Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Race Report: Shawnee Mission

Honestly, I haven't wanted to do this. My race didn't exactly go as well as I wanted it to. Well, in a way it did. Right after the race, I felt okay about it. I knew that I had given what I had to give. I knew (from my heart rate monitor) that I worked as hard as was reasonable for most of the race (and sometimes harder).

But upon reviewing my results, I've been supremely disappointed. That's not how I trained. Those speeds are not what I was prepared to race. And I keep telling myself that I've still improved by leaps and bounds over last year's performance. And that I've only been doing this for a year, and that I can't possibly compete against people who have been building an aerobic base for the last 10 to 20 years. And that I gave all that I had.

But I wish I had more to give.

Last year: 24:18
This year: 23:04
I have to say, I was very pleased with my swim. Standing in the water, waiting for the start, I was confident, excited, and calm. I think that, in terms of race preparation and mental state, this was my strongest start ever. I knew that, even though I'm a fairly slow swimmer (2:18/100? My goal would be 1:45/100), I can be a lot more competitive as a swimmer in Kansas, as opposed to California (where everyone, at some point, was on a swim, water polo, or synchronized swim team). So I stood in the front, and figured if anyone wanted to go around me, I'd rather they have to swim around me than I have to swim around them. But this swim was the first one where I'd really felt the infamous aggression of triathlon open swim starts. I was hitting someone or being hit (but more of the former, sorry fellow competitors!) for most of the 1000 meters. It was actually kind of fun, but a little frustrating while trying to swim around (sometimes over) someone else. I tried not to be too mean; I know how I would feel if I got mauled and passed in the space of a minute. Anyway, long story short, I had the 41st fastest swim (out of 57).

Last year: 3:48
This year: 1:02
7th fastest.

Last year: 93:50 (11.5 MPH)
This year: 65:02 (16.6 MPH)
The day before (as I drove the course), I realized that I may have made a misjudgment of the course. Because I was so slow and undertrained last year, I built this idea that the course wasn't that hard; it was just my perception. Besides, when you're averaging 11.5 MPH, the smallest hills become mountains. But there are some sizable, very intimidating hills on that course. And I had to do each of them 4 times. And I simply wasn't in climbing shape. To be fair, there is absolutely no way to train hills around Wichita; we don't have any! But that wasn't very comforting when my speed dropped to 5 MPH on the Dam Hill (which lives in infamy for all Shawnee Mission Triathletes!). At any rate, my 40 MPH downhill speed and 26 MPH cruising speed (which I was able to sustain for the 1 mile of flat road at the end and 1/2 mile at the beginning of each loop) couldn't make up for my embarassingly slow ascents. 36th fastest time. But at least I wasn't the last one on the course this year!

Last year: 1:39
This year: 0:50
Fifth fastest time!

Last year: 55:26 (12:21/mile)
This year: 52:48 (11:54/mile)
When I looked up my results the other night, this was my biggest disappointment. I haven't run so slowly since Cal Poly, in March. Since then, I've broken my 10:00/mile a couple of times. And I've run most of my training runs closer to 9:20. Even on my brick workouts, I've been running 10:00 or 10:30, but never 11:54. Again, the course was harder than I remembered. Harder and hotter. Last year, I was just focused on keeping my legs moving, so much so that I never noticed the hills (we had to run up the Dam Hill, as well). And last year it was raining, so I never knew that most of the course is exposed to the sun at 10:00 a.m. The heat was just miserable. For the first time, I really, really wished that I had a fuel belt or a water bottle along on the run. I think if I had been better hydrated, I would have been better able to keep my heartrate down. My heart rate, by the way, stayed right around 181. Which makes me think that I've probably trained my lactate threshold higher. Because it was at around 184, but I stayed right below that for almost an hour. I was pretty excited thinking about that during the run. The course ended on a decent-sized hill. So that was fun, to run up that at the end. My HR climbed to 194, which (I'm pretty sure) is the highest it's ever been. I wanted to die, after that. I thought I was going to fall down and then throw up and then fall down some more.

But you know, writing it all out again, reliving it in my mind, I feel pretty good about it. Yes, I didn't achieve my goal of reaching the podium, or of being in the top 10 women . . . I didn't even meet my goal time. But I did go out there and I worked as hard as I could. Yes, I wish that could have been harder; I wish my body would have had a little more to give. But I gave what I had. I performed my best on Sunday. So I'm pretty proud of that.

Last year: 2:59:10
This year: 2:22:44
Overall, I've seen a lot of improvement. I still have room to grow. And I keep remembering what one of my tri buddies said after UCLA's reverse sprint. We were looking at the results and he told me, "You know, out of everyone on the team, I think you're the one who's improved the most. And in a couple of years, you're going to be a really competitive age grouper." So yeah. I'm still improving. I took more than half an hour off my time from last year. I got to the start confident, calm, and collected. I rocked my transitions. I finished strong. These things have come with experience, practice, and hard work. So I'm going to keep working and racing, and I'm going to be back next year stronger and faster.

I am no longer a tri neophyte.

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