Wednesday, September 24, 2014

See Jane Run Triathlon Race Report

Sunday was my last triathlon of this year - the See Jane Run Triathlon.  Since I had a free entry to this race because I was a See Jane Run Ambassador last year, I figured I would have fun no matter what happened.  But secretly I wanted to go out and get some redemption for last year.  This was the last triathlon I did last summer as well - and I lost my timing chip, got a flat tire, and they ran out of finishers medals.  So things did not end on a positive note for me.

I got there dark and early as usual and had my transition set up with over an hour to spare.  I chose to rack my bike near the swim in/bike out end of transition.  I picked this spot because it was right next to Coach Stephanie and the Go WOW Team's racks.  I used to run with them years ago, but Coach Stephanie moved to the east bay and it's just too far for me to drive for an hour workout.   But she had told me they were going to be there and invited me to breakfast with them afterwards.  It was nice to see some familiar faces at the race.

Ready to go with time to spare.
This race has traditionally been a beach start, but because of the drought things were a little different this year.  The water level in the lake was very low and the very edge of the lake was just a pit of mud inches deep.  There is no way anyone could run though it, and it was quite a way out before it was deep enough to swim.  So instead we started in the lake.  But to get there, we had to walk through the mud and muck for quite a few yards before we could swim to the start buoy.  It was pretty disgusting.

You can see the mud all along the edge of the water near the start flags.
I decided to skip the wetsuit this year.  I knew the water would be warm enough and I feel like a much better swimmer this year so I didn't think I needed the extra buoyancy.  I started in my usual spot near the back of the pack, the horn blew, and off we went.  There was nothing remarkable to report about this swim.  I felt comfortable and confident throughout - if still slow as molasses!  I stuck really close to the buoys and felt like I swam pretty straight and even passed a couple of people.  They had put out a carpet at the edge of the water near the swim out to save us from having to crawl through the mud and muck again.  So it was swim, swim, swim until you reach the carpet - then stand up and get out.  Swim time:  14:27

After my swim at the Mermaid, I was so dizzy and nauseous, and I was also dizzy after the Catfish swim.  I had gotten advice to either try earplugs or try kicking my legs more once I got closer to the end of the swim.  I didn't have earplugs but I did the kicking and it was so much better.  I was actually able to run to and through transition instead of staggering like I did at the Mermaid.  However I struggled getting my socks on my wet feet so things didn't go as quickly as I had hoped!  T1 time: 2:13

The bike starts up a hill, but since I've been here before I knew what gear I needed to start in.  For the past two years this course has been shortened to 8 miles because of road construction.  This year we were going to get the full 11 miles so things were slightly different.

Just starting the bike course - so still smiling!
Honestly, there were a few odd spots on this course.  At one point we went through an intersection only to make a quick right into the bike lane on the wrong side of the road.  I saw two people in front of me miss the turn - because who thinks you're going to turn into the oncoming traffic bike lane??  Luckily I saw the volunteers yelling to get them back on course so I knew where to go.  Since I knew I was going to walk the run, I decided to see how hard I could push on the bike portion.  If I blew up my legs, so be it.  I felt like I was really pushing hard - even if my speed didn't reflect it.  There were definitely more hills due to the added miles - at one point I felt like I was climbing forever.  Nothing too steep, but it just felt endless.  But at least I was rewarded with a long downhill afterwards and got up to 24 mph on the bike - pretty fast for a chicken like me.  After my flat last year, it was so nice to actually be out on the course with other riders instead of nearly the last bike out there.  I think I enjoyed the bike portion the most of this race.  Bike time:  55:08

Back into T2, happy with my ride and even happier for no flats!  I had to yell at people to get out of my way, as they were taking pictures at the entrance to my bike rack.  People, if you've already finished the race before us oldsters who start last, please go somewhere outside of transition to take your pictures!  I had a little trouble getting my bike on the rack since I was on the end and the person next to me basically racked her bike in my spot, so I had to slide hers over.  And I was as far away from run out as you can get, so my time was really slow.  T2 time: 2:42

And the run - or the walk/run for me, and quite a few others.  This is the part of this course that I like the least.  It's mostly on fire trail, so it's packed dirt with a ton of rocks.  I always feel like my feet are slipping under me, and I feel like I spend half of my time looking down so I don't trip or twist an ankle on a bigger rock.  And there is no shade on this course and it's usually as hot as hell - making this part of the race feel like a death march for me.  Luckily this year, mother nature cooperated with us.  The clouds and fog stayed with us throughout the entire race and it wasn't hot at all.  Again, without a flat tire I wasn't one of the last ones out there on the course.  I can't tell you how much of a difference mentally that made for me to see so many other runners out there.  And even though I tried to trash my legs on the bike, I actually still felt really good.  I ran more than I thought I would, though it was still mostly walking.  The miles seemed to tick by pretty quickly and before I knew it, I was done!  Run (walk) time:  51:15

Smiling across the finish!
Total time:  2:05:45

And just like that, my second triathlon season is over.  I'm a little disappointed that I only signed up for two tri's this year. But with my hip injury lingering longer than I ever anticipated and the uncertainty of some events due to the drought, it was all I was able to train for.  And while I didn't see as much improvement in speed/time as I thought I would over last year, I could feel a difference in my races over last year.  In almost every race last year, by the time I got to the run I was gassed and just muddled through it.  This year, I felt like I pushed it on the bike and still felt good on the run - so I guess there is improvement.

I can't wait to see what the 2015 season has in store.  Olympic distance?  Aquabike?  We'll see!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Three Things Thursday

1.  I've been a single gal lately.  Dan has been working out of town for over two weeks.  I talk to him every night and even went to visit him for a night last weekend, but I'm ready for him to come home.  So is he!  He was supposed to get a day off last weekend but it didn't happen.  Then he was supposed to come home last night, but the project is still not finished.  He's optimistic that he'll be home this weekend, but I'm not getting my hopes up until he tells me he's actually driving home.

2. To wetsuit or not to wetsuit?  My last tri of the season is next weekend, and I'm trying to decide if I should wear my wetsuit or not.  The water is warm enough that I don't need one, but last year at this race I wanted the extra buoyancy.  This year I'm not sure I need it and if I can shave a little time off my T1, I just might skip it.

The same race last year heading to T1.
3. Speaking of the single life and that upcoming triathlon...With Dan gone, I've been nailing all of my workouts and sleeping like a champ.  I actually went to the gym and swam long course both Saturday & Sunday this past weekend.  Maybe I should send him out of town before every race ;)

And that's a wrap for today...

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Volunteering at the Oakland Triathlon

I've been telling myself for some time that I'm going to volunteer this year.  If it weren't for the volunteers, these races couldn't happen.  They do so much - giving out race packets and t-shirts, manning the aid stations, directing racers on where to go, and so much more.

When I found out late last week that Dan was going to be working this weekend, I decided that this was my chance to volunteer.  I had considered doing the Oakland Triathlon (or Aquabike) earlier in the season, but after reading the course description decided against it without actually seeing the course.  So this was my opportunity to help out at a race and see this course as a possibility for next year.

I was assigned a post as a bike course marshal.  I was stationed just outside of transition at the bike exit.

My volunteer partner & I were to direct the bikers to the mount line giving encouragement.  Also, the bike out put you on a street with a couple of condo buildings with parking garages.  Even though the residents were told they could not exit the garage during certain hours, we had to keep an eye on the garage exits to make sure no cars drove out - 'cause, you know, some people think the rules don't apply to them.

Bikes up the street...

...and bikes down the street.
It was a lot of fun feeling the energy and excitement of race day and not having to race.  I really enjoyed seeing how fast the leaders made it to transition after the swim.  But what I enjoyed even more was seeing the "back of the packers", determined to finish no matter what.  These are my people!

After the event, I stuck around a little longer to help secure transition - making sure that bikes belonged to the people leaving with those bikes.  We were thanked so many times by athletes, and most of them said they really enjoyed the race.

After checking out the course a bit, I'm glad that I decided to volunteer instead of race this one.  There was a long run from the swim to transition.  I mean really long.  It was a few city blocks and included a climb up and down three stories of stairs and across a bridge over the train tracks.

Seriously - this was part of the swim to bike transition!
It was such a crazy set up that they even had a contest for the fastest male and female pedestrian bridge crossers with a prize for each of them.

This was my first experience as a race volunteer and it was so much fun that I know that I'll be doing it even more next season.