Saturday, May 19, 2012

Women of Steel Race Report

There comes a time in every athlete's game when you take a good long look at the things you COULD have done better and the thing that you COULD NOT have controlled. Today was that day for me. While confident in my fitness and having a belief in myself I know there are things that are completely out of my control. BUT. The things a CAN control make a much longer list and are the main contributors to today's sobering race results. But instead of dwelling on it lets get right down to what I had control over today.


Ok, I admit it! With a record of high swim finishes I went into today's swim with an, ahem, an over developed sense of confidence. wasn't bad, BUT, it could have been better! I jumped into the pool running and swam hard, my arms burned and my legs were whining like little babies. It felt hard but in reality, I came out of the pool and to the transition mat in a nearly identical finish time as Ice Breaker. Sooo, no excuses, it was good for me, but only yielded a 14th age group finish. My one regret is not trying out my Tri suit in the pool without a wetsuit covering it. It provided the extra drag I believe my arms and legs were complaining about...but hey, we looked gooood! :) 6:21 Swim


Okay, my T1 was an EMBARRASSMENT to the establishment! I could have pulled up a chair and knitted a sweater! Okay, that is a stretch but it reflects how silly my goofed attempt at T1 was. Not only would my shoes not go on my feet but I LAID MY BIKE OVER when I lost my grip on it. Wet hands, shiny carbon paint job, botched handling, bike goes down, I fumble the mount and get a sloooow start on the bike. At least I laid it over on the grass, I would HATE a reminder on my pretty frame for the rest of our collective Tri lives. 1:57 T1


Taking off on the bike was almost as bad as Ice Breaker. No webble-wobbling drunkard action, but slooooow. Could have parked my tucas on a beach cruiser and sipped a limeade and it would have been less un-comfortable to watch.
But I got it together and had a pretty good first loop.
The second loop was a frustrating mix of dodging the tired, the inexperienced and the unaware. I did a lot of shouting, a lot of braking and a lot of coasting. I get it, big event, crowded course and newbie's that didn't hear the 'ride single file' bit. Even still, I biked it as fast as I thought I would so really I was my own Mrs. Poppy Pants.
Coming off the bike was probably a mix of tightly drawn breaths threw clinched teeth or a half giggle snuffed out by a hand over mouth! Yeah, it was THAT bad. Turns out, a flying dismount does noooot work so well up hill. And we'll leave it at THAT. 41:19 Bike


Oh boy. T2, it was okay, bikes dont rack themselves,frozen toes need a little more concentration going into running shoes, and sunglasses that fly off your face with your helmet all make for a slow T2. 1:42

The RUN:

Now the run was much better than expected. Excluding my watch freezing on the first mile, I felt good. I was keeping pace with gals that "looked fast" and did NOT fall on my face. :) My back felt good, legs felt good and I enjoyed most of the run. The only part that was not so enjoyable were the aid stations. At the last moment a biker rider cut me off and STOPPED right in front of the aid station. I missed the water and ended up grabbing what tasted like watered down lemon-lime Gatorade or was it water with a touch of Gatorade? Whatever it was my stomach did NOT want it. (I left out the barfing on my bike part, you're welcome.)
The next aid station I stayed clear of but a guy did jump over with some water which also did not go down and I tossed it. Should have skipped it altogether it was just a little 5k after all!
I must admit, when I hit that stretch of sidewalk from Ice Breaker I was thinking about this report, 'fell on my face AGAIN', did cross my mind and I did not want to have to write that AGAIN! It worked though, I kept my head down and feet up and had a great finish. That is up until I got punked in the shoot! Man I HATE it when that happens! 26:18 Run

I finished 22nd in my age group and 70th out of 701 starters, failing to qualify for nationals by 1:32. When it's all said and done, none of those little details caused my failure to reach my goal today. I failed myself. I failed to take seriously my coaching, to ditch the junk and feed myself like an athlete. I failed everyday I chose to ignore my nutrition and carelessly treat my body like a trash can leading up to race day. Despite the things that were out of my control going into the race, I am completely responsible for this failure. I kick myself for letting me down! I kick myself for letting my coach down and one more for letting my cheering squad down. They all sacrifice a lot for me and I squandered it.

And guess with that there's just one thing left to do...

My name is Kelly Jones and I... am a sugarholic.

It's been 3, no wait, 2, no... At least ONE hour since my last taste. *Sigh*

P.S. TriUtah put on a really fantastic race! I could skip the bracelet and necklace though. I'd much rather have real race bling, but my daughter loves it! The food was great too! Served up on a plate with a chocolate chip cookie (which my kids ate) and plenty of massage therapists! Fantastic!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Rage in the Sage - Race Report

I love Triathlon, can I just say that 10x's over again?!
I love a great course and tough competitors...and I love finishing well even MORE!
No such luck sneaking onto the podium this go round. BUT! I had a great race none the less.  Here goes nothing... my 2012 BBSC RAGE Triathlon Report. 
So, let's start at the night before the no...let's start at the beginning of the week!
In the beginning, there was pain...
Monday morning I woke up feeling my "wheaties" and jumped right into my workout outs with excitement! CK (Coach Keena) had us doing 200 meter repeats. After swim I needed to get my bike in but IT band issues, that plague both Jared and I, wouldn't let me spin light and fast for my 2.5 hr ride so I opted for uphill sprint repeats and did a few of those. I was pretty fatigued but Track class was starting that night and I didn't want to miss out on the run coaching so the kids and I tossed the scooters in the Suburban and headed off to a fantastic and challenging workout.
Turns out my enthusiasm for Mondays workouts was actually INSANITY which btw, runs in the family! (So I really can't help myself!)
The punishment I gave myself Monday lasted clear through the WEEK and taunted me in the days before the race. The night before being the hardest (psychologically) on me.
I had myself a little DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and my legs were so unhappy and I skipped the rest of my workouts leading up to the race with my legs hardly hauling me up the stairs each night and I basically LIVED in my compression tights. Mentally I was writing off the race as a 'I'm just a recreational athlete' triathlon and figuring it'd be a long hot disappointing day and that was before we even left for Vegas!
Me and my BFF -Compression tights!
I don't know if Jared outed me or if CK caught me wincing but Jared told me she wanted to talk with me that night. CK really cares about her athletes and she takes the time to check in with us and help whoever she can, but I always hesitate taking up her time when she has 'serious' athletes to tend to. :) I let her know that my legs were hurting and she offered a much needed leg massage that was nearly worse than a visit to the PT (CK really knows how to bring the hurt)! Along with the leg work I have generous and wonderful team mates that came to the rescue with 'Sports Legs' to help relieve the soreness. 

And then there was still pain...
Race day morning I woke up hoping to step out of bed onto fresh legs and bounce down the stairs ready to kill it.
-No such bouncing occurred-
The mental game began and I knew I had to stay strong and keep a positive attitude! The head games I play on myself are hard to over come and its become a focus of mine to over come that little voice inside me that convinces me I can't do it hard things.
This time I had a little phrase in my head, thanks to FB and Biggest Loser Tara Costa... "Watch Me!"
Only I was talking to ME, mentally coaching myself threw the morning and visualizing each phase of the race and what I expected to do.
So onto the race experience!

And then we raced...
Race morning we where greeted with a pot of hot steel cut oats thanks to the guys of CK Elite (Bart & Jared) and it was the perfect fuel for the race in my view. We then packed up and headed to Boulder Bay at Lake Mead.
Upon arrival I discover that my race number had blown off my bike and is sitting on top of the vehicle (lucky!) And Jared's number had blown off his bike and was gone complete (unlucky!).
It's too bad our evening Pre-race prep was wasted because we were pressed for time after having to carry our bikes a good 1/2 mile from the parking space to the transition area.  (Jared did manage to 'wing' it with a spare race bib and a borrowed marker.)  The parking was on rocks with lots of weeds and stickers and no way do you want a small little sticker causing a big flat!
To make matters worse the transition set up was end to end down the entire boat ramp effectively limiting each athlete's transition space to a 12inch by 48 inch space for all of your equipment. 
Last years strict enforcement of bike placement on assigned racks was completely over looked leaving CK athlete's to scrap for rack space and there were few if any volunteers to remedy the many bikes on the wrong racks. We found ourselves in the unpleasant postion of 'relocating' other athlete's equipment (okay, so we moved them a few inches to the left and right, not a biggie, just more time wasted).
Also the assigned rack space proved to be a handicap for Jared and I as I am use to being next to him to share sunscreen, body glide, baby powder and the last minute reminders not to forget anything!
This hoopla caused me to feel rather rushed and worried that I had everything and Jared had nothing! So I pulled on my swim gear, paused to take a picture and rushed off to find Jared. Only I didn't find him and I then realized I was out of time and had forgotten the finer details of triathlon...ohhhh say, my heart rate monitor strap, GU gel, Pre workout Baddass, and SUNSCREEN! (and yeah... I. AM. FRIED.)

Carriann Harlan, Myself, Kristen Cambridge
After I realized it was too late to run the 400 meters up the boat ramp to grab my stuff, I settled into the water to make sure I had a good seal on my goggles and my wetsuit was on well. Both were great (so I thought) so I made my way to the front of the pack to avoid as many kicks to the face as possible!

At the bull horn I took off and swam right over the top of whoever was in the way. It was the most aggressive I have ever been in a swim and I was pretty surprised by the speed I put out to get ahead of the pack. I could only spot one girl to the side of me and she pretty much swam along side me for the majority of the swim. I quickly realized that I had made a small mistake with an unfamiliar wetsuit as I felt the Velcro tab cut into my neck with every turn to breath. But I don't stop to fix something unless it's intolerable pain and I was just going to tough this one out.
My wetsuit loves me
During the swim my legs felt great and I was so happy I picked up the pace and started kicking just a little bit harder.
At the third cone I took a nice hard kick from a breast stroking Clydesdale we had caught up and my elbow locked out feeling like a nice arm bar in a gabbling match! For just a moment I broke my focus to pout about my already sore shoulder and how this was just what I needed! Then came the mental toughness clinic and I brought myself back into focus. I applied more rotation to take the pull off my arm and more into my lats (which is how I should have been swimming to avoid the shoulder pain ANYWAY). I also thought to pull back and draft my 'swimming buddy' to recover my arm for a few hundred yards.
Both ideas paid off, as I came out of the water in 3rd letting my 'buddy' beat me to timing mat and another lady snuck by us at some point as well!  However, I still had something left in my legs to run through transition.

Transition 1:
T1 went pretty good other than fumbling my aero helmet with wet hands and getting slowed down by people who were walking their bikes in the narrow lane between the racks.
Like Icebreaker, I missed my clip several times but managed to keep it straight and dodge 3 other bikes that were doing the same crazy swerve I had going on at Icebreaker.
Never the less, I got off to a good start coming out of T1 in 3rd amongst my fellow age groupers.

Climbing out of Boulder Bay I could tell my legs were going to be sore, they were very sore in fact. It's a good thing there is a down hill to every up hill as I was able to gain some ground, time wise, but I was still passed on the final up hill stretch heading back to the lake and couldn't regain any distance thanks to my painfully sore legs.
Coming into T2
The best part of my bike was my dismount. I narrowly made it out of my shoes before the dismount line and got my leg over my bike to jump off and hit the ground RUNNING! And I DIDN'T even fall! :) Ok, so that's only amazing to other grace-challenged athlete's like myself. It was my first attempt at a flying dismount during a race and I really did think it would be much scarier.

Transition 2:
I flew into T2 with surprising speed and over took a number of people on my way down the boat ramp. Only problem was the path was split with trash cans every 20 yards or so and other athlete's coming up the ramp heading out on the bike. I literally had to but the brakes on and WALK behind a guy who had a nice weave pattern going on with his bike. The whole 'guide your bike by the seat' is not as easy as it looks, at least that guy didn't quite have it down. I was half irritated at not being able to get around him and half amused at what I must have looked like the first time I attempted it myself.
After getting back to my rack there were only TWO bikes there and I had high hopes of finishing in the top 3 at that point. Only my legs running down the very long transition area didn't want to cooperate an I knew what lay ahead for me on the run.
As if I had already tripped, I slowed my pace as soon as I approached the turn out of transition and onto the course. As I did Couch Keena was there taking pictures and assured me she got it as if to say, "What are you waiting for?!".

Run:As mentioned I hesitated heading out on the run course. I knew all too well what running on lake bed could do to my ankle.
Flash Back to October 2011:
Ragnar Lake Mead to Las it HERE .

With how that race ended it should go without saying that race has weighed heavy on my mind since then and I went into Rage with a lot of mental road blocks.
Turning the corner from the paved boat ramp to the rocky lake bed I felt the brakes applying themselves to a slow but steady pace. Mostly I fought myself over pushing faster or running gingerly and avoiding the rocks. It was my main concern from start to finish, DO NOT FALL ON YOUR FACE, DO NOT FALL ON YOUR FACE!
Crossing the finish line
As I tip toed the first stretch of the run my team mate breezed past me and I felt that desire to go faster. I KNEW I could run faster, but I was in my head over thinking every step. I wanted to pick up the pace on the paved parts of the run but my watch had froze just out of T1 and I had no idea what my pace was. I didn't want to push too hard too soon and get passed at the finish line so I paced myself on perceived effort and that worked pretty good. When I turned onto the final downhill stretch of lake bed I took a chance and pushed harder to the finish.
I couldn't have been happier to cross the finish line with out so much as a wobble on the rocks. I felt strong but spent.
Despite holding back, the heat, and the sore legs I had started with, I had a great race and felt I had accomplished my race goals.

In the end...
I had raced the course 59 seconds off of my predicted time and had pushed past the pain and self defeating thoughts to finish 5th in my age group. I was pretty sure my best would land me in the top 15 and I was delighted to find I had finished in the top 5. I gave this race my best training days to date and I can't wait for the rest of the season!

Kelly (me), Kristen, CK, Jeanine, Carriann
Venue and Race Review:
Lake Mead as a venue is in a word, perfect, in my opinion. The water was super clear and so refreshing. The smell of the water is still fresh in my mind, it was so crisp like a fresh stem of cold celery that breaks with a crunch between your teeth. I wanted to drink it in and could have enjoyed the clean cool water all day.
The start was a little crazy, no one could hear the bull horn and the sun was blazing into our eyes leaving us to guess where the cones were. But the annoucer said to swim into the sun and you'd run into to first cone an that worked well.
The boat ramp, while long and at a nice incline was great for running barefoot and made for a good transition area.
The transition area itself was set up differently than last year with the racks lined end to end making one long rack down each side of the boat ramp.
The bike course was great, the road was in excellent repair, traffic wasn't bad and rules were enforced. The only iffy place on the bike for me was coming into the bay area, the road had a lot of gravel on it and had a number of curves making it a little a nerving for my flying dismount.
The run course, other than being rocky, sandy, and having zero shade, was straight forward and well marked with a perfectly placed add aid station with both Gatorade and water.

-Unlike last year-
The transition area was completely unguarded and there was ZERO help with course directions. While this didn't effect me personally many people over ran the run start from the transition area and had to back track. Apparently when it was pointed out, the response was unsympathetic as it is the athlete's "responsibility to know the course".
Also unlike last year, but a pleasant addition, were the ice cold 'transition' towels they threw over our shoulders at the finish. There were barrels of gatorade, chocolate milk, coconut water and regular bottled water all chilled and a much welcomed refreshment along with the staple citrus, banana's and bread.
Last years sponsor was back with their beer tent, the massage therapists (both of them) :) were there and they had a catered meal but it wasn't anything special. It seemed this event lacked sufficient volunteers to really make the event what it could be.  Altough I give the old ladies dishing up pasta in the Nevada heat a big thumbs up!

Don't get me wrong, I liked the race, I just think that Lake Mead National Park with their rules against loud music, baby powder and balloons and all things merry really put a damper on what could be a really amazing race experience.

That being said, when you travel CK Elite style and kick it in a sweet pad with the best people around you can't help but have a great event experience no matter where you're at!