Monday, April 28, 2008

The "C" Race Report

So since it was 'just' a "C" race, I shouldn't spend too much time on the race report, right?

Well...there's not a lot to say, anyway. About the race, that is (which was the Sacramento International Triathlon). But knowing me, I'll make it long.

Still, after every race I'm always left with so many questions.

About racing. About training. About me. About my motivations and always asking myself what the top 3 things I learned about myself were today.

But I'll still try to keep it short. The questions may be left for a different post. Boy, that list of 'things I want to write about' sure is growing!!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

3:45 a.m. - alarm goes off. (So it's barely Sunday...but Sunday indeed...). Hit the road by 4:30 a.m. so I can be in Sac-town by 6:15 a.m.

Upon arrival I immediately found my Lombardi Sports buddies: Mike, our Super Sherpa, John, and Jerry, who were both racing. I was on the lookout for Loren and Chris as well, since I knew they'd be there. Never did see them.

We got set up and headed over to the swim start. At the swim start I saw a blonde woman with a ZTeam kit on and I figured it must be Kelly. Sure enough, it was her! Cool! So I finally met a fellow blogger in person!

They had the Super Sprint go, then the Sprint and finally the Olympic distance people at 8:15. No individual age group waves - one big mass start. Kinda nuts. I think they originally wanted everybody to start at the river (canal?) entrance and swim ACROSS the river to the other side, then down the river toward the bridge, back across to the side we started on and back down. But somehow, they messed up and by the time the horn went off we were all on the far side of the river.

Swim was fine...nothing out of the ordinary for a tri swim. I got kicked a bunch, couple times in the mouth but not hard. As usual, I was finding myself in the front of the middle pack, about a minute or two behind the front-runners. Which, I suppose, is fine, really. The way I see it is I can fret a lot about my swim and finally earn those two minutes, or I can pay more attention to the bike/run and earn a lot more minutes. I just try to pace around 1:30-1:35.

The funny thing was that I exited the water and my watch said 21 minutes. HA! I KNOW DAMN WELL I did not swim THAT fast!! So clearly, the length (which was supposed to be 1.5K) was far shorter. FAR SHORTER.

I thought of Courtenay and Loren who probably would have been happy about such a mistake.

I ran to my, erm...rack? Hardly. I wish I had taken a picture - it was hilarious! We had our bikes against a FENCE!! Not to mention the ground was this hay-like grass...all yellow, gets everywhere...what a pain. I didn't want to sit down and get all kinds of hay/grass all over me and then get itchy later, so I was having a hard time w/ my wetsuit. Finally, Mike D. (Super Sherpa) grabbed my leg as I stood up to pull it off and WHOOSH! I fell flat on my butt and he ripped the wetsuit right off. Perfect!

Still, T1 was around 2:40 so not too bad. I put my shoes on there, too!!

The bike was a pain in the ass. Literally. That road was the crappiest road I've ever encountered in a triathlon. I know it sounds like all I'm doing is complaining, but not really. Just observing. And, my friends, I observed that this road SUCKED.

So anyway, the bike went on...and I was reminded that it always takes my legs a good 15 minutes to really truly warm up. Sometimes even 20. Really before I can feel good and strong and not just have this horrible hurt in my quads. The first 15 were like that - quads just burning, aching, my breathing was intense, and I just was hanging on until my body adjusted to what I was telling it to do.

I passed about 5 or 6 women, as well as a bunch of other men. I ended up leapfrogging w/this one guy and this 16 year-old kid for awhile. The kid was on this old commuter beater bike with TOE CAGES!!! He had one of those skater helmets on, too, and was flying on the bike! I was pretty impressed until he started (and kept on) drafting on the dude I was leapfrogging with. He was literally RIGHT ON HIS WHEEL! Finally I yelled at him and told him to ride his own damn race.

But then the 3 of us hung near each other for awhile and I started to feel bad for being kind of a jerk because he was right then I said "you know, it's too bad we can't draft because the 3 of us would make a great pace line." He agreed.

But with about 7 miles to go, the kid dropped off! I had no idea what happened...I noticed he didn't have a water bottle. Maybe he just started losing gas? I never knew what happened.

The other dude finished ahead of me and I was just trying to maintain my power and speed and cadence and just be strong. I didn't pass any other women but none had passed me, either. I counted 4 women ahead of me.

I wasn't sure if i was happy with my bike time or not (the results added in our transition time, so I had it at 1:07:58, which is right around 21.7 mph). I guess I thought I'd be going significantly faster once I got a bike that really fit me right, but that's okay. I have such a better sense of WHAT I want to work on, which is speed and also really maintaining that speed. Holding onto it for longer periods of time. I think the Friday night TTs will help with that.

Enter T2. I might try the elastic laces again. Usually I don't have problems tying my shoes quickly, but today, it wasn't working so well. :-/ Prob lost about 15 seconds or so?

Onto the run. The first mile I actually felt pretty darn good. I was breathing hard but doing pretty well. 1st mile was about a 7:20. Cool, but I knew I couldn't hold that. I backed off just slightly to a pace I could sustain but was still pushing myself since I knew it was only 5 more miles.

They had the markers off between miles 1-2 so I got freaked out that I was totally slowing down, that I had backed off TOO much, so I picked it up again. Then I realized what had happened once I hit mile 3 and knew that I hadn't gone THAT fast.

The aid stations were being run by mostly teenagers. Bless their hearts for BEING THERE on a Sunday morning! Still, they could've used some guidance on what to expect. Of the 6 aid stations I hit, 3 had kids that weren't ready with the Gatorade. Normally it might not have been such a big deal, but it was beginning to heat up big time and I was sweating a lot. I really needed the electrolytes.

As I began to approach the turnaround, I was able to count how many women were ahead of me. I saw Kelly out there and she was kicking ass. She was #3. There was one other woman behind her and that was it. Cool! At the turnaround I caught up w/the guy from the bike. I also saw that there were two women not TOO far behind me. They didn't look like slow runners, either.

At that point, I knew it was game on and I had to really maintain my pace, even push it a little bit toward the end if I could. Only 3 miles to go. C'mon, Sarah!!

Mile 3...good. Mile 4...beginning to ache a little and the last 3 minutes of mile 4 is when I really began to feel myself starting to overheat.

Not bad, but just a bit of chills and feeling like if I pushed too much harder, I could possibly end up like Ben if I didn't listen to what my body was saying. So...grudgingly I let go, just a little.

At Mile 5 aid station I walked to gulp down some Gatorade and pour water over my neck. As I did so, a woman I had passed on the bike ran past me.

DAMMIT!!!!!!!!!!! I felt so helpless. I knew I just didn't have it in me to push it super hard for 1.2 miles. I wanted it but everything was hurting at that point.

Then dude from the bike/who I passed at mile 3 came up on me. He said "oh come on, you're not going to let an old guy beat you, are you?" Dude!!! You did NOT just say that! He was joking but it was SO helpful because it was just what I needed to at least hang on and push through some of the pain.

He said "come on, 1 mile, let's push it." I said "I don't have it!" He said "c'mon. Pick it up."

Even though I couldn't quite pick it up to what he was doing, I am SO THANKFUL he was there. That is one of the things I LOVE about this sport. For such an individual sport, you can totally help each other out there, and people can be so supportive!

So, I finished at 47:35 (results say 49 minutes, but that includes T2). At first I was bummed about that too, but then I realized that it's my fastest 10K I've done in an Olympic Distance Tri, and you know...damn, for me, a 7:40 pace is not bad at all!

Overall, total time was 2:21:51. I finished 6th overall and 3rd in my AG.

Here was the part I got GYPPED on: They handed out AG awards for 10 year gaps - so 20-29, 30-39, etc. As I said, Kelly kicked ass and therefore she was #3 overall and #2 in the AG (but she's 23 so she would've been in 20-24), and so I got 4th.

The kicker is that the woman who passed me in that final mile was my AG. Ouch!!!

Ah, well. You live and you learn. And it was just a C race, right? :)

The most frustrating part, I believe, is being on this 'edge' of 'winning' and just continuing to ask what else I can do to get even faster. What will it take for me to gain more of that speed? For me to HOLD that speed? If it's more hours, I don't really have that. So I have to think about how to make the most of my precious 12 hours I do have during the week.

One of the coolest parts was running to the finish and having my Lombardi peeps there and then seeing Loren with his camera saying "Go Sarah!" It's so great to have people welcoming you back.

Post-race I got to finally meet Loren and Chris, and that was great! Loren did an awesome job in his sprint distance, and it sure looks like all of Chris's swim training is paying off. Nice work, gentlemen!

The other great post-race news was that my fellow Lombardi teammate John Murphy WON THE WHOLE RACE!! I was SO PROUD OF HIM!

The sad/funny part of that was that as he was killing himself to stay ahead of his competitors in the last 2 miles, he kept repeating "I get to break the tape. I get to break the tape. I GET TO BREAK THE TAPE!" He's never won a whole race before, so he was using that as an incentive to help him push to the end. Then he approached the end tape. :( POOR JOHN!!!

We finished the day by heading back to John's motorhome and having post-race beers. I will finish with a photo of proper post-race form: legs up, beer in hand, smiling with the satisfaction of knowing you gave it your all - and there's always more to do. :)


Rainmaker said...

Congrats on pushing through. I hear ya on getting gypped with AG awards - same thing happened to me yesterday. DOH!

Good thing I have a laptop, makes it much easier to see your photos. Turning a full blown monitor upside down is kinda difficult.

Chris Westall said...

Nice Race Sarah! And 4th is hardly a C race if that's how your grading it.

I'm sure that AG awards thing will be motivation for future races.

Great to finally meet you too.

Kelly said...

good job! I think the swim was probably close to right if we had swum from the bank/end/are, but our starting all the way on the other side of the river probably saved us like 100m? more? anyway, way to use our thinking caps.

Jocelyn said...

congrats! great race! you still gave an A+ effort for a C race. the C just denotes if you tapered or not. every race is a learning experience, 2:21 is really quick even if the swim was short. hehe! better short than long! take care girl :)

Eileen Swanson said...

good job. way to go, you will keep getting faster, remember to believe ;-) you can do great things.....cute pic!

rocketpants said...

Awesome race!! And you can make any report as long or as short as you'd like. :-)

It was a C race, sounds like a lot of learning that you will be able to take into an A race. Don't fret too much on the times.

Katie Weaver-Jongerius said...

Hey, nice race! Nothing like an old school tri to clean out the winter cobwebs!

Anonymous said...

Sarah -

Nice work, very nice work!

Keep on going! You are amazing!


Anonymous said...

me me me