Race Report – 2017 Rev3 Williamsburg Olympic

Rev 3 Williamsburg Race MedalRev3 Williamsburg was incredible.  Absolutely incredible.  Rev3 puts on wonderful races, and I cannot think of a single thing I would change about this day.

This was my second year for this Rev3 Williamsburg Olympic course.  (I did the race in 2015 as well, when it was taken over by Challenge, but the course was very different and really can’t be compared.)  So of course, I had goals.  Well, one goal.  Do better than last year.

I knew this was going to be a challenge though.  Last year’s race was incredibly fast partly due to some extreme currents in the water, so I figured this year’s swim would be slower.  Also, just in general, it’s July.  If the day ended up being extremely hot, all bets were off.  But I still had goals.  Last year, I raced an amazing 3:33:33 (best race time ever), so my goal was something around or under 3:30.

The great thing about this race is that it’s a big race with that big race feel, but because it’s only about 2.5 hours away, it also feels very local.  I knew so many people racing this weekend, people both from Mid-Maryland Tri Club and the Coeur team.  It’s always fun to see friendly faces on the course.  This year, they also added a sprint on Saturday (as well as a kids race) which made for extra cheering fun.

Saturday morning, I got up bright and early (well, it wasn’t bright yet) and headed out to cheer on the sprint race.  We got there in time for the swim start, and watched the swimmers enter and then finish.  I’m definitely glad I got to watch.  Not only was it awesome to cheer on friends and strangers, but it also gave me a look into what I was facing the next day.  The water was clearly incredibly shallow, as people were able to stand fairly far out (of course, that’s not the best race plan, as you expend way too much energy walking through water).  Once the swimmers were close to the shore and stood up, it was clear the mud was ridiculous.  The water was also incredibly dirty, and by the time the last swimmers got out, it looked like they were swimming in chocolate milk.  Yum.  So we stayed and cheered and celebrated with our friends as they finished, and it was awesome.

Rev 3 Williamsburg Race Morning Race morning, I followed my normal plan of getting to the race site stupid early.  I like to get there as transition opens.  Do I need to be there that early?  Nope.  Setting up transition takes maybe 10 minutes if I’m not moving particularly fast.  But I like to be there and get mentally ready and also hang out with people.  When people register for this race and list their tri club affiliation, if enough people from the club register, they rack you together, so you are near people you know.  This is also nice because you can assume your teammates are friendly and won’t just throw their stuff down on your transition spot.

Finally, it was time for race start.  We watched the 70.3 racers start, then it was our turn.  There were two men’s waves and two women’s waves.  I was in the first wave of women.  I walked into the water with a friend and sort of slipped as the concrete dropped off.  But since I was in the water, it wasn’t a big deal.  Also, the water was warm. Disgustingly warm.  The official temperature was over 85 degrees.  So gross.  It definitely felt like bath water.  And unfortunately, while there was a current, it was nothing like the previous year.

The horn blew and I was off.  I was generally pleased with how this swim went.  Occasionally, I found myself in packs, but didn’t struggle too much to get around them.  I also did a really good job sighting and felt like I swam a pretty straight path.  The water was super warm though, and I definitely felt myself getting hot.  And though I did my best to try to not get the water in my mouth, I definitely could feel the grit between my teeth.  Disgusting.  Also, my foot was starting to sting.  That wasn’t a good sign.

The water was so shallow that I understood why people were walking.  I wasn’t to the final turn and my hands were hitting the ground – and I don’t have long arms!  So I did my best to keep moving forward without walking and risking sinking in the mud, and finally, I was out.  And I was dirty.  My poor beautiful Coeur kit.  I hope it recovers.

Swim: 29:41 (2016: 25:47)

I glanced at my watch on the run in and knew that I was slower than last year, but thought I could pick up time on the bike.  Of course, now my foot hurt.  When I got to my bike, I paused and took a look at my foot. There was a chunk missing from the ball of my foot about a centimeter long.  That’s good.  But it wasn’t bleeding profus

ely, and since I knew it couldn’t be stitched, I just rinsed it out with water from the bottle I always bring to transition for rinsing my feet, and put my socks on and hoped for the best.

T1: 3:04 (2016: 3:03 – clearly I’m getting better, since this year I stopped to check my foot and wasn’t really slower.)

On to the bike.  This is a fast and flat course.  I was trying to do race math and figure out just how fast I could get off the bike and how much time I could leave myself for the run.  I’m not great at math on a good day, so trying to do race math while biking… well, it keeps me occupied.  This course is a bit long – 27.2 miles on the bike.  I hadn’t actually looked at my splits from last year, since I knew the swim wouldn’t be comparable, so I didn’t have a set goal, but figured something under 1:40 would be good.  My foot definitely hurt when I first started pedaling, but it sort of settled into a low ache, and I could mostly ignore it.

I do most of my training on hills, so I’m not really sure what a good flat course pace would be for me, so I just pushed.  I was aiming for around 17mph or more.  My plan was really to kill myself on the bike because I’m not a great runner, so this is where I can find the most improvement.

The course itself was awesome.  Some of the roads were smoother than others, which makes for an interesting ride.  For the most part, the other racers were friendly – most people calling out as they passed and encouraging each other, calling out friendly words, etc.  This wasn’t a closed course (bike courses rarely are), and for the most part, cars were friendly, though there were definitely a few buzzing racers.  I found out later that one cyclist even got hit, though I heard he or she was going to be okay.

I have my watch set to alert me at 5 mile intervals, and I kept ticking off the miles ahead of my goal pace, so I started to really think a PR was possible.  I wanted to leave myself at least 1:20 on the run if not 1:30.

One thing I noticed on the bike was that my heart rate was pretty steady and I wasn’t pushing into too high of a zone.  This tells me that I have room for improvement in my legs – and this is an awesome thing to discover.  I know that when it comes to running, I might have a little bit of improvement left, but I’m near that sweet spot where my HR and my pace are pretty maxed, considering my HR issues.  But on the bike, there’s room for so much more.

Bike: 1:34:16, 17.31mph (2016: 1:37:59, so I didn’t pick up as much time as I wanted, but still pretty darn good.)

In to T2 to check out my foot.  It wasn’t too painful, and I hoped my sock wasn’t just completely bloody.  Shoes off and my sock just had a little bit of blood showing.  Of course, it’s important to note that I was wearing hot pink socks, so as I realized later, it might not show much at all.  I didn’t take off my sock to check out my awesome wound though and just kept going.

T2: 1:52 (2016: 3:41.  Clearly I got lost or something)

Time to run!  My first steps while running were not awesome.  The wound on my foot had been in my nice flat bike shoes and not forced to bend at all.  Now, it hand to bend with every step.  It didn’t feel great, but I hoped it would fade.

My goal was just to hold a sub-13 pace and try to move as fast as I could while the day was still cool.  My first mile was comfortably 12:43, so I hoped things would hold.  This course is an out and back on a paved trail, and I love that sort of course when I know people racing because it’s awesome to get to see my friends and also to cheer for strangers.  I started leapfrogging with a couple of people and it was fun to chat with people.

I managed to keep my heart rate down while still managing to really power walk the walk intervals.  I think that’s one huge reason my pace has improved so much – I’m really pushing my walk intervals.  I also kept dumping water on me and packing my top with ice.  It wasn’t terribly hot, but that sun does beat down on you.

I hit the halfway point and knew that things were looking great for a PR.  As I ticked off the miles, I mentally calculated how much time I had left, and at one point, I had around a mile left and 20 minutes to do it in, and that was a great feeling.

Run: 1:17:38, 12:32 pace (2016: 1:23:02)

Rev3 Williamsburg Race Results

BOOM!

Total time: 3:26:32, a PR of 7:01

I was SO so so pleased with my finish.  I felt awesome and even with the slower swim, I still nailed it.

After the race, I walked over to medical to have them take a look at my foot, just to see.  My foot didn’t hurt, but I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t going to fall off or anything.  I took off my sock and they irrigated the wound, poked at it a bit, and put some ointment and a bandage on it and told me I would probably live.  Thankfully, my tetanus shot is up to date.  While I was sitting there with my sock in my hand, I mindlessly squeezed the water out of it (from all the water I poured on myself) and well.. it wasn’t just water.  So apparently that pink sock doesn’t show blood.  Good to know.  So gross.  Stacey was lovely and waited for me at the finish and got to witness this all first hand.  I have such great teammates!

Foot inspected, we headed to watch other racers and eat some delicious BBQ.  I also met Mariah from InsideTracker who is as lovely as she seems online.  It’s always awesome to put a face to a name.

This race remains one of my favorites.  I had the best time and I really can’t think of a single thing that I would recommend the race change.  (Except maybe clean up the water somehow.)  I’m not sure what races I’m doing next year, but this one will absolutely be on the list.  I definitely recommend it for anyone looking for a great July race.  And there’s all sorts of touristy things for your family to do as well.

Race Report – 2017 Escape the Cape Olympic

Escape the Cape Ferry Boat

I jumped off this boat. Yep. A perfectly good boat. And I jumped off of it.

Last weekend, I did my “scary” race of the year – Escape the Cape in Cape May, New Jersey.  Every year, I like to do something that scares me.  Last year, it was Augusta 70.3.  This year, rather than tackle a new distance, I decided to go a different route and take on Escape the Cape.

This race has been tempting me for a while.  Why?  Because you start by jumping off the Cape May-Lewes Ferry.  That is crazy.  I’m not particularly afraid of heights, but I do have a healthy sense of self-preservation and jumping off of a perfectly good boat goes against that.

I admit, I didn’t pay much attention to anything in this race beyond “jump.”  I knew it was an Olympic distance, but beyond that, I was focused on that jump and the swim.  Most of my swims are freshwater, so this had me concerned for many reasons.

Then I started to hear more about the run course.  I knew it went onto the sand and I knew that was going to be hard.  Then the race director, known as DelMo, started putting out videos apologizing (sarcastically) about how hard he made the run course.  The turn-by-turn run course came out and included steps such as “Curse DelMo,” “WTF, DelMo,” and “Find DelMo, Kill Him.”

So, you know, that was promising.

One thing I missed about the run course until the day before (when Kristin pointed it out) was that it was only 5 miles, not the 6.2 I was expecting.  So that helped.  I was so focused on the swim that I didn’t even look at the distances of the other legs.  That’s quality race prep.

Race morning dawned bright and early and Kristin and I headed out to get setup in transition and get ready to board the ferry.  We had to board the boat at 6, and my race didn’t start til 7 (and Kristin, who was doing the sprint, didn’t start til 7:45).  So we had a lot of stuff to bring with us.  I packed a little bag with an almost empty can of TriSlide (to help get my wetsuit on), some snacks, and some sunscreen squeezed into a tiny baggie so I could apply it while getting ready.

There was a lot of excitement and nervousness on the boat, and that hour went by very fast.  I couldn’t believe it was already time to jump!  As soon as the horn went off, some people raced across the timing mat and leapt in, including one guy who did a flip. No way was that happening.  So I got in line and made my way up to the start.  Standing there on the boat, I realized the jump wasn’t that bad.  I think it was 12 feet.  In my mind, I had it as high as the dive platforms at the pool.  My pool has a 10m (33 feet) diving platform.  So 12 feet was nothing.

There were four people directing people to jump.  The current was incredibly fast, so when someone jumped, by the time they surfaced, they were already a number of feet away.  Right before I jumped, I watched someone lose their goggles when they jumped, so the volunteer helping people in was warning all of us to hold on to their goggles.

Finally, the person before me jumped, and I was told to jump as soon as the person surfaced. I refused to think, just jumped.

escape the cape jump

However, I should have considered my race photo, as I clung to my goggles.

The swim was amazing.  The current was fast, but the adrenaline boost from the jump was so helpful.  I didn’t feel any anxiety while swimming at all.  The waves weren’t too bad, but there were enough that it was sometimes hard to see the buoys to sight.  They had a ton of lifeguards out on boards though, so I just stayed near them when I couldn’t see the buoy, knowing that they were somewhere on the course.  It was a straight line, so it couldn’t be that hard, after all!

Swim: 27:32 (see what I mean about the current?)

The distance to T1 was ridiculous.  It was definitely a long trek, and not easy in bare feet.  A guy in front of me had stashed a pair of flip flops along the way which was a genius move.

T1: 7:05

This bike course was about 24 miles, two 12 mile loops. The sprint athletes, who started 45 minutes after us, only had one loop to do, which meant that for my first loop, I was mainly racing with other olympic athletes.  The course was flat and fast, aside from one bridge.  I loved having a two loop course, because it gave me a good chance to understand the loop and then really let it go on the second loop.  This was the first outdoor ride I’ve had all season where I could feel the results of all of my work over the winter.  I felt like I was flying.

escape the cape bike

The second loop was a bit more crowded as the sprint athletes joined us, but it wasn’t too bad.  Definitely no worse than some other races I’ve done.

Bike: 1:25:44

On to the run.  At least it was only going to be 5 miles.  I could do anything for five miles, right?  The majority of the run was along a street with some amazing spectators.  Lots of people out on their porches and yards, enjoying the morning and watching the spectacle.  I waved and called good morning to a lot of them.  I absolutely love races that go through neighborhoods like this one.  Seeing all the people out, hearing the cheers, having quick conversations, it makes the run go so much faster.

The olympic had a total of four sections through the sand – two on the way out and two on the way back. I’m not sure what I was expecting.  People kept referring to these as “dunes,” but I would probably say “beach.”  The word “dune” made me think I was going to have to climb up something.  And I suppose entering and leaving the sandy area was bit of a climb, but nothing like what I feared.

escape the cape run

It’s easy to look good in a photo when you can see the photographers up ahead.

Don’t get me wrong – that sand was not easy to run on, but I lost less time than I thought I would.  I ran where I could, walked where I had to, and continued to collect sand in my shoes.  I think the challenge made it even more fun than I expected.  It was hard, but not impossible, and everyone out there was just so friendly that it was hard to not smile.

Run: 1:10:35

Total time: 3:14:10

escape the cape medal

I finished this race so incredibly happy.  I felt so great about what I had just done, and I had such a great time.  This was a great challenge and an amazing race.  I definitely want to go back and race it again.  I encourage everyone who is looking for something a little crazy to try it out.

 

Race Report – 2017 Fort Ritchie Swim Fest

This weekend was the Fort Ritchie Swim Fest.  It’s a really great event and perfect open water practice.  There are three different races in the event – 750m, 1500m, and 2250m.  (Clearly, it’s a 750m loop.)  You can do one race or any combination of the races.  In previous years, I had done the 1500m and the 2250m, but after watching some friends do all three races – the 4500 – I decided that I wanted to do it this year.  That’s 2.8 miles.  That’s a lot of swimming.

My goal for the event was to just finish.  I wasn’t worried about times, because I had to save my arms to get through the final 2250.  So I knew that I would likely be slower than normal, and I was okay with that.  This was an endurance test for me.  And also some quality cold water practice, because the water was 64 degrees.

The first 750 was definitely the hardest, because when I got in, the water was so cold that it literally made my skin hurt.  It took a good five minutes for my face to stop hurting in the water.  Thankfully, the pain did stop and the second two races were much easier, even with getting out of the water and getting back in.  This is a good reminder, because my race this coming weekend is going to be stupidly cold.  At last check, the water was 59 degrees.  Maybe it will make me swim faster?

This event was definitely just a slow and steady, and I’m happy with that.  Yes, my 2250 was 9 minutes slower than last year.  But this year, I did a full 2250 before doing the second 2250, so I think that’s okay.  Leading up to the race, I thought doing all three races was crazy.  I still think it was a little crazy, but I’m pretty confident that I’m going to do it again next year.  It’s a fun challenge and it’s great practice.  If I can get through that kind of swim, my olympic distance races this year (1500m) are going to be a breeze.

Race Report – Kinetic International Triathlon

Kinetic International Finishers Photo

Photo credit to Keely

Triathlon number one for the season complete!

This was the first year (I believe) for the Kinetic International distance.  I’ve done the sprint here before, and the course looked the same as Giant Acorn (though I think the bike course is reversed from the last time I raced it), so I had a general idea of what I was getting into.  And then the weather forecasts started to roll in.

Once again, I started the season with a cold, rainy triathlon.  But this year, I knew what I was getting myself into.  I was much more mentally prepared for a miserable experience, and I think that preparation made a world of difference.  Also, it wasn’t that miserable.  But I was prepared for this to be a slower race than normal.

Race morning, the temperatures were in the upper 40s, and it was raining.  Great.  Awesome.  At least the 60-something water would feel warm.  Gotta find the bright side, right?  I got in the water as early as I could, probably at least 45 minutes before my wave started.  That’s the great thing about races at Lake Anna – you can get in the water super early and just sort of splash around until your wave starts.  It’s perfect for people nervous about the open water.

I was in the very last wave, which didn’t worry me too much.  This was an international and a 70.3 distance raced together, so that meant I had no risk of being the last finisher.

When my wave finally started, I struggled to find my groove at first, most notably because it was impossible to see the buoys.  The rain had stopped for the most part, but it was foggy and just hard to sight.  Not a big deal all in all, but annoying.  The swim course was a big rectangle, so once I made the second turn to go back towards the shore, things were much easier, though at that point, the wind picked up and there was some significant chop to the water.  I can handle that as long as I can tell where I’m going.

And though it felt like it took forever, I was finally out of the water and on my way to T1.

Swim: 41:24

One downside to races at Lake Anna is the long distance to transition.  It’s paved, which is nice, but it’s just a long uphill run.  Barefoot.  And since it had rained so much, once I got to transition, everything was just a huge mudpit.  I bet the bike tracks were at least an inch deep, probably more.  So that was hilarious to deal with.  No running for me – I didn’t need to find out how much padding my wetsuit would give me if I fell.

I stripped out of my wetsuit, getting it super muddy in the process and tried to clean my feet off to get my socks and shoes on.  (Yes, I wear socks on the bike leg.  I get blisters otherwise and it’s worth the few seconds it takes me.) I also watched a guy cursing at his wetsuit because he was stuck in it.

I opted to not put on my arm sleeves since the rain had stopped and I would rather be cool than overheat.  Plus they’re so annoying to put on while wet.

I definitely wasn’t hurrying in transition, which is probably something I should work on for next race.

T1: 4:39

On to the bike leg.  I was worried that because my cleats were so filled with mud that I wouldn’t be able to clip in properly.  Thankfully, it wasn’t too bad, but future me had some serious shoe cleaning ahead of her.  I headed out on the bike, which starts with a lovely uphill.  Having done the course a number of times, I was ready.

The roads were still a bit wet but not too bad, though I was still glad I had slightly underinflated my tires, especially on some of the speedy downhills.  I had a goal pace in mind and found myself just below it, but I think I tend to overestimate my goal pace in general.  I was also struggling with some tightness in my quads because I was so freaking cold.

I was pretty pleased with how I hung in during the bike, though I wished I had brought some cookies for a snack.  I forgot how much I like snacks on the bike.  Snacks are one of the best parts about biking!

Bike: 1:41:59

T2 went much better, though again, no running through the mud, so it was a slower trek.

T2: 3:15

And on to the run.  This I was familiar with.  It was a two loop course (though they tacked on a tiny bit near transition – I guess the old course was just a little short) with a grand uphill on each loop.  Hooray.  I didn’t even bother to try to run it, knowing it would shoot my heart rate up way too fast, so I just power walked it.  The downside to that is that there are tons of spectators there.  So I just chatted and said I was getting my moneys worth out of the course.

At this point, my upper hips/butt muscles were very tight (actually, using the internet I think maybe it’s my gluteus minimus? Anyone?) and I hoped I wouldn’t be fighting this the entire run.  Thankfully it just bothered me on the hill and then faded.

Because it was still cool, I was able to set into a good rhythm.  Not quite as fast as my most recent half marathon, but that wasn’t done on bike legs, so I was pleased to find a good groove.  I got tons of compliments on my Coeur team kit – it will be on sale next season!   It was awesome to feel so good out there.

The volunteers were spectacular.  As I was coming through, the pizza lunch delivery had just come for them, and I kept threatening to steal their pizza.  The tables were manned by kids with adults supervising, and these kids were great.  Sometimes, kid volunteers get sullen or bored, but I loved the enthusiasm these kids had.

Finally, FINALLY, I was cruising in to the finish.

Run: 1:20:22

Total time: 3:51:38

Not my fastest, but far from my slowest. I was thinking I would be around 4 hours with the weather, so I’m quite happy with this.  And I knew I had a good shot at placing Athena this race seeing as there weren’t a ton of entrants.  I was hoping for second.  First was unexpected and a delightful way to start the season.

Now I need a trophy shelf in my pain cave!

After the race, I got back to transition to retrieve my poor, muddy bike, and noticed they had  put down straw in transition.  SUPER nice.  Of course, my bike still had chunks of mud all over it.  That was a problem for future me too.

And my new tip: Use a blue IKEA bag as your transition mat (or stick it under your mat/towel).  Then when you’re done, you can throw all your gross gear inside it and haul it back to your car and contain the crazy amounts of mud.  When you clean your gear, just hose down the bag too.

 

Race Report – 2017 Cherry Blossom Ten Miler

This weekend, I ran my seventh Cherry Blossom Ten Miler.  And I think the weather was among the best that it has ever been.  This year has been pretty iffy, weather-wise, and while it was a little cool before the race, the day turned out beautiful and the blossoms were still beautiful.  Best of all, I got to meet up with some of my Coeur teammates before and after the race.  I’m so glad to get to know some of these girls so much better, and I’m looking forward to racing with them again.

As I wrote earlier this week, my goal was something under 2:10.  In my head, I had 2:05 wandering around, but I knew that was a long shot, as running 12:30s was going to be a whole lot faster than anything I’ve been able to pull out lately.  (Spoiler alert – I didn’t run that fast.  This isn’t one of those sorts of posts!)

This is probably the most “local” of races that I run, and I love that the logistics are so easy for me.  I get to park at my office building for free and walk down to the race start.  I love not having to worry about parking or traffic.  I left my house around 6 for a 7:30 race start and had plenty of time.  That’s the last time that’s going to happen this year.

Before the race, I met up with a bunch of my Coeur teammates and it was so fun to finally get to talk to these ladies in person instead of just online.  Everyone was so wonderfully nice.  Seriously, if you ever see anyone in a Coeur team kit out on a race course, just say hi.  Such friendly people.

I was in the Purple People Party Wave again this year – it’s the wave of people planning to finish in 2 hours or more. I joke that it’s the wave of people who like to get their money’s worth out of the course, but honestly, it’s often full of people who are stressed about the race time limit.  Because of the need to open up roads, Cherry Blossom has a 14 minute per mile pace requirement, so there are a lot of racers in the purple wave hoping that everything goes their way and they make that pacing requirement.

Before and during the race, I ran into a lot of friends, including some I was meeting for the first time in person.  Man, the internet is awesome.

As the race started, I didn’t really have a set pace in mind.  I knew I wanted to race under 2:10, so I wanted to run sub 13 minute miles, but other than that, I didn’t really have a major goal.  I just wanted to try to enjoy the race.

For whatever reason, this race, I just never found that running high, which was kind of a disappointment.  I was pushing, but not too hard, meeting my pace goals, and enjoying myself, but I never got that rush that we all often get during races.  So when I finished, it was kind of a bummer, even though my final time was pretty darn good.

Of course, part of the problem could have been that I didn’t realize how good my time was.

I ran a 2:07:09.  Which is meaningless until I look at my previous ten mile races.  This was faster than I have run any ten miler since before my heart issues were diagnosed.  I posted that, and my friend Kate said I shouldn’t qualify the PR.  And she’s right.  I should just reset everything in the spring of 2010 and move on from there.  So with that in mind, this was a PR.  It’s still a bit shocking to be cutting time from my races when I feel like I haven’t been run training a lot, but it shows just how much all my work on the bike really does help – and I enjoy it so much more.

Now, to see how this all plays out during triathlon season!

Blog post written with cat assistance.