Sunday, May 29, 2011

GJCC Triathlon - Race Report

  It was another race day for me - the Team Magic GJCC (Gordon Jewish Community Center) Sprint Triathlon.  Yes, for some crazy reason I signed up for a triathlon over Memorial Day Weekend.  One that started at 7am... On a holiday weekend...  We had to get up at 4:30.  I'm sure my husband was thrilled (though he didn't say anything...he's very supportive).  Anyway, off we were at 5:30 so we could get to the race site by 6:00.  

   I had picked up my bib numbers and TriTats (body markings) the day before so all I SHOULD have had to do is set up my transition area because I was supposed to put my TriTats on the night before.  TriTats should have been easy enough, one would think, right?  It's a water tattoo.  Kicker was, I received two sets of instructions and they were different.  One set said I should have three tattoos - two for my arms and one for my right calf - and I only was given two.  My other set said I should just put one on my left calf.  Now, I'm new at the sport and I don't know how much race officials actually care about things like this.  They have always seemed to be pretty specific at previous races.  Plus, I have an innate desire to obey rules, so I really wanted to make sure I was putting my TriTats on correctly.  So I spoke to a few people when I got there and everyone was in the same state of confusion as me.  Note to race organizers - if you have a race that you claim is "beginner-friendly," please make sure you don't give conflicting information, even if it is on something like TriTats.  We don't need the added stress.
  Anyway, once we got the TriTats on (I went with two-arm markings), I set up my transition area.  While still beginner-friendly because of the distance, this race seemed to have a lot more veteran racers in the field when compared to the Ramblin' Rose tri.  At least, the transition area made it seem that way.  That probably had to do more with this being a mixed-gender race rather than an all-female race, but I definitely saw more tri-bikes and less women in full hair and makeup.
   After setting up my area, all I had to do was wait for the start.  Team Magic does a time-trial start so everyone starts the swim individually starting with #1 (numbers are based on estimated swim time).  I was #266 so while the race started at 7:00, I didn't actually get racing until probably 8:00, so I had a good hour to hang the 80+ degree sun.  Fortunately, the water was nice and cold...

Ooo...that's COLD!!
I think I couldn't breathe for a second....

   Unfortunately, I didn't feel as good as I did two weeks ago once I started swimming.  Unlike then, I felt fatigued today.  I think all of the training is starting to catch up with me.  Good news though is that I actually swam relatively fast.  I passed several people and don't think I got passed.  I had a really difficult time passing one man, which slowed me down some.  I guess that's probably always going to be an issue in triathlon though.  
My head behind the man in the yellow cap.  I had already passed the other two swimmers.

 I thought I'd be around 4:30 and I ended up at 4:08 for 200 meters and a walk / wade at the end of the swim.  The wading thing is weird because your instinct is to start trying to run in the water because it's only like 3 feet deep, but I think it's actually faster to try to swim as long as you can.  I think the wading slowed me down too.
Out of the water!!

  We had to run from the pool down some stairs to the transition area.  The last thing I wanted to do was eat it while running down the wet stairs so I kind of took it easy.  The actual transition went smoothly - socks, bike shoes & helmet on and off I went.  I should probably start racing without socks.  Putting those on take up the most time.  Not a fan of blisters though.  Maybe I'll try this on my next sprint tri.
Coming out of T1

   This race had a small uphill start and race organizers recommended running up the short hill before getting on your bike.  Do you know how hard it is to run uphill in bike shoes?  Probably should have ignored them and clipped in at the bottom of the hill, but oh well.  Lesson learned.  The ride itself was fine.  About nine-miles.  We actually rode on two of Nashville's busier roads (Hwys 100 & 70), but not many cars were out that early and there were a lot of police out blocking traffic for us (THANK YOU NASHVILLE POLICE!), so we were pretty safe.  I had a feeling that I was going to have a mechanical issue today, which fortunately didn't happen.  The route was much hillier than two weeks ago and we had a head-wind for about three-miles, but nothing too bad.  Again, I was tired but tried to pass as many people as I could because I knew the run was going to kill me.  The last part of the ride was almost a mile of downhill back into the transition area.  The one thing that kind of annoyed me is that they had a volunteer telling people to slow down about 1/2 mile from the finish.  I get it - safety first - but this confused me because I assumed that a volunteer telling me to slow down was the clue that I was to turn at the next intersection - and I wasn't.  Didn't slow me up too terribly much, but every second count in triathlon.

Coming into T2

   Getting back into the transition area, I noticed something cool.  I think were 4 racks in each transition row.  Each rack held 6 bikes, so each row had 24 bikes in it.  I was the last bike in the last rack (again, you line up by race number), so everyone in my row started the race before I did.  But when I got back to my rack after the ride, what did I see?  Only two bikes.  Which meant that between the swim and bike, I beat everyone but two people in my row back to the transition area even though they started before me  (full disclosure - one guy who beat me back was a good 10 years older than me.  The man could ride!)  Granted, I knew everyone was probably going to pass me in the run, but it was still cool to see.

Where is everyone?  ;-)

And she's off!! 

  My run was OK.  I REALLY need to work on my speed.  And running in the heat.  It was probably close to 90 by the time I started running and I definitely felt it.  Dudley yelled at me when I started that I was at 39 minutes at the start of my run.  I really wanted to finish in within an hour so I knew I had 21 minutes to finish my run.  Being that I'm a 10-minute miler, I knew it'd be close because I was so tired.  I got a new Garmin this week so I could rally track my pace.  What I think is amazing is that when I started, I felt like I was crawling, but I was tracking about a 9:30 mile.  Then I realized why - I was going downhill.  It was a slight downhill, but enough to make a difference.  Of course, I had to back UP the hill on the way back.  My time dropped by almost a minute.  I got passed - a lot.  My goal of finishing within an hour was in jeopardy, but at the time I didn't care.  I was hot and hurting.  I just wanted to finish.  But before too long, I saw the turn in for the finish line.  I was was so tired that I couldn't even sprint uphill to the finish.  The announcer was trying to cheer me on, but again, I didn't care.  I just. wanted. to. finish.  Which I did.  

YAY!  The finish!!

Being awarded my finishers medal.

   After finishing and getting some water, I felt better.  I met up with Dudley and found a couple of East Nasties, Jim and Louis, who also did the race.  Both of these guys have done Ironman races so they finished WAY before I did.  I can't even imagine finishing an Ironman.  Heck - I'm worried about my race next weekend and that's nothing near an Ironman distance-wise.

East Nasty represent! 

  Overall, a tough race for how short it was.  I just didn't feel great the entire day.  I'm really not a hot-weather athlete (runner), which is too bad because Nashville gets really hot.  More training in the heat for me, I guess.  Fortunately, my times weren't that bad.  Eighth in my age group.  And even better news - I made my one-hour goal with a time of 59:22.  I had hoped for better placement in my age group, but I guess some races you just have to get though.  They make you stronger, right?
  Thanks to Team Magic for putting on a fun race (although fix that TriTat thing, OK?).  Thanks to the volunteers and Nashville Police who were out there keeping us safe.  And, as always, thanks to my husband for his support (and the great pictures).  I couldn't do this without him.

Me and Dudley  :-)

GJCC Triathlon
200m swim / 8.5 mile bike / 2 mile run
Swim: 4:08 (3rd in age group)
T1: 2:08 (terrible!!)
Bike: 31:30 (4th in age group)
T2: 1:11(better, but should be under a minute)
Run: 20:24 (17th in age group - need to work on this!!)
Total: 59:22

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ramblin' Rose Sprint Triathlon - Race Recap

   Today was the Ramblin' Rose Sprint Triathlon.  It was a short, women's only race held at Centennial Park in the heart of Nashville: 250m swim / 8 mile bike / 2 mile run.  It started at 8:00, so up we were at 5:30 to eat and pack up my gear before heading down to the race.

   I had checked in yesterday so I didn't have to deal with picking up my bib numbers or anything.  We just headed straight down to the transition area (where you stash bike, shoes, etc. during the race).  You set up on racks lined up by race number.  Bikes with race number 1-10 are on one rack, 11- 20 on another, etc.

Yes, athletes only in the transition area.  I'm an athlete.  HA!  

   So I get to my rack and I notice that the bikes set up aren't in order on my specific rack.  Now I know that prior to this race I only had one triathlon under my belt, but that was enough to know that bikes are supposed to be in order of race number.  You're also supposed to hang your bike on the rack a certain way and put your gear directly under your bike.  Several of us walked up at the same time and were trying to figure out what was going on, when one racer said "Oh - just put your stuff anywhere.  It doesn't matter."  Right.  Somehow I don't think I'll get away with that at my Half-Ironman in September. This racer must have gotten there RIGHT when the area opened because, man, she claimed her spot.  She had her bike leaning against the rack and all of her gear next to her stuff.  Probably took up a quarter of the rack space.  Not cool.  Granted, it wasn't huge deal at the time as we still had room, but was annoying.
My properly hung bike with gear under.
   Anyway, once that was all set up, it was off for body marking.  They wrote my race number on both legs and right arm, and my age on my right calf (I guess so I can see that I'm getting my butt beat by someone 10 years older than me).  They also wrote my name on my left arm, which didn't happen before.  I'm not sure how, but even with my name on my bib, the volunteer still got my name wrong.

Kristene?  REALLY?  Does ANYONE spell it like that?

   After the race organizers gave us a run-down of the rules, it was time to get started.  Off to the pool we went.  I was VERY thankful for the indoor swim because it was cold and overcast today.  To start the race, you are lined up by swim ability.  I'm not a strong swimmer, but I'm not terrible either.  So I totally guessed and wrote a 5.  
Me in the masses, rockin' the swim cap.  Nice, huh?

 Before I knew it, I was at the water's edge.  A different start for me in that we dove into the water, rather than wading in as I had previously.  Not a huge deal, but I just wanted to make sure my goggles didn't fall off.  So I kind of did a dive while holding on to them.  Not the most graceful thing, but it worked.  Once I got going, the swim felt great - really great.  Though I've only had two, those swim lessons have paid off.  I think I passed 5 or 6 people.  The main thing I noticed was that I wasn't using my legs as much, but still maintained speed, so my legs were somewhat saved for the bike and run. 
  Getting out of the pool, I felt a little wobbly, but not too bad.  T1 (swim to bike) went great.  The shock of running outside into the cold wasn't as bad as what I thought it would be.  I threw on my socks and shoes, grabbed my helmet and bike and off I went.  Even another racer who the transition area before I was commented "Wow - you're fast."  

   The bike course was an out-and-back route through the streets around Centennial Park.  The roads were closed to car traffic, which was fantastic.  It's nice to not have to worry about that while riding.  Volunteers and traffic cops were EVERYWHERE, which again was fantastic.  There were A LOT of tight turns so everyone was really needed to keep us all on course.  My ride felt great, but cycling is my strong point so I wasn't too worried about it.  I wish the ride had been longer and not as technical so I really could have made up the time that I knew I was going to lose during the run, but oh well.  I got time where I could.  Passed a lot of people and got passed twice.  The first lady almost wrecked me as she wasn't sure where the course went and then cut back suddenly.  The second lady was 10 years my senior (I looked at her calf) and just blew by me about a 1/2 to the end.  She was a "serious" racer in that she had a fully-aero carbon bike and had her coach (husband) yelling her times at her while she was racing.  What was funny was that I hadn't realized that I was slacking off on my ride until she passed me.    But when she passed me, I realized I had a whole other gear to kick into.  Too bad it was so close to the end.  Oh well.  
I love to ride! 

   So back to the transition area to switch to the run.  This is where things got a little hairy.  I got back to my rack and tried to hang up my bike, but it got caught up on all of my neighbor's stuff.  Some bag of hers got tangled on my pedal and it just threw off my groove.  There was also this balloon on the rack behind me that hit me in the face about three times.  (Sidebar: BALLOONS in the transition area?  REALLY?!   I know this race was for all women and beginner friendly, but come on!  Again, I don't think this would fly in the Ironman.)  It's funny how something so little can get me so flustered.  But again, I'm a slow runner and I know I need every second I can get in my transitions.  So all I was worried about was getting out as fast as possible.  So I put my shoes on and take a few steps and realize that I still have one cycling shoe on.  How stupid can I be?  So I go back and put my other shoe on and take a few more steps before I realize I still have my HELMET on.  Now in my defense, I wear a hat when I'm running 99% of the time so I'm used to having someone on my head.  But still - it was a stupid rookie mistake that cost me time.  Finally, after getting hit with that stupid balloon AGAIN, I was ready for the run.
YAY!  I'm finally running!! 

   My legs felt like jelly.  Not painful, but they just didn't want to move for about the first 1/2 mile.  A few brick workouts (biking then running immediately afterwards) would have really come in handy at this point.  People were passing me left and right (OK - it was maybe 5-6 people over the course, but it felt like everyone).  After about a mile, I finally found my legs and felt pretty good.  Not great, but strong enough to gain speed towards the finish.  It was VERY cool to not only hear my name over the loud speaker at the finish, but to hear some of my fellow East Nasties screaming too.  

I know my head is cut off and this is a little blurry, but it's the best picture from the finish.  I'm throwing the East Nasty "gang" sign to the ENs at the finish.


   Rather than a finishers medal, which isn't a guarantee at triathlons, they gave all finishers little necklaces on pink strings.  Very cute.  We also received purple water bottles.  You can never have enough water bottles.

   Overall, it was a great day.  Special thanks to my husband who is amazingly supportive of my new life as a triathlete.  Also a huge thank you to my friend Rhonda and the other great volunteers and police who kept us safe today.  And congratulations to East Nasty Sara for completing her first tri!!  

   Update: I've since found out that I placed 4th in my age group, losing 3rd by 10 seconds.  While T2 could have made it up, I also know I could have pulled 10 seconds in my ride and definitely my run.  Oh well.  Lesson learned.  Looking forward to the GJCC tri in over Memorial Day!!  

Race Results:
Overall time: 58:30 (10 minutes behind leader)
Overall place: 42nd as of the moment, but should get bumped up to 41st.  
Age group: 4th
Swim time: 5:41 (44th overall / 6th in age group)
T1: 1:34
Bike time: 30:00 (18th overall / FIRST IN AGE GROUP!!  WOOT WOOT!)
T2: 1:44
Run: 19:44 (118th overall - see, I'm SLOW / 18th in age group)


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Riding on the Speedway

   I started my official Half-Ironman training yesterday.  So far, so good.  Yesterday was a long swim workout and a 40-minute run.  Unfortunately, I had a Preds game last night so I had to get up at 4:30am to get the workout in.  That's right - 4:30.  In the MORNING!!  I felt so badass.  Well, stupid for signing up for something that requires me to wake up at 4:30, but badass too.
  But tonight was cool.  My schedule called for 60 minutes of spinning on my small chain-ring.  So rather than spending an hour sitting on the trainer watching an episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," I went down to the Nashville Fairgrounds and rode on their Speedway.  You see, the Harpeth Bike Club holds rides down at the racetrack on Tuesday nights.  And yes, it's an actual racetrack for cars, but on Tuesday nights - it's all bikes, baby!  It's larger than a velodrome, and not as steep as the one I rode in Trexlertown, but it's really a great place to ride if you're looking to do some interval training, or just spin in a low gear as I had to.  There are all sorts of riders out there: racers in pacelines, tandems and even one person with his child in a trailer.  Fortunately, the track is wide enough to accommodate everyone, plus there are rules as to where you should ride according to speed.  I did get a little tired of having to stay in my small chain-ring, especially since I kept getting passed, but it's all part of creating a base so I can spin for 2-3 hours on race day.
   The Harpeth Bike Club also does a cool thing by partnering with the Tennessee Association of Blind Athletes, which allows visually impaired athletes the opportunity to ride tandems around the track with a member of the bike club.  Several of those athletes were out there tonight.  Very inspiring.
   If you're at all interested in doing something other than riding on the road, I highly recommend coming down to the racetrack on Tuesdays.  Due to liability reasons, you do have to be a member of the Harpeth Bike Club to ride, but that was all of $25 for an annual membership.  For more information on the rides and membership, check out

Monday Training: 600m warm up / 1,000m main swim.  40 minute run - easy pace.
Tuesday Training: 60 minutes spinning in low gear.  30 minute run.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Walk 100 Miles with the Mayor

   I went for a walk with Nashville Mayor Karl Dean last night.  I know, that makes me sound pretty important, right?  But actually anyone can walk with the Mayor!  His office has created a program called "Walk 100 Miles with the Mayor" which encourages all Nashvillians to get off their rumps and get a little exercise.  No, we're not walking 100 miles at a time!  Several times a week, the Mayor walks a few miles through the various parks and greenways in our beautiful city and he wants everyone to join him .  Since the Mayor's walk last night coincided with East Nasty's regular Wednesday night meet-up, we all headed down to LP Field (home of the Tennessee Titans) to join in the fun.
   I encourage everyone to try to make it to these walks.  They vary in length; the one last night was 2 miles, but there are some 4-5 milers in the schedule as well.  All of the walks build up to the final walk on July 9th, which is 9 miles.
   Here is the link to Walk 100 Miles website.  No need to register ahead of time.  Just come on down and you too can go for a walk with the Mayor!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Country Music Half-Marathon Recap - Sort of...

   What do you do when the race you took 5 months out of your life to train for suddenly does down the drain?  When you're in shape, but your body fails you?  If it hasn't happened to you yet, just wait.  It will.  There will be some point in your athletic endevors when "it" just isn't there for you.  And when it happens on a race day - it sucks.  It happened to me at the Women's Half-Marathon last September.  And this past Saturday at the Country Music Half-Marathon, it happened to one of my favorite running buddies (who doesn't know I'm writing this so I'm omitting her name).
    My friend and I have been training for this race since January.  We've run in 17 degree weather.  We tackled the hellish hills of Percy Warner Park together.  We even took a lunch break to do speed work once freakishly windy Tuesday afternoon.  And while the past two weeks of training were pretty sparse for both of us, the base was definitely there.  We had a great 9.5 mile run two weeks prior so overall, we were pretty ready for this race.  No PR or anything, but I felt confident we'd finish pretty strong, especially since we were running together.
   But when race day came, things just didn't come together for her.  Her legs cramped, her shoulders hurt, she got blisters on her feet...   These things had never happened previously!  Why on race day?  Who knows...  Could have been the heat, as it was the possibly 2nd hottest day Nashville has had this year (the first being the day of my slog through hell).  Could have been what she ate for dinner, or didn't eat for dinner.  Maybe she was dehydrated?  But I gotta tell you, when you're in it - you don't really care.  You just want to stop running.  Immediately.
   But here is the part that I love.  My friend didn't stop - and she had ample opportunity to.  The Country Music Half-Marathon is a HUGE race with about 35,000 participants.  Medics were EVERYWHERE.  It would have been extremely easy to walk to a medic and say "I'm through" and receive a nice ride to the finish.  But that didn't happen.  Painful step after painful step, my friend made it closer to the finish until finally we were there.  Not wanting the race to beat her - she sprinted over the line though I know it had to be killing her.
   I think most people judge the success of a race by how fast you completed it.  Sure, it's hard when you run fast and it hurts bad, but as "athletes" we train our bodies to push ourselves like this.  I actually think the true test of an athlete is how they adapt when their body throws a curve ball on them on race day.  To me, finishing a race when every fiber in your body is telling you to stop is just as much, if not more of an achievement than finishing fast.