Monday, May 7, 2012

Sudbury Spring Sprint Race Report

Yesterday I competed in my 5th (not quite consecutive) Sudbury Spring Sprint. I do this little race every year if I can. Sudbury was the very first triathlon in which I competed, and so racing it feels like anniversary of sorts. This year my oldest daughter, Jordan, also competed in the race. She did awesome.

Jordan and I left for Sudbury in the wee hours of the morn. We stopped at Dunkin' Donuts where I got a large coffee, and she got some super greasy bacon and egg sandwich. I guess you can do that when you're 10! I would have hurled the half digested remains of that sandwich all over someone while biking--I just know it.

When we got to Sudbury the place was already buzzing. I found a few of my athletes (Jen and Kim) checking in, and I started to feel that excited, nervous, pre-race energy that both tortures me and also feels exciting and good. Jordan and I set up transition. She was convinced she would want to put on shorts, shirt, socks, gloves after the swim. I told her she certainly could, but if she wanted to just race in her bathing suit, that was fine too. I would be racing in my bathing suit, so she certainly wouldn't be the only one.

The swim at Sudbury is a pool swim. Swimmers are organized according to the 400 yard seed time they put in their race application. I had put 5:15 for a seed, and I had put Jordan at 6:15. Both times were fairly accurate for us. This put me at number 56, meaning there were 55 people in this race who thought they'd swim faster than a 5:15 for a 400. Hmmmmm..... Jordan was number 157. So 156 people out of the 426 competing thought they could swim faster than a 6:15. In case you are having trouble doing the math in your head, that is an average 100 yard pace of roughly 1:33. Very interesting. It appears there are quite a few hidden swimmers out there! Either that or people lie, or have no clue, or figured they would become magically faster on race day--or all three.

Anyway.  The only bad part about the seed times for Jordan and me is that it meant I had to leave her when the line to start the race began to form. I think this panicked me way more than her. I kept looking for numbers 156 or 158 so I could instruct them to watch her and make sure she was okay. Never did find them. Jordan later reported that number 156 was a middle-aged woman--very nice, somewhat rotund and motherly. Phew. Thank you number 156!

The race began and we all watched the fastest swimmers in the race glide (seemingly) effortlessly through their 400s. The fastest person of the day swam a 4:18. That time INCLUDES running to T1!  So... we are talking a 4:05 maybe? That is 1:01 per HUNDRED. Dear God.

Anyway, finally it was my turn. I vowed NOT to take it out way too hard. My friend Tracy who is a very experienced and awesome swimmer (number 24 in this race) explained that the totally hypoxic exhaustion I feel at 75 yards in basically every swim race I do is likely because I take it out too hard and don't breathe enough early on. So I vowed to take it out hard, but not too hard, and to breathe more than I felt I needed to for the first 100 yards. It worked. I felt awesome! I also felt annoyed. At the 75 I had to pass the swimmer ahead of me. At 125 I passed the next swimmer. This is what I mean by the lying that goes on with seed times in a race like this. Having to pass another swimmer when there are swimmers going up and down lanes is inefficient, scary, and difficult, and most of all it slows you up! I was pissed! I wasn't the only person who this happened to:

After trying to pass the woman in front of her (yes, the nice motherly woman, #156) for 200 yards,  Jordan finally resorts to diving and swimming UNDER her to get ahead:

I finished my swim in 5:19. Jordan finished in 6:17 according to Andy's watch. (This doesn't include our runs to T1.) Anyway... I had the 36th fastest swim of the day; Jordan had the 95th fastest swim. That means that I was faster than 20 people who claimed to have a faster 400 seed time than me, and Jordan was faster than 62 people who claimed to be faster than her!
(Yes, I am a little preoccupied with this... ) haha!

Onto the bike. My transition was pretty fast (for me) given that I did not have to strip off a wet suit. I just put on my shoes and helmet and went. The bike was just 7 miles. Because I am endurance athlete, 7 miles is barely a warm up for me. I find it hard to go from 0 to 22 mph in like a milli-second. But I tried, and so within a milli-second I was breathing so heavily I thought I might have a heart attack. I pushed. I tried to keep my cadence up. I pushed more. I tried not to stop pedaling when I cornered (failed at that, though, I stopped pedaling for part of every corner I encountered!), I pushed and stayed in aero and pusehd some more.

All that is well and good. It still does not make me a sprinter. Why do I attempt races this short when they are CLEARLY NOT what I a) like or b) am naturally good at? Oh well. It was still fun in a twisted kind of way. I finished the 7 mile bike in a little over 19 minutes. In this race they add your transition times into your s/b/r--so it's hard to know how fast (or slow) transition was for me, and also hard to know where I really fell in terms of competition, since my bike could have been faster, but my transitions slower, or vice versa... compared to another.  I will say I successfully took off my shoes while riding and dismounted onto bare feet. Go  me! Okay, so maybe I had to slow way down to do it... but I did it!

Meanwhile, Jordan was just exiting the swim.
Here she is getting on her bike:

How cute is that? Okay, maybe I think it's so cute because she is my little daughter..... :)

Onto the run. Because I had removed my shoes on the bike, I just had to take off my helmet and put on my run shoes and belt when I got to T2. Then I was off! And I felt like shit! Holy mother there was some serious LEAD in my legs!
Again, sprinting just kills me...

But off I went. I decided to just use cadence to propel me forward. I probably looked so stiff and stupid... with a little dancing of feet to get my body moving, but I wasn't sure what else to do. My quads were burning, and a fast cadence was the only "speed" I could muster. Luckily, I had had the good sense not to carry my Garmin with me, so I had no idea how slowly I might actually be going. I focused on passing people. There was a woman ahead of me who looked like she could be competition, so I did my best to catch her and run by her with some umph. As soon as I got beyond her (later I learned her name was Brooke.. she was super nice) I just felt this crushing blow of I DON'T CARE JUST LET ME STOP. I pushed that little demon out of my brain as far as I could, but he kept coming  back at me. YOU ARE NOT A SPRINTER.STOP TRYING TO RUN FAST YOU LOSER. YOU ARE GOING SO SLOWLY THAT A LITTLE MORE SLOWLY WILL MAKE NO DIFFERENCE. And so on.
I passed a few more people, and then just did my best to shut off my obnoxious brain. When I saw Andy very close the end he screamed, Use your arms! Oh ya! My arms! Forgot about those things. I imagine them now, flopping loosely at my sides as I attempted to kick. So I pumped my arms, finished, and then stopped short right after the finish, about ready to puke.

Sprints just suck, I tell you.
But they are also great, because unlike puking in a long race, you are fine in like 2 seconds after a sprint. Your body just really wanted you to stop.. and you did, so it forgives you and lets you go on with your day.
And then I looked at my watch. 41:16. I had missed a PR by 5 seconds.

But on the other hand, I had only missed my PR by 5 seconds! Not so bad! I had a great race last year when I got that PR. I had felt pretty good and raced confidently. Today I was less confident and felt less good, but I was still only 5 seconds off that time!

It's all perspective.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

I chatted with my good friend Tracy and with Brooke (new friend who I valiantly passed on the run), then I found Andy and my two younger kids, Noah and Lara. Andy was congratulatory. Noah and Lara were less congratulatory, and more just "eager" for me to get them a few brownies they had been ogling at the athlete table.

Jordan was still on her second loop of the bike, so I went to change into dry running clothes so I could run with her when she started her run. She had an awesome second loop and got off the bike all smiles.
Here she is BOOKING it out of T2.

I began to run with her and she was so fast I could barely keep up! Some warm down for me! Soon she slowed slightly, though, and even though we were moving at a good clip it felt okay. She told me all about her ride and her swim, and kept saying, I'm thirsty! At mile 1.5 there was a water stop and she got a drink. Then we trucked on. Her pace slowed quite a bit for the last 3/4 of a mile, but she was still running well and only expressing a desire to stop every 10 seconds or so... :) Then she saw that the finish was close. I pointed to all the adults ahead of her that were jogging to the finish line. You can take them all, Jord! Go for it! I peeled off so she could finish alone, and she sprinted! It was awesome!
Here she is sprinting to the finish:
She did pass every adult her in path. It was quite entertaining. People cheered and screamed for her--this little peanut finishing her first real tri!  She finished up her run in a little over 19 minutes for the 2.25 and her overall time for the race was a 58:56. She placed 7th in her AG (0-19). She didn't really care about that, though. She was mostly just psyched that the race had been so fun!

It turned out I placed third overall so we decided to stay for the awards. The two girls who beat me were young... one was 20 and one just barely 30. Grrrr. But hey, I'll take it. These girls were much bigger and taller than me, and the winner was 22 years younger!

It was a great race. I'm so proud of Jordan (bet you didn't figure that one out....)
And now, back to our regularly scheduled endurance training. Mooseman 1/2 Iron up next!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I Need Yet Another Cup of Joe

Yesterday my daughter, Lara, left open the door to the closet in which we store the dog food. She was busy skulking away after stealing Pirate's Booty for a snack, and it must have slipped her mind to shut that door.

And of course, enter Hazel, my food obsessed lab. She downed quite a bit of dog kibble before I caught her. She looked up at me when I found her, paws neatly pressed down on the shredded Purina dog chow bag, her lips and nose covered in bits of kibble-laden saliva. Then she stood, with difficulty, and slunk guiltily away, her larger-than-I-have-ever-seen-it belly swaying morbidly from side to side.

She has since shit and burped dog kibble non-stop for 16 hours straight.

And so, here I sit, the smell of kibble vomit and doggy burp enveloping me like a blanket. Except not a warm blanket. To boot, it's fucking cold in this house. The furnace began emitting a quite nauseating burnt-oil smell a day ago. Andy turned the furnace off much to my chagrin. I would most definitely tolerate the smell of burnt oil if I could just stay a little warm. Alas, he fears we will be poisoned by the fumes wafting from the basement. But what's a little poisonous air? I'm so cold! It's 55 degrees in  here! And sure, it's MAY, but it's New England. It's raw, drizzly and cold outside... and that raw cold has seeped, now, into my bones.

A big cup of Joe is not really helping, though I feel it should. I need the warmth, the caffeine, and the smell of coffee to overpower Hazel's lingering barfy, burpy, farting stench. (As I write she lies sleepily at my feet, letting slip noxious farts that are certainly more poisonous than the fumes from the furnace...)

But onto more savory topics.
I'm in a recovery week.
I  have some observations to make about the recovery week.

The first is this:
Fatigue and hunger seem to have a delayed onset for me, making their most pronounced appearances just when I feel I should be feeling sharp and satiated.
So, strangely, it's not following the big rides and runs that I feel ready to crawl into bed and never come out again. Instead, that desire comes when I don't expect it, days, sometimes a week later.  So, for example, despite that I have been doing light workouts for a few days, I am craving a nap, I want to consume every morsel of food that comes into my field of vision, and a 4 mile run seems like the ultimate test of torture.

Why is that?
So, it's day 4 of my rest week. I *feel* I should be *feeling* peppy. Instead I am feeling like a would like to eat huge breakfast and then take a long nap (as opposed to executing the 2.5 hour ride on my schedule). Sigh.

Another observation about the recovery week:
I find it hard to shift gears.

When I am working hard day in and day out I just get it done. I put my head down, try not to think too much about how a 16 mile run or a 90 mile ride will feel, and I, in the immortal words of Nike, Just Do It.

It takes me a few days into the recovery week to settle into not having to spend my entire day working out. Suddenly I have time. My athlete schedules are done for the next few weeks, and it's Wednesday! (Ask any of my athletes and they will tell you that lately I have not had them done in quite so timely a fashion.) And here I am--writing a post, *gasp*, which hasn't happened in quite some time. And the laundry is not exactly done, but it's also not piled so high it's being pushed out the basement windows, and the house, though freezing cold, is not in the disastrous state in which one usually finds it.

And that feels good.

I guess this is why I find it hard shifting BACK into workout mode. Suddenly that 2.5 hour ride seems extremely inconvenient. And yet, in a build week a 2.5 hour ride on the schedule would seem gleefully short.

I finish off this recovery week with my first tri of the season, The Sudbury Sprint. This race is shorter than short: a 400 yard swim, a 7 mile bike, and a 2.3 mile run. I'm definitely excited to race, because I love racing. But I am also uneasy: I haven't "made it hurt" in the sprint tri sense of what that means in quite some time. Sprinting is going to be quite the shock to the system! But it will be a nice little wake up in a twisted sort of way. I know that.

A bunch of my athletes are racing, and so is Jordan, my daughter. Can you think of anything more fun that that? My 10-year-old is racing with me! My hope is that I finish early enough to go back and find her on the run so I can run with her a bit. I know it's not technically triathlon-legal to run with someone... but she's 10... and it's a mini-sprint... and it's a small race. I'm pretty sure they won't throw me off the course if I jog with her (or walk... wherever she might be at if and when I find her). Aside from the swim, Jordan has not trained at all for this race, and she also still doesn't really get shifting on the road bike. So there may be some walking involved. But who cares! So much fun! Her first tri! I hope she loves it.
I know she will love it.
(I just hope she doesn't beat me in the swim. Is it wrong to hope that? Maybe when she is eleven I won't mind so much...? )

HAPPY TRAINING to you all.
The season is here! It's finally time to race! YAHOO!