Another way too early race morning after a terrible night’s sleep. I’ve since learned that I never sleep well the night before a race, so I just focus on getting good night’s sleep the two days prior and not sweat it so much. Thanks to yesterday’s prep work, including packing the car last night, it was a relatively smooth process getting out the door. I think we hit every red light possible between our house and the race site, but made it there a little after 6, giving us tons of time before our race starts of 7:30/35. (The biggest downside of turning 40 so far has been my wave assignments this year, both Pacific Crest and Seafair have me starting in the later waves, which sucks.) We did the body mark ourselves routine to avoid that line and went to find our spots.
It was total pandemonium in the transition area, not helped by the idiot announcer saying they were closing the transition area at 6:30 – a full fifteen minutes earlier than the posted/equally absurd 6:45. (Allow me a short rant: if your race has waves that span up to an hour, it is already unfair to the later racers to kick them out of the transition area up to an hour and fifteen minutes before their wave goes off. Don’t cut another 15 minutes off of the time frame and send everyone into a frenzy. I’m sorry if the elites have to potentially deal with someone getting in their way in transition. Guess what? They are going to have to deal with it on the second transition and I’m going to have to deal with it in all three transitions. It happens. Thanks, I feel better now!) But right from the start, this race had a totally different vibe from my fond memories of last year, from the weather to the announcer.
Usually, I like to walk from my spot to the entrances/exits and count the number of racks, etc. but that was out the window this morning. T & I found spots next to each other and at the end of the rack, which was awesome. I had time to snap a couple of pre-race shots:
M & T gave me their pre-race “bad-ass” poses:
And a shout out to our poor lone spectator J, taking pre-race photos as well. (You’ll see his work a little later on… ) It sucks getting up early to stand around for a few hours watching other people exercise.
Then it was time to head down to the start and see M off. J got a good shot of her wave lining up:
After watching her get off to what looked like a great start, T & I went over to the side of the lake in an attempt to warm up, since the same idiot announce was telling people there was no warming up once the race started, despite there being a perfectly fine place to warm up in the swim area between where the race started and ended, behind a big pier. (Another rant: Really? I’m supposed to start a triathlon with no warm up and only a few minutes in the water to acclimated. F-you, Seafair announcer!) The spot we found was chock full of seaweed and not so great, so we decided to join the other rebels warming up any way, which was better. Plus, I got to see M come in from her swim at 20-ish minutes (ROCK!) J also caught this awesome picture of her finishing:
It was great to start the race knowing that she’d had a kick-ass swim. And before we knew it, T’s wave was off and I was on deck. My plan for the swim start was to line up closer to the front, in the hopes that following the fast girls would get me out of the breast-stroking madness I got caught in last year. I was really hoping for a 16 minute swim, which was well within my capabilities, based on my open water practice. Unfortunately, the chaos of the race start still got me and it was just total pandemonium. There were legs and arms everywhere and I tried to put my head down and get through it, but still found myself panicked and had to stop and breaststroke for a second to get my bearings. I got swimming again, but couldn’t find a rhythm and it just sucked. Of all of the aspects of the short-course racing, it’s probably the swim that I have the hardest time with – there’s just not enough time for me to find my groove. I need to get back to masters swimming, as that was the best thing for getting me prepped for the faster pace/feeling of being caught by other swimmers.
But I made it through and looked at my watch to see an 18 minutes had gone by. Boo! I made my way up to my transition spot, fumbled my wetsuit off, bike stuff on, grabbed Slim and hit the road. I spent the first five or so minutes of the bike lamenting my terrible swim and hating on the whole general race experience before shaking it off and focusing on catching some people on the bike. (Usually while chanting “Take that, stupid fast swimmer!” “In your face, mountain bike guy!” Nobody ever said I was a good person.) I am still waiting to see what the event photographer got, but I’m pretty sure the bike photos of me will be particularly hilarious. There was less congestion getting up the bridge than last year, which was good, but once on the bridge there were some crazy side gusts of wind that made handling a bit tricky and kept me from going quite as fast as I was hoping for. I still passed a ton of people and for the most part, they didn’t pass me back. My second mini goal for the race was to break 40 minutes on the bike, which was looking tantalizingly possible for a little while.
As I got closer to the end of the bike, I realized that I wasn’t going to break 40 minutes, which bummed me out a little bit. But the nice thing about triathlon is that you don’t have time to brood on it because it’s time to get to the next thing. It was the usual chaos at the dismount line, with one person falling over just before I got there and another woman managing to take up the whole thing with the world’s slowest dismount. I put my patience hat on and tried to get through it as best I could, then ran like hell to my spot to make up some of the time. I fumbled a bit on the second transition, which I’m blaming on the fact that my feet were numb from being wet and cold on the bike. (Gotta love Seattle!) But I finally got changed and booked it for the run start.
Right out of the gate, I heard my name and saw a tri-friend JenHS yelling at me to “Pick it up! Go faster! MOVE!” which was hilarious. It made my desire to barf and the numb feet much more tolerable. Thanks to all of the brick practices, I knew I just had to get through the initial five minutes of suck and that it would get better. So, I just focused on standing up straight and keeping my cadence (the number of times my feet leave the ground) nice and high. I saw a woman in front of me that seemed to be running the same pace and focused on staying with her. Before I knew it, I was passing her. So, I kept picking off people and keeping myself entertained with various running styles and states of agony of my fellow competitors.
I got to the horrid hill just before the second mile marker and it was just as bad as I remembered, at least this time I was expecting it and did a few speed walk breaks at the steeper places that were sending my calves into a cramping frenzy. I ran on the flatter sections of the hill and then hammered back down and pushed the pace for the last mile. I was very pleased with my run leg, I felt like I paced it well and pushed hard, which is always a problem for me. I knew that I wasn’t going to get the 1:30 finish that I wanted, but a “sub-1:35” was within reach. I also hadn’t seen T at all during the race, so I knew he’d definitely won the smackdown, but didn’t know by how much.
Coming into the final home stretch, I could see T, M & J but knew if I was going to get my sub-1:35 I was going to have to sprint it out, so I focused on the finish line and ran as hard as I could. M caught some pictures of my finish:
You think you’re going to catch me, Blue Shirt? Think again!
Is he smiling? Looks like he should have been running harder!
And here’s Ms. M on her way to decimating last year’s times, including a 28 minute run leg:
And her triumphant post-race photo:
Here are the actual splits:
Swim: 18:28 (41 seconds faster than last year)
T1: 2:47 (4 seconds faster than last year)
Bike: 41:15 (3 minutes, 41 seconds faster than last year)
T2: 2:18 (36 seconds slower than last year)
Run: 29:58 (55 seconds faster than last year)
Overall: 1:34:47 (4 minutes, 43 seconds faster than last year)
Swim: 21:19 (4 minutes, 57 seconds faster than last year)
T1: 2:34 (31 seconds faster than last year)
Bike: 45:12 (2 minutes, 25 seconds faster than last year)
T2: 1:30 (19 seconds faster than last year)
Run: 28:59 (1 minute, 33 seconds faster than last year)
Overall: 1:39:34 (9 minutes, 42 seconds faster than last year)
So, it was a good day for our group. I must confess the hardest part of the whole smackdown wasn’t that I didn’t beat T, it’s that I’ve trained so much harder than he has. It’s a little hard to take. I’m choosing to focus on the fact that nearly all of my training is for longer races and had this been twice as long, I’d have mopped the floor with him! Luckily, it will be a while yet before he works up to the longer distances to challenge that, so I can cling to my delusions a little longer. I’ll post some of the official race photos if there are any worth sharing when they put them up. Until then, I’m going to lay on the couch. Chao!