Saturday, July 27, 2019

Whaling City Sprint Tri Race Report

AKA, the most successful race I've ever had in the heat (*probably because only 1/3 of it was running*)

Back again with ANOTHER triathlon race report! My dad was in town last weekend and naturally, I decided that a fun thing to do would be to get up at 4:30 in the morning and drag him an hour+ out of the city to watch me do a race. What I did NOT count on was the fact that this race would be held in the midst of a horrid heat wave - forecast temps in the mid 90s with high humidity - on a course with no shade. FUN, yes? I had also talked Joy into the splash and dash event, and she texted me the day before like...uh...are we going to die tomorrow? Time would tell.
I also didn't have the greatest couple of weeks of training due to a variety of factors including travel and houseguests, but felt like this would be a good opportunity to get back into the swing of things before the big push into the half iron in September.

I slept horribly the night before the race, partially because it was 85 degrees in our apartment and partially because I was super anxious for some reason about getting to the race in time. Not about the race itself, mind you - I was really committed to the idea of just doing this as a training stimulus and for "fun". I got my bike into the Zipcar and picked up my dad at 5:15, and we enjoyed a peacefully traffic-free trek to New Bedford...if there's one time of day I actually enjoy driving, it's early in the morning on a weekend when I essentially have the road to myself. We made good time and I busied myself with checking in, getting body marked, and doing all the random extra shit you need to do for triathlons that you don't need to do for a running race. It was a little nerve wracking when they decided to play the national anthem a full 30 MINUTES before the start of the race (even the volunteers were very confused...) Once I got my stuff set up in transition I felt like I could finally take a breath, and I hunted down Joy and we headed for the swim start.

Still rocking that "take off the tire and put the bike in the backseat" life. I actually did buy a bike rack finally, but the idea of getting it properly set up at 4:30 in the morning was too anxiety provoking for me to deal with this time around

Yeahhh we are not wearing wetsuits today, thank you very much

The first wave went off at 7:30, and after several waves of various local triathlon teams (part of the race was a "team challenge"), I was lining up for the time trial start. Ready or not, here we go!

Swim - 400m, 9:00, 2:03/100yd, 10/21 in division
Gah, I'm a little disappointed in this! I think the distance might have been slightly longer than 400 m, but this was not a great showing in terms of division place. I think that my swimming is stronger over the longer distances, because I could have gone all day at this pace but I'm not sure how to swim "fast" yet (not sure if I really ever care to learn how to swim "fast" lol). Anyway, I ran into the water and dove right in, because the 72 degree water felt INCREDIBLE. So cool, so lovely. I did make a couple of errors that I think I can improve on for next time: I went off course IMMEDIATELY which probably cost me a few seconds, and I stood up WAY too early at the end of the swim and the awkward running in knee deep water also slowed me down. I think I also just sort of forgot that the swim was so short and settled into my usual pace - probably should have pushed more, but oh well! I felt good, and otherwise, this was fine. Once I got over my initial path failure I did a pretty good job of sighting, and I only got caught up with another swimmer once. Luckily, the swim is an extremely minor part of a sprint triathlon so, meh. I was sad to get out of the water and back into the blast furnace of heat...not even 8 am and we had already hit the 85 degree mark.

T1 - 2:32
There was a pretty long run up to transition, during which time I got to see my dad and Joy...was super confused as to why Joy wasn't in the water yet but apparently they ended up delaying the splash and dash start. I think I did a slightly better job of getting my shit together here than I did at White Mountains, but definitely still an area for improvement. I also definitely underestimated how challenging it would be to put my crop top on when I was wet from the swim, so that was probably a wasted 10-15 seconds of untwisting my clothing. I headed out of transition to volunteers shouting "HYDRATE ON THE BIKE!" and headed off on the double loop bike course.

Bike - 11.4 miles, 35:34, 19.2 mph, 4/21 in division
I'm SO PROUD of this bike!! I feel like I have no clue how to push on the flats so I was very pleasantly surprised by my performance here. I've also never had a ride over 18 mph average so on that account, hell yes. I always prepare myself mentally to just have a zillion people flying by me on the bike, but once again that was not the case here. In fact, because of the time trial start, waves, and a two loop course, there were a variety of people already out on the course that I was passing left and right. The first few miles didn't feel great - I think I'm realizing that it takes me a few miles to get warmed up on the bike, especially out of the swim, and that I should never trust how I feel until at least mile 5. After awhile though, I started to find a rhythm. Things were helped by the fact that I found a random girl who I ended up playing leapfrog with for the entire ride - it was fun! She also had a very snazzy racing uniform and it was motivating trying to stay with her each time she would make a pass. I still feel like I have a hard time choosing appropriate effort on the bike, so in this case I really just tried to focus on maintaining a steady effort and steady cadence, and making as many passes as I could. I also got to see Joy out on the run course, which looped past the bike course - running in the blasting sun looked fairly miserable but I tried not to think that far ahead. I kept drinking every couple of miles and wound up going through an entire bottle of Gatorade during the ride, which I think was a really smart move. I'm always amazed at how competitive I get on the bike - I think maybe it's because pace just has no meaning to me and the only metric I have of how I'm doing is how many people I can pass? Anyway, let me just say that it's a pretty great feeling to go blowing past a man on a $4000 triathlon bike. I know that having a good bike can be important in improving in this sport, but it's nice to know that it isn't EVERYTHING. 

I still just wear running shorts on the bike like the noob I am

The second loop went by really fast, and before I knew it I was pulling back into transition right behind my leapfrog friend. Aside from nearly getting sideswiped by an overzealous older man, I didn't run into any traffic issues and felt like I was able to ride my own ride, so...success!

T2: 1:23
Not much to report here. Swapped shoes, swapped headgear, dumped some cold water on my head, and got the heck out of there.

Run - 3.1 miles (a little long), 24:39, 7:58 pace officially, 2/21 in division
AHAHAH this was HORRID! Truly one of the worst runs of my life and I just couldn't even bring myself to care. It was so. hot. I passed my bike friend almost immediately out of transition and set two goals for myself for the run: don't walk, and don't die. At the first aid station out of transition I grabbed a cup of ice and shoved half of it in my bra, half of it in my hat, and just tried to chug along. By this point it was nearly 90, and the run course has exactly zero shade. Running along the ocean is lovely, but not exactly conducive to happiness on a hot day. I also quickly realized that I had blown out my legs on the bike (I can't figure out how not to do this?) and muscularly I had very little left to give. Still, in the triathlon world, often times if you're not walking you're passing people and I found myself passing, passing, passing, left and right. I only was passed twice, and both times it was by INSANE women in their 50s, both absolutely cruising! Good on you, ladies. I trudged along at somewhere around 7:45 pace, just laughing to myself at the absurdity of it all. I drank some Gatorade. Nothing really helped. I'ts 90 degrees, like, what can you even do? With a mile to go we headed towards a fort, and as I passed a woman she said something like "wow, you still have gas in the tank! Go girl!" I was like ummm not very much gas but I guess I'm still moving! It's just a very strange feeling running easy run pace in a race, passing people like crazy, and just not caring about how slowly you're going. I could tell I was getting dehydrated and I was truly just ready to be done. As we turned towards the finish line I glanced at my watch and realized that at only 2.65 miles, there was going to be some kind of stupid out and back to do to get to a 5K. And uggggggh there out and back on a pier with the sun continuing to blaze, all sea breeze gone, just 100% misery. I tried to look at the turnaround to see if there was anyone in my age group coming up on me, but honestly I'm not sure I would have been able to do anything about it even if there were. FINALLY we were heading onto the grass towards the finish line, and I summoned the saddest "kick" of all time to finish the race in 1:13:06.

I kind of just wanted to fall over at the finish but I made my way through the chute to get my medal and water bottle/cold towel (a really delightful perk of the races from this company). I had heard that there were going to be ice baths at the finish but I didn't know where they were and didn't feel like searching, so I just wandered around and eventually found my dad and Joy. 

After taking a few minutes to decompress I wandered over to the results table, where, to my absolute surprise and delight, I learned I had snuck my way into the age group rankings with 3rd! It's really hard to tell where you are in the general scheme of things with the wave/TT starts, especially with all of the team groups starting earlier, but I hadn't anticipated being able to place at this race due to it being a bigger race and people from so many actual triathlon teams being there. I was also pretty pumped that it was basically having a good bike that got me on the podium - the work I've been putting in is paying off! (Even though I still think I have a lot of work to do on the bike.) Joy and I went and jumped right back into the ocean for awhile, which honestly was the best part of the day. I had also joked in the morning about the absurd number of beverages I had with me (2 water bottles, a Gatorade bottle, a larger bottle with nuun, and an iced coffee) but I ended up drinking almost all of them...stupid high sweat rate and eternal dehydration. My dad also seemed to enjoy himself and I think was extra excited that he got to see me up on the podium.

It's so fun getting to stand on an actual podium! Why do road races not believe in these?

All in all, it was a really fun day and a great experience racing in less-than-ideal conditions, with the added bonus of having a strong day in the discipline I feel least "good" at. This was also a great motivator to get back into the swing of training generally - I'm still struggling a bit with the fact that there is just no time/energy to run the type of mileage I'm used to when I'm also trying to fit in 40 mile bike rides and swimming, and I definitely need to work on running off the bike even though it's the least pleasant thing of all time, but man oh man I just can't seem to get enough of this silly sport. I'm not quitting running though! I promise! I can do it all! ;) Running PRs just might not be my focus right least not until after September of 2020. Until then, I think I've got plans....(cough, cough....Ironman...cough)

Whaling City Sprint Tri (400m swim/11.4M bike/5K run) - 1:13:06
105/469 OA, 28/225 women, 3/21 F30-34