Monday, March 8, 2010

Desert International Triathlon Race Report

After checking in to my hotel I decided to drive out to the event location to meet Ron Saetermoe owner of Triathica and do an easy pre-ride of the bike course. It was also an opportunity for me to learn from Ron's extensive tri experience. As we rode a leisurely pace and talked about the race and Ironman, I knew this would be a very fast course unless the predicted rain fell on race day. Whatever malaise I suffered from on Friday seemed to disappear as I envisioned hammering my bike around this course on race day.

When I woke up this morning I looked out of my hotel window to see the sidewalks and streets were dry. It was cloudy and cold but still a good day. I arrived at the park set up my transition area and prepared for the 3/4 mile swim donning my wetsuit, earplugs, and goggles. It is so daunting for me to look out at a lake and strain my eyes for the buoys I have to swim to. The distance seems so far. I have to keep reminding myself that I've done this distance before. Then I start thinking about the cold water and Ironman Ron telling me he may wear a neoprene cap, something I don't have. Fear and anxiety start building up as I wait for my wave to start. The thought of quitting enters my mind and I quickly push it out with positive thoughts and prayer and this is before I even start the race! I started a conversation with two guys next to me for distraction. One is from Toronto Canada and has no fear of cold water. The other is from California. He tested the water and told me its freezing. We watch as a number of swimmers from each wave quit the race and head to shore as if the lake is shark infested. The gun sounds and we head to the water. I walk as long as I can to avoid as long as possible getting my chest wet. The first thing I notice is that my feet don't seem that cold. Maybe its the 53 degree air temp vs. the 63 degree water temp. I plunge my whole body in and start swimming. The water hits my chest and I have to catch my breath, which messes up my stroke, which causes me to panic. Fortunately I have my wetsuit on which keeps me floating. I started swimming again slowly and as I got used to the water temp I rounded the first buoy and was starting to get in to a groove with my slow and deliberate style. I flipped over to backstroke for a minute and as I looked in to the sky a seagull flew over and I was reminded of a Switchfoot song about faith, how my faith can sustain me thru the swim. Faith in God, faith in myself. With renewed confidence, I finished my swim. So much fear and self doubt trying to deceive me.
GOAL TIME: :35:00

As I ran to my bike, happy I survived the swim and beating my goal time, the rain started falling. So much for a dry race. I had a wind vest and armwarmers in my transition bag so I pulled them out and put them on to try and stay warm during the ride. Unfortunately I made the mistake of not rolling up my socks and struggled with them, then a woman came up to me and asked me if I saw her husband who was racked next to me. Huh? As the rain came down I left the transition and started my bike.
T1 ACTUAL 8:18!?

This is the part of the race of course I love. Even in the rain I had my revenge on the numerous people who swim faster than me. I heard a bunch of guys complaining about riding a bike in the rain. Having raced bikes in the rain many times I actually found it to be easier in a tri. In a bike race your sitting in the peleton getting covered with dirt and grit flying off of everyone's wheels. Hearing these guys complain just made me stronger. My first lap I averaged 20 MPH and wondered if I was saving anything for the run. I felt great and decided to keep up the pace or push it harder on the second lap. It was one of those good days. At the end of the second lap my average was 20.7. With one hill to climb back in to transition I kept it in my big ring and stood up passing a few more riders. I was soaking wet and despite armwarmers and vest, starting to get cold as I racked my bike.
GOAL TIME 1:20:00

I had the forethought to cover my running shoes and hat with my towel before I left on the bike, not that it mattered as the rain continued to fall. I opted to keep my vest and armwarmers on for the run and jogged over to the Porta Potty. (Too much hydrating in cold wet weather) as I climbed in I started shivering violently rocking the Potty! Good call on wearing the extra clothing for the run!

Most of the run was on dirt trails and roads that took us around Lake Cahuilla. Other than being cold, my legs felt pretty good after my great ride. I settled in to an easy pace for the first mile so my legs could adapt from the bike. The course was mostly flat with a couple of very small hills. I've never run in armwarmers or a bike wind vest before. You would think that I would overheat, but starting the run so cold and with the constant rain I felt just right the entire time. My run was going well and I knew I was on track to meet my time for the run and overall for the race. If you saw me the last mile of the run the first thing you would have noticed is the huge smile I wore on my face. Like former Ironman Champion Natascha Badmann who would often run with a smile, I was just happy to be able to use the gifts God has given me so that I can try and live life to the fullest.
GOAL TIME: 56:00


This race was a huge morale boost for me as IMCA nears. Although IMCA is roughly double the distance of an Olympic event, my training is paying dividends. To not meet my goals in this race would have been devastating. I did learn from this event. On the nutrition side I found out why I struggled in the past with stomach cramps in the first mile of the run. Don't chug all of your sports drink in the last miles of the bike! Take in as much fluids and or nutrition as you can early in the bike. This helps you to recover from the swim and fuels you for the remainder of the race with out causing stomach problems. Socks. Most tri people frown on socks except for maybe the run. I've gotta wear socks. I had wool socks for the rain which kept my feet warm and I LOVE my SLS3 compression socks! The problem is putting them on after the swim. It seems to take me forever even when drying my feet and rolling up my socks to the toes. I just need to keep practicing!
Pre- Race Meal
1 Bagel
1 Banana
Race Nutrition
3 GU gels. (with caffeine) One before the swim and one in each transition.

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