Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Race Recap: Rocky Mountain Triathlon

8500 feet above sea level.

That's where this tri was held.

Silverthorne, Colorado is just on the other side of the Eisenhower tunnel, which is essentially your true gateway into the mountains.  It's a pretty little mountain town, with an outlet mall, streams for fishing, skiing nearby, and overall just a good little place.  

When we saw that Living Social was running a deal for this triathlon, I booked it, but finances being a bit tight, we could only afford to send me.  T said she was ok with that and was willing to be my coach/cheer squad for this race.  I accepted the help.  We loaded up the car after a brief morning workout and drove on up to the mountains.  

One thing about the mountains is its instantly cooler when you get up there.  It was at least 10 degrees cooler in the mountains than in Denver.  It was a refreshing break from the heat we have been dealing with all summer.  We drove into town and just outside of it was the lake (or pond) where the tri was held.  

After some confusion, I got checked-in and we took in the sights.  It was a really pretty view.  We listened to a pre-race brief and checked out the water.  The water was warmer, but the start was going to be really rocky.  Literally.  There were rocks EVERYWHERE!  I saw people experimenting with different ways of dealing with them, and as weird as it sounds, it looked like crawling out of the water was going to be my best bet.  They said they were going to clear a lot of them out of there, so I figured I'd figure it out race morning.  

We then headed to our hotel to get checked in.  Then we decided to explore Silverthorne a bit (I never really have).  We went to a shooting range to squeeze off a few rounds of ammo and shoot some bowling pins I have been saving for such an occasion.  That was enjoyable to say the least.  Then we checked out the outlets, but instead of shopping, we watched some guys fly-fish!  We acted as spotters for them and watched a guy pull in at least a 20" rainbow trout.  I texted my friend Steve in Atlanta to make him jealous, and he was. :-)

Then we went to City Market to get some breakfast foods, and to Village Inn for my pre-race meal.  Finally, we headed back to the hotel and crashed.

Race morning, we woke up and headed to the race.  They said trans opened at 5, even though my race went off at 8.  Because I like a good trans spot, I don't mind being early.  We stopped at a 7-11 and got coffee and orange juice.  Then we made it to the parking lot.  Sure enough, I was one of like 4 people there early.  I didn't care.  Since transition was a long, big thing, I selected a spot closer to the bike out so I wouldn't have to run with my bike forever.  I got my trans area together very quickly and then we went back to the car to relax, eat, and otherwise just basically wait until the race started.

Before the race, I got to play with a dachshund and talk to another couple who was doing their first triathlon.  I encouraged both of them to have fun.  T and I just waited for the sun to come up so it would warm up!

Finally, I got into my wetsuit and left trans.  It was time to race.

I got a warmup swim in, but surprisingly, I was worn out quickly from it.  I didn't know if the clear water was throwing me for a loop, but I was not feeling great after that warmup.  I dismissed it as nothing to worry about and decided I would stick with my game plan.  I wanted to blaze through the swim since it was only 400 meters and get out quick.  Since trans was so long and my swim time would be increased because of that, I didn't want to waste time.

After the National Anthem, I said goodbye to my cheer squad and worked my way into the rocky water.  The countdown was brief, and as I jockeyed for position, I took a deep breath.  The horn went off and I was gone!

The Swim
I wanted to blaze the swim.  It was a 400 meter event, and being that I am a strong swimmer, it wasn't supposed to be an issue.  Unlike Boulder Peak, where I got into a groove right away, this swim didn't start off well.  I didn't get a position that I liked to start, and because of that, I was fighting a lot of slower swimmers to get going.  Once I got going, I got kicked in the ribs by someone.  It actually took my breath away for a second.  I shook it off.

Around the first buoy, I noticed my breathing was becoming ragged.  I hadn't felt like this since the first time I did a tri, so I didn't know what was going on.  I switched to an every-other breathing pattern, but I still couldn't catch my breath.  I then made a decision I haven't done since my first tri: I grabbed a kayak.

I held on, just breathing slow.  I briefly considered pulling out of the race, but as my head settled down a bit, I decided I'd take it at a lot slower pace on the way back.  I wondered what could have possibly been wrong, and then it hit me: I was at 8500 feet!  It's a very significant altitude difference!  I completely forgot to calculate that into my swim pace, and it bit me.  But I was determined to keep going.  So I said goodbye to the swim buddy, and put my head down, and made it to the finish.  Once there, I literally crawled on my hands and feet to the carpet.  After exiting the water, I walked/jogged to trans.

T1 was LONG, but it wasn't my fault.  As I said, transition was very very long and it took awhile to run to my bike.  I quickly got my stuff together and off I went for the bike.  

The Bike
I had no idea what to expect on the bike.  But I knew I'd have to do it without a cyclometer, as I discovered early on.  I put it out of mind and quickly got into my groove.  

This bike was a beautiful ride up Highway 9 and back.  A simple 12 mile course.  Downhill for 6, uphill for 6.  On the downhill, I didn't push myself at all.  I knew that I'd have to ride uphill all the way back, so I wanted a lot of strength left in my legs.  And having learned on the swim that if I push myself too hard, I would be suffering greatly, I kept it dialed back.

On the uphill, it never felt like an uphill ride.  I kept things steady, stayed in aero, and had a very quick and uneventful ride.  I got back very quickly and hopped back into trans, ready to start my run.

I threw on my running shoes and worked my way to the run start, but somewhere along the way, I felt a massive pain in my toes.  It was nothing I've ever felt before, and was somewhat concerned.  T saw me limping towards the run start and asked what was the matter.  She told me that it would work itself out after I explained it and that I'd be ok.  

The Run
The run was going to be very scenic as well.  And T was right!  The toe problem quickly shook itself out and I was off.  

We ran along a creek and some townhomes.  The residents were cheering us on and it felt good.  I was also feeling good running.  At mile 1, I checked my watch and saw it was about a 9:10, which I knew was fast, but again, not sustainable.

Mile 2 wound us through a neighborhood, with the mountains always in full view.  It felt so good and cool.  I was absolutely loving every bit of it, and secretly wishing I could live up there.  Then we ran back down Highway 9 back to the start.  I tried simply conserving energy until that last 1/2 mile, then picking it up.  I checked my watch again and knew that under 30:00 was going to happen, but I didn't know how fast.

Coming around the corner to the finish, the spectators were quiet, so I encouraged them to cheer.  They did, and I roared around the corner one more time to the finish.  I crossed the finish line and hugged my cheer squad.  I had finished yet another tri, this one on my own!

We relaxed and cheered on some other athletes coming in, while we were waiting for my time.  When I finally saw it posted, I was blown away.  Not at the swim or the bike, but the run.  I had easily PRed in the triathlon 5K!  28:04!  

It was a good race, with things to take away and things to improve on, but overall, I was very happy with what I did.

Swim - 12:43 for a 3:11 per 100 meters
T1 - 2:28
Bike - 37:05 for 19.42 MPH
T2 - 4:05
Run - 28:04 for a 9:01 per mile
Total race - 1:24:26

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