Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bulldog Try-a-Tri 2010

By virtue of me writing this, you know that I didn't drown in Lake Erie on Saturday. (I was pretty freaked out back in July when a guy drowned during the Philadelphia Triathlon, and even though they had 20 lifeguard boats out on the course, nobody saw a thing.)

Nope, I didn't drown, though swimming a competitive mass-start race left me feeling like I was inside a washing machine. Anyway, let me backtrack and tell the story of the day in pictures. Chad took some really awesome shots that day and I am very indebted to him for managing to both wrangle the kids (who I understand were somewhat uncooperative) AND do the record-keeping he knows I am so fond of.
We got to the race venue (Rondeau Park) a little later than planned. My bike tires refused to inflate properly and we made an impromptu pit stop at our local bike shop for an emergency fill. Once that was taken care of, we booted it out to the park only to find that we had to take the long way around to the race start due to traffic-control road closures. I was among the last to pick up my race kit and rack my bike. The good news is that, having never racked a bike before, I could at least see how it was done! The other good news was that unlike last year, when (I heard) there was a 'good end' of transition and a 'bad end' of transition, they levelled the playing field this year by changing the transition route. This meant I didn't have an immediate disadvantage over the people who were there ahead of me. I had just enough time to rack up and do a quick walk-through of the transition area to make sure I knew where the swim in, bike out, bike in and run out areas were before it was time for the athlete's meeting.Now, to say that I was nervous about this race is a major understatement. I don't do well under pressure. For those of you who don't know, I had jaw problems several years ago that required mouth guards that I chewed right through when under duress and eventually required surgery. It might speak to how I have been feeling this past week to let you know that I haven't had a full range of motion in my jaw since about Tuesday. I could tell that I have been clenching at night again and it's made chewing and even smiling painful for the past few days. (Thus the goofy look in some of these pictures.)The swim was a mass start and the women set out 5 minutes after the men did. You'll notice that the water was blessedly calmer than last weekend, and also quite warm. (Unfortunately, the air temperature was pretty warm, too. The sun was fully out and it was an afternoon start time... i.e. not exactly the coolest part of the day.) We waded out quite a ways until the water was waist-deep. That's where the race officially began.I honestly thought I was going to do better at the swim than I did. I was prepared for the kicks and elbows and I knew I could handily cover the distance. I also figured I had probably trained more than most people for this leg of the race. But my heart rate was through the roof before the gun even went off and I never did settle into a rhythm. On top of that, about half of the course was shallow enough to touch bottom, and most of the women ran it. I wound up doing some of that too, though all I think it did was wind me before I got out of the water. Also, there was that pesky run back in to shore to contend with. I came out of the water about a minute slower than I can do the same distance in the pool, which I didn't think was bad. But I was 51st overall (out of 81 people) and 20th out of 43 women who finished (there were a few DNFs. Not sure whether they got fished out of the water, or what.)Hey, look! That's my arm in the air! I'm doing some actual swimming!We came into shore as a huge pack. There was not much difference between first and last place on the swim leg. At this point in the race I don't look like I am doing too well... some of these people in front of me don't look like very strong competition. But I'm behind them!I kept looking at this woman and thinking, catch her! Catch her! And she kept pulling away!
The run up the beach and into transition was long. Well, it seemed long. I felt exhausted. Overall this race exhausted me a lot more than I thought it would. I have been training for much longer distances, but the stress of it being a race environment really took its toll on me. Anyway, I think I transitioned really well. I zipped in, got on my race belt, shoes, helmet and sunglasses, unracked my bike and took off pretty quickly. No wasted time there.
I had a strategy for the bike. I was going to ride at a pace a teeny bit less than I had timed myself on the course at Rondeau before, and then slow down during the last stretch to catch my breath a bit for the run. But when the race was underway, my brain was mush. I wasn't thinking. I forgot to drink. I wasn't checking my time and was pretty sure that I messed up the splits on my watch. It was a very out-of-body type experience where I was just going through the motions. It was also a different bike course than the one I'd trained on... so much for being prepared.
But overall, it went well. According to the race results I was 11/81 on the bike, 4/43 women. I was definitely happy with that when I saw it when the results came out after the race ended. But while I was on the course, I felt like I was doing terribly. It felt like more of a struggle than I expected it to.Into T2 where I dropped off my bike (at the wrong spot - whoops! Luckily this race was small and informal enough that it didn't matter) and took off on the run... there I go...By this time, I was really convinced that my goal time was out the window. My goal in this race was to do it in 50 minutes. I came to that number by looking at results from the past few years and also taking the numbers for my best swim, bike and run, adding in a few extra minutes for transition, and voila. By the end of the summer I was thinking I might have a teeny tiny outside chance of breaking 45. But I was still in the water when I gave up on that idea. I knew I wasn't executing my strategy and my goal became just to finish. The run was also a big struggle (and I was terribly hot and dehydrated by then) and I was in a pretty negative mindset while on the course. There was no clock at the finish line, so I came across the finish line and told Chad I didn't think I'd beaten 50 minutes. but I didn't really know. I was thinking I finished in 51 and some change. I was pretty at peace with that; I kept thinking it was a huge learning experience and goodness knows I will try some things differently at Lakeside. (Like, remembering to think, for one.)Big (painful) smile at the finish though... I was sooo glad to be done.We strolled back over to the transition area to pack up my things and then went back to the main area because they made an announcement to say that results were being posted.I just about keeled over when I saw the results. I finished in 41:48, which put me in 21st overall, 6th woman to finish and 2nd in my age group!So with that, we had to stick around long enough for me to collect my hardware.My little shadow wanted to follow me everywhere and crept up on my while I was accepting. (I'm surprised that Chad was able to keep her off the course during the race!)I love my dogtag finisher's medal. Don't be surprised if you see me passing it off as jewelry sometime!With that, we made a trip to the museum so Mallory could get a new rubber snake (Captain chewed the head off the one she got last week), then stopped for ice cream as my appetite had suddenly returned, and finally headed for home. I was pretty sore by the end of the day. It took a bit to kick in, but it came with a vengeance!Part of me is dreading Lakeside (oh, to swim inside a washing machine again!) but part of me is already looking forward to it. For the Bulldog race, I had a goal time and felt the pressure of it being my first race. I knew the course and knew I had to go hard to do well on such a short course. For Lakeside, it's a much longer distance and I am doing it just to do it. I don't have a goal time. I know that it's much hillier than Rondeau and I am prepared to be a lot slower. I know that it's a much more competitive field and I am prepared to be a lot closer to the back of the pack. For now though, I am going to get a day or two of rest in, before heading into the home stretch.


dad said...

Well done Car - I'm jealous that you had the courage to do an individual thing competitively!
Congratulations on your time also, just shows how we imagine the worst while we are doing it, but after it looks much better.

megan said...

Way to go Carrie!

Kathy said...

Super! Congratulations!

jenn said...

awesome! :)

Ainsley said...

Incredible, Carrie! How proud you should be for accomplishing such an awesome goal, & with a phenominal time to boot! Liam, Mallory, & Chad are lucky to have a mom/wife as such a dedicated role model. Cudos & best wishes for the next one!


Carrie said...

Thanks everyone! I warn you though - don't expect any podium repeats. I expect to be firmly Back Of Pack next time!!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on a great race. I still get freaked out on the swim. Tri's are addictive!


Carrie said...

Carolyn, I bow down to you. When I think about the distance you have raced compared to my mini-sprint... I can't even fathom it!