Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Rachel's Triathlon Adventure

Fresh from Rachel....a report on her Wildflower Tri last weekend in San Francisco.
Swim (1.2 miles): 0:46:51

I was extremely nervous standing on the boat launch ramp waiting for my wave to start. It has been a long time since I have been so nervous since bike races don't really
phase me anymore. I was about to attempt something that I truly didn't know if I could accomplish. 1.2 miles looks a lot longer when it is stretched out in a lake instead
of divided into laps in a pool! I just took it one buoy at a time, and didn't have any near-drowning issues. Sure, people ran into me, and I ran into them, but it was more
of an annoyance than a life-threatening experience. Having a good-fitting wetsuit was awesome. It kept me floating even when I was running into people instead of actually
swimming. I had a non conventional strategy of switching to the breast stroke when I wanted to sight since I couldn't get my face far enough out of the water to sight while
doing freestyle.

It was a windy day, and the waves were noticeable, but not terrible. They we worse on the way back when I could feel them slamming into my head with every
swell, but I kept forward progress. Thank goodness for bilateral breathing. I actually ended up breathing on the right on my way out and on my left on the way back because
of the direction the waves were coming from. I'm glad I had practice on both sides!

Transition 1: 0:09:50.

This was by far the slowest transition time in my age group ;) I walked out of the water and walked up the ramp while fumbling with my wetsuit. It
took me a while to get it off since I forgot about my ankle, and got stuck on that for awhile. After I got my wetsuit off, I proceded to don my changing skirt and change
completely out of my swim clothes into my cycling kit. I decided to go for comfort instead of speed in the transitions. Not that my cycling gear definitely would have been
more comfortable than some tri outfit, but I never managed to find a tri outfit beforehand, and I didn't want to try anything new for the race. So, tried-and-true cycling
kit it was--I even got a few compliments on it during the ride. I then walk/skipped my bike to the "loading" area and hopped on cyclocross style while everyone else around
me fumbled to clip in and get rolling.

Bike (56 miles): 3:18:24.

I had the 14th fastest bike split in my age group out of 93 gals. Having a respectable bike leg was my main goal--given that I am a cyclist! However, I did go to new
triathlete levels that I never thought I'd reach including: peeing while riding and sticking a Power Bar to my top tube so that I could take small chunks of it over the
course of about half an hour.

I got to pass people right and left, which was a good confidence builder--actually, I only passed them on the left 'cause that's how you do it in triathlons :) Less than a
dozen people passed me, so even though I was feeling like I could be going harder, I felt like I must be going fast enough if I was still passing people, and I needed to have
something left in my legs for the run.

I didn't even start feeling a bit fatigued until over 3/4ths into the ride. This was also around the time that "Nasty Grade" came along. This was a 2 mile climb that starts
out with an incline of about 2-3%. The real kicker comes toward the end of the hill, when there's about a half mile to the top. You see the Energizer bunny cheering you on,
then there's a sharp right hand turn at what you will think is the top, but after this turn it gets a little bit steeper (about 10% grade) and a little bit nastier--hence the
name. I played it pretty conservative on this hill, and while it was slightly uncomfortable, I was never in the hurt box, and I was never anywhere near considering getting
off my bike and walking like a few people I saw. Actually, I looked forward to the hills that made most people groan when they came into view on the horizon. I just floated
up them keeping my power in check.

In retrospect, I could have pushed it more on the bike, but I was worried about the run. For the last 15 miles I even toned down the pace a bit more to try to let my legs
fully recover from Nasty Grade in anticipation of the run.

Transition 2: 0:10:21.

Again, this was by far the slowest transition time in my age group ;) I changed completely out of my cycling kit into running clothes, and even put on a fresh pair of socks.

Run (13.1 miles): 2:34:12

Not fabulous, and not the time I was shooting for, but the course was really hilly and mostly offroad, and the longest run I'd done previously in training was a little over 8
miles. So, I was happy that I ran the entire 13.1 regardless of my time. I actually walked though every aid station to drink a few swigs of water. I knew getting
dehydrated on a day like that on a course like that would be a death wish. I took the cue from Allen and Floyd
(http://www.saris.com/athletes/CategoryView,category,Floyd%20Landis.aspx), and also poured water on my head at every aid station. I actually did that in the bike too, and I
never felt like I was overheating during any of the race.

After about 4 miles, the running started getting uncomfortable. I wasn't feeling fatigued, but my knees and IT bands were not feeling great on the downhills. I even
hop-skipped down a few of them to make them not hurt. It wasn't that bad until we popped off the dirt trail into the road for the last 3-4 miles. We had to run down this
climb then up another one and down the backside, and then turn around and go back--up, down, up, then up again, and then down to the finish line.

It was a L-O-N-G half mile DOWN to the finish line. Every step was jabbing my knee with pain, and people who I had passed on the uphill were merrily clomping by me driven forward by the call of the finishing shoot. When I finally made it there, I wanted to savor the crowd, and take it all in, but then all of a sudden, some girl in my age group sprinted by me. I was
like Oh no you di'n't! And I looked over my shoulder, and saw another one coming; I was like WTF, Bitches! And I sprinted to the line. For a moment, my legs were like,
excuse me, what to you think you're doing to us? But they complied, and I finished in just under 7 hours. I'll take that for my half ironman ever.

Thanks for your patience with me this Spring. Now onto Nature Valley!


Anonymous dq said...

Whoa...reading this almost...I say almost (say that like Foghorn Leghorn) made me want to do a triahtlon again. Then I realized how expensive they are and you can't win any money and realized I've become a roadie to the core. All the same we're all proud of you. Nice going!

3:56 PM  
Anonymous BUNNY said...

Way to go. Seriously, I am super impressed!!! Hope your knees feel better soon.
Perhaps next time we are all together you can give us a tutorial on how to pee whilst riding.

5:04 PM  
Anonymous dq said...

Yes!! Tell us how you peeed!!! That might be a useful skill to know!

6:03 AM  

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