14 June 2008

BAM Triathlon Race Report

So, here is my race report. I actually wrote it in a hotel on June 16, after I'd had some time to do some processing. Oh, FYI...this is long.

On Friday afternoon, my mom and I drove up to Soldier Hollow to the expo. I was pretty excited because according to the website, the expo was supposed to be kind of big. Well, I got in line to pick up my packet and timing chip and realized that there were only 3-4 booths. The was teeny and I was really disappointed. Anyways, we left the venue and headed over to T1 to drop off my bike. I got a great spot at the end of the row. After I got my bike racked and stickers put on, we walked down to the lake. It wasn't as cold as I expected, which was good news. The race officials were taking the temperature and it was 62 degrees. There were some people swimming and this guy said that the water wasn't too bad, but he and his wife had been sitting in their hot tub filled with ice water every night for the past few weeks. My mom looked at me and said, "I guess they're pretty hard core." I said, "Yeah, I guess. I'm pretty sure I would never do that." I forgot to mention that when I racked my bike, I made sure that my bike was in a good easy gear and that my bike computer was reset so I would know how far I had gone. (That was a lesson learned from my least race.)

Once we were done at T1, we headed out to drive the bike course. My mom was the navigator and we actually missed turns a couple of time. One time we actually kept driving up the canyon and we kept going up and up and up, and I kept thinking, "I don't know if I can do this ride." The race was uphill from miles 5-8 and there were some tricky hills and sharp turns, so I was really glad that I took the time to drive the course. After we drove the course, we headed back down the canyon to my aunt and uncles house. We all went to dinner, where I had an omelette and a strawberry caramel shake. Once we got back to the house, my mom and I helped my aunt put together my cousin's wedding invitations.

I think I ended up going to bed around 10:30pm. I remember starting to visualize and mentally rehearse the race, except that I fell asleep. I actually slept through the night until my alarm went off at 3:42 am. I got up, got dressed, brushed my teeth, and then my mom and I headed to the grocery store to pick up some PopTarts. In all of the packing on Friday morning, I remembered my chocolate milk, but I forgot my PopTarts. So, we grabbed some strawberry (unfrosted) PopTarts and then started the 45 min. drive up Provo Canyon back to Soldier Hollow.

When we arrived, I headed down to T2 and set up my run stuff. I packed up my swim and bike stuff, and then my mom and I hopped on the shuttle and headed for T1. We got in line for the toilet and then I headed over to set up my bike transition area. I chedked out my bike and then it was time to stuff myself into my wetsuit and head down to the water. I talked to my dad and told him to have fun on his century ride and he told me to relax and just swim. The grass had frost on it and my feet were FREEZING cold. I walked down to the lake and walked in up to my waist. The water was around 56 degrees, but it was steaming and warmer than the air temperature, so while it was cold, it wasn't too bad. My mom was standing there and she said, "Good luck and have fun." I said, "Remember, I want to be cremated if I die." She just looked at me kinda funny.

The pros (apparently Mirida Carfrae was there) started at 6:30am and then at 6:35am, my wave (women and elites) started. I started at the outside of the group and tried to start swimming. My goggles kept fogging up (note to self: buy defogging spray) and I was freaking out. I tried to swim freestyle, breast stroke, back stroke, doggy paddle, sidestroke, anything to make forward progress. I absolutely did not want to be in the water. I actually stopped swimming and looked at a kayak and seriously considered calling it over to haul me back in. I actually thought that several times. It took FOREVER to get to the first buoy and I still felt like quitting. I knew that wouldn't happen, but I was still freaking out. When I got to the second buoy and turned right, I realized I was heading straight into the sun and I couldn't see the next buoy. There was also a good wake from a boat that made breathing kinda tricky. I finally made it to the next buoy and there was a woman swimming near me who was struggling. She asked me if I thought we had gone 3/4 of the way and I said maybe 2/3. I told her she was looking good and she said, "At least we haven't drowned yet." At this point, we were heading back to shore and I finally calmed down and back to shore and I finally calmed down and started to swim. I felt like I had been in the water forever and I really just wanted to be done with the swim.

I finally got close enough to the shore that I could see the bottom. Then, it got too shallow to swim, but too deep to walk/run easily. So, I stood up and tried to get oriented and finally realized what direction I needed to run in. We actually had to run up a really steep dock and then I finally figured out where to run into transition. While I was running up I managed to get my wetsuit halfway off. I also realized a this point that my watchy had stopped at some point. I asked my mom how long I was in the water and she said, "40-45 minutes." I was disappointed but not surprised. I finished getting my wetsuit off with minimal problems, but I will definitely use the Tri-Slide for the next race. I grabbed my helmet, skipped the arm warmers, grabbed my bike and was off.

My swim time ended up being 39:07, so I really only freaked out for about 7 minutes or so. It wasn't as bad as I though, but definitely wasn't my best swim by any means. While I was swimming, I realized that I only freak out when I'm going away from shore. I also realized that I didn't quit, although there were several times that I really seriously considered it and even wanted too. I also realized that I used all of my "tools" to get through that swim and that while it was only my third open water swim ever, I still did okay timewise.

My T1 time was only 12 seconds longer than my goal, which was cool, especially dealing with the wetsuit. I was actually 2/22 in my age group in T1, so apparently, I have a pretty good handle on my transition from swim to bike. I do want to try out the Tri-Slide to see if it makes a difference in my wetsuit removal. I also want to try putting baby powder in my shoes to see if I can get them on fastter. Oh, before the race, I made sure my water bottles were open which definitely helped on the bike.

I hopped on my bike and was really really glad to be out of the water. I started pedaling and was actually feeling good. I grabbed a drink and kept pushing hard in my big gear until I hit the hills. I actually passed a couple of people on the hills and was feeling good when I got passed mile 8. I was drinking and riding in my aerobars and I was definitely loving my new saddle. Around mile 13 or 14, I dropped my water bottle and considered leaving it on the course because I had already passed lots of droppsed water bottles. However, I didn't want to be penalized, so I clipped out (seamlessly), hopped off the bike, grabbed the bottle, and jumped back on. I was a little mad because I got passed by three women that I just worked really hard to pass. So, I started working hard to pass them again and to get back up to speed. I ended up really enjoying the bike and wasn't really ready to be done. The last half mile was up hill, which was tough, but I was feeling good. I managed to drink a full bottle of Heed, which I really liked, and I rode in my aerobars more than I ever have before.

My time on the bike ended up being 1:23:10, which was three minutes longer than my goal, but I really feel like I had a great ride and I definitely gained some confidence in my cycling skills. I did realize that I need to work on my cornering, but I feel like that will come with some practice. I still need to keep working on riding in the aeroposition and I think I'll be able to ride aeor quite a bit in my next race.

T2 was a little tricky. I was trying to find my spot, and thankfully, my mom was standing there and yelled. I was at the end of a row and was very close to the run exit. I struggled to get my shoes on again, so I really do want to try the baby powder thing. I swapped my helmet for my visor, grabbed my number and a Gu, and headed out. I thought about stopping at the portapotty, but decided I didn't have to pee that bad. (That was a mistake.) My T-2 time was 1:34, which I was happy with. My legs felt pretty good coming off the bike, but I was struggling to try to stride out.

The start of the run was actually going fairly well. I was slowly starting to get into my groove and then the first hill showed up. I got up it, only to find another hill and another hill and on and on. The hills just kept coming and I really had to pee. The run was on a cross-country ski trail and I was really starting to struggle. I love to run hills, but I do not love to run up and every once in awhile down hills, with no flats for 5.9 miles. I tried to get into a rhythm, but it wasn't happening. I tried taking Gu at mile 4, but that just upset my stomach. I remember coming across a photographer and so I started running and smiling, so at least I would look like I was having fun. When I got up to him (yes, he was at the top off yet another hill) I said, "Can I walk now?" He smiled and said, "You've only got 2 hills left...a long gradual one and a short steep one." I tried to get going again, but I didn't make it too far. I did make it to the steep hill and actually ran up it. Then, I could see the finish line, so I ran. Did I mention that the last 30 yards were yes, you guessed it, uphill. I crossed the finish line and got to run through the ribbon, which was pretty cool. I did forget to mention that I got passed on the run by 4 or 5 ladies in my age group, which was tough and demoralizing. I didn't like that feeling at all.

In the finishers area, I got my finishers hat, a bottle of Heed, and some water. The poste race food was pizza and the thought of eating pizza made me want to hurl. I skipped that and headed off to find my mom. My time on the run was 1:16, which was the slowest time in my age group. I'm not really sure what happened on the run. I know that mentally I couldn't find my groove. I hated the course and was so tired of going uphill. I'm not sure if I ran out of gas or if I just broke down mentally. I've also been wondering if the altitude played a role. I do know that I know how to run and I just needed to mentally toughen up. I forgot to mention that I did stop to pee somewhere between mile 2 and 3.

So, my total time ended up being 3:22:58 and I came in 20 out of 22 in my age group. My run had alot to do with that. I didn't like this race and I hated the run course. I'm definitely not doing this race again, although as I just wrote that I hesitated, which means that there is some crazy wacky part of me who wants to conquer this course, so maybe I'll be back.

I think my big takeaways from this race were that I kept swimming, even when I really wanted to quit. I realized that I need to overcome this fear of open water swimming and I even pinpointed my fear a little. Somehow, I have to change my perception of reality and make myself "forget" (for lack of a better word) that I'm swimming away from land. I need to trust myself to swim like I know how. I guess I need alot more practice with my open water swimming, so I'll have to go out to the lake more and just practice. I also need to practice sighting, which I can do in the pool. Another takeaway is that I need to continue working on my riding, especially my handling skills. I also realized that my new saddle totally rocks and that I can really enjoy riding. It was so fun to ride in my aerobars and to pick people off on the bike. I also need to work on my mental toughness and find ways to keep pushing myself.

The good news is that I have another race on Saturday. I'm doing the Cache Valley Classic, which was my first triathlon last fall. I'm anxious to see how it goes and to see if I've made any improvements. I'm hoping to decrease my freak out time in the water and to maintain 18 mph on the bike. I know the course so it should go well.

Total time - 3:22:59
Swim - 39:07
T1 - 2:42
Bike - 1:23:10
T2 - 1:34
Run - 1:16:27