Monday, August 20, 2012

Race Report: Vermilion Olympic Triathlon, 2012

Alrighty, here we go!  If you've been here before, you know these things can get long.  And I also realized that I haven't done an Olympic triathlon since 2008!  Seriously--4 years?!  So I may have a lot to say.  You know what that means, right?
Get ya popcorn ready!
I've learned a few things:

1.  I can see myself really enjoying this distance.  I think I have got some room to grow here and it could be a distance that I could get pretty good at.

2.  Hills always seem harder from a distance.  You don't really feel how hard it is until you're about halfway up, and then you just have to soldier on to the top and keep going.  (And yes, that's kinda one of those life things, too.)

This course is advertised as being difficult on the bike, so I had mentally prepared myself for a slower bike split.  This was important because I didn't want to get all defeatist on the bike by looking at the miles per hour.  I really tried to focus on keeping my watts in check and saving a little for the run, since that was going to be the wild card.

I picked up my new tri buddy Laura and we headed out.  Got all checked into transition and saw about 893,405,102 triathlon friends, which was pretty much awesome.  We got a PERFECT day:  the waves were calm. the humidity was down, and it was not going to get warmer than the mid-70s.  For a race on August 19th in Ohio, you can't order any better than that.

I had a little pre-race warmup with my buddy TriEric and then wished all my buddies doing the sprint good luck since they went out before us.  Then, before I knew it, it was time to go!  I noticed there weren't very many women in my wave, which was actually kind of nice.  I figured there was no excuse for me not to kick some butt in this swim.  Minimal waves, minimal traffic.  Let's go.

THE SWIM:  7/38 females

I was feeling great!  Loop 1 was rockin' along pretty well, until we had to turn back into the sun...and then I regretted having 1988 goggles that are perpetually fogged.  Is that a buoy?  No, wait, is THAT a buoy?  Oh boy.  Before I knew it, I stopped and looked around and I was in the MIDDLE OF THE RECTANGLE.  It looked a little something like this:

Poop, indeed.

I did my best to keep the swearing underwater, and headed back on course.  On the 2nd loop, I was MUCH more careful to really swim straight and follow the buoys.  I caught up to quite a few dudes in the wave ahead of me so I knew I must have done okay.  I hit the beach in 25:18 which is a BIG FAT PR for me!  Yippee yahoo!  The official time includes the run up a little sandy hill to the transition area, so my time is officially 26:28 for an average pace of 1:37/100 yards.  Still a big fat PR for me, as I think my last oly swim in '08 had me at 27:42.  Boo-yah.

T1:  6/38, 1:38

Nothing too eventful here.  It's been a while since I've done an oly so I wanted to be sure I had everything all set.  It wasn't too hot so I didn't have to freak about liquid like I usually do.

THE RIDE:  7/38, 1:22.54

So this ride?  It separates the MEN from the BOYS, or something like that, since I am neither of those categories.  I had already heard stuff from a few friends, so I was a bit cautious but it's still a race, so I wanted to go pretty hard.  I know that time doesn't look so hot, but considering the fastest female bike split was a 1:16, its a testament to the technicality of the course.  I was surprised I was still on the west side of Cleveland, since we are notoriously flat.  Here's a few pics I snagged from the Backroads and Beaches facebook page which show one particular climb in the middle...this one we went tearing down a hill only to cross a bridge and then have a pretty steep climb.  So you just couldn't really use your momentum, which is how I usually play it.
TriEric going over the bridge, killin' it

Climbing out

Downhill--hey, who's that chick on the sweet QR CD0.1?  (HINT: IT'S ME)

Because I was being a bit cautious, I was not hesitating to go from my big ring to the small on the climbs, and then back to the big (because it is a race, and I don't race in the small ring ever unless I MUST).  But at about mile 10, something went BERZERK on my bike.  My big ring started making this horrid noise.  I thought it was the chain or the derailleur, but I just couldn't figure it out.  I tried leaning down and fiddling with stuff, but nothing seemed to work.  It didn't seem to be affecting my performance too much at least, so I kept hammering away and passing people and whenever I passed them they looked at me like "what the heck is that noise" so I would make some kind of joke.  I just kept my fingers crossed that it would hold on until the end, and it did.  Whew.  Dodged a HUGE bullet there!

T2:  Okay, now is where I LOSE THE RACE.  Sersly.  There is no excuse.....

1:40 30/38 females

I KNOW, RIGHT!  IS IT MY FIRST TRIATHLON EVER?  NO?  Oh, do I ever deserve to get punched in the face here.  Let me explain...our racks were crowded to begin with and then when I got back it was riDONKulous.  I had to quickly find some spot for my bike and then I tried to get my Garmin on since I really wanted to have it so the average pace could keep me motivated if things got rough.  So...I, um...spent like an extra MINUTE doing this.  

I'm sorry.

I know that's not a good excuse.

Speaking of which, does anyone know if the Forerunner 310 is water-resistant?  I think it is.  In which case my extra minute deserves to get me punched five more times.  I should just wear the stupid thing in the whole race, right?  Sigh.


THE RUN:  12/38 females, 52:02

You guys, I am so so SOOOOO excited about this run.  This was my longest run since my achilles flared up in April.  I hadn't ran more than 5.7 since then.  I had NO clue what I'd be able to muster here and I'm very happy with this finish.  Of course, there's work to be done, but for all I've had to put up with and for not running more than about 12 miles a week since April, I'm gonna call this a big ol' victory.

Don't call it a comeback.

I couldn't get the stupid GPS to hook up for at least a half mile, so again, wasted nonsense effort there, but it was fun to see some of my guy friends hammering the course on their way in since this was an out and back.  And I saw the overall female winner absolutely kicking ass on her way in, which was pretty awesome.  I tried NOT to get too caught up in the competitive little games I like to play in sprint tris and race my own race, which is really easier said than done for a competitive whack-job like myself.

I missed mile 1, but hit mile 2 at 15:49.

15:49! ME!

I almost did a cartwheel right there.  But then I was also a little nervous wondering if I could keep this up.

Subsequent miles of course got harder and I slowed down.  But I really went into this expecting to finish with an average pace of close to 9s.  To finish with an average of 8:24?  That makes me so happy, I do the dance of joy.

Overall finish:  2:44.44
1/2 AG, 7/38 females

Yeah.  That's a LOT better than I thought I could do.  Once again, body shows me who's truly in charge here.  It sure as heck isn't my mind or the limits I set in my head.  Can I please learn that already?

Takeaway thoughts: 

I was 2 minutes back from 4th overall female.  Considering I may as well have read a Tale of Two Cities in T2, I think it's safe to say I could get a free minute there.  I think I definitely could have shaved another 30 seconds off my bike and run if I had been a little mentally tougher at the end or not as cautious on the hills.  

I think I do have some ability at this distance.  But if I want to compete here, I need to get used to pain a bit more and I need to drop that run into the 40s for sure.  Olympics are still "short" enough that it should hurt, and definitely hurt more than a half-ironman.  I'm not quite used to that yet.  I could see myself really, really enjoying this distance.

All in all, it was a great way to end the tri season!  I only got two races in this year, which kind of stinks.  But I plan on doing lots of riding this fall and ACTUALLY SWIMMING this winter (no, for real) so I can hit the ground tri-ing next spring.


Carolina John said...

That's a great race! Looks like my last oly a few weeks ago. Big fat pr on the swim, and a strongish run with a bike ride in between. Yes, you can improve at the distance. Embrace it and it will turn out well for you.

pattyb927 said...

Great race report! You rock! No punches in the face though :)

Ian Hoffman said...

The 310 is WR, TST. There's a minute for you. I also find that if I engage the satellites before the race starts, and then turn them off, they'll pick up much faster when I restart them. Good work, Sunday.

-- Ian

Karen said...

Nicely done! ... And yep the 310 is water proof but can be a bit awkward if you are wearing a wetsuit as you have to have the wetsuit over the thing or it will be a mare getting your arm out!!

Athena Visel said...

I've been a reader, but haven't commented before. Up until today. Love the swim diagram! Now I feel like I was there ;) Great job!