Rev3 Williamsburg

A couple of weekends ago I took some leave and drove up that weekend to spend some time with some friends from college and also figured I’d squeeze in a triathlon while I was visiting. I spent Friday night at her house, after some car trouble along the way, and the Saturday we dropped my bike off in Williamsburg before heading to Richmond to meet up with our other friend. Her house was about the same distance to Williamsburg as Richmond so either way I was going to have a little bit of a drive.

They ran a sprint and some kids races on Saturday so we drove over afterwards. I was so impressed by what a big race this was and how well organized it was, too. Triathlon was completely novel to my friend so it was sort of fun showing her around and explaining to her the different things.

Also, Rev3 has really nice packet bags. I got a reusable shopping bag with a nice t-shirt, a visor, and several samples of different snacks. I wish I had taken a picture of it all, but I didn’t even think of it until just now.

In hindsight, I maybe should have just gotten a separate hotel for that night because it would have been easier to get my mind into the game. I had trouble sleeping and I had a lot of doubts swirling around in my head because it was my first olympic-distance triathlon. I told myself I’d feel better in the morning and if I didn’t, I could reassess then.

I felt way better that morning and got up with enough time to head out and stop and get something easy to digest for breakfast. I like to have an hour to set up my area so I can eat, use the bathroom, and not be stressed. Rev3 was running a half iron distance about thirty minutes before the olympic distance so by the time I got to the park, things were very busy. I had to make several trips back and forth from my car to the transition area because I kept forgetting things. Finally I had time to eat my food and then decided to go watch the swim waves start. It’s a good thing I did, too because they decided to move everything up half an hour. I wandered over just as the folks in silver swim caps (I had a silver swim cap) were entering the water and waiting for the start. I rushed in, threw on my cap and goggles with ten seconds to spare.

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IMG_2536The swim was in the Chickahominy River and mostly pleasant, aside from the one guy who kept trying to swim on my feet and legs. I got kind of annoyed by that after the fifth time it happened so I spent some time splashing a lot to get him to sight and go away. My doubts came back and I started wondering if this was just a bad idea and if I should just scratch. I just felt really, really tired and another two events seemed insurmountingly hard. I switched to a two-stroke breathing pattern and that made me feel a little better and then told myself I’d finish the swim and then reassess. The last 100 meters or so the river shallowed a lot. I went to tread for a minute and the bottom was right there. Some of the taller people were hitting it with their arms with every stroke. As a result, all that river silt got kicked up and thoroughly coated me in a fine layer of dirt that later dried. Lovely.

I took some extra time in the transition area, ate a Stinger gu, drank some water, and felt a lot better so I headed out for the bike. I learned that I am a very slow cyclist, especially when I compare my average pace to the others in my category. I am slow. But I really enjoyed the course. It was mostly shaded (thank goodness because it was hot that day in Virginia) and only some gentle rolling hills and lots of pretty country houses and farms to look at. I felt really positive during the bike, even as it seemed like everyone and their mother was passing me.

Finally I hit the transition and headed out on the run. Again, the run was mostly shaded and the only big challenge was running over the huge bridge over the Chickahominy just after the start and right before the finish. I was concerned about overheating so I walked at every aid station and drank water and they also had Coke, Powerade, and these amazing ice cold sponges that I stuffed down the back of my sports bra and felt amazing. I also threw the ice from my water down the front of my sports bra and although it made me sound like a soda while running, it felt great. I was so happy to see that Chickahominy bridge the second time because I knew I was almost done. I tried to smile for the finish but it sort of looked like a grimace. I was good and tired by the end of it and so was also overjoyed when they gave me a sports towel that had been soaking in ice water to drape over my shoulders. I used some of it to clean off the dried dirt on my chest, arms, and neck.

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Rev3 put on such an amazing event. They had booths from different vendors and also a barbecue for the finishers. I wasn’t very hungry but I ate some baked beans and an oatmeal cookie and got a ten minute session in some Normatec boots that really helped ease my tired legs.

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I was in the mood for a caffeine pick-me-up before I tried to drive home that night (spoiler: didn’t make it, spent the night just inside the 250 mile radius of work) so we went to American Brew, the coffee/whiskey bar owned by one of my heroes, Ashley Horner.

I was happy just to be drinking a latte there when Ashley herself actually came. I was too starstruck to say anything to her, but she say my race tattoos still on my arms and asked what race I did. We had a chat about triathlons and swimming and I told her I was a huge fan and asked for a picture. I’m always nervous meeting new people, especially when it’s someone I admire because not only am I a little worried I will act or say something stupid, but I also don’t want to be disappointed by them. I’m so happy to say that Ashley was as unbelievably kind and warm as she comes across in her posts and videos. I was so thrilled to meet her in person and between finishing my first olympic distance tri and meeting her and also getting to see two of my best friends, it was a really incredible weekend.

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Tri the Parks Blalock Lakes, Take Two

Blalock Lakes was my very first tri (typing that makes it sound like I’ve done sooo many, ha!) so I  knew I really wanted to do it again, plus I wanted to try signing up for an entire series. I missed the first race of the series because it was back in April, but I was so excited to do Blalock Lakes again, especially now that I’ve actually been doing some training.

I planned to drive to Newnan after work so I packed everything in my car so I could leave from there. It’s a good thing I did because my shift ran long and I just made the packet pickup with a few minutes to spare.

I’d also planned on camping but it turned out that the park had actual gates and closed them between 10 pm and 7 am, which was a problem because I wanted to be at the start at 7. So instead I ended up driving back to Newnan and getting a hotel room for the night. Again, I lucked out because the hotel sold out a short while later.

I set my alarm for the next morning but I woke up before it and only a little after my weekday alarm usually goes off so I laid on bed for a bit reading Facebook before deciding to get up. I wanted to get some Starbucks but forgot my wallet in the hotel room so I had to turn around to get it and decided just to go to the start because I was getting antsy that I was getting close to when I wanted to be at the start.

At the start, I realized my number wasn’t actually 89, like I’d thought, but 68. My number was on my helmet upside down. And I’d put all my stuff on the wrong rack.  Whoops. I met 89 and she was super nice about it. I moved my stuff to the correct rack and it was more crowded because two women had huge tri bags right next to their bikes. As a result, all my bike photos from the race were filed under number 89 and not 68. I thought about using a market to draw a line under the bottom of my number, but I didn’t think it would actually do much good, and anyway, I didn’t have a marker.

I signed up as an age grouper because there wasn’t an option for novice online. I was pretty nervous about the wave start so I got in the water and swam a bit to warm up. The water was murky and I forgot to breathe out while swimming.

We watched the guys go and I put myself in the second rank of women. There was some panicking on my part as people swam way too close to me so I pulled off and swam slowly until they’d gotten more spaced out ahead of me. As a result, my swim time was a bit higher than it could have been since I sat there and treaded water until I felt like I had enough space. I didn’t really get a good rhythm down after panicking so I defaulted to two strokes and breathing only on my left side because that’s apparently my favorite side to breathe on. Again the swim seemed like it took forever but it was only about 15 minutes. I know I need some more work on OWS and some more courage to deal with the thrashing water.

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I make the best ugly faces coming out of the swim

I rushed into transition and found my bike and then rushed back out. I felt pretty good on the bike. The course was all right turns and reasonably hilly. I got passed a lot in the first half of the course and I really started to wonder what was wrong with me and how was I such a weakling until I started passing the people who’d passed me. I guess they got more tired as the course was on. I’m still figuring out all my gears and what gear is best for the given situation and that day I discovered all the other gears on my bike, which made a HUGE difference in speed! I really loved the course, it was very quiet and Blalock Lakes is gorgeous.

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Finally I was back and hurried to my rack and changed my shoes. I got a huge blister from no socks last time so I made sure I packed them this time. It was kind of annoying to put them on and I think my left sock was higher than my right sock, but it beat getting another blister for sure. The run was pretty hilly and I was getting tired so I tried to think of all the positive things I could. One of my coworkers had joked I was like The Little Engine That Could so I repeated that to myself for a while. I took water at mile 1 but by mile 2 I wasn’t feeling so great and a little while later I started getting the heaves and had to walk until I could calm my roiling stomach. I never figured out what caused that but I decided it was maybe the Java Monster I’d had for breakfast since I didn’t get my normal Starbucks, or maybe just because it was 80 degrees with 80% humidity.

A spectator had brought a vuvuzela and was blowing it near the finish line. While annoying, it was great to hear it because I knew I was almost done. I finished, got my water bottle, and guzzled as much of it as I could stand while I ate most of an orange in slices. I checked the results posted but they only had me through T2 so I decided to run back to my hotel and shower and come back to see the final results.

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I don’t know why my right hand looks like a lobster claw

Swim: 15:23

T1: 01:18

Bike: 54:19

T2: 01:26

Run: 28:47

Total: 1:41

I had to look up my time from four years ago because I thought it was 1:41 and while I wasn’t going to be upset at getting almost the same time four years apart on the same course, I was going to be a little annoyed with myself. I know, it’s only been like two weeks of training but still. Good news though, my time four years ago was apparently 1:47, so I still beat my time even with walking and letting everyone on the swim pass me.

I registered as an age grouper so I didn’t place, but I would have taken first if I’d registered as a novice. However, novices aren’t eligible for end of series awards and I wanted to try for that. Plus, this was technically my third open water swim so I’m getting to a point where I don’t think I need to register as a novice anymore. I’m still debating on the rest of the season; there’s a few races where I think I need the novice tag for confidence but I’m going to work on getting used to swimming in a pack like a bunch of salmon.

Like always, I learned a lot and had a good time. Plus, it makes for a good excuse to have pizza for dinner!

Ironman Buys Rock N Roll Race Series

A couple of days ago Ironman bought Competitor Group, the folks who put on the Rock N Roll races. A short while ago Ironman also bought races in California and North Carolina, rebranded them, and upped their entry fees. Before I started triathlon, I didn’t know that Ironman was a brand, I thought it was just the name of the distance and while the 140.6 is called the iron distance, the M-Dot is their brand symbol. How genius is that? You’ve gotten a bunch of people to pay you money for a massive sufferfest and to tattoo your brand on them forever?

Ironman is awesome at branding and putting on big events. The Rock N Roll series is pretty similar, my first marathon was the Seattle Rock N Roll and it was a blast, so I completely understand the appeal and why people go back for more. But the down side is that costs money. Ironman’s race fees are insane, which discourages people from trying the distances. It’s pretty smart of them to acquire the running series to help boost their profit, but I’m worried that the races they just bought might also up their fees and that Ironman may disband some of their less-profitable but still-fun races just as they did with the triathlon series.