Race Report: Waterman's International Aqua Bike 2018

The Quick & Dirty

2018 Waterman’s International Aqua Bike

Rock Hall, MD

72℉, Sunny, dry roads

1500m swim, 40km bike

2:23:37

Overall Rank - 6/7

Age Group Rank (F-AB) - 6/7

 

Pre-Race & Warm Up:

Slept in my own bed, got up, packed up my gear and my J, and started the drive out to Rock Hall. I ate two Uncrustables for breakfast as we crossed the bridge into MD on 495. I also clearly drank a bit more water than intended, as I spent a good hour after we got over the Bay Bridge looking for a bathroom that was open at 5am. We very nearly had to stop at the side of the road!

Once we arrived at the race site, which was equal parts breathtaking view and disgusting mudpit, I picked up my packet and did the usual stickers and transition setup. There was a brief “oh crap” moment where I thought I forgot my race belt, then remembered that I wasn’t running so didn’t need one. J and I took a few pics of the harbor view, then made our way over to the Team Z tent to wait for the start.

My warmup consisted of getting my wetsuit on and walking from the Team Z tent to the swim start. Getting on the wetsuit was insane! I definitely need to practice, as once a few kind teammates gave me some pointers, I was doing much better. As Jen and I headed over to the start, I mentioned that maybe I needed a bit more trislide….a comment that wound up being all too true.

SWIM

1500 meters, 40:09 (2:41/100 meters)

I’m surprised this was over 40 minutes, considering I was in a wetsuit in salty water. Granted, I told myself to take the swim super easy, but I thought I’d be closer to 38 minutes. It did take a good amount of time to haul myself out of the harbor. The “steps” were up at my armpit level, but fortunately a kind and sturdy volunteer grabbed my hand and helped me out. I kept everything calm and relaxed. There wasn’t a lot going on in the way of landmarks, so I really depended on the buoys for siting. I feel like I swam fairly straight. This was my favorite swim to date. 70 degrees, fairly clear water, and just lovely. Minus the neck and underarm chafe, of course!

 A swim Exit photo to be proud of!

A swim Exit photo to be proud of!

 

T-1

4:46

Someone has never gotten herself out of a wetsuit before, and paid the price today. The only ever time I wore a wetsuit there were strippers. This was so embarrassing. I had to eventually sit in the mud and it STILL took forever to get the suit off my heels. It was a longish walk/run from the water to transition, but wow. Practice!

 

BIKE

40 km, 1:38:43 (14.9) mile/hr

Oh so very close to 15 mph! My plan was to get faster with each 5 mile chunk, and I was successful! The course was pretty, with lots of corn fields and other “exotic” views for this suburban girl. It was a little bit lonely out there, since the Aqua Bike athletes were the last wave. Since I’m a slow/average swimmer and a slow cyclist, I didn’t see a lot of people. I did, however, manage to pass a couple of fellow competitors, which was amazing.

Right at the beginning I heard a terrible noise every time I pedaled. Within the first five minutes I realized that my frame pump had come a bit loose and had fallen down towards the drivetrain. It was getting smacked by my pedal with every stroke. I hopped off, stuffed the pump in my hydration pack, and got going again. Its worth pointing out that both at the mount line and here that getting clipped in was practically impossible. My Speedplay pedals have always been a nightmare to clip into, and the muddy transition area made it worse. Any idea why they’re such a pain?

The last few miles did start to get tough. I had to bargain with myself to keep on pushing and not let off the gas. I’m so proud of myself. For the first time every, I’m really pleased with my bike. Yes, I wish I were faster, but that will come with work and some weight loss. I really gave it everything I had!

 Jen knows what’s up: AquaBike 4eva!

Jen knows what’s up: AquaBike 4eva!

Once I got back to transition, there was some confusion about where Aqua Bike athletes were supposed to go. Eventually I just took my stuff back into transition, picked up a medal from a group of kids with clipboards, and then found my way back to the Team Z tent to wait for my friends to finish up. I was feeling pretty goofy, which usually means I need some water and salt. I did not have any heart pounding or any other bad symptoms.

 

Goals & Race Post Mortem

I met all my goals! Good relaxed swim, positive thinking, and a negative split for the bike course. Triple win! I wasn’t very consistent with my workouts this season, so even though I had a lot of improvement as far as bike confidence, it didn’t translate into speed. I’m also significantly heavier than I was last season. I would love to come back to this course and have another go at it after a winter of training.

This was my first time doing a Kinetic race. I’ve heard really good things, and overall, this was a nice race. I think perhaps the volunteer coordinator didn’t give very specific instructions to some, as there were several volunteers at intersections not waving flags or moving at all. Fortunately I had studied the course map and knew where I was going. That wouldn’t stop me from doing another race from Kinetic. Hopefully my run will be in good shape and I can make it a triathlon, although it is really nice to know that Kinetic has Aqua Bike as an option for all their races.

Up next…off season planning!

 Love these ladies xoxo

Love these ladies xoxo

Race Report: Rev3 Williamsburg Sprint 2018

 All smiles at the finish line.  Plus getting photobombed by Stacey's pup, Cuey :)

All smiles at the finish line.  Plus getting photobombed by Stacey's pup, Cuey :)

Its been over a week since Rev3 Williamsburg.  I wanted to stew on my thoughts for a bit before writing my race report.  Attitude is everything, and I'm sorry to say that my attitude both in the ramp up to Williamsburg and day of wasn't quite where I wanted it to be.  All it all it was still a good day, and a great weekend of tri-shenanigans, but I can see a lot of room for improvement, particularly in the space between my ears. 

The Quick & Dirty

2018 Rev3 Williamsburg Sprint

Chickahominy River Front Park, VA

73℉, Partly Cloudy, 10 mph wind

.6mi river swim, 15.3mi bike, 3.1mi run

2:18:42

Overall Rank - 132/159

Age Group Rank (Athena) - 19/28

 

Pre-Race & Warm Up:

I had first breakfast of Naked Juice, Skratch Hyper Hydration, and two Uncrustables at 2am (ish) and went back to sleep.  My real alarm went off around 3:30, and I got in the shower to wake myself up.  Gear check, wake up J, race number tats, sunscreen....the usual race day drill.  We headed out for Chickahominy River Front Park, while I snacked on second breakfast of Skratch chews and sport hydration.

 Overly excited by the race number tattoos.  Photo: Stacey

Overly excited by the race number tattoos.  Photo: Stacey

Missing?  My usual race day buzz of excitement.  I felt exhausted, and nothing sounded better than crawling back into bed.  Even so, we made it to the race site, unloaded the bike, and I made my way over to transition.  It turns out that because Team Z had so many people racing, we were all racked together.  Cool!  I didn't actually know any of my teammates racing the Sprint, but race morning is always a nice time to make new friends.  I set up my transition space, and headed over to swim out to check on the 1/4 mile surface we'd be running on to T1.  Smooth pavement, so I opted out of leaving shoes there.

As I made it back to transition I saw Stacey, who had come out to cheer.  So sweet!  By this time I had already mentioned to J more than once that I wanted to go home and take a nap, and I even said to Stacey that I just didn't feel excited.  My head was just not in the right place.  There was a final application of sunscreen, the choosing of the goggles, and then it was time to go line up for the time trial swim start.  No turning back now!

SWIM:

  • .6mi, 24:37 (2:33/100 yards) --> I think the course was long
  • Gear - Coeur Sports tri shorts, Team Z top, Roka F1 in Vermilion
  • Nutrition - VFuel Peach Cobbler gel with water 30 minutes before go
 Getting a high five from Stacey

Getting a high five from Stacey

Definitely one of the choppiest swims I've done to date. Sighting was pretty challenging, as there was just a stand of trees ahead, but with the waves you couldn't even see them. I just tried to stay calm and carry on.  I really wanted the swim to be over....which is really unlike me.  Usually the swim is my favorite.  More signs of just how off I was feeling that day.


Made the turn at the buoy and things calmed considerably. There was a pretty strong current that almost took me past swim exit, but I caught it and corrected in time. Swam until I hit the boat ramp with my hand, and stood up in about shin deep water....not bad!

I feel like I can always push a bit harder on the swim.  Then again, I've barely gotten to the pool once a week this year.  I do tend to ride with my head a bit high, especially when sighting is difficult, so that's something to work on.

T1:

  • 5:46

This included the 1/4 mile walk/jog from swim exit to transition. I jogged the pavement, and walked the grass due to some uneven ground surface. 
Got my shoes, helmet, sunglasses, and hydration pack on. Skipped the gloves since it was supposed to be only 13.1 miles on the bike (ha!) Walked out to the mount line, and got clipped in on maybe the third try. #performanceanxiety reigns supreme with regards to clipping in.

BIKE:

  • 15.3 miles, 1:03:37 (14.43mph)
  • Gear - Specialized Dolce Comp, Specialized Aspire helmet, Louis Garneau Tri-X Speed III shoes, sunglasses that I got as swag two years ago, Osprey hydration pack
  • Nutrition - 1/2 serving of Tangerine Cream VFuel
 Don't mind me, casually standing around during the middle of a race, lol

Don't mind me, casually standing around during the middle of a race, lol

So I hit mile 6 of this course and was on the lookout for the turnaround. It didn't show up until after mile 7...the exact same point as last year! 15.3 mile course again, despite the maps claiming it was 13.1. That's irritating. 
On the bright side, we got to go out and back on the street, whereas last year we came back on the narrower and bumpier multi-use trail. 
I got passed a bunch, as usual. I did actually play leapfrog with one girl, then managed to pass her for good.  Whaaaa?  With my hydration pack, I took on fluid four times! Big win! I probably could have pushed a little harder, but I always say that. I'm 20 pounds heavier this year, and was roughly 5 minutes slower compared to last year. Could that be weight related? I was hoping to have a faster overall speed, since I've been riding with the team on the road a lot more this summer, and feeling more confident with my handling. My lady bits started complaining at the turnaround, as per usual on flat courses. The lack of movement starts to feel achy. I wasn't as strong as I would like up the last hill, but it wasn't a big heart pounding climb or anything.

T2:

  • 2:56

My calves had been feeling sore lately, so I chose to run in my Brooks instead of my Vivobarefoots.  That means socks are required.  Socks that I struggled with mightily for what felt like an eternity until I finally got them on.

RUN:

  • 3.1 miles, 41:46 (13:28 min/mile)
  • Gear - Brooks Ravenna 9, Smartwool PhD Ultra Light Micro socks, Rev3 BocoGear Trucker from last year's expo
  • Nutrition - a bit of Gatorade and water at the aid stations
 pushing my imaginary grocery cart

pushing my imaginary grocery cart

I was trotting up the bridge, gave up and walked the rest of the way. I ran back down, but then walked again at mile one. My calves felt like they wanted to burst....but we're all hurting at the point, aren't we? Its a mental issue, the inability to run. It really was a perfect day, not too hot, it would have been great to be able to run the whole thing. My body didn't let me down, though.  I have to say that it was a bit weird running around the park before making it to the finish line.  It seemed like it took forever, and you could see and hear everything for so long.  But then...that final turn....I cracked my first big smile since the swim exit, and ran across the line.  Woot!

Cool Down:

Upon stopping my left hand immediately went numb, though the feeling came back after about 10 minutes. I didn't feel super dizzy or weak. J gave me a salt tab immediately, and then I sucked down a bottle of Skratch Wellness over the next 20 minutes or so. I chatted with my friends who were there cheering, and despite standing still, never felt like I was going to pass out. Winning! 
Is that correlated with the fact that I didn't push very hard? Probably. Maybe redlining during races is just a trigger that I need to avoid?  #foodforthought

Event Thoughts:

I did have an issue where I registered with my maiden name, and then emailed and asked them to change it to my married name. They said they did. I saw the bib list with my maiden name, asked them again to change it, they said they did. Didn't happen. Not a huge deal, and honestly it is my first experience that was less than positive with Rev3. 

Rev3 puts on a good show, and I always look forward to Williamsburg. This is my second year doing the sprint, and I certainly see myself coming back next year for either the sprint or one of the other distances. 

Goals & Race Post-Mortem

Goals for this race were as follows:

Swim Smart

Hydrate on the Bike

Run!

That's 2 out of 3 then.  I swam calm and smart, even with the chop.  And standing up in shin-deep water?  Definitely swam that in as far as possible!  Hydrating on the bike was a big win.  I'm really glad Coach Ed convinced me to shelve the ego and get a hydration pack.  Total game changer to be able to work on confidence and handling but still be able to drink on the go.  Run?  Not like I wanted to.  I had a stronger run in me, and my attitude held me back.

On to O.W.L. time goals.  Well, those were based on the course maps, which said the bike course was 13.1 miles.  15.3 miles may not sound like a lot more, but at my speed it amounts to a difference of 9 minutes.  My 2:18:42 would have been 2:09 if the bike course had been as advertised.  So that earns me a grade of Acceptable.  I think?  I haven't actually accounted for rounding in my goals.  Let's call it A for Acceptable!  

 What its really all about.  #womenwhotri

What its really all about.  #womenwhotri

I wrote this about five days ago, and it sat in my drafts until now.  Reading through this post now, clearly my mental game is where I need to focus. Why so much negativity?  This has been a really tough year, and I finished the race feeling strong....why am I not overjoyed?

So there we go...ending on a bit of a sour note, I guess.  But hey, that's where I'm at right now.  Big thanks to everyone who came out to cheer, especially friends who were racing the following day.  That's an early wake up call for sure, and it was so appreciated.  Special thank you to Stacey, whose smiling face as I exited that swim was much needed, and set me up to shake it off and move forward.

And J....thank you for everything. xoxo

Luray Swim Fest 2018 - Race Report

Swim Fest was amazing, and I absolutely recommend it.  Since it wasn't really a race, more a training day, let's get the goal stuff out of the way first, shall we?

  • Outstanding –  < :50
  • Exceeds Expectations – :56
  • Acceptable – 1:02
  • Poor -  > 1:02
  • Dreadful – DNF for nonmedical reasons
  • Troll – vomiting (or worse) in the water
 yes, you did have to run out of the water between loops.&nbsp; Yes, it sucked.

yes, you did have to run out of the water between loops.  Yes, it sucked.

My official finishing time for the 2250m swim was 1:02:23.  Rounding down, that gives me a grade of Acceptable.  For someone who has scarcely swum once a week since April, and even less over the fall and winter, Acceptable is exactly what I deserve.  What I'm actually most proud of it how I paced myself.  The course is three loops, and I had each loop within 90 second of each other!

My other goals were to be calm and have fun, and I nailed both of those, too.  I plunged right in, zero anxiety, and just swam.  As for the fun...yes, totally.  A day with friends, a swim, and a burger.  Basically a dream day, no?

Liz picked me up at o'dark-thirty, picked up Emily at o'dark-forty-five, and then we were off for Luray.  Having the sun come up behind us was neat, and seeing the mist roll over Shenandoah is always beautiful.  Once we got to the race site, we set up our home base on the top of a hill, with a great view of the lake.  Emily had never swum open water before, and was signed up for the 750m, and Liz was signed up for all 3 distances, so they were first in the water.  Since the 2250m didn't start for a few hours, I wandered over to the Team Z tent for a little bit, said hi to Caroline, and then wandered around a little more.

I practiced some pre-race nutrition, just to make sure everything was going to sit well.  I started getting some nasty burps about midway through my swim, but I think that has more to do with me swallowing air than my nutrition.  I had the breakfast of champions (Pop Tarts) as we headed out of Northern Virginia, a pouch of Skratch chews and a bottle of the Sport Hydration about 90 minutes before, and a VFuel gel with some more water right as we were heading in.  Way too many calories for a typical one hour swim, but this was more about testing, and i'm pleased with how it went.  I've tested similar before long bike rides, and I'm feeling really confident about how my stomach will handle this amount of calories at these intervals for Williamsburg.  Oh!  And I had my Skratch Hyper Hydration first thing in the morning, and the Wellness as we were riding back home.  This combo is quickly becoming my "must do" before outdoor events.  Obviously its a huge amount of sodium, so unless you're like me and have had this much stipulated by a doctor, I don't recommend it.  I'm not a Skratch ambassador or anything, although I'm starting to think I should apply to be.  I've simply found that the products sit well in my stomach, and have the necessary sodium for me to manage my POTS symptoms.

This event is fantastic for beginners, I have to say.  There are tons of SUPs and kayaks, and because it is a loop course, you're never really far from shore.  Far being a relative term, of course.  Swag for the race included a medal and a super soft race shirt.  I am loving the trend of my most recent races having these soft shirts.  They get so much more use than the stiffer ones.  You could also pay to upgrade to a big beach towel if you wanted, which came in loads of colors.

 Achievement Unlocked - Peak Dorkiness

Achievement Unlocked - Peak Dorkiness

So, final thoughts...

Do Luray Swim Fest!  Do it with friends or family.  Make sure to get custard at Spelunkers on the way home.  Revel in the free race pictures.  That is all.  #swimlove

Race Report: Reston Triathlon

I made a goal, I worked toward it, I stumbled a little bit, I picked myself back up, and last weekend, I finally made it happen.  I finished my first Olympic distance triathlon!  

The Quick & Dirty

2016 Reston Triathlon

Reston, VA

79℉, Mostly Overcast

1500m lake swim, 40 km bike, 10 km run

3:55:04

Overall Rank - 368/396

Age Group Rank (F35-39) - 23/24

 

 A beautiful day at Lake Audubon

A beautiful day at Lake Audubon

Pre-Race & Warm Up:

I tossed and turned most of the night, and woke up frightfully early.  Breakfast was two packs of chocolate Belvita breakfast biscuits with peanut butter, a banana, and about ⅔ of a bottle of nuun.  Black tea with milk and sugar is my special race day drink of choice, guaranteed to help clear the pipes out.  Because who really likes going in the porta potty?!  I took a shower to help wake myself up, packed up the gear bags, did a first coat of sunscreen, and made sure J was up and moving.  Dramamine and Gin Gins candy were also on the menu, to keep my motion sickness and sensitive stomach in check.  Transition opened at 5:30am, and we arrived just a few minutes after.  We weren’t anywhere near the first people to arrive!  Reston has two transition areas, so J parked at the high school and I set up T2. Since I don't have bike shoes, this basically meant weighing down my hat and race belt as much as possible so they didn't blow away.

Most people were riding their bikes to T1 at the lake, about a mile away, but I was nervous about riding in the dark, so I walked.  Warm up, I guess?  This is also where I wound up getting really impressive ball of foot blisters.  Sigh.  I used to wear these flip flops to walk Vivaldi for an hour with no issue, so I have no idea why a 20 minute walk would be an issue.  Nothing could be done at that point, so it was time to keep getting ready.  I racked my bike, got bodymarked, picked up my chip, and set up my T1.  There were plenty of athletes milling around, and I chatted with the others on my rack.  I met a girl who was doing her first Olympic, too, and I found that calming.  Reston Triathlon is full of super fast racers, so meeting someone else who was in it to complete rather than compete was wonderful.

There were no warm ups allowed in the lake, but the pool was open, so I hopped in and did a couple laps.  My REC center pool has been closed since late August, and I had gotten zero swims in the two weeks leading up to the race.  Quickly getting in 50 yards in the pool reminded me that yes, I know how to swim.  An athlete with an electric violin played the national anthem, and that was actually the first time I remembered that it was 9/11.  Before I could worry or dwell about anything they started calling out cap colors, and we lined up. The waves went out 90 seconds apart, and I was in wave 6.  Go time!

SWIM:

  • 1500m, 41:06 (2:44/100 yards)
  • Gear - Coeur Sports Lakota kit, Speedo Vanquisher 2.0 mirrored goggles
  • Nutrition - Honey Stinger Caramel Waffle
 How awesome is my family? &nbsp;I actually managed to spot this sign while I was swimming

How awesome is my family?  I actually managed to spot this sign while I was swimming

It was part of my plan to swim easy, but I was really surprised at how slow my time was.  I mean, I wasn’t getting out of breath or pushing hard, but I’m not accustomed to that level of exertion equaling such a slow speed.   The wasn’t a crowded swim, but I was also always quite close to others, if that makes sense.  More people around than at Harborfest, but not some kind of underwater boxing match.  Although, around the second and third buoys it got pretty intense.  This was the point where I had caught up with the slow men from the wave before me, and was getting caught by the fast men from the wave behind. I got slugged in the head twice and kicked a few times, which was unpleasant. At one point I started kicking really hard to get some ham fisted dude out of my way. No real harm, though. Sighting was much easier with my tinted goggles, so I was glad I had them. I did sight off of the wrong buoy at one point, and got slightly off course, but not too bad.  Sadly, the open water app for the Vivoactive is quite inaccurate for distance, so it's hard for me to say how far I actually swam.  Overall, I never felt nervous, scared, or anything like that. I just felt like the shoreline was taking its sweet time to approach!

T1:

  • 4:03
  • Nutrition - GU Triberry washed down with double strength Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix in Lemons + Limes

Eventually the swim was over, and after swimming up the super slimy boat ramp and getting a hand from a fantastic volunteer, I was off and transitioning.  I trotted over to my bike, wiped off my feet, and got the shoe/sunglass/helmet situation taken care off.  My handling skills aren’t strong enough to count on being able to eat on board yet, so I took my gel while still in T1, then headed out to ride

BIKE:

  • 24.8 miles, 1:42:04 (14.58mph)
  • Gear - Diamondback Podium 1 bike, Trek Vapor 3 helmet
 Finishing up the Second Loop

Finishing up the Second Loop

A three loop course with no real climbs or flats, just roller after roller.  It is a fun course, and the first loop started off great.  As I headed out of T1 I saw J smiling at me.  I smiled back, and never really stopped smiling for the whole first loop.  Then, somewhere during the second loop, my front derailleur stopped working.  I was stuck in the granny gear, which was okay, if a bit overkill, for most of the climbs.  I was also forced to coast much more than I wanted to.  I fiddled and fiddled, and managed to shift up….and promptly got stuck there.  That made the climbs much harder than I wanted them to be, and there was a terrible noise coming from my bike.  I was so happy to have friends and family on the course.  My parents, brother, J, and even my friend K’s mom were all out cheering for me, and it was so helpful in keeping my attitude in check as I struggled with my bike.  My bike is my weakness, so I knew I was going to lose a fair amount of ground on the bike, but I wound up losing even more than I planned.  Everything thinned out quite a bit during my third loop, and I even started to wonder if I was the last person out there.  Yet still, spectators and volunteers were at most of the corners, cheering.  It was incredible!  As I approached the high school I made a left turn, and headed down toward T2.  I was ready to run!

T2:

  • 2:46
  • Nutrition - About ⅓ pack of Skratch Labs Raspberry Fruit Drops washed down with double strength Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix in Lemons + Limes

I got a little lost coming into transition. There were so many bikes, and I got confused about where I was going. Once I found my place, I racked my bike, grabbed my hat and number belt....then proceeded to stand there and stuff my face!  Next season’s big goal is to be able to eat and drink on the bike.

RUN:

  • 6.2 miles, 1:25:07 (13:44 min/mile)
  • Gear - Vivobarefoot Stealth II shoes, Nike drifit run hat, Oakley Half Jacket sunglasses
  • Nutrition - ⅓ pack Skratch Labs Raspberry Fruit Drops, water at each of the 6 aid stations
 Favorite finish line to date

Favorite finish line to date

Once I gave myself permission to take walk breaks, my “run” sort of fell apart.  I would have been far better served if I had set up some regimented run/walk breaks for myself instead.  The run course was on the shaded trails of Reston, which meant either going up, going down, or twisting round.  So pretty!  My muscles, and even my blistered feet, felt fine. Rather it was my breathing/cardio that kept me from being able to run.  There were a couple points where my lips felt tingly.  What is that about?  I trucked along feeling fairly awful for the first couple miles, but got a great boost when I saw my parents and brother somewhere near mile 2.  Miles 3-5 went well.  When I was moving, I was feeling good and getting it done.  I walked up the small hills, as my back and shoulders had been feeling tight since the bike, and my back spasmed a little if I tried to run up the hills.  There was one last monster hill toward the stadium, and I had to climb that.  After the fact, I realized that all the spectators could see that, so next year I’ll remember to run.  But then it was down to the stadium, and a victory lap of sorts to the finish line.  And what a beautiful finish line it was.  I heard my family cheering, and smiled big the whole home stretch.  Finished!

Cool Down:

Immediately after crossing the finish line I was given an icy cold washcloth wrapped around a bottle of water.  So nice!  I also got a beautiful medal (prettiest of the season by far!) and a running hat.  I found my family, and someone (my dad?) set up a camp chair for me to sit in.  I tried to drink some of my beloved chocolate milk, but I had to stop for fear that it wouldn’t stay down.  My skin was entirely crusted over with salt.  My body felt pretty stiff, but more than anything I felt quite stupid.  Clearly I had left my brain somewhere out on the run course.  Once I felt good enough to move around, I hobbled my way to the car, and my family and I went to Be Right Burger for a celebratory lunch.  

Event Thoughts:

Overall, I recommend the event.  The volunteers were plentiful on race day, and always seemed to know exactly the right thing I needed to hear to keep pushing.  There were some information issues that could use improvement.  I couldn’t find any information about water stations on the run, so asked on Facebook.  I was told there was water at the turnaround, so imagine my surprise when there were actually 3 water stations on the out and back course, making for 6 opportunities for water or Gatorade.  Asking on Facebook was also how I found out when transition opened.  While I appreciate how promptly my questions were answered, it would have been preferable if I hadn’t needed to ask at all.  Having two transition is a bit annoying, and it’s lame that we can’t swim in the lake except during the event.  Back on the bright side, can we talk about the swag?! All told, I got a New Balance long sleeve tech shirt, tech socks, Scattante Bliss sunglasses, a multitool, a washcloth, and a finisher hat. And did I mention the really pretty medal?

 So. Much. Swag! &nbsp;And so much of it is stuff I can actually use! Well done, Reston Tri

So. Much. Swag!  And so much of it is stuff I can actually use! Well done, Reston Tri

Goals & Race Post-Mortem

Goals for this race were as follows:

Swim Smooth

Ride Smart

Run Strong

Smile

I’d say two out of four.  I swam smooth, and I definitely smiled.  I thought I was riding smart, but my mechanical issues had me working harder than I wanted to.  Looking back at my HR data, my average HR was 169 bpm for the entire leg.  Based off the zones I set up from my bike LT test, that’s Zone 5.  Way too hard.  No wonder I wasn’t able to touch my goal of “Run Strong.”  Kind of hard to run when you’ve completely depleted yourself on the bike, no?  At least the most important goal (SMILE!) was easy to meet.

For my race O.W.L. based on my time goals, my 3:55:04 earns me a grade of Poor.  You’d think that would make me unhappy.  I guess there is a part of me that is disappointed.  Sure, I wish I’d been faster.  On the other hand, how can I not be happy?  There’s nothing like a finish line, and this was the best day ever!  I can’t wait to improve my bike and run fitness over the winter.  I’m also looking forward to racing next season, improving my execution on the bike leg so I can actually run the whole 10k next time.  My brain is crowded full of exciting plans, not the least of which is that since this is a local race, I get to come back year after year to gauge my improvement!

Race Report: Harborfest Half Iron Swim

 Image: WaveOne Swimming

Image: WaveOne Swimming

The Quick & Dirty:

HarborFest 2016 Half Iron Swim

WaveOne Swimming, National Harbor, MD, Maryland

Sunny, Water Temp 82* F

Total Time = 48m 44s (2:19/100 yd)

Overall Rank = F 26/55

Age Group = F 35-39

Age Group Rank = 3/12

HarborFest 2016 Half Iron Swim (that’s 2112 for my fellow yardage peeps) is over, and I’m calling it a success.  Obviously, any time you get to the start and finish lines happy and healthy is a good day, but delving further in is what I’m all about, so here we go.

Pre-Race & Warm Up

I split my time on Saturday evening checking over the course map, packing up my bag, and watching Olympic coverage.  Casa de Youldon is #TeamUSA and #TeamGB, so we had lots of cheering to do.

I slept fitfully and got out of bed for good around 5am. I drank a cup of tea and about 2/3 of a bottle of nuun, and decided to take a quick shower to try to help wake myself up. I also wanted to braid my hair when it was wet, with that it would stay put better.  Usually I wear a bun under my cap, but since this was supposed to be triathlon practice, that means rocking the helmet-friendly french braid.  I’ve never been one to skip a meal, but this particular race morning I was having some nerves.  This swim was going to be less than an hour, so technically I could have done it fully fasted, but again, I wanted to test out nutrition.  I went with a chocolate Rip Van Wafel and about 3/4 of a banana.  Tasty, and, as I would discover, it sat fine during the race.  My other pre-race intake consisted of Bonine and GinGin chewy ginger candy.  Note to self: this stuff is phenomenal.  I'd never been to National Harbor before, so J and I headed out around 6:30 so we would have time to fill up the car, do the drive, and find the place.  It was an uneventful ride in.

  They had both done some mega bike mileage the day before, and were running after this. &nbsp;Hardcore much?

They had both done some mega bike mileage the day before, and were running after this.  Hardcore much?

There was no warm up for this race, so once we arrived I stood in line, got body marked, met internet friends Megan and Liz, sunscreened up, and waited around until they called the 1.2 milers down to the dock.  I shudder to think what my headspace would have been if I hadn’t had the chance to meet these ladies.  I noticed as we stood on the dock that the Potomac didn’t smell super fresh, but didn’t really dwell on it.  More on that later.  About half an hour before go time I had half a pack of Honey Stinger chews.  This wasn’t needed for the swim, but again was more about testing nutrition for Reston.

My race plan, which I had come up with while I stared at the ceiling the night before, was to take the first quarter super easy, second quarter easy, third quarter medium, and last quarter hard.  I don’t think I ever really managed to swim “hard” but I did build in pace through the entire swim, so I’m pleased with how everything went.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  I had a moment of anxiety when it was time to jump off the dock, as it seemed so much higher than I was expecting. Someone behind me said, "you're okay," and I suddenly realized I was holding up the swimmers behind me. I jumped in, and suddenly I was fine.  I was in the water, and this was my happy place.  It did seem to be a bit low, as you could see a fair amount of beach (shore?) off to the right.  The current felt strong, as I was being swept up to the front of the start line. Megan and I were both trying to kick back, since we did not want to be right in the front line.  Suddenly Kayak-Man was counting down "3, 2, 1" and we were off!

 Look how pretty! &nbsp;such a gorgeous day for a swim

Look how pretty!  such a gorgeous day for a swim

SWIM:

  • 1.2 miles, 48:44 (2:19/100 yd)

I started out with Tarzan stroke for the first little bit, not wanting to get kicked in the face.  Just a couple strokes in, I decided it was better to just swim, and stuck my face down.  After my swim in Lake Anna, I knew I wouldn’t be able to see beneath me, so it wasn’t a surprise that I was basically blind.  No worries, and onward we go!  I did sight often that first leg, probably every 3 strokes or so, to make sure I was keeping an eye on those around me, and heading in the right direction.  While there was a bit of contact, I probably only caught a couple light arms and feet...no punches or hard kicks. As I got to the first buoy I was feeling more comfortable with the number of people around, and was getting the hang of how to peak for the buoy as I swam along. Understandably, the buoys were the most congested part of the whole race. There were a couple where I swam right on top of them and got pushed into them even more by a swimmer cutting across. No big deal though...just breathe to the other side and keep going!

The last straight away finishing the first loop was quite weedy, which was gross. It would go into my mouth, wrap around my neck, and slide over my arms in a super creepy way. So gross! As I headed down the last straight away, I could see people cheering on the dock, and even saw J in his red shirt.  I could tell he had no idea where I was, as he was looking the other way.

Suddenly I was halfway done and on the second loop.  I considered taking a look at my watch, but figured I should just keep on keeping on. The swim to the first buoy on the second lap seemed to take forever. Maybe the current changed? It was at this point that I realized I wasn't having any contact with people anymore. Maybe the occasional person, but nothing like lap one. I moved it up a gear, into my "medium" swimming tempo. It was at this point that I actually started to wonder if I was swimming super slow or something.  Where was everyone?  J told me after the fact that we all spread out a fair amount, with people taking different lines.  Onward I went, and then I was in the last quarter, and fighting a bit more current. I felt like I was going nowhere for a bit there. Sighting was a bit tough too, as sometimes I lost sight of the orange buoy. The glare off the water was a bit much for me.  At last I was on the final stretch, searching for the green buoys marking the finish line. It was weedy again, with slimy bits clinging to my arms and going down my top.  Gross!  Get out of there!  There was also this one dude that was really intent on swimming quite splashily right near me, so I put on a bit of speed and moved away from him. Then there were the finish buoys, and just like that I was finished.  I called out my number and hauled myself up the ladder onto the dock. All done!

They had set up a shower on the dock, so I rinsed off the super gross and stinky Potomac as best as I could.  The white parts of my kit were brown.  I grabbed a water and hung out on the dock for a little bit.  I chatted with Megan and Liz for a few minutes, then J and I packed it in, leaving them to their running.

Overall Event Comments:

This event was well run, and I would do more by them again. I'm especially interested to try out some of their Wednesday evening or Sunday morning swims, where you pay a fee to come swim with others on a marked course.

Goals & Race Post Mortem:

My goals for this race were to Enjoy, Sight, and I had some goal times knocking around in my head.  I absolutely enjoyed myself and stayed positive, I sighted well, and came in at 48:44.

So….those goal times.  I have to admit that for no apparent reason I was really thinking I’d come in closer to 45.  I saw 48:44 on my watch as I climbed out of the river, and was immediately a bit disappointed.  But hey, I was faster than 50:00, so I passed my O.W.L. in Harborfest.

My limiters this race were my swim technique and minimal OWS experience.  I think another round of lessons to refresh my technique would be a good idea, and finding a good Masters group would probably be beneficial as well.  I would have loved some tinted goggled, as the sun was just awful. I also think I was riding with my head a little high, so I would have wanted to focus on body position more. From a pace perspective, I could have pushed harder for sure, but I wanted to pace more like for a triathlon rather than a standalone swim race. Not bad at all for a first time OWS race.  Now that I have a baseline, I’m looking forward to improving my swim times.  Success, baby!

 Much Love and Props to J for the unending support. &nbsp;Also top notch skills in photography, as this is in fact me.

Much Love and Props to J for the unending support.  Also top notch skills in photography, as this is in fact me.