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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2007

    3.6 Seconds - A Race Report

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    Yesterday, I ventured west into the mountains for my third open water triathlon ever and second of the year - a sprint. Logistics for this race are difficult because competitors must park offsite and bike to the start because the race organizers close a portion of the road. That means biking before sunrise with a gigantic backpack filled with running shoes, wetsuit, goggles, swim cap, sunblock, biking jersey, hat, sports drink, etc. etc. I planned on going up myself, as spectating at the start and finish are only possible by taking a bus from the fairgrounds. My intrepid DH, however, wanted to drive me to the race, so we were in the minivan by 5:00 a.m. with dogs on board. Riding with a full pack wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be.

    The race organizers did not stick with their "transition will close at 6:50" statement, so I ended up at the race site with plenty of extra time in the transition area. I made my way down to the beach about 20 minutes before my wave was to go and got in a very nice warmup swim in the 69-degree water. That's warm in these parts and it felt great.

    Sadly, my new wetsuit has not arrived, and I was stuck using the too large one that lets water in at the neck and takes on too much water in the body. (Seems I got some bad advice from a local shop last year as to what size to get. Anyone wanna buy a used 2XU C:1 wetsuit, size medum?) This wetsuit slows me down compared to a properly-sized Tyr that I tried at a demo day last week. And it turns out that it sort of mattered!

    The old ladies (women 36 and higher) were the last wave to go. I stayed off to the side in an effort to avoid the washing machine effect, but there was still a lot of congestion. I was good about not stopping when there was body contact with the other swimmers, and just kept going and passing people or drafting off their feet for a while. However, on the second leg, I managed to get kicked in the head by a woman who was doing the breaststroke and I stopped for a second or two to gather my wits about me. The next part of the swim was the longest leg of the triangle, but it passed by uneventfully with the exception of inhaling some water from an errant wave. Gak! I refused to stop, though. As I rounded the last buoy and headed to the finish, the sun was in my eyes and it was impossible to see where I was going. There were a lot of people on this part of the course, including men from previous waves. I figured if I went in the same general direction as everyone else, eventually I would get to shore.

    I was told that the swim ended up being longer than 750 meters because the buoys moved, and it did feel long to me. Although I didn't know it at the time, I was third out of the water in my age group, but the first AG woman out of the water was more than four minutes faster than me. (But, some of you may recall that I couldn't swim a stroke this time last year, so I am still happy that I got through the swim in comfort even though I was slow.)

    Out of the water and into transition. We had to run through gravel and dirt to the dirt transition area, and there was a shoe zone on mats after you exited the water. Once in transition, I took precious minutes putting on a long-sleeved sun protective jersey and spraying more sunblock on my legs. I even put on bike gloves so my hands wouldn't get too much sun. I live at altitude and I like to spend a lot of time outside, so I am a stickler for UPF clothing and sunblock, and race day is no exception.

    There was a very long run in the dirt before we could get to the road and, because of goatheads, people were advised to carry their bikes. I felt like I was in a cyclocross race, dodging other competitors who were walking the path with their bikes. Walking! Egads! The path was narrow, and I got stuck behind some people and lost some time.

    Out on the bike, it was smooth sailing. A hilly little course, and a beautiful ride through red rock and along the water. I was so happy to see DH out on the course as he had found a great place to park where he could watch the bike and run. I passed the second person out of the water in my age group, but didn't know it at the time. A lot of people weren't marked. I averaged 17.1 mph on the bike split and had the fastest bike split in my age group, though I was unaware of that until later. I recently purchased a tri bike, but had to return it due to a faulty dropout, so I was on my road bike. I'm getting a refund on the tri bike, and am still thinking about getting a different one. The return trip had quite a headwind and being in aero position would have been a help. Riding in the drops is not quite the same.

    Back to transition and I speedily changed shoes, donned my sun protective hat, and was off. I felt good on the run, which was on a rail trail. As I neared the turnaround point, I could see DH and my girl dog up ahead. I started yelling her name and she started barking and jumping up and down. DH took a pic of me catching sight of my biggest fans. He yelled, "You look great!" and that made me grin.

    I felt energized having seen them, and turned to go back down the rail trail.
    The run to the finish was fun, although it finished on an uphill. I kept under my goal pace, which made me very happy, although there is still a lot of room for improvement. I've been doing weekly runs with some people from a triathlon club I joined and it has helped. I had the fastest run leg in my age group, but not because I was particularly speedy. I was just less of a turtle among other turtles!

    After I crossed the finish line, I got some water and packed up my stuff because DH was going to meet me back at the parking lot where he dropped me off. I stopped to check the standings before I left and learned I got second place in my age group. And, I was only 3.6 seconds behind first place. THREE POINT SIX SECONDS! ARGH! The person who was first out of the water won first place, and she exited the water more than four minutes ahead of me. She was also more than a minute faster than me coming out of the first transition because I was busy putting on sunblock, gloves, long sleeved shirt, etc. She was ahead of me the entire time and I made up more than five minutes during the race, but it was not enough. I tortured myself all afternoon about all the places I could have been 3.6 seconds faster!

    They were giving gift certificates for plaques with race photos to those who placed, so I decided to stick around for awards. Eventually, they opened up the road and DH came looking for me. He was there in time for the award ceremony and got a nice picture of the three placements on an actual podium. I'm not posting it, though, because I don't want to put up pics of strangers without their permission. Suffice it to say that I am the least tan and most covered up person of the three!

    I didn't feel as wiped out after this race as the one I did in May. I wore my Zoot tights for several hours after getting home and I feel quite perky today.

    It was a fun course and I would do this race again.

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Seattle, WA
    Way to go, Alex!!! Being aero does make a difference in the wind, if not to your overall speed, to your comfort level. It makes me feel less tired, which pays off later in the bike. Might have got you that 3.6 seconds!!! Dang.

    I would have bought your wetsuit 2 weeks ago... when you mentioned that it didn't fit, the light bulb should have gone on!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Uncanny Valley
    Woot! Great job Alex!
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    First I have to say that I take issue with this statment
    The old ladies (women 36 and higher)
    I am 36 and not an old lady LOL!

    Second you did great! Wow 3.6 seconds from 1st that is incredible but I can imagine that you are going through everything you could have done to make up those 3.6 seconds. Next time you'll get it but a great job non the less!!!!!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Atlanta, Ga
    Way to go! I totally understand that those few seconds hurt now! Just more to think about while you are training for your next race!!! Congrats!
    Slow and steady (like a train!)


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    northern california
    Excellent! That 3.6 seconds is painful, but second place is still very good.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Hillsboro, OR
    OMG, 3.6 seconds? Wow, that's tough! I was beat for first in my div in my last race but it was by over 4 minutes, so I felt better that I wasn't even close.

    That's a great report and you did a great job...placing be damned!
    My new non-farm blog: Finding Freedom

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2008

    3.6 less wrinkles

    3.6 seconds, that is totally cool, but I am glad you put on the sun screen, a couple of years ago in a tri in Miami, my mother who was watching the transitions from bike-run said I was the only person of about 1000 who put on sun screen...hahahaha, but I still would, even if I come in 3.6 seconds behind. It is also 3.6 less wrinkles!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Thanks, everyone! The race pics came out today and there is a nice one of me on the bike that I will be using for the plaque. In the run photos, I look like I am working very hard. I'd prefer it to look a bit more effortless than that! Oh, to grin like Chrissie Wellington.

    TriBogota, you made me laugh!



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