8/25/08

Hammerhead Olympic Triathlon Race Report

I'd like to say that my race day experience started on sunday morning but it actually started on sat. I was full on nerves all day long. Probably cause Karel was going to watch/support me at the race and because it has been tropical storming here for the past week. I guess my Type-A personality got the best of me and without a typical pre-race routine, or what I wanted to do before a race, I was a little uneasy about my prep during my taper for the race. Furthermore, with the floading, thunderstorms and rain that we have been experiencing, I didn't even know if I would have a race on sunday. Part of me wanted to get psyched for the race and visualize myself racing but I had to keep in mind that there may not be a race. I then didn't want to get myself depressed if the race was cancelled....and I lost my $95 to pay for a race that I wasn't doing. Oh the stress on saturday. I was just a little miserable to deal with that evening but Karel and I watched a movie and did a little shopping at Bed Bath and Beyond to pass the time.
I did get a good night sleep even though I woke up a few times on accident, yet still caught myself looking out the window. The alarm went off at 5am and the first thing I did, after looking out the window to see no rain (wheeww, relief!), was turn on the radar. "Karel, the race looks good."
The morning was a little silent for Karel and I as we were each doing our own things to get ready for my race. We left our place at 5:45am and off we went for our 40-mile drive to camp blanding.
I enjoyed my coffee w/ my typical pre-race breakfast of oatmeal, raisins, a little banana and a little PB (all combined). As usual I ate it in the car but found it stress-free to eat it in the passenger seat. Luckily, Karel new where we were going so I didn't even have to bring out my GPS on the way to the race venue.
I had heard great things about this race and the venue and I was really looking forward to the race. Now that the sun was rising and the clouds in the sky were rain-free, I felt like I could finally smile and enjoy the race.
After checking the race participant list several times, I knew winning the race wouldn't happen. I had to stay realistic about my lack of speed for a 10K run but I was staying positive about my ability to swim and bike fast. Plus, with Karel there I knew I would bike just a bit faster than I would without him being there to cheer me on.
After picking up my chip and getting body marked, I racked my bike and just chilled for about 40-min. Karel's boss/teammate/friend/team manager was racing the bike portion for a relay and it was just a hoot to see Jeff get body marked. He was totally against it and all he wanted to do was just ride a TT 40K bike route.
After going to the bathroom about 3 times (silly nerves), I headed to the water with Karel. I was really happy to have Karel with me because he does something that I just need before a race. He makes me laugh and smile. When I'm with Karel at his races I know he gets in the zone and that is what works for him. As for me, I remove my nerves by smiling for the camera, laughing and just talking to others.
After taking in a Hammer Gel 15-minutes before the start, it was time to head to the water for the swim start and after 2 waves of guys, it was time for my All Women Heat. Feeling lucky in my pink cap I went hard from the start. I know I won't ever win a race from the swim but I can build a nice lead heading out on the bike.
The swim went great and I felt really good. Although lacking in a few swim sessions every week for the last few months, I felt like I had enough endurance and speed to stay strong during the swim. After 5 bouys it was time to make the turn to swim straight to shore but unfortunantly the sun was right in my eyes. I was sure it was in everyone's eyes so I kept following the feet in front of me. Luckily, everyone was on course and I headed out of the water in 4th place.
Karel was right there by my bike and talking to me as I transitioned for my bike. He was such a good coach and told me to go get those girls and that I had a great swim.
The bike was 2-loops and it was fun. Just a few rollers but I kept my cadence steady and just switched my gears as I stayed in the big chain ring. I kept playing cat and mouse with a lady from Palm Harbor who recognized me as I passed her on an incline. With one 180-turn about mile 8 or 9 of the 12 mile loop I could spot the girls in front of me. I sat in 4th or 5th place for the entire bike and headed out to the run in the same position. Not only was the race a lot of fun but I kept seeing Karel at different parts of the course cheering and taking pictures. I think karel was spectating on his bike faster than others were riding but it was great to have him out there. When I got back from the bike I was really glad for my 1:11 bike ride. Of course with Karel at T2 I decided to have a little chat with him as I was putting on my shoes. He said I had a great bike ride and that I was in 4th or 5th place. I told him that I didn't think I could run these girls down but that I would run the best I could.
I headed out on the run and although the heat hit me on the bike, the run was a bit hot. What did surprise me on the run was that the course was not flat. The run course (all new to me that morning) was up and down for the entire 10K. Not only rollers but a few climbs at each turn around. It was a fun course to keep each mile very interesting but the aid stations seemed like a century away to get to. Each aid station had ice water and I dumped the ice down my Zoot bra top and it really did the trick to keep me cool. I had gatorade at aid station 3 and 5 and that was the first time I had gatorade since May. Luckily, I stayed well-hydrated during the bike and since I knew it would be a hot run, I relied on my HIM hydration strategy of drinking every 15-minutes. Whereas in a sprint distance tri I would maybe make it through 1/2 a bottle of my amino acid's I decided on using 1 scoop amino vital + a little less than a scoop of the amino acids for this olympic distance. For any longer of a race than an OD I would only use HEED + amino's. For a "sprint" type race or one that requires max-out efforts like this race, I needed my brain to be just as energized as my body.
So, as far as the run I didn't use any gels but made sure I had as much fluid as I could get in during the run. I ended up only passing one girl on the run and got passed by two girls.
I think the only thing that saved me during my run was getting in tune with my body. I knew 6-miles would not go quickly and with a challenging course, I needed to stay focused on my running. Although I know my speed is just not where it needs to be to be a speedster in the oympic distance tri-scene, I do know that I have endurance and a lot of slow-twitch fibers. If I can find a comfortable pace I know I can sustain it. I found my ryhthm at mile 3 of the run and by mile 4 I was picking up the pace. I made quick looks at my watch to make sure I would come in at mile goal time of 2:25. Focusing on my run stride, breathing and form really helped me stay focused during the run and before I knew it I was seeing the crowd and the finish line. And of course..there was Karel!
This was a great race and I was really glad of my PR of 3 minutes. This was my 4th Olympic distance triathlon and a race that I really thought I didn't like. A sprint distance is fast enough for me but double the distance and it is a whole new, painful race. Give me a day to keep my body in motion for swim/bike/run and I will be a happy camper. Well, I did like this challenge and I would be up for doing another Olympic distance tri in my triathlon career :)

Thanks for everyone for my nice reply's on my blog. I appreciate your enthusiasm for me racing and it makes it a lot more fun to write a race report when I can hear that I have some sort of speed in these legs. And a big thanks to Karel for being at my race. And after 2 1/2 hours of watching me race, Karel needed to relieve himself from being inside for a week straight and then watching me race....so he bike the 40-miles home as I waited for the awards :)

Upcoming goals: Run faster!
*October 4th- Marine Corps 1/2 marathon in Jacksonville
*Dec 21st- Jacksonville Marathon

Enjoy the pics!








Karel's bike



Karel's bike in the spotlight...again



Another pic of Karel's bike






I told Karel he shouldn't touch me cause I was all sweaty and gross so he gave me the two-finger hug.