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Name: merrymishaps (Lauren)
Home: Annapolis, MD, United States
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Thursday, September 10, 2009

race report: iron girl (finally!)

A long, long time ago -- August 23rd -- I completed my second sprint triathlon - Iron Girl in Columbia, MD. And just like last year, I had a really great time. Let's see what I remember ...

We arrived in the dark, set up our transition area, and went to the swim start where we waited for our waves. The start was delayed 15 minutes, which made it even longer. At least it gave me a chance to hit the port-o-pots one more time before getting in the water!
iron girl
When we were getting close, I joined my fellow pearl-yellow capped 30-34-year-olds in the lake. Rather than waste energy treading water, I conveniently found a rock to stand on. The actual ground was kind of icky. The girl I was chatting with, standing in the squishy grasses, was jealous.

Once they started counting down, I swam closer to the group, and thought I seeded myself well. I seemed to have room to swim right at the start, but then we all bunched up again. Not as stressful as the trial, but it still took me a little while to get comfortable.

When I did relax, though, I felt really good. I felt like I was actually paying attention to my stroke, trying to remember what I should be doing. I took my time and kept a steady pace. Sure, some of the faster swimmers from the next wave passed me. But I also passed slow swimmers that started ahead of me.

A friend was at the swim finish and snapped that shot. I'm glad -- the race photographers didn't get any of me alone!

Once out of the water, I took my time walking to my transition spot, and got ready to bike! No missing-helmet problems like last year, I found a spot to hang it. Everything was ready where I left it!

I have a road bike now, and it made a big difference. Sure, the course was just as hard and hilly as I remembered, but I cut nearly 10 minutes off my bike time. (I think. More on that later.) While it's a hard course, I felt strong.

After racking my bike, trading helmet for visor, and dashing out of the transition area, I was feeling great. I just remember thinking how awesome it was to be able to do this -- to drop off my bike and just start running!

I really didn't do enough bike/run brick workouts, though. Ouch. I didn't have much speed left, and I walked some of the uphills. But I still managed to finish the run about 30 seconds faster than last year (I think), so I'm OK with it!

So now we get to the results. Which I don't really know.

My chip apparently didn't work for any of my splits. I only have a finish time!

This is a pretty big disaster to a girl so obsessed with her stats that she runs with both a Garmin and Nike+.

I've been able to piece things together for the most part, but it's not the same. I can't see my standings! I don't know my transition times! (Not like I practiced transitioning, but still ...)

I used my Garmin for the bike and run portions, so I roughly know those times Once the pictures came out, I was able to figure out my swim time by looking at my age group's results and figuring out who finished before and after me. My swim time should be between 30:42 and 30:45.

While that's a little slower than my 29:57 last year, it's not too far off. And there's been some talk on the race message board where quite a few women felt like the course was longer this year. If so, that could mean I actually did better!

I know my bike time is a little off, because I started my watch when I got on the bike, not when I crossed the mat. But it should only be a few seconds. I clocked 1:14:43, average 14.1 mph. A big difference from last year's 1:24:16 (12.5mph). I was very happy with this. The bike makes all the difference.

My Garmin run time should be pretty close; I clocked 34:16 - a little over 10-minute miles. But with all the walking I was doing, that's pretty good. I was happy being able to beat last year's 34:44, even if I was faster at the trial. I hadn't biked that day!

Overall (the only official time I have), my time is 2:28:15. Last year? 2:38:58. Woo-hoo!

Registration for next year opens on Nov. 3. I've marked my calendar!

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

weekly winners: tri week

August 16-22, 2009

Oh, look. I haven't blogged since my last 'Weekly Winners' post. I blame the combination of vacation recovery and triathlon cramming.

Yes, cramming.

Sure I've been training all summer, but it just seems I haven't gotten as many swims in lately as I'd like due to a closed pool (weather-related or otherwise). And my bike rides haven't been long enough and/or hilly enough.

Thunderstorms held off mid-week so I could squeeze in a really good swim on Thursday, and a somewhat short but tough bike ride on Wednesday followed by a one-mile run. I did not do enough bike-run brick workouts this summer!

Anyway, the triathlon was this morning and I expect I'll be writing about it later this week. For a quick recap, it was a beautiful day, I had a great time, and finished nearly 11 minutes faster than last year. (I bought a new bike that accounts for most of the difference.)

More later. I should really be napping right now. My alarm rang this morning at 3:45 a.m.!

So ... photos. Well, I also wasn't taking too many of those this week. And it was raining when we racked our bikes yesterday so I didn't even get any fun shots there. Oh well. This is all I've got!

stormy night

stormy night

A big storm came through one night, and the windows on our sliding door were fogged up from the rain and humidity. The flood lights of the apartments behind our house made some cool shadows.


Jeter cat did not pose long for me so I had to move quick. Not one of my greatest portraits, but I wanted to add a little variety to my photos for the week!

Visit more Weekly Winners at SarcasticMom.com!

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Saturday, August 01, 2009

tri trial

Yesterday was a "dress rehearsal" for my fast-approaching triathlon. They organized an open-water swim in the same lake as the event, and we could run the race course after our swim. Some people brought bikes to ride as well, but I had to get back to work.

They had us arrive at 6 a.m. (which ended up being more like 6:20 due to traffic to get to the lake -- all triathletes!), but all was well. After handing in a waiver and getting a wrist band, we were led through a quick yoga session offering breathing tips to help keep calm.

And then they started calling age groups to enter the water, like it'll be on race day. Only they were calling 10-year groups rather than five. After the 19 and under, over 50, and 20-29-year-olds, I lined up with the 30-39 group.

I hadn't even gotten into the water yet when they called for 40-49 ... only they realized they had a bit of a backlog and changed that to 40-44.

They weren't really waiting very long between groups. The race director actually thought he was sending off the 40-44 group when half of the 30s were still in line.

So when I finally got in the water, there was quite the crowd! I got in and started breast-stroking until I could get a clear enough spot to start freestyle. Only it wasn't thinning out, and the water was really choppy. At one point, a woman next to me commented how it didn't feel like we were going anywhere, and she was right. It was like treading water.

I was very slowly passing the buoys, only getting a few strokes in at a time before running into other swimmers. It finally started thinning out after the turnaround.

Now, they billed this as an 800-yard course in all of the announcements. Race day is 1100 yards. They said you could do it twice, and prior to entering the water, I thought I might. But I got off to such a rough start that I knew early on that I wasn't going to do it again.

At the turnaround, I checked my watch. 22 minutes! What? I knew all that breast stroke slowed me down, but I didn't expect that for ~400 yards. I usually do the 1100 in the pool in under 30 minutes.

I was discouraged, but kept moving. And at least I got some room to swim on the way back. I ended up finishing in about 36 minutes. As I waited in line for the hose to spray off, I chatted with some of the other swimmers.

We all had pretty horrible times, and thought (hoped!) that maybe the course was longer. And then the race director got on the loud speaker, announcing that we had swam 1100 yards. What a relief!

It was still a few minutes too slow, but I was OK with that, knowing the start will be a bit smoother on race day. I went back to my towel and started getting ready for the run.

And then the race director started speaking again. He said that he wasn't going to tell us, but he decided when he was setting up the buoys the night before that he'd make it a little longer than the 1100 yards. And actually, we swam closer to 1250 yards.


I just wish we knew beforehand. I suppose he didn't want to freak out the women open-water swimming for the first time, but I sure would have felt better about my swimming while I was out there!

The run was OK. It's a hilly course, and I knew that. I wasn't feeling particularly fast yesterday and averaged 9:50/mile for the 3.4-mile course. A lot slower than I've been running for this distance lately, but still a minute and 15 seconds faster than last year.

And it wasn't a race ... it seems I have a hard time pulling out my 'race pace' without that extra adrenaline!

So we'll see. 21 days to go!


Monday, August 25, 2008

race report: iron girl triathlon

Yesterday I participated in the Iron Girl triathlon in Columbia, MD. It was my first tri, and it was awesome!

And, ouch, my aching body is a constant reminder of my accomplishment!

Anyway, my day started early, with my alarm schedule to go off at 3:40 a.m. A friend was meeting at my house at 4:45 to carpool to the event, and I just need a little extra time to wake up!

We arrived in the dark, around 5:30, with thousands of other athletes and spectators. It seemed very early -- my start time wasn't until 7:53 a.m. based on age group -- but there actually wasn't much downtime.

We got our body marking done -- race numbers written in marker on both arms and hands, and age on the back of our right leg. I ate my peanut butter sandwich, waited in line for the port-o-pots, and set up my transition area.

We didn't have a lot of space, but I brought a crate for my supplies that fit nicely under my back tire. I placed my shoes and helmet by the crate and should have been ready to go after the swim.

We got kicked out of the transition area before the elite athletes got in the water -- 6:45 a.m. The quickest finished the .62-mile (1K) swim in under nine minutes so they wanted to make sure we were out of their way!

I had a bit of a wait before my wave start, but it went fast. Eventually my group was ready to go. It was an in-water start, and we had to tread water for a couple minutes. Next time I'll practice this! I had a bit of a rough start trying to catch my breath and get into a rhythm because of the treading and not being used to all the people in my way.

It thinned out a little bit, and I got comfortable and made it through. Before the race, I was thinking I'd do the swim in about a half hour. I clocked in at 29:57.

As people were running out of the water, I took my time walking to my bike. I needed the breather! Only once I got there, my helmet was gone. I looked under my bag, under my bike-neighbor's towel. No helmet.

And then I spied it four or five bikes away. Somebody kicked it in their hurry to get out of transition! So I may have lost a couple minutes there. Oh well.

The bike course was 17.5 miles. 17.5 very hilly miles. I came close to the mileage in my training, and I thought I trained with enough hills. These were more difficult (and plentiful), but I managed to keep a decent pace. I made it up all of the hills -- there were women walking their bikes up some of them.

I was passed by plenty of people. I'm not the fastest biker and I was riding the bike I had (a hybrid) rather than a racing bike like many of the participants. I wasn't the only one, though, and I felt good whenever I was able to pass someone going up a hill!

Before the race, I was thinking that if I had a good ride, I would be able to finish in an hour and a half. I did it in 1:24:16. I was happy with that! (Well, I was happy until I saw some of my friends did 10 and 20 minutes better on their race bikes. Though, another friend with a fast bike was only two minutes ahead. I guess I can't blame the bike entirely!)

I am a bit of a chicken on the downhills. I don't always take full advantage once it starts getting really fast. I tend to ride the brakes if it gets too fast for my comfort. I'll have to work on that. My race ride was actually quite good, looking back at my past rides. According to my Garmin, I averaged 12.5 mph. I only exceeded this on two training rides -- and they were shorter and flatter!

I was pretty relieved to be done with the bike portion. I knew I could finish at this point, even if it wasn't my fastest pace. (Of course, I probably lost some time in this transition, too. The girl next to me racked her bike facing the wrong way, and left her bag in my way. I ended up resting my front tire on her backpack because that was the only way it'd fit!)

It wasn't as slow as the "lost helmet" transition, though. I traded my helmet for a visor and grabbed my water bottle, and was on my way!

Aside from sore calves, I felt pretty good. I kept a decent pace even with a couple walk breaks, water stops, and to gladly accept a sponge soaked in icy water to wring over my head!

I didn't really have a goal time in my head to finish the 3.4-mile run portion. I expected the run to be a little slow, and I was just hoping I could finish the entire race under three hours. I didn't realize I'd do this well, though. I finished the run in 34:44, just over 10-minute miles.

I did a trial run of the course back in July -- 34:45. While I wasn't exhausted from swimming or biking that day (other than a 30-minute spin class), it was 90+ degrees and humid. I can't believe it was the same!

We were blessed by a much cooler day. While the sun still pretty hot during the run portion, it could have been so much worse.

My overall time (1K swim + 17.5 mile bike + 3.4 mile run + both transitions) was 2:38:58.

I had a great time, and can't wait to do it again!

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

tri time

August 17-23, 2008

I didn't take many pictures this week.

Aside from the one shot I took at the Suzanne Vega show earlier this week, my camera didn't come out again until the end of the week.

Saturday afternoon, a friend and I went to pick up our triathlon race packets, go to the expo, and rack our bikes. Yep, there's a good chance I'm racing right now if you're reading on Sunday morning!

racked and ready

racked and ready

transition area

centennial lake
(I've got to swim around those yellow and orange buoys!)

I've trained well this summer, and I feel ready. I hope my body agrees!

Visit more Weekly Winners over at SarcasticMom.com.

(Note to other "Winners" participants -- I'm a little busy today. I'll be visiting your sites later in the week.)

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

thoughts on tri training

I should have realized how busy my training was going to get.

My normal weekends used to be limited to a run on Saturday morning. I would sleep in every Sunday.

Lately, I'm usually swimming on Saturday mornings, possibly followed by a bike ride. I'm getting runs in on Sunday mornings. If I don't bike Saturday, I try for Sunday. (There have been a series of 5K races, some Saturdays and some Sundays, which have messed up the schedule a bit. But I'm pretty much done with those.)

During the week, I usually run on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This summer, sometimes I'm adding a swim after a run. Or replacing a run with a bike ride. Or adding a swim on a Monday or Wednesday.

Tonight, a group of us got together for an open-water swim. We are fortunate to know somebody who lives in a waterfront home, on a river. She is also training for Iron Girl and doesn't like swimming alone. It works out perfectly!

While the river is saltwater, unlike the lake where the race will be held, we do get to experience the murky water. This is my second open-water swim -- we also jumped off her pier after one of those 5Ks on Saturday.

I think we got close to our 1K distance tonight. It's hard to estimate the space between her pier and her neighbor's, but we think it's at least 80 yards. Yes, we're still doing laps -- but they're much longer than the ones at the pool!

This has definitely helped me feel a little better about the swim portion of the race.

The bike part is still scary ... but I'm sure that will come around too.
Soon, I hope!

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

swim. bike. run.

So a few weekends ago, I really kicked off triathlon training.

I'm most concerned with the swimming portion, so I found a gym that offers "lap-swimming" classes. It's been great -- the instructor watches us and assigns drills to help us fix anything we're doing wrong.

My third session was on Saturday and it's going well. And even though I rested between laps and did some laps with kick boards and floats, my overall distance was very close to what the race will be (1K -- or about 1,100 yards). I'm less worried now.

However, these Saturday swimming sessions are messing with my usual weekend runs. My running buddies went out on Saturday the same time I was swimming. I'm on my own to add a weekend run.

I am not a solo runner. I like my group -- we chat and encourage each other. Alone I didn't think I'd go very far, especially since it's started to get hot.

I also got a later start this morning, mainly because I got to bed late and wanted to let myself sleep! But I got out of the house a little after 10 a.m. and started plodding along.

I ran to a nearby park, 2 miles. It was pretty slow, but I was hoping I'd be ambitious enough to run 8 miles, so I planned it that way.

The park has a 4.1 mile loop, or I could have turned around at the bathroom for 3 miles. I stuck with the full loop.

And yes, I did let myself walk some of the hills within the park (it's hot! I'm going far today!), but the one hill I kept running through was the biggest one.

Oddly enough, the 2 miles home after leaving the park were the fastest. I usually don't do that!

After a shower and a nap (quite common for me!), I made lunch and relaxed for a little while ... but not too long.

Because I am crazy. (But we already knew that!)

I packed my bike into the car and met up with a friend to go for a ride. We only went 9.5 miles, but that was about as much ambition as I had for the day!

Last Saturday, after my swim class, I rode 16 miles and then forced myself to run a mile.

At first I thought I felt fine, until I got going. Then ouch -- heavy legs!

But I did it, and at a decent pace, too. I will have to continue pushing myself if I'm going to make it through this thing!

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