Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Rumpass in Bumpass sprint: race report

I like that I haven't been racing much this year.  Nothing in January, nothing in February, half marathon at the end of March.  But then suddenly April rolled around and CdA is getting close.  I decided to add this sprint early last week, as a "dust off the cobwebs" race before my 70.3 in early May.  Short enough that I don't need any recovery from it but still can get practice going from swim to bike to run under race pressure.  When the job bombshell hit, I had thoughts about sending a "sorry I registered for this race three hours ago but I just lost my job" frantic retraction email to the race director (which probably wouldn't have worked) but decided to just roll with it.  I didn't really intend for it to be a secret, I just decided not to blast it all over the internet with everything else that was going on.


I invited Emily to come along with me since I hadn't seen her in a few weeks and dangled the bait that we could ride easy afterwards.  She was excited.
My overwhelming lesson from the day is that it was a really good idea to do this, because I forgot half the crap that I needed to bring and do throughout the day.  I realized in the car that I had forgotten socks, and then any kind of lubrication, then a towel to lay my transition pile on, plus safety pins...oh I don't have a race belt?  I decided three minutes before the start to use Emily's wetsuit instead of my own, which was a mess because it took all three of us to get it on and then I couldn't get it off in T1.  I completely forgot how to get off of my bike quickly and my SOAS shorts are worn so thin that I can't post any pictures of me in them from the back while they were wet from the swim.  I didn't think to bring a handheld water bottle with me for the run and I've completely forgotten how to navigate the labyrinth multi-sport mode on my Garmin so I had zero information except total race time, which is useless in a sprint.  I didn't do a great job of calculating how much time we needed to drive down there and get set up, which meant that I was dragging my bike into transition just as they were making the "transition will close in three minutes" announcement.
But the great thing about a sprint is none of this really matters, because you don't have any time to think about it. 


Swim: 750M, 13:38 (1:39 sec/100y), 3rd in AG
When we got out of the car at the race site, it was warm.  Really warm.  Sleeved-wet-suit-is-overkill kind of warm.  Emily had thrown hers in the car because I'm going to deliver it to Allison, and she offered to let me borrow it, which I decided to do based on the fact that it was almost 80º out already and 66º in the water.  Temperature-wise, the wetsuit was perfect.  Sadly, Emily is about a foot shorter and forty pounds lighter than I am, which we didn't consider until I was already halfway into the suit.  I did lots of squatting and jumping while Emily and the poet did some yanking, and I was able to wriggle into it just enough that we could get it zipped.
I scooted down to the water to get over the OMG-cold-lake shock to my poor little heart, and when I started doing some warm-up strokes I realized that I was being choked to death by the tight suit.  By the time I paddled over to the group of women bobbing around for the in-water start, it was pretty clamped down on me but I got some water inside of it and it seemed to help a tiny bit.  Before I had time to crack a joke about zombies or pee in the suit (my usual swim start mojo), the gun went off and we were thrashing.  One of these sleeveless wetsuit people is me.
I didn't have a plan for the swim (or anything else throughout the day).  I managed to fight my way up to the front pack, a group of about 6-8 other women, and I hung on hard.  The course was a long out, a short across and a long back, and I concentrated on following bubbles and pulling strong.  The shore was pretty close when I bumped into a bunch of breast-strokers from the first wave and lost the pack.  I headed off towards the shore only to realize that there was another hard left turn towards the stairs that I had missed about 15-20 strokes back.  I swam like crazy for the stairs and got out with a clump of women who had probably been in the pack behind the front pack.  We ran up a grassy hill and into T1.  I couldn't get the wetsuit off and ended up leaning on the bike rack while a guy sitting on the ground tried to chat with me about the swim.  I flipped him a peace sign and a "good luck!" and ran out.
Bike, 12 miles, 34:44 (20.7mph), 5th in AG
The mount line was at the top of a little gravelly hill, and I'm not coordinated enough to do any kind of crazy flying mount just yet so I paused, hopped on, and spun away.  I'm so accustomed to the 70.3 distance that I spent the first two miles on the bike trying to calm down and breathe and settle down from the swim, but when I saw the two mile marker on the course, I woke up and realized that I was being foolish and only had ten miles to go.  The bike was generally unremarkable.  I was fantastically comfortable in my fit despite the fact that I had forgotten to put any ride glide on.  I spent the entire ride in aero except for one very sharp turn and one short climb where I was trying to pass a wobbler on a hybrid.  Not too many girls passed me - I saw one girl in my AG go flying by, but she was in full crazy disc wheels and aero helmet and I knew better than to try to chase her down.  My Garmin didn't pick up HR information for some reason so I don't have a lot of great data to analyze, but I know for sure that I didn't empty my bicycle tank.  It's so hard to change the mindset from "simmer down" to "go fracking nuts" and while I thought I was really ready to do some hammering, the way I felt when I bounced off the bike told me that I didn't go nearly hard enough.  I'm not upset about my effort/splits/time at all, just trying to honestly recap my effort level.  I got another strong reminder that there are cobwebs in my triathlon racing bank when I slowed into the dismount line and then had to consciously remind myself how to get off the bike and into transition.
Run: 5K, 28:23 (9:09 pace), 10th in AG
I sat down in transition to pull on my borrowed socks and un-speed-laced shoes, then grabbed my hat, sunglasses, and old-HR-monitor-turned-race-belt and flew out the back.  
The run course looked straight and easy on the map but was actually a crazy rocky trail with multiple 180º turn-arounds.  The only info I could see on my Garmin was total race time and distance, so I had no idea how hard I was going.  The day before the race, I did a run off the bike that started out at 8:40 pace, so I tried to just match that effort and not let the entire field of women pass me.  When I ran through the aid stations, I asked all the little kids to throw water at me and high-fived some guys going the other way.  I cheered on all the women I saw and when I got to the finish line, I was only a little bit sad that it was over.  I crossed the line 6th in my AG.  
I ran the 5K pretty perfectly as a step-down progression run but obviously didn't run nearly hard enough.  As my coach said after I sent her my splits and HR information post-race, "Good job running Ironman pace for a sprint!"


But I had a blast.  I walked around for twenty minutes post race saying things like, "So fun!  Sure wish I could run faster!" with a big smile on my face.  I think it was great to do this tiny check-in of where my fitness sort of is right now.  It's not an assessment of my IM fitness, but more of a status update on where I stand in each discipline.  My swim was strong but obviously I need to sight a little better and not get dropped off the back of the pack.  My bike was also good and solid, and since I'm not trying to be a sprint specialist I'm not going to worry that I didn't hammer my brains out like I should have.  It's clear that the run is my weakness right now - for whatever reason, I've gotten into this place where I really enjoy running easy with my HR under 145 all the time.  This used to be an uncomfortable place and I hated it, but now the tides have dramatically shifted.  I had a run last week where I needed to run at a hard HR for 20 minutes and I actually couldn't do it - a heart rate that I used to race the half marathon distance at.  So it's showing me where the work is to be done, and I'm okay with that.  


I also finally - FINALLY - had a race day where I didn't let my brain screw with me.  I'm not saying it was a perfect day - not even close, I was a disaster in so many ways - but this might be the first triathlon where I didn't take any I'm-defeated walk breaks, and that's a pretty big mountain to climb on top of for me.  But it was as good a season-opener as I could have asked for.  
The dust has been blown off, the creaks are getting oiled and I am getting ready to rumble.

30 comments:

  1. Great Job Katie! And OMG the run course sucked so much.

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  2. Hoooray!!! And you look so hot in that Soas outfit. Great idea to get out there and get in the groove with a sprint tri.

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  3. Fun times! That's a hilly, but fun course :)

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  4. This is a hilarious email from coach: "Good job running Ironman pace for a sprint!"

    I would have pee'd myself from laughing so hard and then would have beaten myself up for the effort.......

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  5. This report made me excited for my sprint tri in June!! Also, a little nervous about some of it. Sounds like you had a great time!

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  6. Surprise race! Awesome. It sounds like it worked out really well for you -- maybe all the improvising actually helped somehow?

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  7. Are we done analyzing race pics for form? Because your run form looks awesome.

    congrats!

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  8. I'm wondering whether the accidentally-secretive nature of this race contributed to the non-screwy-brain-itude of the day??

    anyway, sounds like a hectic-but-fun day. :) congrats!

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  9. Nice work. Aand LOVE sonja's comments.

    You are totally looking like you are rocking the IM pacing strategy in the run pic too. Easy stride, full smile, hat, glasses, full on.

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  10. Doing this race was a GREAT idea for all the reasons you mentioned. There are a bazillion and a 1/2 things you need to remember during a triathlon so it's good to get practice doing all of them! Congrats on a solid race!

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  11. Your times all look fast to me. They close transition in sprints???? I am in trouble. I'll still be in the water. Oh well, as long as I finish!

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  12. Definitely a great idea to dust the cobwebs off; congrats! I'll analyze your race photos... that is WAY too much smiling going on for a 5K- haha! Now, that might be a good grimace I see in the finish chute, but it's a little hard to tell :)

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  13. Other than forgetting everything (glad you brought your bike!) way to open up your season :)

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  14. Heart rate strap as a race belt? Genius.

    I hope to be half as awesome as you when I grow up. This looks like so much fun! And the best line? "But I had a blast."

    Congrats girl!

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  15. Nice report! Plenty to be proud of in this race!

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  16. I wonder if your brain left you alone because you'd forgotten so much stuff? Maybe distractions work for you!

    Anyway, great work. Lots left in the tank and 6th in AG? Excellent.

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  17. Great race! It sounds like a fun day. I like a shake out the cobwebs race for sure. I laughed as I read this because every year I go through the same routine - forgetting half of what I need and what I should do.

    You remembered all the super important stuff anyway :)

    I don't know if you've ever seen it, but there's a site racecheckList.com that helps you build a list of the stuff you need. I couldn't race without it. I also have excel lists of all the crap I need in my ironman bags. That' was a major job the first time. Email me if you want a copy mariaismaslife@gmail.com

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  18. Bumpass! I thought that might have been the one. I've always heard that's a fun sprint on a great course. Just love Setup Events.

    Good job! In april the lakes are still quite cold, at 66 I go back and forth. 68 is about the warmest I would wear a wetsuit, and in a sprint at 66 I'm not sure it would be worth the transition time. 13 minutes to swim and 8 minutes getting out of the wetsuit? well, that's what it would take me. If they don't have strippers I'm not going to suit up. Still you kicked ass. good work.

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  19. Happy or not with the effort, you look good with your Soas and the BA QR-TT!! Well done!

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  20. just caught up to read your blogs! congrats on a great race. awesome ag placing too.

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  21. I want to know what song was in your head during that last pic?

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  22. By 20 minutes post race, you actually meant 4 hours, right? :)

    Glad I could join you for a typical day of bicycle riding, loud singing, and peeing behind bushes!

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  23. An excellent secret adventure! Sounds like a great way to kick of the tri season. Love the swim place. :)

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  24. OK - this whole race sounds awesome. Really. I'm so glad for you.

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  25. The photo of you putting on your swim cap looks total bad ass. Frame that one.

    And nice job on the race and glad it was a mental win!

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  26. Geeze you sure did forget a lot of things, but none of which were how to kick ass in three sports on one day. ;) Love that last photo - says it all. "Wha whaaat?! Bring it, Ironman."

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