when I was 14, so my body has seen a lot of pounding. The less I pound now, the better it is for me. I'm usually sore after a race from running on the hard surfaces, which I don't do on purpose when I train. It's just to hard on my body.

I have a true sprint distance race in two weeks. I've done it before, and it's a really fun, well run race. Hope I can do really well that day. We'll see. As usual, my goal is to have fun and do my best!

This post is already way too long. So I'll end saying that I look forward to somewhat of a recovery week. Today I rested--at least no workout. I'll probably ride 3 or 4 times, swim 5 or 6 times, run 2 or 3 times this week. Nothing really long (maybe 50 miles on the bike next weekend). Including my race, total training time this week was about 12 hours. I like that--enough but not too much.

Hope everyone who was racing had a great weekend and enjoyed the perfect weather here. Have a great week.

Until next time--God bless!


TRISHARKIE (AKA Ronda) said...

Good job Karen! Congrats on placing first in your age group for the Evergreen Sprint Tri. You are one wicked fast lady! What's your "A" race?


My A race will be an olympic distance triathlon in Niles, MI on September 5th. I've done that race ten times before--this will be my 11th. It's well run, and the bike course is quite challenging--I love it! Thanks for asking.