Tuesday, September 30, 2014

So Close and Yet So Far

I signed up for Frantic Frog on the last day of registration.  I had intended to do it all year but frankly my swim just hasn't come up to where I'd like to to be yet so I put off adding this race to my calendar until a few days before.  I've only ever been able to do this race one time, in 2011.  In 2012 I was doing Atomic Man and in 2013 I was just a couple of weeks away from Ironman Lake Tahoe (hard to believe it's been a YEAR!).  But this is one of my favorite events.

I planned to get to the start early.  Since I had two athletes doing this race I wanted to make sure I was set up and ready to talk with them about their plan for the morning.  I just love local races.  I am blessed to be involved in a thriving triathlon community full of people I call friends.  And...I pretty much always meet someone new at races.  Saturday was no exception, turns out the gal I followed all the way from my street is friends with my best friend!  One of the joys of living in a (somewhat) small(ish) town is that you can almost always find a connection with people.

This was also my third race of the season as a member of the Bicycle Cove racing team!  We are fortunate in this area to have a few good local bike shops (shocking since Alabama is THE worst cycling friendly state...), but Bicycle Cove checks all the boxes for me.  I love the owners and everyone who works there, they sell great products (Cervelo and, my favorite, Trek bikes), they have excellent mechanics who get jobs done fast (they have a 48 hour service guarantee), and they are two miles from my house!)

Anyway...I got set up for the race, talked with friends, and went to get warmed up.

My shoulder really hasn't gotten back to "normal" yet.  I can't say that I know exactly why, but it was hurt for 15ish months before the surgery and from what I understand it takes a good year to get over surgery.  It has continued to get better so I'm not going to complain...but it was NOT feeling as good as it has lately race morning.  I swam, I stretched, I moved and I prayed.

And then it was time to start the race.

This race is a time trial start.  People are supposed to line up in number order and are sent into the

water two at a time every few seconds.  The two at a time thing happened, the number order didn't even come close!  The only reason that might matter is that getting in the water too far back becomes an issue because the faster swimmer has to swim around people who are doing the breast stroke, swimming on their back, or just treading water trying to calm nerves.  ***Please hear me say there is NOTHING wrong with any of that--I've done it ALL in races--but when I want to do my best, when I get in the water matters a good deal.  Saturday I opted against doing what a lot of people were doing-pushing up to the front of the line-and just waited patiently in the line.  I had seen all the gals in my age group I consider the fast ones show up and reasoned with myself that, especially in combination with how my shoulder was feeling, I didn't really have a  chance to earn a coveted frog trophy (a "frog in a box") so there was no point in getting worked up about start position.  Turns out it was more than fine.  I passed a few people and had a few people pass me but the swim was really wonderful.

SWIM TIME: 8:58 7th out of 24 (for comparison 2011 time was 10:40, 9/23)

Transition is constructed so that you have to run the length of a chip seal pavement parking lot to get to bike out (no matter where you rack your bike).  I ended up walking the last 10 feet or so because my feet are so tender!  I still had the 2nd fastest T1 time in my age group (1:38).  (2011 was 2:05 but still 2nd place)

In the three races I've done this year I have started with my shoes on my bike.  I still don't have the "flying" part of the mount down but I have gotten better at putting my shoes on so I think it's worth it to start that way.   I came out of transition with two gals who are very fast and I stayed with them...for about 3 miles.  I really think I gave all I had to give on the bike without just completely blowing up.  I love this course.  There are a few small inclines, but no hills and there are a couple of longer slightly downhill sections.  I passed a few people and a few people passed me.

((A little note about the picture...Coming back into the park I should have stayed in aero, but the bike route is next to the run course and I was sitting up a bit looking and cheering for friends...I temporarily forgot I was in a RACE!!))

BIKE TIME: 44:09 3rd out of 24 (2011 time was 47:48 5/23)

Coming off the bike I knew I'd be back on that chip seal pavement again and I almost didn't do the "flying dismount"...but I decided to not let fear stop me.  It wasn't pretty and it wasn't comfortable, but I was off the bike and running to my spot lickety-split.   Now...when I got there things got a little complicated.  First of all I tried to rack my bike on the wrong rack (((I knew it was going to be a problem when I saw that someone had almost the same transition mat as mine in the rack basically in front of mine...and I was right!))).  Then I had a hard time lifting my bike to get it on the rack.  Then I could hardly get my shoes on my feet!  I felt like I was all thumbs!  T2 times are a little funny because some people don't wear bike shoes so their transition time is fast (even though their bike and/or run times aren't very fast).  Total time was 1:02 (5/24).  (2011 was :58, tied for 2nd/23)

When I started running I felt HORRIBLE.  It seemed like I was moving in slow motion.  Now, I "always" tell my athletes that you can not trust how you feel because you just came off a fast moving bike....your body will feel like it's moving slow.  I say trust your watch.  Well...I didn't even look at my watch.  I decided it didn't matter how I felt...I was going to keep running and giving it all I had.  Looking at my Garmin data, I peaked at a 7:00 pace (!!) and settled in to a 9:00 pace...I haven't run that well all year.  No wonder I was struggling.  When I saw the first aide station I made a decision to walk and get some water.  That water really probably cost me a frog in a box...but I can still taste it's refreshing goodness!!  Looking at my data it was about a :38 second dip in my pace and when I started running again I was at about a 9:40ish pace.

The run course is on a path that winds through the wood and has some very short little bumps along the way.  On one of them I took another little break from the race and walked about :40.  I told myself I just needed to catch my breath.  It worked because I hit it hard after that.  I had a friend who got in the water after me who I know is a very fast runner.  I knew she would catch me at some point but my plan was to hold her off as long as I could then I wanted to hold on to her to the finish.  When she passed me I just didn't have it in me to stay with her.  I tried, but it wasn't there...so I just kept running until I crossed the finish.

RUN TIME:  29:39 (11/24). (2011 was 28:44...clearly I'm not running nearly as strong this year but I'm happy with it nonetheless.

After the race I was feeling really good overall about the race.  I was saying it was a great way to finish the season and that I felt like I had given what I had to give to it.


This frog was earned by one of the athletes I coach!
Someone had looked at preliminary results and told me they thought I had earned a FROG!!!  When I looked I realized they were wrong...the results that were posted showed I had lost third place by EIGHT SECONDS!!!  The girl who was showing in third place is a sweetheart and I love her to death.  When I told her she won 3rd by 8 seconds she said "oh I hate that for the other person....I would rather come in 10th than to lose by 8 seconds!!"  I laughed and said "I KNOW...I came in 4th!!"  It's funny how coming that close to the Frog in a box made me view the day's efforts with a different filter.  Instead of feeling pleased with my tri-season ender, I was asking if that water break was REALLY worth not getting that frog (and I was answering with a resounding NO).

I had to leave before awards were all passed out so I didn't get to revel in my friend's victory.  However...when I pulled up the results to write this post, I saw that I really didn't come in 4th....I came in 5th and my friend came in 4th (she lost by :43 so not nearly as hard to swallow as :08....)  I really don't understand were that person's results were when I looked the first time but nonetheless, I have to say losing the frog in the box by :51 seconds makes me really happy about my day again.

And...I'll be the first one to say it...that's just WRONG.  My satisfaction of my effort shouldn't be determined by a number on a list, or by a comparison with someone else's efforts for the day.  However...what it does tell me is that I never know how close I am to the podium.  I know that little water stop didn't help me run faster...in fact I'm confident I lost more time by taking it than I would have if I had just embraced the pain and pushed on.  I think if I knew somehow from the start that I would win a frog if I gained :51 along the course I would have been able to overlook the twinges in my shoulder, the sting on my tender feet, the burn in my quads, and the dryness of my throat.

As it is, I AM happy with my day.  1:25:25 (5/24)  (2011 1:30:14 9/23).  I won't get a frog next year because I'll be tapering for IMChoo or IMChatt (not entirely sure what they are calling it...).  Some people can race that close to IM, but I'm not one of them.

Until next time...

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