May 5, 2015

Spring Sprint Triathlon Race Recap 2015

Last weekend brought another triathlon.  I signed up for the Spring Sprint solely to get my head back in the triathlon game, and to practice my transitions.  I haven't really done a triathlon since my last half Ironman, which was over a year ago, and I have Vineman 70.3 coming up in just over 2 months. (Yes, I did that reverse triathlon a few weeks ago, but I'm not counting that as good practice, since the transitions were backward and there was no open water swim).

I did this race back in 2011, and enjoyed it enough to want to sign up again. I was also a spectator last year, watching my son (then 10 years old) and my best friend become first-time triathletes.  I was oddly nervous about this race.  When I mentioned my nervousness to my friend/coach Steve, he questioned why a two-time half-Ironman finisher would be worried about a little sprint.  Well, I was nervous about two things---how cold the water might be (the water temperature had dropped somewhat in recent weeks) and the washing machine of swimming with other people (something I always dread in tri).  I also have only had one open water swim since Tiki in September, and wasn't sure if this would bite me in the ass.  However, regardless of the nervousness, I didn't show it prior to race day---I didn't even start packing until Saturday afternoon!  In years past, I always start gathering stuff together 3 days in advance for fear of forgetting something.  I guess I'm becoming seasoned after all, because it was easy for me to pack---and I didn't forget anything.

Steve had two goals for me for this race.  One was to practice putting my swim stuff in a plastic bag (at Vineman I'll have to do this, just as I did at Oceanside, as they'll transport my gear from T1 to the finish. It took a lot of time for me last year).  For this  I brought an actual Ironman gear bag from my Oceanside race.  The second goal of his was for me to run a progressive 5k at the end; that is, to run each mile faster than the previous one.  I wanted to accomplish these two goals, as well as have a quicker T1 than usual (I'm always slow as molasses) and just to have fun.

I sent J to the packet pickup on Friday, so I didn't have to deal with any of the expo stuff.  Saturday afternoon I packed my tri bag, cleaned and lubed my bike, and loaded everything in the car.  I checked my blog from the last time I races (truly, one of the reasons I blog is so I can remember all the details that might come in handy later!)  I went to bed early, and was up before my 4:00 wake-up call (after waking several times in the night, as per usual for me pre-race!) I went downstairs, got dressed, brushed my teeth, and was out the door by 5:00, eating a Luna Bar on the way.  I got to Mission Bay by 5:20, easily found a parking space in the front, hung out in my car for a bit and then walked into transition. I was in Wave 9, and was happy to see my friend Marsha already there, with space next to her bike for mine.  I set up my transition, and got to talk to Marsha and her friend Tracy until it was time for our wave to start.

all set up

After watching wave after wave start, it was finally our turn.  This race has a water start, so we had to get in and swim maybe 50 yards or so to the start. I didn't know where to position myself.  I'm not fast, so I didn't want to be at the front, but there are also a ton of newbies at this race and many are slow--I didn't want to be stuck behind people. I settled for the middle. I quickly got acclimated to the water---it was estimated by the announcer to be between 66-68 degrees, and it felt good. I wasn't too cold at all. I was glad I chose to wear my neoprene booties though---I didn't necessarily need them for the warmth, but waiting beforehand on the boatramp, and the run to transition after, is very rough on the feet. After treading water and putting my face in the water to blow bubbles and test my goggles, the horn blew and we were off.


I Tarzan-ed the first several yards as I did not want to get kicked in the face and it was crowded.  Soon, though, the crowd dispersed somewhat and I was able to swim. I had to go around a lot of people, or slow down as sometimes two women in front of me would start to converge as I was attempting to swim through the gap between them. I truly hate this part of swimming in triathlon.  My right shoulder started to ache, and I still don't know if it's because I often have shoulder issues or because my wetsuit is too constraining. Either way, I didn't let myself stop---it's only 1/4 mile swim, and I knew the more I progressed, the quicker I'd get out of the water.  It didn't take long to round the buoys, and I was back to the boat ramp sooner than I'd expected (the course is somewhat of a square). 

I ran up to transition, and found Marsha running next to me. We had finished the swim at the same time, which amazed me.  The timing mat is at the entrance to transition, which sucks, because I didn't get a true measure of my swim time---the run to transition is stuck in there (if any race organizers are reading this, may I suggest a timing mat at the boat ramp?).  I took off my goggles and cap and started to unzip as I ran. Into transition I went. Wetsuit off, booties off, and all swim gear stuffed in the plastic Ironman bag.  Socks, bike shoes, race belt, sunglasses and helmet on.  Clip-clop out of transition, pass the mount line, and BIKE!

It was an overcast day, which was surprising, as all week it'd been very hot and sunny. I was grateful for the cooler temps, but that meant I was a bit cold in my sopping wet trisuit. Normally I dry myself a bit more in T1 but I'm working on getting quicker, so I only kind of patted down my feet to get my socks on.  The course changed this year---normally the bike is two laps of Fiesta Island but apparently there was a soccer event going on there so the bike course headed the other direction, and did two laps.  I liked it, as I HATE Fiesta Island--but there were at least 3 hairpin 180 degree turns on each lap, which made us slow down a lot. I also wonder if any accidents occurred. I didn't hammer the bike as I did in the triathlon a few weeks ago, but I tried to maintain a good cadence. We were told there was one hill---I didn't see any hill!  There was a slight uphill as we went over an overpass, but no hill.  I passed a lot of people, and gave encouragement when I could. It was clearly some people's first tri, and it was awesome to see them out there.

11 miles later, I cruised back to transition.  Dismount, clip-clop back to my spot, rack my bike, helmet off, run shoes on, hat on---and RUN!

With my goal to run each mile progressively faster, I was dismayed to look down soon into my run and see my pace in the 9's.  That is unsustainable for  me, and I certainly can't get even faster!  So I made myself slow down.  I did my usual 2 minute run/30 second walk ratio.  The run was pleasant----it was still overcast, and the two-looped course was flat. I did the first mile in 11:09 and the second mile in 11:07.  I was feeling good. I was feeling strong, even.  Toward the end, I passed a woman cheering who yelled to me "You look cute AND you're running strong!"  That put a huge smile on my face!  The last mile, since I felt so good, I did mostly 2:15 minute run/ 15 second walk. I finished the last mile in 10:35.  Talk about progression!  For the third time this year, I crossed the finish line with no nausea, feeling happy and triumphant.

A fun race indeed.  I met my goals, and got my head back in the triathlon game.  I had no goggles leaking, no bike issues, and no foot pain. I did just order a sleeveless wetsuit, as the shoulder pain is worrying me and I have a lot of open water swims coming up---hopefully that will help.