Thursday, June 2, 2011

Heart of the Valley Sprint Triathlon Race Report

My pre-race jitters on steroids nearly vanished during our 45 minute drive to Corvallis.  I had done a triathlon before.  I knew how they were set up, how they would unfold and how nice tri folks were.  As an added bonus, my friend Tanya, would be doing this race with me and my family was there to support and cheer me on.  A PR would be nice, but it certainly wasn't necessary considering how much more challenging HOV bike course is compared to Albany. 

Checking in, getting marked, setting up my transition area and scoping out where I would mount/dismount my bike and run was a breeze this time around.  The folks ran a very organized well staffed event.  It was nice having that first time under my belt but I did worry that since it felt so easy, maybe I was overlooking something.  I kept mentally going through my steps at T1 and T2 until I was confident that I knew what to do and when to do it.
Thanks Cindi for this wonderful gift of a "chip strap"! Much more comfortable and stylish than the race issued neon orange plastic anklet. Super easy to use. Stayed securely fastened for duration of event.

Another handy dandy contraption, compliments of Cindi. This is a bib number belt. No lop sided big # or having to re-pin bib on when you change shirts.
Racks were numbered this time!  Yay, I wouldn't lose my bike!
My transition area. Pink scarf to help me quickly spot my place. 
Our transition areas were all set up. These Tri Mommas were ready for action!
After swimming two to three times a week for several months, I felt prepared.  I regularly swim between 800 and 1500 meters, so a 750 meter swim didn't feel like much of a stretch.  I would share my lane with five other swimmers.  I was in the first wave.  This is good because I wouldn't have to wait around and get nervous.  My lap mates were all women.  They were all friendly and chatty.  We were allowed to warm up.  I was more concerned with making sure my goggles were leak-proof and my swim cap wasn't going to spring air pockets.  I swam a little ways for good measure but not the entire length like several participants.  I wanted to save my energy.

Before I knew it, the wave started!  I was third in our group.  Since I had gone out too fast at my last tri, I wanted to stay nice and steady this time around.  I had a really hard time finding my rhythm.  Breathing was a struggle and the lack of oxygen made me fatigue easily.  The water was splashing and churning.  I swallowed a huge mouthful of it, but somehow managed not to choke.  I was weaving around a bit and kept banging my right elbow on the lane divider.  

My lap mates and I were seeded properly which kept us from feeling crowded.  My foot was tapped once and I let Nikki pass me, but other than that I held my ground.  I had no idea how fast or slow I was swimming.  I just kept with it.  I could hear my husband cheering me on.  It was reassuring and helped me to finally find my rhythm and not feel like I was going to die out there for the last third of the swim.  I still had an 11 mile hilly bike and a 5K run left and I was pooped!  I was thrilled to see the sign that I had only one length to go and sprinted to the end before jumping out of the pool.  I passed my goggles and cap to my husband and ran as fast as I could in my barefoot, lightheaded state to my transition area.  I was SO glad the swim was over! The rest of this event would be a piece of cake.  I somehow managed to swim three minutes slower this time around than I did for my first tri.  I was a bit disappointed about my 19:25 time. 

All dressed up and three places to go.
I love the perspective of this picture. We all look so tiny compared to the enormous pool. 
I LOVE the bike portion of triathlons.  It feels like a break.  I get to breathe, hydrate, fuel and get off my feet for a while.  I love the climbs, sprints and especially the speedy descents.  I dried off, put on my cycling shoes,  shirt, sunglasses and helmet, grabbed a swig of GuBrew and took off jogging with my bike to the bike mount area.  It took me 2:35 minutes.  I was really pleased with this T1 time.

The course was clearly marked.  I was always within sight of fellow riders.  Nikki from the pool caught up with me and complimented me on my swim.  We chatted for a bit and then she passed me going up a hill.  This course reminds me of one of my favorite places, McKenzie View Drive to cycle in Eugene.  The rolling hills were challenging but fun.  My speeds ranged from a slow 9 MPH during a climb to 34 MPH while flying down the hills.  Once again, I longed for a set of aerobars.  Going up the hills, I gave myself pep talks:  You can do it!  You love this!  Come on bitch!  Push it!  I was working out there.  My legs felt great but those hills sure got my heart rate and breathing up.

The sky opened up and rained on me for the last 4 miles.  Rain came down sideways due to the winds.  I was worried it might start hailing.  I even heard a crackle of thunder.  The riders were so nice.  We would pass and be passed, but still encourage the others along.  I kept meeting up with Julianne.  She would pass me.  I'd pass her.  She'd pass me.  I'd pass her.  It became a bit of a joke between the two of us.  I was almost sad to see the bike ride come to an end, but was jazzed about getting out there and running.  My legs still felt good.  I was almost done and everything was going so smoothly.  YAY!  Turns out that I was nearly 3-1/2 minutes faster on this ride than I was on Tri #1!  At 44:25, I had a new sprint tri cycling PR!

Here I am coming down the homestretch with Julianne. (Photo courtesy of Sabrina Toro)
It took me 1:36 from the time I dismounted my bike to the time that I was out running.  All I had to do was take my helmet and sunglasses off, change me shoes (thank goodness for lock laces!), pull on my bib belt, hat and Garmin and off I went.  Other than the Garmin being slow to locate satellites, it was a smooth transition.  Geez, I LOVE the way my legs feel when I go from bike to run.  I have a fabulous turn-over that keeps my speed up.  Julianne and I ran the entire 5K together.  It was great having the company to make those three miles seem less painful and go by quicker.  She really helped me keep up my speed.  Something was off with my stomach.  All the GuBrew that I consumed during the bike ride, sloshed around in my belly the entire run.  It felt weird.  Body felt fabulous, breathing was under control but I had to will away the stomach cramps.  Halfway through the run, my husband and daughters appeared on the course.  What a sight!  Steve announced that I was going to have a huge PR.  That perked me up and helped me continue to give it my all.  The final 400 meters was on the track.  Running through that finishers chute never loses its magic.  I had done it!  Not only had I PR'd for the whole tri but I had a new 5K PR!  I had run that sucker in 24:22 or 8:05 pace after swimming a half-mile and biking 11 miles.  Wahoo!
Learning I was going to PR.
Coming down the home stretch (photo courtesy of Sabrina Toro)
Coming out of the finishers chute (photo courtesy of Sabrina Toro)
As if this wasn't enough to be over the moon about, I got to see my rock star friend Tanya wrap up her first triathlon.  It brought tears to my eyes seeing her strength and determination as she came down the finish.  I was so proud of her.  This woman just started running a year ago, started swimming six months ago and road cycling weeks ago.  It was just awesome to see her take on this challenge and nail it.  She's amazing.  I can't wait to see what she'll do next.

Tanya and I with our post-race tri high glow
Pure unadulterated digits:
Swim: 19:25
T1:  2:35+
Bike:  44:25+
T2:  1:36+
Run:  24:22+
TOTAL: 1:32:21+

+:indicates PR :-)

My cheerleaders and support crew.  I couldn't do it without you!

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