Monday, September 30, 2013
Race Report: OMC Women's Triathlon
I signed up for this race shortly after completing the Shawnee Mission Triathlon in July. I've set some goals (which I'll share in subsequent blog posts) that have compelled me to dip my toes back into triathlon. So I'm training again, and enjoying it, and I can justify racing (because I know that I'll enjoy that, too). I've never participated in the OMC Women's Triathlon, but I've been to the race before, to support a client who chose the OMC Women's Tri as her first multisport event. I was impressed with the race that I saw, and I've had good experiences with the Johnson County Department of Parks and Recreations before (Shawnee Mission is another of their races). So the OMC Women's Tri seemed to suit my needs.
I went to the Olathe Medical Center to pick up my packet on Friday afternoon. Packet pick-up was . . . interesting. You know how at most triathlons you wear your most epic race shirt, because you need everyone to see that you've completed an Ironman, or a 70.3, or a 50-miler, or whatever? It's a very specific brand of posturing. That's the dynamic that I'm used to at packet pick-ups, and it's what I was expecting on Friday. Instead, I arrived at packet pick-up noticeably underdressed. 80% of the women I saw were wearing bermuda shorts, polo shirts, and full make-up! I felt a little out-of-place. The volunteers were a little snarky, too. They acted impatient with me the whole time. I've never had an experience at any triathlon even remotely similar to that!
After picking up my packet, I went to the gym with a friend for some light weightlifting and stretching, then out to a nice dinner at McCoy's in Kansas City. I put all my TriTat stickers on my equipment, and saved the tattoos for the next morning. I didn't get to sleep as early as I should have, and I had trouble waking up the next morning. But it didn't take much time to get everything together.
I arrived at Kill Creek Park and set my stuff up within 10 minutes. After I laid out all of my equipment, I realized that I'd left my timing chip at home. I've never done that before. I indulged in about 5 minutes of heavy stress before I went to the same-day packet pick-up desk and confessed my sin to the volunteer there. She got me a new timing chip, gave me a new number, and told me to take off my race number tattoos and apply the new ones. And that was it. Very manageable consequences for a very stupid mistake.
Also, the packet pick-up volunteers on race day? Super friendly and helpful! Maybe it was something about the packet pick-up location . . . maybe medical centers make people nervous.
500 m in 9:47 (1:48/100 yd)
The 29-and-unders went off last in the swim waves. They sent us off in pairs, ostensibly to reduce congestion at the swim start. If that was the primary aim, it totally failed. That said, I should have pushed my way to the front of the line, to avoid having to swim through all the athletes in front of me who walked as far into the lake as possible before they started swimming. I dove in right away and swam as far to the side of them as I could. I never got much clear water; it was always arms, legs, and torsos to either side and sometimes right under me.
Several times, I swam right on top of women who were doing the head-up breaststroke before I even realized they were there. Poor women. They probably freaked out when they felt me on their backs. I literally had to pull myself over and around these women. I don't know how to solve this problem, but the race organizers definitely need to re-evaluate the procedure for sending off swimmers. We all signed a waiver acknowledging that we can do at least 50 m of swimming, but something needs to be done to separate out the women for whom that represents the upper limit of their swimming abilities.
All that said, my pace was the fastest I've ever swam in any race! Yay!
Not a long run to transition, but it was uphill through sand! Ew! And I broke my sunglasses. They fell off of my helmet while I was putting it on, and the lenses split right down the middle. But I fiddled with them until they stayed on my head, and I was off!
10.6 mi bike in 40:26 (15.7 MPH)
I thought that Shawnee Mission had the toughest bike course around, but I learned otherwise on Saturday! The OMC Women's Tri course is an absolute leg-buster! It features continuously rolling hills plus wind. The hills are spaced just far enough apart to guarantee that you can't get into a rhythm, and can't use the momentum of one hill to get up the next. Plus, wind! I haven't had to deal with significant wind since . . . well, since the last time I rode out on Kansas roads! Shawnee Mission provides a more sheltered environment, relatively free from the dreaded Kansas Hill (i.e. the wind). This race had Kansas Hills AND actual hills! It was an unfair combination. And it shows in my average speed!
3 mi run in 27:09 (9:03/mile)
By the time I got through transition, my legs were already cooked. I sped through T2, but as soon as I hit the actual run course, the reality of the bike ride caught up with my legs. The run course almost equaled the bike course in shear brutality. We started with a long, gradual uphill, then a long, gradual downhill. The downhill sounds great, but in reality all I could think was, "I have to run back up this hill later." There was lots of support and cheering on the entire course, though. And even though the course was difficult, it was also a great run course--challenging, with varied terrain. Plus, the finish line was at the bottom of a hill!
I'm surprised by my run time. I swear I wasn't running better than a twelve-minute pace for the whole run. But this is the best pace I've posted in at least the last year. Yay again!
1:19:47, 5 out of 42 F25-29, 64 out of 337 overall
I'm really happy with my performance, and with the race itself. It was a challenging race, a fun race. I'm not sure how I feel about the all-female field. I think it's a great notion, but I don't know that I want to do a race that's geared solely towards women. It's a little too girly for me. Although the women's cut race shirt was a very nice change from the bulky, sheath-like shirts I normally get at races. And it was great to see women of all shapes and sizes and ages competing, whether it was their first time or their fiftieth. It's also great to see how I stack up against the other women in this area, without the interference of the less-fair sex. And I got a trophy!
I'll probably do this race again, although not next year--I have my eyes set on a different race for September 2014. But I'll have to tell you more about that later.