Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Catfish Open Water Swim

I can't really call this a race report, it's more of a I survived my first long distance open water swim report!

Beautiful day for an open water swim
Anyone who knows me, knows that I started swimming strictly for triathlon. I am an oddity growing up in the Lamorinda area and not being a swimmer. I'm by no means a fast swimmer but I do love it. I think I actually get more thinking done swimming than I do running, which is saying a lot. Some how or another I got talked into swimming the Trans Tahoe Relay in July. Originally, I thought it would be fun to do the 500 yard distance. Once i realized I had been talked into the relay, I was thinking maybe i should opt for the 1.2 mile swim. The deciding factor was when I talked to my masters coach and he literally laughed out loud at the 500 yard distance. He explained that 500 yards would be like a warm-up and I'd be wondering where the rest of my swim went after I was done. Alright then. 

Of course Mary Sue was also swimming, because it wouldn't be fun if we didn't do it together! At the last minute one of my friends who talked me into the relay swim opted in as well. 

We got to the Quarry Lakes park really early. The plus side was that we didn't have to wait in line for packet pick-up like everyone else. It was also not cold, which helped with being there so early. My goal for this event was to just do it. I have swam this distance in a pool lots of times, but also means resting at the wall in between sets and chatting with folks. My biggest concern was just being able to swim the distance without stopping. I was also doing it without a wet suit since I won't be allowed to wear one for the relay. Although the water temp was so warm I imagine that anyone wearing a wet suit must have been dying of heat. 
Krista and I ready to take 1.2 miles
Our wave which consisted of all non-wet suit swimmers swimming the 1.2 and 2.4 mile swims was the last wave to go. As soon as we were sent off I quickly got dropped. I knew this would be the case, I was not racing, purely just covering the distance at a manageable pace. Thankfully, there were a few swimmers behind me so I wasn't the last person being followed by the paddle board. I found a groove and stuck with it. I was alone so much of the time that it was easy to just focus on myself and what I needed to do. Somewhere between the 3rd and 4th buoy I encountered the swimmers the wave that went off 5 minutes ahead of us. These were the wet suit swimmers. I may have been dropped by everyone in my wave, but at least I could pass a few folks. However, after swimming solo for so long, passing folks actually seemed like a workout. It was quite the relief to hit the first turn buoy. I was feeling pretty tired at this point, but I thin it was mostly from having to pass people going around the buoys. Once I hit the final turn buoy and was heading back in I felt much better. I basically started counting the buoys down, knowing that I had to pass four of them and then swim in and run up the beach. I focused on just finishing. I started to worry about my ability to actually stand up right and run up the beach. I felt good, like I could keep on swimming but standing up might be another story. As I came into the final stretch, I kicked harder mostly to move the blood around more. As I made my way in and my hands started hitting the sand with every stroke, I stood up and ran in. Running is hard after swimming that long, and running in sand after swimming that long is really, really hard. 

I did it and it was fun! It made me feel much more confident to know that I could swim 1.2 miles in open water.

Next up is the Moraga 4th of July Run and the Trans Tahoe Relay. I'll just keep plugging along and keep it fun.

Mary Sue and I post swim

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Mermaid Series Sprint Tri

Saturday packet pick up
I was ridiculously not stressed for this race. Probably because I felt I was under prepared for it and had the mind set that I would just go have fun. I was pretty certain that I would be able to improve my swim, I assumed the bike would be worse or the same and I wasn't sure about the run. While I have made huge leaps in my running in the past year, I also knew that being under prepared on the bike could lead to a less than stellar run performance. I have found that running a small business and training for triathlon is really, really hard. Also, having a kindergartner that gets picked up at 12:20pm every day makes it really hard to squeeze it all in.

Exiting the swim
It's hard to do a Mermaid event and not be excited, so by the time race morning came around I was excited and ready to jump in the water sans wet suit. Since I am training for the Trans Tahoe Relay I've been trying to suck it up and will not be using my wet suit this summer. When it was my wave start I headed down the ramp bravely and with the help of some volunteers got my feet wet and then dove in and immediately thought "holy shit, that's cold!" I just started swimming out to the start buoy to try and warm up and by the time I reached the buoy I was fine and warmed up. Much to my surprise it was very easy to float at the start line, I didn't even need to tread water, I was pretty relaxed. After a count down the horn blew and we are off. The folks in front of me seemed to have a delay in their start so I was on some feet right at the start and before I knew it they had dropped me. I focused on my swim and staying on course. The conditions were so much better this year, but I did still feel like I was being pushed out towards the bay, so a couple of times I had to redirect. I felt really comfortable on the swim, really comfortable sighting and most importantly really comfortable without my wet suit. I did have the thought that my swim coach would be going crazy if he could me swimming with my head not as fully submerged as he would like it, but I kind of needed to in order to stay on course. I always have a good reason for swimming with my head up. As I approached the final buoy and made the turn to swim into shore it occurred to me that I was not getting any help from the current like I did last year, it seemed to take forever. I was very excited to be assisted up to the swim ramp and to have the volunteers say "Wow, no wet suit, you're hardcore!" It made me laugh. I made way up the very steep ramp and ran into transition.

Swim time: 11:13, a 47 second PR from last years swim. 12/38 AG

As I made my way to the bike the first order of business was to get socks and shoes on. I felt a little dizzy as I tried to get everything on and was pleased when I did this without falling over. Next was my sunglasses and helmet. As I tried to unrack my bike, my seemingly great end spot was no longer great. I really couldn't get my bike out. People had decided to throw their bikes along the side of transition so I was now boxed in. The two bikes to my right had tons of stuff and gear bags, it was ridiculous. I made the decision that I was going to have to back my bike out over this woman's gear bag but her bike was so close to mind and being on the end I didn't have anywhere to maneuver. I'm not even sure how I got out except that I had to lift my bike up and over her stuff and practically run her over as she was sitting down trying to get her wet suit off. It was a disaster and basically cost me all of the time in transition I had saved by not wearing a wet suit. Oh well.

T1 Time: 1:55, a 19 second PR. 4/38 AG

heading out on the bike course
I was just glad to be out on the bike course. I tried to get my bearings and take in some nutrition on the early part of bike where the course is smooth. I felt relatively good on the bike but was trying to pace myself knowing that the ride out to the turn around is easier than the ride back typically do to wind. I tried not to get too excited at the turn around for the first loop knowing that I would need to complete a second loop of the course. Amazingly I was still very good. Even as I headed out on the second loop I was amazed at how good I felt on the bike, I guess that last bike adjustment I had done really was paying off. Since I was feeling so good, I kept up the pace and hoped I would still have something left for the run. As I came back in towards the bike dismount line, I unclipped and got out of my saddle a little early. I would rather have a little bit further to run with the bike than crash at the dismount line. I'm really not that skilled with this part as of yet. Feeling really good about my bike I rain into transition and racked my bike.

Bike time: 48:58, 4.16 PR. 28/38 Still a slow cyclist, but damn!

Determined to have a good bike ride
The second transition is always my best, thanks to Molly and all of her great tips! I threw my shoes on, grabbed my visor, gel and race number and ran. I had my visor and number on as I crossed over the transition mat onto the run. Here we go!

T2 Time :58, 4 second PR. 1/38 AG

Okay legs, it was time to prove what you are capable of off of the bike. My calves were pretty tight and I tried to take in a gel, but the rest of my body wasn't having it. I forced about 1/2 of it down before I tossed it in the trash along the course. It seems daunting when you see people running to the finish line and you are just heading out on your run. But I was already having a great day, I new I had PR'd the swim and bike and I was hoping for a solid run to earn an overall PR for the day. It was starting to get hot and I was desperate for some fluids. I just kept chugging along to I would hopefully find an aid station. I kept looking at my average pace is shock and was sure there was something wrong with my watch. Really, I couldn't possibly be running sub 10 minute miles off the bike. I tried to just ignore my watch. Last year, the run was really painful and I walked portions of it out of sheer exhaustion. I told myself if I just kept running and never walked I could PR the run portion and have a great day. Just keep running, that's what i kept telling myself. After awhile my calves loosened up and started to feel better. With about 1/2 mile to go that familiar cramp on the inside of the knee started to twitch. I only get this during tri's. I know it's a result of under training for the bike. I simply told it to shut up as we were almost done, that actually seemed to work. I was super happy to be approaching the finish line and there is nothing better than hearing the race announcer call your name as you cross the finish line. She even gave a shout out to  since I was wearing my super spiffy Trisports kit!

Run Time 24:37, 3:48 PR. 18/38 AG

Overall Time 1:27:41 a 9:14 course PR.

I'm not going to lie, I was pretty amazed with my performance. I told myself I wanted to go out and have fun and not be stressed. Amazingly, I managed to do that and have a great race while doing it.

I've been going back and forth all year trying to decide if I really want to continue in triathlon, if I really have the time to devote to all three sports. After I crossed the finish line the answer became yes. Fitting it all in is difficult and even though I didn't fit it all in that successfully, I had a great time. To me, that's the most important part. If and when the day comes that it's no longer fun, then I won't do it anymore.

For now, it's on to the next crazy "I probably can't do this, but I'm going to try anyway event". I'll be swimming (I hope) 1.2 miles this weekend. Wish me luck!

Proud to be part of the team!