Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Race Recap - New England Trifest Olympic Triathlon

As days in my life go, Sunday June 29th, 2014 is up there with the best of them.  I finished my first Oly-distance tri strong, smiling, and with good friends and family.  What else can you ask for?

Gypsy and I at the finish with our medals!

Backing up a bit, I was headed into the race slightly undertrained.  With only a few weeks of running happening since my cortisone shot in my hip, and some life interference, I knew I could finish, but was uncertain on just what sort of hot mess shape I'd be in when I did so.  Sun MultiSports puts on a great race - it was first in their series and despite a challenging bike course (with a hill described as "epic") I was looking forward to taking it on. 

Good advice...
I was also very happy to have friends doing the race with me.  My swim teacher Gill and my best tri-buddy Gypsy were going as well.  Gypsy and I left our houses just after lunch on Saturday and headed up to Fairlee Vermont to pick up our packets and drive the bike course.  We got there just in time to see the kids duathlon, which was very cute.  Always great to see kids (even other than mine) getting active and moving their bodies.  We drove the bike course and agreed that the Epic Hill didn't look too too bad.  After all, we got to ride through a very scenic covered bridge right beforehand.  What could be more Vermont?  Following a nice dinner out with Gill, we went back to our hotel for a reasonably terrible night's sleep.  (I couldn't stay asleep.  Nerves, weird place... who knows.  It was my first time travelling overnight to a race.  As Gypsy said as we were tucking in - "I've never slept so close to my bike!")

Testing the waters at Lake Fairlee


Race Morning

All set up
Alarms at 5:45, breakfast that we'd brought from home (continental breakfast didn't start until 6:30!  puh-huh!) and we were off.  We arrived in time to set up our transition zones, listen to the race announcements, hit the portapotties one last time and then it was pretty much time to start.  Originally the swim out had involved a 0.2 mile run along gravel - for which the Jedi had made me custom glitter glue decorated flip flops with my name and race number.  Could he be more adorable?  BUT the tunnel we were to run through (?) was flooded, so that was nixed in favor of a shorter, non gravel jaunt back into transition.

Bling-ed out flip flops.... and my name!!!

The Swim:  20:43

Much as I would love to take credit for a 0.9 mile swim in 20 minutes, in reality all the athletes agreed that the swim course must have been measured short.  Which, for me, was just fine, as I spent the entire swim being pummeled.  For reasons I don't understand, the first Olympic wave was the Elites and women under 45 (me), and then 4 minutes after us all the men under 45 were sent.  The result of which was every man (and some women) swimming on top of me, punching me, kicking me, the entire way.  Just as the chaos of the women's start was beginning to spread out, then men caught up.  It was a washing machine.  If anything I am proud that I kept my head and wasn't phased or panicked by that much physical contact in the swim.  There were several points I got a wave in the face and coughed, and one spot were I kicked someone and my foot connected with something hard - enough that it really hurt my foot (and probably them as well).  Ouch.

Upon exiting the water, I got a really nice surprise.  My sister in law and 4 year old niece had come to cheer me on!  That (and being out of the crazy water!) was the reason I was so excited in this photo:

Jazz hands!!

T1: 3:17

My cheering section couldn't be cuter!
Transition was uneventful.  It was still a bit of a run, and I fumbled with my race belt a bit, to which I attribute the slightly long time.  Onto the bike!

Bike: 1:42:17

I had a lot of fun on the bike.  Truly.  The first 16 miles were mostly downhill or flat, and I pulled a good pace - 18 mph or higher - for the whole thing.  The course goes by some of the most pastoral landscapes you can imagine.  The cows and horses were definitely cheering me on! 

Then the Epic Hill hit.  It was tough.  My speed crawled to 8 mph for the 2 mile climb.  Following the big hill the road was badly cracked and I couldn't get my speed back up.  This hurt my overall bike time, but I still finished fairly strong and feeling good with an overall pace of 15.5 mph.  Not what I had secretly hoped for, but I'm looking forward to working on my hill climbing in the weeks coming up.  I also drank an entire bottle of Nuun and ate 2 GUs while in motion, which a critical part of my nutrition plan.  Another element I nailed!

Biking out


T2: 1:52

Second transition was also uneventful.  Helmet off, switch shoes, flip belt around.  Around mile 20 on the bike I had a premonition of the run not being fun (my legs were wobbly!).  As I ran out I saw my SIL and niece again, this time with a great big "Go Miranda!" sign.  I asked my SIL (who is an amazing athlete and runner) if she would do the run leg for me.  Sadly she declined and we both laughed....

Run out of T2 - SIl will you run for me???

The Run: 1:08:21

The run was hot.  And sunny.  I had sweat crystallized on my sunburned skin and was itchy and uncomfortable.  It was a rolling out-and-back, which the Olys had to run once and the HalfIrons twice.  Which means I got to watch a lot of people really not having fun.  Truly - I didn't see a single person with a spring in their step at this point.  I stuck to my plan of running/walking 4:1 intervals, with the occasional exception of when water stops fell in the middle.  I was not the only one with this strategy!  Close to the turnaround I finally saw Gypsy coming back the other way and we got to do our customary high-five in the middle of the road.  Races really are more fun with friends.  Ate my peanut M&Ms at the turnaround (last element of my nutrition plan success!).  I ate ice at every mile.  God bless to race organizers for having ice on the run!  To make matters a little more interesting, the foot I'd hurt on the swim (the same that landed me on crutches for most of last fall) started to really hurt on the run.  By mile 4 I was seriously wondering if I was headed back into the boot after the race.  But I more or less just toughed it out, remembered my coach's advice to "not be afraid to hurt" (check, Sheriff!) and just stuck with it. 
In the chute!
Waving to my niece

The Finish!  3:16:02

13 out of 14 in my age group and 133 overall.  I was very happy.  It's not the most impressive finish in terms of rank, but I was midpack until the run, where I watched at least 4-5 women in my AG pass me.  There's nothing I could have done short of risking injury.  Way more important that any numbers though is that I had a great time, and I had good friends and my family there at the finish line.  Gill (who competed in the Aquabike) and Gypsy (who finished within seconds of the three hour mark!) were waiting for me at the finish, as was my SIL and little niece.  Photos were snapped, I immediately plunged my foot in the waiting ice bath, and it was great.  So so great. 

The Afterparty

I jumped back into the lake to cool off and clean off, we had a yummy bbq lunch and then hiked Queechee Gorge as a cooldown before the drive home.  I even won one of the raffle prizes (I'm the proud owner of some new goggles, an extra waterbottle, and some arm warmers).  My foot is just fine - it must have just gotten bruised and then annoyed by a shoelace or similar.  Having a destination race was a lot of fun.  Any chance to get away, although truthfully I missed my kiddos so much I think they will be coming with me to Cranberry Olympic Tri in August!

Gypsy, Gill and I at the bottom of the gorge

This is what tired (ok, really relaxed) looks like after my first Oly!


Pace of Balance said...

Yeah Miranda! You did a fantastic job and the important thing is you had such a good time doing it. I'm really happy for you, you work hard mama!

Courtney Fields said...

Yay!!! I knew you'd totally crush it and have a killer race! You are awesome and this is so awesome! SOOOO happy you had such an excellent race =)

Salt said...

I have been waiting for this recap!! I AM SO PROUD OF YOU!!! You totally rocked it and I am so impressed! What you just described during the swim is the exact thing that scares the bejeezus out of me about triathlons. You are such a rockstar to be able to make it through that while getting kicked in the face. I'm just so impressed by all of it. :)

AMAZING job. I am seriously clapping at my desk over here!!

Mary Sue said...

Congratulations on completing your first Oly! I love the final picture of you in the lake after the race :)

Shannon said...

Way to go! Thinking about doing my first....very inspirational.

Ursula said...

Good job! Great recap and that post race swim in the lake looks pretty ideal :) The swim in open water is so frantic eh?! I always find I end up kicking someone and getting kicked in the face. It's such a tough way to start the race, like a battle to make it through!

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