Friday, September 21, 2007

Lobsterman Race Report

It was a cold and windy and RAINY day. 

But I had a great race. 

Here are the details: We arrived at the site in Freeport at 9 am, nice and early for an 11 am start. The rain, which had been pounding throughout the night, was now just a drizzle. I was energized and ready to go. Alina and Andy were in a relay together, so we all rode in together and commiserated about the rain. 

Once we arrived I got my numbers, racked my bike and I found Ange and Petra. We chit-chatted about what to wear on the bike--arm warmers or no? Socks of no? How much fluid to take on the bike on such a cool day? We donned our wetsuits and I choked down a Gu, and then headed down to the water, which in the gray drizzle was looking awfully chilly. On the upside it was very fun to have so many people I knew there: my two greatest friends from high school, Ange and Alina, my friend Petra, Ange's husband Mark, Ange's brother Jeff, and an old high school friend, Brent. 

Alina was the first to leave us, as she was in the first wave as a part of a relay. She got right out front, and watching her got me nervous and excited. Next were the men, handsome in their wetsuits and green caps. 

 Finally it was our turn. We headed into the water--and boy--it was COLD. I have been spoiled--swimming in the ocean only on days that were warm and toasty. It was spitting rain and cold out, and my body just didn't want to be in the icy ocean. We had to tread water for several minutes before they let us go with their Go Go Go! 

I chose to start far to the right, thinking I might escape some of the madness and get myself out front. I did escape the madness, but the current pulled me further to the right, and before I knew it I was swimming alone in a cove, far away from the buoys and all of my wave! I headed back on course, frustrated that I had lost precious time swimming out of the way. It seemed to take forever to get to the first buoy, but once I rounded it things went a little more smoothly. I tried never to get too far away from the thrashing of everyone, not wanting to get off course again and waste more time. I began to run into the men who had started before us. I did see several of my wave around me too, though, so I knew I wasn't the first or second in my wave. The current pulled me all over the place, and I constantly had to re-orient myself. Finally the shore came into site, and I began to pick up my pace in anticipation of the end. 

When I began to stumble out of the ocean, I realized that while I had been swimming the rain had picked up and it was now pouring. I felt very dizzy as I pulled off my cap and goggles, and I nearly fell coming out of the water. I stopped, collected myself, and then began a slow job to transition. When I got there I tried to peel off the wetsuit, but my hands were shaky and numb, and I couldn't get my legs out of the wetsuit and over my ankles. If anyone has any tips as to how to to do this I'd be grateful to know them! I finally flopped to the ground and yanked it off each foot. Final swim time: 23:45. 

I felt unsteady getting on the bike. It was pelting rain and so cold, and my hands could barely shift the gears. People were passing me left and right. I finally settled into a rhythm and talked myself out of complaining inwardly about the rain and cold. I picked up the pace and passed a few people. Mostly, however, I was passed. I think this is because the 40-44 year old men started in the wave behind us. I hold my own in the water, but the fit men caught me quickly once on the bike. I did notice that only the men passed me. I was only passed by one woman, Petra, the whole ride. I hoped this meant that I was going to place in my age group, but I couldn't be sure. I knew Ange was ahead of me, and that Petra had passed me at about mile 20 or so. The only other women ahead of me were those women who had gotten out of the water ahead of me, and I knew there couldn't be too, too many of those. Also, our wave had the 35-39 women and the 40-44 women, so even if some women had gotten out of the water ahead of me, they might not have been in my age group. It turned out that my reasoning had been right. 

The ride became slightly more pleasant when the rain slowed to a drizzle again. Towards the end I began to see the fastest runners on the course. Andy was perhaps the fifth or sixth person I saw running. This meant that his relay was doing very well, and might win. He yelled to me that Petra was only 30 seconds ahead of me, which I knew because she had just passed me a while back. When I dismounted my bike I felt relief. The rain hadn't stopped me, and the run was sure to warm me up. Final time: 1:20:04. 

My hands were completely numb in transition. I could barely slip on my shoes, and I had a lot of trouble clipping my number belt. Also, my feet were totally and completely numb. I began to run, but it felt like I was running on stumps rather than feet. It was a very bizarre feeling. The first mile was uphill, which was actually good because I finally broke a sweat and started to thaw a bit. I caught Petra in the first mile, but she was having none of that! After a quick hello and a kindly, "You look great, Mary!" she took off at lightning speed, never to be caught again. Hey, at least maybe I inspired her to pick up the pace. :) 

Anyway, at about the turn around (it was a lollipop loop) I finally began to get some sensation back in my feet. It was gradual, with feeling returning to my heels first. By the time I was at mile 5 I no longer felt like I had stumps for feet. The last mile was downhill, of course, and I charged down, full of vim because I had my feet back and knew it was almost over. I felt great. Until I realized they had pulled one of those--"There's the finish line!--oops. Not yet." on me. You see the finish banner, but you pass it and then run another 1/2 mile loop and enter from the other direction. Grrr. I schelpped on, angry that I had clearly started my kick a tad too early. And then, it was done. Final run time: 44:45. 

I had thought I would do poorly, but other than the bike, I really did okay--especially on the run. Final time: 1:32 or so, I think. I was third in my age group. Ange was first, Petra second. Pretty fun to have the three friends take the first three spots in 35-39. 

Next race--the run leg of the CELT challenge in Cape Elizabeth. 

Oh--I also wanted to mention that Alina, Lorenzo (her brother) and Andy were second overall for the relay, and the first mixed gender team. Alina was the second woman to finish the swim overall, and Andy was one of the top runners, finishing in 36. yeah! 

After CELT I have the big monster--the Chicago Marathon. Yikes!

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