Monday, August 22, 2011

Summer Adventures, Part 3

I have to get caught up on these, because the adventures keep coming! This weekend I attended my first Leadville 100 Trail Run. In a word, amazing. I will get to that in a bit.

The next adventure of my summer was the Lake to Lake Triathlon in Loveland, Colorado on June 26. I signed up for the race rather late because I was hesitant to do a road triathlon as it was not really central to my training goals for the year. As it turned out, the race was a special qualifier for the triathlon age group national championships, which were held in my home town of Burlington, Vermont. When I checked last year's results, I realized that, if I had a great day, I might actually be able to make it. So I decided to give it a try. I also would get to train for and participate in the race with my friend Celeste who was doing her first triathlon. Bonus.

Several issues with the logic of setting qualifying for nationals as a goal. It was my first triathlon in Colorado. This meant that not only was the race at altitude, but the course had much more hill-climbing on the bike. Colorado also breeds world-class cyclists like dandelions. They are everywhere. Since the bike is by far my strength, my competitive advantage was all but eliminated out here. Also... it was my second Olympic distance tri ever... it was a very ambitious goal.

I had a blast training with Celeste. It was great to see her confidence and excitement grow as the race approached. But the race snuck up on me. Last year, my first Oly was the DC Triathlon held on June 20. A few weeks before this year's race, I realized that I was in MUCH better shape in June last year. The windy, rainy spring here combined with some serious burn out and I was not running or biking as much as I should in order to be competitive.

The race was a disaster. My age group started with the elites and I spent the whole race trying not to be demoralized by how much I was passed. The swim, a wetsuit legal swim, took me exactly as long as the swim without a wetsuit last year. I was focused on trying to swim fast and I did not swim well.

The bike was ok, but I did occasionally space out and start the enjoy the beauty of the course before reminding myself that I needed to race! A highlight was the group of FCTRs at the bottom of a massive descent. They had gotten up at the crack of dawn to establish themselves (and a boombox) along the course. Their energy really gave me a boost and got my head back in the race as I blew by them at about 25 mph.
At least I had fun on the bike!

The run is where the wheels came off. According to my Garmin, I blazed out of the transition area at a brisk (for me) 8:15 pace. I felt great, but I knew I was going to have to back off. Mile 2 went by at about 8:45 and then I started to collapse. I felt sore, nauseous and on the verge of hyperventilation. I slowed and slowed and slowed and I didn't feel any better. Mile 3 was well below marathon pace and I continued to decline. I rallied briefly near the finish as I passed the FCTR Booster Club. I didn't have much fight left, but I did reel in one person on the final stretch... It was my slowest 10k in any race ever (including marathons!). I had no hope of qualifying.
Smiling... actually laughing at how slow I was going!

Cat, Scott, Sarah, and Chris greeted me at the finish. Their great energy and respect kept me from falling into a funk. We returned to the course to watch Celeste grit out the end of the race. She was amazing. During the run, she destroyed the lead I had built in the swim and bike, and finished faster than me. It was amazing to see her determination and competitive spirit. What an athlete!

Post race massage... so necessary
I am disappointed in my performance in that race, but it has left me with some goals for next year. Nationals will be in Burlington again next year. I am going to make it this time. I know that I gave the race everything I had. I was exhausted at the end. Next year, I am going to have more to give it.

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