Sunday, July 28, 2013

NJ State Triathlon

A little over a week ago I was starting a post about peak and taper period. I guess I never finished that one with all the preparations for a weekend away and two kids and all that. And it is moot now. So on to race day!

NJ State Olympic Triathlon was this past Sunday. It was basically my A race for the season, the one I built all my training since Kinetic around, and now it is in the books. I really liked this race and thought it was really well organized and run and recommend it to anyone. There was an issue Saturday when we were trying to wait for the awards ceremony because we thought Dave might have gotten something and it ended up going off an hour late, but that is pretty small potatoes. It is a big deal when it is 12 pm and you have 2 small kids, but in any other situation, probably not a big problem.

Going into the race I set my goals. I find the Oly to be a tricky distance -- too long to just go all out but too short to hold much back. I tried to set realistic goals that wouldn't set me back on the run. The weather was slated to be hot too, so that was going to throw in another variable. Triathlon in July, you know. 

I was on my own for pre-race, driving alone down to the race and setting up and doing my warm up. Which is just how I like it. When we were part of a big triathlon team I always saw people hanging out at the tent for ages before the swim start and never understood where they found the time. When all was said and done, I was there in transition pretty much until they kicked us out. I didn't do much in the last 10 minutes I was in there, but there always seems something to tweak or some sunscreen to put on or something.

After my warmup swim I saw the family and Holly, who was there to watch after racing her 2nd tri at the sprint the day before (6 weeks after breaking her collarbone in a bike accident! There's something to put any race-day suffering in perspective.) I got my pre-race kisses from the munchkins, got a pep talk from Dave (I believe it went something like, "It's going to be hot out there on the run--remember that suffering is going to be the order of the day") and left them in time to spend a minute getting my head in the race before getting in the water.

1500 meters
27:00 , 1:39/100 yards, 7/69 AG

The swim was hot. 89 degrees. It actually didn't feel that bad right when I got in, but I was pretty nauseated the last 200 yards. I thought I might actually be sick in T1. Happily that didn't happen.

I often have a problem on the swim that I lost focus in the middle third or so of the race, especially in an Oly. One of my goals was to not do that this time. I started out in the second bunch of women in the wave and was thrilled to get some feet to draft off of for the first couple of hundred yards. They disappeared, however, when we started hitting the wave in front of us. At this point I spotted a woman from my wave with a bright blue tri top on. She was just close enough that I thought I might be able to catch her and draft so I turned it on a little and tried. And tried. And tried. I never quite got her, but the effort helped me meet that other goal of staying focused. Once I lost blue-shirt, I was well within the last third of the swim and just put my head down and focused on getting to T1. And not throwing up.

My goal for this swim had been 26 minutes, which would be 1:35/ 100 yards. In the end I had to settle for 1:39/ 100 yards, but I feel ok with that.

2:56  9/69

In my defense, there was a really long run out to the mount line. The fastest T1 in my division was 2:18.

22.5 miles
1:01:49, 21.8 mph, 7/69

Ah, the bike. It was a flat and fast course. Apparently not as fast as it usually is since they had to alter it (and shorten it from 25 miles) to work around some road construction and ended up adding quite a few turns. Now I want to ride the original course. 21.8 mph is really fast for me. 

I had high hopes for the bike. I was shooting for a 20 mph average and had done it for long intervals on several training rides, so felt it was possible. The course was impeccably marked and policed With 2 laps, the course was quite crowded (starting in the 5th or so wave never helps with that) so there was a lot of passing nonsense, particularly one guy who wanted to leapfrog me but always took a little break after passing. Why? Just tell me why? I finally got rid of him toward the beginning of the second lap.

I might have passed someone early on in the bike, but then didn't see anyone else in my age group until near the end of the first lap. She had a red and white top and was going just about my speed it seemed. I passed her, trying to be convincing, as always, and kept on down the road. A few miles later, another girl from my age group with an aerohelmet on came whizzing by, just as I was caught up behind some guys going just a bit slower than I was. Red Top followed Aero through and I saw them pulling away. I got out of my traffic and followed them as best I could. In the next couple of minutes it became obvious that they were going to be doing some shenanigans so I decided to let them have at it and I would just try to keep them just ahead of me and stay with them. This worked for a while, but eventually they pulled too far up. I don't remember if I slowed or got caught in more traffic or if they just were going to fast, but I lost them. In the end Red Top did the bike just :12 faster than mine, but went on to win the race with a 43 minute 10 k (spoiler, I didn't win).

I didn't see anyone else in the age group after that and just thought about racing my race and trying not to go too hard for the run. I am always thrilled to get through the bike with no mechanicals or anything like that, but I was really thrilled with this bike. I am not sure I would have thought that I could have done 21.8 mph for an hour but now I do, so the bar is set.

1:15,  5/69

10 k
50:44,  8:11 min/mile, 8/69

My goal for the run was a sub-50, which would have been 8:03 min/mile, so I didn't make my goal, but I can honestly say that I left it all out there on the run and didn't finish with anything left, so I can't feel too bad about it.

Fake-a Smile
I had gone hard on the bike, but I was hoping not too hard. I think I might have messed something up with my nutrition, though I didn't think 2 gels on the bike was excessive. Regardless, I started the run with a massive side cramp on my left side. This kind of cramp is so annoying. It was excruciating but I repeatedly reminded myself that there was no reason it should slow me down and that it was going to hurt with every step regardless of whether I was moving quickly or slowly. Since I wasn't planning on stopping, I might as well stick to the plan.

The run was on park running paths and wasn't quite flat, but pretty close. There was a fair amount of shade, though more on the first half than the second, which was unfortunate. And it was well supported, with lots of water stops. And Heed. Not my favorite. Other than that it was just kind of narrow. It also was designed as 3 out and back spurs, which meant you could see everyone around you, in front and behind. I didn't adore this layout, but maybe would have if I had been feeling stronger. Anyway, it is a fairly minor complaint.

Despite the cramp, my first mile was fast, about 7:25, and the next two were just under 8s, at 7:55 or so. Things slowed down after I went back past transition at the 5k mark and headed out on the second half. There was a long sunny stretch and my shoes were starting to feel sloshy (I can't believe it, but despite my intent to wear Swiftwick socks, which are awesome when wet, I somehow grabbed a pair that weren't. Still paying for that mistake with recovering blisters).

As I said, the second half of the run was slower than the first, which is a little disappointing, but I know that I was putting out everything I had. I know that because when I did cross the finish line, I got my bottle of water and then squatted down and held on to the finisher chute barrier for about three minutes (the volunteer was very worried about me, asking several times if I wanted Medical). Then after a few more minutes I went and stood in the "misting tent," in quotes because instead of mist, they had the cold water coming down in torrents, like you were standing under three hoses at once. It was excellent.

Overall: 2:23:45, 5/69

All in all, I am really happy with the race, even though I missed two of my time goals. For the run, I think what it comes down to is proper form off the bike, when I am trying to go fast and I am thinking I may have to do some training specifically to address that in the next month before the Oly at Luray, which will likely be my last tri of this relatively small tri season for me.  Nutrition (i.e., cramping) and pacing are other possible culprits for the run.

I want to thank everyone who was cheering me on - my parents came down and cheered and helped out with the kids, Dave was everywhere and took the photos, Holly came out and cheered as well. It was a great course for spectators and they were all over.

I also want to thank the Ignite Endurance sponsors, particularly Tri360 for making sure my bike was good to go the week before the race, Zoca for their great kit (I didn't notice it at all during the day - if that's not evidence of a great kit, I am not sure what is), Blue Seventy for my swim goggles, Skratch Labs for their drink mix and cookbooks, which fed us in the weeks and days before the race, Gu for my fuel on the bike, and Rudy Project for my all-time favorite sunglasses that I wear biking, running, skiing, and any other time.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Skratch Much?

Last night Ignite Endurance got together and made a bunch of different portables recipes from the cookbooks to fuel our weekend activities and taste test a variety of different options. SkratchLabs is a team sponsor so we are all getting into it.

Our household made the fig honey rice cakes and the original rice cakes, which are delicious but I still can't seem to get them to stick well as a cake yet. Won't keep me from eating them. After tasting other creations, however, I will definitely be making the french toast cakes AND the macaroons sometime soon (doesn't worry me that Dave doesn't like coconut-less sharing, you know). 

We rarely do team events as a couple since it requires a babysitter, but we made it happen last night and had fun.

This morning I made the sweet rice porridge to fuel my 12 miler (in 80-some degrees pushing 90, but that's another story) and it was delicious! As I was making it, Ben asked for his "new favorite pancakes." You guessed it, from the Feed Zone cookbook. Finally, for dinner I made the sweet potato egg burritos, even though they are supposed to be a breakfast dish. Again, quite good, though I am left wondering what "liquid amino acids" are and where one gets them.

Basically, I'm getting my money's worth out of this cook book.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


I didn't exactly feel fresh heading out on Sunday morning for my ride, a scant 12 hours after finishing my 11 miles at dusk on Saturday (how do you all train for Ironman?!!), but I was getting the legs warmed up and they were starting to turn over faster and with less stiffness (I don't remember this kind of stiffness when I was in my 20s).

I was just getting going about 9 minutes in when something whacked against my helmet.

Oh, ok, some kind of bug.

About 10 seconds later I almost rode off the shoulder as the bug, clearly a bee, stung my left temple.

"Crap!" Or possibly something worse, I don't even remember, and I swerved toward the side of the road and tried to rip the helmet off my head.

How did that thing even steer inside the vent? Why? Stupid bee.

It has been almost 10 years since I got stung by a bee, so as I hyperventilated on the side of the road I thought about how people sometimes develop allergies over time and wondered if I should pull my phone out just in case. But that wasn't what was going on, I was just panic breathing from pain and surprise and managed to take it down a level in about a minute and went out and finished the ride without any problems (though my throbbing head didn't make me feel any fresher).

And now, 2 days later, it doesn't hurt anymore but it is kind of itchy up there. The unconsidered dangers of cycling.