It’s about time for a race report, eh?
This past Saturday, I went to pick up my packet at the Boulder Reservoir, then met up with my Ironman Foundation Newton Running Ambassador Triathlon Teammates–the Colorado contingent, plus Larkin from Mississippi! We had a LOT of fun during our photoshoot at Coot Lake. Here are a couple of my favorite pictures…the serious ones first…
(this one takes me back to high school team photos)
(clearly, I should probably start lifting weights)
(what’s a team photo without some fun, with my signature jumping moves?)
(and here us ladies are, spelling out #kokua, our team motto!)
After all of the team photo fun, we headed over to The Med (YUM!) for some team lunch…
…and I HAD to get some fried calamari (my favorite!)! Our teammate Ed Schifflett had posted about having calamari post-long ride and it put that idea in my head… 😉 Khem got some too, so these 2 portions weren’t all for myself…
After lunch, I headed to my Boulder abode (Lauren and Brandon’s house) to hang out with their sweet Blue Bear (they were in Japan, so I got to dog-sit for this cutie on Saturday evening)…
The rest of Saturday was filled with nerves…but I managed to get 2 slices of pizza down for dinner and a banana with a lot of nutella for dessert. I got to bed at a reasonable hour, ready to wake up at 4:30 a.m., an unreasonable hour…
The morning had me a little groggy, and like usual for race mornings, I wasn’t very hungry. I had some “gruel” (amaranth, millet, steel cut oats, buckwheat oats, flax seed, chia seed, teff, milk, honey, and butter) but it felt pretty tasteless and I didn’t eat much because I was so nervous. Once I got to the race site, I had a Honey Stinger honey waffle right before the swim, so I think I had enough to eat in the morning before the race. Once we got to the race site and I found my transition spot, race morning was pretty uneventful! I saw a couple teammates (this neon green is GREAT for recognizing other teammates!), and as I was unrolling the arms from my wetsuit to put it on, this fell out of my sleeve:
#1, clearly I hadn’t swum in my wetsuit since Ironman Lake Placid, in 2010! And #2, I took it as a good sign! I figured that since IMLP was a good race for me, I’d use the goggles that I had used during that race…can’t hurt, right? I also managed to sneak in a picture with Greg before he helped me get my wetsuit on…
We look a little red…maybe it was just because of the sunrise. 😉 And yes, that’s a Cal sportbra that I wore underneath my Newton kit. Cal Tri 4 Life!
I found Sarah at the swim start–we had seeded ourselves in the “30 and under” wave start group…the half Ironman distance triathlon I had done, I swam it in 29+ minutes, so I figured, what the hell, why not go first? We heard Kelsey sing the national anthem, and I got a special shout-out from the announcer (and my friend) Dave Downey…it was awesome having so many people that you recognized at the start line! After the pros went off, our group started. It wasn’t mass hysteria, and it was great! We jogged into the water and I started swimming right away. But…immediately my wetsuit felt really tight and I could tell–it was going to be a long swim. I had issues in the water (maybe I should have practiced, even a little bit, with swimming with a wetsuit?) and just didn’t feel great. My sighting was off, and several times, I ended up veering WAY off course and ended up super far away from the buoys. I don’t know how much “extra” I swam, but I definitely took the long way around the buoys…oh well, at least I didn’t get in trouble with cutting any corners! During the swim, I just mostly tried to concentrate on a smooth stroke, and I was counting down the minutes until the swim was over. I never really like the swim to be honest…it must be something about “not being able to breathe whenever you want” that gets me…but even back when I did triathlons in college, I remember always that I couldn’t WAIT for the swim to be over! With swimming so much extra, not sighting very well, and not feeling particularly good, I was just hoping to myself, that I’d come out of the water in 40 minutes or less. That was all I wanted. As I neared towards the finish arch, I began to think about how the next transition would go (I’d keep my cap and goggles on while concentrating on getting out of the wetsuit without having my hands full with the cap and goggles), and when I hopped out of the water, I quickly looked at my watch…33 something. Not…horrible. It was 4 minutes slower than I had done “previously,” but at the same time, it was still within the “I’ll just be happy if I do it within 40 minutes” so I ran to transition a happy camper.
Ahhhhhhh the bike. I enjoy riding my bike. I feel like more than anything, I have put in the most training on my bike and was really hoping to pass some people during this “leg” of the triathlon. With my previous fear from Ironman Lake Placid (the race where I got passed by EVERYBODY and didn’t pass a SINGLE person on the bike), I was determined to try and pass at least a couple people! I hopped onto my bike and headed out on 51st in a comfortable gear, knowing that once I made the right turn onto Jay Road, that it would be a long gradual uphill. I held a moderate pace, and much to my satisfaction, I passed a few people while going up that hill, which felt awesome! I rode most of the race in my drops (I will be getting aerobars for IMLT, but didn’t have them for this race) and felt very strong. Sarah and I had ridden the course a week before and rode 54+ miles of it, in 2:58. I thought that going sub-3 hours would be well within my grasp, so I just pedaled at a good effort for the 56 miles. Though I got passed often by folks zooming past me on their triathlon bikes in their very aero position(s) and their aero helmets, it also gave me some confidence that I could still hang with most of the group, while still being on my road bike. I felt good throughout most of the ride, and took a Gu Peanut Butter gel every 45 minutes and had a drink (Skratch labs lemon-lime) every 5 miles or so. At around mile 40, I was riding and started to come close-ish to another athlete. He was going just slow enough that I started to get into his “drafting zone,” but he was going too fast for me, to straight-up pass him. I figured…well, maybe I’ll just try and ride “next” to him. I didn’t want to slow down myself, and figured that maybe over time, I could pass him? We were about 2 bike lengths away from each other, but next to each other.
WRONG MOVE. Soon after, a motorcycle referee pulled up next to me and waved a yellow card at me. WTF! He yelled at me, something about a penalty, something about drafting, and I could barely hear him because of the wind . I was SO MAD, mostly because my “drafting” was not on purpose, and I was trying to leave enough space between us so that I wouldn’t be drafting off him and play by the rules. I tried to tell the referee that I wasn’t drafting, that it wasn’t intentional, etc. Particularly since there were LARGE packs of people that were constantly passing me all day long (blatant drafting drives me nuts!!!) and knowing that it was unlikely that they got drafting penalties, I was really, really, really aggravated. I wasn’t sure what my “penalty” would be, but I knew that I’d have to stop the next time I saw the yellow “penalty tent” and then likely wait 2-4 minutes while the rest of the racers passed me by.
Before the race started, I had vowed to stay positive throughout the race, to not talk myself down, etc., so after this happened, I tried to turn it into a positive–I knew that I’d have to stop and wait, so I figured that I’d try and make up some of that time on the course and ride a little harder for the remainder of the 15 miles. I saw the “penalty tent” around mile 47 or so, and then stopped. I told the referees (one of them being Jimmy Riccitello) my number, and that I had received a yellow card. He asked if I was sure if it was yellow, which I said I was pretty sure (I didn’t think I imagined it, but you never know…) and then he said for me to just go ahead. Whaaaaaaa? I was so confused, but because Jimmy (the head referee) was there, I thought–well if he says it’s okay, then I’ll go on ahead! As it turns out, I probably lost about 30 seconds of overall time with that stop, and when I was telling Greg about it later, he said I had received a “stop-and-go” penalty–like a warning one–and most likely, I had received the penalty for a poor position (i.e. “blocking” or something, and not drafting specifically). Relieved that I didn’t have to wait on the side of the road for 4 minutes while other people passed me by, I got back out onto the course. As I pulled into the Boulder Res, I noticed that my watch time said 2:48…wellllllll under 3 hours! Boo-yah! I was excited!
And then there was the run.
While I was excited to get off my bike, my legs definitely felt like bricks, coming off the bike. Luckily, there was an aid station immediately after transition, and I was able to down some water and stuff as much ice as I could, down my sportbra and tri top. The first few miles were uphill (I keenly recall saying “mother of God!” repeatedly to myself during the hills) and thankfully, there were plentiful aid stations, so I usually had a surplus of cold sponges and ice throughout the run.
(I was excited that this picture resembles actual running! Score!)
I saw my teammate Nicole on one of the short out-and-back turnarounds and could see she was catching up to me…she passed me while we were on the sudden death canal, but didn’t seem to pass me completely standing still. She was about 10 strides ahead of me, and then I decided to try and run with her. I figured, I’d try and stick it out and run with her for as long as I could, just to see if I could match her pace. I caught up to her and told her of my plans 🙂 and we then proceeded to run together for the next ~6+ miles! It was AWESOME. Having her, having my teammate, and having someone to help me along made ALL OF THE DIFFERENCE to just get through the brutally HOT run! We even got a couple sweet pictures as we passed through the finish line area on the first lap:
I was able to stick with Nicole, until we got back around to the spot that I met up with her on (mile 10-ish?) and my legs just started to give out. I think part of it was not eating anything on the run (I could only manage some cola) and losing a little too much salt. When I crossed the finish line, though, it was a very happy feeling, knowing that I had broken a 5:30 time and finished in 5:29:33. Just under! Although my run certainly didn’t set any records, I was happy to be done, I was happy to survive, and now I know that I need to eat a little bit more on the run. I think in the future, I’m going to try and incorporate a little more salt and other things in my training, just to see how they might go over on the big day. Oh, and big bonus, I found out after I finished, that I was in the top 10 in my age group for women 25-29! I barely squeaked in there (I was #10), but hey–in a field as tough as Boulder, I’ll take it! 😀
I was also excited to see my friend Brian at the finish line, who will also be doing Ironman Lake Tahoe with me, who killed it! I can’t remember his official time, but I know he exceeded his expectations by 18 minutes+, and was well under 5 hours, so look out Tahoe!
All in all, I was very happy with my result…with beating my previous time of 5:54 at Wildflower (yes, it’s a hilly course, but still!) by quite a bit, and I *did* get the validation from my training, that I so desperately wanted. I was very happy to do that tune-up race, to know where I need to improve, and to know what things are just right, right now.
It felt good to race on Sunday, after so many years of not racing triathlon…and in fact, I had so much fun, I decided to do my first ever mountain bike race, the Lory XC Mountain Bike race put on by local nonprofit Ciclismo, last night (just for fun!) with my friends Robin and Suzie!
The 10+ mile course felt long, and although I felt very good on the uphills, I realized very quickly that I will never be a downhiller…once we hit the downhill, I turned into a very cautious rider and there were several switchbacks that had me saying “nope nope nope nope nope!” With Ironman Lake Tahoe in less than 2 months, I definitely have no need to break my arm during a fun mountain bike ride. 🙂
With this past weekend really doing a lot to help with my own self-esteem, I can’t say enough how I truly appreciate all of my IMF-Newton Running Ambassador Triathlon Teammates. I never expected to connect so much to a team that had team members spread so far across the states–I am so very fortunate and grateful to have the support and confidence as an athlete from all of them. From hearing them cheer me on as they passed me on the bike (Ahem, Larkin and Scott), to running stride by stride with Nicole to get me through the tough half-marathon, to just sharing funny comments online (like George’s finisher picture–he’s the one completely hidden, hilarious!)–
Being part of this team has been one of the most amazing and rewarding things I’ve experienced and I am blessed to have found a place on this fantastic team.
Going into the last bits of my training for Ironman Lake Tahoe, being on this team has given me the motivation to stay focused, to keep my eye on the prize, and to suffer through the hard training days–because it will all be worth it in the end!
A special shout-out to Greg (who also raced!) for helping me through this whole journey, for listening to me and my fears, to zipping me into my wetsuit, and for being the calm element in this relationship…you have to have at least 1 calm one, right?
Big thanks to my Mom , who wrote me a long list of positive things to say to myself during the race…( “I am great! I am super!” became my mantra during the run when all I wanted to do was walk–true story!), who is my #1 supporter and always sends me such encouraging words and thoughts!
And last but not least, big thanks to Coach JD–without you and your awesome training plans, advice, and talks, I wouldn’t have been able to make it to the line this Sunday and have such a PR! 🙂 BEST coach in the world!