Thursday, October 27, 2016

Tri The Gulf and Possum Town Triathlons!

Two final race reports!

Tri The Gulf! Dauphin Island Triathlon!

I finished up my 2016 race season with a great new race at Dauphin Island, Alabama called Tri The Gulf. I enjoy first time races; they did a nice job with this one. A couple little things that could use improvement, but overall I would highly recommend this race. Of course it helps that Dauphin Island is our favorite vacation beach. We rent a beach house here every year in the summer. It’s a family friendly, pet friendly, laid back beach. We even made the trip here after we moved to North Carolina for our annual beach vacation. If you’re looking for bars, and restaurants, and amusement parks then DI is not for you. There is one little store called Ship ‘N Shore, they have a little grocery section and a big hardware store in the back.

Bill wasn’t able to make the trip so I stayed the night before with one of my friends from Jr High! Lisa and I were Gautier Jr High cheerleaders together and we’ve kept in touch. She and her husband live in Mobile. We had a great visit, it was like we see each other every week. Love friends like that; when you don’t see them for years and pick up exactly where you left off!

Got to the race early (as usual) and they parked those of us that arrived early at the far back of the lot. I overheard some people around me talking about how why is it that the early arrivals get parked the farthest away? I wondered the same thing, get there early… relegated to the farthest parking place.
It was a little windier on race morning than the day before at packet pick up. Wind was out of the south east at about 10, made the thought of going up and over the DI bridge a little scary. But that was one of the best parts of the race, the chance to ride over the bridge twice for the out and back.

When my husband and I vacation on the island and drive that bridge at night, it feels like you’re going over the edge at the top, so I had really looked forward to cycling on it! It did not disappoint!
Racks were numbered by range, and numbering was the “Line Up as You Sign Up”, meaning if you were the first person to register, you were #1. I signed up pretty early and was #15, great rack position by the bike in and out. Just before transition closed I watched at a guy with a number in the 200’s came and put his bike on the rack……really?? Thought about letting an official know, but it’s his problem not mine, if he feels good about himself with “not doing the right thing” then I’m not going to be the one to rat him out.

We had a little bit of a wait before the swim start; they had to make sure that the traffic control on the bridge was set. They closed vehicle traffic to one lane, and had a police escort for the cars, taking turns going and coming on to the island. Really well planned!! They started us in time trial for the swim, but instead of going one at a time, we went by twos (brilliant idea!). Cut the swim start for the last competitor by half the wait time. Cajun Timing does a very professional job. They announced that the swim was wetsuit legal, saying it was 77; I decided to go without mine and just wore the speed suit. I’m glad I did, the water temperature was perfect for swimming hard. I must have passed everyone except one woman (#8 – she wore a full sleeve wetsuit and came out second). Had a good swim! 1:24/100 yard average, but this included some pretty shallow water where you needed to do several dolphin dives in and out.

Had a really good T1, 32.2 seconds which included fumbling with the speed suit on my ankles, it was a pretty good run up the beach and on the boardwalk they had built, so I was a little shaky taking off the suit. I noticed only one other set of wet footprints and that was how I knew I came out of the water second!  Had the fastest T1 of the day!! Felt pretty good on the bike, and on the flats was averaging 22-23 mph. Could see the woman ahead of me, she was powering away. That’s okay, I overheard her saying something in the swim line up about bike racing, and she was really tall and strong. Ended up with a 20.5 average on the bike, happy with that with those two big climbs.

Just before the end of the bike course two or three guys passed me, one was Joey Lee. His wife Casey and I are friends, we cheered each other on as he went flying by. I saw Casey on the bridge too, and we yelled for each other! I love seeing friends at races, and I am so glad that they were there! The ride over the bridge wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, nothing worse than some of the hills that I ride in Tuscaloosa. The wind was a little scary, a gust got me and I had to take one hand off the aero bars for a bit on the downhill.

Back through the neighborhood and into transition. Off onto the run, the first mile was straight down the Dauphin Island Golf Course fairway, it took some navigating to avoid the soft sand, but it wasn’t bad. Then up to the bike path that runs along the main road on the island. I was in familiar territory, because I run this path daily when we are on vacation! A new race but being familiar with the run course was great!

I’ve gotten into a bad habit in my racing this year, it started with Sunfish. When my heart rate gets high, I walk 10 or so steps. I did it twice in the race...this came back to haunt me. Really need to break this bad habit. When I came to the second aid station on the run there was a little boy holding out a cup of water, and behind him a little girl, I tried to get it from the girl and she had pulled it back just before I reached for it thinking I was taking the first cup. I heard her mom yell “Girl Power – Thank You!” and then the little girl “I’M SORRY!!”, she was so cute!!  I finished the run with an 8:04 mile average.

Awesome post race food and drink! They had jambalaya, and shrimp and grits, beer, sodas, and sports drinks! We got a finisher’s mug, and a medal that doubles as a bottle opener – great swag! The pool was open for us, so Casey and I went and cooled off in the water! Awards were held quickly, no waiting around for hours (more kudos to Cajun Timing!) and Lisa Ann McCall (RD) for doing a great job. The awards were some very nice handmade pottery just for the race!

I finished 4th Overall Female – AND MISSED 3RD BY 1.5 SECONDS! Remember when I said it would come back to haunt me? The girl that placed 3rd has beat me every time this year, darn it! NO MORE WALKING!

Along with the awards they gave special awards for the fastest male and female swim, bike, and run. AND my friends Casey and Joey Lee both won the swim prime!! Very cool!! I had the 3rd fastest female swim, 8th fastest overall swim!! Some people I know seem to always talk about what went wrong in their race, make some excuses for one thing or another. I like to find the great part of my race and dwell on that!

Casey and Joey Lee - Fastest Swim of the day!
I loved this race! I would have to say it was my favorite of the year! The venue, the race course, and OH.. the spectators!! The people that live there had tshirts on that said “LOVE WHERE YOU LIVE!” They were out in force all along the course, cheering and taking pictures. On the bike in, I saw a woman taking pictures on her phone, and when I ran in she said “Got you that time!” I waved and smiled, and it gave me a little added boost for the last section of the run!

Award and Swag!

Possum Town Tri – Columbus, Mississippi

Possum Town was another great race for me this season. I will be adding it to my schedule for next year, too! Columbus is within race morning driving distance, so no overnight hotel stay! Save money, race more! Bill was able to go with me to this one! When I was warming up on the run I found a little path that led to a nice little dock surrounded by lily pads. It was secluded and peaceful back there, so I told him about it so he could check it out while I was racing, next year bring a fishing pole!

This was another “Line Up as you Sign Up” race, so I was up toward the front. I tend to sign up early for races, it not only keeps me motivated in my training but also allows me to save money before the price goes up. The savings usually pays for an additional race per season! The water was a little murky, but it had been raining in the days leading up to the race so it had the water stirred up. 4th fastest female swim on this day!

The bike course was flat and fast! Averaged 21.3 mph, I think that is the best for the year for me. One tiny section that was rough, but overall a really fun course.

Smiling at Bill!

The run was also flat!! We lucked out with an overcast morning on race day, if the sun had been out this could be a pretty steamy run! No shade, but since it was an out and back with one little dog leg it was a great course to see your friends and competitors! I was the first female across the line and got a lot of cheers from the crowd, and was even interviewed by the local paper. I didn’t think my placing would hold and I was right, I ended up 2nd overall female. The same woman who beat me at Dauphin Island was over 5 MINUTES ahead of me!

All three top females were over 50 at the race! After we stood on the podium for our picture I reached over and shook hands and congratulated the other women. Now… this is an observation that I’ve noticed, you rarely see anyone acknowledging or congratulation anyone else anymore. I think this is sad, and telling of the times. Another thing that I can’t control others, but I can absolutely try and lead by example, who knows maybe it will spread. I always say that “We’re not putting food on the table” with our racing, these small races are fun and while we are competitive and want to do our best we should be good ambassadors for the sport. If you’ve read this far down in this blog post, I challenge you to cheer on your fellow competitors and show your sportsmanship at the end of the race!

Possum Town had a good post race party, beautiful awards, great swag, and a good course! It will be on my schedule!

Oh.. post race note. One of other local Tuscaloosa triathletes also did the race, he typically has been doing only Ironman and half Ironman races. He made a great comment about not realizing what he has been missing by doing smaller local sprint races, seeing everyone out there racing and doing their best was inspiring for him, and he said he will be adding some “non-branded” races to his schedule!

Lesson today: Be gracious. Be a good ambassador. Be friendly.

The off season has begun! Time to work on swim technique, and lay the base for 2017!

 See you at the races!