Saturday, September 8, 2012

Lake Stevens Triathlon Race Report

This is race week for me! I did the Vancouver Triathlon 5 days ago and today, September 8, I did the Lake Stevens Olympic Triathlon. My brother lives here in lovely Lake Stevens, a suburb of Seattle, and I came down to do his favourite local race with him.

Yesterday, I felt sort of awful - so sore and tired. I slept a lot and took lots of ibuprofen and went to bed early. I wondered what kind of a race I was going to have today. But, I woke up this morning feeling much better so we headed off to the race in good spirits, looking forward to a good day. This was my second Olympic distance and my first one sucked so, so badly that I can never say out loud what my time was. If you think of a time that sucks and add another 20 minutes, you might still be underestimating how badly I sucked that day. So, today, I knew I could beat that time by a long shot. I figured I could do 3:30 and I really hoped I could do 3:25.

It was a sunny, warm day - about 80 degrees by the time we were running. We arrived at transition at about 7:00 a.m. and got set up. I chatted with a couple of people around me and then with Kim, my sister in law, Cheryl, her mom, and Stephanie, my niece, who raced with us last week in Vancouver and then drove down from there to cheer us on today. I also met a couple of Paul's friends who were racing, too. At 7:45 we went down to the lake for the pre-race meeting and then pulled up our wetsuits to wait for the start. I got into the lake for a warm-up swim. The water was nice and warm - the race director had said that it was 70 degrees.

The swim started in deep water so we jumped in at the end of the dock and treaded water until the gun went off. My wave had about 50 people in it so there was lots of room. I started out a little too quickly and had trouble catching my breath but I just stopped kicking for a minute to get my heart rate down and all was well after that. I got into a nice groove and before I knew it, I was making my way through the second loop. There was about 200m at the end of the loop that was in fairly shallow water so the weeds were very visible and really thick and I really don't like that. I feel like they are reaching up to try to grab me. I just tried to tell myself that it was an underwater garden and I managed to get through that stretch (twice!). Otherwise the water was clean and fine and the swim was good.

Swim (1500m) = 31:11
T1 = 2:31

The bike course heads out through town and out into the country. It follows some beautiful tree-lined roads, passing by streams and horses and lovely houses. It's generally uphill on the way out so coming back is a bit faster. I felt good on this rolling and sometimes hilly course and really enjoyed this ride. When I got back into transition and saw what time it was on my watch, I started to think that I might be able to pull this off in about 3:20. That made me happy.

Bike (25 miles/40K) = 1:30
T2 = 1:13

The run is a two-loop course that goes along the lake, with a good hill to climb just before the turnaround. My legs cooperated from the start so I found a good groove and off I went. My first loop took 31 minutes. Kim and Steph and Paul's friend Darryl were cheering wildly at the turnaround, which was so great. At that point, I started thinking that, even if I slowed down a little on the second loop, I might be looking at 3:15. So, I kept plugging away. I slowed down after starting the second loop but then started to feel stronger at the turnaround point so I picked up the pace a bit. About 500m from the end, it was starting to look like I might be able to do 3:10. So I poured it on. I pulled around the last corner and into the finish area and got 'er done in 3:07. I was pretty pleased!

Run (10K) = 1:02

Total = 3:07:53

I went to look at the official results and discovered that I was first in my age group. More happiness and high fiving ensued. Later, I found out that I was the only one in my age group! Bummer. It would have been nice to have some competition. But, I looked at last year's results to compare: there were six people in my age group in 2011 and the first place person did it in 3:03. My time would have put me in second place if I had raced with those women so I still felt like I did a good job and earned a podium finish.

This has been a good year for me. I finally feel like the real deal!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Vancouver Triathlon Race Report

Yesterday, September 3, I did the Vancouver Triathlon - the sprint distance. I did the race with my niece, who lives in Vancouver, and my brother, who drove up from Seattle to do it with us. For me, it was a 14 hour drive to get to Vancouver, which I really enjoyed and which was absolutely worth it for this race! It was an awesome day and a great event!

We did the race together in 2009 as well. That year, I was still doing triathlons with very little training so I was not at all fit for a good race. My time then was 1:59, which is horribly slow for a sprint. So, I figured that with the Ironman training under my belt, I'd probably be able to pull off a better time this year. I estimated that, realistically, I could probably do 1:45 and I secretly thought I'd be pretty thrilled with sub-1:40.

We had perfect conditions for our race. It was sunny and 20 degrees with no wind. The ocean was calm. We arrived in transition at 6:15 a.m. I set up my spot and then pumped up my tires. When I pulled the pump hose off the back tire, I broke the valve stem, which I am always so careful not to do! It held the air but I debated with myself about whether to change the tube and finally I decided to be on the safe side and change it. Once that was done, I found Steph and Paul and we went to put our wetsuits on.

I got into the water for a warm-up swim. It felt warm on my feet but when I put my face in, it was pretty chilly. I floated face down a bit and swam about 100m and then got out and took my spot on the beach. My wave had 110 women in it. The swim went well. There were people all around me but we were well-spaced. I like that feeling of swimming side by side with others in the open water. Turning back toward the beach, the sun was blinding and sighting was impossible. I just trusted that the pack was headed in the right direction and followed them. When the sun went behind the trees, I realized that I was right there at the beach so I stood up and ran out of the water!

Swim (750m) = 16:59
T1 = 2:51 (a little longer than I had wanted but actually shorter than a lot of people who placed near where I did in the results)

The bike course is a hilly and winding loop through Stanley Park, which you do twice. I thought it would be hard to get much speed up on this technical course but I was surprised that I was able to get going pretty quickly in some spots. I am faster this year but also more confident on my bike so I could manage the ride a little better than before. It twists and rolls through the park with one decent climb and an awesome downhill on the other side. The course is magnificently beautiful with huge cedars and ferns and flowers and a view of the ocean most of the way. I thoroughly enjoyed this ride!

Bike (19K) = 41:24
T2 = 1:39 (I dropped my running shoe 3 times before I finally got it on! Again, this was longer than I wanted but about mid-range of what others did)

The run cuts across the park and then loops back around the Lost Lagoon on the way to the finish. It goes gently uphill for most of the first half but then you get a little of the downhill coming back before you run the flat section around the lagoon. I had my watch on and I could see when I left T2 that things were lookin' pretty good. I was surprising myself a little and started to have visions of a better time than I had imagined was possible. The second half was a little easier so I picked up some speed and figured I had better run like I was being watched because, really, with results on the internet, people are watching! I felt good the whole time and enjoyed this run. When I looked at my watch near the end, I poured it on for the last 200m to finish before the clock turned over to the next minute.

Run (5K) = 29:01

Total time = 1:31:51

I was a bit amazed at my time. This is a 28 minute PB on this course. I finished exactly in the middle of the 110 women in the race. I am used to being nearly last in every race, with just a couple of people finishing behind me. I can't believe I am mid-pack now. Training works, go figure!

After the race, we went downtown to have a Japadog, a hot dog with teriyaki mayo, onions, and seaweed. It was one of the tastiest things I've ever eaten!

I enjoyed this race so much. I love triathlon.