Friday, July 22, 2011

Race Report: Shawnee Mission '11

This was the big one, the race I've been training for and targeting all season. I really restructured my training, this year, beginning much later than I normally do so that I would still feel fresh and motivated in July. I pre-rode and pre-ran the course the weekend before to remind myself what those hills and what that humidity really feel like. And, as usual, I had my family with me. No Photographer, though :-(.

I've wised up over the years, and told my mom that I wanted to leave 15 minutes earlier than I actually wanted to leave. And it worked! We were heading out by 5:15 and at the race site by 5:30! I rode alone to transition. I was one of the first on my rack and set my stuff up just the way I like it. I got my timing chip (body marking was done by Tri Tats, which I used for the first time at this race. I loved them!), aired up my tires, and headed out for a gentle warm up on the 4.5 mile bike loop.

When I got back, someone had moved my stuff. Seriously. She had picked up my towel, my shoes, my hat, and my race belt, and moved it to the side. So I picked it up and moved it back where it belonged. "I think you're supposed to put your stuff on the opposite side your bike is facing," she might have said (it's been a week and a half, and I don't remember exactly). "I know," I replied. "I did." There was definitely some hostility. But you just don't move another person's stuff, not without asking. If she would have asked me to scooch it over a bit, I totally would have (and I did move my stuff to take up less space as the rack filled up). I felt perfectly justified, though, as I was one of the first to get in to set up my transition space AND I was in the right space, as marked on the bike rack.

I scoped out my rack to see my competition. I felt good about my chances of kicking some serious tri tail.

Swim: 1000 m in 21:34 (22:29 in '08)
I guess I still improved over my 2008 time, so it's not all bad. But the swim was definitely the low point of the race for me. I have been hitting my pool intervals at 1:35-1:45/100 m, so I was optimistic about how this swim would go. But then I got attacked by monster woman triathletes! They must have been mammoth! In fact, they may have been zombie triathletes from the year before, trying to drag me under to join their foul brood!

Okay, that's hyperbolic. But a few did literally grab me and pull me under. Not intentionally, of course; nothing like that happens intentionally in a triathlon. It just happens. But it was a rough swim in the first 300-400 m, and it really affected me mentally. I got so smashed around, it was hard to establish a rhythm. In fact, I didn't really find a rhythm until well past the turn-around, and even then I was more disoriented than usual. Through that, though, I was fortunate not to have too much negative self-talk. I just chalked it up to positioning myself poorly for the start, and vowed to make up for it on the bike. And I still came out twelfth in my wave, sixteenth swim overall, so maybe everyone had kind of a rough time.

T1: 1:30 (1:41 in '08)
There's a long run up to the bike racks from the boat ramp, which accounts for the long transition time. Fourth female overall in T1, though, and I passed two women in T1!

Bike: 18 mi in 56:24 (1:00:14 in '08)
This was my greatest area of improvement, and where I made up the most time on my competitors. I rode fifth fastest of all the women.

I don't remember much of the bike ride. I was in the zone. I could hear music playing in my head, and I matched my cadence to the beat, changing mental tracks on the uphills, downhills, and flats. I counted women as I passed them, until I lost track on the third lap, when I started passing the women who were riding the short course. I speculated as to how many women were ahead of me, at that point (seven).

Last time I did this race, I forgot to pull my feet out of my shoes before I hit transition. This year, I remembered, but just barely. I was pulling my feet out as I came into the chute for the finish. Some poor girl came into the chute just behind me, but couldn't pass me (no passing before the dismount) as I slowed down to undo my feet. Sorry, friend!

I am so, so happy with the way my bike ride went.

T2: 52 seconds (1:05 in '08)
Ranked tenth, among women. Meh.

Run: 42:11 (46:44 in '08)
This is not a fantastic run. It's about 9:20/mile. Not a great time. But you know what? I was pretty happy with it! It represents a big improvement over what I did last time, and still leaves me with plenty of room to improve. And it was still faster than two-thirds of the other women, almost, so whoopee!

My bike ride set me up for big problems on the run. I'd debated whether or not I should put Nuun in my water bottle, since I was only taking one. I should have. I could feel myself start to cramp up after the second lap on the bike, right before I took my Powergel (I felt almost immediately better). By the time I hit the run, my electrolytes were depleted again, and I was in for a rough ride. More than half of the course runs you through the gorgeous Steamway Trail area, which is unfortunately in something of a minor valley. It's hot and humid in the valley, oppressive conditions for a July run, even if it is at 8:30 a.m. With my electrolytes down, I found myself really hurting once the trail dipped into that valley. I admit it: I had to stop and walk a couple of times. My quads were cramping badly. It was torture trying to push myself back uphill. Fortunately, once I was up that big hill, the air had more cool in it, and I was only half a mile from the finish line.

I did the first two miles of the run in about sixteen minutes, so that gives you an idea of how much I slowed down over the last two miles.

My finish did not include a big sprint to the line. By the time I hit the line, it was all I could do to keep my legs going at the same pace I had.

Total: 2:02:29 (2:12:12 in '08), 3rd F 25-29, and 12th F overall!
I was very happy with this race. Unlike El Dorado, where I was absolutely CONVINCED that I should have done better than I did, this race left me with the feeling that I had given it my all. I beat myself by 10 minutes from the last time I did Shawnee Mission, and I beat 60 of the 72 women I was racing (including the girl who moved my stuff in transition, not that that's important).

I was very hot and my tummy was not happy when I finished. I had a nasty blister on my left ankle, too, a really deep one. I left my Kinvaras at El Dorado Lake after the triathlon there, so I had to buy a new pair two weeks out from Shawnee Mission. I got the Saucony Fastwitch, which I like, but I think I should have bought them a size bigger. I lubed my ankle and the back of my shoe really well, but I think it just made it worse. I'm not sure what to do about it, running sockless. Ideally, I would just buy another pair of new shoes. But that's not really practical.

This was a great race, and I had fun! As always, I appreciated the support of my family. They are always proud of me, no matter how I feel about myself. And they are even willing to wake up at 4:45 a.m.!

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