Wednesday, April 3, 2013

30 Years...Then and Now!

I'm still on a bit of a high after completing my first triathlon of the year on Sunday, March 24th and I wanted to share my experience with you!

Signing up for this year's Great Clermont Triathlon Olympic Distance Triathlon last year was a no brainer.  I love having an early season race on the calendar to keep me motivated over the winter.  I love racing in Clermont, Florida for three reasons: #1 - The area is beautiful, #2 - The bike course is hilly and #3 - Sommer Sports offers low-cost registration fees and Clermont is an inexpensive place to stay.  The fact that it was the race's 30th year made it that much more sweet!

Enjoying our visit to the National Training Center

30 years ago I was 12.  The chances are good you could have caught me in front of the TV watching People's Court, eating a package of Soft Batch Cookies and drinking a bottle of Pepsi.  You would NOT have seen me running, unless it was from the police when my friend Kar-Dog and I were caught tying toilet paper across the street around a street sign and stop sign.  My Middle School and High School friends think it is fascinating that I'm involved in the sport of triathlon based on the cookie-eating, pop-drinking pre-teen and teenager they once knew.

Okay, enough reminiscing...on with my race report!

On the beach, I lined up in front with the first buoy directly in front of me.  My plan was to get to the first buoy as soon as possible, then settle in to a hard, slightly uncomfortable pace.  I was also not planning on doing a lot of sighting.  It was quite cloudy in the morning and during my warm-up swim, I could tell I wouldn't easily see the yellow buoys.

The gun fired and we were off!  I'm not sure how many women were in my wave, but it didn't seem like more than 80.  I was definitely in with several fast women who quickly left me behind.  It was *all good* because before I knew it, I already passed a guy in the wave before mine.  I kept on trucking through the swim, seeing the buoys when I needed to and keeping my head down for the majority of the time.

At the first turn, the water started getting choppy due to the increasing wind speed.  I was struggling to get a breath because water was washing over my face just about every time I turned my head to breathe.  Luckily, I love hypoxic breathing swim workouts so I knew I was in good shape.  A few times, I flipped on my back to get  a breath, but immediately got back in my rhythm.

As I exited the water, I started to unzip my wetsuit and immediately realized my zipper was stuck.  I ran right up to the burly, red-headed, male wetsuit stripper, (who, by the way, told me his name was Cinnamon and he was only stripping to earn money for college!  <wink>  LOL!) told him my zipper was stuck and I turned around so he could help me.  He told me it was down and I started working my arms out of the wetsuit.  I had some trouble getting out of that thing, so I started jumping up and down.  It was actually pretty funny!  I finally got my arms out.  I pulled it down as far as I could, laid on the ground and "Cinnamon" did the rest.  He handed me my wetsuit and away I went in to transition!  

Swim Split: 25:27 (Fastest 1.5K swim ever!)

NOTE: After unpacking my gear, I noticed my wetsuit zipper was indeed stuck because it was still stuck when I pulled it out of my bag.  

TI was smooth sailing.  I guess this is where my experience comes in to play.  I got to the race early and snagged an end spot on the rack.  Also, I try to keep my items in transition to a minimum: Bike, Bottle to Rinse Feet, Helmet, Bike Shoes, Sunglasses, Running Shoes, Socks, Fluid Bottle, Race Belt w/ Number and Hat.  One of these days, I'll go sockless on the run.  <sigh>

T1 Split: 3:02

My race buddies, Kristi, Angela, race supporter Vanessa and I drove the bike course the day before so we knew what was ahead.  Hills.  Some short.  Some long.  Some steep.  All good!  Bring 'em!  That was what I thought until the wind became a factor.  It wasn't terrible, but enough to slightly change my bike strategy.  I kept my head down, cadence high and I didn't let my heart rate go above the top of Zone 4.  I wanted to have the best bike split I possibly could while setting myself up for a good run.

The hills came and went.  The lake was ahead so I knew we were done with the hills.  However, when biking around a lake, the wind tends to be stronger, especially in the areas where there are very few trees.  I crossed over a bridge and felt my bike wobble a bit as the wind picked up.  There may have been a slight heart rate spike at that point, but nothing serious.  <smile>

As I came in to transition, I was happy because I felt like I was smart on the bike, even if I was a bit slower than my goal.

Bike Split: 1:23:14

T2 was a bit of a comedy.  I have this lightning-fast strategy of racking my bike, taking off my helmet and shoes, grabbing my hat, race belt and putting them on as I run out of transition.  Ooops...I forgot I also was planning to carry my fluid bottle.  Since I don't have a third arm and hand, I realized my lightning-fast strategy was going to be more like a slow-drizzle.  I grabbed all three items, started to run out of transition, stopped at the end of transition, dropped my fluid bottle, but on my hat and race belt, grabbed my fluid bottle and the run was underway!

NOTE: As I mentioned earlier, I have a lot of experience.  With that, I'll admit...the Olympic Distance is the distance that is the HARDEST distance for me to nail.  Why?  You go hard for 3 hours!  The truth is that I haven't done an Oly Distance race since August 2010.  Clearly, I could have used a little bit more practice in a few areas (ex. T2).

T2 Split: 1:12 (I'llllllll take it!)

My goal was to have a strong run with 9 minute per mile average splits.  I knew this would be tough, but I wanted to push more than I ever had in this distance race.  As I started the run, I realized how much humidity was in the air (89%).  I also realized the temperature was warm (75 degrees).  I knew I must stay on top of my hydration.  I stayed on top of my hydration SO MUCH, that I finished my 20 oz bottle before I hit the 4 mile mark.  Luckily the aid stations were in the right places and I continued to drink and dump water on my head at every opportunity.

During the run, I practiced the form tips Kyle O'Day gave me during our Run Videotaping Clinic last month:   "Lift your knees a bit and bring your foot down like you are crushing a can."  As I began to fatigue, I was still able to "crush the can", but "lifting the knees" became challenging.  I continued on and crossed the finish line with a big ol' grin on my face!

Run Split: 57:32 (9:16 minutes per mile average pace)

Overall Time: 2:50:25^, 5th Place in my AG (Women 40 - 44) out of 14, 38th Place Overall Women out of 106

^Technically this is not a true PR because I did 2:40 at Turtle Crawl in 2009 when the swim with SO FAST with the current.  With an 18 minute swim at that race, I put an "*" by that finish time.  Bottom Line = This is my fastest non-"*" Olympic Distance race!

Angela and Kristi finished strong and Vanessa was an excellent race supporter!  A big "THANKS" goes out to these ladies for coming down to one my favorite race venues and putting up with all my quarkiness!  We had a really fun weekend and I'm looking forward to racing in Clermont again, possibly in 2014!  Maybe in another 30 years and I can look back on all the funny things that happened 30 years ago!

Next up: Turtle Crawl Olympic Distance on Saturday, May 18th!

What is your next race and what are your goals?

Happy Training and Racing!