there’s no crying in triathlon

In the world of triathlon (or at least on my team – http://www.triteamz.com ) there is a tradition of writing a race report after each race. You spell out what your goals were, if you achieved them, what worked, what didn’t, etc… It serves as a reminder to yourself for your next race, but also as advice for other athletes. At least, that’s what I take it to be. I’m sure for some folks it’s just all about bragging, which is also OK, because there might some of that in this report.

I’ve written two race reports.
This is the big one. It is filled with goals and times and strategy and what worked and what didn’t, as well as emotions and philosophical thoughts, wanderings of the mind and all the times that I cried (spoiler alert, it’s 2. Might be a new family record for crying during a triathlon.)
If all you’re interested in is times and goals and strategy, may I suggest you click over to the Rock Hall Sprint Race Report. It’s will be just the facts and nothing but the facts. Maybe 1 joke. No emotional stuff, and certainly no crying stories. I won’t be offended. Promise.
For a real treat, you can read both.

Ladies and gentlemen, those of you who don’t identify as either, aliens, cats, dogs and other sentient creatures,
I present to you

the Rock Hall Sprint 2016 Race Report

Goals:

My goals were very “philosophical.” It wasn’t about times, it was about following the advice of those who came before and staying sane.

1. Finish, legitimately. That meant coming in under 2.5 hours (the only time related goal).
2. STAY IN ZONE 2!
3. Don’t get thirsty.
4. Stop/slow down if it hurts.
5. Be confident in transition.

First we’ll break apart the goals, then we’ll get to the story telling.

Goal 1: I finished legitimately. With a time of 2 hours 21 minutes and 34 seconds. A Personal Best!
Swim- 19:05. I finished 6th in the Athena division. This is slower than I thought it would be, but the marina was really choppy and I fought the current the whole way out. I had to breaststroke to be able to keep on target with the buoys and to be able to breathe and not drink salt water. Once I turned the outer buoy and started heading in, I was in good shape. An excellent negative split (that means the second half was faster than first). I averaged 2:26m/100 yards; about 20 seconds slower than my pool average. But a Personal Best overall! By contrast, when I did the Jim McDonnell Lake Swim, my time was 41:46 for 1.18 miles; an average of 2:10m/100 yards. But that swim was a walk in the park compared to this swim. Lesson- I need more open water practice time. In the story part of this report we’ll talk about how nervous I was.

Bike- 1:07:21. I finished 17th in my division. This is much faster than I thought I would do. I was calculating an average of 10mph, but this turned out to be 13.1mph. What a difference no big hills makes! Another Personal Best! Not for pace, but for a bike leg in a triathlon. The course was nice and flat, but the few rolling hills there were really messed me up. I’m so used to shifting for big big hills (and killing them), that when the littler hills came up, I mis-shifted and ended up spinning like a dervish and wasting momentum. Lesson: Practice on flat and rolling. Not every training weekend has to be Haymarket and Culpepper (or weekday at Haines Point)!

Run- 45:33. I finished 15th in my division. Oh running. What a fickle beast you are. I averaged a 14:50min/mile, but at one point I was flying at 9:37. Can you guess when that was? Yes, the last .3 mile when I was crossing the finish line. I’ve been plagued with a hip injury since November, and I had a bike accident just three weeks ago. The combination of the two led my left knee (the good one!) to start acting up. My physical therapist said that if my knee or hip started to hurt I HAD to stop running. Period. I could walk and see if it got better, but if it didn’t, no more running that day. Same went for my hip. My hip was a trooper; she didn’t bother me at all. My knee started acting up around mile 1. And that really slowed me down. Then it was run/walk for the whole course. However, I estimated I would take 45 minutes on the run, and I did. Not a Personal Best for a 5K, but a Personal Best for the run leg of a triathlon.

Transition (the fourth sport of triathlon)-
T1- 6:12 minutes. I finished 17th in my division. This transition included a run from the dock over to the transition area. This run/walk took me about 1 minute. Once I was at my bike I followed my steps (that were printed out and clipped to my transition crate) almost to the letter.
Dry off my hair and a little of my body, sunscreen (which I did skip), put on my helmet and sunglasses, dry off my feet, put on socks and shoes, put on race bib, get bike, get going. What slowed me down was trying to get my feet dry. I think I have to just deal with moist feet in bike shoes, especially if it’s humid.
T2- 3:21 minutes. I finished 14th in my division. Again, I followed my list.
Rack bike. Take off helmet, put on sunscreen, put on hat, take off shoes, put on shoes, pick up water belt, start walking and put on belt. Kill it. This was a good transition, but I know I could shave off 30 seconds or more but getting some Yankz for my shoes. I don’t like them for running, but I think I’m going to have get used to them; in a rush, I don’t think I tied my shoes tightly enough, and that made my uncomfortable for a bit. I know Yankz will help with that. I’ve also got to get rid of my hydration belt. That thing was a pain in the ass. The bottles kept falling out when I was putting it on. I’m currently searching for a replacement concept.

Goal 2: I was unable to keep myself in zone 2. At least according to my watch and my pre-loaded zones. I think that now I’ve been doing zone training for 6 months, it might be time to get retested. And I think my bike and swim are different than my run. Looking back at my swim, I was in zone 4 (you can’t see it during because water and bluetooth and transmitting don’t all play nicely together). But I wasn’t tired (other than from fighting waves), and I wasn’t out of breath when I finished. I feel like I could have gone another mile. Which is the big indicator of being in zone 2 (that you could go forever and ever). Once I got on the bike I was in high zone 3. I kept my RPM at 80, but put things in an easier gear and breathed really deeply. I smiled and sang a little, and I got back into a high zone 2. Then I upped the gears a little so I felt like I was working instead of cruising, and I ended up into low zone 3. Crap. But I felt GOOD. I felt like I could go forever. So I stayed at 80 rpm and right around zone 3.3. On one or two of those rolling hills I found myself dervishing and then had to make up for it I shot up to zone 4, but on the “downhill” I brought myself back. On the run I never got below zone 3.6, except for the half mile when I walked near the end. No matter how I tried, once I started jogging/running I shot right up into high zone 4. Even when I walked, unless it was for more than 3 minutes, I couldn’t keep it down. I told myself I was almost done, and gave in to a high heart rate. I stopped looking at my watch and started listening to my body (and my knee).

Goal 3: I did not get thirsty. After seeing people barely making it across the finish line on Saturday (the humidity and surprise heat were killer), I added Nuun to my water for the bike ride. I also had Skratch, and I swapped in the Margarita Shot Blox (which have extra sodium). I killed this goal. I was never thirsty. I followed my hydration plan. I also had a BIG pee after I finished. A great sign that I did that right.

Goal 4: As I noted in the run section above, I stopped when my knee hurt. I also adjusted my swim when my shoulder started to hurt; it was because I was getting lazy and not keeping my form up, but still. The big problem was that my hip didn’t hurt while I was running. But it did after, and for quite a few days. Somehow I have to find a way to listen to what it’s telling me during the race. And keep up my “Glutes of Steel” workout.

Goal 5: I felt great in transition. Really really great. They weren’t fast, but they were right. And now that they’re right, I can work on fast.

One slightly emotional note to the “Just the Facts” report.
I take it very seriously that when I’m in my Team Z gear I represent the team. If I am rude, mean, disrespectful or otherwise a terrible person while I’m wearing the green that reflects on my team. On the flip, if I am upbeat, encouraging, kind and thankful that also reflects on the team. I love Team Z a hell of a lot. And I want us to be known for a good long time as the amazing folks we all are. So I went a little out of my way to be the most encouraging athlete out on that field. Everyone who passed me on the bike or run got a cheer of encouragement ((even the DC Tri folks)). Every volunteer and police officer got a Thank You. The cheering and energy I got back from all of it more than made up for it in the long run.

I had SO MUCH FUN. This race was my litmus test. To discover if I liked training, if I liked competing, if I wanted to make my life about triathlon. And the answer is a very loud and resounding YES. I’ll be around for a while. I’ll be out on the course cheering whether I’m racing or not. You won’t be able to get rid of me. Kona, here I come.

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