Sunday, September 8, 2013

Newbie No More! Title 9 Sprint Tri Race Recap

Finished!  With my bright shiny medal

Get a glass of wine - this is a long one.  Better yet, get me one too.  Today was my final and "A" race of my first triathlon season.  The Max Performance Title 9 Women's Sprint in Hopkinton, MA.  Six months of training, two previous triathlons, one 10K, three 5Ks, and a half century ride on the books leading up to this race.  Also a sprained knee, strained hip flexor, physical therapy for both, road rash, and getting nearly every article of clothing I own smeared with chain grease at one point or another.  A lot of hay has gone into the barn for today!  But let's backup just a bit.

The Day Before the Race

We are in the middle of the crazy chaotic season known to most as "back to school".  With my daughter starting kindergarten, kids activities starting, work becoming god awful busy, and wedding season still on, we've been full out exhausted busy.  Two weeks ago I had serious doubts I'd even make it to the starting line.  The day before the race, my "rest" day consisted of a 20 minute run to calibrate my new toy - the Pear Training System (review pending).  Then the kids soccer practice - both kids, back to back.  Our baking company is a team sponsor this year, so all the more fun to see munchkins running around with our company name on their jerseys.  Did I mention we are also both parent coaches?  At 8:30 in the morning it was only 55 degrees.  I was seriously worried about the cold for the race.  Then home for several hours to put together a bridal shower cake.  By the time I got all that done, packed for the race, fed the troops, etc. I'd worked myself into a good enough state of exhaustion to go to bed at 8:30.  Silver lining, I suppose.  My 5 year old daughter crawled in bed with me - usually not allowed, but a cuddly cheerleader makes a good teddy bear for a tired, anxious mommy.

Our son modeling soccer jersey with our company name

Just a little thing I whipped together for a bridal shower

Race Morning

I woke up to the alarm at 4:15 (my husband had removed daughter from bed so he had somewhere to sleep, too, between all of us and cats).  I had everything packed the night before, so that only task was breakfast (english muffin with peanut butter and jelly), coffee, and to fill a thermos with hot Nuun - my hydration of choice for a chilly morning.  The temp had managed to climb to a balmy 59 by 5:00 am, so I was pretty psyched.  Yes, I just said I was psyched to go swimming in sub 60 degree temps.  Triathletes are crazy...

It's an hour drive to the venue, which is a state park near where we used to live.  We've spent countless days there on the beach, picnicking, hiking, and riding our bikes.  I was one of the first (of 650) atheletes there, so got a decent parking spot and even better, the end of the rack in transition.

Early bird gets the end spot
I spent some time (an hour or more) wandering around, saying hi to the few people I knew there, and scoping out the general layout.  And trying not to freeze.  Which wasn't too hard (but not easy either).

Still warm and dry at the swim out
My best bud Jess got there by 7:00 am, just in time to see me get in the water for a warm-up swim (I use this term loosely).  The water wasn't cold - about 71 degrees.  The air after was the tough part.  Practice swimming was only allowed between 7:00 and 7:30, and since I was racing as a Newbie, my wave didn't start until after all the Age Groupers - after 8:30.  Brrrr.....  Jess and I hung around for the national anthem and the race announcements, than all the athletes got herded cattle-style down the road for the start of the swim.
Transition packed with 650 racers...

The Swim 1/4 Mile (10:57)

I'm sexy and I know it

It was a long wait to get back in the water.  A long nervous wait for those around me, because I was racing in the Newbie groups.  Lost of nervous energy.  It actually made me feel a lot calmer.  We also got to see the first five waves ahead of us go out, since the swim was a point-to-point past transition to farther down the beach.

One of those dots is me.....
My only goal for the swim was to keep control of my breath so I wasn't winded coming out onto the bike.  That was a major problem at my last triathlon.  Once the gun when off, there was some jostling (newbies seem to favor the breast stroke.  Bad froggy kicks) but it wasn't long until I had my own space.  At the second of four buoys, I caught up to another swimmer and she had a PINK cap!  I'd caught the wave ahead of my own!  According to Jess I was one of the first blue caps out of the water - she almost missed me!  I shaved nearly 3 minutes off of my swim time from my first tri back in July.  All that training was worth it!!!

Coming out
Some pictures are so unflattering they must be shared

I came out of the water not even close to winded - I could have easily doubled the distance.  It was about a 200 yard run back into transition from there.

Transition 1 (2:50)

Wetsuits are hard to get off.  Even with body glide.  Enough said.  Use your imagination - it probably isn't that far off track.

The Bike 10 miles (39:43)

Time to climb
I trained hard on hills for this race, as many had told me that Title 9's course was exceptionally hilly.  True, there was a decent climb right out of transition, and a few more here and there, including one long one back into the park at the end of the ten miles.  But all in all, my bike could be summarized by three words: "On Your Left".  This is when I started regretting racing as a Newbie.  It was crowded, and it was tough to get around people.  I must have passed at least fifty riders on the bike leg - on flats, downhills, and on climbs.  Passing people is fun, don't get me wrong, but it kind of became like a video game between keeping and eye on traffic and making sure that the rider I was passing knew I was there and didn't swerve into me (which happened once.  No bueno).
Hit the brakes to dismount!

Transition 2 (1:22)
Racking the bike

Very smooth T2.  Racked the bike, helmet off, socks and shoes on (yes I sat down again), then off on the run.  I saw Jess right at the Run Out and smiled and waved at her - this next picture is the result:

Talk to the hand!  Guess I was too fast for her ;)

The Run (3.1 miles, 31:11)

Remember all those hills I said were easy on the bike?  Time to be punished.  Actually not too bad.  But I was soundly reminded that I am a slow runner as several people I'd passed on the bike passed me again on the run.  The run starts with that same climb out of transition, then another out and back to the water station, then loops around the park roads and across a dam to the beach and finish line.  Some amusements along the way were the Hopkinton High School track, field hockey, swim, and even cheerleading teams.  The second water stop was staffed by high school cheerleaders doing their routines.  It was pretty cute.

The dam - water on both sides.  In the last mile of the race,
you cross and take a left across the beach to finish.

I made it fine until I started to cross the dam.  As mentioned, we'd been to this park countless times.  I remembered one of those times when we brought our then six-month-old-daughter here.  It was the first warm day of spring, and we took her socks off in the stroller.  We strolled her out on the dam and she started laughing - those big, deep baby belly chuckles - as the wind ran through her toes.  You could just tell it was the first time she'd ever felt that sensation and my husband and I laughed until we cried.  Just as that memory was taking hold, a little girl running as a relay passed me and said "Good job!".  She must have been no more than twelve, with a long blonde braid down her back, and I swear looked all the world to me like my daughter will when she is that age.  I could hear the music, I could see the finish line.  I started to cry.  Judge if you will - you would have cried too.

My daughter's baby calendar - see the entry for the 17th?
"Hopkinton State Park w/ wind in the toes"

A much earlier picture of me and my baby daughter
that day at the beach

I did get it back together after a minute or so and finished out the rest of the run with a decent pace.  Even sprinted the chute for a 1:26:08 finish. 190 out of 685 athletes. The run was definitely the toughest, but at the end I felt like I could have run much longer, if not much faster.

Running it in


Finishing this race was emotional.  It's been what seems like a long journey to get here.  Six months ago I couldn't run more than a quarter mile without stopping.  I couldn't swim.  I considered 20 miles a long ride.  I was ten pounds heavier and a lot grouchier.  I feel very blessed to have made it this far, grateful to my family for their endless support, and for support of awesome friends like Jess who "get it" and came out to cheer me on and take photos.
Me and Jess.  Best race sherpa ever.

I am a little sad about the triathlon season being over for me now.  I definitely cannot call myself a newbie any more.  I wish my last race had been an Olympic distance, because I really felt like today's race was too short.  I had way more in my tank.  But I am looking forward to next year - to my half marathon and hopefully the Patriot Half Ironman in June 2014.  See you there!!!


MusicRx65 said...

So proud of you! What a great accomplishment!

Stephanie said...


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