Sunday, August 17, 2008

Race Report: Whitefish Triathlon

I raced in the Whitefish Sprint Triathlon today. It was fantastic. I went fast, had fun, didn't crash. Cool. Then I came home and started cooking dinner and proceeded to chop the end of my thumb nearly off (it looked like the eggplant I was chopping, I guess). So I now have a giant wad of maxi pad and 1st aid tape wrapped around my left thumb. (Goes to show you can be a triathlete and still be a clutz!)

A gorgeous morning. Beautiful lakeside setting (see picture below of the end of the swim course). Cool set-up. Fun taking pictures with others from the Triathlon Flathead group. Most are turbo-fasties. Then there are about 5 of us that are allowed to sport the colors to represent the club's openness to back-of-the-packers ;) Thanks, Ted, for designing and ordering the suits and let us newbies join the club!

The Swim (1/2 mile or 880 yards):

I got suited up, pulled on my cap and goggles, and jumped in. Crap. Goggles leak. Screwed around with goggles for a few minutes, to no avail. So I made a last-minute sprint back to the transition area to get my backup pair. Made it back to the lake just in time to start. Winded. 130-some people all started swiming at once. Turbulence. But I pushed on through. I got a little caught up in the hey-we're-racing melee, but soon found my rhythm and churned towards the first buoy.

I had a great line going into the turn and passed several folks who were wadded up next to the buoy. Passed Teresa in the turn (short dark-haired gal who's one of my best training buddies), and since she and I usually swim a pretty similar pace, it was good to see her there and know I was on-track with how fast I needed to be going. On the long back stretch I had a race/clobber-fest going on with some girl. She'd breast stroke for a while and I'd pass her, then she'd switch to freestyle and pass me. Back and forth every minute or so. We bumped into/kicked each other several times, and I kept trying to lose her, but just couldn't get away! Finally we rounded the last turn and headed in for the beach, and one of us finally pulled away from the other-- not sure who. I finished nice and strong, perhaps a little faster than last time.

Smooth. Didn't biff running up the stairs. Slid my wetsuit right off thanks to the help of Pam. Noticed that Roni was putting on her second shoe as I was getting my suit off. Way to go on the swim, Roni, I thought. But then "Durn, she'll probably beat me. Maybe I'll catch her on the run if her knee is hurting." (Being competitive with your friends is kinda fun!) Washed the sand off my feet, popped on shoes, glasses, helmet, all as planned. Took off up the stairs to start the bike leg.

The Bike (20K or 12.4 mi):

I started off in my smallest ring but quickly worked up. First few miles were flat and fast. Sped through a 90 degree turn past the cops who were working the traffic light. Giggled at speeding by cops ;) Reminded myself that my intention was to give 'er hell on the bike and really see what I could do. So I did. And I had a blast. The course was hilly, but the hills were just right-- as soon as I'd really start wishing the hill would end, it would! Then I'd zip down the other side, thrashing through my super-cool gears. McDreamy was a champ-- didn't let me down, didn't drop the chain, didn't ask for brakes. And that's what helped me pass Roni a mile or so before the turn-around. A big turn was up ahead, and I'd had her in my sights for the last few miles. She braked hard going around the turn, and after a moment's hesitation ("does she know something I don't?!), I just kicked it. I'd driven the course the day before and knew what this turn looked like, and figured I could hold my speed through it. So I pedaled hard, felt the G's, and kept cranking as I flew past and hollered "Go Roniiiii!" It was fun to pass someone, although I felt a little bad passing my friend! But it's all friendly competition, and I knew that I had to put some quick distance between us, or she'd catch me. So I kept gearing up, pushing hard, huffing a good sigh now and then. I soon reached the turn-around and was a bit bummed that I didn't get to keep going on this awesome windy mountain lake road. But, the way back proved to be just as fun as the way out. I had a great game of cat-and-mouse going on with a guy in a blue jersey. I'd pass him on the uphills (all the hill work I've been doing was greatly beneficial!), then he'd pass me on the downhills or flats. Back and forth we went, for the entire 12.4 miles. I finally passed him on the last uphill stretch about a mile before the end. As I made the turn back towards transition, I saw the overall race winner coming in for the end of the run. I beat him back to the transition area by 30 seconds or so! Another notch in my finisher's belt: I finished the bike before the first person finished the whole thing!!! Anyhow, I was bummed the bike was over because I'd had so much fun with it.

I quickly popped McDreamy back into the rack, grabbed my visor and a sip of water, took a deep breath, then rubber-legged it out of transition.

The Run:
Ugh. First thing: a hill. Then a small flat/slight downhill. Then a friggin steep 200 yard hill. I remember thinking "this is just rude. who sticks hills right in the beginning of a run, anyway?!" Yes, I was whining. As I experienced in my last tri, my legs were whooped. But unlike the last time, I was at least expecting it. I walked a few steps up the hill so as not to de-wind myself too much, then took off again. Guy in the blue jersey that I'd bike raced with passed me (easy to do when you're >6 feet tall!) and gave me an encouraging thumbs-up. My legs began to come around more and more, and I appreciated the heck out of the two aid stations that offered ice-cold water to dump on my head. I definitely wasn't running fast, but I was running. Another training pal who injured her neck recently and couldn't race was working the run turn-around spot. "Looking good, Carly," she said, "you're going strong." Thanks, Krista! I felt like a weakling, but took your encouraging words and let them boost me along.

I high-fived Roni and Teresa and Kristy as I passed them and shouted whoo-hoos, and knew that if I stayed as I was, I'd have them all beat. Yay. About 2 miles in, I was really feeling more up for running. My legs were a little tired, sure, but were just starting to feel like this running thing wasn't all that bad an idea. I lifted my chest a bit to get more air, and tried to stay positive in my thinking. Less than 1/2 mile from the end, I heard footsteps fast approaching, and then a gal passed me sporting a 32 on her right calf. Crap! Passed by someone in my age group. I tried to pick it up and chase her, but just didn't have any more speed in me. So I hollered "go get 'em, way to go!" and watched as she pulled away from me. Not seconds later the same thing happened-- but this gal was 30. Who are these freak women who can pick it up so strong at the end?! Oh well. Those were the only two that passed me, besides blue shirt guy, the whole run. (Oh, and there were two people who were running it as part of a relay team, but they don't count, since they were fresh!)

As I neared the finish, I saw Ted putting his stuff in his car (he, of course, had been done for about half an hour!). "Aren't you going to cheer for me?!" I teased as I passed him. He did. As did lots of other strangers who were lining the last few hundred yards. I love spectators who cheer! I finished with a little micro-kick thanks to the cheers, and didn't puke at the finish. Good things. I did huff and puff for a minute or so, and then remembered to run up and grab my camera to take pictures of the other gals finishing. Roni was just coming in as I got back down to the finish, and Teresa was in hot pursuit. We all walked it off together, grabbed water, posed for a quick picture in which we were instructed to show off our numbers and "look tough," and then we headed back to the lake to splash around and cool down. (pictured left-to-right, Roni, me, Teresa)

It was while chillin out in the lake and re-hashing how things went that Roni once again brought up the Garden City Triathlon, an Olympic-distance race in Frenchtown a few weeks from now. I've kinda secretly been considering this race all year, but not wanting to commit to it in case I got sucked into firefighting or other things this summer. I haven't specifically trained for that long of a race, but know that I could at least finish it, albeit slow. Well, in my post-race elation, I let her help me convince myself that it's worth giving it a shot, so I decided to do so. More on that later...

The post-race party was good, with burgers and such and cold water and beer, prize drawings (I won a new bike helmet; although it doesn't clash with McDreamy like my pink helmet does, and I briefly considered keeping it just for fashion's sake, I ultimately decided to trade it in at the store it came from for a t-shirt and a few new pairs of running socks, which I actually need as some of mine are getting pretty non-cushiony). It was fun to chill out and talk about the ups and downs of the race with a bunch of folks. Triathletes are in general just really good people and really interesting folks. I guess you have to be, in order to be nuts enough to want to put yourself through such an ordeal yet organized and Type-A enough to figure out how to balance all the workouts, gear, and real life. I'm glad to be a part.

Okay, it's beer-thirty. My thumb actually has held up better than I thought. Good. Before I go, here are the times:

Total: 1:36:10 (8:35 faster than the one in June!!!)

Swim: 18:34 (avg. 2:10 min/100 yards... about what I expected)
Bike: 46:20 (time includes both transitions? or just one? waiting for official splits; avg. of at least 16.1 mph, including transition times)
Run: 31:16 (avg. 10:05 min/mi)

1 comment:

Roni said...

Great job Carly!!! But what's this BOPer business? We are definitely steady MOPers... well at Whitefish maybe back of the MOP :)