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!

3 Comments:

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...

Rachel,
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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