31 May 2008

Shark Attack Triathlon Race Report

Official Time - 1:19:58

Swim - 7:33

T1 - 1:59

Bike - 39:42

T2 - 1:34

Run - 29:08

Overall Place - 76/218

Gender Place - 19/89

Age Group Place - 1

So, today was my first triathlon of the season and I have to say that I'm incredibly pleased with the results. Yes, I did win my age group and I'm totally doing the happy dance inside my tired body. I figured that I needed to get the race report down before I forget how incredible this feels.

I had all intentions of doing my pre-race mental cooldown last night, but my brother and his family came over and I was trying to pack and not forget anything and I ended up just going to bed, hoping to get a good night sleep. I was in bed by 10pm, and ended up waking up around 1:30am because I was hot. So, I opened the window and read for a few minutes and tried to go back to sleep. I ended up mentally going through the race, the transitions, the different events, scenarios, etc. I fell back to sleep around 2:30am, and absolutely did not want to wake up at 5am. However, I got up, put on my new tri-clothes (Here's an aside for you... I somehow managed to leave all of my tri-clothes back in IL, so I had to order new ones this week, and I wore them in the race without ever training in them, since they arrived yesterday afternoon), packed up the car, and was ready to go. My mom ended up riding with me, while my dad hopped on his bike and we were off. My dad decided to ride over to the race venue and was planning on meeting us there for the race.

On the way to Honeyville, I ate my pop-tart, sneezed alot, and tried to make myself wake up. It was chilly and breezy, so I was somewhat worried about whether I was going to be cold on the bike or the water temperature or whatever. I didn't take my wetsuit, so I was wondering about how that would all work out. I also wondered about how the bike would go, since that is really my big limiter. Anyways, we arrived at the race site, I grabbed my bike, headed to packet pick-up, did the body marking thing, and then made my way to transition. I set up my transition area exactly the way I've been practicing and grabbed my timing chip and headed back to the car to warm up. I was surprisingly not nervous, and was actually feeling pretty good.

We had the pre-race meeting and then headed down to the pool. The 400 yd. swim took place in a pool that was 40 yd. long. There were 10 lanes and the racers started every 10 sec. I got in the 8 min and under group, got my goggles wet, put on my swim cap, and watched as the pool became a huge washing machine. Finally, it was my turn and I started my watch, stepped into the water and started swimming. I think the water temperature was around 70 and I experienced the whole cold water shock thing for the first lap. Then, I finally got into my groove and started swimming. I got passed once, but then passed a couple of people. The swim was pretty turbulent and the lane lines weren't tight, so I kept running into them with my stroke, as well as running into other people. I accidentally slapped the woman in front of me on the butt because she was swimming slower than me. I kinda lost track of the laps/lengths so I was surprised when I reached the end of the pool. I hopped out, stripped off my swim cap, and goggles and started running up to transition. I forgot to look at my watch and didn't keep track of my splits, so I wasn't really sure where I was timewise, other than my overall time. My goal for the swim was 8 min, and I came out of the water in 7:33, so I'm definitely pleased with that.

T1 went okay. I had lots of gravel on my feet from the run up from the pool and from the transition area. I rubbed most of it on my towel, put on my sunglasses, strapped on my helmet, put on my shoes, grabbed my bike, and started running. I actually had the fastest T1 time in my age group by over a minute(1:59), and I beat my goal by 31 sec. I racked my bike close to the swim out and had to run through the entire transition area to get to the bike out, but the good thing was that I found my bike very easily because it was at the end of the rack.

Once I got out of transition area, I had to run up a little hill of gravel and then hopped on the bike and started going. Before the race, I made sure that my bike was in an easy gear, so pedaling and clipping in was no problem. In fact, for only my second outside ride with the clipless pedals, I did great. My mental goal for the bike was to keep it over 18 mph, so I started off right away working hard. The bike course was hilly, but I managed the hills pretty well. I was even passing people and actually watched the backs of people's legs to see what age group they were in. I didn't want to get passed by anyone in my age group. The turnaround was a little tricky, because it was at the bottom of the hill, so you had to slow down and then turn right around to go back up the hill. On the way back in, I decided to push myself even harder, and worked hard on the hills and on passing people. I think I only got passed twice, both were guys, and one was a guy I had passed a couple of times. I forgot to reset my bike computer, so I really didn't know how far I had left to go, and I'm notorious for forgetting courses, so I was pleasantly surprised when I got to the transition area. I clipped out with no problems (hooray!) and ran, VERY wobbly into transition. Oh, I forgot to mention that the end of my metal cable thingy (nice technical term) came off at some point during the first half of the bike, so I ended up with a wire thingy scratching my leg for about 9 miles or so. I had blood running down my leg and into my shoe and actually have a nice big sore to remember it by. My goal for the bike was to finish in 40 min and my actual time was 39:42. I actually carried an 18.1 mph pace and I feel really really good about that. One more thing on the bike...I forgot to open my water bottle before the race, so I didn't take in any fluids. I'm still not so good...actually, I'm awful at riding and drinking or doing anything else at the same time.

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T2 was a little shaky because my legs were really wobbly from the bike. I also struggled a little to get my running shoes on. I grabbed my visor, my race number, and headed out with blood still running down my leg, for the 5K. My goal for T2 was 1:30, but I ended up taking 1:34, so I took a little longer (4 sec.) longer than I thought.

My legs felt awful and wobbly and were cramping up, so the first mile took FOREVER. I was also looking forward to getting a drink at the aid station at mile 1. I ran with a girl for a little while, but at some point after the first mile, I found my legs and took off. I didn't see anyone from my age group around me, but I figured that they were probably ahead of me, so I decided to just gut it out and run. At mile 2, I was feeling good, and by the time I got to mile 3, which was at the top of the hill, I was feeling great. I turned into the park and headed for the finish line. I looked at my watch and saw 1:18:?? and while I couldn't see the finish line, I was hoping that I could make it before my 1:20 goal. I finally saw the finish line, picked up the pace (I was already running at puke pace) and finished at 1:59 on my watch. My run time ended up being 29:08 and my pace was 9:24. I was hoping for a little faster, and my goal was under 28, but I think I wasn't expecting my legs to feel so rotten after the run.

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After the race, I met up with my parents and decided to stay for the awards ceremony because I thought that maybe I might have placed in my age group. My dad decided to ride back to Logan, so he took off into a roaring headwind, and my mom and I went back to the car to get my warm, dry clothes. I changed clothes, packed up my transition area, took everything back to the car, and then checked the results. My mom saw my name first and then I saw it and I couldn't believe it. How did I place first? I knew that I could if I had a good race, based on last year's results, but I didn't know who would show up today and I wasn't really sure who was ahead of me on any of the events. My official time ended up being 1:19:58, so I met my 1:20 goal by 2 sec. We stayed for awards and I got a cool "gold" medal for my first place finish. I was totally excited and am still doing the happy dance.

So, what did I learn from this race. I learned that training really works. I knew that, but this was a nice surprise because I haven't been performing as well in my running races, but apparently triathlon training does help you improve your triathlon performance. I learned that i can push myself on the bike and feel rotten and still run okay. I'm anxious to see how I do on a longer run course because it does seem to take me awhile to get into my running groove. I learned that pop-tarts are truly the breakfast of champions because I had absolutely NO nutrition problems during this race. I felt great energy-wise, and while I could have used a drink on the bike, I never felt totally drained or bonked. I learned that I can actually be good at triathlon. I learned that I really do need to get my running speed down, so that means more brick workouts. I learned to trust in my swimming abilities and to know that I can actually hang with the swimmers okay.

What can I do to prepare myself better for the next race? Well, I need to ride more outside, so my dad and I are going for a ride on Monday and Wednesday of next week. I also need to work on my bricks and getting into my running groove quicker. I need to keep practicing my transitions so that they go smoothly, with minimal hangups. Oh, and I need to learn to drink/eat on the bike.

Overall, this was an awesome experience. I feel like I had one of those perfect race days where everything clicks and falls into place. I hope that this happens on August 9, when I do the Utah 1/2 IM.


Tinkerbell said...

Outstanding race AJ! Way to push yourself to the very end. Congrats on the hardware!!!!!

Barb said...

Awesome...congrats....way to go!!! I'm so proud of you. I'll bet that new outfit helped, too! LOL

Meigan said...

Congratulations, AJ! What a great race you ran - so fun to read about it!