Tuesday, May 8, 2012

CB and I Race Report

Heading into this race, my first tri, was not as nerve-wracking as I expected it would be.  I have been quite busy with things around the house with kids and school, church, and work.  The distractions were very helpful in helping me to not "worry" too much about things to do with the race.

I will admit, I most probably asked 2000 questions of Richard about tris, training, rules, etc.  It is good to have a friend and role model that not only answers all of these questions, but does so happily! He was always encouraging, uplifting, and positive, even when I wasn't.  His outlook on challenges is always in the very best light possible, and this method of thinking has helped me to look at how I see things in all of my life, not just training.  I owe Richard a great deal of gratitude of which I can never repay.  Thank you, my friend!  

 I packed bags the night before the race.  I laughed after the race as to how much I actually packed.  You'd think I was heading to a 50 miler!  I didn't have "loop bags", but I could have.  What's even funnier is that it wasn't until after the race that I realized that I would have been fine to treat this whole race as a long run of about 90 minutes.  I wouldn't typically take in much in the way of nutrition outside of water and S caps.  Why I felt like I had to pack three honey stinger packets, wet wipes, and 3 bottles of water, I will never know.  But one thing is for sure, I know now what I really need and what I do not need.

Richard met me at Northshore to drop off the bike on Friday before the race.  The level of organization associated with this race was close to that of The Woodlands Marathon.  Very well managed, excellent communication, and no questions left unanswered.   The bike check in went off without a hitch and after a few encouraging words from Richard, I went home to ready myself for the morning.

I was surprised at the fact that I was tired and ready for bed by 9 pm.  That is very untypical for me.  I usually can't sleep and worry about every little detail the night before a race.  I felt calm, and fell asleep shortly after 9.  I woke at 4 without my alarm and was out the door by 5:15 am.

Body marking did not take very long and then I headed into the transition area.  It wasn't too difficult to set up my shoes, helmet, and bottles, but I fiddled around with things as if that would make me feel better about the fact that I had no idea what I was doing.  All of my transition lessons have come from watching Fish in his transitions at the Kid's triathlons.  I figure it can't be that much different for adults.

As I came out of transition set up, I ran into a good friend and his son, who happens to be very good friends with Foo.  They have been friends since they were 3 years old.  His dad was kind enough to take a picture with this wonderful young man who is fairly new to triathlons.  He had a great day taking 3rd place in his AG and 12th overall.
I remember this guy in diapers!!
My wave started 37 minutes after the gun went off.  We all waded into the water and awaited our signal to go.  The water was 84 degrees and felt good to me.  As I began to swim, I repeated the mantra, calm, calm, slow, calm.   I never felt anxious in the water at all.  I didn't feel fast either, but this was not about speed for me.  It was about doing.
The sun was rising as I waited to enter the water.
 I did use my breast stroke a few times during the swim.  It saved me from becoming exhausted, provided me an opportunity to get my bearings on where I was, and afforded me a slight respite from being clobbered by other swimmers at different points in the swim. 
My cheering squad!
As I rounded the last buoy, I was feeling stronger and more confident to the next aspect of the race.  I should have swam a few more strokes in before trying to stand up and I ended up trying to muscle my legs out of deep water.  TJ Fry mentioned this in the practice swim the weekend before.  He was correct!  Water is heavy!

Glad to be through my biggest hurdle of the day!

My swim time was much slower than I expected.  The course was measured in meters instead of yards and I have heard that there are some questions as to whether or not the waves started later than were supposed to.  Swim time was 13:49 for 500 meters.

Transition 1 went fine.  I didn't feel as though I rushed.  Planned to eat a few honey stingers, but didn't seem to think I needed them at this point.  Time:  1:53.

The bike went fine.  I felt like I could not pedal fast enough.

 I just didn't have the energy to propel the bike.  I felt better on the back side of the bike, but the avg speed was 16.6 mph.  Time was 54:15.

The run began just as the cloud cover disappeared.  My legs felt so out of whack coming off the bike.  I could barely manage a fast walk heading into transition.  Rather than push the legs, I gave them that time to adjust to being off the bike.  I racked the bike, readied myself for the run, waved a quick hello to the family, and then headed out to tackle the part of the race which I was hoping to be my strongest.

The run was tough.  I ran well, but not as well as I could have.  Fatigue had definitely set in and now the heat was cranking up quickly with the sun blazing down.  I escaped into the sound of my shoes tapping out a catchy beat.  It was on the run that I realized, ultras and Triathlons can never be placed into the same category.  Just because someone can do one, does not necessarily mean that the same person could do both.   Ultras require a totally different method of training and mentality.  Start slow, pace yourself, walk the hills, etc.  Sprint triathlons put the athlete in the mind "sprint" mindset.  Redline each event within the race  Swim hard, Bike swiftly, Run as fast as you can!  I found that I did reserve a bit on the run trying hard not to blow up the last half mile.  My splits look good for the run portion of the race, and yet I know I could have run a better race.  I am happy with my 25:45 time, 8:18 pace.  Not a pr pace for me, but a starting point after almost 2 years of ultra training which was primarily a run/walk method.    Works great for ultras, not so great for sprint distances.

Heading into the finish!

 Of course none of what I do could ever be possible without my wonderful husband.  He supports me from the ground up.  He is the voice of reason when I discern which races and distances I want to tackle.  He builds me up and holds me up.  He is the reason I am able to do any of these things. 

Next up, summer trail runs!


  1. Right on, Karen. You did great. Even the difference between running different race distances is a tough one to negotiate. I would have to imagine that it was extremely difficult to gauge what was going on in a triathlon where you are not only running a different distance but also swimming and biking. I think you did fantastic and it will certainly give you a good idea of what to expect and how to train next time.

  2. Good for you. First time can always be considered a learning experience!