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Monday, September 3, 2012

Rochester Triathlon report, what's next, and other musings

 A month ago, when discussing my later season race plans, I was instructed to jump in an Olympic distance tri in late August.  Sweet!  I hadn't taken on the distance since age group nationals over a year ago, so I was immediately excited about the idea of some good, old-fashioned hurt.  As good fortune would work out, the second Rochester triathlon would fall during this time, held at Durand Eastman Park-aka, in our backyard, on the roads and in the water we've spent countless hours training on and in.  I've always loved supporting local races, which is something my schedule doesn't allow me to do too much of anymore, meaning that I was eager to get back out there.

   Training-wise, I'd taken a week off after Placid (it took about that long for my foot to come back down to normal proportions), followed by a week of well, easy moving, which then led into a three week base phase-the hours were back up, but the intensity wasn't there yet.  My swim and bike numbers rebounded pretty well, with my running, as expected based upon the training, lagging behind.  At least this time around, I'm not too concerned, and have actually been enjoying the mindset this is forcing upon me-don't just rely on the run, learn how to really race in the water and push on the bike.  So, heading into the race, my main goal was to force myself to be uncomfortable during the swim, hit some good wattage on the bike (which included keeping it up on the downhills and throughout the sort of technical portion of the course on Kings Highway, which we'd pass through four times), try to transition in a moderately coordinated manner, and then just survive the run.

   Race morning, the lake was picture perfect-calm, smooth, temperate.  Soon enough after going through the normal routine, we were watching the men take off on their swim.  Just a few yards into the swim, the lake had decided to form a sandbar where the water was maybe a foot deep, max.  I'd figured out how much running I'd have to do to get across it while warming up, and had my strategy set-until Mary, who was announcing the race, made a comment when watching the men about how much energy it'd take to run over the sandbars.  She'd later rescind this once we were in the water, after realizing how shallow it truly was, but this was too late to help me.  Sure enough, I was the one jerk that actually swam over the sandbars, all while watching people run past me.

    Anyways.  My wave consisted of women and relays, so it ended up being pretty small, which suited how spoiled I've become with non-crowded swim starts.  I did my best to take it out hard, which isn't saying much for me, and once I swam over the sandbar and got going, I looked up and realized I was pretty much alone.  However, in a pleasant change from the pro field, I wasn't in last, waiting for male (and female) age groupers to begin swimming over me.  Instead, I only saw a couple of green caps ahead of me (both ended up being relay swimmers), with the rest of the field back.  This represented uncharted swim territory for me, but I'd take it!  Even though the buoys were widely spaced, I actually managed to sight decently (only went off course once, very briefly), and I forced myself to try to not get comfortable, which has been the bane of my open water swimming existence.  Luckily, the vibrations of my Garmin on my wrist every 200 yards (and my knowledge of triangle geometry) meant that I knew that the swim was going to be long by the first buoy, when I'd already felt a couple of buzzes.  So, when I exited the swim, my eyes darted not to the time but to my average pace first, which still wasn't great, but was better.  In talking to others with the 910 after the race, common consensus was that the course was ~4min long, which would have put my swim in the high 25min range.  For a pro female, this still sucks, but for me, it's improvement over the high 26/low 27min Olympic swims of my past, so I'll take it.  Plus, I felt like utter crap upon exiting the water and trying to run towards transition-usually, I relished long runs to transition, because they represented a chance for me to get past people and make it look like I'd swam faster than I actually had (ha), but this time, I was beat.  Guess that's what happens when you try in the water?

Heading to transition.  I'm about to be really confused by the presence of all of the other bikes that are still in there. Usually the Kestrel is all lonely.
  Entering transition, it became clear that I was the second woman out of the water, and that the first woman had been in a relay.  So, this put me in the completely unnatural position of leading out onto the bike course.  By that point, I'd begun to catch a few of the men, and the sprint athletes weren't on the course yet.  The bike course consisted of four loops for the Olympic and two loops for the sprint, and, as I'd mentioned before, it was a loop I've done many, many times in training.  I knew the one climb like the back of my hand, which meant that it seemed dwarfed to me.  I had a bit of trouble getting up to speed and hitting my wattage goal on the first go around, but by the time I started on the second loop, I was feeling strong.  By that point, the sprint athletes were also out on the course, making it a bit crowded and tricky to maneuver.  But, with enough yelling "on your left!" (I always feel like such a jerk screaming at people mid-race, but I suppose it's better than squeezing past them or running into them), I made it through without trouble.  I really pushed the middle two laps, enjoying the support of my parents and the volunteers (nothing like getting cheered for by name throughout!), and made an effort to smile here and there, trying to disguise the hurt of the intensity.  After insisting to Dave that I'd only need one bottle on the bike the night before, I ran out of fluids midway through my third lap, thus setting myself up to feel pretty darn awesome on the run.  After scaling back the effort just a hair on the final lap, I rolled into T2 knowing that I'd gone a bit above what my wattage goal had been, and was overall pleased with the 1:05 effort-I just edged out what I'd ridden at Nationals last year by a hair for my best Olympic bike time, too.

I'm in full aero-and the guy behind me is in my formerly utilized "half aero". Go bike skills!
   Onto the run!  My goal at that point became to survive-I knew I wasn't in shape for anything spectacular, and I also knew that the path we'd be running on had some hills.  Plus, I was thirsty coming into T2-never a good start.  And, well, survive is what I did.  Given my recent lack of fast running, I never was able to find any sort of extra gear; this wasn't too surprising to me.  Also, despite slowing down to a practical crawl to grab as many cups as I could at each water stop, I never was able to shake how thirsty I'd let myself become.  The hills kept on coming, as well.  I think I ended up holding my position in no-man's land throughout most of it, and was more than relieved to get to the line, where the awesome volunteers kept refilling my giant finisher's mug with water until I'd gotten my fill (even after several more glasses of water and recovery drink later on, I still was down 4 lbs that afternoon-guess there was a reason I'd been looking for an oasis).  Unfortunately, I had forgotten to start my Garmin upon exiting T2 (somehow, I always do that!), so I had no idea I'd run 40:00 until after the race-argh!  I do wish I could have found one more second from somewhere, but such is life!

  Afterwards, we discovered that Dave had would have been his first ever overall victory taken from him by a penalty for cross the double yellow line on Kings Highway.  That definitely isn't the way that anyone wants to lose (especially to his wife), and I have to say that I was a little bit disappointed that several of those penalties were handed out on a crowded, curvy road, yet no blocking penalties were given.  But, that's another soapbox.  Dave's penalty gave me the overall victory, though, which was sort of fun!  I was generously rewarded with a nice glass trophy and a new aero helmet for my efforts.  I've been debating a new aero helmet for some time now, purely for aesthetic reasons, so that was certainly a plus.  As a whole, I enjoyed my foray back into shorter racing (and racing in general); a big thumbs up to the race crew and volunteers for putting on a great hometown event for us! it WILL look less dorky when I'm not making some awful face. I swear!

The Hansens.  Dave wanted the banana peel in the picture (he's famous for leaving them in my car all the time...gross).
  Next up: Dave and I will be heading north of the border to take on a 70.3, Canada-style, out in Muskoka.  I've heard that the venue and course are beautiful, so I'm looking forward to it (even though I'll be heading in on a build week, always fun).  Mostly, I'm hoping for a good swim and bike, as the run will likely be another crapshoot.  Swimming-wise, I've finally got it through my head that because I'm not a natural swimmer, for me, comfortable=sucky, and that I'm not swimming faster pool times because I'm having a little party in there.  I'm recognizing that swimming isn't running, and in order for me to swim anything even within the realm of respectable for a pro women, I've got to hurt in that water.  Biking-wise, that course has been described as technical and all either uphill or downhill, with some steep.  Three or four months ago, I would have run scared from that description.  Now, though, I can feel my comfort level on the bike growing bit by bit.  I'm still cautious by nature, but the element of abject fear is gradually dissipating  .  Do I love refilling my aero bottle yet from my downtube bottle?  No.  But I can at least do it.  I can't say I really love descents, either but I'm not gripping the brakes, and I'm not jumping out of aero every time I get over 25mph.  So, small steps are being made (knock on wood), and I'm sure that Muskoka will test my mettle a bit with all that!

  Once again, thanks to QT2 systems, Powerbar,, Woolsports, Kestrel bicycles, and all of my family, friends, and fellow triathletes for their continued support!  I've moved into part 2 of my year, which is really part 1 of 2013.  Up until Placid, it was about finding my way in this new pro world; from now on out, the points chase has begun!  Time to put on my big girl pants and dig in!

1 comment:

  1. You weren't the only swimmer in that sucky sandbar....I listened to Mary too lol