Above: Men 35-44, Andy's wave at Lobsterman.
Part I: Introduction
This was my third time doing the Lobsterman Olympic, and apparently, three times is the charm! I had a breakthrough race this weekend! Wahoo!
What exactly is a breakthrough race, you ask?
I finished well--5th OA for women. The four women who finished ahead of me are four of the best triathletes in New England--even nationally, really, so there was no shame in finishing after them. I was the first non-elite woman to finish. I had a solid time for a course with a longish swim, a longish bike, a strong wind, and a solid, tough 6.2 mile run. These things could have made it a breakthrough for me, but these are not the aspects of my race that feel like the real success.
The real success, I think, was my total confidence when racing.
I believed I would be the first in my wave out of the water (I was second, but the point is I BELIEVED I would be the first), on the bike I weaved in and out of the age group men and women on the course like I was totally in control and the riders were just pawns in my game. I used each rider to my advantage by pulling up close behind him/her to catch 3 seconds of a draft, and then passing each in one smooth, quick pass. I was only passed by a few guys who were able to stay ahead of me, (Ted, you were one of them!! Of course...) (I passed all the other men back). My bike was the first bike back in transition in my area (div. 35-49 year old women) and this didn't surprise me. I didn't have the fastest bike split for women (5th there), but I had the fastest swim/bike combo (not including the elites), and I just knew this would be the case. On the run I did not doubt I would keep me lead. I passed many people, I saw no women in close distance to me on the turn-around (age-groupers, that is), and I knew I would win age group overall.
That is why this was a breakthrough for me. I knew I would race well. I believed I could be the first Age-Group woman to cross the line.
This belief has been building in me, with the help of Jen, of Ange, of good race results and a few years under my belt of experience and consistency. But this is the first time I have had a race that really came together; a race in which I felt in control and totally assured that the outcome would be good throughout the race. I don't think confidence can be underestimated in importance when it comes to racing.
Part II: The Race
Andy and I had a leisurely trip to Freeport, the race venue, after staying at my parents the night before in Cape Elizabeth. It was leisurely enough so that I almost blew a gasket I was so tense at our lackadaisical pace. After picking up coffee and bagels at Dunkin' Donuts, Andy suggested we sit down to eat. I was like WHAT? Get your ass in that car! Then he suggested we stop for gas. GAS? Are you kidding me? No fucking way! We need to get there!
We got there. We were early.
(Not as early as Ange, though.) :)
It was freaking cold that morning. Like in the 40's cold. We were told that the water was in the upper 60's--but um--that was wrong. It was in the upper 50's, if that. People shivered and procrastinated getting into their wetsuits. I warmed up well by running, and then the transfer into the wetsuit wasn't so bad, because the run had warmed me up. I couldn't get in the water to warm-up, though. I had been instructed to, but I just couldn't do it. I got my ankles wet, and decided to get in and get freezing wasn't a good plan. Sorry, Jen!
As we waited for the race to begin, I chatted with Ange, Martha, Mike, Mark (Ange's husband), Jeff (Ange's bro) and a few other friends, and Alina came by to say hi and wish me good luck. She had come all the way to the race with her three kids in tow to cheer us on... Thanks, Bean! I couldn't find Andy before the race, and this bothered me. I didn't even get a chance to say good luck.
Finally the elites were off. I watched Ange take an early lead, right behind Catherine S. I know her stroke so well I was able to follow her even as she faded into the distance. After many a long minute, finally it was our turn to enter the water. It was an in-water start, and I got right up front and parked myself there. When we heard the GO GO GO! I really went all out, totally hypoxic, quickly at the point where breathing every stroke still wasn't enough. Then I settled in, right on the feet of a girl in front of me. I noted she was the only white cap (my wave) around us, and I made up my mind to stay on her feet and out-kick her at the end. This didn't happen, but it WAS a good plan. Instead I followed her as long as I could, and then eventually she broke away from me and I couldn't catch her. Damn. I crashed through the stragglers in the next couple of waves, and then pounded my way to the final buoy. The water still felt cold to me, and my feet and hands were numb. The water wasn't rough, but it wasn't totally calm either, and I swallowed a fair amount of salt water. I convinced myself this salt would save me from hypoatrenmia, and let it go. Ha!
The one part of the swim I haven't mastered is getting out of the water. If I swim too close to shore I stumble over when getting out, but if I stop swimming too early I can't drag my body through the water to the shore fast enough. Tough to figure out. I opted for the too close to shore route, and as per usual, I nearly tipped over as I ran out.
I found my zipper and began to pull. Tug. Nothing. Tug. Tug. No movement. I pulled harder. WTF? I began yelling for help. A volunteer came over and messed around with it a bit, and then un-hooked it. I still don't know why it wouldn't go down, but I thanked the volunteer who helped me profusely and ran off. I was pretty freaked. My fingers were totally numb, and like many people, I simply could not get my wetsuit off as a result. It felt like I was in transition forever. Turns it out it wasn't that bad; only 1:40. I found out later that Andy took FOUR MINUTES in T1! He couldn't get his wetsuit off, and then he put on a shirt, put on gloves, took a shit (not really) but four minutes??? We have been joking that he must have had a little party in T1 and we all missed it....Doesn't look like he was in much of a hurry to beat me!
Onto the bike. After the Kennebunk Oly in which I raced elite and spent the entire bike leg alone, I was SO appreciative to be with the age groupers for this race. It took a few minutes to get my legs, but when I did I just was on fire. There were so many people! People! I love people! I'd zip up behind a rider, and then dart around her/him. I did this over and over again. It felt like I was in a video game and I was winning. I'm sure people were annoyed with me for getting so close to them and then darting around them, but it was a WINDY, WINDY, day. It's not cheating if you ride up on someone and pass them within 10 seconds, but if you do this repeatedly, it makes the whole ride easier, because those few seconds during which you are riding up behind someone DO add up, and they DO help.
The ride went fast, probably because I felt so strong and so confident. About five minutes before the end, I rode up on Andy. Oh, he was BUMMED! I passed him. He then passed me back. I let him stay ahead for a bit, and then I was like, NOPE! and passed him again. The thing is, Andy is a good rider, very strong, and the fact that I was passing him boosted my confidence even higher. I was also so happy that Andy could see me racing. He rides with me all the time on everyday rides, and I'm so poky. I have a hard time being feisty until I'm in a race--but he's never witnessed me this way. He's watched me from the sidelines, but not from within the race. I knew he'd pass me back on the run, but it was still fun to be ahead for a bit!
T2 was faster than T1, though I nearly forgot to take off my helmet. Duh. I felt very slow running out, but my Garmin had me running 6:20 pace, so I knew it was just the feeling of being slow, and not that I was actually running slowly. I felt okay--not super, but strong enough, and pretty soon I had my legs and was chugging along. Not three minutes into my run Andy passed me. Damn! I tried to pick up my pace, but the dude is just too fast. Turns out his run split was 18th fastest of the day. This from a guy who has only done one other triathlon, a sprint, more than a year ago.
My run was NOT 18th fastest of the day, but it was 8th fastest for women, which isn't so bad! I felt strong and steady throughout, and like at Kennebunk I was able to negative split just slightly. I was hoping to go under 44, but given how hard I worked the bike, and given the really hilly nature of the run course, I was still happy with a 44:30.
Andy was there at the end, as was Ange, Mike, and Mark, and we all shared our race stories. Mike, my nemesis, had had a bad race, and didn't beat me this time!!! cackle cackle. We are racing again next weekend, though, and I know he's out to get me back. We hung out after the race, collected our lobster buoys, (which were the age group prizes.... please!), had a beer or two, and then Andy and I went out to Gritty's (a local pub we really like) for a late lunch.
It was a great day. I raced well and I got to hang out with all of my friends to boot.
The next morning I got up to do the swim portion of a relay with my buddy Mike and his brother Jay at the Dover/Sherborn Sprint. Members of my running club (GNRC) were going head to head in the relay, and I planned to do my job and get us some time on my swim. Unfortunately, the swim was only a quarter mile, and so getting Team Gilio/Gilio/Holt-Wilson a lot of time wasn't going to happen. I decided I would just give it everything and see if I could get us two minutes.
After yesterday's race, I was supremely confident. I would be the fastest swimmer of the day. This was a small, local, newbie type of tri, and I had it covered. Yeah, right! haha! A bunch of young boys and girls kicked me ASS--. We're talking like middle-schoolers. I'm assuming they swim for their local teams. I didn't even win my wave! Still, I was the fastest of the relay people, and I DID get my team two minutes, so that was good.
Jay and Mike kicked some butt too, and we ended up being third relay overall. Pretty cool. It was fun to catch up with my GNRC people!
22:07 (11th), 1:13:15 (5th), 44:36 (8th) = 2:22:53
5th OA, 1st AG (not including Ange, who raced elite), 1st non-elite
5:48 for swim (.25 miles)
3rd relay OA
I will post pics when they come out!