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

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

What's Next - Fall 2016

I’m starting to get a bit of a pet peeve when people say “just” a 5k.  Or “just” anything, for that matter.  If you’re heading into a race saying “just” then you’re either not pushing hard enough, or selling yourself incredibly short.  Either way, that’s something people need to get out of the habit of.  I’m including myself in people, by the way.  I’m equal parts excited, scared, and embarrassed by my chosen end of season race.

All the running means all the shoes in rotation. &nbsp;Clearly I'm a vivobarefoot girl

All the running means all the shoes in rotation.  Clearly I'm a vivobarefoot girl

Excited

I’ve been looking forward to ending my season with this 5k for over seven months now.  I’ve raced on this exact course twice already this season, and my goal at the Veteran’s Day 5k is to get a new PR.  I’m running more than ever before, and feeling physically really good while I’m at it.  The BarryP plan is where its at!  If you aren’t familiar with the plan, click the link to get the full read.  In a nutshell, the plan has you running nice and easy 6 days a week.  In the beginning, you don’t increase your total volume at all, only your frequency, so for me that meant spreading 10 miles a week out over 6 days instead of 3.  You run easy, and you increase volume modestly.  Anecdotally, it seems that once your volume builds to a certain level, your paces start to come down.  Granted, I likely won’t see those paces change too much before race day, but I’m still excited to see what kind of benefits I’ll see from these eight weeks of running more.

Scared

Stepping outside of the comfort zone is always a bit scary, right?  Add to that the fact that my training times seem somehow slower than ever before (???) and I’m anxious that I won’t be able to meet my goals for this race.  I could get out there on race day and not be able to pace myself properly.  Or maybe I peaked earlier this summer, and the speed isn’t there anymore.  This is the first time that I’ve actually put time based pressure on myself.  Its an interesting experience in and of itself.  Setting goals based on feelings or actions is a very different game.  You can remind yourself during the race and change accordingly.  Had a goal to smile?  Smile!  No walking during the run leg of a sprint?  Just keep running!  But running at a particular pace?  Ooooh, now that’s scary.  Kind of a good scary, though.

Embarrassed

Just a 5k.  Sigh.  I’m quick to correct anyone who says that to me, but I still do it to myself.  Sometimes I’m clicking through my feedly, and it seems like everyone is prepping for more traditionally impressive fall races.  Even harder this week, since its Kona week!  On the local scene, there’s Marine Corps, Philly, Richmond, and all the big fall half and full marathons.  There seems to be more glory in long course racing.  Or, perhaps that just me hearing the siren call of endurance?  At any rate, I’m struggling a bit with feeling proud and confident about my goal race.  This is compounded by my paces, which feel “too slow.”  Slow and fast are such relative terms.  I’m sure there are people who would be over the moon to have a 5k PR of 30 minutes, and others who would be mortified with anything over 20.  In addition to being irritated when people say “just” a 5k, another pet peeve is when people, especially women, apologize for their speed.  Fast, slow, it seems like women can’t start apologizing for their paces fast enough.  If you’re slow like me, there’s the “Sorry, I know X:XX doesn’t sound fast, but for me it is” rhetoric.  For the speedsters, there’s plenty of “I was practically crawling at X:XX (sorry if that offends anyone).”  Can we all please agree to stop apologizing for our performance?

So that’s what’s on the horizon.  I’m running more frequently than I ever have before, and really enjoying doing lots of little miles.  There are some brewing nerves about whether or not I’ll be able to reach the goals that I’m setting for myself, but I’m going to embrace the anxiety and use it as fuel for the fire.  And most important of all, I’m racing a 5k, and I’m proud of it.  No apologies!

Race Expectations: Reston Triathlon

Tomorrow's the big day.  First Olympic distance!  Race nerves are in full swing already; this is the first time I’ve gotten them this early.  My brain is going wild - one second I'm second guessing my training, the next I'm convinced that I’m injured, and the next everything is perfectly fine.

As has been the case all season, setting goals is tough.  The first time doing a new distance means I have no idea what to expect.  I have a few ideas of how I want my day to go, so I’m using them as my guide.

  • Swim Smooth

    • I don’t want to push, but just enjoy the swim and get nice and warmed up for the rest of the race

  • Ride Smart

    • I need to ride my own race, and not get overly excited by the speedsters on the course.

  • Run Strong

    • Ease into the first few miles, then really bring it home hard.  No point in leaving anything out on the course!

  • Smile!

    • Don’t compare my performance to others, and just get out and PLAY.  Have FUN!

  • Goal Times – I have no idea how reasonable these times are, but they’re in my head, so they’re getting written down.  

    • Outstanding –  < 3:25:00

    • Exceeds Expectations – 3:30:00

    • Acceptable – 3:45:00

    • Poor -  4:00:00

    • Dreadful – > 4:15:00 (anything longer than this and they close the course)

    • Troll – DNF

Everything is all laid out and ready.

Everything is all laid out and ready.

I’m buzzing with nervous energy right now.  This last year has been all about building my fitness, and I’m stoked to let it rip and see what my hard work can produce.  Almost go time!

Anyone else is racing this weekend?

 

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.