Tuesday, August 4, 2015

City of Lakes Olympic Triathlon: June 27, 2015

After my first foray into triathlons last year with the Los Alamos sprint triathlon and the Las Campanas Compadres super sprint triathlon (read here), I wanted to do another one because a) I had such a blast, b) I wanted to try a tri with an open water swim, and c) I wanted to build up to a tri with my favorite running distances. Thus, I set my sights on the City of Lakes Triathlon: an Olympic distance with a lake swim only a couple hours away from home.


Swimming is easily the hardest of the three sports for me. So, I took a few lessons from a swim coach (who gave me drills I initially loved and soon hated), I participated in a couple of clinics--one pool and one lake--by our local triathlon club (the Triatomics), and I took an open water swim clinic put on by a club from Albuquerque. The first time I swam in my new wetsuit in Cochiti Lake, it was pretty awful. I'd put my face in the water and start freestyle, and I'd freak out, unable to catch my breath or convince myself that I was breathing, despite the tight wetsuit. I also couldn't sight properly (or see a thing in the murky water), so disoriented and stressed, I zigzagged all over and tired myself out quickly. Almost immediately in the second clinic, though, I felt better. Everyone keeps saying it just takes time to get used open water swimming, and I'm slowly believing them. 

Biking was a challenge early this year, too, as I put on clipless pedals and had some special moments getting used to clipping in and out. I am thrilled to report that I have only fallen over ONCE, though, and it was only a couple of weeks ago, well after I got completely (too) comfortable in them. In the fall and winter, I attended a spin class at the lab's wellness center, which helped immensely with my cardio, strength, and speed. Friends and I biked the Los Alamos to White Rock Loop for the first time and started a new friendly (mostly female) cycling group along the way, too!

Running is fantastic! Slower than I'd like, but not slow enough to get me to do speed work this schedule, so there we go.

For strength training, I've been going to a core class at the wellness center, as well as continuing MMA/Jeet Kune Do (though I backed off on that). 

Race Weekend!!

Santa Rosa is over two hours away, so I took my Friday off to drive down there, pick up my race packet, and check out the course. 

The Olympic swim leg was two loops of this beautiful little lake (the sprint was just one loop):

The water was clear, I saw wee fish, and I heard it was pretty shallow the whole way. I was not worried.

I didn't preview the entire bike course, but it was, again, two loops of the sprint course:
Definitely easier than anything in Los Alamos.

I drove most of the running route, which was fairly confusing--we repeated the stretch along Reilly road twice (or four times, depending on how you count): up, down, up, down. "Keep track and make sure you do the right amount!!" One of my transition buddies forgot to do it twice and had to repeat it after the final little out-and-back. :)

So much flatter than any six miles I can find here.
We ended at the beautiful Blue Hole. The tradition is to jump in after the race. I was super excited for this, especially as it was supposed to be sunny and in the 80s.

My longstanding pre-race tradition is to set everything out, repack, and eat pasta. Santa Rosa's restaurant selections were, as far as I could ascertain: New Mexican, greasy diner, and pizza. I decided to go with pizza and breadsticks, and regretted not packing more food along with the bagels and bananas I brought for breakfast.  Ah well, live and learn to not expect a simple Italian restaurant everywhere you go! I spent the evening knitting a baby blanket for my forthcoming niece and watching BBC America's marathon of Star Trek: TNG. So basically, it was amazing.

I love our race shirt!

Trusty steed Scotty is all ready to go!

Race morning dawned bright and early and I jumped up excited and determined. I downed some terrible hotel coffee, ate my own bagel and banana with some hotel peanut butter, packed my transition bag, loaded Scotty, and headed to transition, where it poured.

The only time I've worn this schnazzy bike rain jacket.


Despite the rain and chilly conditions, the lake was 79F: thus, it was not wetsuit legal after all. I had only practiced open water swimming in a wetsuit, though, and wanted the extra buoyancy. As the penalty for wearing one was only "you can't place in your age group," and not disqualification, I (and a bunch of others) decided to wear it anyway. Placing in my age group is definitely not a possibility at this point! A couple ladies near my transition spot put theirs on, too, so we bonded over needing our security blankets.

Official race photo of squeezing myself into my wetsuit.

Lookin' like a weird bug, ready to swim!

I knew that warming up a bit would help me settle into the swim faster, so I did a couple of short laps in the little lagoon set aside for us. The water was certainly warm, but I just felt comfortable in it. Not too hot. I felt great. Relaxed. Ready. 

My wave (women 31-34 + another age group of women [I'm 30, but USAT rules and my birthday combine so that I always race a year ahead]) was called, and we trudged into the waist-deep lake. The bottom was squishy, and there was much whining. I still felt great. Relaxed. Ready. 

Soon, there was a countdown…and we were OFF!

City of Lakes Triathlon: SWIM. 1500 m 00:43 45:58 pace
This was a lesson in perseverance, and trying to pray for a quiet mind instead of swearing like a sailor. As soon as my wave started, I panicked and couldn't catch my breath. I'd put my face in, flail about, completely lose my mind, and have to breast stroke so I could breathe. The kayakers kept asking if I was ok, especially as I graduated to needing to completely stop moving and just tread water/float in my security blanket (which was also suddenly SO CONSTRICTIVE GET IT OFF).

I seriously considered a) quitting completely, b) quitting after the first loop and doing the Oly bike and run anyway, even though I'd be DQ'ed, and c) quitting after the first loop and dropping to the sprint. But I was really looking forward to the bike and run (DARN IT I WAS MORE THAN PREPARED FOR THE BIKE AND RUN), and 3/4 of the way around the first loop, something clicked, and I finished the second loop with only one more little episode (by one of the kayakers who checked on me the first loop, which was embarrassing). I was second-to-the-last out of the water, but I wasn't the slowest swimmer overall thanks to the earlier waves! I have never been SO HAPPY to get out of a lake. 

City of Lakes Triathlon: BIKE. 25 mi  01:35  15.8mph pace

The bike was a beautiful two laps of a country road with nicely rolling hills. So much flatter than home! I passed a ton of people and nobody passed me, making up for my swim. I enjoyed myself so much! Before I knew it, I was back in transition and ready for the final leg.
Smile, you're done swimming!

City of Lakes Triathlon: RUN. 6.2 mi  01:09  11:08 pace
The run felt super good. Santa Rosa is 3000' lower than Los Alamos, and the run was a billion times flatter than here, so it was awesome. I passed several people there, too, and only got passed by one gal. Once I finished that up-down-up-down stretch, I had one obnoxious hill in the last quarter mile or so. I was powering up and realized I could walk faster than I was running, so I did. After the turn around, I flew down to the finish line, where I got to jump in the cold, cold Blue Hole!! 

Post-race and post-Blue Hole plunge!

First Olympic tri, with some panic:

Post-race refueling:
banana from the finish line (they didn't provide much)
leftover pizza in my hotel (woohoo late checkout!)
Jurassic Smash Blizzard (absolutely incredible)

Amount of stiffness encountered after the two-hour drive home:
All the stiffness

Next race:
Toughman NM--hello, half Ironman!

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