Sunday, July 15, 2012

Race Report: YMCA Old Colony Olympic Triathlon

YMCA Old Colony Olympic (Olymp-ish) Triathlon (Race organizer: F.I.R.M.)
Swim: 0.9 miles
Bike: ~24 miles
Run: ~6.5 miles

Elle: Sleep fail. I don't know know if it was nerves, or what, but I didn't get a lot of sleep. Great. But the good news is that we both got up nice and early. I really didn't want to get to the race late like last time. The ride down to Middleboro was nice and quick, not a lot of traffic at 5:30am on a Sunday, as you can imagine. So we got to the race site early and nabbed a sweet parking spot. And since we were some of the first to arrive, we scored nice spots in the transition area too. Speaking of the transition area, we both couldn't believe how small this race was - the smallest we've ever done, that's for sure. And laid back too. There was basically no security getting in and out of the transition area where there was probably over $1,000,000 in stuff (wetsuits, bikes, helmets, shoes, Garmins, sunglasses, etc.). Also, no bike helmet numbers, which is a first for me. And the timing chips were pretty used and abused. Hey, F.I.R.M, I think it might be time to spring for some new timing chips.

Webb: We are not usually among the first to arrive. I don't know if I have ever had such a sweet spot on the bike rack. Meanwhile, there was a guy walking around telling anyone who would listen (or pretend to listen) about his PRs and recent races. Generally, that doesn't bother me, but there was something about his manner that was really annoying. Other than that, what I really noticed was the number of beautiful, pricey-bikes. This was definitely going to be a competitive field, even if it was small (about 200).

Elle: While milling around in transition I ran into Beth, a triathlete I've seen at other races. She's in my age group and always beats me. She came in 3rd overall for women at Escape the Cape. Oh, and her brother was a pro cyclist (cool!). It was nice chatting with her. I really like that about racing around here - you can go to races and recognize fellow athletes, it really gives you a sense of community. And the weather was nice, not like our last 2 tri's this year, which were both cold and rainy. Another plus: No port-o-potties! There were actual bathrooms, which was a real treat. Another treat - my new favorite pre-race snack - Gu Chomps Peach Tea flavor, yum!

Webb: The vibe was definitely laid back. Since we arrived much earlier than normal, I was all set up and kinda bored. I kept thinking I should squeeze into the wetsuit and go for a warm-up swim. With about 30 minutes to race time, we walked down to the beach front. No one was in the water. The crew was setting up the buoys so we couldn't even get a visual of the swim course. We wandered back to transition to get ready.

Elle: Webb came over to spray some of his wetsuit spray on my wrists and ankles which, later, proved to be super-duper effective - my wetsuit slid right off in T1, I'm using this stuff from now on! The water was super warm but they said the water was 72-degrees, so it was wetsuit legal. Hey, I'll take it. We put on our wetsuits to do a little practice swimming.

Webb: As anyone could have predicted, this race was not going to start on time. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a bad thing because everyone was loose and relaxed. (Although if there were any newbies in the ranks, it may have stoked their anxieties.) The race staff brought out a speaker & CD player to play the national anthem. It didn't work. They shrugged it off and offered an apology. A few people shouted to the poor woman for her to sing. And then something really cool happened. Everyone began singing the anthem. I'm not going to lie: I am a practioner of Schadenfreude. I was waiting for the part where everyone was going to all of sudden start getting quiet and mumbling when they realized they didn't know all the words. It didn't happen. And no one tried to outshine anyone else. It is easily my favorite national anthem moment. I'll take that over any superstar vocalist or 7-year old prodigy any day.

SWIM: 1500m (0.9 miles)

Webb: The swim was ITU-style, which means two 750 meter laps. You have to exit the water, run under an arch, do a u-turn and re-enter after the first lap.  There were only three waves, sent out 3:00 apart: Wave #1 Men 44 and under; Wave #2 all Women; and Wave #3 Aquabike (all six of them) and Men 45 and over.

Elle: The swim is 0.9 miles, but the way I swim, it was closer to a mile. And the waves were only 3 minutes apart, so I definitely got caught. It would have helped if I hadn't been consistently swimming off to the right. Who knows how much extra I swam, due to my poor open water skills. I did like the ITU style, swimming 2 laps instead of one big lap. But seriously, I really need to work on open water swimming!

Webb: Ditto that. I was zigging and zagging so much I was getting super frustrated. It had nothing to do with being in a race. Had it been a training day I would have stopped to try to figure out what the hell was wrong with me. As it was, I just kept swimming.

The one thing I did consider doing was taking off my wetsuit after the first lap. It was too warm for me. The water was warm and I think the black neoprene and rubber were soaking in all of the sun's early morning death rays. I seriously played through in my head the risks and benefits of losing the wetsuit between laps instead of in transition. I finally decided just to keep racing.

BIKE: 24 miles?

Elle: T1 - The wetsuit spray was awesome. My suit slid right off. Onto the bike: There were a number of speed bumps coming out of the camp, so I had to steer into the 3 inch gap between the forest and the far side of each bump to keep from possibly flatting. As I headed out I felt that I was a bit worked up and excited, so I knew I had to settle down. The course is 4 laps with good support and volunteers. It is mostly flat with a couple of rollers, small enough that I was able to stay in the big chain ring for the whole course. The cyclists got bunched up a couple of times, and I saw some people drafting, but I made sure to make an effort not to do that (since it's illegal!). After the first lap I was pretty thirsty, but didn't want to reach down for my bottle. Then remembered that I was using my aero bottle today, woohoo! I looked under my chin and there was the straw...sweet. My heart rate was up a little high, but I worked to keep a strong, steady effort, and not kill myself. On the last lap I had a gel (today was also the first day I've used a bento box, which I purchased the day before). As I came into T2 I saw one of the best sights, a fairly empty bike rack. That surprised me. I'll take it!

Webb: I like laps and circuits. They tend to be fast and this one did not disappoint. It is described as flat and it is in a relative sense. Like Elle said, you can stay in your big chain ring the whole time. There are a couple of spots though that will keep you a little honest.

My first lap was miserable. I was working too hard for how slow I was going. My legs felt dead. I kept dropping gears to keep my cadence above 100. On the second lap my legs started to come around and on the third lap I was hammering it. My favorite part of the entire race occurred on the third lap. I came around a turn to see a line of three cars. It was pretty obvious the lead car was playing it safe with the cyclists. (Hey! Thanks!) I looked down the right side and figured it was not safe to try to slip between cars and the other racers. After a one-second thought, I shifted into a bigger gear and started to pass on the left. I passed the first car, shifted again and kept my cadence up. In aero, keeping my eyes up, I could see there was still no oncoming traffic. I passed the second car and shifted again. At this point we were going to be approaching a banking turn and I did not want to be surprised by the front end of a truck. I pressed harder and passed in front of the lead car when I had about 15 feet on him. I wish I could have heard the conversations in the cars. I imagine it was  mostly cursing at me and the lead car.

My least favorite part happened on the final lap. About halfway through, I heard several whirrrring carbon wheels approaching from behind. A group of about five people caught me. I noticed that one of them was the aforementioned Beth. (I was like, "Dammnnn, you spotted me 3:00 and still caught me on the bike.) Then I saw him. I noticed him because he was in my age group and I became a little competitive. The group that passed me was in a bunch but they were all spread out laterally. Except him. He was sucking Beth's wheel. And he stayed there. At one point I figured, I should make this guy work. I bridged the gap and passed them. I thought he might see my age on my calf and pursue me. Nope. All I did was nearly burn myself out. I backed off and they passed me again. He sucked Beth's wheel all the way until I lost sight of them going back down the road to the transition area. Drafting happens; that was full-on intentional cheating.

RUN: 6.5 miles?

Elle: I felt good heading out of T2, the route started out with a little bit of a trail run, which was kind of nice. The run course is one lap of the bike, but going in the other direction, so all the athletes were passing each other. There was good volunteer support, and water along the way. It was pretty warm at this point, high 80's to low 90's, at least. So I always took 2 drinks at each aid station, 1 to drink and 1 to pour over my head. At one point I even went off the road just a bit to run through the sprinklers in someone's lawn. That was awesome. I ran hard, but not so hard that I'd blow up at the end. I feel good about my time. After the race I looked at my Garmin run info - heart rate average: 179 (damn), heart rate max: 190 (uh oh).

Webb: Even though my T2 was under 60 seconds, I felt like I was there for hours. The trail run was a nice way to start. As usual, I had no idea of how fast or slow I was going. I tried to focus on a high foot turnover. Around the half-mile mark Mr. Cheater-drafting guy passed me. (I think I beat him out of transition because he probably racked right behind Beth and then realized he had to go to his original spot.)  I was comforted knowing I was playing it safe and would negative-split his cheater arse in the second half. Unfortunately, the Triathlon Gods had other plans for me that day.

I stopped at the one-mile aid station to drink some water and stretch. My hamstrings and glutes were not transitioning to the run. I thanked the awesome volunteers and took up the run again. At mile 2, I grabbed more water and again took the chance to thank the volunteers. (All of them were fantastic.). Going into mile 3 though, I had to stop and walk. The tightness in my glutes spread to my right hip. This was bad. I thought I was finally over this injury from two years ago. All I could think of was, I cannot have this injury this close to Timberman. So I walked and stretched. At some point, I began jogging and did not feel terrible. My mind was constantly monitoring the hip. Near mile 5, I stopped again. I walked to the next aid station where I had some water, chatted with the volunteers and stretched. Another guy caught me at this point and we ran together. It was his second triathlon. He is  a former marathon runner who took up our sport after suffering some injuries. While we jogged together he threw up at least twice without breaking stride (or involving me, ifyouknowwhatimean). Pretty impressive.

Elle: As I ran into the finish it was nice to see Laura there - she came to watch us and to see her first triathlon. It was great to have a supporter at the race, and her encouragement helped me through the last 1/4 of a mile. Running under the Finish arch felt great. I had just completed my first Olympic distance triathlon. Woohoo! And I felt good. It was pretty damn hot at this point, so we all headed back to the water to cool off. I was in a great mood - I really enjoyed the race and felt positive about my performance.

Webb: Overall, I should be happy with this race. I swam slower than I expected (by at least 3:00), yet I had a decent bike time despite my crappy first lap. Coming out of T2, not only was I on pace for a PR, I was on pace for a breakthrough. I'm trying to remain positive, but I have to say I am concerned about the hip. I'll do some corrective exercises in these weeks approaching 8/19 and I may forego the tri bike for the road bike for the 70.3. We shall see.

POST-RACE

Dragonfly!
Elle: There were dragonflies everywhere. I guess they like campy-type areas. I think they're good luck, and I think they're pretty cool.
Compared to other post-races we've been to, there was very little food. Just some snacks, really. They had watermelon, which is fantastic, but they ran out (boo!). This race hosted a competitive field, I wouldn't call this a 'beginners' race - there were a lot of really nice bikes and fast people. So I didn't place. But I did win one of the raffles - a small sized pair of Tyr hydrovision goggles. I don't know if I'll be able to use them, but I'll give 'em a try. I was just too hot to stick around, plus we were hungry. We found a little restaurant in the center of town that only had breakfast all day, so we had some breakfast. We were both pretty tapped at that point so we headed back to Boston. We got home in time to watch the re-airing of today's stage of the Tour de France. Sweet.

RESULTS
Elle: Swim: 34:45 (10 cat/137 overall), T1: 1:30, Bike: 1:10:40 (3 cat/63 overall), T2: 0:51, Run 52:45 (4 cat/78 overall)
Final results: 2:40:33 (5th in category, 72nd overall)

Webb: Swim: 29:33 (5 cat/57 overall), T1: 1:45, Bike: 1:09:37 (8 cat/51 overall), T2: 0:58, Run: 59:22 (14 cat/127 overall)
Final results: 2:41:17 (10th in category, 73rd overall)

Elle: We were waiting for photos to publish this post, but no such luck. So we'll get those up as we obtain them...