Monday, June 11, 2012

Low expectations, positive outcome

It still surprises me that I participated in an Olympic tri yesterday - TriEvent's "Championship" race (because I am a champion?) and that apparently I have a new  PR for that distance.  That is, if I want to consider it a true Olympic tri or not, seeing as the bike leg was 1km short of 40km.  I'm still mulling over the race and the experience today, but nothing about it is weighing me down or filling me with a sense of regret or frustration about the experience.  So, on that note, I'll give it two thumbs up!

Going into the race, early yesterday morning, I had no idea how I would perform - or if I would perform.  I signed up for the race because it was local and because it was exactly 8 weeks out from the Boulder race, so the timing was perfect.  In the past two weeks, I've ramped up my training, so I did not taper at all - in fact, I had a pretty hard week on the bike.  Saturday morning, the day before the race, Michael and I returned to Malibu for a nice ride up PCH.  We logged in just under 30 miles, which did not kill my legs but definitely gave them a work out.  My body, apparently, did not deal well with the ride - on the drive back from Malibu, I crashed.  Not literally, because someone else was driving the car, fortunately, but it was not a good experience to be shakey and feel physically weak, and it left me full of doubts about whether I should even do the tri on Sunday.

I decided to play it by ear - if I felt awful at any point during the race, I would swallow my pride and take a big fat DNF.  I shelved all plans to go "all out" or to try to hit a certain time, my main goal being, if I finished, to feel good at the end.  In terms of races, I felt unprepared, and not just because of Saturday's bonking.  I had no idea what the course was like, except that it was in San Dimas, home of Bill and Ted (his fact made Michael more than willing to accompany to the race, hoping to catch a glimpse of San Dimas High School), and I hadn't devised a race strategy.  Great!  

It ended up being a fairly relaxing morning getting there around 7:15), checking in and racking the bike and starting to race at 8:10.  The weather was pretty much perfect - June gloom starting out which would probably burn off by mid-morning.  It was a small and definitely local race, so we arrived with enough time for me to check off all of the "to-do" items before racing, but I did not have enough time to analyze, set goals, or even put my race face on.  I racked all of my stuff, finding a small amount of space and squeezing in, and then it seemed like I needed to put on my pink cap and GO!

The swim was held in a reservoir and was easier than the last two open-water swims I've done, both in the ocean.  Once the horn blew, I jumped in and it felt great to be in the water, although a bit warm for a wet suit.  My breathing was awesome - 3 to 4 breaths per side, but I didn't feel very fast.  Apparently I wasn't since I came out of the water about a minute slower than I did at Wildflower!  Ah well.  When I exited, I heard people calling my name, but I didn't think that it was MY name.  Apparently I did have a cheering section - a colleague's son was racing, and she and her daughter cheered for me.  It would have been nice to see them and wave, but I'm always a bit out of it when I end the swim.  Just getting to the transition area for me tends to be a major triumph.

But I did make it to the transition area and out of it in record time, I think!  I did not rush the transition, even chatting with Michael who stood right outside the area, snapping fun pictures of me (see below). It seems that the swim-to-bike transition has become a less arduous task.  More practice might actually be helping me!

Then, onto the bike - there were still enough bikes in the transition area that I did not barrage myself with negative thoughts.  Also, I reminded myself time and again, this was not an "A" race but just a good opportunity to practice for Boulder.  The bike leg was three laps - the same course, three times.  Plenty of ups and downs and turns and one stretch of a really bumpy road, it did not offer much in the way of scenery or a relaxing ride.  I think that two laps would have been tolerable; by the third, all I wanted was to GET OFF THE BIKE.  Not because I was tired, but the course just did not inspire me.  That sense was aggravated when my chain fell off at the end of the first lap and then mid-way through the second lap.  I probably lost 4 minutes, maybe more?  Add to that the fact that I decided not to shift into the big gear - that was the moment when I dropped the chain both times, so I couldn't pick up any traction on the downhill or much speed on the flats.  Still, staying in the small gears seemed like the better option, rather than stop once or twice more on the ride.  When it fell off that second time, I wanted to kick my bike (mature reaction, I know), but I tried to react in a somewhat mature fashion, advising myself to be patient because my time was not that important, my goal was to finish on a strong note.

I pulled into the transition area without dropping the chain a third time, and then it was all about the run - I was more than ready to get off the bike and to not worry about the chain.  A bit like the bike course, I had zero expectations or assumptions about the run.  Just finish it feeling healthy and strong, that was goal number 1, which would mark a great difference between this Olympic tri experience and 2012 Wildflower.  I'm not about to break it down mile for mile, but I will say that I felt FANTASTIC during the run.  Most of it was on asphalt which I did not enjoy, but it didn't kill me.  I could have pushed it more in some places, but I chose not to do so, which is a different experience from not being able to push it.  I crossed the finish line with a smile, and a new PR for an almost-full-Olympic tri!

Overall, I did not love this race, and I would be reluctant to sign up for it next year, not even for an ego boost or to see if I've improved.  However, I did appreciate that it was local, so we did not spend extra money on a hotel/motel, and it was great to return home by noon.  I am still so new at this 'sport', and each race gives me a bit more experience, which I sorely need.  Looking back, I feel good about the experience, but not because of my final time.  Rather, I ate properly during and after the race, so no crazy 'crashing', and I feel good enough today to head out for a run around 6:00 pm!  

The one negative from the day - we did not make it to San Dimas High School for a photo shoot.  Michael will have to wait until another day!


mindful mule said...

I kept looking for that excellent phone booth as I passed through San Dimas last week on a ride but alas it must have been in use somewhere else in time.

Interesting, our love/hate relationships with our bikes – drop a chain and it’s worthless, purr through a time trial and it’s priceless – either end of the spectrum just a screwdriver’s twist away.

kilax said...

Congrats on the PR! For not loving the race, you did really well! And with the chain fall offs and the tired legs from the long ride the day before!

I wonder why your chain kept coming off. Is this common? I've had mine come off a few times. I get so messy when I put it back on!

Kristina said...

We'll have to return and fully explore San Dimas. The Water Loops were looking as though they had seen better days as well!
Too true about my love/hate relationship with the bike. One thing is clear - I need to learn more about it!

Kim - Thanks! I took the bike to a local shop and a guru there tweaked the bike - a screw was a bit out of place and a part of the bike was not straight (don't ask me what part - this clearly goes back to the "I-need-to-learn-more" theme). You might have someone look at your bike and see if the chain is tight enough or if there are other issues going on.

Katie said...

wow, congrats on the PR!!!!

Kristina said...

Katie - Thanks! It feels pretty good!