Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pinehurst Sprint Triathlon

Quote about Pinehurst from either Coach Marty or Coach Bri during one of the OSB Thursday runs:
"I am never doing that race again."

Spouse concurs, "It is such a hard course."
Note to self - when you contract with coaches who have done this sport for hundreds of races between them and you've done maybe 5, it's probably best to listen to them more carefully when they say things so definitively like that.
Lessons learned that will be used at Beach2Battleship:
1. wetsuit vs. timing chip
2. get the jacket all the way on before mounting bike
3. hilly course = little ring (although B2B is flatter)
4. take the time to wear socks on the bike

Slept for a little less than 7 hours, good pre-race routine. Jogged for about 10 minutes with a friend, then got into wetsuit, had some Gu and G2  and spent another 10 minutes in the water. They let us stay in the water while the first two waves went off, so I treaded water and just tried to keep my heart rate a little higher instead of cooling down too much.

Beach start to the swim. Thinking back to the open water clinic where I freaked out due to the rushed start, I just tried very hard to stay calm and get clear of the mess. It only took a minute or so and I was able to find my way clear. Temperature was great and I felt like I was getting a lot of extension and was able to pull pretty well. I didn't drift off the line, even with the sun in my eyes the first third of the race. I passed some of the guys in the wave in front of me - that's always fun.

My swim was 1 minute better than the 17:15 recorded.  I took my wetsuit off in the water and it got caught on my timing chip, because I foolishly pulled the leg up too high and exposed the chip when I put the suit on. So I was at the bottom of the dock struggling with the leg. This made my transition time really good overall, but that's only because my swim was longer.

Now for both the dumber part and the hard part - the bike
I should have taken another 30 seconds in transition and secured the jacket. I have this really cool Sugoi that I splurged on last year - the sleeves are held on with magnets so when it gets too hot, it's easy to take them off. Good in theory and when you slowly put the jacket on, it's super convenient. I hate being warm on the bike or the run. I missed the sleeve and thought I had it (my arm went into the magnet area and not the sleeve). Then I decided to not zip it early in T1, because I'm an idiot. The end result was fighting the sleeve all the way through the bike. Roll up a long sleeve shirt and carry it in your right hand on your aero bike with one of the sleeves being really floppy and then wear an open vest, and that's what it was like.  There unfortunately is a picture of it thanks to the event photographer. Just dumb on my part. I had one part of the race where I was ready to pull over and stop and get it situated, and then I gained enough speed that I decided to just deal with it. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. Should have secured it at the start or stopped and fixed it.

The hard part was the course. The description on SetupEvents says "The bike course at Pinehurst is a challenging test - rewarding stronger cyclists." I'm sure they deleted the next part that said "and penalyzing weaker cyclists." That wouldn't have attracted many competitors. After the first 3/4 mile, I was really winded, so was trying to focus just on catching my breath and spinning.  I had had lunch yesterday with a friend who had done the Olympic and who I've ridden with before, and he advised me to be in the little ring going up and switch into the big ring going down if it was a longer descent. I ended up staying in the little ring for a lot of the race until mile 15 or so because even when I had a descent, I was so worn out that I could rarely take advantage of it.  I finally was able to pass a few people with 2-3 miles left and it wasn't until the last two miles that I was able to maintain anywhere around 20 mph for more than 30 seconds. I kept reminding myself, "I get to run soon. I get to run."  I was able to drink about 15 oz of G2 and get some energy gel bites down. I could never have handled a Gu packet due to the need to hold onto my jacket. Fortunately, I had stuck the gel bites in my Bento box as a backup.

T2 - okay time. I do find myself really concentrating on pointing my toes and putting them into my running shoes and trying to not let my foot or calf cramp. I've thought about using a bucket and sitting, but I've not wanted to take the time or space. Second consecutive race where I've jostled the transition bar in putting up my bike and it knocks over my neighbor's bike. Thank you to the nice guy who immediately came over and put it back up. I was trying to not be bothered by the fact that he was done with his race while I had a leg to go, and to ignore the fact that every single bike seemed to be already racked except mine.

The one tactic I did carry over from White Lake was to not focus on my bike computer.  I knew my distance and could see my speed (speed being a relative term given how much of my actual ride pace was in the single digits). But I couldn't switch the display to show me time, because I had to keep holding the jacket sleeves. So I knew I was slow, didn't know how slow, and I was mad about it. Now there's Nice Guy Dude who is done with his race, and I see all the racked bikes.

Have I said out loud that I'm an intensely competitive person and a perfectionist?

I grew up with four older brothers who were also competitive and didn't care that I was a girl or a lot smaller than they were or their very cute baby sister (I might also have been a little spoiled). I also played a lot of team sports all the way through high school.  My favorite sport growing up was golf, followed by bowling. In my defense, I grew up in Iowa - it was cold six months out of the year, so we golfed in the summer and bowled in the winter. I was a slow runner and didn't like that (see perfectionist comment above) - I was a much better golfer.

So here I am in Pinehurst, far more known for golf than anything else, and during my drive through town, I was mentally comparing golf and triathlons. The reason I liked golf so much was that really it was me against the course. And sure, you're competing against others, but unlike most team sports, no one is guarding you or blocking your spike or trying to strike you out.  My size or lack thereof was not a disadvantage. At the end of the day in golf, you have to get the ball in the hole. It doesn't matter what anyone else is doing if you don't do that.

Although my favorite golf experience is being the medalist for both the girls AND the boys at a meet my senior year. Hee.

This entire running / triathlon endeavor has been so humbling, because I'm starting late in life and have a long way to go. I get really excited when I see progress and also am so disappointed when I feel like I've taken a step back. Peaks and valleys. That will even out the more experience I get, plus I have realized that not every workout or competition is going to result in a PR. I don't like to miss workouts because it slows down my chance to progress, even though I know that getting to sleep at 3:00a due to flight delays means I cannot physically get up at 4:45a and function safely or effectively for Fast Fridays. Intellectually I know that, but I don't like it at all.

Finishing last in my age group? SUCKS. And it's no consolation that I wouldn't have finished last in any other age group from 25 to 39. Although it must be some consolation because I just wrote about it so that I would feel better pointing that out to someone else.

And because I train with a lot of people who have done this either collectively or in pieces for a long time and are better, stronger, faster, etc. - it's hard to not want to be better RIGHT. NOW.

So here I am coming out of the bike and knowing the course has just kicked my ass, with an assist from me, Stupid Jacket Woman. So I was mad. But the one thing I know I have gotten better at is running.
A friend of mine had posted this on Facebook earlier, and I saw it before I left my hotel for the race. That was my mindset going into the run.

Nah, I'm not competitive at all.

There is a dam that we ran over going out, and that's the only flat part of the course. I knew I needed to take advantage of the flat, be careful going up the hills, and let go on the downhills. I had practiced that at Umstead a couple of times. I was also focused on quick turnover, especially going uphill.  I was passing a lot of people, including a number of people who had passed me on the bike. I purposefully did not look at my Garmin because there was no need - just run run run. I had briefly glanced at it running out of T2, and I knew that I had accidentally started it while at the bike rack, so 16 seconds of my start was in T2 according to Garmin.

Coach Bri had once advised me to not think about "I have two miles left" but instead, "I have 20 minutes left." And while she didn't say it, I was also thinking, "Don't fall because you don't want to have to write that in your race report ever again."

I was passed going uphill by a woman who just looked like a runner. She was part of a relay, so I started to console myself by saying that, "well, she didn't have to do all the race." Then I passed her about a quarter mile later :-)  I was able to hit the lap button on my Garmin at mile 2 and 3, but without looking at the display. I was still passing people, and now just getting into the spirit of picking people off one by one.  That's just a ton of fun now that I am starting to do it on these shorter runs. 

Back to the dam, and I know we're down to the last 4 minutes. Run Run Run. Longer strides now, and thinking of my infamous six seconds. Take off my hat because the wind is going to blow it off and it's more important to run fast than it is to try and alter how I'm holding my head to keep the hat on my head so that no one sees my nasty hair.  Finish really strong and fast.

My splits on my Garmin:
2.08 miles   16:12 for 7:47 pace (which included the 16 seconds when I was still in T2)
1.04 miles   7:50 for 7:33 pace
0.13 miles   1:01 for 7:45 pace, uphill finish

Overall Garmin time was 25:04 for 3.25 miles at a 7:43 pace.  Notice the 3.25 miles. I'll take 0.05 off for the T2 distance (I wasn't that far from the run start) Chip run time was 24:38 which was around a 7:40.

For the run, tenth overall female out of 76 and first place in my age group.
In May, I did the White Lake sprint as my first triathlon. Shorter and easier bike (3.5 miles shorter than today, plus way flat terrain) and I ran a 28:22 on a flat course. Today after a longer, colder more miserable bike on a hillier course with a hillier run that's a little longer, I run almost four minutes faster?  That's also only about 25 seconds slower than the PR I set during the Iowa 10K in August where, you know, I didn't swim or ride for 90 minutes beforehand.

Okay. That is crazy. Where did THAT come from?

It almost wipes out the really crappy bike. Tomorrow will hopefully erase the bike - today it just ticks me off.
So Pinehurst goes on the list along with the Disney full marathon and the Washington Olympic as a race I will probably need to do again just so I can put it to rest.  And I'm reassured by remembering that Bri has said the majority of my IMCdA training will be on the bike, so that I can actually learn how to ride it.

But I ran faster than I ever have and that feels fantastic :-)

1 comment:

  1. I've always heard Pinehurst has a tough course. Good job pulling out a fast run! I swear I run faster sometimes after a nice hard bike leg. really gets the juices flowing.

    Let me tell you about finishing last in your age group and being really competitive....


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