Sunday, May 24, 2009

Back from the Dark Side

I know that the past few months have involved entries like "why bike racing is the best thing ever" and "bike racing is quickly becoming my favorite sport." And while I still love the bike, don't get me wrong, I've realized that my number one love will always be Triathlon.

Yesterday was the first race of the season, a short fast sprint triathlon in south Jersey. That meant getting up at 4 and being out the door by 4:30- earlier than most of the bike races this season, but this time, I was wide awake and super excited, even without my good bike- I was racing on the Trek again, but honestly, I didn't even mind. It helped that Dad drove and Robbie came along. They really are the best!

Setting up transition, getting body-marked, getting awesome race swag, these are things that I missed! (Things I didn't miss: bathroom lines and the fact that no one else was warming up on a trainer.) I got my wetsuit on and paddled around the lake (very sea-weed-y and full of lily pads.) I was feeling pretty good about everything, albeit a bit nervous- I didn't know how the open water swim would go- I've never had a good one, so I wasn't expecting much.

Then, the race started. It was an in-water start, so I had gotten up to the front, and jsut put my head down and went. I was amazed that I didn't start panicking like I used to, and just focused on "go go go go," sighting occasionally. It was only a 400 meter swim, and all of a sudden, there was the shore, so I started focusing on passing more and more people. I wasn't even out of breath when I exited the water, so I was fairly amazed to realize it was a 7:30 min swim and I was the 6th female out of the water!

Then, onto transition, where the wetsuit came off perfectly and I was on the bike and moving. I shot up to 24 mph easily and was going happily, passing people for a couple miles. Then, cramping.

I should have used the trainer on Friday and warmed up, but instead I went tubing with friends. Like an idiot, I didn't drink my tonic water with quinine, which usually helps with cramps. I pretty much screwed myself over.

So my right thigh felt like it was on fire, and I totally lost power in it. I tried to focus and just keep going, but it was killing me. Then, a car came a bit close, forcing me to run over a large stick, which got caught in my rear wheel. I tried to ride it out, but I ended up having to stop to untangle it, losing a good minute. I was pedaling essentially with must my left leg for power at this point, so I was stoked that the ride was only 12 miles. I wanted to push it, but I couldn't. It wasn't even a "it hurts too much to push," it was literally that my body couldn't with that pain. My average ended up being 19 mph, 4 mph short of my goal, which shouldn't have been hard to accomplish- I've raced faster than that, and this course was flat with only a couple of small rolling hills. Needless to say, I was unhappy.

Got into transition and Dad yelled that there were 14 women ahead of me and I needed to "haul ass." So, into transition , where I tried to jam my sneaker on, only to realize that the lining had come out and jammed in it, so I had to fix that before I could get it on. Waste of a good 45 seconds or so. Then, onto the run. As I ran out of transition, Dad just started yelling "Run like hell!"

So I did. Or tried to anyway. I took the first 1.5 miles easily, probably around 7:45 per mile, since I was afraid my hip cramping would spread- it's been known to do that. Luckily, it didn't, so on the way back, I sped up to around 6:55 min miles and passed a couple of women.

While I wasn't happy about the run, it's the best one that I've done so far- even a 5k I did last summer was 24 minutes, so I shaved a couple minutes off of that. And if my hip had its normal power, I could have gotten it down to around 19-20 min easily, I think, since I wasn't really winded at all, just worried about my legs.

It turned out ok- I wanted podium, and I know without the cramping I would have gotten it, or been in 4th or 5th at worst. However, I ended up 11th woman overall, and first in my age group. I've never been first before, so at least I achieved that much. Anything less and I think Dad would have left me in South Jersey!

Anyway, at least I got to race in my awesome grim reaper suit!

Next race: June 13, Bear Mountain. And you better believe that I'll be ready, warmed up, with my good bike, and ready to kick ass.

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