Saturday, August 27, 2011

Luray Sprint Triathlon Recap

Luray, VA got pummeled with rain on Saturday evening.  Rory and I had luckily just finished securing the rain fly, throwing ours bags in the car and covering the bikes before the rain hit.  We headed down to the town of Luray for packet pickup before dinner.  The rain started pouring down just after we left the campsite.  When we got to packet pickup we got drenched just running from the car to the store.  We then had to wait in line in the store to go back outside to actually get out packets.  Luckily they had a couple tents set up for packet pickup so you just had to take a couple leaps through the rain and dodge the puddles.

With packet pickup behind us we set out for dinner.  We chose Uncle Buck's for convenience and style, it was right next door to packet pickup and it was definitely and locally owned and operated establishment.  We were not disappointed at all.  It was a hoppin' place but we were able to be seated right away and the service was good.  We were enjoyed our dinner and got out to see a line out the door to wait to be seated!  We walked up and down the main drag of Luray exploring the quaint town's uniqueness.  We found an underground bowling alley, extravagant murals, small boutiques and local bakeries and eateries.  After our post-dinner walk we jumped back in the car and drove up the road to check out the Luray Caverns parking lot and bell tower.  We didn't actually want to go in the caverns and they were closed.

We headed back to camp and found we had a few new neighbors at our campsite area.  We took some reading material and H2O under the pavilion with us since it was still early in the evening.  We had a relaxing evening and prepared for the next morning before hitting the sack. Luckily everything in the tent had stayed completely dry!  We attempted to go to bed quite early – but some of our entertaining neighbors were the stereotypical couple on a camping trip!  Bickering, bossing around, the whole 9 yards.  Eventually we were able to get some great shut eye.

We awoke a bit earlier than planned on Sunday morning due to the events company setting up for everyone and others around us who had gotten up.  I ate the breakfast of champions (Special K Red Berried, Milk, Banana) in my car.  The rain had let up and we were able to easily prepare everything for the race.  We got our bikes ready, which had managed to stay completely dry, got body marked, and set up transition.  We were quite pleased that we indeed had one of the best transition spots in the entire area - transition was set up alphabetically so Rory and I were of course right next to each other.  Before heading our of transition we both donned or black "DAD" armband.  We then set out to check out the swim course and get a warm-up swim in.  The water temperature had dropped just enough to make the race wetsuit legal, but we both decided to forego the wetsuit option.

THE SWIM – 750m – 16:18
Not my best swim, not my worst.  The swim start was more brutal than the day before among all women <34.  I was repeatedly kicked, slapped, swam over, etc.  I was able to keep my cool and try to swim “my race” the best I could.  Before the start of the race I ran into some DC Tri folk which was nice and calmed the nerves a bit.  The water right before the swim exit seemed much darker than the day before.  It was black, you could not see a thing!

T1 – 1:59
A few lessons learned from the day before and a prime transition spot help me cut a solid 12 seconds off this time.

THE BIKE -  16.5miles – 58:18
Not quite as good as the day before.  My legs started to really feel it toward the end of the bike.  The massive hill at the end of the course was lined with spectators with cow bells, fog horns, and the like which was probably the only thing that got me up said hill.  Would like to have seen some faster splits but with the tough course and 2 days in a row I wasn’t disappointed with the performance.

T2 – 1:03
Another 12 seconds faster than the previous days transition.  I’m convinced it was the prime transition location.

THE RUN – 5k – 24:24
I knew the course well and was determined to push it up and down the hills.  A bit faster of a split time than the previous day so I was happy with my effort.  The legs were feeling the previous days effort during the run but I was able to block out any discomfort and push to the finish line.  I didn’t have an age group competitor near me to directly compete with but there was a younger athlete that I used to push myself for my final kick to the finish line.  I love passing people during the last 800m.

RESULT – 3rd Place 20-24 Female – 1:41:58
Not much of a close race.  The 1st and 2nd place finisher had more than a few minutes on me, though they didn’t compete in the international race the day before.  A good result considering I had done the double.
Once again we enjoyed ice baths and peanut butter and jelly post race – with our own chocolate milk of course.  After refueling and taking some pictures we cheered on some of the final finishers before the awards ceremony.  Rory checked his finish time – he improved by 14:00 over his last sprint distance tri!  The awards ceremony last forever but I complete my wine set – another stemless wine glass for 3rd place and a goblet for completing the double!

An awesome weekend with my brother out in the woods.  It was good for the soul and mind.  I am so glad we camped, it was free convenient and awesome.  I didn’t feel sleep deprived either night and transition was literally across the street from us.  

Friday, August 19, 2011

Luray International Triathlon Race Recap 8/13/2011

The international distance tri was the first part of the Luray Double for the weekend. My brother and I headed out to Luray, VA in the Shenendoah Valley for some camping and racing.  To complete the Luray Double you must complete for the international distance race on Saturday followed by the sprint distance race on Sunday.

My brother and I headed out to Luray on Friday evening after dinner in hopes traffic would be a little lighter.  The drive turned into to some 2-lane mountain roads towards the end and gave us a small preview of what we would be biking and running come race time.  It was quite dark as we approached Lake Arrowhead park around 9:45.  The bright lights and small village of Team Z beckoned us as we slowly drove in looking for the camping area.  We parked the car and got out to ask the Team Z folk where we could pop our tent.  Oddly enough out of all the people on Team Z we ran into the same fella' who we spoke to after Nation's Tri last year, Mischa.  He entertained us for a few minutes and talked up Team Z a whole bunch before pointing us on our way toward the camping area, a mere 200 feet more down the road.

We efficiently found a nice plot of grass next to a parkng spot and popped a 2 man tent.  There were a few other athletes camping out on near our spot so we were as quiet as possible.  The weather was cool and perfect for some camping.  We were lucky to not have any issues with the tent, be close to bathrooms, and in a quiet location.  We were able to get to bed by 11:00 and get some shut-eye until about 5:30.

Saturday morning came early.  Race coordinators began setting up the finish line and packet pickup area very early.  Racers driving in started arriving and all the camping folk began waking.  I was able to enjoy Special K Red Berries and a banana before heading over to packet pick-up.  Packet pick-up was conveniently a couple hundred feet away from our tent.  I got my race numbers, #202 (DC represent), and headed back to camp to get everything situated before setting up transition.  Meanwhile Rory was up and awake and getting his volunteer assignment. 

I walked over to transition and set up my bike.  The weather was slightly cool and the race directors were announcing water temp to be 78.5, not quite wetsuit legal.  As a completed transition set-up I that someone quite popular was across from me on the same transition rack.  Athlete after athlete kept coming over and shaking his hand and taking pictures with him, who could this person be?  A famous tri-athlete? A movie star?  I had no clue.  Finally someone said, "Hey, Mayor Fenty!".  Ahh, at last mystery solved.  Adrian and his brother Shawn were racing.

Before heading out of transition I donned a black armband lettered with "DAD".  This armband was quite difficult to don as I drew it on my left arm with my right hand.  All went well until trying to connect the back of the arm near the elbow.  This was my first race not being able to send my dad the classic tranistion picture, my first race in which my training had been abruptly interrupted, my first race since losing my dad.  This one was for him.

THE SWIM - 1500m - 33:09
The swim course was slightly confusing, but since I was in the 4th wave there were plenty of people leading the way before me.  I started out swimming hard and feeling pretty strong.  I felt as though I was constantly surrounded by a pack or passing slower people in front of me and merging with a new pack.  The kicking, elbows, swimming into, onto, and over seemed to be never ending.  Considering the roughness in the water I wasn't dissappointed with my swim time.  I would have liked to see it around 32:00 but I can work it it.

T1 - 2:11
Transition to T1 was quite the run - out of the water, across the sandy beach, up the slippery wooden stairs, across the grass and finally into transition.  Considering the length of the run for T1 I was pleased with my time.  I was trying to be fast and got a little "shakey" during the shoe change and had to remind myself that slowing down would be faster than falling over.

THE BIKE - 41k - 1:27:25
The bike course was, to say the least, full of rolling hills.  2 loops of steep climbs, false flats, and short but fast decents.  I pushed as hard as I could on the bike, feeling the burn and loving it.  During and ascent about 5 miles into the course my chain came off, this is not the first time I've had this issue darn it.  At least I was able to hop off and pop the chain back on without losing too much time.  The most difficult part was picking up enough momentum to get going on the incline.  The sections of false flats on the bike course made me second guess my ability to push hard the entire distance.  I was barely managing to keep it around 15-16mph on a seemingly flat road.  What was wrong with me, I can usually keep it around 20mph on a flat!  I passed a few fellow age groupers here and there and continued on my way back to transition.  Oh, but not so fast!  The last climb of the course was insane, people with horns, cow bells and signs lined the road to give cyclists that last little kick we needed to get up the hill.  The road narrowed as we came around and entered back into the park as it was shared with the run course.

T2 - 1:15
Back into transition I re-racked the bike, slipped out of the bike shoes and into the run shoes thanks to my Yankz.  After grabbing my race # belt and a couple power gels I headed out onto the course and passed a happy and cheering familiar face of my brother guiding athletes onto the run course from transition. 

THE RUN - 10k - 50:15
I achieved a steady yet hard pace shortly into the run and reminded myself to run my own race.  As much as I wanted to win I had to remember to do the best that I could for myself and sometimes others are just plain 'ol better.  About 1/2 mile into the run a fellow age group competitor came up along side me and very slowly passed me.  I decided her pace was not much faster than mine and that I would sit on her heels for most of the race.  The course was very hilly and transitioned into gravel road for the mid 3 miles.  The run was a pretty simple out and back design.  As we hit the turn around my fellow competitor took off.  I knew if I did the same I'd be do myself in.  I held my steady pace having confidence in my ability.  About 4 miles into the I noticed she was running with her hands on her hips - yes she was tiring.  At 5 miles she was walking, I cruised passed her, got an extra umph and my step and continued on my way for the last mile and change.  I knew she may be capable of passing me again and I pushed on to the finished line.  As I came around the last corner I finished with a hard sprint for the last couple hundred yards and a smile and kiss to the sky for Dad as I went under the finish chute.

This race had great post-race goodies.  PB&J cut in half and ice baths for leg soaking!  Who could ask for more?  Ok, me, where's the chocolate milk?  Good thing I brought chocolate milk - top notch recovery drink.  While icing I was intereviewed by a lady with a large camera in my face, I don't know where this video is.  My brother took some suprising shots while I was in the ice bath and then we headed over to get some food.  Rory had worked hard all morning in the transition area and got himself a nice hotdog and soda from the volunteer firemen and I hit up the PB&J, trail mix, and oranges for the athletes.

After cheering on other finishers and cathcing up with some friends from DC Tri is was time for awards.  We headed on over the awards presentation.  Longest awards presentation ever - Overalls, special divisions, Virgina Overall Winners, yada...yada...yada.  Finally onto the age group awards.  Female 20-24 3rd....2nd....1st - Holli Finneren!  We were both completely surprised.  Ok, well I figured it out when I saw who got 2nd but that was only seconds before the words came out of the announcers mouth.

FINISH TIME - 2:54:13 (First Place)

How great it was.  Finally - a first place finish - for Dad.  Rory and I celebrated with some beach time and a dinner out on town while recovering and preparing for part 2 of the Luray Double: The Luray Sprint Triathlon.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Rockett's Landing Race Report 7/24/2011

Pre-Race Saturday
Sharon and I departed very early on Saturday morning to skip all the beach and King's Dominion traffic on the way to Richmond.  This was solid and highly recommended for future travels to the Richmond area on summer weekends.  We attended a course briefing before picking up our packets.  The course briefing was ok - definitely not mandatory.  It gave first time triathletes a chance to ask logistical questions and such.  Packet pick-up was a little ways across town at a 3-Sports Endurance store.  Pretty cool store if I do say so myself, I picked up some Yankz for my running shoes while we were at the store.

We still had time to kill before we could check into our hotel so we headed down to the race site to check some stuff out.  We had read some previous race reports so we knew there would be some quirky things going on. When we were checking out the race site transition was not yet set up since it doubles as a parking lot for locals.  We were disappointed we weren't able to check out where our bikes would be racked and the correct entrances and exits for the transition area.

DC Tri at Rockett's Landing
After checking into our hotel and taking a cat nap we got up and got ready for a pasta dinner with the gang from DC Tri Club.  After all this was the Mid-Atlantic Club championships and we were in town to win - so why not have a team dinner?  The food was good and the company was awesome at a local pizza and pasta place in downtown Richmond.

After dinner we headed back to hotel and made our final preperations for race morning.  Organizing clothes, food, race gear, etc.  We got to bed early to prepare for our extremely early wake-up time to ensure we could get our car out of the hotel valet lot in a timely manner (unfortunately our hotel only offered valet parking).  We were in the host hotel for the race so of course many other people were getting their cars early in the AM as well.

Sunday AM Pre-Race
We arrived at the race site very early.  Ate breakfast in the car and got ourselves situated before transition had even opened.  Timing chip pickup and the pre-race organization were not as great as they could have been.  Signs were still not posted for run-in, bike-out, bike-in, and run out which was disappointing.  DC Tri club was out in full force with 2 tents and 100+ racers!

THE SWIM: 1500m - 27:22
The course may have been slightly short, hence the great swim time for me!  The water was 92 degrees and swim caps were optional.  I fought for position throughout the first 300-400m instead of hanging back.  This paid off and I got beat up a little less than I am used to.  I was very happy with this swim time. Swim exit was a small dock with one ladder, not ideal to say the least.

T1: 2:22
I was very surprised by this fast time for the length of transition. After exiting the water you had to run up some stairs down a rock pathways (which thankfully was covered with rugs) up more stairs and down the road a little ways into transition.  Quite the run just for transition.

THE BIKE:  - 1:18:56
Not my greatest performance on the bike.  Would have liked to do better here.  I had some hiccups on the bike.  I wanted to drink some heed and water bottle #2 about 5 miles in, but I knocked the bottle out of my hand because I was too stubborn to stop pedaling for a few seconds.  No Heed, not a huge deal.  About 6 more miles in I wanted to take a gel, which I had very securely taped to my bike frame with electrical tape.  Electrical tape is much harder to rip than masking tape.  I spent a good minute or 2 riding slowly fighting to get the gel.  It burst all over my hand and eventually came off.  It was a mess but I did get some.  Repeat gel performance with gel #2.

T2: 0:46
The Yankz paid off. Awesome time.

THE RUN: 10k - 52:29
It was pretty hot by run time.  The course was stocked with cold sponges/wascloths, or at least it was for the male racers before me.  Coming off a PR the previous weekend at Stumpy Creek in the 10k I did feel some pressure, but knew I had to take it a little bit easier with the heat.  I was passed during last mile by fellow age-grouper.  I did my best to keep up with her but she was keeping steady.  Turns our she runs track at Elon University.  Not a bad run performance for the conditions and the crazy run course - upstairs, downstairs, up a scenic overlook - somewhat adventurous.

FINISH TIME: 2:41:54
A PR in the Olympic Distance for me!  Good enough for 3rd place in the age group as well.  Only 24 seconds off of 2nd place.  I was very happy with this performance and helped bring the Mid-Atlantic Club  Championship back to the DC Tri Club.  It was awesome having a "team" of athletes around you to push you, to celebrate with you and to lift you up when you needed it.  Would love to make it to national club championships but I plan on attending a pretty important wedding that same day (BFF).

This post was delayed secondary to a very tragic event that happened just 3 days after this triathlon.  Please see A Ride of Silence for more details.  Advocate for cyclist safety and awareness, promote/inform 1st responders about Road ID.  Don't drive distracted.

It took a couple weeks but I have gotten back on the bike and I have raced again.  It's not easy, but dad would want me to.  More on the recent races coming soon.