Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My Blond Moment at the Beaver Freezer Sprint Triathlon

I was thrilled to get into the Corvallis Beaver Freezer.  This is the first triathlon of the season in this region.  It holds the bragging rights of being the largest triathlon (with an indoor swim) in the United States! It fills up within the first few hours of registration each year.  It consists of a 500 yard swim, 12 mile bike, 5K run.  Perfect for easing back into tri season.

This would be my third sprint tri.  I knew how these things worked.  I had trained and was ready to "git 'er done".  I had hoped to break 84 minutes.  What I didn't anticipate was the series of unfortunate events that started at 3:15 PM the Friday before the triathlon and continued until the race was well over.  I deleted several drafts that described these pre-race and race glitches.  My posts have come off rather whiney lately.  My melodrama was starting to get on my own nerves.  What a grump I'd become! With so many people facing real challenges; who the heck am I to whine about a couple bumps along my road?  I train and compete for health and for fun.  It's not as if my life or death, mortgage or employment depends on it.  I don't "have to" train or compete but rather I "get to".  It's pretty awesome to engage in this amazing sporty world.

I arrived solo, as my hubs, at the last minute needed to stay at home with a sick kiddo.  When I arrived, I discovered tons of helpful, enthusiastic volunteers.  Parking was super easy, packet pick-up was quick, transition set-up occurred without a hitch.  It was dry and the clouds were clearning.  I chatted with a couple of tri-friends and met some new folks while killing time before my wave started.  My Garmin 310XP was set in multi-sport mode.  I was cool calm and collected.  This was going to be a great day! 

The swim was 500 yards, short even by sprint tri standards. I was shooting to swim somewhere between nine and ten minutes.  Once in the water, I never quite found my rhythm.  My breathing was off which negatively impacted my form and efficiency.  It was all work out there.  I forgot to count my laps.  It seemed to take them forever to dunk the kick board in the water.  When they did, they told me to get out of the pool.  Man, was I confused!  A dunked kick board usually indicates one more lap to go.  Disoriented, I climbed out of the pool, neglected to click the lap button on my Garmin, toweled off, slipped on sandals, and ran for what seemed like a quarter of a mile to the transition area.  I was pooped and had two more legs to go!

Official results indicate my swim split was 11:13.  This seems slow to me.  I can't help but wonder if they under-counted my laps.  The women's pool for this year is a long ways away from the timing mat that records the swim split.  So it might be possible that it took me that long to get out of the pool and across the mat.  I still vividly remember eye-balling the pool clock as I climbed out of the water.  It read 8:40.  Did it take me that long to get from the water across the mat?  I'll never know and it's driving me CRAZY! 

After my turbulent swim and lengthy run to transition, I was out of it.  Although things were set up just as I needed them, I put things on in the wrong order and had to try again a second time.  Helmet after shirt! When will I ever learn?!  Geez, just get me on the bike already so I could make up for some lost time.  My T1 time was 4:21. Slow for me.  My other two events I transitioned in less than 2:30.  Was this because I pulled on socks this time, because the pool was so far from the transition or because I was so out of it while getting into my cycling gear?  Likely all of the above. 

What a gorgeous day to be out cycling!  Weather's been so wet that I've been cooped up indoors spinning.  It felt great to hit the roads.  I realized a couple miles in that I forgot to click the lap button after the swim, then again after the transition and yet again at the cycle start.  I tried to remedy the problem, but only messed things up further.  I'd have to wing it old-school.  No technology to help me determine and maintain a certain pace.  I'd have to go by feel.  I hunkered in, enjoyed the ride, sucked down a GU and drank some water.  Before I knew it, the ride was over.  12 miles in 45:36.  Nothing to brag about speed-wise, but a sprint-tri bike PR all the same  

Made it through without a hitch in 2:19.

A mere 5K to run.  My spirits were good. I was hoping to maintain an 8 min/mi pace.  Again, I had no Garmin device to indicate my pace.  I just pushed as hard as I could.  I was supposed to run three loops around the OSU campus.  There was a volunteer at the crossroads.  When I saw him for the third time, I assumed that I was done.  I flew through the finish line feeling like a million bucks and completely satisfied with my performance.  That's three loops, right?  After the finish, I got stretched out and massaged at the free booth.  I never do this when I have my family there.  Highly recommend it!  I also hung out chatting with folks I knew.  I looked at my posted finishing time and age-group placing and was delighted.  It was warm, the sun was out,  I had completed my try without a hitch (or so I thought).  It was time to go home, celebrate and spend the rest of the day with my family. 

I was all aglow for the rest of the day.  Tri high!  Then official race results with splits were posted.  My heart sunk when I saw my swim time.  Then I was utterly baffled when I got to my 5K time.  According to results I averaged sub 6 minute miles.  IMPOSSIBLE!  I can't even sub 6 on one mile! What the heck happened?  I thought and thought, crunched number after number, whined and moaned to my hubs.  Then it came to me!  I had shortened the run course!  Crap, dookie, poop, SHIT!  How could I have done that?!  I had plenty of energy to run the whole thing!  Do over!

Then I did the 20/20 hindsight thing:  If my daughter hadn't been ill, they would have counted my laps and sent me along my way for the final one.  If I hadn't forgotten to operate my Garmin, I would have had a distance measurement and known that I needed one final lap.  Bottom line was that I felt like a fraud.  I couldn't plead "rookie" either.  I had trained and was experienced.  I had messed my race up big time.  Worst of all was that my inaccurate race results were posted for all to see.  I e-mailed the RDs.  They stood by the swim time.  I still wonder about it though.  They said that the run results couldn't be changed.  If I wanted my own unofficial time, I could add a third to my time. 

I beat myself up over it for the rest of the evening and well into the next day.  I was seriously bummed out.  My hubs encouraged me to look at the positives:  I got my tri practice in, got a bike PR, had a good time out on the course and performed as well as I could given the circumstances.  My errors needed to be viewed as opportunities for learning.  It was time to practice using my Garmin's multi-sport function.  I need to understand the directions and course well-ahead of time rather than learn it on the fly.  I need to keep my head on my shoulders.  Triathlons are just as much mental as they are physical.  There's a lot to think about while swimming, transitioning, biking, transitioning and running.  My husband also talked me into being thankful that I learned these lessons at this event rather than at my BIG event of the year.  He's a wise man.  I'm trying to let it go and learn from it.  I think my ultimate lesson is to cut myself some slack, forgive, move on and not take myself quite so seriously.  This is supposed to be fun, right?!


  1. Crap dookie poop shit! I would have felt the same way, girlfriend. AND, I'm glad you're moving on. This will be one hysterical story in 30 years to tell to your grand kids while you're teaching them to hoop! Keep on racing, rockstar!