Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Rev3 Williamsburg 2018 Race Report

I've always had Williamsburg in the back of my mind as a race I might like to do at some point.  With a July race date and being even further south than DC I knew the weather was highly likely to be very hot and humid.  At DC Triathlon Club's annual meeting in 2017 I won a free race entry for the 2018 race.  I already knew my 2018 race schedule was going to focus more on local/driveable races with friends, free on top of checking the other 2 boxes was ideal.  It also fit nicely into the calendar with the races I had already planned on registering for.

Williamsburg was also announced as the goal race for many of the DC Triathlon Club's programs.  Racing predominately long course it is not often I end up at a race with a strong contingent of club members.  I was excited to be at race with my teammates, fellow club members and friends and less stress about winning, slots, etc.  This race fell nicely at the end of a recovery week after a big build block, so with not much of a taper this race was purely on the schedule as a training race.

Pre-Race: Saturday

Bike racking with Prochnow
I drove down to Williamsburg from DC early on Saturday morning.  Traffic was surprisingly somewhat heavy but moving well by 7am.  I stopped for my traditional BIG BREAKFAST on the road shortly before getting to the race site.  Once at the race site I met up with Heather and did a little
shakeout workout - bike/run/swim.  The weather broke just in time for us and it was actually cool (low 80s but with what we had the weekend before 107, it felt perfect) and not humid!  I felt awesome during our shakeout and had a really good feeling about the race.  Race check-in was simple and quick.  Once we had our bib # stickers we got our bikes all stickered up and dropped them off to transition before heading to the condo's our team had rented for some R&R.

Transition set up with Ellen
Pre-Race: Sunday AM
I woke up at the usual race day time of 4am.  Did all the important things like braid my hair and eat some applesauce before making sure I packed everything up and heading on out to the race site.  Parking was ample and close to transition.  I immediately went to transition and took my bike to the mechanics to get my tires topped off with air - I used to haul my pump around and do this myself but
it is far easier to not lug around a pump and have help with the disc wheel/crack pipe that I can have a hard time inflating on my own.   I then loaded on my nutrition and hydration, calibrated the power meter and made sure my bike/run stuff was all set out and ready to go.  I had some time to head over to the DCTC tent and relax for a few before getting into my Xterra Speedsuit and walking over to swim start.

THE SWIM - 1.2 Miles - 36:41
My shakeout swim on Saturday had gone well.  I was going into this race calm and confident with realistic swim expectations.  I knew that I might have a "fast" swim based on prior years results and the current that you *may* get to swim with.  We had a time trial swim start this year.  I put myself near the front but back enough to be away from all the super fasties.  The first 1/2 of the swim was great, I felt awesome, everything was clicking.  I was sighting well and swimming straight and swimming more or less with those who also started near me (instead of getting swam over).  Once I made it to the turn buoy shit got crazy, no joke.  I made the turn and attempted to sight the next buoy - between the glare of the sun and that fact that there wasn't a buoy I was clueless as to where to go.  I looked for heads and there were people swimming in literally every direction.  I could hear water support people telling swimmers "you're ok, you're ok, just keep swimming" to other swimmers.  I knew from the course map it was pretty much a 160* turn so I went with my gut and started swimming.  I stopped multiple times to attempt to sight a buoy and ended up just relying on heads.  It worked out fine, but I was nervous and not thrilled.  The sun beating into our eyes didn't help either.  Eventually I saw the swim exit, I'm not sure I've ever been happier to see a swim exit.

Turns out a sighting buoy floated away.  The current of the river + the current of the creek (after the turn) + the tide cause a whirlpool effect and was pulling people back out to the river and limiting forward progress.  Apparently a good number of athletes were unfortunately pulled from this swim due to the currents.

T1 - 3:02
This was a long run up the boat ramp and then up the park road back to transition.  The pavement was smooth and nice enough to run on.  As I attempted to peel my speedsuit down the quick release zipper flipped down and got stuck.  The shoulders of the suit were stuck over my upper arms and I felt like I was hostage in my speedsuit.  I asked another woman also running up to transition to flip my zipper up.  Once she figured out what I meant I was able to peel it down and pick up my pace to transition.  A quick shoes, helmet, sunglasses on and I was off on the bike.

THE BIKE - 56 Miles - 2:30:39
I had heard great things about this bike course - a rolling country course that rides fast.  Sounds like my dream bike course.  I hit it hard out of transition and passed a good amount of people within the first 5-10 miles.  I also got stuck behind a very hesitant old man driving a large pickup truck and stuck behind some slower cyclists.  I was very frustrated - then when he did pass I was basically riding the same speed he was driving so when he got to another hill I got stuck again.  Like stuck to the point where I almost had to unclip.  I was trying to beg him to pull to the right and let me (us) pass.  He didn't.  Eventually we got around and all was better in the world.  About 20 miles in I got the info from a volunteer that I was 7th female.  I figured I was in a good spot, not even 28 miles in, I knew I'd be catching at least a few more ladies on the bike before we got to 56 miles.  After the first 15 or so miles this course felt empty.  I was riding completely by myself for the most part, I'd pass a lone cyclist every few miles, maybe.  Just before the 28 mile point I passed a middle aged man.  He apparently didn't like this move, sat on my wheel for a few minutes and passed me back.  I dopped back and tried to let him go.  Before I knew it I was passing him again (easily I should add) - again, he didn't like it.  He sat on my wheel for another couple of minutes and then passed me again on a false flat.  As soon as he got in front of me he was moving WAY slower, I wanted to yell at him to stop F*cking with my race, but kept it in.  I sat up, stopped pedaling and the officials came by on the moto.  I stayed back and again tried to let him go.  As we got to a right hand turn up the road I made the turn and stepped on it.  As I passed him he said "damn girl you do work on that bike".  No shit sherlock, I caught you and passed you from who knows how far back.  Let me go.

Once around him it was some more lonely miles as I counted each female that I passed.  A lot of the roads weren't all that smooth so there was a lot of vibration out there.  The back half of the course had a bit of a headwind and merged with the Olympic Distance race for the last few miles.  By the time we had merged with Olympic Distance I knew I had moved up to 3rd female and I knew who one of
Coming into T2, Gu wrapper in mouth
the females ahead was, as well as knowing 4th wasn't far behind me.  I had passed her around mile 45 and she hung on for a good bit. 

I had nailed nutrition, hydration, and HR plan for the bike so I was pretty pumped about coming into T2 in 3rd OA.

T2 - 0:56
Flying dismount and a super quick run in to swap shows, grab my race belt and hydration bottle.  I had a little trouble getting the belt on as I ran out and I dropped the plastic bottle so had to stop and back track a couple steps.  It all worked out, I was just a bit of a mess initially.

THE RUN - 13.1 Miles - 1:40:46
I hit the run course and was with another female (Jenn) instantly.  She had been in 2nd OA.  I stuck behind her for about a mile.  I then decided it'd be fine to just make the pass and that I didn't think she would hang.  Oh boy, was I wrong.  She stuck to my shoulder like glue.  Every time I thought I was opening a gap she's reappear on my shoulder.  The double out and back run course that was also the Oly run course was fantastic.  We got to see all the other athletes and cheer for each other and watch the race unfold.  What was happening in front of us, what was happening behind us.  4th place had put in a hard effort early to catch us around miles 3 or 4 but she was breathing very heavy when she caught and passed us.  We ran on her shoulder briefly before making the pass for good, she had spent too many matches catching us.  Around mile 7 or so I decided to run on Jenn's shoulder for a bit.  As we made it to the turn around on lap 2 I noticed that we were actually making up a good amount of ground on 1st place.  I never would have thought we would catch her on the run.  That helped mentally give me a boost and keep pushing for the last 3 miles or so.  As we made back towards the park and headed up and over the bridge 1 last time Jenn tried to get me to pick it up with her and kick it in (we were still at least almost 1/2 a mile from the finish).  Jenn put in some work and started opening up a gap as we rounded transition.  I had to let her go, but when I looked up there was the woman who had been in 1st, I made the pass and finished as hard as I could but wasn't able to close the gap Jenn had opened up.

FINISH (unofficial): 4:52:03 - 2nd Female, 1st AG
We shared some finish line hugs and respect for the shoulder to shoulder race we had just had.  It was the most fun I've had on a race course in quite some time.  When I came out of T2 I chose to compete.  I could have settled in to a slightly easier pace and let her go.  I was fearless and took a chance to see what my body had on the day.  I'm so glad I did, it was awesome.  I a ton about myself and racing.  I got to see some of my best friends multiple times on the run and cheer for them and encourage them.  This was a huge race for me with a 70.3 run PR and an all around solid day (as well as 70.3 unofficial PR).

OFFICIAL RESULTS/AWARDS - 4:56:03 - 4th OA, 1st AG
Just before awards we checked results again and my finish time had 4 minutes added to it.  At first I was like "WTF" and then I remembered the moto from the bike course.  Crap, crap, crap.  I spoke with the head referee in which he said "it looked like you were really trying to drop back, it just took 5 seconds too long to get to 3 bike lengths".  Wow.  Ok, my bike is pretty dang small and I was certain I had made back far enough it in time.  But thanks for realizing I was really trying and still nailing me with a penalty (I guess when you stop pedaling and sit up it's a good indication that you are trying, I wasn't going to hit the brakes, nope nope nope).  Had the moto come up just a couple minutes earlier it would have been the egotistical male age grouper getting the penalty.  Oh well, not a big deal - no cash, no slots or anything up for grabs at this race.  It bumped me down in the overall results a couple places to 4th but also meant that I got to stand on the age group podium with 2 of my best girls. Podium sweep for us, and it was amazing! My first and only penalty in 9 years of racing - and a silver lining with an age group podium sweep.  Lesson learned pass the dude with authority and tell him the first time not to f*ck with my race :P 

Thank you to all of my sponsors for the continued support - Xterra Wetuits, Rudy Project Helmets, Louis Garneau, SBR/Triswim, District Taco, DC Triathlon Club, Tavekaan, Rose Physical Therapy Group, UltraGrain, XX2i Optics, and Louis Garneau.  And thanks to all of my DC Tri Elite teammates that made this weekend so much fun.