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!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Sunrise Triathlon Race Report - Pool Swim Race Tips!

I made a last minute decision to race the Sunrise Triathlon here in Shreveport last Sunday. It turned out to be a good one!

I had planned to ride long the day before and when I got to Cypress Lake I realized that my cycling shoes were hooked onto the pedals on my road bike which was on the trainer at home... maybe it was a good thing so I'd have fresh legs for the race.

The Sunrise Triathlon Club was formed in 1996 and has grown to over 400 members! It is the second largest tri club in the South MidWest USAT Region. Every May/June the club hosts the Sunrise Triathlon Series. Three races which increase in length on the bike and run all start with a 450 yard pool swim. The reasoning for the increasing length is smart. It's to help newer triathletes gain confidence and experience in racing.

So this race is a pool swim....... I know I've written before how pool swims in triathlons are my least favorite format. Flipping under the lane ropes, hoping that people put down an accurate time so the swim doesn't get all bottle necked and congested... We were asked to enter a predicted time but on race morning were told to line up according to how we thought we would swim.. uh oh. But some quick conversation with the people in line and I found a spot towards the front of the line. Second girl in line. I must have placed myself well because I didn't come in contact with anyone in front of me (almost caught the guy right in front of me, passed him in the run to the bikes), and no one caught me. There was a girl in line and my friend and Rachel told me to get in front of her. I noticed while I was swimming that a couple men passed her so I was really happy that I took Rachel's advice.

This swim is "interesting" in that we start in one pool and get in 175 yards, then hop out and run over to a second pool for another 275 yards.

There are two techniques for pool swim starts. No diving is allowed. One is to go in feet first right by the wall and then get your feet up on the wall and push off in a streamline, now this isn't a bad idea as long as you can do a really good streamline, a technique that eludes MOST triathletes. I read a lot of forums where triathletes say things like, "I don't need to learn to flipturn because we don't do that in open water". I'm pretty sure the rational for not doing a good streamline off the wall would get the same excuses. I believe that as a triathlete you should Swim Like a Swimmer, Ride Like a Cyclist, and Run Like a Runner. Don't become that guy or girl who thinks they only need to do the bare minimum in swimming to "get through" the swim. Learn techniques, learn different strokes, learn flipturns, learn to streamline. Go back and read this post -Swimming: Reducing Drag and Increasing Power.

This is what a good streamline looks like.

And here is what NOT to do!
The second start technique for a pool swim tri is to jump out as far as you possibly can, rebound off the bottom and start swimming. This is my preferred technique. I first saw this one when Denise and I did the Girl Power Triathlon in New Orleans last year. Denise and I watched the girls in front of us start and they took a HUGE jump, way out into the pool from a running start. Try it next time. Just watch your footing so you don't slip.

When you have a serpentine pool swim you have to go underneath the lane ropes at the end of the pool to switch lanes - here you also have two options. You can stop, stand up, duck under the lane rope, duck under, and then push off the wall - the slow technique. Or you can flip turn and streamline underneath the lane rope into the next lane - the faster technique. For some reason most every pool swim I've ever done has you swimming in the opposite direction that we "circle swim" in practice. In circle swimming you stay on the right hand side of the lane - down on the right and back on the right, counter clockwise. In this swim, the first pool had us going clockwise and the second pool was counter clockwise (see the diagram above). If you've spent much time in the pool you'll know that the first pool's swim feels really unnatural. I was happy to move to pool two! My swim was still not where I want it to be 6:45 - 1:30 average per 100 - not so good (this includes the run between pools and to the transition mat).

The bike course was an out and back, part of it was on cement with control joints - in other words - bump, bump, bump.. I tried my best to ignore them. Headwind going out which meant we would have a nice tailwind back to T2! At the turnaround on the bike I saw 5 or so men riding in a pack - geez... REALLY? It was a 14 mile bike! On the way back, B.E. Smith, one of the guys who rides with the Saturday Sunrise group passed me with another guy right on his wheel. The drafter said to me "have a good race", I replied "Thanks, get off his wheel." I spoke to Smith after the race, he said he was told that the guy drafted him pretty much the entire ride. I don't get it! Hallie, who I coach with at COSST and I chatted about the drafting after the race, we don't get how you can feel good about yourself when you cheat. I averaged 21.7 by my Garmin!

Quick transition after the bike 0:34. and onto the run. Passed several men just out of transition (2 of which were the drafters) and also B.E., who asked me the distance of the run (he passed me later in mile 2 and thanked me after the race for the pacing). I went through mile one in 7:32, really happy about that! This was the first flat run course I've done this season and it was nice to see that my speed is getting there. I lost a little focus on mile two and went 7:41 (didn't know the course - it would have helped if I did to keep my head in the game), but pulled it back together after I heard the buzz on my Garmin for the 2nd mile split and ran the last .63 at a 7:27 pace. Ended up averaging 7:34! My best of the season so far. "Quick Feet - Quick Feet - Quick Feet!"

After I finished I ran back out on the course to cheer on the finishers and look for my friend Hallie! She looked strong as I ran with her to the finish line! It was an overcast but incredibly humid morning and I had a great time!

Hanging out after the race waiting for the awards ceremony at the Town South pool you would NEVER guess that this is a small local event. The post race food and drink were AWESOME!! My favorite of course was a huge cooler full of ice cold chocolate milk (I think this should be at ever single race in the entire world!), such a perfect recovery drink. I guzzled mine and seriously considered going back for another bottle, the only thing that kept me from it was the fact that they were generous sized bottles and boasted almost 350 calories. There was beer, sodas, ice cold water, watermelon, cupcakes, and jambalaya! Woot!

Okay, so along with the really great post race food and drink is what Sunrise does for awards! Yowza!! The awards are really cool and they also give out prizes for the fastest swim, bike, and run for men and women. AND I won the women's fastest bike split!! Sweet! We got to pick from several designs and I picked this one!

Now a lot of my friends use these for their medals
but for me this is going to be an awesome leash holder!

I placed 2nd Overall Female and got this for my efforts!!

Oooooh.... what to buy with my $50??

My Cobb Mobb Teammate, Rachel Olsen (and COSST Swim Coach) won Overall Female as well as fastest swim and run splits! Allen England - 14 years old and COSST Swimmer, won Overall Male and won the fastest swim split! See a trend here?  SWIMMING and SWIMMERS! Oh... I do have to brag on this a little - Rachel is 30 years younger than me, she just graduated from Centenary College where she swam on the swim team and ran on the cross country team! I could be her Mom! A friend in Hattiesburg once said I should be on Team Genetic Freak. Sounds like a cool name for a tri team doesn't it?

City of Shreveport Swim Team - bringing home the hardware!

COSST Coach Hallie - 5th Overall Female, 1st Age Group
COSST Coach Ginger - 2nd Overall Female
COSST Coach Rachel - 1st Overall Female

Traditional Goofy Picture
Happy Happy Happy!
Team Cambridge!!

Next up is the Disco Triathlon just north of Dallas! I haven't been back to Texas since we moved back in 2008! Hoping to see some of my friends!! It's a Team Cambridge event so I will see a field of red, grey, and black, and a lot of teammates!