Friday, September 23, 2011

Race Recap: YMCA Inside/Out Triathlon

This past Sunday, Kristina and I participated in the Wichita YMCA's Inside/Out Tri. It was a VERY small race--I think 66 finishers total and most of those folks looked like they were serious athletes. Yes, there were first-timers, but their first-timers were people who obviously knew what they were doing. (Example: The first-timer who won first-place in her AG.) It was hard not to feel a little intimidated. My only goal was to not be DFL--and yes, yes, I know DFL is always better than DNS, but still, it's not where I wanted to finish.

We got there about 5:40am and as soon as we pulled into the parking lot it started POURING rain. Like "build an ark" sort of rain. We decided to wait it out a bit, but we also had to rack our bikes, check in and hit the mandatory meeting that was at 6:15. Finally about 5:50 it started letting up a tiny bit so we braved the rain and found our spots (assigned) and got our bikes up. Checked in--which was super fast since there were so few of us AND we only had a chip, no numbers at all (a first for me)--got marked up and hung out inside to warm up and dry off a bit. It finally turned to a light drizzle so we took the rest of our stuff out to set up. Thank goodness I'd brought big plastic bags to store our stuff in, so we just set up our T areas IN the bags. That system made it a little harder to fish things out during the race, but at least everything stayed dry (because the parking lot was one giant puddle). We headed back into the building and noticed it was starting to clear up and the first light of dawn was breaking. Luckily, the rain moved out of the area and stayed away the rest of the race.

The Swim: Around 7:15 we began lining up by projected finish time for our 400 (indoor swim) and waited to go. I was somewhere in the first half of the pack, which was a little unnerving at first. I thought for certain the director had made a mistake and placed me too far up front! But then I reminded myself that I AM a strong swimmer and I'd provided an accurate 400 finish estimate (8:45), so I told myself to go out there and prove I was in the right group. Soon enough I was at the edge of the pool, waiting for my turn to go! It was a serpentine swim, up one side of the lane, down the other side of the same lane, under the rope, repeat for 400m (short course). Overall, the swim went great, even though I never did get a good groove when it came to going under the rope. I suppose if I was a flip turner it would've been easier, but alas... I did pass one lady and probably could've passed another dude if I'd pushed myself, but we were all bunched up and it was crazy. Because of the clustering those of us in the middle were experiencing, there was a bit of confusion at some of the walls. I couldn't tell if the lady I passed was trying to pass me again (you could only pass at the wall), so we had a nice "you go!" "no, you go!" conversation for a few seconds. After that, I just swam as fast I could and kicked as hard as I could to put distance between me and her through the finish.

Swim (400y, indoor): 8:17, my best yet and :15 faster than my previous fastest time trial. Super happy with that time.

T1: 3:58: Still too long, but about 2 minutes faster than my last tri. As I mentioned earlier, getting my stuff out of the dry bag was a challenge, but I was grateful to not have to struggle with soggy socks and shoes AND to have a dry towel for my drippy face. I did invest in $2 toggles for my shoe laces, which saved me a bunch of time and hassle.

The Bike: Meh. Still my weakest link. It had stopped raining, so that was a nice. Got passed by a lot of folks, which isn't surprising. There ended up being quite a few hills, despite the location of the race being in a traditionally flat part of the state--nothing CRAZY, but hills nonetheless. I pushed myself hard on the first half thinking I could relax a bit on the second half (since that half was more of a decline) until I got there and realized there was a headwind. AWESOME. :/ I pushed as hard as I could and tried to keep it in my higher gears and as fast a turnover as I could to keep my pace up as best as I could. It goes without saying that I was very happy when the bike was over. And I really think that if there's ANY chance I may do any more tris next year and beyond, I have to get a different bike. I know it would make a huge difference in my overall time, not to mention my overall enjoyment of the bike portion itself. And it could probably have an effect on my run, since I wouldn't kill my legs as much on the bike. But that's a conversation for another day--at this time I'm not sure I want to invest any money there. I'll need to ponder that over the winter and see how I feel later.

Bike (11.5mi): 50:08. I was aiming for an hour or less, so no complaints other than general discomfort.

T2: 1:20: Not much to do other than drop off my bike, switch hats and grab my Nuun.

The Run: As I was running out, K was biking in so I gave my leggies a break and slowed to a jog so we could run together. The first half of the run was tough--I was out of gas and my legs were dead. Thank goodness K was there to keep me distracted! We ran most of the run portion together, until the end when we sprinted and she beat me. :P I'm totally blaming my "loss" the fact that the parking lot was wet and I couldn't get any traction. Yeah, that's totally it. Because, you know, otherwise, I would've beat her. Yeah. Totally. ;) Truthfully, she was faster on the bike and on her Ts (I only beat her on the swim portion), so she would've placed higher than me regardless of her last-minute sprint power. And also, I don't feel particularly competitive towards her, so it's all good anyway. We both finished all out, which is the most important thing.

Run (2.8 mi): 29:34, Pace: 10:34, about avg for me

Overall Time: 1:33:17
Place 57 of 66, NOT DFL. ;)

All things considered, I'm pleased with my performance. Yes, there's plenty of room for improvement (namely the bike portion and my Ts) and I still have a lot to learn about the sport. But I'm still proud of myself for doing this race at all. It helped me get over my fear of smaller races (and the dreaded DFL) and it was kind of interesting to compete w/ SERIOUS athletes. I think it was probably good for me to throw myself to the wolves, so to speak. I competed against good triathletes without the benefit of being able to hide among a huge group of participants and I lived to tell the tale. That counts for something.

Now I'm back to wondering what's next, both short-term and long-term goals. Do I want to keep participating in triathlons? Am I willing to make the financial and time commitments it takes to compete at my best? Is this really the sport for me?

I guess I have a lot to think about this winter!

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