Thursday, September 11, 2014

Race #12 of the Season: Harvest Moon Long-Course Triathlon

As an aside before I start this thing ... I've raced 12 freaking times this season?! No wonder I'm ready for next year ...

I was smart for this race.

Unlike my three previous tris this year, I actually didn't stay up super honking late the night before. Well, later than I wanted, but not 11pm-late like most of the others. 

I was worried for this race.

I knew I wasn't trained. I knew that going in. I am so thankful that Brandon ended up getting the race off because I don't know if I could have raced and made it across that finish line without him. Having him believe in me helped me believe in myself. Knowing he was there waiting to see me come back in off the bike helped me through the hellish hills and wind.

I had really no goals going in except sub-8. I was really hoping I could stubborn my through to a sub-8.


Race morning, we woke up early and got ourselves ready to go. I felt a bit nervous that morning - nervous like TriRock morning, which wasn't good - so I actually took a probiotic to try to settle my stomach. We left the house at 5:30 - the res didn't open its gates until 6 - and sat in a line reminiscent to our first ever oly, RattleSnake back in 2010. This time, though, it wasn't because we showed up late-ish. We were fortunately able to be on the res road, but others weren't so lucky.

(looking back to the cars backed up over the horizon on Quincy.)

We parked, pumped up my tires and headed to get my chip before going into transition. I left Brandon on the outside to set up my spot. I then got body marked with my ominous number of DOOOOOOOOM.

Yes, I was number 666. Cracked out laughing when I saw it a few days prior.

We mostly hung out until it was time for me to get in my wetsuit and get in a warm-up swim. I sunscreened, but I only had 50 SPF with me as opposed to my usual 90 and/or 100. (Spoiler alert: this came back to haunt me big time.)

Artsy shot in front of the sunrise.

In the water, waiting for my wave to go off. I'm fifth from the left.

The Swim:

My wave was the second wave to go off. The swim was an out-and-back and the first half was fairly standard - put my head down and go. And sight often, because of course it was into the sun. Because the first leg of triathlon swims are ALWAYS into the sun.

Coming back, the wind started picking up and adding some chop to the water. It wasn't as bad as, say, what those at Cedar Point went through, but for someone who has never swam in chop? Not pretty. I got slapped in the face a lot by the water before I figured out that if I rotate more like I in theory should be doing anyway, I avoided the water in the face. This also helped me get less water up my nose, too.

(Underrated triathlon skill: hawking a loogie underwater.)

By the time the last few buoys came around, I said "screw it" when it came to sighting them and just used the swim-out arch to sight back. This made it more efficient except for it took me into the res police dock so I had to make a slight detour around it. Oops.

Working on getting out of the wetsuit.

Time: 54:10 (348th overall, 138th gender, 18th division)


Looking back at my lobstered self, I probably should have sunscreened, but otherwise, just in and out.

Time: 1:28 (24th overall, 4th gender, 2nd division)

The Bike:


The perk of such a race number like 666 is that it gets you a ton of comments. I have never gotten so many comments from people in a race. It was ... actually kind of awesome.

This bike course - or at least the part on Quincy - keeps you honest. It is pretty brutal. I felt pretty good for the first part of the bike. I hit 38.5 mph on the main downhill before the turnaround (the course was a loop but with a tiny out-and-back at the beginning). 

After the turnaround, the loop started with a right on Watkins. That stretch felt great - it was also the stretch I saw Brandon again.


The whole time on Watkins I felt awesome. I tried not to push it too hard - my lack of endurance always on my mind - but since I felt good, I figured I may as well try to keep it going. 

Cross over I-70, turn right on ... Colfax, I think? Still felt okay. I did get passed by some HUGE piece of farm/industrial equipment with tires bigger than I was. That was a little frightening. The road turned and on to Bennett/Kiowa Road. It got a little rougher as the miles went on and the lack of mileage in the legs became evident. At mile 31 ... I died. I spent the next few miles yelling at myself, telling myself that goddamnit you're a fucking fighter and you can get through this. 

That worked for a few miles. I looked at my watch and realized I was still making good time and that the race might not be the disaster I thought it was.

Then I turned on Quincy. Into a headwind. Climbing up a monster hill.

I saw my average speed drop. I felt my legs give up. I had very little left in the tank. I kept turning my wheels over, trying to keep my cadence at a decent level, kept attempting high spirits. But it was hard. I was deep in the pain cave. The last 15 miles were absolute and utter hell.

The end of the bike couldn't come soon enough.

Back into transition.

Time: 3:35:35 (320th overall; 112th gender; 15th division)


I spent a bit of time sunscreening (not enough) and took the time to, well, try to attempt to BodyGlide my feet (with my melted, gooey BodyGlide).

Time: 2:56 (215th overall; 73rd gender; 12th division)

The Run:


I felt like crap coming out of transition. Brandon met me and offered to run with me a little while and ended up running the whole 13.1 miles which I appreciate so much.

The first half of the run was more walking than running. I felt awful and couldn't get my legs under me. I tried a banana, a bit of an Oreo and some clementines and eventually started to come around.

One of the times I managed to run.

Estimated first half time: 1:49

By the turn around, I was sick of being on the hot course and decided that we would neg split the course. From about mile 6.5 to mile 10, I was successful at this, and we chopped down the miles and actually started passing people. 

At mile 10, though ... all the lack of endurance killed me. The final 5K was horrible. Brandon peeled off at mile 12 to beat me to the finish line for photos. But I neg split the back half (in about 1:30) and beat my Boulder 70.3 time from 2011.

Time: 3:19:00 (356th overall; 141st gender; 17th division)

Crossing the finish line.

Finish line slip 'n slide!

Overall Stats:
Time: 7:53:11
17/18 division (F30-34)
135/145 gender
351/363 overall

My swim was five minutes faster than 2011 and two minutes slower than 2013. Given the conditions and my lack of swim training, I am really happy with my 54 minute swim (also given that it includes the stupid run to transition).

T1 is naturally faster at Aurora ... but I was super shocked to see that I had the 24th fastest T1 time (out of 363). That made me really, really happy.

The bike was six minutes slower than 2011 and seven minutes faster than last year ... but last year's bike also had the flat, so who knows. If I had a few more long rides under my belt - in the 40-50 mile range - I might have actually had a better time on this arguably harder course.

T2 ... is a crapshoot given the different races.

The run was 21 minutes slower than 2013 and 44 seconds slower than 2011. The run is where my lack of endurance training really showed ... which sucks, because my running actually hasn't been that horrible this year.

All in all, it came to a race that was slower than 2013, but faster than 2011. I also think that, with proper training, I could actually probably manage a sub-7 on that course. Even with the hills and heat and wind. Will I go back to actually try it? Well, that's a different story ...

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