Tuesday, May 31, 2011

French Broad Challenge Race Report

I have been looking forward to this race for quite some time.  Not that I don't look forward to all of my races but this one was special because instead of the swim leg we got to paddle the French Broad River!  The other reason I was really looking forward to this race is because this was going to be Steve's first triathlon.  He is not a fan of swimming so it was the only way to get him to do it.  Unfortunately, he fractured his foot about 4 weeks ago so he was sidelined and once again my personal photographer.  I was pretty bummed.

This race involves a 1.5 mile run, 2.5 mile paddle, 10 mile bike & a 2.9 mile run. The start & finish are on the Carrier Park race track.  The race is part of Asheville's Mountain Sports Festival.  A cool event that combines sports & music in Carrier Park.

This is also the first triathlon that we did not have to get up at 4AM since the race didn't start until 5PM.  It was really nice being able to sleep in but I really didn't know how to prepare for a late afternoon race.  What do I eat?  What do I do all day?  Well, we decided to check out Clingman Cafe a local place in the River Arts District for a late breakfast.   I ordered the breakfast special, an egg & sausage wrap with a side of fruit & some coffee.  It was really good but I played it safe & only ate 1/2 of it.

We then went to check out the WNC farmer's market & then went to check out a couple of caches for Steve.  He is a big geocacher.  One of the caches took us to a park along the river.  That is the cool thing about geocaching...it takes you to places you would never know exist.

After we were done geocaching we grabbed Subway for lunch.  Again did not want to take any chances & then went back to the hotel to hang out for an hour.

We loaded up all the gear & left the hotel about 3PM.   This race had 2 transition areas.  One for the kayak & one for the bike & second run leg.  We dropped off the kayak first and checked out the put in.  We then went to T2/T3 & dropped off the bike & run gear.  Here we checked out the take out.  It looked a little challenging because of quite a few rocks & some baby rapids coming in to the take out.  Hmmm, should be interesting!
My yak in T1
All the boats in T1
T2 & T3

We then drove back to Carrier Park to pick up the timing chips.  No body marking for this race.  We had about 40 minutes or so before the race start so we went to find some shade.  I took a gel & drank some water about 25 minutes before the start.

Steve & I just before the start

At about 4:55PM the race director gave the pre-race talk.  At 5PM the first wave started.  I was in the second wave & we started at 5:05PM.  We ran 1/2 a lap around the race track before exiting to the greenway.   My legs felt like lead.  Not sure why but I just tried to keep my run pace & not go out too fast.  About a mile into the run my stomach started cramping.  It was hot & the sun was beating down but still I was not thrilled about getting a cramp so early in the race. Really, who would be?  I kept on my pace & soon I was in T1. 

I put on my cycling gloves & attempted to put on my PFD.  MENTAL NOTE - next time I do a running then paddle race make sure to loosen up the vest first!!  Not sure if it was because I was breathing hard or because it was hot but when I zipped up my vest it felt like I had on a corset.  I could barely breathe.  I didn't bother adjusting it though.  I just hoped I would settle down once on the water.  Fortunately, being in the back of the second wave a lot of the boats were already gone so I was able to pull mine to the put in without having to do too much navigating around other boats. The put in was super easy.  Now I was ready to start paddling.

This section of the FBR is mostly flat with a couple of baby rapids & a few tree stumps to navigate around.  It was moving pretty good.  Steve was waiting for me on the river bank.  His form of cheering me on was to yell 'you better pick up the pace!'  I just laughed....even the spotter on the river gave him a hard time for that one.  I had no idea how long it would take me to paddle 2.5 miles but every time I looked at my watch it was between 11 -12 minute miles.  I guess that was OK...I really had no idea.

I slowly gained on a large group of boats over the 2.5 miles.  In fact, by the take out I had caught up to about 10 boats.  Getting out was a little more difficult.  Between navigating around the rocks & at least 10 boats trying to get out at the same time it was a little more of a challenge.  I wore an old pair of run shoes for the first run leg because I figured there was a good change they would get soaked.  Well they did when I hopped out of my yak so I was glad I had another pair of shoes for the second leg.  We had to pull our own boats up the stairs before the volunteers would take them.  Once he grabbed my yak I was able to run into transition.

After a quick sock change I was out on the bike...my favorite leg!  It was an out & back course.  The out bit was a slight down hill with a tail wind.  Here I was able to pass a lot of folks.  Before I knew it I was at the turn around & that is when I realized I had a nice tail wind on the way out.  Oh well, nothing new there.  Training for the Iron Girl I had lots of training rides with the rolling hills of KY & 20+ mph winds.  This was no where near as bad as those training rides.  There were 3 of us girls that rode most of the way together, with 3 bike lengths between us of course!  We kept passing each other & it was good to have that challenge to keep up with each other.  We all ended up going into transition together.  My bike computer said my average speed was 18.1mph.  I was hoping it would be closer to 19 but no such luck.

Now for the 2nd run leg.  Ugh, my run legs still felt like lead. My heart rate was up & the heat was getting to me.  It's this time of the race when I start asking myself 'why exactly do I do this?'  Oh yeah, because it is fun.  Right, it just never seems like fun when you are trying not to puke.   This leg was a mix of road & trail run.  My only complaint on the volunteers is that they kept saying 'you are almost there!' but really I wasn't.  I think 'almost there' is like 1/4 mile not 1.5 miles!  Just saying.  Seriously though, the volunteers were awesome!
Neither one of my run legs were spectacular by any means.  I finished the race in 1h58m26s.  Instead of finishers medals we got free beer tickets....my kind of race!  We also had Doc Cheys noodles.  Post race food & beer are the best!  We had about an hour until the awards ceremony so we went back to get all my crap out of transition.  We then went back to Carrier Park for our free beer & to listen to the awards.  To my surprise I actually won 3rd place Masters Female! This was the first race I won anything!  That was pretty cool.

This was a really fun race & a great atmosphere.  I would recommend it & may actually do it again next year hopefully this time with Steve!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Spring Cleaning = Memories of Colorado Springs

Today we were doing some spring cleaning & Steve came across a lone glove.  That lone glove brought back some fun memories.  Let me tell you about our trip to Colorado Springs earlier this year & why the glove is missing its mate.

We are super blessed in Lexington, KY.  Susan Bradley-Cox is our Master's Swim coach, the  Team in Training Tri coach & as of January 2011 a USAT Hall of Famer.  Steve & I and a whole bunch of other folks from Lexington made our way out to Colorado to watch her be inducted into the hall of fame.

Fittingly, the ceremony was held at the The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, the hot bed for the sport of triathlon.  Hands down this is the nicest hotel I have ever stayed in. When we first walked in on Friday night, I thought uh-oh, I may have under dressed for the weekend.  It didn't help that there were 2 black tie weddings in the hotel that night.   The way the hotel was set up we had to walk through the reception to get to our room.  Nothing like dragging our suitcases while wearing our ginormous snow parkas through a slew of people dressed to the nines.  Yep, that was fun.
 
We finally found our room & it was just amazing.  This was no ordinary hotel.  This was pure luxury!   This was such a treat because I really had no idea how nice the hotel was going to be.  It was the official hotel for the ceremony so I just booked our room & didn't think much of it after that.  
Saturday we got up & met up with our fellow Lexington friends to do a little sight seeing.  We spent the morning touring the Garden of the Gods followed by lunch.
We made our way back to the hotel to relax & get ready for the evenings festivities.
This years induction class included Susan Bradley-Cox, Dave McGillivray & Dave Scott .  The dinner started somewhere around 6PM & the award ceremony started around 7PM.    After some preliminary talk & introductions Susan was up to give her speech.   Susan's list of accomplishments are a mile long & still she is one of the most humbled athletes around.  Giving her speech, she was the epitome of grace & a true role model for all of us women in the sport of triathlon.

After Susan was Dave McGillivray.  I wasn't familiar with him but his speech left a lasting impression on most of us.  I really don't think I have ever heard someone talk as fast as Dave did.  I think I was out of breath by the time he was done with his speech.  It was a sight to see!  My favorite McGillivray quote of the night - "The ones who say it can't be done should not interrupt the ones doing it!"

Next up was Dave Scott.  He talked about his childhood & how he got into triathlon.  He mentioned his work as the National Triathlon Head coach for Team in Training.  The man is just amazing. 

It was a good thing only 3 were inducted this year because the ceremony went on & on. Afterwards we mingled with everyone and took lots & lots of pictures.  I think it was almost mid-night before we left the banquet room.
 
I think the coolest thing was to see Susan run into people she hadn't seen in years.  It was such a big day for her & we couldn't have been happier to be a small part of it.
On Sunday Steve & I decided to drive up to Pike's Peak.  We start our journey up the mountain.  Remember it is January & Pike's Peak Elevation is 14,110 feet.   I really cannot recall if I have ever been that high outside of an airplane.  As we make our way up the mountain you can see the weather start to change.  We stopped to take a few pictures & boy was it windy & cccccold!

We finally make it to the top & it is the weirdest experience I have ever had.  It was so crazy windy & cold plus the lack of oxygen made getting from the car to the little shop nearly impossible.  We managed to get to the shop & have some coffee & world famous donuts.   I got out of breath just eating a donut!

Afterwards we go wandering around.   I promise you I was not under the influence!  When you watch this video you will understand why I just said that :-)

video

Well, Steve decided to try to find that lost glove.  He drove over to the other side of the building.  When he opened the car door the wind caught it & about ripped the darn thing off!  It bent the hinges & it made it almost impossible to close.  I am not going to lie....I was a little mad that he wrecked the car all over a silly glove.  After that downer, we started our way back down the mountain.   We made another pit stop about a third of the way down.  When we were in the shop we heard that they just closed the summit.  Apparently 2 cars had their windows shattered while we were up there due to the high winds.  At this point I started to get over it & decided to find the humor in the situation.

When we got back the the Broadmoor the valet would not park it because they were afraid the door would fall off!  Really?  I think they just didn't want to be blamed for our stupidity.   After that though, I started envisioning the what if's.  What if the door blew completely off & went down the side of the mountain?  What if we had to drive back down the mountain without a door?  What if we drove up to the fancy smancy Broadmoor without a car door?  Now that would be funny!
Before losing glove
I'm not sure if Steve ended up throwing out the glove today or just putting it away somewhere.  I guess if he hadn't found it I wouldn't have thought about our trip to Colorado Springs & our crazy trek up Pike's Peak today.  Fun memories!


Monday, May 16, 2011

Atlanta Iron Girl Sprint Weekend / Race Report

Nina, Allison, & I registered for the Atlanta Iron Girl back in early January.  At the time, it seemed like ages away.  Like much of the country, we had a snowy & cold winter followed by a very rainy spring.  It sure did make training challenging but we endured & low & behold the race weekend was finally on us!

We all drove down to Atlanta on Friday.  Nina in the morning, Allison & I left after I got off work.  It meant that we wouldn't get to the hotel until 11PM but it also meant we would be able to sleep in on Saturday.  So worth it!

Saturday we took our time getting ready before heading over to Lake Lanier for packet picket, race expo & bike racking.  We got there about noon.  As we were waiting in line for checkin I took the opportunity to pass out about 40 Aquaphor samples.   I could have passed them all out!


After we checked in, we picked up our packets then spent some time checking out the expo.  We all love seeing what goodies we can buy...especially Allison!  I didn't do too much damage...I picked up a fun t-shirt & water bottle thingy.  They had some great jewelry but I bought a necklace at the race last year so I decided to skip getting another one this year.

After we had our fill of the expo we went over to the transition area to pick up our timing chips & rack our bikes.  By this time it was about 1:30. We wanted to go to the course talk at 3PM so we had some time to kill so we decided to drive the bike course.   I had done the race last year plus I took the opportunity to ride it again when I was in Atlanta in April but this was Nina & Allison's first time seeing the course.

The explanation of the bike course on the Iron Girl wesbite goes like this "Experienced triathletes will welcome the rolling hills of Georgia, while the newbie triathlete will enjoy her cycling experience amidst the beautiful terrain of this course!"  After you ride this course you can appreciate the humor of this statement!  

We went back to listen to the course talk...found out that the swim was going to be a little longer than last year.  They had to cut it short last due to all the boats parked in the cove.  Last year they said it was 500 m this year they said it was 600 m.  No biggie although swimming is not my strong suit.  I have no problem going the distance I just have a tendency to swim like a rock.  So I was starting to think that my goal of sub 2 hours was at risk. 


After the course talk we grabbed a mediocre pasta dinner.  If you ask Nina, it was inedible.  Since we didn't know the area we used the trip advisor app to help us select a restaurant.  The first place we picked we couldn't even find so we tried this place instead.  Major fail!  Once we finished our lousy dinner we went back to exchange our shirts for different sizes & take one more spin around the expo before heading back to the hotel.


Back at the hotel we packed up our transition bags & just hung out in our room.  At one point, Allison was on her iPhone, Nina on her iPad & I was on my laptop.  We were all checking out the local race calendars figuring out what races we wanted to do next.  We all had a good laugh at our goofy selves!


Bedtime was about 11PM.  Our alarm was set for 4AM.  I had hopes I would get some sleep but the reality was that I felt like I woke up every 15 minutes.  I had dreams of over filling my tire & it exploding in the morning, forgetting crap for the transition, etc, etc.  When the alarm went off I was actually happy to get up be done with those stupid dreams!


We ate, got dressed, loaded up the car & we were off by 5AM.  We got to the parking lot about 5:15AM & then took the 15 minute hike to the transition area.  After I was body marked I met one of my fellow Aquaphor teammates, Mark Rosing.  I wasn't expecting to see anyone from the team so I was really excited!  After we said our introductions we took a quick photo & he wished me luck.  
I then made my way over to my transision area.  I uneventfully filled up my tires, setup my transition area, filled up my water bottles by about 6AM.  No tire explosions, no forgotten gear, everything was going pretty well so far.
About 6:15AM or so we went down to the water.  My swim wave was at 7:25AM, Nina's was at 7:30AM and Allison's was at 7:35AM.   The air temp was about 55F & there was a pretty good breeze. We had over an hour to stand around in our tri suits.  Not good!  We found a little alcove between the bathrooms to hang out in.  It was marginally warmer & it was sheltered from the wind.  At about 6:40AM I decided to jump in the long toilet line so I could make a last pit stop before lining up in the swim chute.  A few minutes later I noticed everyone running out of the alcove & found out the sewer system was backing up.  Guess the system was getting to much action this morning.  It was so nasty.  I ended up going on a long walk to another bathroom.  Got back in time to watch the first wave off.  This year the swim was a beach start.  Last year it was an in water start.  I was shivering so bad from standing around so long.  I knew the water temp was 72F & would feel awesomely warm when I got in.


They split the 40-44 age group into 2 waves since there were a total of 255 women in this division.  My age group was the largest one.  I read somewhere that triathlon is the female mid-life crisis.  I now believe this may be true! 

Finally, 7:25AM rolls around & we are off!   The swim is not my strong suit.  Heck, 2 years ago I couldn't even swim 3 strokes.  There is always a lot of jostling around in an open water start.  My goal is to stay calm & try to get in a rhythm.  In practice, I am a bi-lateral breathing but on race day I forego that & breath every other stroke to help me stay calm.  I don't go hard since I know it won't do me a lick of good & just waste my energy for very little returns.  Before I know it I have made the last turn & am making my way to the swim out.  600m swim time = 18:45min, Rank = 810/1005.  HA!  Told you I am not a good swimmer!  BUT just you wait until you see my bike rank!!


I am out of the water & who do I hear yelling GO TEAM AQUAPHOR???  Mark Rosing that's who!  It's always great to hear someone cheering you on!  There is a huge hill up from the swim to the transition area.  I slow jog it & make my way to my bike.  T1 Time = 3:29


Off on the bike!  There is another steep short hill out of transition.  I take that easy since it is a congested area but as soon as I am clear I crank up the speed.  There were 1005 finishers in this race so needless to say there was a lot of bike traffic.  It was also an open course so we had to deal with a few cars and a truck towing a boat.   The bike course has some nice rolling hills followed by two heart pumping, leg screaming, lots of folks walking their bikes hills.  The first one is preceded by a really nice decent which I just nailed.  I had some great momentum so I was able to fly up the hill.  I was really happy about that because I knew the next one I would not be so lucky.  The second nasty hill is a long slow up hill.  At one point I looked down at my bike computer to see that it said 5.9 mph!!  Oh yeah, feel the burn baby!  At the top there were lots of woohoooo's we made it up the last nasty!   So now with these 2 hills behind me I had about 9 more miles to go.   We had one screaming fast downhill (new MAX speed on my bike = 39.3mph!!) before we turned on to Peachtree Industrial Blvd for our return back to Lake Lanier resort.  On the return trip I focused on keeping my cadence up around 90.  Before I knew it I was back at Lake Lanier with one last short steep climb into transition.   Just before going into Bike In I heard Kara & Sophia cheering me on.  Kara & I did Irongirl last year & it meant a lot to me that she came out to cheer me on!

18 Mile Bike Time = 1:06:44, 16.2mph, Bike Rank = 65/1005 - See there! I redeemed myself for the lousy swim time!  Oh and by the way, my bike computer said 19.08 mile at 16.8 mph.  My bike computer & my garmin are within 0.05 miles of each other so I think this race is really a long 18 miles!

Successful dismount & into T2 I go.   I tried to run my bike in but between my cycle shoes & my dead legs it was more like a fast walk.  Rack my bike, swap shoes, grab my hat & bib number & I am off!  T2 time = 2:14


Running off the bike is a very odd feeling.  I have been doing a lot of transition runs so I have gotten used to running off the bike but I still felt like I was going really slow.  I knew I was close to getting under 2 hours but I had to push it on the run.  The run was an out & back with some slight hills.  I pushed myself as hard as I could knowing the race was almost over.   As I enter the finisher chute I hear Kara again cheering me on.  I soon hear the announcing saying my name & then I was done!  5K run = 28:37, Run Rank 385 /1005.  I haven't run a 5K since December so I was surprised to see it was a 5K PR!

I forgot to start my watch at the start so I knew by the time of day that I was really close to my goal.  I got my medal & a couple of pictures then I went to find Kara & Sophia.  We then went back to the finish chute to watch Allison & Nina finish.  We hung out for a few, said our good byes to Kara & then went up to the big finishers breakfast they advertised.  Well, that was another major food fail since there was barely anything left.  The guy was very apologetic but it still was a bummer. 


Since the line was gone I went down to get my results printed out.  I was so thrilled to see my time of 1h59m47s!  I came in 54/255 in my age group & 185/1005 overall.  It was a perfect end to the race!


We watched the winners get their awards & then went down to pack up all our gear.  We was a good 20 minute trek to the car.  We loaded up the car & then went back to the hotel to clean up.  

After getting cleaned up we decided on a Japanese steakhouse for lunch.  We finally had major food success at Shogun!  It was the most delicious food we had in days!  Post race meals are the best!


We all had a great race weekend!










Friday, May 13, 2011

Atlanta Here We Come!!!

In about 2 hours we will be leaving for Atlanta to compete in the Iron Girl Atlanta Sprint on Sunday. 

I did this race last year with my friend Kara from Atlanta & it was a great time.  In fact, the picture above of me was taken as I entered the water last year.  This year Nina & Allison from Lexington are going down for the race with me & Kara will be cheering us on at the finish line.  Love the girls weekend!  We have been looking forward to it since January.  It is my first tri of the season and the first race in my Team Aquaphor gear. 

My goal for this race is under 2 hours.  I am ready!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Time Trialing

Tonight was the first BTC time trial of the season.   We did 3 laps around Bethel Loop.  I did this once last year when I still had my hybrid and needless to say I wasn't the fastest in the group.  Due to a crazy work schedule last summer I was never able to get back to ride the remaining TT's.

This year I am really trying to improve my bike speed and this is a perfect way to do that.  You never go as fast as you can when you are alone as you do in a race environment.  When you are getting passed (which I do a lot) it just pushes you to step it up.  Also, when I am alone I tend to zone out after awhile & don't even realize I am slowing down.  Tonight there was no chance of zoning out!

There were a total of 19 riders.  My goal was to average 18 mph.  Each lap is 4.25 miles & we did 3 laps.  We were seeded by our estimated speed so I ended up starting first.  Every 30 seconds the next rider started. 

Here are my stats:
Lap 1 = 18.6 mph
Lap 2 = 18.7 mph
Lap 3 = 19.0 mph
Average = 18.8 mph

I was really pleased with my time.  I am still learning how to pace myself & not fizzle out at the end so I was really happy to see that I gradually picked up the pace. 

How did I rank against the other 18 time trialers?  DEAD LAST!  And that is OK because these athletes are just amazing.   The fastest guy averaged 25.0 mph & the fastest girl averaged 21.7 mph. 

After a little cool down I rode back to the car to put away my bike & gear.  Well, in typical Andrea fashion I unclip left & lean right.   I have no idea why I continue to do this but I can normally unclip the right really fast before I fall on my a$$.  NOT tonight!  My legs were so tired from the ride that I just couldn't unclip fast enough.  Luckily, I landed in nice soft grass which is much better then landing on ashphalt.  Unfortunately, the ego doesn't care if you fall on grass or asphalt.  It hurts either way!!  I do find it really funny.  I am pretty sure I looked like a turtle on its back waving my legs in the air.  Oh well, hopefully that was the last time I do that this year!

After I dusted myself off & put my bike on the rack I handed out about 20 aquaphor samples.  Everyone was happy to get them.
Still smiling
Overall it was a great time & I am looking forward to the next TT.

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