Friday, August 8, 2014

River Cities Triathlon 2014!!

COSST Swimmers!! Cheering at the race!!
FINALLY!!! I have struggled with the River Cities Triathlon for years!! Sub-par after sub-par performance, there always seems to be something going on or going wrong when this race arrives. The few days before the race we had some really cool weather, nights in the 60's and daytime highs in the 80's, and some rain! Things were lining up for a fast race this year.

2014 makes #19 for me at RCT! I love this race! Who wouldn't? Great course, great swag (understatement here), and great post race party! What's not to love? Here are a pictures of what was in our race packets this year!!!

Backpack, Hat, 1/4 Zip LS Tech, S/S Tech, Socks, Swim Bag!
Two years ago I had a hurt hip and wasn't able to run for 3 weeks leading up to the race - RACE FAIL on the run... of course. Last year I was going to compete in USAT Age Group Nationals in just 6 days so I held back on the run - RACE FAIL. But this year? A month out from Worlds in Canada - my plan? Go hard and see what I could do. A simple plan but it paid off for me!

COSST Swim Coaches!!  Hallie and Linda!
A week before the race I decided to change from racing Age Group and go off in the first swim wave with the Elites and Collegiate athletes. I train with several women who are in my age group and 1) didn't care about winning an award and 2) thought it would open up another spot for them to place! Also decided to do a "shake down" run in my TEAM USA kit to make sure there were no rubbing issues. It felt great!! And right now it is at Running Dog Sportswear getting screened with my sponsors!!

I lined up for the swim back from where I would typically start - I was worried about getting beat up in the swim. The last time I raced an Elite wave I had a bad experience in the water, so I thought I'd be a little cautious with these youngsters. I swam hard and never had any issues, I kept thinking that I didn't want to look like a slouch coming in dead last in the wave. I guess I held my own pretty well because I heard Coach Kyle yell that I was 3rd female out!

I was riding strong and passed one of the women who was out of the water before me. Just after that a pack of what looked like mostly collegiate athletes came by me! In it were a couple women - it was so irritating! I actually coasted to let them go by, came up off the aerobars, and addressed the bike marshal on a motorcycle who had come up on the pack. "Do they not know????" I looked at the little note pad that the person on the back of the moto had and he hadn't written down any numbers yet, he gave them a chance to fix it. There was one guy in the pack that turned to me and said, "I hope we don't all get dinged for drafting." REALLY??? And then they rode away - I watched the motorcycle pace with them, and they looked like they kind of dispersed a little. A little bit further down the road I could still see the group of them way up ahead, and I saw the same motorcycle pull back onto the road and go after them again. He had pulled off in a driveway to wait for them to pass by. Then the Head Referee (black and white shirt) came flying by on the back of another motorcycle - I guessed that he had been radioed. Shreveport Times Article.

At Crawfishman I was super happy to have averaged 22 mph on the bike - that was the fastest I've ever been in a race. At River Cities this year............ 22.5 !! I think that the amount of training that I've been doing, riding with fast triathletes here in Shreveport, and some unseasonably cool weather in August all contributed to my fast bike!

Cool weather = fast running!! The air temperature was down, usually it's in the 90's by the time this race is underway, this day we had 70's! But there was still the typical Southern humidity. I looked at my watch once or twice during the run but it was never on the correct scrolling screen, so I gave that up and just ran hard. I even split mile 1 and 2, and mile 3 was only 4 seconds slower. Knowing this run course helps so much - one of the benefits of having raced here so many times. I ended up finishing 5th among the Elite wave women and 11th Overall by the time the rest of the women had finished. My best finish here in many, many years. I hope that I can bring some of this speed with me to Worlds in Canada!!

I was going to race next at the Lake DeGray Sprint on the 16th but I've rethought my plan and feel it would be better to stay home and have a quality weekend of training since my big race is just around the corner.

One other note! If you have read any of my previous blog posts you'll see that I trained and raced with a girl named Denise Joplin. Well a couple months ago her husband Kyle accepted a position at Centenary College here in Shreveport as the Assistant Swim Coach and Head Cross County Coach! You know what that means? Insert gigantic smiley face here!

Volunteering at IronFish!

We wasted no time getting back into the training together - they landed here on Thursday the 31st and since then we have had 4 Masters Swim workouts with Coach Kyle on deck (so great to have him coaching me again in the pool), and we've ridden twice. Denise also volunteered at the River Cities Triathlon and the IronFish Kid's Triathlon - she helped with the timing. Cajun Timing handled both races and it is the same company that is doing the timing for the HubCity Hustle Triathlon in Hattiesburg - Denise is the race director. If you're looking for a great race to do in the South you should consider registering for this one!

Next stop Canada!! World Short Course Championships in Edmonton!! 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Kids Triathlon Transition Clinic!

A few weeks ago I wrote about the Kids Splash & Dash that I put on in Shreveport at the Southside Pool and after watching the kids go from swim to run I could tell that I wanted to help with their transitions. So I started planning a Kids Triathlon Transition Clinic! I recruited Coach Hallie and Coach Rachel to help me. They are both triathletes and coaches with COSST (City of Shreveport Swim Team)!

Every year the day before the big River Cities Triathlon, Sportspectrum puts on the IRONFISH Kid's Triathlon. I've never been out to watch it, always too consumed in my own self and resting before River Cities. But after coaching for the past year here in Shreveport I want to give back to this race, so not only will I be volunteering this year at the kid's race but I wanted to help them with one of my favorite parts of triathlon - THE TRANSITION!

This morning about 20 kids and their parents arrived at the Southside Pool with their bikes and all of their swim, bike, and run gear for our first Transition Clinic! The Sunrise Tri Club generously offered to provide refreshments and Matt Brown and Sportspectrum gave us some awesome door prizes to give away! I had some Aquaphor samples left from last year so I handed those out to everyone too!

We started with a talk about the race itself -went through what they would be getting in their packets. Talked about the race tattoos that they will have this year. Then went over a transition map and a poster I made showing how to set up their transition area. It's always good to have an idea ahead of time of where the swim, bike, and run enter and exit the transition area.

Then Rachel, Hallie, and I did a run though so they could see how we handled our transitions! That was fun!
After that we got all of the kids to set up their transition areas and we did a walk through - walking. They did really well so we regrouped, reset the transition area but this time they swam 25 meters and did the transitions at full speed! These kids ROCKED IT!! I was so proud of them!

We gathered back under the patio area and talked a little more about what to eat then night before and morning of the race, and a few other things like SMILING FOR THE CAMERA AT THE FINISH LINE!
Had some ice cold chocolate milk and water and then did the drawings for the door prizes! We had enough prizes that everyone went away with something fun! There were tshirts, hats, a backpack, a blanket, a water bottle, and socks! I think they had a good time. Coach Butch said the parents were very happy and excited about the clinic. Harrisen and Evangeline's mom said something that made me feel great, she thanked me and told me that they would have had no idea on what to do had we not put on the event! I call that an absolute success!

I can't wait to see these kids at IRONFISH on Saturday!!!  
We just may be seeing the next generation of elite triathletes!

It's time to give back to the sport I love so much! Wish you could have joined us!
Thank you Hallie and Rachel!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Disco Triathlon!!

I traveled back to my old stomping grounds last weekend to race the Disco Sprint Triathlon! I haven't raced in the Dallas area since 2007 and was looking forward to getting back to the city.

Packet pick-up was in Plano at the Tri Shop and closed at 4:00 pm (kind of early??), so after I did that I had some time to kill. What better way to do this than with a pedicure!! Then I drove up to Denton to the hotel that I booked. Bill stayed home with the boys so I was by myself for this one.

I talked with Bill on my way up to the race from the hotel and I told him that for some reason I was really nervous this morning - in the car my hands were shaking, don't know what that was all about, pre-race anxiety. I wanted to do well and I was pretty worked up thinking about my race.

The Disco race had three distances going on so there was an early 6:30 am race start. The transition area was only open from 5:30-6:15! Yikes!! If you know me then you know I like about an hour and a half to get everything set for a race and 45 minutes was really short! I talked briefly to Scott Eder, our team manager with Cambridge about the in's and out's of the transition area and he gave me some information about the course. Long run up from the swim and slightly uphill, he told me to watch my heart rate because it was easy to spike it on the way to the bikes. He said the bike course was slightly harder coming back in than going out and of course the wind was blowing from the south so we would have a headwind on the way back.

Got my little warm up run in and then went to the swim start to warm up... and then the waiting began. My wave was dead last. Ahead was the X-50 race (1 mile swim, 40 mile bike, 9 mile run) and the Olympic race. Apparently there was some issues getting the cars into the park and the race didn't get under way until 7:00am.  In our race packets we were given a little coupon to get into the park. Otherwise it was $7.00 - well apparently the coupon was for a "person", not the "car". It took a long time to get through the line. Wow....good thing I hurried to get my stuff set up in transition - NOT! I paid for the rushing later - keep reading...

The Swim:
We were freezing by the time we got started - when I lined up there were quite a few girls right on the line. They looked aggressive.... I was a little worried. Went out hard at the start and got away from them all, never had contact with another swimmer for the entire time. Passed a bunch of people from the swim wave before me. It got really shallow at the end of the swim (not enough rain in the Dallas area - they are under drought watch, so the lake was low), and I did a bunch of dolphin dives. When we saw the very first swimmer come out of the water as we were waiting for our start we saw he went really far left and ran along the sandbar - a bunch of us even commented that initially we didn't even realize he was in the race. After him they had volunteers herd the swimmers into the deeper water so it didn't turn into a run fest at the end of the swim.

The Bike:
Ugh... chip seal and rain. It had started sprinkling on us as we waited for the swim to start but once we got onto the bike the rain came down. They had told us to stay on the shoulder of the road if possible and at first I didn't because there were a lot of people with flats. When it rains the debris washes off the road and flat tires are usually eminent. But then I went ahead and moved over about half way to the turn around and noticed that the road there was WAY smoother! The only problem was it was inconsistent and also when you needed to pass someone (remember I was in the last swim wave of the morning) you had to go back into the road and around the cyclist. I saw some people passing on the right, HELLO - illegal pass! I also told a lot of people as I passed them that the shoulder was much smoother road - always trying to help. One guy that was going back and forth with me (he didn't want to be chicked) went down at the turn around cone, never saw him again - "wet roads = caution".

When I got back to transition I did something that I have never, ever done in my entire 29 years of racing. I ran into T1 and went to where I thought my bike was.... it wasn't there.... what the????? I hadn't given enough thought to the bike in before the race start and had run past my spot to the opposite end of the transition area! I was on the 2nd row of bikes at the bike in - so I ran 2 extra complete lengths of T1 with my bike. You know what went through my head? "I wonder if anyone is noticing how stupid I look searching for my bike?" Haha! I felt like an idiot. Lets just add 30 seconds to your transition time. Grrrrrr.....

The Run:
The run was supposed to be flat. But I had two almost 8:00 minute miles followed by a 7:00 minute mile. Hmmmm.....  This was according to my Garmin anyway - we were under cover of trees since the run was on a trail (concrete) so it may have been off. I sure didn't feel like I was running an 8:00. My run average was 7:33 and I am really happy with that! It rained on us the entire run, it kept the temperatures down which felt really good.

Post Race:
Went to the car to clean up and change. Temperatures were in the upper 60's at this time and I was cold. Wish I had remembered to bring a hoodie. Of course when I got to my car to change the ONLY other person in the entire parking lot that also was at their car was a guy and parked RIGHT NEXT TO ME. So I had to wait. He finally left and I was able to put some dry clothes on and grab my big golf umbrella and head back to the team tent. Got a little adjustment and some ART on my right hip flexor and piriformis.

I had no idea how I finished since there were the other races going on and I asked if they posted results somewhere. One guy from the team said they were already online so we started checking his phone. First he asked if I was Masters, nope not listed there. Then he asked Grand Masters?, nope not listed there either. Then he asked what my age group was, nope still not there. So then I sheepishly said, "would you check the overall?" (I thought maybe I had a chance - on the run there were only young girls ahead of me and they were close at the finish.) I guess my favorite part of the race was the surprise in his voice when he said I'd won the sprint race! It was kind of funny, I guess they didn't expect that! Scott Eder asked me if that was the first race I'd ever won in Dallas? Yep! Later when I checked results online I saw that the next girl was 2 minutes behind me - and over 20 years younger than me. Happy, Happy, HAPPY!


When I was on the out and back run I watched for my Cambridge teammates - there were a lot of us out there. It was the first time for me racing with a bunch of people on the same team. I gave a little wave and received one back from every single one of them. Every time I saw one it was a little mental boost to go faster and represent the team. Another one of my highlights of the morning. Good group of people. Great group of athletes!

Scott and I talked about something while waiting for awards that I've never really given a lot of thought to. We were chatting about my performance at 53 years old, I told him about Team Genetic Freak. He observed that one of the reasons that I can still race at the level I do is because I didn't get caught up in the Ironman distance racing. I've done three of them, and would do more if my knees could handle it, but by not racing long I've been able to continue racing long past when other people's bodies have broken down. I've chosen to race sprints and the occasional Olympic distance race and be able to keep doing this sport - some day I know I won't be able to race anymore but I think making the decision not to pound my body with the Iron and Half Iron training distances (particularly on the run) has kept me in this wonderful sport of triathlon! It's something to think about.

How long do you want to continue to race?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Kid's Splash & Dash!

Yesterday morning COSST held their very first Splash & Dash at the Southside Pool in Shreveport! We have an awesome 50 meter, 8 lane outdoor pool with fenced in grounds all the way around, and I thought it would be a perfect place to hold a swim/run event for the kids. It was a fun way to get them introduced to multi-sport events!

The run was held totally within the grounds of the pool area, so the kids didn't have to get out onto the busy neighborhood streets. It made it very spectator friendly to see them run the quarter mile laps around the fence line. Everyone watching was cheering on the kids as they ran by and finished!

We had two different distances based on the age. A 100 meter time trial swim and a half mile run if you are 5-9 years old, and double that distance if you are 10-14. Awards were donated by Belk (thank you Bill!) and The City of Shreveport Swim Team! Raising Cane's also donated Achievement Awards for a free Kid's Meal, and Chick-fil-A gave us coupons for a free Ice Dream!

There is another Splash & Dash in the making for September! We've had some thoughts for next year as to making it a 3 race series with the distances getting longer with each race! Series winners, and a discount for signing up for all three... the thinking caps are on!

Everyone had a great time! Hope to see you at the next race!