Saturday, May 26, 2012

Crystal River Sprint Triathlon Recap

by Meghann on May 26, 2012

Wow! What a day!

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(That’s me jumping in celebration. Can’t you tell?!)

The Crystal River Sprint Triathlon was a success!! I still have some things I need to work on (TRANSITIONS!!! CYCLING!!!), but considering how much training I put into this race (next to zero) I’m happy with the results. I felt better in the water (thanks to my weekly swim practices), I was faster on the bike (crazy when you realize I just had my bike out for the first time on Tuesday), and I didn’t give up and walk on the run. There’s room for improvement (lots and lots of improvement), but for the first time, I’m willing to put in the effort to get faster at this whole triathlon thing. This is just the beginning. ;)

The Crystal River Triathlon had a 7:30am gun time and was about an hour and a half outside of Tampa. I had gathered most of my stuff last night so I could squeeze out a slightly later wake-up call at 4:45 (better than 4:30!). All I had to do was roll out of bed, get dressed, eat my honey peanut butter and peach pita, and go.

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The drive was quiet. Derek slept in the passenger’s seat and I tried to (quietly) pump myself up with my favorite running songs. :)

Registration was quick and easy too. There were no lines and everything seemed organized. My only gripe was that they ran out of small shirts (and I had pre-registered for one!). I ended up asking for a large to give to Derek – he’s developing quite a collection of my tri-shirts, since running out of small shirts seems to be a theme at these things. He doesn’t mind, he actually loves them and wears them around the house all the time.

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After body marking, transition set-up was next.

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That’s where I found Steph. Hi Steph!

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I always feel like I NEED so much stuff for transition set-up, but when I sat down last night to come up with I really needed and – not just what I thought I needed – the list was pretty small. I had my bike with a water bottle, my helmet, a towel, cycling shoes, running shoes, my race belt with my race bib on it, sunglasses, and my garmin. That was it.

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Nice and simple. :)

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The ladies of XP Multisport, ready to roll!

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Courtney, me, Jess, and Steph

We all hopped in the water for a quick warm-up before the start. The water was chilly, but not unbearable – it actually felt refreshing. However, I was a little thrown off by the mouthful of saltwater I got, for some reason I was expecting fresh?

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We were the 4th group to go. It wasn’t until we were told to line up in the water and given the 3 minute countdown that the nerves started to kick in. The swim was only 400 yds, which didn’t sound like much when you say it out loud, but the minute I looked out and saw the 4 buoys we were supposed to circle, it began to feel like 400 miles. Gulp. Was I ready for this?

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The countdown began and I didn’t have time to let my nerves control me. I wished all the girls luck and told them to save me a drink at the finish line (they’re all super, super fast). I put my goggles on, took a deep breath, and heard GO!

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The swim has never been my favorite portion of the triathlon, but the minute I got myself in the water I felt good. In fact, felt better than good, I felt strong and confident in my strokes. Whoa. Where did that come from? I guess those swim practices really are starting to pay off.

Instead of being in the back of the pack (or the last one out of the water), I was in the middle. There was always a fellow pink cap around me and I could see a trail of them a ways behind me. For someone who has been dead last before, that was huge! :)

I was so fast (err… fast for me), that Derek wasn’t ready when I came out of the water. He sorta had to do a double take and missed getting a photo due to the lens cap still being on. All you can do is laugh. :)

Swim 1/4 mile 9:00.1 145th Overall

Here’s where things go south.

Let’s just call this section “What NOT to do in Transition 1.”

Do NOT worry about your race belt – you don’t need it until T2.

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Do NOT forget your watch and sunglasses are in your shoes and try to put your feet in them before removing them.

Do NOT wear a high ponytail for the swim and try to put your helmet on on over it.

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Do NOT take you ponytail holder out and put your helmet on thinking you’ll fix your ponytail on the bike (you’ll find this is an impossible task to do).

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Do NOT waste time putting the Garmin on your bike while running.

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And do NOT get worked up trying to clip in.

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(Photo courtesy of Mary)

Transition 1 1:28 <— needs work!

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Yeah, so the hair thing? Have you ever tried to put a helmet on your head with a high pony tail? It doesn’t work. I forgot to move my hair to a lower ponytail before the swim (rookie mistake!) and didn’t realize it until I tried to put my helmet on. By that point I felt like I had wasted so much time in transition (worrying about shoes, Garmin, and that darn race belt) that I just took my hair out and assumed I could mess with it on the bike.

Once I was on the bike I did try a couple of times to see if I could use both hands to pull my hair back, but I couldn’t get the right balance. In order to get my hair up, I’d have to slow down and I just wasn’t willing to do that. So I left my hair as is and rode all 15 miles my long hair floppin’ in the wind behind me.

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(photo courtesy of Mary)

Eh. It worked.

The hair really didn’t bother me, but the people passing me? They bothered me.

I know that I haven’t been on the bike in a while – and the two “training” rides I did leading up to this were less than stellar – but it kills me to push so hard on the bike and get nowhere. I was proud of my 17+mph average (that’s a great pace for me, training or not), but that’s snails’ pace compared to some of these cyclists who were passing me effortlessly at 20+mph. My bike is definitely my weakest sport, and I really only have myself to blame for that. I’m starting to put the effort in my swim (and seeing improvements!), now I need to put that same sense of effort into my bike – PRONTO.

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Even though I felt like a turtle on the bike, the ride was good. I gave it a solid effort and did a pace I was comfortable with. The course was a little boring (a straight out and back on a quiet road), but I did enjoy cheering on my fellow teammates as they headed back to transition.

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Bike 15 miles 51:41.7 17.4 mph 217th Overall

Transition 2 was better. My first priority was putting my hair up (finally!) and I saved a teeny tiny bit of time by going sockless. (Many triathletes wear cycling/running shoes without socks to save some time in transition. I had never done this before and decided to take a chance. I would not recommend trying this for the first time in a race (do as I say, not as I do), but my feet were fine. No blisters and I had actually forgot I had done sockless until I took the shoes off again later. )

Transition 2 1:33 <– still needs work

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The sun was out, loud and proud by this point. I began to feel it on the bike and knew I hadn’t drank enough water during the ride. Knowing how hot and horrible this run was about to be (no shade, lots of people, only one water stop) I made the last minute decision to grab my water bottle from my bike before I left transition. Best. Decision. Ever. I left with a full bottle and returned with an empty one. I really needed that.

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The run is always the fun part because I know that’s what I do best. My body was tired at this point and – true to name – my legs felt like bricks. I felt like I was struggling to hold a 10 min/mile pace, but I was actually holding 8:30. I picked a few people out in the crowd ahead of me and passed who I could.

I saw Mary running with her camera around mile 1. I looked up and smiled – it felt good to see a friendly face.

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She stayed put and I ran up ahead for the 1.5 mile turn around (another out and back).

I was getting a little bored at the point, so when I saw Mary waiting for me on the way back, I tired to chat it up with her. She filled me in on the others -and let me know how Derek was doing at the finish – but didn’t give much more than that. Instead she just stayed slightly ahead of me and acted as my pacer for the last mile of the run. I’m not sure she was doing this on purpose or not, but it was nice to have someone to run with for the final stretch to the finish line.   

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I’m proud of myself for not giving up and walking on the run (besides stopping to tie my shoe once at mile 1), but I wish I would have picked up the pace a little more at the end. When I saw the finish line come into view, I kept it nice and easy. I looked around, soaked everything in, and reached my hand out to give my coach a high-five.

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Then I saw the two guys sprinting behind me and decided to do the same. I was not letting two more people get ahead of me at this stage of the game!

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Run 3 miles 25:38.1 8:33 min/mi 122nd Overall

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I was done. :)

Final: 1:28:20.1 Age group: 7th (out of 10) Over all: 176 (out of 275)

As I stated above, I’m proud of myself for this race! I wasn’t the fastest girl out there, but I was fast for ME and that’s what’s important. I know what I have to work on now and I’m excited to really put in that effort for those improvements.This tri-season is only beginning, I can’t wait to see where it goes!

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An BIG shout out to all of my XP Multisport teammates (who all either placed or WON their age groups). Great job ladies and gents!

I must say, Crystal River had quite the post-race food spread out.

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I had a hot dog right after the races (that was a first, but it wad oddly just what I was craving) and LOTS of watermelon and water.

THANK YOU to Derek for not only waking up at the crack of dawn, but for braving the awful heat while we all swim, biked, and ran our little hearts out. Love you, babe!

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AND thanks to Marcus and Mary for also being kick-ass spectators, photographers, and motivators. :)

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I’ll have to save our post-race adventures for another post, but – trust me – they were worth racing and spectating for!

Good Night!

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