Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Steelhead 69.1

Steelhead. My first triathlon that was turned into a duathlon. I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later. My attitude on race morning was positive. There was nothing I could do except bike and run as fast as I could. The only thing I will say...I think swims being cancelled for the professionala should be a rarity. Course modifications may need to happen but I think most of the time a safe course can be provided for the professionals. The age groupers are a different story. I do not envy the RD's position. People are going to be angry no matter what you do. I do believe the race director has to think of the safety of the worst swimmer out there. As events get bigger and less experienced swimmers are participating this type of thing is going to happen. No RD wants to get sued. It is the way it is in our country. Off my soapbox and onto the race...

I prepared the day before with a swim in Lake Michigan. There were some waves but they were not too bad. The water was warm. 75 degrees. I wore a shorty wetsuit but did not need it. When I got out of the water I actually said "I hope they don't cancel the swim tomorrow, I know they have in the past." Andy was incredulous that it was NOT wavy enough for that. I doubted his optimism. I headed up to the professional meeting. The first thing they said was "it is not looking good for a swim tomorrow." Great. We decided on the order if there was to be a time trial start on the bike and then I headed back to the condo we rented with my parents to relax. I was up early to head to transition the next morning. It was not windy when we left our condo. However, when we got to the race site the wind was blowing hard. I should have just left my wetsuit in the car. However, I was hopeful the swim would happen. As I walked to transition I heard conversations from other athletes that indicated the swim was canceled. I got set up quickly and sat around for awhile. My main source of stress was how in the world I was going to warm up for the start. I desperately wanted to take my bike for a ride but we were not allowed to take it out of transition. I opted for a run, dynamic stretching and drills to get my hips warmed up. I usually am a bit tight in the hips when I first get on the bike so I did my best to get the blood flowing. I also just told myself to watch my power output, not overdo it in the beginning and be ready for the first 8-10 miles to feel crappy. I knew once the legs warmed up I would be fine. I just would have to go through a bit of pain to get there.

Waiting for the start---everyone was convinced I was going to freeze to death. I was not cold one bit.

After those painful 20-30 minutes I got into a good rhythm. I passed a few women, got passed by a few others but I felt like I was biking well. The wind that was so strong on the coast did not seem to go that far inland so it was a pretty calm ride which was a bit unexpected. I thought I would get blown all over of the place but the headwinds and crosswinds that I expected on some stretches of road never materialized. That was a nice surprise because I was definitely waiting to turn a corner and get hit in the face with a terrible headwind. When things got tough I visualized some of my training rides and how I rode strongly even when I was tired. This helped a lot. And then, the most amazing thing happened at the aide station at mile 46. I reached out for a bottle of water. I wanted to take a couple of sips just to "cleanse" my pallet as I had only gatorade to drink the whole ride. When I grabbed the bottle I had it but then it shot forward out of my hand. I remained calm and figured I would just grab another one. However, the one that seemed to be a goner teetered for a milli-second between my aerobars and my right knee that just happened to be coming up as I pedaled. All of this seemed to occur in slow motion but I grabbed the water bottle that was teetering between my knee and my bars. The entire aide station erupted and I smiled big and even laughed out loud. I had 10 miles to go and I decided given the water bottle miracle I was "on" today. It was such a random moment of positivity at a point in the race where everything hurts. I rode well the last 10 miles buoyed by the miracle with the water bottle that made me look like a real athlete. The tailwind also helped...

I try to bike quickly so my parents do not have time to nap...I guess I still have work to do.

I rode into transition, hopped off the bike and got ready to run. I threw on my Zoot's (no socks, love it) and ran out of transition. I had a moment of panic when I first started running; I was sure I had forgotten to do something in transition but I had not. Rack bike, helmet off and shoes on. Easy and fast!

T2 (or was it T1?). Either way, time to run.

I felt okay on the first few miles of the run but not great. I don't know if it was the flatter bike course or just the day but I had to work a bit harder to run the way I wanted. The wind that I had expected on the bike did show up on sections of the run. I had a headwind some of the time and it slowed me a bit. Or, maybe I was just telling myself that so I did not feel so bad about some subpar mile splits? Either way, I told myself that no matter what I was going to run a faster 2nd half of the race and salvage a good run. I accomplished this and even began to feel better and find a rhythm. At this point in the race I had no idea where I stood place wise and how far ahead (or behind) I was from the other women in the race. I just tried to keep the pressure on and not give up any time. I ran the last 3 miles very well even though it hurt. I finished in 4:01 which I was happy with. Before we started I thought under 4 hours would be a best case scenario. I was close. They were printing out results at the finish and according to them I was 11th AGAIN! I swear, the double 1 is mine---11th place #5! However, it was without the swim and while speculation is just that, a guess, I am confident that I would have done very well with a swim on the front of the bike and run. Either way, it was another race in the legs and one that made me stronger.

Post race with my parents. Apparently my Dad and I are doing a Dr. Pepper advertisement.

I am back in California and received a great present---shoes from Zoot! I can't wait to go for runs and try them all out. I might even get to race in a pair very soon....Stay tuned!


  1. Those are some pretty sweet looking shoes!

    Bummer about the course as a du. That happened to me there, too. Sounds like you were able to still stay positive and I love your mad water bottle skillz, too.

    Very cool that your parents got to cheer you on!

  2. good talking to you before the race. totally agree about they should be able to make a safe course for pros...

    also, the run was definitely not fast ;)