Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Race Report: Leadman Tri Epic 125

Note: No Pictures.  I just haven't had time and I am swamped with work.  So I'm posting this before I forget and so you rabid fans of a crazy priest can see what I did Saturday.  I might edit it later! 

I was in bed by 10:00PM the night before the race.  I was thrilled to have a suite with a kitchenette so I could heat up the food I brought from home.  I indulged in a small beer and about 1/2 an order of onion rings from the hotel bar.  A little grease calms the antsy stomach.

I set three alarms and a wake-up call for 4AM.  Before my brain had fully accepted it, I was up, out the door, and on the bus heading to the swim start.

Race Day

Race day was far from dawning.  At 4AM, it was cold and dark, and I was very thankful for my sweatshirt.  There were a lot of cold triathletes on the bus- did someone leave a window open?  At least the cold water would feel warm in comparison!  I hate jumping from warm air into cold water, but I love cold water in cold air.

I settled myself into a seat on the bus... and who sits behind me but the Fat Cyclist himself.  The poor guy had been stalking me all weekend, so I throw him a bone and say hi.  We chatted a little about being nervous before a race.  I tried to choke down a PBJ, usually my favorite sandwich.  I managed to eat a few bites and consider that heroic.

The Swim- the High Point and Low Point of the Race

Big kudos to the Leadman people: they run a tight ship.  We started right on time.  Before I knew it, my swim wave was called, and I surged into the water to get acclimated.  Problems started right away.  I've been working super-hard on my swim, all summer, and was really nervous to know if the hard work would pay off.

Unfortunately, I was so nervous I started hyperventilating as I headed out to the start. I couldn't get out to the left where I like to start.  I couldn't seem to calm down despite any of my normal tricks.  I felt like I was minutes behind everyone else, even though I was in the midst of the crowd.  As the swim started, I started strong... too strong.  I was right in the middle of the group, and immdiately got kicked in the head by five or six girls, crawled over by another, and another one grabbed my foot.

Note: none of this is a bad thing, or illegal, or means that anyone was trying to gain an unfair advantage.  It's just the way a swim start is.  

I got so upset and nervous that I actually threw up.  I tried to crawl stroke again, but each time I put my face in the water, I'd hyperventilate... and the men in their wave were coming up fast!  So I turned over, and started doing the backstroke.  Oddly, I discovered quickly that very few people passed me when I was doing the backstroke.  I had a great view of my competition, and plenty of air.  I was even sighting like a champ over my shoulder.

I ended up backstroking all but the last 200 meters of the swim.  I didn't calm down enough to crawl until the very end. Even then, as I stood up to exit the water, my foot caught on the carpet, my leg spasmed, and down I went.  I was able to hobble to the wetsuit strippers who basicially threw me on the ground and stripped off that suit in record time.  My leg started to unkink, and I limped over to bike.

Oh, by the way, as I've been telling this story, people have asked about the wetsuit strippers.  This is the first race that I've had strippers.  They are nice volunteers who grab you as you exit the water, unzip your wetsuit and pull it off you, and then throw you on the ground and pull it from your feet.  They help you up, hand you your suit, and off you go.  And yes, you wear your tri suit or swimsuit underneath.  Nudity is against the rules!  Trust me on that.  

Bike Ride- 70 Miles of the Most Fun Ever

The bike is my happy place.  Thanks to my strong swim, I came out with a ton of bikes still on the rack.  In fact, only one girl on my rack beat me out of the water!  Yeah!  As I started my ride, I took a second to enjoy the morning light and the breeze in my eyes... um, breeze in my eyes?  I realized I'd lost my goggles!  Thank goodness a spectator had seen them go flying and came running out to hand them to me!  Thanks, stranger dude!  

Once on the bike, everything feels better.  I could stretch my tight leg. I started to push nutrition, and because I was in my happy place, I could chew and swallow normally.  For the first 20 miles or so, I was hardly ever below 20 mph, zooming over the rollers.  It was cool to be far enough up in the race that I could see the pros from the 250 go zooming past me.  I saw Jordan Rapp pass by, and McKenzie Madison looking super strong on her BMC.  I only saw three BMCs (including mine and McKenzie's, and I'm pretty sure the last one belongs to Ben Metcalfe, who also lives in Eugene) all day, so I felt nice and exclusive.

This was definitely a tri-bike dominant race.  I counted maybe four other road bikes, so I'm guessing that maybe there must have been maybe 10 of us on road bikes.  There's certainly a camaraderie between roadies in triathlons- whenever I passed or was passed by another one, there was usually a head nod or a shout of "Road bikes rock!" I've also heard that the winning relay team rider rode a straight-up road bike, because she is amazing, that's why.

It was definitely a climbing-dominant race.  I was very grateful to live in the hills where I can do hill workouts every day!  So as that 20-mile mountain climb started, I found myself powering by a few tri bikes and some roadies.  I heard later that some people had to walk up that hill.  I'm proud that I didn't walk a single step.  In fact, I only stopped three times:  once for a potty break, once because I dropped my chain with a clumsy shift (and was back and moving in under 30 seconds!), and once because my left leg cramped up badly again and I had to stretch it out.  But it was otherwise a real 70 mile bike ride for me.

The 18 miles of downhill into Bend was worth the pain.  I achieved a top speed of "Don't Tell My Mother" on that swoopy downhill.

 The Run- According to Plan

I had a little advantage this running race- I knew about the hills.  I was surprised to find out how many people were expecting a flat run!  I was so ready for these hills.  I had planned to walk the uphills, run the downhills, and jog the flats, and just go aid station to aid station and knock those miles off one by one.

This is pretty much what happened.  I grabbed my arm coolers (best things ever) and pulled them up as I headed out of T2.  After a quick flat (good for getting our legs) we headed off pavement onto trails!  It felt like a really weird cross country race for a while there as we leaped over trails and jumped embankments.  I'm pretty sure I ran across someone's front yard.  At each aid station, I would slow down, pour a cup of water over my arms to keep the arm coolers wet and cool, and dump another cup over my head.  I'd drink a cup of Heed.

The run is the only place where I think I didn't go as fast as I could have... I could have pushed the run a bit more if I'd wanted to.  I was afraid of blowing up.  I found out later that the next girl up in my age group was exactly one minute ahead of me.  I saw her and chatted with her on the start of the run.  She was battling.  She earned that spot, for sure!

The End

Once I hit mile 8.5, I knew I had this thing in the bag.  At 9 miles, I started pushing my pace as much as I dared.

The awesome volunteers were closing intersections as I came along, which felt really cool to have cars stopped by volunteers wearing yellow vests and carrying official stop signs.

Soon, I was forward mobilizing along the final stretch, and as I turned towards the finish chute, I could hear them announcing my name and saying something about how I looked strong.  I have no idea how did they did that.

As soon as I came through, they gave me the medal that is big enough to be a cheese platte and shoved me into the waiting arms of the medics.  The medic asked me a bunch of questions, none of which I can remember right now.  I remember a sensation of great pain, and being curious as to why she kept asking me how I felt.  I hope she did that for everyone, because otherwise, I must have looked just terrible!  I finally convinced her that I wasn't going to keel over.

I was all done.  And all that was left was to find teammates and celebrate.

The end results:
-Our team's shop owner and coach and all around super person won the 30-34 age group in the 250.  She fought through a lot of pain for that win!
-One of our guys came in second in his age group.
-One of the girls came in first in the 30-34 age group in the 125.
-My team is so hardcore and fast.
-Matt Lieto stated his top speed on the downhill was only 51mph.  My top speed was 45+, so I figure I have just 6 or 7 miles to equal Matt Lieto's speed.
-The above was a facetious comment.  I will never beat Matt Lieto in speed.  But he does have a cute puppy.

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