Sunday, April 18, 2010


Wow.  That's all I have to say about today.  For the abridged version, my performance was subpar, by my own standards and definitely compared to the competition.  I wish I could blame it on the weather, but alas we all faced the same brutality from Mother Nature.

Day began with a 6am wakeup.  This is possibly the latest I've woken up for a triathlon (that usually start at 7am or even earlier) so I was definitely feeling refreshed.  Packed the trucks, drove to race site, got there around 7.  The sky was just lightening up and there was no rain, but boy the wind was bad.  It was probably in the 40s with winds around 20mph, gusting to 30.  It felt COLD.  We had a long, meandering walk over to transition because the original parking area was flooded (and we had to cross gushing water between two lakes to boot).  When we arrive at transition they are making announcements that the water is 54 degrees (warmer than outside!) and the swim has been cut in half from 1500m to 750m.  Darn, I was really hoping for a duathlon!  And it hurt our team because we have a super-swimmer (who was first female out of the water anyways!).  But whatever.  Get the chip, bathroom, usual transition stuff.  This time we couldn't take the bikes out and no one was going to warm up in the water so there was a lot of standing around, freezing.  15 minutes before race start, I took the first of 3 Gu Roctanes.

Race started at 9, with 10 waves every 5 minutes.  Each collegiate team had up to 7 men and 7 women and the top seeded male from each team goes first, then top seeded female, second seeded male, etc.  I was going as the second-seeded female, in deference to our super-swimmer.  9:15 and I was off.  The wetsuit and neoprene cap really helped, but my feet were freezing!  Plus the water was really choppy and I've never had a worse swim start.  Everyone was on top of each other, I swallowed water, had to come up twice, got scared around the buoy, etc.  It was nothing short of a disaster.  It was only 9.5 minutes (the swim was shortened further to 500m) so I didn't lose too much time, but was way in the pack of the pack.

T1 could have been my worst split.  4 miles to find the bike, struggle with socks, put on a jacket, attempt to get on bike, etc.  My feet were ice and just not working.  I had already resigned this to being a training race so I was ready to sacrifice my transitions for comfort on the bike and run, but it was just too much (and didn't help anyways).

Onto the bike.  Once clipped in we had a pretty steep uphill.  Even though only the "fast" people were supposed to be ahead of me, I saw a number walking up (it wasn't that bad!).  The bike felt okay and the jacket really helped me stay warm, but my toes were completely numb and functionless.  The bike course was essentially a square such that we were headed into all cardinal directions at some point.  That meant that we faced the wind from both sides, the back, and the front.  So speeds were all over the place!  One section it was blowing from left to right and I literally had to get out of aero, grip the bars, and lean left just to stay upright.  It was like anything I had ever experienced- true Texas plains wind!  There was absolutely nothing to block it from whipping across us.  I was honestly more than a little scared of toppling over.  I couldn't even reach for the water bottle (Accelerade) and once I was able to get it I had to hold it in my hands for a few minutes until I could find a place to put it back without falling over.  But, once we turned and the wind was at our back, I was flying!  I passed a lot of people on the bike (including our super-swimmer, who had never done more than 18 miles at a time) and was only passed by 1 female so I thought it went well (relatively, of course).  Came in at 1:25, but it was only the 60th best female time of the day, way below my expectations.  Took another Roctane mid-way through.

After a quick T2 I was off on the run.  I could not feel my feet- they were just nubs.  I had to stop twice in the first half mile and actually took off my shoe and rubbed my toes to get some feeling.  Someone ran by and yelled ""just run, they'll get better!"  Tried that, but still was scarily numb.  I even asked a ref who repeated what the runner said.  So I just kept going.  I didn't have the run setting on my watch, there were no mile markets, and I was so concentrating on my feet that I had no idea what my pace was.  Just going by feel (or lack thereof).  Gupled down my final Gu Roctane but it was not settling and my stomach was sloshing and I got a bad stomach cramp.  I think it's because I had to take my entire water bottle on the second half of the bike, rather than space it out to aid digestion.  I was paying for it now- but I knew how to change my breathing and was better by mile 2.  But it was too late, my run was shot.  The 1.5 mile loops felt like forever and I just never got a rhythm.  Was passed by an MSU guy but was able to keep him within 20 feet for the rest of the race so at least I was consistent.  49:02- yikes!  Worst 10K in a very long time.

Race ended around noon but we had to wait around to 2pm to get our bikes from transition, after the sprint race ended.  By the time we got back, packed the bikes, showered, etc it was time for the awards ceremony.  Useless for our team, but good sportsmanship and a great way to see 1,000 collegiate athletes all together.  It's amazing how strong and united a lot of these teams are!

On that note: collegiate triathlon.  Very few of the races I do have any >24 participants I just don't see the younger racers.  Maybe it's geography (almost all of the teams were from big schools in the South, Midwest, and West)- there were only 2 New England schools represented (MIT and Keene State in NH).  If I raced in CA or CO maybe I would see them.  On the other hand, maybe there are only 1,000 or so racers but they all come to this race- it's like their Kona.  For the biggest and best teams, they train together all year (and they can in Palo Alto, San Diego, and Boulder) and this is the end of their season.  They are trained and tapered, whereas we are just starting outdoor training.  But these are excuses- the truth is they are FAST.  And not just the single-sport stars I thought they were.  I am very impressed, and can't wait for the next few years when they enter the AG ranks.   If they are the future of triathlon in the US, it looks very bright.

All in all, this is a forgettable race, except that I never will.  However, it kick-started my season.  Since I came in 381st and only 20th female grad student- far below my goals- I realize how much work I have to do to get back into racing form.  I am now pumped to get my bike back where it belongs and to get the run down.  May will be that time when I'm between school and work.

No comments:

Post a Comment