Friday, June 19, 2015

Challenge Williamsburg Race Report - Sometimes You're Hot, Sometimes You're Not

Last weekend I competed in Challenge Williamsburg. This was my third time doing the race although the first time as a Challenge race and teammate. The inaugural year I raced the olympic, followed by the half last year and then the olympic again this year (which is a different course than 2013). I really love this course and like the Rev3 Tri brand, the Challenge brand really goes all out in making their races special!

After fighting off allergies all week, I was not happy to wake up Thursday with an earache, sore throat and headache and headed into the doctor. The doc said I have a sinus infection and put me on some antibiotics along with nose spray and an allergy pill. Not good timing but I decided to at least attempt to race since we had planned the trip and paid in advance.

Yum Yum!
My husband Steve was also racing the olympic distance so we made a little race vacation trip out of it. Friday we drove in and checked into our condo at Wyndham Kingsgate and immediately headed over to the pool for a little while to decompress from the long drive. After unpacking and getting cleaned up, we headed out to The Dog Street Pub, our favorite little place in Colonial Williamsburg for dinner and drinks. After dinner we checked out the Hair of the Dog Bottle Shop behind the restaurant where Foothills Brewing Company from North Carolina was sampling some beers. We also tried the Ale Works IPA that was on tap. Good stuff!

Race Eve:

My awesome teammates!
Saturday was a busy day! We got in a little shakeout run before heading to the expo to pick up our packets, timing chips and swag followed by the practice swim. It was so much fun seeing The Challenge staffers and my teammates and meeting some new folks as well! For the practice swim, the James River was perfect. Warm and calm and it went very smooth in trying my new swimskin so I assumed it would be a decent swim. After the swim, Steve and I headed out on the course for some recon. We planned to do about 12.5-13 (one loop of the course) but because of the way the course was setup we ended up getting in some bonus miles and doing 22. With the temp being 97 degrees that day we definitely got some sun!

Later that evening we headed out to The Corner Pocket to meet up with my teammates and their families for some prerace beer and food. Steve and I ended up cooking a light dinner later on and then getting all of our stuff ready for the morning.With the race being two transitions there is a little more organization involved.

Race Morning:
I woke up at 4:30 and was really not feeling too well. I was stuffy, hardly had a voice and had some funky GI issues going on from the antibiotic as well. Steve was concerned but I told him I would just do my best and if it wasn't my day I would back off. I know racing with a cold or infection isn't the best idea, but I am stubborn. We left the condo around 5:30 to head to the Warhill Sports Complex where the race finishes. Once there we setup our T2 area and then took the coach bus shuttle to the swim start and T1, which was setup at the Jamestown Beach area. It is a pretty short drive and most of T1 was setup from checking our bikes in Saturday so we just needed to setup the other stuff. After a trip to the bathroom we walked down to the start.

Swim: 1500 meters:
I had assumed the swim would be fast and easy. I assumed wrong. The first year with the current I had a terrible swim, last year we had the current assisting us so I did 40 mins for the 2000. This year it took me 34 mins, which did not make me happy considering I had just done a 27 at the GWRT olympic last weekend. I felt like it was a long swim. Some of my teammates and friends said they felt the current was pushing us out away from the buoys so I definitely lost some time here as I was hoping to be at least 30 or better.

This is a long transition having to run from the beach up a good distance to the bike area so this was 3:40ish versus being a minute or 2 faster.

I heart my bike!
Bike: 25 Miles:
This is usually a fast bike course with some nice flat sections as well as rolling terrain. Last year I averaged about 19.2 for the half and I ended up doing the olympic in 1:18 and change or 19.14mph this year. This was not the bike split I was hoping for but I am a little behind on my bike fitness this year and I hope to be stronger later in the season. This was definitely my favorite part of the race though as the course is quite beautiful and also shaded in many areas.

Pretty straight forward transition here. At 1:48 it was a little sluggish but I was kindof dreading the run!

Run: 6.2 Miles:
I love running...except when I am sick. Needless to say I did not set a 10K PR here. Where I had done a 46 minute 10K at GWRT this one was 55 minutes...ouch! I guess with the heat, trail portions and being sick I just could not do better than an 8:53 pace. I lost the most time here. I should have been at least 5-7 minutes faster here on a decent day.

I debated either walking or quitting the second loop because I did not feel great but then I just told myself it is just a 5K and you are done and I fought through the conditions to finish. I am glad I did. Sometimes the tough workouts are what really help to strengthen us and with a marathon coming up soon I need all the strength I can muster up!

The Finish:
Post race with my love
My time of 2:53 was disappointing yet not surprising given the conditions. Had it been a better day I probably would have done better than 6th in my AG. After coming off of a 2:36 with a longer bike the week before I had envisioned closer to a 2:35-2:40. But I cannot beat myself up too much when I was not at 100%. At the end of the day it was a heck of a training day for me anyways! Steve had a good race and placed 2nd in his AG so I was happy that one of us made the podium!

Post Race:
After the race we enjoyed the post race food and hung out with some teammates and cheered before heading back to the car to change. We stuck around for the awards and then headed back to the condo to relax. That night we met some teammates and friends out for dinner and drinks at the College Delly. We headed back to watch the Cavs game and I ended up falling asleep not far into the third quarter as I was exhausted.

We drove home Monday and used it as a rest day so I am slowly getting back into the training now as I heal and rest up to take on the Charlevoix Marathon next weekend!

Monday, June 8, 2015

GWRT Race Report - Good Start to the 2015 Tri Season

Yesterday I raced the Great Western Reserve Olympic Tri put on by Champ Racing. I will admit that I was nervous going into this race. I am always a little worked up about the first OWS of the season and I was not really sure that I was tri-ready with so much focus on the run this season and not as much focus on the bike. I have been pretty good about my swimming and gotten in as many bike miles as I can around a very run-heavy schedule. I just had to give it my best and see where I am right now.

West Branch State Park was the venue for the race. I really liked this venue. The swim was in a calm and warm inland lake and for the most part the bike roads were good and the run course was a nice setup. In addition to the olympic race, there is a sprint, a half and a half aquabike option so that brought out some good people to race. It was nice to see so many friends and fellow Cleveland Tri Club members at the race. Many of which had a great day at the races!

Steve and I both raced the olympic and we are racing an olympic again this weekend at Challenge Williamsburg (formerly Revolution 3 Williamsburg). I love the course there and it's my first team race of the year so that's pretty exciting. Racing GWRT was a great way to test my fitness before Williamsburg.  I am pleased with how things turned out yesterday and looking forward to giving it another go Sunday!

Prerace: We arrived at West Branch around 6:30am to pick up our packets and setup our transition areas. The olympic was scheduled to go off around 8am. The start was delayed about 30 minutes due to the other waves starting later. This was actually not a bad thing for me because I had time to relax and chat with friends as well as get in a nice warm up swim. The water temperature was 71 and my sleeveless Blueseventy wetsuit was very comfortable.

Swim (1500 meters):
Start of one of the swim waves
The olympic men's wave went off and then olympic women were 5 minutes later. We were the last wave. This again was okay with me. I like a relaxing swim where I am not crowded with people. It was a double loop course and the second loop really felt like it went quick. I looked at my watch leaving the water and I was around 26 minutes and change. Once crossing over the timing mat I was at 27:31 (about a 1:50 pace), which is not bad for me in open water. I am working on my sighting as I have a tendency to get off course.

I felt wobbly in T1 but got the wetsuit off pretty fast, dried off a bit, put on my gear and got in a Powerbar energy blend gel before heading for the bike mount. My 1:52 was a little slow but I'm just getting back into the swing of things.

Bike (26 miles):
I liked the bike course. It was mainly flat with a couple sections of rollers. It was a straight forward course so not too technical. The best part I think was riding along the dam. It felt like flying through that section and I got to see Steve and some friends here. My goal for the bike was to average between 19-20mph. I knew that my bike fitness was not as good yet as it was during some of last year's races where I was close to averaging 21 for this distance. I felt pretty strong on the first 13 mile loop and through the first half of the second loop but started to labor toward the end of the ride and had some pesky low back pain as well. I haven't spent too much time in the aero bars yet this season so I am sure that I will build up my tolerance to this again. My new Lazer aero helmet worked great. It was light and comfortable and well ventilated. My bike time ended up at 1:20:16 (19.4 mph average) so for where I am right now this was decent. I will be switching my focus to the bike in early July after I recover from the Charlevoix Marathon.

Again I felt a little slow here with a 1:23 but as the season goes on hopefully I will be quicker with my transitions. The one thing that annoyed me in T2 is that my GPS signal for my run watch did not come on right away so I just had to start the run without it.

Run (6.2 Miles): 
The run was pretty straight forward and flat. Leaving the park was hot but most of the olympic run was shaded, which was nice on a hot day like yesterday. It was an out and back, 2 loop 5K course with 2 aid stations on each loop. It was nice to see so many friends on the course and I got to see Steve a couple of times as well, which was a nice boost of motivation. I ended up running a negative split for the second loop, which allowed me to move up at least a handful of spots in the race. I ended up running a 46:08 10K (7:41 average).  I was glad to have my run working for me with all the miles I have been logging training for my marathon June 27.

Post race with my hubby
Finish & Post Race:
It was nice to have Steve cheering as I finished. I am happy with my time of 2:37:12. It was good enough to win my age group and place 6th female. In looking at the results the swim is really what killed me for this race along with not having my bike legs at 100% yet. I am okay with that. I will get stronger as I change my focus to multisport! Steve had a solid race too and placed 3rd in his AG. We stuck around to hang out with friends and eat. Champ does a great job with the post-race food especially the pizza! Mmm! Many of our friends set PRs and placed so it was a good day at the races!

Closing Thoughts:
I liked this race and will plan to do it again - possibly the half too. Champ did a nice job with the course, volunteers, food, and I loved the race shirt! Today is a recovery day and then I get back into a hard week of training followed by the Challenge Williamsburg olympic tri this Sunday!

Cool shirt & my AG medal

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Third Time is the Charm They Say - Training Update

After not hitting my BQ goal in Cleveland due to weather I was disappointed. I sometimes have a hard time letting things go. Although I knew I would be sacrificing the beginning of my triathlon season I made the decision to run a third marathon this season in Charlevoix, Michigan later this month. It's a small, beach town race that is said to be one of the most beautiful races in the U.S. Needless to say I am excited to give it another go. Plus, I'll qualify for Marathon Maniacs  too, which is fun!

I am still planning to participate in the multisport races on my schedule as well - I just cannot train for these specifically. Last week for example I ran 53 miles, rode my bike for 75 miles, got in one 2000 meter swim along with some yoga and pilates work for strength. In a normal multisport focus training week I would have had another swim, 15-20 miles less running and about 50-75 more on the bike.

Last Sunday was the Twinsburg Duathlon. It was kindof a rainy, crappy morning to race but I was up for it. The first run went okay as I had not really intended to push the pace given my tired legs so according to my watch, the first 2 mile run was around a 7:29 pace. My goal was to run between a 7:15-7:30 for both runs and average 19-20mph on the bike. Entering transition I saw my hubby. He had a flat and said he was out so just to go ahead. I ran over to my bike but felt bad that he was out of the race so I went to go find him to just ride the course with him and finish for fun. After 5+ minutes of trying unsuccessfully to find him and then hearing that he changed his wheel and jumped back into race, I was bummed. I felt like I had lost too much time to be competitive and I had some extra run miles I needed to make up so I made use of the time to get in 7 more miles at a slower pace around 9. Later that afternoon I hopped on my cross bike for an hour to get in my needed bike miles for the week. I guess it all worked out okay in the end although I am bummed that I didn't get to race my bike.

I do get to do that this weekend at the Great Western Reserve Olympic Tri at West Branch! This week is another 50+ mile run week along with 70+ on the bike, 5300 meters of swimming and some strength work. This may not be optimal triathlon training but I am excited to take on my first tri of the season, tired legs and all! My husband and several friends are racing so it will be fun to see everyone! Hope that water is not too cold!

The following week I have my last build week for the marathon with about the same mileage as this week. Steve and I head South to Williamsburg, Virginia next weekend for a little vacation and to race Challenge Williamsburg. We will be racing the olympic again as we did two years back (last year we raced the half and loved it). I am super excited to see my Challenge teammates and staff!

The following week will be a taper week with no races (thank god).

Then we head to Charlevoix for another long weekend vacation with a race. I will race the full marathon and hubby is racing the half marathon. Hopefully I can get the BQ done and move on this season to the half iron and full iron triathlon build phase! I will not have any long races on my schedule until later in August now so I am looking forward to the change of focus.