Monday, July 28, 2008

NJ Tri: Did the course get shorter, or did I get faster?

This past weekend I trekked up to NJ to hang out with M and try my first real triathlon since the surgery.

Getting there:
Four painful hours including a stop at the most poorly staffed Starbucks ever. Seriously, what happened to Starbucks? They used to be the last bastion of good customer service, now they are barely able to communicate with you and the last three times I've been to one they've had to re-make my drink order multiple times. Glad I don't have stock in them.

Realized after I sat in traffic that I didn't actually want to get on the Jersey Turnpike. Oops.

Got to NJ just in time for the pre-race briefing, said hi to the DCTri folks, picked up my stuff which did NOT include a technical t-shirt as promised, grrrr.

Left and met up with M at his house for Princeton fun.

Why I love Princeton:
Princeton Running Company where they carry my favorite socks and have my Shot blocks in Margarita flavor.

Red, Green, Blue where you create designs in glass and they fire it for you. One of my favorite things to do. This time I was overflowing and Matt was stumped. So soon I will have a fruit bowl with an abstract turtle (I wanted to make a school of fish, then just one big fish, but it kept turning into a turtle, so I just let it be a turtle) and a plate with a bursting heart design. Woot!

Olives: Spanikopita, baklava, yum.

Driving back from the downtown I was reminded of a key point about Princeton: crazy deer population. A mama deer and three tiny fawns bounded uncertainly across the street in front of us. They truly were tiny deer. Not the awkward spindly weeble wobble fawns you usually see, but like teacup deer. Like they should go in one of those dog purses.
Anyways, I put that away to be mindful of when I was leaving at dawn the next day.

Saturday night was spent shoveling in cheese and bread from Whole Foods and watching Vantage Point (save your time, all action no point).

Went to bed early, set the alarm for 4:30. Transition opened at 5:30.

Sunday morning:
Slept until 5:30, oops!
M's mom and the puppy got up to wish me luck :)
Grabbed a banana hoping I'd be able to eat it, my stomach was a nervous tank of churning acid.
Didn't see or hit any deer, waited in line forever to get into the park, made it to transition in time to set up my area and get out.
Forced down the banana and a luna bar. Waited in another long line for the bathrooms. Tried to decide whether or not to throw up.

Walked down the painfully rocky path to the swim. I forgot to buy cheap flipflops to wear on the way down. Doh! Luckily didn't hurt my feet too bad, but I have some odd blisters.
Waited in huge cluster F to swim. At about this point I started thinking: 1. I am in over my head. 2. Why the F didn't I sign up for a relay? 3. I definitely should have thrown up.
I started praying to God, not to let me have a good time, or even to not embarrass myself, just please do not let me drown. Especially in an aqua tri top.

The race was definitely in Jersey, looking at you zebra print swim suit.
Also funny, several of the girls had put on their DC Tri temp tattoos as tramp stamps. Classic.

Okay the swim:
I am a notoriously bad swimmer. I once swam to the wrong pier at Lake Anna. Thank goodness for this course, it was idiot proof.
Tried to think about Coach Alan's advice, of just racing my own race and practicing drills on the swim. I had done a super sprint the week before and tanked on the swim, also digging a hole that I never recovered from on the bike and run.
So I thought about pulling myself past my arm rather than pulling the water, I thought about what the regattas on the lake must be like and to keep myself light on the water, kicking with a straight leg, and wow, I'm not the last person! Some girl from my group had clearly gotten into the water and panicked. She ended up holding onto a kayak. I got my back clawed up by some girl, brifely considered stripping her goggles, decided to let it go, a rare nice moment for me. Finally got to the end and stumbled up the ramp. I knew my HR was going to be pretty high, so took my time getting into transition. Stopped and told the EMS people there was a swimmer on the course they needed to watch out for. The girl never came in behind me, and I'm pretty damn slow. They shrugged it off and said there were plenty of kayakers out there. Grrr.

Transition: took forever. I swear I did not stop and take a nap.

Went out and noticed a weird sound coming from my back tire, feels awfully squishy, did I flat already? See the Sag Truck and pull off. Very nice guy from Knapp's who must have thought I was an idiot pumped up both tires and pointed out that my rear derailleur was rubbing on my back tire. At some point either when I took my bike out of the car, or something happened to my bike in transition, either way that was the noise. Note to self, check gearing.

Well that made my bike a hell of a lot easier. I got passed some and passed some people. Ate a bag of shot blocks, yum. I even managed to take 10 minutes off my bike time.

Rolled in and started the run.

The Run:
Damn, it was hot. Pretty course and a lot of cheering, great aid stations. Walked a lot trying to keep my HR down. But thankfully it never got over 180. Traded places a lot with a 22 year old girl. This was her first tri, she came from a swimming background. Ran the last half mile in with her.

Hit the finish line and saw MIRA! Yayyyyyy!

Stuck around to cheer for the rest of the club. The OLY people had a really tough day, it was like a million degrees out when they were out on the course, just so. freaking. hot. I was SO happy I had bailed into the sprint.

Saw Jeanne of blogging fame come in, who says you aren't born to run!

Things I was thankful for:
Having a good swim. Slow by other people's standards, but good for me.
The Knapp's people for saving my arse on the bike, and magically being right there when I needed them.
The volunteers, especially Mira! Short of Jomomma, she was the person I most wanted to see at the finish line.
The club for staying to cheer EVERYONE on. Thank you for not bailing on the slow people.
Shot blocks for making such yummy food, and for being finally confident enough on the bike to eat them.
K for keeping me calm pre-swim.
M for letting me stay at his house.
M's mom for getting up to wish me luck and for calling me Wonder Woman all Sunday :)
CGI for putting on such an awesome race.
C for talking me down on Saturday and asking how it went on Sunday.
That I drove home later that day missing the wrath of God thunderstorms.
For having EZ Pass which works all along the Eastern Seaboard. Cash toll suckers!

Now all I need is someone to tell me not to sign up for North East what with it being a week before Iron Girl.


Rainmaker said...

Turtles are cooler than fish anyway!

Congrats on the race, getting faster rocks! Nicely done.

jeanne said...

What a great race report!!! and you are SOOO nice telling the EMS about that girl. So true about starbucks. sheesh!
i actually brought throwaway flipflops and then left them in d.c. you're right that was painful in barefeet!
i thought the knapps people were awesome too.
i love the thoughts in your head. very funny, trying to decide to puke, and then just praying not to drown. i can RELATE!

i'm calling it: YOU GOT FASTER!
Great job!