Monday, May 19, 2008

Early Season Race Reports: Columbia Olympic and Kinetic Half

The race season if here! After suffering through a dreary winter the season is upon us and I couldn't be more excited.
I have two races under my belt and am really looking forward to my next race at Eagleman.
For my third anniversary of doing Eagleman, I am raising money for the Paralyzed Veterans of America, Heritage Fund which supports outdoor activities and sports for Disabled Veterans returning from Afghansitan and Iraq. I will be posting more on this within a couple of days. If you would like to donate go here:

Here are my race reports from Columbia and the Kinetic Half.

Columbia, May 18: 1.5k, 41k, 10k
Time: 2:54:27
Swim: 30:12 (AG 61/119)
Bike: 1:25:06 (AG 28/119)
Run: 54:10 (AG 31/119)
AG Place: 30/119
Overall Woman: 161/600

Pre-Race Transition:
After doing several Half Ironmans and a full Ironman, preparing for an Olympic distance race is really easy. I finished setting up within a couple minutes, but kept checking and re-checking to see if I missed anything. I was good to go. Since I had sooooooooo much time before my swim start (it wasn’t until 8:09) I went to check out the pros and their bikes.

I recognized Richie Cunningham (no – not the guy from Happy Days) but the pro triathlete who came in second at Eagleman last year. I asked him if winning 70.3 Championship in Clearwarter was his main priority this year and he said it definitely was. He didn’t seem to be in a big hurry to get to Kona but enjoys racing the big Half Ironman races.

We talked about the Columbia course and he rode it on Friday but didn’t even want to check out the run course. I told him I thought the bike was fun but the run is challenging. He said he will be back at Eagleman and I told him I will see him there.

I checked out Chris McCormack (Macca’s) and Desiree Ficker’s bikes but neither had arrived yet. I was walking out of transition and ran into Chris Wren. I asked him if he wanted to check out the pro bikes and he did. The next think I knew I was almost face to face with Macca. Christ. How cool is that? I chatted with him briefly, told him he was effing awesome gave him a hi five, wished him luck for the day and walked away. What a great sport this is. I also saw Desiree Ficker getting body marked and I said hi to her.

I hung out the at the Team Z “area” since we didn’t have the tent set up. There was food, water and chairs to sit in – which was great since I had over two hours to wait for my swim start.

The Swim:
It was finally time for my swim wave. This wave was huge and had women ages 40-44, 15-19 and 20-24. There were well over 100 of us and I found out after the race that there were 119 in the 40-44 age group alone. Right before getting in the water the announcer guy said the water temp was 71 degrees. I got in and said to Lindsay, “Bullshit! This water is not 71”. It felt more like 61 and treaded water and swam a bit to try and warm up.

Finally we started but because the water was so cold I swam with my head above water. When I tried to put my face in, I was out of breath. It took me at least a couple of minutes before I could put my face in the water and get into a rhythm. Once I warmed up I felt pretty good. It was pretty crowded at times particularly around the buoys, but I managed to find clear water for most of the swim. I got out of the water in just over 30:12, which is a decent time for me.

You have a bit of a run from the swim exit to T1 so this takes some time. I had a tree right next to my rack, so I easily found my bike. Advice for newbies: always try to find a landmark in transition or close to it so that you can locate your bike. Once I got there, I struggled to get my wetsuit off and my 3 minute transition time reflected this. Now – time for the bike!

The Bike:
It was really crowded during most of the ride. Since I was in the second to last swim wave I was constantly going by people who were first timers and/or inexperienced cyclists. I actually had to tell some of them to get to the right as they were unintentionally blocking.

The bike course is actually a lot of fun with constantly changing hills – up, down, up, down. There were a few times I was flying and even with the many cyclists I managed to have some fun.

A cyclist had an accident and had to be taken away by helicopter. I passed the scene just after the ambulance arrived and found out later that many people racing were held up for 15 or 20 minutes to wait for him to be taken away. I hope the guy is going to be OK.

I need to get Yangtz – the shoe laces that you don’t have to lace up. Sometimes I don’t fumble lacing my shoes but today it was ridiculous as my 2 minute T2 time shows.

The Run:
I have a condition I made up called “Don't YoU ReMeMber It's DIfficult? ” or DUMMII. This condition of stupidity allows me to forget that a particular course is really freaking hard so I sign up for it again. The Columbia run course is a prime example. Since completing it last year I truly forgot how difficult it is, particularly the first 3 miles. I started to worry that I wasn’t going to break the 3 hour mark and I was trying to get a good pace but the up hills made it difficult.

I wasn’t feeling good until about mile 4, when my Cliff Shot Blocks kicked in and the up hills were less numerous. I really pushed it on the down hills to make up time on the ups. I passed several Z’s but my cheering was limited today as I was really concentrating on my race.

It was a relief to get to the dam to cross the lake to the finish. A guy was trying to be helpful and yelled to us as we passed “only one more hill”! Gee buddy, thanks for the encouragement.

At this point I knew I had a chance to go under 2:55 so I was really pushing it and finished in 2:54:27. I took about 9 minutes off my time from last year. WooooooHoooooo!

Columbia is fun, but difficult. I would do it again as DUMMII has taken over. Now, could I break the 2:45 mark? Hmmmmmm.

Kinetic Half Ironman, Lake Anna, VA, April 19
Time: 6:03:39, Not my best, not my worse
Swim: 43:05 (AG 10/14), Not my best, not my worse
Bike: 3:12:43 (AG 6/14), Not my best, but close to my worse
Run: 2:01:43 (AG 4/14), Not my best, not my worse
AG Place: 3/14, :)
Overall Woman: 25/92

Being my first race of the season, I had no real goals in mind except I hoped to go under 6 hours.

The Swim:
I swam in a full wetsuit for the first time and found the arm movement to be better than expected. The water was much warmer than last year, which made us all very happy. The swim was a two loop course and pretty uneventful. I had open water then entire way and there was little crowding even at the start. My time was not my best and not my worse.

Slow. Oh well, it’s the first race of the season.

The Bike:
This was a two loop course with rolling hills. The first loop went really well, but by the second loop I was taking it pretty easy which was the main reason I didn’t finish under 6 hours. Oh well, again. It was the first race of the season.

See T1.

The Run:
It was hot now with temps in the mid to upper 70s. While I do pretty well in the heat, this course has almost no shade. I just kept my head wet and dumped cups of ice down my top (one advantage to having boobs and wearing a sports bra). The course was three loops with many hills and I didn’t find my legs until about half way through the first loop. What really sucked was running past the finish line not once but twice. While it is great for the spectators, it can be disheartening to see people finish when you have one or two loops left.

Not a bad day overall and quite unexpectedly I got third in my age group. I was of course happy about that and as it turns out it earned me a possible roll down slot to the Long Course World Championship in Holland in August. The Kinetic half was one of just a few qualifying races. While I wish my PR of 5:37 at Lake Anna last September was the reason I may qualify, I feel quite priviledged to have the opportunity to represent the USA.

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