Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pinehurst Triathlon

Woohoo! Last race of the season and boy was it a great event. Drove out the day before and was really liking the Pinehurst area. Dinner was interesting though and I have to write this down here just so you can appreciate "other" parts of North Carolina. I carpooled with some friends to Pinehurst who knew the area better than me so I let them pick the place for dinner. We settled on a large, local Italian restaurant that one of them had been to a couple years before. We were finally shown to a table after a 45 minute wait, despite the 25 minute wait we were quoted. Starving and pre-race, we all ordered large portions of pasta (or at least that's what we were expecting), but we were sadly disappointed when the waiter brought out 4 small bowls containing our dinner. Disappointed, we asked for our checks and got ready to go. And that's when we finally saw the most surprising sign I've ever seen - "No credit cards or debit cards accepted." wtf? We were all shocked and without enough cash to pay our bill. I might still be working in the kitchen washing dishes to pay off my dinner if it hadn't turned out that one of the girls with us happened to have her checkbook. And surprisingly the restaurant accepted personal checks. Just not credit cards or debit cards.

Back to racing though. Even though it was already mid-October the day started off at 75 degrees. I was actually a little hot getting into my wetsuit and was happy to get into the water, which was still cooler than the air temperature. The race went off on time at 8:00am and I was off to finish my final race of the season. Sadly I have no exciting events to report really except that it was a good race and I enjoyed the day! The bike was beautiful with rolling hills. The run was a little surprise though. I knew it was going to be a little hilly, but I wasn't expecting the constant hills nor the heat (it was pushing mid-80s by 10:30) in the October so I have to admit I was ill-prepared for the run. I will take the hills more seriously next year. No more training on flat courses.

Anyway, I finished 3rd open female (and would have been 4th in AG) with a time of 3:12:40.

Monday, July 27, 2009

2009 New York City Triathlon Race Report

My 5th New York City Triathlon and the last thing I was expecting was rain. That's mostly because it hasn't rained or even been close to raining during the last 4 years I've done the race. The rain continued while we set up our gear in the transition zone, but started to clear up about an hour before race start. It was going to be a great race day.

We watched as a bottle flew down the river while we waited for our wave to go off. The current was moving and we were all looking forward to a fast swim time. Another athlete on my team who usually beats me out of the water got out just after me. She's a friend on and off the course, but it still felt good to have beaten her for once. Not that it was about beating her. It just meant that my training had been worthwhile. I was getting faster.

With a sub-20 minute 1500 meter swim and I was back on land moving to the transition zone. I noted that a lot of bikes were still racked when I got back into the red transition area. A good sign that I was somewhere in the front of the pack. I switched out my running leg for my bike leg and grabbed my bike to start the 25 mile course down the Westside Highway.

A few drops of rain sprinkled down during the bike, but for the most part the roads had dried up, leaving the course fairly safe. I gunned it as soon as I hit the highway and just kept moving, passing scores of people who had gone off in the waves before me. The course was pretty much an out-and-back with only a couple technical turns, but with so many people on such a narrow course, bike handling skills were imperative.

The bike was relatively uneventful for me. I just put my head down and pumped my legs. It felt good to pull back into the transition zone. My dad and sister were there cheering me on and my boyfriend had managed to snag a PC handler credential so he was right there with me as I switched out my run leg for my bike leg. Usually at this point during the NYCT my energy has been sapped by the sun and I feel like I just have to survive the run. But not this year. Thanks to the cloud cover it was much cooler than usual and I was still feeling full of energy.

Running up 72nd from Riverside Park to Central Park is usually the hottest part of the run, but also the most supported by excited fans who gather on both sides of the road. Mile 1 brings you to the entrance of Central Park and the 3rd aid station and the first shaded part of the run. Then it's just another 5.2 miles up and down around the park to Dead End Rd and the finish line. I found a comfortable, yet challenging pace and held it, finally passing the one other female PC athlete who was in front of me. I didn't even know it until I finished that I was the champion. The ribbon was pulled out in front of me at the finish line and I put my hands up. A personal best by 7 minutes, 2009 PC National Champion, and first female PC overall finisher. And I would have finished 3rd in my old age group and was top 20 of 270 athletes in my latest 25-30 age group.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Counting Down to NYCT

Just a week and a half out before on of my big races of the season and training is going well.  These days workouts have been challenging and yet rewarding.  I feel comfortable with the distances so at this point I'm mostly focusing on speed.  So pretty much my whole body is sore from all of the intense workouts and I'm looking forward to my day off.  More to come...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Escape from Alcatraz

I did Escape from Alcatraz this weekend. Once I finally made it to the west coast. The weekend began with what was supposed to be a 7:30pm flight to Atlanta followed by a transcontinental flight to San Francisco. I fell asleep as the plane pulled out onto the tarmac and woke up 1.5 hours later in the same place. At 9:00pm we were supposed to be taxiing into our gate in Atlanta, but instead we were pulling back into the gate in Durham. Argh! Thank god for friendly, good-spirited people who were also on my flight. It was 11:00pm before we finally re-boarded the plane and departed from Durham, arriving in Atlanta 5 minutes after my flight to San Francisco closed. Two hours later I found myself sharing a room with 2 other girls who had also missed their flights (a chaplain from UNC and another girl about my age). We each pretty much paid $26 for a shower and for a bed to take a nap. Four hours of sleep and a shower and I was as good as new. At least for an hour or two.

I got into San Francisco at 11:00am PT the day before the race. I suppose I didn't even have time to get anxious about the race since I'd been so preoccupied prior to the race. It felt good to finally meet up with the other Team A Step Ahead athletes (Sandy, Amy, Jean, Marcos, Dave, Tommy, Jack, and Jeff) and support crew (Erik, Phil, and Balsley). Finally, all I had to do was focus on the race.

The race started off with everyone boarding a casino boat about an 1.5 hours before the race started. The physically challenged (PC) athletes and elites were ushered to the front of the boat where we hung out until the race start. We got to jump over the railing into the water to start the 1.5 miles swim through choppy, cold water back to shore. I knew beforehand that the sighting was going to be difficult. But didn't understand just how difficult until I was in the water looking for the landmark I was told to sight. And couldn't find it. So I picked another landmark and proceeded to overshoot the beach and had to fight the current back upstream until I found the shore. With numb hands and blue lips, I hopped out of the water, put on my leg and ran the 1 mile to the transition zone. By then I had some feeling back in my foot and I hit the hills hard. Long, fairly steep hills that just went on and on. Thank goodness for the compact crank on my new bike. I definitely went conservative on the bike because I didn't know what to expect and I think I could've gone faster looking back. That at least meant that I had legs for the run though. The run was more like an Exterra run, with lots of stairs, narrow single-file trails, a low tunnel, and a mile out and back on the beach. Running on the beach was pretty much agony, but at least that took us to the half way point and once I got up the 400 sand stairs (one of the things Escape from Alcatraz is famous for), it really was all downhill. I must've past 20 people during the last 3 miles, which pumped me up and kept me running faster and faster. So I finished 27th of 40 in my AG and 1st in my physically challenged category.

If you ever have the chance to do it, go for it. Escape from Alcatraz is a blast!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Beaverdam Triathlon Race Report

The nice thing about early season races is that there is very little pressure. At least that’s the way I look at them. I worked Beaverdam into my schedule as a training day and what a training day it proved to be. The morning was characteristically cold; the norm for an early morning in April and yet I felt unprepared. I was able to peel off one layer at a time during my warm-up and in the transition zone while I set out my gear. By 8:00am the temperature had risen to a stifling 48 degrees. I’m still impressed by all of the racers who were able to get in the water to warm up and then get back out to wait for the race start. Once I got in I knew there was no way I was getting out so I hung back on the beach with a handful of other racers to wait for my wave start.

8:06am. All of the female competitors lined up behind an imaginary line in the water and the race began. The swim was uneventful for the most part. I think I lost feeling in my hands by about the third buoy, which may have been about a ½ mile into the swim. I didn’t worry about that too much until I got out of the water. Then it became a problem. I fumbled for a while to unzip my wetsuit. With no dexterity in my fingers, it was all I could do to grip my wetsuit hard enough to even pull it off. But I couldn’t put my prosthesis on until I got my wetsuit off and I couldn’t get out of the sand until I put my leg on so there I was balancing on one leg while trying to shuck a wetsuit with numb hands. It wasn’t pretty. Nor was it quick. The slowest transition ever and unfortunately it counted against my swim.

Once on my bike, I realized how hard I had pushed my legs earlier in the week. I dropped down a couple gears and tried to just spin for awhile to get the blood moving again. After that I felt pretty good. The bike ended up being a beautiful ride once it warmed up a little more. At one point my prosthesis unclipped from my pedal and all of a sudden I was riding up a hill with one leg while trying desperately to clip my cleat back into my pedal. But it proved tricky since the pedal was spinning and I have pretty imprecise control over my prosthesis. Good thing I’ve been doing my isolated leg spins since it wasn’t until I crested the hill and could coast for a second that I was actually able to clip back in. At least it kept it interesting.

Overall, my swim and bike splits were pretty mediocre. But thankfully I still had legs for a decent run. Despite a couple fairly big hills, I was able to maintain a 7:45 pace, which I was initially a bit disappointed about. But a 7:45 pace gave me a 47:47 run, which was good enough to give me 4th overall in women in the run. If you couldn’t tell, I was a runner before I was a triathlete! So 4th in the run, 18th overall for women, and 3rd in my age group. I can be happy with that!