Friday, June 29, 2012

Race Report: Big Green Triathlon

Three weeks ago, I competed in the Big Green Triathlon, and Brynna and Alex and my parents came up Hanover to cheer me on.

This race is a new event this year and made it on to my list as a step-up race to longer distance triathlons. So far, all the races Alex and I have done have been "sprint distance," which is generally the intro length. The swim is usually between 1/3 and 1/2 a mile, the bike 12-14 miles, and the run 3.1 miles (5K). We are planning to do an "international" (also called "Olympic" distance) race later this season: a 1500 meter swim (almost a mile), a 40K bike (about 25 miles), and a 10K run (6.2 miles). This is a big jump, with the swim being a particular concern of mine.

Soooo...the Big Green Triathlon had two things going for it:
1. location in Hanover, where we are always happy to visit
2. intermediate length, between sprint and international: 1000 meter swim, 30K (18 mile) bike, and 8K (5 mile) run

Alex and I went up with a friend from our tri club and tried out the course a few weeks in advance. We realized that the course had two things very much NOT in its favor:
1. "T1" or "transition 1" between the swim and bike involved a more than quarter mile run up a steep gravel hill
2. the run involved a lot of very steep, short, up and downhill segments

So, we headed up to Hanover on the day of the event, which started at the entirely civilized time of 1:30 in the afternoon. I got set up in the transition area and then headed down to the beach.

Part 1: The Swim

I have been working on my swim a LOT over the winter and was focused on staying steady and panic-free. Due to a nasty cold and lingering cough, I was a bit concerned about the breathing part. This made me susceptible to a suggestion about a different breathing pattern that I had read about in a triathlon magazine. It is usually a disaster to change big things like this right before a race, but I tried it out the night before in one of our local ponds, and it worked great, so I went ahead with the new method. And the swim was TERRIFIC! The distance was no problem, and at the halfway mark I felt so good that I actually increased my pace a bit and started passing people, which has NEVER happened to me before.  Oddly enough, it was only in the last hundred yards or so that I started to get a bit panicked, because I'd been working harder than usual so was more tired than usual and was very eager to get to shore!

Interlude 1: The Awful Nasty Run Uphill To The Bikes
It started off well, with Alex and Brynna greeting me on the beach as I put my Tevas on with a big grin, thrilled about my swim.

We will not discuss The Rest, but here is photographic proof that I made it to the transition area at the top of the hill:

Part 2: The Bike

My new bike is AWESOME! Other than the potholes and gravelly section on River Road, it was a fast, enjoyable eighteen miles. I passed some people, felt strong on the hills, and zoomed on the downhills. My quick progress was briefly interrupted by a confused deer on Route 10, who wandered out into the middle of the road and then paused. I slowed drastically, fearing a collision if he (she?) broke the wrong way, and a few seconds later she (he?) trotted off the road in front of me.

Interlude 2: Took off bike helmet. Took off bike shoes. Put on running shoes. Started to run. (T2 is pretty straightforward.)

Part 3: The Wretched Run
Turns out that pushing hard on the swim with my newfound swimming skills, and hard on the bike with my new bike, and having a cold on top of all that, does not lead to a great run. My legs felt like a gangly fawn's at the beginning, and even once I got my feet under me, it didn't feel very good. I creaked my way up the steep hills, and minced my way down the steep hills, and reminded myself that I just needed to do two loops around the pond and it would be over! Even really good runners hated this course--one of my super-fast friends was grumbling about it as she zipped by me like I was standing still.

The Aftermath
I felt WAY more drained than after a sprint tri. It was hours before I felt like I could eat (I made up for it the next day). I had a stripe of sunburn on my back where my jersey and shorts didn't quite come together. (Yes, I put sunscreen on. Didn't work.)

Overall, this was an encouraging step in my triathlon training--I met my goals for the swim and the bike, and the run will come along with health and with more experience running after a long swim/bike.   The race was very well organized, but I'm not sure I will do it again in the future, mainly because of the run course (though the long run in T1 wasn't fabulous either).

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