Friday, October 29, 2010

Buzzard's Bay Sprint Race Report

     A few weeks before this race, Keith & I thought we should probably do an ocean swim to prepare us for Lobsterman and this sprint. We wanted to make it a brick workout so I suggested we come down to this course, do our ocean swim and then bike the course. I figured we'd get our workout in and see the course. This excursion definitely did not go as planned and ended up being pretty comical. First, we got slightly lost while trying to find the park. Note to anyone who writes directions: use directions like left and right not north and south especially if the street just has a name and no route number. Wouldn't it just be easier to say take a left at blank road instead of head north on blank road?
      We finally found the park and soon realized why the Max website tells you to swim during high tide. The water was so shallow (knee deep) and the beach was incredibly rocky. I thought there was no way we'd be able to swim in this and I didn't want stepping on the rocks to add to the pain / numbness I usually get in my foot. Keith decided to give it a try. First he tried to swim in the knee deep water...he soon realized this doesn't work when you're 6'2”. Further out, there was a sandbar and then there was more water so he decided to try out there. With Keith walking out so far he looked like a little spec, he finally dove in and started swimming. It was doable but not ideal and he didn't last very long. I was happy he cut it short since the guy hanging out further down the shore from me was creeping me out a bit and I kept looking for ways I could escape the beach area if needed.
      Our bike ride didn't go much better. We got lost due to the fact that 5 different streets will have 1 name or 1 street will have 5 names down there. This was honestly a mess of a trip but we were able to see that the bike ride was extremely flat and windy.
      Come race day, we picked Carrie up and headed down to the race. After getting our stuff set up, we did our warm up run & stretching. One of the great things about this race was that we knew a bunch of people doing it or coming to watch us. Keith, Carrie and I decided to do a warm up swim right before the race. The swim was a point to point swim so we headed to the swim start for our warm up. We should have known something was up when no racers were down there and they were all at the finish area of the beach warming up. After way too long of trying to navigate through the rocks, we finally reach water that is deep enough to actually swim in (although this was still probably less than 5 feet deep). Coming out of the water on the rocks was definitely a challenge that garnered some laughs from other racers standing on the shores.
      Once it was my swim wave's turn to start, I made the horrible trek across the rocks again. To my (and Carrie's) surprise, the other girls walked across the rocks like it was nothing...impressive. The swim was really weird with a buoy to turn at probably 100 yards into the swim. I tried to seat myself towards the front of the swim pack to try to get myself to go a bit faster (using my dislike of being swam over in an effort to push me harder). I never really got in a good rhythm and it definitely felt choppy the whole way. Luckily it was only a 1/3 mile swim.
      T1 went well and I was off on my bike. My game plan for the bike was simple – hammer the whole way and try to beat my other paces. I figured since this race was only a 14.7 mile flat ride vs. a 56 mile (Timberman) or 24.7 mile (Lobsterman) hilly ride I should be able to do that. Again it seemed some people like to hog the road but most of them had mountain bikes and were probably new so I won't harp on them. One guy annoyed me pretty bad with this though as he was actually just cruising along right next to the yellow line for a while and there wasn't even anyone to pass (and he had a tri bike so I'm guessing he knew what he was doing)! He probably just didn't want to get passed by a girl. I realized about 2 miles into the bike ride that the route did not look familiar and I came to the conclusion Keith and I did not ride any of the course when we attempted to ride the course a few weeks prior to the race. We laughed about this after the race and how we were way off. My final bike pace according to my computer said I averaged 20.9 mph although my final results have it at 20.5 mph. Keith had the same issue and we're pretty sure the distance was a little off (more like 15 miles) at least according to our computers.
     T2 did not go as planned and I lost some time because I couldn't get my bike on the rack. I know Max promotes their racks as being better than other races but I'm really not a fan as it seems my smaller than normal wheels don't fit in the grooves. Finally a race volunteer took pity on me and said to leave it and she'd rack it. A girl had come into the row on the other side right after me and sprinted out of transition before me due to this racking issue and to make matters worse, she was in my age group. The run course was along the bike course and coming into transition, I didn't see any girls ahead of me so I figured I might be able to come in 1st in my AG if I could pass this one girl who beat me out of transition.
      Onto the run, I was making sure to keep this girl in my age group within passing distance. The run was an out and back with a pretty good hill out of the park. About a mile into the run, I passed Keith as he was heading in for his last mile. He yelled, “The 1st place girl is right there” and pointed to the girl in my AG that was slightly in front of me. This was when I thought I could maybe actually place in the overall female category and I decided it was time for me to get a move on. I debated waiting another mile or so to pass the girl in 1st. I didn't want to run out of steam at the end and have the girl pass me back. She was going a pace I could definitely keep up with and still have something left in the tank to pass her at the end but I wanted to push my run pace to its limit instead. I made my move right after seeing Keith and hoped for the best. At the turn around, I was satisfied to see she hadn't picked up the pace to try to catch me and figured I just needed to hold this pace. Towards the finish, I started getting really excited that I was going to be the 1st female to cross the finish line and this might be the only time that happens.
      I crossed the line shortly before the other girl en route to yet another PR this year! While I realized I might not have actually been 1st (the older female swim wave started after mine), I relished the fact that I had A. been the 1st female to finish the race and B. I came in at least 1st in my AG! After scanning the results, I realized that my suspicions were correct and I didn't come in 1st overall but I did come in 3rd overall which felt pretty rewarding! It seemed so weird competing in a race this short (after doing several Olympics and a ½ IM this year) and it felt like I should do a workout after the race.
      It was a great day of racing all around as Keith came in 1st in his AG and set a PR and Carrie came in 3rd in her AG and also set a PR! We came home with a lot of glassware needless to say (Max gives out pint glasses as the award for placing) and only got slightly lost on the drive home! 

3rd Overall Female - 1st in AG

1st in AG

3rd in AG

Lots of glassware!
Swim: 11:10 (my fastest swim pace of the season)
T1: 1:28
Bike: 42:53 (20.5 mph)
T2: 0:49
Run: 22:05 (7:06 min/mile)
Overall time: 1:18:24 (3rd overall female and 1st in AG)

"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." ~Seneca

Friday, October 8, 2010

Lobsterman Olympic Race Report

     Training-wise the toughest thing following Timberman has been to get myself revved up for Lobsterman. Training this whole season has mostly been geared towards performing well at Timberman. The race season definitely felt like it was getting long having competed in the Season Opener in early May as my first race of 2010. I was starting to look forward to actually have a life outside of triathlon...who'd have thought!!
      The few weeks following Timberman, calling my bike rides bad would be an understatement. It felt like I had a charlie horse in my left quad every time I went over 10 to 15 miles especially in aero. I was seriously worried about how the Lobsterman bike ride would go. I also found it hard to get the motivation to go swimming (especially open water) with the weather getting cooler and the discovery of little jellyfish in Walden Pond. It turns out that was probably the reason I felt pretty itchy after a swim there shortly before the discovery. While I've been stung by a jellyfish in the ocean in Mexico, I have to admit I never thought I'd have to worry about jellyfish in a pond!
      Keith & I made the trip up the night before the race. The morning of the race, we arrived at the park pretty early (probably a little too early). The sun was rising over the ocean and I understood why this race has been called one of the most's gorgeous there! 
Beautiful Freeport, ME locale
     The week or so leading up to Lobsterman, it felt like I had tweaked my hip a bit. Between this and my quad feeling off, I had no idea how this race was going to go.  Just for kicks, let's add some cold water to the mix for the swim. I was definitely worried about the famed freezing cold swim of Lobsterman. In case you're wondering, they actually require you to wear a wetsuit (and for good reason). The water temp was 61 degrees F and this was my first ocean swim of the year. Before the start of the race, Carrie, Keith and I went for a warm up swim although I think this would more accurately be called a chill down swim. My body and feet didn't get too cold thanks to my wetsuit and booties but my hands and face froze the second I put them in the water. I was not looking forward to a freezing cold .93 mile swim.  
     I waited for the other swim waves to go with Carrie and Ashley and then hopped in the water when it was our turn to swim. One funny thing about doing a race in Maine - the announcer was actually wearing a lobster costume! Surprisingly when I got back in the water for the swim start, the water did not seem quiet as freezing as before.
      The swim went by slowly and I really just wanted to get to my bike. Luckily this part of the Maine ocean is really sheltered and was as calm as the beaches on the Northshore. Sighting was a bit difficult during the swim with the sun in our eyes for part of it so I just followed everyone else. I remember one of my least favorite thing about ocean swims: getting a mouthful of salt water - yum! Towards the end of the swim, I tried to pick up the pace and kick a lot to get the legs warmed up for the bike. I definitely felt like the cold water was zapping my energy at this point and I started to get pretty tired. Finally the swim ended and I was off to transition and my bike.
      At the start of the race, I was worried the air temp would be a little too cool and I was remembering Season Opener this year where I was frozen until around mile 2 of the run. The weather ended up being great! I hopped on my bike and off I went for the 24.7 miles. I made good time on the bike and I was pushing to have a faster pace than Timberman. For some reason, this race seemed like there were a lot of people who liked to hog the road on the bike. I definitely got sick of yelling on your left in an attempt for people to get the hint to stay on the right unless they're passing. I ended averaging 20.3 mph (4th in my AG) which was faster than Timberman and my quad did not end up acting up.
      Next up was the run. I was feeling pretty good at this point and wanted to try to beat the pace I held in my other Olympics. The run was hilly and I was definitely feeling this in both my knees by the end. I just kept concentrating on having the right form the whole run. A guy going a little faster than me passed me around mile 2 or 3. I decided to try to use him as my pacer and this ended up working to my advantage. To unknown pacer – thanks for keeping me at an 8 min mile! 

      My goal for this race was to beat my other two Olympic tri times of 2 hours and 44 minutes. That's right, in both of the other Olympics I did this year (before Timberman), my times were within seconds of each other. I'm thrilled to say I finished with a PR and while I was a little disappointed I didn't place in my age group (6th out of 35), I know I can't control who shows up for the race. Not only did I set a PR, but Keith did as well! Woohoo time to celebrate!

Crossing the finish
Post Race
      Keith and I decided to skip out on the Lobsterbake (overpaying for cold hamburgers and hot dogs at the Timberbake was still fresh in our minds), we drove down to Portland to eat some baked haddock. You might wonder what a reward might be like for both of us getting a PR at a Maine race. Lobster!! While in Portland, we realized the lobsters are relatively cheap so we decided to get a couple and have our own Lobsterbake later that night!

Swim: 31:33
T1: 1:58
Bike: 1:13:24 (20.3 mph)
T2: 1:00
Run: 49:40
Overall time: 2:37:32 (6th out of 35 in AG; 26th out of 207 females)

"Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly." ~Robert H. Schuller

The Lobster!