Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Race Report: Shawnee Mission Triathlon, 2013

I signed up for Shawnee Mission this year in hopes that having an event on the calendar would inspire me to train.

It didn't really work.

The result was that I went into the race without having trained much. I wasn't worried about it. I would be slower than I have been in the past, and I was okay with that. The main thing was to go out and have a great time.

My parents drove up from Wichita just to see me race, too! It was an opportunity to race, and a great chance to spend time with my family.

I drove up to Kansas City on Saturday, after checking the cows and sheep. I got to spend most of the afternoon and evening with my parents. We went to Minsky's Pizza for dinner. My dad and I enjoyed watching le Tour on Versus in their hotel room. I am a fan of any hotel that offers Versus as part of its cable package! I stayed up too late, though; I didn't leave them until almost 10:00 p.m., and then had a good half hour drive back to my friend's apartment, where I was spending the night.

I barely slept all night, but that's normal. I make a point of getting extra sleep for several nights before a race, because I always have trouble sleeping the night before a race. Starting time was later this year, because the Challenged Athletes got the earliest start times. As a result, we took our time in the morning, and didn't arrive at the race site until about 6. I drank some coffee on the way, and felt the effects about the time we were pulling into the parking lot. I wanted to walk down with my family, but ended up zooming down on my bike to find some port-a-johns!

Set-up in the transition zone was seamless. The pre-assigned rack spaces were the most spacious I've ever seen at any triathlon! We all had plenty of room, which reduced the stress of setting up my space. I must be getting old, though, because I could hardly stand the banter of my age-group. Too chipper too early in the morning. I went to hang out with my friend, Karlene, in the old ladies' rack space. Karlene drove up from Wichita for the race. I didn't know she was coming, so it was a real treat to see her at packet pick-up on Saturday!

Swim: 21:56 (1:01/100 yd)
My last pool swim was back in March, at the Chillicothe YMCA (I'm not a member, but my friend Claire is). My main concern had been endurance, but after knocking out a 500 with no problem, I figured I didn't really need to train. I did get in some lake swimming in May, and I've played around in our ponds on hot days. I hadn't done any serious swimming in months.

My main issue was not endurance, but flexibility. About 600 meters in, the right side of my neck started cramping. I went to bilateral breathing, and had trouble turning my head to the left at first. After it loosened up, the bilateral breathing helped. Considering how little swim training I had going into this race, I was pleased with my performance. This is only 32 seconds off of my swim PR at this race!

T1: 1:25
As always, a long, uphill run to the transition area. I took my swim cap and goggles off on the run up, grabbed two GUs and put on my helmet, and then I was off onto the brutal, 18-mile bike.

Bike: 1:05:39 (16.4 MPH)
Compared to previous years, I lost the most time on the bike. In my best year, 2011, I completed the 18 miles in 56:24! Like with my swim, I hadn't been cycling for at least a month. My heart and lungs had the fitness, but my muscles lacked the strength, especially on this tough, hilly course.

Perhaps just as significantly, I sold my Specialized Transition to bolster my savings for my move to the farm last July. My Fuji Ace weighs in at 23 lbs, a full 5 lbs heavier than my Transition. I probably brought an extra 5 lbs to the hills this year, too.

Shawnee Mission is always brutal on the bike, but I was only there for fun, so I tried to stay light and easy on the steep hills and enjoy the downhills. I tried to tamp down my competitive instinct, and not chase every woman with a "25" on her calf who passed me. I resigned myself to a middle-of-the-pack finish, and prioritized having fun over kicking butt.

T2: 58 seconds
For the first time ever, a volunteer told me to speed up coming into the dismount area.

Run: 52:08 (11:37/mile)
Ick. The Shawnee Mission run course takes it out of me every year, but over 11:00/mile? Yeesh.

I hadn't run in over a month. Go figure. The best I can say about my run performance was that I didn't walk.


Total: 2:22:03
In 2011, my best year, I finished in 2:02:29, almost 20 minutes faster than this year! I don't mind, though. This race was for fun. I dipped my toe back into the pool of triathlon, to see if I still like it, and the race accomplished its purpose. Well, it accomplished that purpose. The original purpose was to keep me motivated to train, and that totally didn't work.

I didn't bother staying around for the awards. I figured that, with my performance, I didn't need to bother. But--lo and behold!--I got an e-mail from the race organizers last week, asking where to send my trophy! I finished 4th out of 8 in my division (better than I expected, honestly), so someone in my division must have placed overall.

I finished 31 out of 51 females, and 185 out of 229 athletes. In the bottom half of the results, in other words. Doesn't seem like I should get a trophy for that, does it?

I wanted to see if I still like triathlon, if I should still do it. I didn't have the burning bush revelation that I wanted. But I realized that I still enjoy racing, and I think it's worth continuing to spend a little bit of time and money and energy on it.

Triathlon makes me a bad-ass. But women's rugby and farming are also pretty bad-ass endeavors. So if I let go of one bad-ass endeavor, it's alright; I have back-ups.

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