Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Making a Come Back Again at Fairport Harbor Triathlon

Sunday I raced the Fairport Harbor sprint triathlon. What a great little race! A lot of local talent came out to race and/or work or spectate at the race. I had a blast and was just so thrilled to be able to race again given the ups and downs with my foot. With the ankle sprain a couple weeks ago and only running once before the race last week, I was not sure how the running portion of the race would go. Fortunately it went pretty well.

It was a fun day and my goal was to finish in my age group and top ten females in the race if possible. Reasonable goals given my strength on the bike and assuming my run would be par. The swim I would not count on to get me to where I need to be in the race. If anything it is usually to my detriment and I spend the entire race catching up and passing people.


Because Fairport Harbor is so close (about 10 minutes away) we went up to ride the course and swim the course Saturday. We also picked up our packets with everything we needed for the race. I think this made Sunday a little easier/smoother. 

As of late I have been getting myself ready to race the night before. This race was no different. Hubby switched out my bike wheels to my race wheels and I cleaned up our bikes since they were a little dirty. We had our bikes and kits and all of our gear ready to go for Sunday morning. We were able to sleep in until almost 6AM, which was a real treat on a triathlon race day! 

Chillen with the hubby pre-race
We woke up, made some multi-grain waffles with peanut butter and nutella, packed up and headed out by 6:45 arriving at the race start around 7. It was pretty packed already. We grabbed our bikes and transition bags and headed to the transition area. Because this wasn't a USAT race, we were able to rack anywhere so the hubby and I racked next to each other a row or two back from the bike out/run out area. We were set up and ready by 7:30 and were able to talk with some of our friends.

The start:

The Kayak triathlons went first. Steve's wave was to start at 8:10 and mine would start at 8:15. We got in the water around 8 and it was cold. Brrr! Neither of us had brought our wetsuits since the swim was just 500 meters but I was wishing I had brought my sleeveless. It was difficult to warm up with the Kayakers and Lake Erie being so shallow in the Harbor so we just got wet and waited. They called for Steve's wave and they started. They called for my wave and I was off.

500M Swim:

Finishing the swim
In true sprint fashion, the start was a complete feeding frenzy. I lined up near the front right but had a difficult time with my stroking and breathing the first few minutes as people settled in. The swim is shallow enough that people can touch so some were walking or running versus swimming and that made it more difficult to get around some folks. After 3-4 minutes I found my breathe and as I rounded the buoy to swim back I was on the left just next to the swim lane markers. I felt much more relaxed swimming the 250 back. Finally I saw the people ahead walking/running out as the water got very shallow. I stood and started running while I took off my swim cap, googles, etc. My Ironman watch said my swim was about 10 minutes but it took me a good minute or two to run out of the water and the transition was long so likely another minute to get to my bike.


As I said it was a long transition running from the beach up through a parking lot then through a grassy lane into the transition area. I reached my bike and dried off a bit, put on my socks and cycling shoes, sunglasses and aero helmet and grabbed my bike. I was running it out and thinking again that it was a long transition running up the grassy part to reach the bike mounting area. I would estimate at least 2+ minutes in transition here.

12.4 mile Bike:

start of bike course just before the hill!
The bike course is pretty flat and easy. One negative is that there is a hill at the start! It's not very long but sometimes those short, steep ones are tough! I had set my bike into a low gear to make the climb easy. As I mounted and started to pick up speed I was yelling at some of the newbie riders who were not clipped in on racing bikes to get to the right so I could pass. Then I was off. I enjoyed the ride. Some parts more than others. I passed people the entire race. The female who ended up in 9th overall passed me on the bike the last 1/2 mile or so. I felt pretty decent since my average speed was around 20.5 mph for a split of 36. It wasn't my fastest ever effort but not bad considering the winds on the last few miles of the ride back in. On the bike I had fueled with the Powerbar Perform and also took in a chocolate PowerBar gel around the halfway mark.


T2 was pretty basic. Run the bike in, rack. Switch shoes to my Pearl Izumi Transitions, throw on my Rev3 visor and go! I was probably around a minute here.

5K Run:

The run started with the same hill as the bike so that was a bit challenging but nothing too crazy. I felt strong from the beginning. I passed people the whole race and was just passed by a couple of guys the last mile and one 15-year old female who was 10th Overall with maybe 1/2 mile to go. I liked the course being a loop versus and out and back. I felt it was easier. I was laughing, joking and smiling for the whole run. It was a good feeling. I did not wear my Garmin but based on my IM watch splits I estimate my run at around 24 minutes so likely a 7:45-7:50 pace.

The Finish:

Excited to finish!
I love finishes! Then again who doesn't? This was a fun finish but I was a little nervous since it finished uphill in the grass. I did not want to hurt my ankle AGAIN! I finished in 1:15:36, 11th overall female and 3rd in my age group. Really 2nd after looking at their results since the woman who took 2nd overall was in my age group too. I am pretty happy with the result given where I am with my injury, training, etc. As usual it was nice to have Steve cheering me on as well as some friends throughout the race and finish!

Post race:

Wrapping up awards before the winking lizard with friends
After the race we hung out for the awards then headed over to the Winking Lizard in Mentor with friends for food and beer. That was a lot of fun! I was pretty exhausted after the race and it was a real treat to be able to use the NormaTec MVP compression boots for recovery!


Special thanks to the race director, my husband, friends who cheered and/or raced too! And of course to my awesome sponsors: Rev3 Triathlon, PowerBar, Swiftwick, Blueseventy, SBR Sports and Normatec

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

One Step Forward Two Steps Back - My Poor Foot!

After months of trials and tribulations with my left foot I saw a glimmer of hope in the last couple of weeks. I had a successful sprint triathlon a couple weeks back followed by a five mile run on the trail that went well. I had went in to my physical therapist the Monday after and he approved my adding in a second weekly run in addition to increasing the distance of one of my runs. This was serious progress and I was seriously stoked. Two weeks ago I had run six miles on my favorite trail followed by five miles that Sunday. Woohoo 11 miles that week - back to double digits. But the best part was the lack of pain!

When you're used to feeling at least some level of pain and discomfort for 12 weeks, suddenly becoming pain free is strange...in a good way of course. Whoa, my foot feels okay I thought. Awesome!

I was excited to get in my midweek run and decided to head out Tuesday night to the trail for a shorter three-loop run. The loop at Girdled Rd is 1.3 miles so I would get in 3.9 miles and then head home to start dinner. Pretty simple. And not so simple. The first loop went FAST! I looked at my Ironman watch and thought whoa I did that loop in 9 minutes maybe I should slow down a little. So I did for a few and hit the second loop at 19. I contemplated calling it a day but I decided to finish the 3rd loop as planned.

And then as in a bad movie scene a twist of fate quickly changed my situation. About half way through that 3rd loop I was coming around a right side turn as there are many turns on the loop and I twisted my left ankle inward HARD. Ouch! The pain was severe so much so that I had one of those blackout moments for maybe 15 or 20 seconds where I thought holy crap what just happened?! And then I thought ouch this really hurts and I don't know if I can run. I hobbled/walked for maybe 2 or 3 minutes and decided to run the rest of the loop back slowly. It actually wasn't horrible running on it. I finished the third loop in around 33 minutes  with the walking. 

I made it back to the car and called my husband to tell him what happened. It was achy but okay it seemed as is usually the case with a twisted ankle. When I got home I took some ibuprofen right away and soaked the foot in a bucket of ice water. 

Waking up and walking on it the next morning was not so fun. Again icing, taking ibuprofen Wednesday and Thursday. Friday I had a previously scheduled appointment with Dr. Joy at the Cleveland Clinic Ortho department to follow up on my stress reaction and have some things checked out. Dr. Joy was great and very thorough. As I described the pain she had me get a second set of X-rays on the foot to be sure I didn't sustain any additional trauma as in a fracture from the ankle injury. Luckily I hadn't. 

I was treated for an ankle sprain. They gave me an Aircast ankle splint. It's very stylish as you can see from the picture here! I am supposed to wear it for a couple of weeks as it heals. I am in fact allowed to run but have not as of yet as I wanted to play it safe with a race approaching this weekend. I am planning to test it out on the trail tomorrow with the hubby close by in case I need any assistance. Assuming that goes well I will race Fairport Harbor Tri on Sunday. It is a sprint so should hopefully not add too much stress to the ankle and foot. Aside from that, I will see my PT next week for rehab and move ahead. Dr. Joy says I should be able to get back to my normal 30 miles a week of running. Looking forward to it since I have my Rev3 races to train for!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Making a Come Back at Milton Man Triathlon

I'm happy to report that the Milton Man triathlon went well! Despite my foot injury still lingering to some degree I am able to run a little now and even race! This is HUGE progress! On my race schedule I had originally planned to race the olympic distance. I felt with my longest run being 3.9 miles prior to this race that I would be pushing it so I raced the sprint. I have done this race three years consecutively now with the 2010 Milton Man being my first ever triathlon.

Leading up to race day I had some anxiety. I hadn't raced a triathlon yet this season and I hadn't run a road race since April 15. I felt that my bike performance would be decent since I did well in the Twinsburg Duathlon relay and I have been on the bike a good deal this season. I was a little nervous about the swim because I haven't been swimming much lately and certainly not with any focused effort on speed. Mostly I was nervous that my foot would fail me on the run. I didn't want to go through two of the three legs and not be able to finish.

Race Morning:

Half asleep in transition area pre race
Race morning went pretty smooth. We woke up at 4:30am (yuck). Steve was racing the sprint too and we had gotten our bikes, transition bags and kits ready the night before. We also had most of our breakfast stuff ready too and just had to brew a little coffee and load up the gear. We were on the road at 5:15 for the hour and a half trek to Lake Milton. One stop at McDonald's for a second coffee and potty break and we arrived at the race site around 6:45. The first wave was to start around 7:30 for the olympic so we had plenty of time to get set up and talk with some friends and fellow CTC athletes. You can see from the picture of me in transition that I look like and was half asleep still!

750m Swim:

I did a few minutes of easy swimming to warm up. The lake water was very warm so many people including myself went without a wetsuit. Steve's wave started about 5 minutes before mine. I did not feel nervous at the swim start. I was in the water and ready to go. I felt fine at the start and fine throughout. If anything I was too relaxed. I never really pushed the pace on the swim as I didn't want to waste energy that I felt I would need for the bike and run. My swim time here was slower than the two previous years at 19:51 versus 18:25 in 2011 and 17:42 in 2010. Yikes, I ranked 32 of 37. In 2010 I ranked 7/25. I remember coming into transition and thinking uh-oh most of the bikes are gone! This hurts my chances at placing. I will need to do a little work on the swim! I expect to be much stronger next season since my in-ground pool will  be open early and I will place a stronger effort on the swim.


I was a little slow coming out of the water and to be honest that could be reflected in my swim time. Once I hit the rack I dried off for a few seconds, pulled on my socks and shoes, threw on my sunglasses and aero helmet and took off. All in all T1 was 1:29 (18/37).

16 Mile Bike:

I feel like my bike start was a little sluggish. I was behind someone and didn't want to zip around them with the winding in the park. In hindsight I should have. I felt very strong on the first 8 mile loop. The course is pretty flat but has a couple rollers. I think the heat was getting to me a little and I felt tired approaching halfway through the second loop. I'm not sure why outside of the heat and nutrition I felt fatigued. Luckily I had a PowerBar chocolate gel with me which I took around mile 12. That helped! I was excited as I knew I hit the last mile. I had passed a lot of people on the bike but had no sense of where I was in terms of ranking.  I rolled into the transition area and thought whoa there are hardly any bikes here I must have done decent. My bike split was 46:29 for 16 miles so I averaged 20.7mph. Not quite as fast as I had hoped as I was shooting for 21-22 but not too shabby. I ranked 8/37.


Not much to say about T2. In and out in 56.4 seconds. Rack the bike, change into Pearl Izumi running shoes, which I love! Throw on hat and go!  T2 rank was 17/37.

5K Run:

Normally the run is my favorite part but being injured I was dreading this part of the race. My foot has been better but not 100%. My last run had been on a trail the Sunday before at Girdled Rd Reservation. I had run 3.9 miles, my longest in months. To race a 5K was not looking too promising. At the start of the run I felt hot, fatigued and my foot was achy and I thought maybe I should just throw in the towel. But I also knew that it takes my foot around 5 minutes or so to warm up to run and I just told myself to give it a try. I thought of Ruby and how much she loved to run and I ran. Slow at first. I felt like I was running in slow motion. A  jog really. But a few minutes later that jog turned into a run and I found my rhythm and kept going. It was so hot on the run course so I stopped for water to drink and throw on myself. The course was an out and back so at the halfway point I just wanted to stay steady and finish the race strong. I wanted to break 25 and I did with a 24:48 (flat 8 minute pace). Not bad for a non-running runner. I ranked 7/37.

The Finish:

Steve and I all smiles after the race!
The finish was sweet. Steve was standing there screaming for me. I love that he cares so much about how I do! I came in at 1:33:36, 2 minutes and 10 seconds faster than last year! I had a new PR for the course, finished 9th overall and kept 1st in my age group again this year! All in all it was a great race. Steve had a great race also finishing 8th overall, 1st in his age group and PR'd his time by more than 4 minutes!

holding on to my beloved Kestrel after the race

Once again I was really impressed with how my Kestrel handled and used my Gray 5.0 wheelset.


As always I would like to thank my sponsors: Revolution3 Triathlon for the awesome kit, PowerBar for the fuel (used PowerBar chocolate gel and PowerBar Perform drink), Pearl Izumi for the kit, cycling and running shoes used the Tri Fly shoes and Transition running shoes, Swiftwick for the socks and Blueseventy for the googles. Using good gear and having good nutrition definitely helps with performance! I would also like to thank my husband for all of his love and support, my coach for his help and my friends and Rev3 teammates for all the encouraging words before and after the race!

This new bling is joining the McGowan family collection!

These are the trophies they gave to age group winners, pretty cool!