Saturday, August 29, 2009

Saturday, August 29, 2009
This was the first time I have done an all women's race and I gotta say, I loved it! This was an innaugural event, with a sprint distance and an almost Olympic distance--the swim was only a 1k swim instead of a 1.5k--but close enough.
The morning started cool but muggy, like 62 degrees and 94% humidity muggy. By the time the sun came up though, it was feeling quite chilly as the humidity seemed to be blowing out from a northwest wind. The lake was calm however.
Jan and I headed down to the race yesterday afternoon and spent the night in a nearby motel. Just easier than doing that hour plus drive in the pitch dark and then not knowing where you're going anyway. We were racked right behind each other, based on race numbers.
It certainly is a different atmosphere with an all women's race. Lots of laughter, smiles, and giggles, and a definite camraderie I don't see at mixed races. We love the guys, but there is a different thing going on with just the gals.
Lots of first time triathletes were inspired to do this all women's race, maybe not worrying about feeling intimidated by fast guys. It was very exciting watching their excitement over doing their first event.
One thing I like about this racing company is the way they handle the swim when there is a sprint and longer course. The sprint course is on the inside of the longer course, so you never have to worry about crossing each other's paths.
It felt good getting in the water waiting for the start because it helped thaw my feet out. There were only about 85 women in the long course so we started all together. I got in the front line because everyone said they weren't "fast." I never believe anyone who says that because I am the only true not fast triathlete. My swim is okay though and I felt starting in the front would avoid the usual jam up when you get in the middle. But I didn't take into account the shallowness at first, so by the time I got into a comfortable depth, people were already passing. Still, I seemed to have a lot of space, no one was thrashing you, and there was no worry about younger guys coming up behind or over you later. I got off course slightly from the second to the third buoy, probably by the length of a pool, so had to work my way back over to get lined up right and kept on course the rest of the way. Just as we turned to head back to shore, the sun decided to pop out briefly, just enough to blind you, making it seem like you were looking into a fireball. I have learned to not look directly into the sun/sky for sighting when this happens and just look low and try to follow heads or arms ahead until I can see again.
I don't have the official swim time yet, but when I checked my watch at the first mat it was around 23 min. So pretty much what I figured. Then it was a hike up a huge hill to transition, which for once was right after the hill, and a short jog through to my bike. I knew I would beat Jan on the swim, so my next goal was to get to at least 5 miles on the bike before she went whizzing by.
I am always slow at swim to bike transitions. No matter how many races I do, I just don't get faster here. But I don't worry about it anymore, and today I was obviously not going to be the last one out there despite this.
I was warm enough that I decided against putting a shirt on over my tri top, even though it definiely was still chilly. I guess I hoped for a big warmup at some point, even though that only happened for about 10 minutes.
The bike course was mostly flat with all right turns. We did get the wind at 4 points once it picked up--from the north and from the west--and doing 2 loops for the 40k bike meant 4 times into the wind. But of course that also meant 4 times with it behind you, so it all evened out.
Doing 4+ hour bike rides for the past couple of months almost every week, doing 40k seems to go by so fast! And I was able to push myself harder, despite the wind. Because of this, Jan did not pass me until 10k, and we kept pretty close the rest of the way. She was always about 2 miles ahead of me, but with turnarounds, I kept her in my sight often. Not that I didn't expect her to beat me, because I knew she would. Just to give me an idea of how well I was doing.
Before I knew it, we were on our second loop. I had passed a woman in my AG (believe it or not and on a hill!) just before the second loop started, so now the burden was on me to keep ahead of her the rest of the time. So I did push myself harder than usual. As it turned out, I ended up beating her on the bike, but with a little confusion at the end--like where was the finish line?? she ended up almost behind me at the finish. And, as usual, she beat me out of transition to start the run, and I never saw her again in the race.
What I hate about this racing company is their usual BS of runs. You never know what you will get--longer course; dirt roads; rooted and rocky uphill trails; horse trails; and today to top it all off, mowed paths through open fields. Like a maize. Oh I hated this run! The first mile was the hardest, with the worst uphills with rocks and roots to watch out for, up and down dirt hills, through the park, mainly all cross country except a couple of short stretches on the paved roads. My legs really felt it on the grassy parts too. They just felt like stumps. So my first loop wasn't great, but again, after doing all the longer training runs a 5k went by pretty fast, despite the misearable course. I walked a lot more the first loop than I would have liked, so by the second loop I had to really focus to make my goal time. And it started raining at about mile 2, but thankfully it was just a shower. I didn't care about me getting wet. I just didn't want to get back to transition and have a bunch of soggy clothes and nothing warm to put on. And I couldn't remember either whethere it was a true 10k or some other manufactured distance they came up with to make it that much harder, so by mile 5 I started doubting my ability to make my 3:20 goal time. But as luck would have it, it was a true 10k, and I was extremely thankful to be done and my finishing time then was 3:18:52. Whew!
Jan did 3:02 and I was pretty sure she would finish under 3:05 (my predicted time for her) and she even took a wrong turn on one of the trails. I quickly packed up my bike and other gear and headed over to get something to eat waiting for awards. No sooner had awards started when another cloudburst started, along with high winds, which made it feel like someone spraying you with a hard misting hose.
Surprisingly, I ended up with 2nd place in the AG, even though I was pretty sure 3 other women were ahead of me. Maybe I didn't read their ages correctly because 1st place was the woman who I beat on the bike but who took off on the run before me.
We waited out the shower and then headed home. It was getting much colder and windier and I still had on wet clothes.
Now I'm sitting here thawing out with a hot cup of coffee. Its the end of August and it feels like October! I will predict though that the first week of school (week of Labor Day) summer will definitely be back!


Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

Congratulations on a race well done. And an AG award.

I've only done an all-women road race. I liked it a lot. I think I'd really enjoy a women-only triathlon.

ShirleyPerly said...

Congrats on 2nd place AG!! That run sounds terrible, indeed, but you made your time goal regardless. Well done!

I've never done an all women's race before. The ones in my area are HUGE, like 2000-3000 participants and usually sprints, which I'm also not found of. I might do Barb's race (a 1/2 iron) next year, though.

Anne said...

Hey hey hey -- second place in your AG!! I just think, if you'd had less confusion coming off the bike path, you might have finished first. What a crazy run course, too. I like all-women's races for the same reason you did: very different, communal vibe that disappears when men are on the scene.

jeanne said...

congratulations on your award!! And what a great time! That run sounds brutal though, ugh.

SWTrigal said...

CONGRATULATIONS!! Second place-that is very cool and you beat your goal. great job!

Marlene said...

I love all women's events! There definitely is a different 'feeling' in the air.

Congratulations on the tri and reaching your goal time and AG placement!! You did great.

HOpe you're all warmed up.

Just_because_today said...

I have only been to one triathlon with a friend so...the finish line is not marked that well, I guess? The run sounds challenging with all the rocks and everything else thrown in there. It seems that you did really well considering all of that and 2nd place in your AG, that feels good after so many hours competing.