Friday, September 14, 2012

Emily vs. the Kelp, the 3rd Round

The kelp.  It brought me back to Pacific Grove.  I totally sucked in it the last two years and I was determined to do a better job.  Last year I came out of the water second to LAST and did not even want to look at Andy as I ran to my bike. I was totally embarrassed and completely pissed off.  Needless to say, I was really nervous this year for the swim! What if I continued this trend of sucking in the kelp??!?!?  We actually drove down to PG earlier on Friday so I could swim in it for practice and try to develop some coping mechanisms to get through it without coming to a complete stop and then freaking out and getting angry.  Practice went well and I felt I had a plan of attack for the race. This made me feel a lot better. If I have a list of things "to do" during the race I can focus on each of those and everything seems a lot more manageable. 

We stayed in our usual spot in Carmel, slept in (12pm start) and I went for a warm up jog around Carmel making sure to run by the house my dad grew up in. After that we went to a restaurant for breakfast called Em Le's--appropriately named if I do say so myself.  However, since it was race morning I had my own breakfast that I brought with me and Andy cleared it with the host so I was able to bring "outside" food into the restaurant.  He explained my predicament starting the sentence with "you know triathletes are really weird and my wife....." 

We headed over to the race and I did another short jog, some stretch cord work and then got in the water for even more warm up.  I was ready for battle with the kelp.  I scoped out a good line to the first buoy and tried to avoid as much kelp as possible.  In this race I think extra yards that are through clean water definitely trump a straighter line through the mass of kelp.  There is enough kelp out there you can't avoid so if you can avoid some and save some energy to get through the rest I think it is beneficial. The other key for me was just to stay calm and not get "mad" at the kelp.  Lauren Brandon was off the front and then I was swimming just behind a group of 3 after the first loop. I ran back into the water and caught up with them to make it a group of 4.  I ended up getting some kelp wrapped around my arm but I did not panic, got it off and caught back up to one woman. Our group of four had split a bit at this point and two woman had gotten a :20 gap so I swam into shore (taking a clean line) and ran into transition. I had a poor transition struggling to buckle my helmet and lost the woman I entered T2 with and had no one to bike with.  I think I was not totally focused on what I was doing in T1.  Instead, I was thinking about getting out with her vs. properly executing what I needed to do in transition. This lost me a very valuable :08.  It was like I was thinking a few steps ahead instead of staying in the moment.  Lesson learned.

The 4 loop bike course. We are not allowed to draft off the men. With the way my legs were feeling, I could not have hung with them for :05 anyway.

The bike was very windy with cross winds coming off the water as we wound along the coast. There was no true head or tail wind. This made it very difficult to draft which was compounded by my relatively poor drafting abilities. Another woman came by during the 1st loop and I stuck with her for a bit but it was really hard for me to stay on her wheel.  I tried to take a few pulls but I was absolutely no help to her at all.  My legs just felt very heavy and it was hard to get the pedals around.  In the beginning of the 2nd lap I think she decided it was time to drop me because I was of no help and she did not want to pull me into T2 with the possibility that I could out run her.  I was on my own battling the winds with bricks for quads.  I was not happy at all.  I tried to rally by telling myself my legs would come around but they never did. I just wanted off the bike. I also should have thought more thoroughly about the dynamics of the bike in this particular race and how it can play out. The field is usually small and the kelp tends to break people up.  If you did end up biking with someone it is usually 1 or 2. With that said,  I should have set up my bike more aggressively/aero to save some time instead of leaving it in the normal roadie position. My position along with the lack of power in my legs on the day lost me valuable minutes. 

The 3 loop run. Great views! See all that kelp???

I finally made it to the end of the bike and I was thrilled to leave it behind me.  I had a good T2 and started the run aggressively.  The course is three out and back loops with a flat mile or so, then the turnaround and a few gradual climbs coming back. On Saturday we also had a tailwind on the way out and battled a pretty nasty headwind as we made our way back towards the finish/turnaround area. I felt good going out and might have overcooked the first mile a bit.  I just had to try and get back in the race.  My legs did not feel great.  I started to feel sorry for myself on the headwind/hill part and the legs were really hurting.  Andy told me at the end of the first loop that I had a made up :20 one minute gap to 5th place. I could see her and I just kept plugging away. The second loop I made up another :15 so I was really going to have to bust a move on the last lap to catch up. Since there was a tailwind going out and it was flat I ran hard but knew that my chance to make up a lot of the time would be on the hills and into the headwind.  I had noticed on the previous lap that I was making up a lot of the time on the woman in front of me running up the hills. I told myself that I had 3 hills repeats to complete as fast as possible in the last mile. I caught her just before the last hill and went up it as quickly as I could. It burned a lot and I felt like I was going to throw up. It was at this point that I saw the woman in 4th place.  I was closing fast and had about a quarter mile to catch her.  I got my legs going on the downhill and used that momentum put in a "sprint" the last 150 meters to beat her to the line.  I ended up being just 1:10 behind 2nd place and only :30 out of 3rd.  I was happy to finish strong and have a race for the line at the end but I was disappointed that my bike had let me down. Particularly because a lot of the time lost on the bike was under my control and I failed in properly setting up my bike to deal with the conditions and race dynamics.  My leg health is also under my control and I probably could have changed a few things to have fresher legs on race day. I had to travel back from Chicago, then a few busy days once I returned to California and a heavy training load between the two races did not do me any favors. I am happy to find that I have some fight in me and willingness to push beyond my limits instead of settling when I race. I have more to learn and lots of improvements to make but I feel like I am moving in the right direction and all the while I am having fun in training and racing.

LA Triathlon is up next and then I'll make a final decision on my the rest of my racing season. 

(Kelp score: Kelp 2, Emily 1)

1 comment:

  1. There are always good and bad moments you can improve your swimming skills to be at the top in the next race. There are a lot people that like to track those they are willing to train to their bone to improve as the people of price per head