Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Rose City Triathlon Race Report

Over two weeks late on this race report for the Rose City Triathlon in Tyler, TX. I did this race last year and finished 7th - it was some USAT Championship race, I can't remember which one - there seem to be so many different categories.  Club Championships, South Mid-West Regional Championships, State Championships - blah, blah, blah....  The difference is that when it's a championship race people who are interested in scoring points show up.

I did a race earlier this year and the Olympic distance was a championship (I did the sprint). I talked with a girl after the race asking if she was doing the WikiWiki Olympic distance and she said no, she hated that distance (but she had just raced it). At WikiWiki the Sprint was some type of championship - she did that one. Chasing those points for rankings.  I did the Olympic at that one because it is what fit in with my training schedule. Question: What do you do? Chase the rankings points or race to your schedule?

So... back to Rose City. This year I finished 4th overall - less fast people showed up - non championship race. Of course the ones that did show were super fast! Of the three girls who beat me, 2 are training partners of mine here in Shreveport. The other one is a girl who got dinged for drafting at River Cities. All of them are in their 20's. Made me feel pretty good. They could be my kids!

New venue for this year's race - on the other side of the lake. Much better. Picked up my race packet that morning. Wrong size shirt. Was able to leave it there and have them send me something that would fit.

I warmed up on the run and turned on my Garmin to measure where 1/2 mile out would be. Put a stick on the side of the road to mark it. Did a warm up swim and then proceeded to wait around for the last swim wave. Denise and Rachel both registered as Elite and went off in the first wave. I probably should have done this too, but they were giving prize money for Masters, and Grand Masters, as well as 1-3 Overall. I didn't know if I raced in the elite wave as to whether or not it would kick me out of the Masters/ GM category or not and didn't feel like messing with contacting the RD ahead of time to find out, so I just sucked it up and went last.

This is something that Denise and I had a conversation about, and I've talked to several others about it as well. Are Masters and Grand Masters considered part of the "overall" awards? For instance, at River Cities, I decided to race in the elite wave so I wouldn't have to go last and have as much congestion on the swim and bike course. By changing to this wave from the "age group" waves I thought it would pull me out of the Masters/GM awards. Typically if you race in the elite wave you are ineligible for an age group award, however a fast age grouper who starts later can take one of the top spots if their time is faster than an elite. Makes sense to me. But I was surprised when the race director called me and told me he has my Masters award. So, from what I have gathered so far you can race either in the Elite wave or in the Age Group waves and still qualify for the overall M/GM awards. What have your experiences been at races with this?

Crowded and choppy swim, had to go around a lot of people and on the long leg of the swim there was a lot of chop due to the strong wind. Onto the bike with no issues - didn't get to preview this new course - it was twisty and turny with short punchy hills. Not a fast course unless you got to ride it often and know where to expect the turns and climbs. Off the bike and onto the run. Used my new found running style and chanted "easy, light, smooth, fast" - it worked again. Felt amazing on the run and averaged 7:27 miles - sweet! Not a great bike split with a 20.8 average.

Didn't see my stick, may have gotten knocked off the road by the time I got there, but I saw the two black bike shop signs that were just past it and knew when to drive home. Denise came out onto the course to cheer me in. She yelled "strong arms", reminding me to drive the arms as I picked up the pace.

Me, Denise, Rachel, and Brian - Go Shreveport!!!

Won the Masters Catagory and a check for $100! Denise placed 2nd overall! Cobb Mobb teammate Rachel Olson won the event.  One of the guys who swims Masters with us won the Grand Masters Catagory. Shreveport did well!

Okay, now for the wierd and funny part of the race. As Denise and I were putting the bikes on the car a girl in an orange Boston Marathon jacket came walking by and called out "As soon as I get the swim down I'm coming to get you!" Denise said I responded with "okay?" I don't remember answering because it really caught me off guard. So I started thinking about who in the world it might be, and went looking at the race photos online and found her. When I saw her photo I recognized her also from the River Cities Tri. After that race I'd walked over to the East Texas Triathletes tent to say hello to the Cobb Mobb manager. A girl that I didn't know said that she and I had similar bike and run times, but I got her on the swim. It was the same girl that called out to me at Rose City. Hmmm...... guess I'd better watch out!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Abundance Theory

Dr. Stephen R. Covey

Think Win-Win isn't about being nice, nor is it a quick-fix technique. It is a character-based code for human interaction and collaboration. 

Most of us learn to base our self-worth on comparisons and competition. We think about succeeding in terms of someone else failing--that is, if I win, you lose; or if you win, I lose. Life becomes a zero-sum game. There is only so much pie to go around, and if you get a big piece, there is less for me; it's not fair, and I'm going to make sure you don't get anymore. We all play the game, but how much fun is it really? 

Win-win sees life as a cooperative arena, not a competitive one. Win-win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. Win-win means agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial and satisfying. We both get to eat the pie, and it tastes pretty darn good! 

A person or organization that approaches conflicts with a win-win attitude possesses three vital character traits:

Integrity: sticking with your true feelings, values, and commitments
Maturity: expressing your ideas and feelings with courage and consideration for the ideas and feelings of others
Abundance Mentality: believing there is plenty for everyone

Many people think in terms of either/or: either you're nice or you're tough. Win-win requires that you be both. It is a balancing act between courage and consideration. To go for win-win, you not only have to be empathetic, but you also have to be confident. You not only have to be considerate and sensitive, you also have to be brave. To do that--to achieve that balance between courage and consideration--is the essence of real maturity and is fundamental to win-win.

This is the first time I've been somewhat embarrassed to be a triathlete. I've always had a lot of pride for the nature of triathletes..... well in this case most of them. I suppose I have chosen to hang around those that are supportive and positive. I guess there are always going to be those few who have to knock someone down for their accomplishment rather than be happy that someone new has joined the multisport lifestyle.

Last weekend Brett Favre did a triathon. It was a super sprint in Gulf Shores, AL. I saw a thread posted by USA Triathlon on Facebook. The comments that ensued after it were mixed but I was horrified to see so many post really negative things about it. What gives people? Are you so insecure that you can't be happy for Brett instead of posting rude remarks.

I happen to know Brett and Deanna, they are friends of mine, and I know that he did this race with his daughter. He didn't train for it, he didn't "race" it, he wanted to be out there supporting Bre in her first triathlon. Deanna did the triathlon too, but told me she was so worried about both of them that she didn't "race" it. She still came in 3rd Overall! Deanna is a great triathlete and has been racing triathlons for years but chooses to fly under the radar. I'm not surprised after seeing some of the nasty comments about her husband.

I've never written a post like this before. I don't plan on ever writing one again. But I find it incredibly sad that people can be so mean spirited and hateful, and just needed to speak my peace. Lighten up people. There is room for all of us!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

ITU World Triathlon Race Report!

Wow, where to start? The anticipation of going to this race was crazy! So much planning, so much training, so much anxiety! Then it's come and gone in what feels like an instant.

Bill and I left for Canada and the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Edmonton on Thursday - my race wasn't until Monday. In retrospect it might have better to arrive a day or two later and then stay for a few days post race. That way we could have enjoyed Canada without all of my pre-race nervousness. I wasn't nervous about the race, like you are an Ironman where you are thinking did I do enough, am I ready?

I knew I was physically ready; I stayed disciplined and focused in my training and have seen the improvements this season in my bike and run in previous races. My anxiety stemmed from the logistics of this race! No cars allowed at or near the venue. You had to take a shuttle on the LTS (Light Transit System) over to the site. Figuring out when and where to catch the rail.....   AND then where to catch the shuttle....  and what time do we need to get to the rail....   AND how much time do we need to allow ourselves to get over to the venue.....  If you know me at all then you know that I wanted to "practice" on how to get there. We had to go over to the venue several times anyway for different things and so by race morning we were pros with the transit system.

Thursday afternoon we drove over to the mall in Edmonton, it's the largest mall in North America - being retailers of course we had to see it! Thursday afternoon at this place looked like a busy Saturday at the Galleria or North Park Mall in Dallas! It was crazy with people! We wandered around for a bit saw the indoor wave pool, the giant play area for kids, and the seal exhibit (poor seals living in a mall!).

I used Race Day Transport to get my bike to the race. But that meant driving it 3+ hours to Dallas to the participating bike shop. RDT did a great job with my bike and I would use them again in the future. I talked with one of the folks there yesterday about the drive and they told me that if we had 5+ bikes heading out of Shreveport for an event that we could arrange a pickup from a local bike shop!! The advantage was my bike was right next to transition and all I had to do was wheel it out. The only bad part was that once you checked it out of RDT it was yours. And I didn't want to schlep it back and forth on the buses and trains, so I left it with them for a few days. I was worried about it being out in the open but then noticed as we were leaving that they cover all the bikes with giant tarps at night.

 We had to check our bikes in on Sunday and they give you a one hour window per age group for this. (found out later that it is really more of a suggestion). My time slot was from 10:00-11:00 on Sunday. Checked it out around 9:30, and got to ride it back and forth on about a quarter mile of blacktop in the park before I had to take it into transition. Rode for about 30 minutes - did some pick ups to get the legs moving. There was another race going on and so I couldn't take it out on the course. Actually a lot of the race course was closed to cars for most of the daytime hours due to races going on so I didn't get to drive the course and see what it had in store for me. Just looked at the map and talked to a Team Cambridge guy who had raced the sprint. He gave me some heads up on the hills. At the pre-race meeting we were told that if you were from Colorado they were hills, but if you were from Florida they were mountains. I would say for me - Mountains.

Bill took this because I was next to the Japanese!  
Bike Check In - had to show your helmet, race number, uniform. They made me tighten the chin strap on my helmet. okay. Rack Q. During the pre-race meeting we were told that the transition area wasn't fair. No kidding it wasn't fair. My rack (since my swim wave was last) was the farthest away from the swim entrance, and the bike and run out. End of the line. So all of us old ladies got to run the entire length of the transition area 4 times more that the people on Rack A. Think it doesn't sound like much? A third of a mile in each transition. My Garmin showed T1 was .37 of a mile and T2 was .34 in transition distance, it took me 3:15, and 3:11 respectively . And why is this important? Only when it comes to me figuring out what kind of race I had (*I'll get to this later).

Walking the transition area with my new friend!

While I was racking my bike I chatted with a couple of the women in my age group nearby and found one who wanted to walk the in's and out's of the transition area with me. Kathy was from Canada and lived about 20K from the race. How nice is that? We covered every in and out and I felt so much more at ease afterwards.

Showing Kathy that the tents were across from our bikes.
No transition towels allowed so I checked around for a marker or something to help me find my bike instead of my pink Hello Kitty towel. Fortunately the red tents we had to pass under to get into transition were directly across from my bike, perfect land mark! Notice how we are on the absolute last row of bikes? The empty ones to the right stayed that way. The laminated numbers hanging by zipties on the racks were all wet and floppy, so I used a couple pieces of electrical tape to hold my number flat. Put a little piece on the bottom corner of the number too so I'd have something else to look for in transition.

Okay, done with all that pre-race stuff so now I could relax and get mentally set for the race. Oh, we did go to the pre-race meeting. It was okay - some good information covered. They allowed questions at the end of the meeting and geez..... some people ask some really strange questions. Mostly on things that were already covered and they must have been snoozing during that part of the talk. Or saying things that weren't questions but more like complaints. Nothing that the Team Managers could do anything about- really strange things. "The ankle strap is too thick." o-k-a-y..... We were told that if you wanted to wear something over the uniform it either had to be the team jacket or a clear jacket and that you would have to wear it during the run too. One lady complained that the only jackets left for sale for the team at the host hotel were too big. I loved when she was told that it had been for sale for months on the website. She said it again, and was responded to with exactly the same comment. Haha - loved that part!

Okay.. so race morning!

Transition area open from 6:00-7:15am. My swim wave: 9:43am. Air temperature 41 degrees. Hanging around outside for almost 4 hours. Only brought one pair of running shoes, my racing flats. Mistake.... no shoes to run and warm up in- running in UGG boots.... not really practical. Found refuge in the Boathouse building! Warm. Thank goodness! But way too much chatter from all the other nervous triathletes. Have you ever noticed that when talking with other triathletes that most sentences start with " I "? A friend of mine and I were talking today and she had a great point... if you want to tell your triathlon stories over and over again.... WRITE A BLOG! Hahaha... love that!!! p.s. She writes a blog too.

We had to assemble 30 minutes before our wave went off and be "escorted" to the swim corral by a guy playing the bagpipes wearing a swim cap and goggles. Classy. We get over to the corral and I realize that I forgot to take my gel, but right before my wave goes off I see Bill on the other side of the fence about 7 feet away. Was able to ask him to get the gel out of my bag that he's carrying and he flings it to me, and I actually caught it!! People around him applauded!

We line up with one foot against the blue "blocks" and wait for the starter. During the pre-race swim a couple days before a girl and I practiced our starts, figuring out how many steps before we should dive into the water. I was also told that the time between when they said "take your mark" and the gun was really short, so I was ready. Bill caught this picture of my wave start!

See the girl closest to the camera in the streamline? That would be me!
About 100 yards into the swim, I start thinking. And then I start to get the wetsuit panic. It's not good. I reach around and unzip my wetsuit to let some cool water in and it feels better, then reach back around and try to zip it back up and I can't get it. Now I'm really upset. I came all this way and I'm thinking that I'm going to have to get out of this thing and swim in the 62 degree water without my wetsuit. I managed to swim over to the first paddle board and get him to zip me back up and swim on slowly. I even freaked out a little again and looked back to see how far I was away from the paddle board because I considered going back to it. But it was already 20 yards away, so I put my face in the water and forced myself to swim slowly and calm down. After another 200-300 yards I was able to get a grip on things and pick up my pace a little. After that I was fine and tried to swim hard for the 2nd lap of the 1500 meters.

Me, freaking out!
As I came out of the water and was running to the transition area I saw Bill and he told me I was 7th out - now that really surprised me because I know with all the freak out I lost a bunch of time out there. (It turns out I was 8th out of the water in my age group, one girl had yanked off her cap before Bill could count her.)

2 loop course around this little island.
LONG transition... over a third of a mile. I took the time to put on some gloves (didn't want the Tri-Tyler race experience again with frostbite hands), and headed out onto the bike course. Two loops on a tough course. Couldn't get my gel off my bike, I'd taped it on too well, so I passed on that. Glad I brought the
e-Fuel for the bike bottle so I really didn't need the gel. I passed a lot of people, got passed by people, and came to realize that if you live in a country where you drive on the left hand side of the road you don't know where to ride if you are racing in a country where they drive on the right hand side of the road. Where we live we call it "blocking". I can't tell you how many people from Great Britain and Australia that I had to pass on the right. Either that or it is the triathlete entitlement attitude where it is Worlds and I can ride wherever I darned well please. At any rate, I let that go and had a great ride! It was tough - there was a hill just out of transition and on the second loop I looked down and was going 7 mile per hour. Other hills I ran out of gears on the decent, but managed to average 21.1 mph!

Back in to the long transition and out onto the run. It was a two loop run with almost 2 miles of each loop on trail. Hard pack dirt trail through some really nice woods. I took my e-Gel right away since I hadn't been able to take one on the bike, initially was planning on taking it halfway through the run.  On the plane ride to Canada I finished reading "Born To Run", and while I don't advocate the whole barefoot running thing I did take away 4 little words that helped me on the trail. "Light, Easy, Smooth, Fast".  And it worked. I had the best 10K run that I've ever had in an Olympic distance triathlon. I passed so many girls and just felt awesome. On the last loop in the last 1/2 mile or so of the run I went by some spectators and one of them shouted out "NICE RUNNING, SPANSEL!!!" Finished with a 7:48 average!! (prior best? 8:00 per mile).

This is what hurt looks like.
Sub 2:30 with a wetsuit freak out, hilly bike, and almost 2/3 run on trail, and extremely long transitions.  I'll take that! (*taking out 4 minutes from the transition runs would gave given me a 2:25:30 - that's a PR too!)

I'm a firm believer in looking to what was good and what went right in your races as opposed to what was bad and what went wrong. I know that I went into this race more prepared than I have ever been for a short course race. I'm so very pleased with my race and have zero complaints! Here is what I looked like coming across the finish line. Do you think I was happy?

I found Bill and we went to the Beer Garden! Someone told me we could see results online and I pulled up this! I don't know if you can see it, but it said I was 5th in my age group! I have to admit I got teary eyed when I saw it. You see with our wave going off last in the swim, I was honestly worried about finishing last in the entire race. Was hoping to finish somewhere around mid pack with my age group. Secretly wished for a top 10 finish but really didn't think it was possible. I got to enjoy what seemed to be a 5th place for a day, and then online results showed that I was 8th in my age group. A little let down after the exhilaration of thinking I was 5th but still a top 10 finish and 5th American!!

What a fantastic experience!  Loved it, even with all the drama of my nervousness. Here are some photos that we took during our stay in Edmonton!

My handsome husband!

In the winter this lake is an ice skating rink!
Awesome little English Pub where we ate more than one meal!

Really pretty trees in Canada!

A big thank you to my sponsors!  Team Cambridge and my friend and Team Manager, Scott Eder.
Scott Eder Sports.  Sportspectrum and Matt Brown! Cobb Cycling, John Cobb, and the Cobb Mobb! Eternal Water, and ICEdot! You guys, rock!!