Sunday, April 19, 2015

Race Recap: OV Tri - Spring into Tri

Yesterday, I completed my second ever triathlon!

I didn't do much exercise last week. It was testing week at my school, and despite me having less to do during the day, I always come home exhausted and nervous (performance pay/knowing your job security depends on 25 ten year olds does that to you).

The morning of my tri began at 4:15 AM. I had my morning snuggle with Lilah, and put on my clothes. We left the house around 4:45, with  me feeling strangely numb to the fact that I was about to jump into a giant pool with 100 other people.

Setting up transition was pretty easy - until a guy came by, moved my towel, and put his stuff in my spot while I was picking up my race number. I gave him a glower and respectfully declined when he offered to move my stuff where I put it.

I met up with a couple of my TTG girls and then walked the transitions to be sure I knew where to go.

They lined us up at the pool. It was freezing. I was down to my tri top and shorts, and the relatively warm water kept splashing my toes, making them quite numb. I chatted with the people around me (we'd be starting 15 seconds apart, so I figured I'd get to know the people who were about to be kicking my face). Most of us estimated our times to be within a minute of each other. One of them also recognized me from a TTG meeting where I spoke about cycling, which was kind of cool.

Finally, I stood at the start line. The official told me to go. I have no clue how to dive into a pool, and I saw several spectacular belly flops which I did not want to imitate. My thinking was that I should slide in, duck down, then kick off the wall. Mike later told me that I looked like I was about to go on a leisurely swim, so that's something I should work on.

I started things out steady. Last year, I went way too hard on my swim, and couldn't get out of the pool on my first try. I made sure to breathe and count  my strokes. It seemed to be helping. I wasn't freaking out, and I had already swam 100 m without realizing it. I noticed I was coming up close to the guy who started in front of me, and knew I would be passing at least one person.

Suddenly, I felt a tapping on my toes. I knew it must be the very intense-looking German lady behind me. I moved over to the right and waited for her to pass. When she didn't, I kept going. I caught the guy in front of me, and we were quickly approaching the wall. I figured the guy would hold onto the wall, and I would stagger it so I would pass him and try to stay with the German lady (I think her name was Bettina or something like that, but I thought of her as "The German" during my swim).

Well, the German swam past me before the wall, reached the wall, and turned. The guy didn't wait at the wall, and I didn't want to try and pass him down the I pulled a dick move and crossed in front of him. I chased after the German and caught up to her. I decided that I would hang on in her lovely drafting bubbles until I got winded and would relax.

I found myself thwapping her feet with my hands over and over again. My group swimming skills are close to zero. At Tri for Kindness, I passed the four people in my circle swim lane, but there was more room in the lanes. I trained with one of my friends and we practiced passing once or twice, but other than that, I had no idea how to dodge a foot. We passed a group of three swimmers, and I thought I should try and pass her as well. Nope. She wasn't having any of it.

The guy at the start told us to pass politely, but it was such a clusterfuck in the water that at certain times, I was less than polite. After another 100 m or so, I realized that I was consistently staying on her feet, and my breathing was fine. I decided to stay right behind her until the end of the race. Unfortunately, that meant some awkward passing and pushing other people who were hanging on the walls catching their breaths. I felt terrible, but there was a point where there was no room on the wall for me to turn around due to three people stopped at the end of the lane.

I was shocked at how zen I was throughout the entire swim. When I did my first tri last year, I totally freaked out and hyperventilated and thought I was going to die...all while swimming in a 4ft deep pool. This time, I was swimming in 6-15 feet of water, passing people, having swimmers push off me, with elbows and feet flying, yet I maintained a mostly clear mind and kept calm under some of the more crowded sections.

At one point, I had no idea how far I'd gone, but I could see the wall. I attempted to pass the German again, but she sped up, and I continued smacking her feet through the very end.

(Please note that I found her on AthletePath and messaged her thanking her for letting me draft and apologizing for the number of times I hit her feet. I wish I could apologize to some of the people I passed as well, but I have no clue what their race numbers were).

It was my first time ever using the "Triathlon" setting on my watch, and I thought I remembered how to use it. Apparently, not. I was definitely slowed down by fooling around with the watch, and I was a little kooky after the swim.

 Once I made it to the transition area, I quickly put on my sunglasses, race belt, shoes, and helmet. The food was a bit more difficult to stuff in tiny soaking wet pockets, so I made a mental note to myself to either keep it in my jersey the whole time or find a more efficient way of doing it next tri.

I can't believe I was holding onto my handlebars. I didn't even realize it. I'm the worst.

I jumped on the bike and did a sprint to make up for the lost time from fitting my HammerGel in my pockets. There was a "No Pass" zone SOMEWHERE on the first section of the course, and it wasn't marked. I was quickly approaching a group of cyclists, when they all suddenly moved into the "keep left" section of the cones...which I was pretty sure was for the cars, but I didn't really care. I just really wanted the QOM of the segment. I caught a guy, yelled, "On your left" and he told me this was the no passing zone. So I waited until our section opened up, put in another sprint, and turned onto La Canada still in my aero position (oh yeahhhhhhhh). I bombed down the hill, and began the short but painful climb to Lambert. The second half of the first lap was pretty uneventful. I realized I forgot to turn over my watch to the inside of my wrist, so I had no idea what sort of power/speed/heart rate I was holding. There were several points where I did some dangerous things while in my aero bars to try and see my speed...but don't tell that to my parents.

The second lap went much better. I passed about 30 people, and flew up the hill. The only issue that happened on the second lap was when I turned onto Oracle in my aero position and nearly knocked into a sign that was pushed in just a little bit more than the others. My bike went sideways, and I briefly imagined the humiliation of crashing my bike during a triathlon. Luckily, I stayed upright and continued onward.

I'd also like to point out that this was the very first time I've ever ridden a bike while wearing a sleeveless jersey. I can't say I'm a big fan. The wind whipping on my bare shoulders was completely bizarre, especially at the beginning when I was still soaking wet.

Finally, I made it to the dismount line, and rushed back to my transition towel. I threw off my shoes and helmet, and slipped into my shoes. Unfortunately, the tongue on my right shoe got folded under itself, and I spent about 45 seconds tugging and nearly breaking a nail trying to get it set right.

I'm not sure why, but I always feel like I'm going slow at the start of a brick, but when I look down, I'm insanely fast. Like...too fast to keep the pace for even a half a mile. I kept staring at my watch until I reached a pace I knew I could keep...and even then, I was dying. I took some water halfway through the first lap, and took a quick walking break. Once I finished my water, I got right back on it and continued running.

It was kind of cool having to do two laps, and it was a two-way course. I got to see my TTG race buddies and we cheered each other on as we passed them...though I'm sure most of it was me gasping their names instead of cheering...

The second lap was even more painful than the first. I have a feeling that runners can sense when other runners are in agony, because I got a lot of, "Great job!" and "Keep it up!" as people passed me. *hangs head*

I have no idea how I managed to finish that last half mile. Having my hubsy cheering me on, and the TTG cheering section at the end definitely helped. I was ready to crawl on all fours to the finish line.

But I didn't. I finished. I crossed that damn timing mat, hobbled to the guy with the finishers medals, and nursed a bottle of water while laying on the concrete.

How did I do?

Not great.

My swim was about a minute slower than my estimate, but was still reasonable (20:37), considering the number of times I had to get creative with the wall. My transitions were awful, despite the ridiculous amount of preparation I had done. My run was nearly a PR for me, but atrocious compared to my peers (31:06). My bike was pretty awesome - only three minutes behind the fastest female cyclist and 10th for overall women, averaging nearly 20mph with a climb in the middle. My overall time was 1:39:40, which was alright compared to the women as a whole.

Unfortunately for me, the women in my age group ended up taking the top 25 overall - I was 31st. The girl in first place in my age group finished 15 minutes ahead of me and took 3rd overall. If I wanted to come close to a podium, I would have needed to make up 10 minutes on my time.

However, I had a blast racing yesterday. I felt far more confident and steady in my efforts than I did last year. The only way to do things better in races is to make mistakes and learn from them.

I've got three months until my next triathlon - exact same course but in the dead of summer. I fully intend on dropping at least five minutes from my time, hopefully seven. I'm sure I can make up one minute in the transition alone. I'd love to get quicker at swimming, and my cycling ability will only increase as the summer wears on.

Yet, none of that matters if I can't get my run right. I was one of the slowest runners of the day. Ideally, I'd like to have a 27 minute 5k (but that means dropping five minutes from my current record). My Garmin seems to think it's possible, but I'm not sure. It probably doesn't help that running is my least favorite out of the multisport combo.

(apparently, I clench my fists when I run. I look like I'm practicing for a ski event instead of running...)

Now I get to go in full hill climb mode for the next two weeks to get ready for the South Mountain TT. I've also got Cotton City Classic next weekend - a 20k and 40k time trial. It will be both painful and fabulous.

However, I want to do at least one run and swim a week on top of that. I'm also trying out GaiamTV's Conscious Cleanse - Clean Eating and Yoga Challenge for the next two weeks as a way to shed some weight and get back into yoga. Wish me luck!

Until then,

Saturday, April 11, 2015

1 week until OV Tri!

I found myself with a bit of spare time, so I thought I'd write something in here today.

The past few weeks have been interesting in terms of training. I had Spring Break and got a lot of good training in (I posted all about it in my last blog). I was running, biking, and swimming - even getting back into a yoga routine. I hit some PRs for 2015 in terms of power and running too!

And then I got sick.

Two Mondays ago, I woke up feeling okay, and got worse and worse as the day progressed. Cooking dinner was an effort. On Monday night, I woke up around 11PM with a splitting pain in my ears, nose, and face. I was in so much pain, I couldn't get back to sleep until nearly 2AM. I somehow managed to make it through the day on Tuesday, and decided I'd go to school on Wednesday. School lets out at 11:30 on Wednesdays, and I send my students to the computer lab at 10:30. So I had to make it through two hours with my kids. I could hardly hear anything, and I wanted to curl up under my desk and sleep.

I visited the Walgreens clinic after school was over, and I was immediately diagnosed with a sinus infection. The lady at the clinic took one look at me and said, "Oh, you're sick." No shit.

I was given 20 gigantic antibiotic pills and instructed to take them twice a day. I hadn't done any exercise in six days.

By Saturday (04/04) I was feeling more like myself. With the OV Tri coming up, I needed to at least experience what a long course swim was like. I drove the 22 ridiculous miles to get to the pool, and went for it. I did an 800m straight swim. Nineteen minutes! It's pretty slow, and I definitely took it easy, but I had never gone that long before, and I was recovering from my infection...and apparently antibiotics can do weird things to your heart rate. The worst part about the swim was that you have to swim over the scuba and diving section, so at certain points in the swim it's super deep. I hyperventilated a few times, which I suppose will closely mimic race day.

I've discovered that swimming requires some of my yogi skills. To keep calm and not wear yourself out, just count and focus on breathing. Obviously, with me being the only one in a single lane, it's a lot easier to do that than in a serpentine swim with a hundred people in the pool, but I think the concept holds true. If I can keep as zen as possible for as long as possible, I won't have trouble next weekend.

My run on Tuesday was pretty successful too. I was pretty slow, but I felt good running. A lot of the time when I run, I get this super awful feeling and I end up walking for five minutes at a time. I actually feel like I have more than one running speed now. I can turn it up or cool it down. When I started back my training in January, I had one speed - and it killed me. I still can't run 5k straight, but I can come pretty close, and I'm not miserable by the time I'm done.

Wednesday, I got to ride with my best friend and her boyfriend. They both just bought brand new Cannondales, so I convinced them to climb Lemmon with me. They made it about half a mile from the base, and let me keep going.

I've been training for the hill climbs this past month. My goal is to do Lemmon at least once a week through September. I'm a decent climber for my body type, but if I want to win some of these hill climbs coming up, I need to step up my game in a major way (and lose ten pounds). I've PRed up to Windy a couple times since the start of March, which is awesome. I tend to push it up to Molino and then crawl my way as high as I can go before wanting to puke. I've learned to be more steady and push through the agony - and sore lady parts.

Today, I did some recon for the tri next week. I did the bike course (2 laps up in OV). I'm feeling pretty confident. I'm not quite as fast as I'd like to be, but there isn't much I can do now. I should end up with one of the faster bike times of the day. I hope. I pray.

My run still isn't where I need it to be. I think I'm still a better runner than I was when I did my tri last year, but it's going to be a miserable three miles!

I don't have any super interesting pictures from my training the last few weeks, especially since I've been taking it easy, but here are a couple moderately interesting selfies.

My sick (both in health and awesomeness) ride up to Windy Point last weekend.

Lunch of champions!

At the OYL Fitness Tri Kickoff swim. Got to practice a serpentine swim and "drafting" a swimmer in front of me.