Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I am a Rocket Man!!

I have so many things I'd like to write about...I just never seem to have time anymore.

I completed my first Olympic distance tri Sunday!!  It was an amazing race.  Everything about it was great-expect for the fact my family wasn't there, but I won't talk about that.

The training group I participated in leading up to the race (Tri 201) was top notch.  I can't say enough about the head coach, Eric, and the assistant coaches Ed and Tom.  Anyone can get a training plan on-line and follow it, but having an individualized plan and the one-on-one coaching was invaluable.

Because I know the race director for Rocket Man, I knew it was going to be a well run event, but I didn't know just how well.  I got a glimpse Saturday at the "expo" when I saw the huge posters of each of the courses and listened to the pre-race briefing that included this slide show: (be sure to mute the music player before playing the video!)

(Look for appearances of yours truly at :46, 1:01 and 1:03!)  Details about the course and the race were given that helped me mentally prepare for what would happen the next day.  (For instance, knowing there was going to be a huge man hole to avoid or that the run course was trail and gravel for a good bit of the way.)  The only issue I faced later on that night was which leg to mark (because I didn't take advantage of the volunteers who were applying the tri tats and decided I could put them on myself at home).  The instruction sheet in the tri tat package said right, the instructions on the back of the tats said left (it was the left).

Race Morning

I woke up in plenty of time to eat, take care of business, recheck my packing list, load up, get there and set up before the FCA sunrise service.  The racks were numbered with plenty of room for each participant to spread out a little bit--that was NICE.  Even better than that was where my rack was-about 50-75 feet from the swim exit (if that).  It meant running a bit farther with my bike, but I didn't have to run bare-footed and wet!  The FCA service was excellent and helped me calm down a bit.  Basically the message was that God had something bigger for me that day than a PR.


I had decided long before race day warming up was going to help me swim relaxed, which would help me achieve a faster time.  I was thrilled to find out there was even going to be a designated warm up area for us.  Race morning I changed my mind.  I figured there was going to be plenty of time for me to warm up in the water.  MISTAKE.  BIG MISTAKE.  It took me a good 400 yards to calm down and get into a decent rhythm. What's bad is I knew it would and I still elected not to do anything about it.  LEARN FROM THIS MISTAKE!!!

I had estimated it would take me about 45 minutes because I have been swimming at about 2:00 per 100 yards and since this was going to be 1.5K open water, I knew it would take me longer.  I did NOT want to rush the swim because I knew I would end up kicking more than I should if I was trying to rush.  Instead I concentrated on my form and my breathing and just calming down.  I passed A LOT of people and for the most part felt good the whole time.  (45:17...13/14 in my age group.  I'm not sad about that because I just learned how to really swim in JANUARY...this time last year I couldn't swim 25 yards without stopping....and Sunday I swam over 65 times that!!)


I felt a little discombobulated coming out of the water.  I had some friends there who were cheering for me--one yelling at me "get out of here!" but I was having a hard time standing up straight!  I have reached the point I don't have to THINK very hard about what I need to do in transition.  My time was 1:16 (5/14).  A couple of things that might make me faster are not wearing socks and/or having my shoes attached to my bike.  But all in all, I'm happy with my T1 time considering the over all first and second place female winners were in my age group and the fastest time was :52 so we're only talking about 24 seconds.  Having a faster T1 would NOT help me in the overall race!!


I'm much happier with my performance on the bike this time than I have been in the past.  I felt much stronger.  There were a couple of inclines, but no real climbs.  I have spent a lot of training time on this course so I felt very comfortable out there.  I felt really good in a couple of places because I was moving a good bit faster than I had in the past.  It seemed like the wind was brutal almost the whole time.  My average speed was 16.7 (not bad for me, but not great either).  Aero bars would help more than almost anything (other than just simply working harder!).  But again, this time last year my only time in the saddle was on a spin bike.  I have only been riding consistently since January.  I was passed a few times, but also passed quite a few people.

The "hard" thing for me was when I would come up behind someone.  There's a rule that you basically have to stay 3 bike lengths behind the bike in front of you and you only have 15 seconds to overtake and pass them.  I would get concerned that I just didn't have it in me to move beyond the person in front of me in 15 seconds and then NOT slow down.  So I tended to slow down a little until I worked up the confidence to pass them.  I don't believe there was one person I passed who passed me back!  (That's an accomplishment for me I believe!)

I felt like I worked hard on the bike although there's obviously much room for improvement!  My time was 1:29:15 and I came in 10/14 in my age group.


The worst part about T2 was the run from the dismount line to the bike rake.  I worry I'll slide in my bike shoes so I don't sprint full out.  I think taking my feet out of the shoes and learning how to make a running dismount would help a good bit.  But, my time was 1:06 and I came in 3/14 in my age group.  The fastest time was :58...eight seconds is worth keeping my shoes looking pretty!!


The run was my weakest event.  When I came out of transition, I felt like I was crawling.  I absolutely HATE that feeling.  It was a lie because I was actually moving at about an 8:30-9 pace (instead of the 18:00 that it felt like!).  Also, friends told me it looked like I was flying!!  I was thankful Coach Eric was on the side lines telling me "just relax"...and in such a calm voice it was almost hypnotic!!  Obviously I didn't maintain that 8:30-9 pace (because that's freakishly fast for me, especially after having just swam 1500m and ridden 25 miles).  The problem was I didn't just slow down, I walked on and off the whole time.  I'm not going to say I'm disappointed because the truth is I'm actually proud of what I accomplished (for ONCE!!).  I'm not happy about how much I walked and I can't say I even know why I did it, but I'm not going to beat myself up about it either.

I remember feeling good at about mile 3.  Nothing hurt.  I didn't feel too tired.  I wasn't out of breath.  I had relaxed (finally).  I just found myself walking every now and then.  It was as if I didn't have control of what my body was doing.  It was like pushing the gas in a car that isn't working properly and it doesn't move forward with the speed you know it should.   I think the thing that will help that the most is to learn how to push myself and build up the mental drive needed for times like that.  It wasn't a physical thing.  I believe it was all mental, but I also believe it was somewhat unconscious because I kept telling myself I felt good and I should be able to run all day ...and then I'd be walking again.  It was BIZARRE.  I know that happened a lot when I first started running, but I can't remember it happening in a long time.

I ended up completing the 10K in 1:08:31 (11:02 average pace) and finished 9/14 in my age group. 


After the finish! (I could stand up straight, I just wasn't!)
I crossed the finish line in 3:25:23 (under the loose goal I set for myself of "less than 3:30") with an over abundance of energy.  I actually wanted to feel sick and completely depleted, but I didn't.  In fact, I didn't feel like I had run a race at all after about 5 minutes.  I was ready to go back out there again.

The finish line workers handed me a cap and a bottle filled with ice water (NICE TOUCH!!).  About 2 feet after I came across the mat a gal tried to get me to stop to take my chip.  I know they want to get them off of us, but they need to understand, we can't just stop on a dime and get it off after what we've just done.  That's a recipe for passing out.  There's got to be a better way to handle that.

They had blow up kiddie pools filled with ice water set up and Coach Eric told me to go sit in one-which I did.  I can't understand how no one else screams when they plop down in an ice bath!!  It's an involuntary thing for me.  Boy it felt good!

The DD's who competed or volunteered at RocketMan!
I had been planning on jumping off the food allergy wagon for a couple of months leading up to this race...and I did!!  I went out for a steak after a nice hot shower.  It was YUMMY!!  I ate bread and a baked potato with butter and macaroni and cheese!!  Then later I ate some Ben and Jerry's S'mores ice cream!!!  I'm not too terribly sick from it so it was definitely worth every bite!!

I loved this race.  I'm a little sad that I won't get to run it next year since I'll be in Oregon running the Hood to Coast with my team!!!  But, c'est la vie, there's always 2013!!

Analysis--What follows is way more information than anyone will care to read...but I'm including it for my benefit so I can learn from this race.  Am I over analyzing?  Yes, but that's what I do!!

I came in ninth in my age group (which ended up being 7th since 1st and 2nd over all females were 41!!) and 81st out of I don't know how many female finishers (looks to be about 113--there were like 180 registered?)...28th percentile if I did the math correctly.  That's not great but my husband had a good point...I'm swimming with the big fish now.  The athletes who will undertake this distance aren't your average beginner athlete.

In my age group, there were two clear divider lines, and I topped the lower list.  Let me see if I can explain.  Here were the overall finish times for my group:
  1. 2:13:06 (overall female winner)
  2. 2:15:37 (+2:31 from 1st) (second place female winner)                                
  3. 2:48:06 (+32:29 from 2nd) (see the big step up here in time?)
  4. 2:49:33 (+1:27 from 3d)
  5. 2:57:16 (+7:17 from 4th)
  6. 2:59:34 (+2:18 from 5h)
  7. 3:01:06 (+1:32 from 6th)
  8. 3:04:10 (+3:04 from 7th)                                                                                      
  9. 3:25:23 (that's me!!  +21:13 from 8th)  (see the big step up?)
  10. 3:25:50 (+:27...that was close-she could have EASILY made this up in transition)
  11. 3:31:14 (+5:24 from 10th)
  12. 3:35:45 (+4:31 from 11th)
  13. 3:43:35 (+8:10 from 12th)
  14. 3:59:42 (+16:07 from 13th)
So...in order for me to have moved up just ONE place I would have had to lose 21 minutes.  So, in my mind you have the elites (who won first and second overall), then you have the fast girls (1-6 age groupers), then you have the finishers (6-12).  My desire is to move from the top "finisher" to a fast girl.  A solid five minutes could have easily been taken off my run without even trying hard.  (I was glad to see 5 minutes wouldn't have pushed me up a place...I might have been more upset otherwise!)  Working on my run pace I should be able to shave off 8.5 minutes (going from an 11:02 to a 9:40 pace).

In the swim I should be able to knock a good solid ten minutes off by just learning how to do flip turns and sighting properly!!  Part of the problem is that I take breaths every 25 yards in the pool.  In the river I found myself not sighting as much as I was breathing.  That slowed me WAY down.  I swim a very consistent 2 minute 100y in the pool.  I know adding distance would make that time slow a bit, but it shouldn't increase it by almost 50%.  My fast 25 yard laps are usually between :19-:26.  I need to work on SPEED in the pool and not be afraid to push myself.  The other thing I need is to learn how to swim in close contact with other people.  I intentionally slowed down a couple of times just to avoid swimming too close to someone.  GET OVER THAT!!!

And finally...once again, as I've been saying...I have to learn to get faster on the bike.  Although I am faster than the 12.6mph 8 mile first bike ride I did back in October!  And, not making excuses, but aero bars will help.  If I could get up to an average of 19 that would knock off about 12 minutes.  Even getting up to 18mph would knock off 7 minutes.

So....knocking off 10 minutes on the swim, 10 on on the bike and 9 on the run would put me at 29 minutes faster.  (I would have been 5th, which would be a 3rd place age group podium!!)

So...the plan is to keep swimming through marathon season, and stay on a bike (spin or trainer, or on the road) and work toward being a fast girl next season!!  :D

If you read to the end, you deserve a prize!!!

Thanks for stopping in.  Come again REAL soon!! :D


  1. I AM SO VERY PROUD OF YOU. I can remember both of us trying to gear up for the annual PT test in the guard and how we both hated to run on that gravel track. I still can't imagine how you got involved in this sport, but as I said, you can do what ever you want to do if you want to do it bad enough. LOVE YOU LOTS AND LOTS!

  2. Well done. You have certainly bested me. I am amazed by your swimming. Your pace is my practice pace and my race pace is even slower. One breath for 25 yards is amazing. My coach would definitely tell you to breath more often. I breath every 3 strokes and feel like I am suffocating. Well done and you are well on to your IM quest.

  3. I love your race account!!!! You did a GREAT job!!!! SO SO PROUD!!!! Welcome to the Rocketman pack!!!!


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