Tuesday, June 10, 2008

FOF Race Report

Usually I spend too much time detailing events leading up to the race; traveling to the site, packet pick-up, pre race dinner, wake-up call, etc… etc… Then, by the time I’ve typed about everything but the race, I’m bored of writing about the race – and briefly mention something about swimming, biking, running, and crossing a finish line.

Well, this time I’m going for a real “race report.” What a concept.

I will say one thing about race preparation… I’ve continued to adhere to my new season’s resolution: going to packet pick-up the day before the race. Woohoo, go me.

Morning of the race, I got to the Greenwood State Park plenty early. Body marked, check (#11, nice); timing chip, check; transition set up, check; quick spin on my bike… uh, ohhhh… shifting, no check. Special thanks to Peter (my bike’s original architect) for helping adjust my shifting, more than once. I get a bit anxious before a race (ha, who doesn’t?!) and when my bike isn’t shifting right, it seriously amplifies the nerves. It was nice of him to take time out of his own preparation and help me out.

Out for a short warm-up jog… here’s where I realized just how bad the heat was going to affect the race. I was literally dripping sweat after 5 minutes. The forecasted high was 101 degrees. Luckily we’d be done before it hit that, but it was already in the 80’s and I knew it would be in the mid 90’s by the time we got out on the run. Downed an entire water bottle w/ nuun, check.

Now, since this was the SE Regional Championships (national qualifier) this race would be slightly different than other races in the South Carolina Triathlon Series. First, there would be no open division wave. For this, I was stoked. Ha, I might not be swimming alone! Instead of starting with the open men/women, I’d be in wave 4 with all the women. Second, there were some new faces in the crowd. Excellent, it’s always fun to compete with different, fast women (super tri-ladies that would certainly increase the level of competition). The race just had a “bigger” feel.

The first 3 waves, various age groups of men, set off. Before I knew it, it was time to strap the goggles on and get in the water. YEAH, no wetsuits (now, since swimming isn’t my strength… most people think I’d prefer a wetsuit. Not the case. Don’t get me wrong, a wetsuit certainly makes me “faster”. But, I think they benefit other people more? I’d rather just not deal with the thing. Especially when it’s 90 degrees outside.) Another bonus: Set Up Events had adjusted the swim course. In years past, the swim set off STRAIGHT into the rising sun. Sighting was impossible, and many people cut off the 1st turn buoy.

This year, as I did a few strokes for warm-up, I tried to get my bearings. We’d be swimming out, at a diagonal, around the peninsula, further to the 2nd turn buoy, then in toward transition. The women’s wave was ready to go… spread out, treading water, waiting for the gun. I heard 30 seconds, and my heart skipped a beat.

Countdown and GO… I put my head down and swam, swam, swam. I was determined to have a good (for me) swim here. Right from the start, this swim was different. Usually, with the “open” wave, I’m instantly demoralized. On Sunday, I didn’t fall into last place after 100 meters. I didn’t get frustrated, I didn’t feel out of my league, I didn’t want to quit… instead, I wanted to push harder. Suddenly, I was passing men from the earlier waves. I concentrated on my form (follow through, finish the stroke – thanks Andrew!!). I stayed on course. I fought hard throughout the swim and harder during the final 500 to the ramp.

Pleased with my swim time, I jogged to my bike and realized it wasn’t the only female bike on the rack. But, the bike next to mine was Gail Kattouf’s… so I was left wondering how many miles I could get in before she sailed by ;) Anyway, I got everything on and headed out. Yet again, posting a rather sad T time. Maybe I should make a mid season resolution: DROP time in transition. Ohmygosh.

There’s a slight hill out of transition, then it’s a fast mile to get out of the park. With so many men starting before the wave of women – we had plenty of people to chase! As I pumped my pedals into race mode, I started to feel the sun beat down. Gotta love some spf 40.

The course is one rolling loop. Glad my shifting was working better than it did during the warm-up. I tried to make myself fight… but, during the ride, I felt one notch below “normal.” It’s the 1st race of the year, where I’ve worried about forcing too much on my legs during the bike… since I’ve been known to suffer muscle cramps on the run. It was HOT, and I drank much more than normal over 40K.

I think it was around mile 10, on an uphill, that Ms. Gail “I make cycling look like child’s play” Kattouf came by. She gave me some words of encouragement then proceeded to shift and drop her chain. I’m even laughing as I type this. She and I both chuckled as I passed her back. She came around again, and was off.

I made it my new goal to keep her in sight for as long as possible. Well, it was a good goal while it lasted. Gail, I think I could see you until that hard left turn. From there, I lost ya.

It was exciting turning back into the park. I could tell I was going to better my bike split from last year. On a rolling course, on a HOT day, I was please with my ride…. Now, hummmm… about that run.

Again with the s.l.o.w. transition. But, I would have taken 15 more seconds to have an ice cold artic shatter flavored Powerade (the white colored type – very rare – but delicious – my favorite, and when I find it I by ‘em out).

The 1st mile out of the park is shaded. Knowing what the remainder of the course held, I wanted to take advantage of the little shade we had. A race official told me there were 6 girls ahead of me. This was the first indication I’d gotten about where I was in the race. Alright, ladies to look for.

Taking that right turn out of the park… well, it just sucks. SUCKS your energy. I could feel heat radiating off the road and it’s uphill. Heat, Hills, Humidity – the triple H challenge I met upon moving south. Yes, this race had them all.

I was pleased with my time at mile 2, but wondered if I could hold on. Nearing the turn around, I’d moved into 4th place… but was out of 3rd by minutes. The way back was just as much a mental challenge as it was physical. It was hot, my breathing was labored, my quads gave early signs of cramping, and being realistic – there was no way I was going to catch the top three.

Yeah buddy, those last 2 miles were killer. You know the feeling… you want to finish strong, you want to negative split the out-and-back, you want to race to the finish line. Yes, all wonderful goals. But, looking at my times, even though I thought I was holding a steady pace… I must have been slowing. Somehow I made it around the park and up that hellacious (heck, this race was in Greenwood, SC – I’ve got to pull out the southernisms) hill to the finish arch.

I bettered my time from 2007… but reproduced the results: 4th female overall, receiving the 3rd place Open division award. Because the 3rd place woman, Kris Kester of GA, had raced age group. Way to go Gail (2nd female) on a Fantastic race. Folks, she had the #1 bike and run splits. (and dropped 3 min on her swim time from last year). She’s moving from super du-stud to super tri-stud.

Great job: Charlie, Hank, Nicole, Forrest, Kat, Jay, Keith, Peter, Tracey, Dean, Ashli

Thanks to Regina and Susan… you girls were great cheerleaders.

BIG SPECIAL thanks to Hank – I had a race wheel malfunction on Friday. After scrambling around and making many calls… My friend, Matt, could see the panic in my eyes. He made a call to Hank, who not only allowed me to use a set of his wheels – he delivered them to my house. Another reminder, I’d never be able to compete in this sport alone.

EXTRA special thanks to Charlie for the Bruster’s Peach sorbet waffle cone after the race. You know it's HOT when I order sorbet over ice cream?!

5 comments:

Eric said...

Congratulations on a great race! Way to hang tough in the extreme heat.

Train-This said...

WAY TO GO SISTA! YEAH!

delanie said...

hey ashley,

good to hear you had a great race and were staying properly hydrated. don't forget to send in those pictures. cheers!

delanie & the team at nuun

Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

CONGRATULATIONS!!!! Nice job Ah!!!

Okay - AND, your blog post is longer than mine. HA! Take THAT! :) :) :)

Miss you!

Matt said...

Look at the pot calling the kettle names, ha! I normally go into a coma when reading things at this length... Great job to you, Sally and Jen. Keep it up.