Sunday, May 11, 2008

3rd in age group -- I GOT A MEDAL!!!!!!

LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!! Holy Crap I can't believe I actually PLACED for my age group!!! YEEHAW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, before I write a whole other mess of exclamation points, I'll get down to my race report...

Like Jenna said before, grab yourself a coffee, (Shannon -- you grab a water too because all your coffee you've been drinking and lack of sleep = dehydration) settle down and get comfortable.

The saga begins right at race package pickup...

When I picked up my race package I was disconcerted to find no race map! I have NO sense of direction, and just about start having panic attacks when someone gives me directions using language like, "Turn north, and then turn east." I asked a volunteer to explain precisely where I was to go and you know what? This morning I still couldn't find Max Bell Aquatic Centre!! God -- I must have been the only person in the city of Lethbrdige driving around all these parking lots looking for the bloody pool. I finally saw a truck turn down a road and decided to follow it. Still, there was no sign saying "Aquatic Centre this way."

The truck was going in the right place, but I alas was still not! I parked at this big sports complex where there were about 6 cars parked. I grabbed my pack and walked in and it was like I was walking through a nightmare -- I have dreams where I am late for a race and can't find my way to it no matter how hard I try. All the little coffee shop things had their blinds pulled down like late nights at the airport and there was not a soul in sight. I saw a sign that said "Aquatic Centre Viweing Area" but no frigging sign for the Aquatic Centre. I don't want to watch the race -- where is the bloody pool?? I finally found it deep in the bowels of the building and realized that where I had parked was WAY too far away.

Once rectified, I set up my bike and transition area. It had rained all night and was still raining, but it wasn't blasting down. Here is where I must make an observation about the peculiarities of the plastic baggy -- why in God's name would you put a plastic bag on your bike seat in the rain? Dude, it's RAINING. Once you get out of the pool, your ass is going to be WET. Why add fiddling time to transition by having to remove a baggy on a seat?? I have never understood this tactic, and I never will! LOL!!!

After I was finished getting body-marked, I stood around by my bike because I had no idea what else I should do. I didn't know anyone, so I just sort of stood there, gamely smiling and striking up mini-conversations with people. Then I saw a Speed Theory jersey -- but it wasn't IG. I didn't wear my contacts, so I couldn't tell until he was really close!! LOL!! Anyways, I introduced myself and of course he knows IG, so we chatted a while.

Race meeting took place at 8:15am pool side. I just buggered around the change room, going to the bathroom a million times until it started. The instructions for this event were truly mind-boggling. I like instructions to be clear -- no ambiguities. I don't want to be the one at the race that gets lost and everybody says, "There's that girl, she's the one who got lost. How could you get lost?" The pre-race chat was again out of my worst nightmare -- You had to ride out of a parking lot, around a corner, through another parking lot, then something to do about speed bumps, then merge into the centre lane at some point of the race, then stay on the right, then on the way back, get into some centre lane, then into the left lane, then more tomfoolery with these parking lots. I was like, WHAT??%#@$^&^^

I asked IG, asked the announcer, and asked other athletes - everyone was very cool about it, saying it was well-marked and I could just follow other people. Very well then.

The swim had 12(!!!!) swimmers per lane and it was a frigging nightmare. All three IMCs were WAY better than the mess happening in my lane (Lane 3). And I think I was to blame!! LOL!!!!! We started 5 secs apart but the usual pile-ups occurred. The really funny thing is that I ended up drafting virtually the entire race off two guys. Poor guys. We were just going the right speed and I touched their feet (gently) and swam basically tummy to tummy with either one or the other the entire time. One time, two of us pushed off the wall at the same time and the guy surfaced underneath me -- That was weird!! LOL!!!!! Still for all my drafting, there was no lane-swim smackdowns -- everybody was very polite and good with each other. I felt like everybody lapped me-- twice, but I was going as fast as my wee arms could go!! Hee-hee!! On my last lap I felt a volunteer whack me from above (I had asked them to do this -- They had offered jokingly to do it, but many people took them up on it!!) I had a hell of a time hoisting myself out of the pool -- The edge was so high up, it took all my determination to get out.

Next was the world's most obstacle-laden transition run. Through hallways, weaving around school offices, a hairpin corner, and then all these stairs. This one dude was taking up the whole hallway and when I said excuse me twice, he just kept plodding along. I said "Excuse me" a third time when I literally squeezed myself between him and the wall. Get the frick out of the way, buddy!! I didn't swim my butt off to walk behind you!! LOL!!! (But I wasn't laughing at the time!!)

Next was running across this cobblestone walkway and then finally across the road and to my bike. Transition was great. My prescription glass insert had fallen out, but I calmly popped them back in no problemo. This happened once before when I was all panicky in transition-- I have since learned to calm down in transition and move efficiently, not fast. If you focus ongoing fast, you always fumble. If you focus on efficiency, you ARE fast. :):)

The bike was a Kelsey-channel fest!!!!!! I purposely didn't bring my heart rate monitor because I just wanted to go like a dingbat without looking all the time at my watch. I passed a lot of people -- I was surprised at how much I gained on those faster swimmers. The weather had decidedly turn to total s#$t and the wind had picked up. Nothing new here, living in the Pass, but it was cold work. I didn't bother putting pants over top of my one-piece trisuit, just a jacket. I didn't wear gloves either, because I never wear them, and because I didn't want to fiddle around with them in transition either.

I did discover that my sunglasses do have windshield wipers though -- my forefinger!! :) :) With all the rain and wind and traffic kicking up muddy grit, my glasses kept getting filthy. There was no way I was stopping to wipe them; I thought to myself, "You don't need to see to ride, just pedal!" I took the ol' finger and wiped off the glasses and it worked like a charm. No streaks! :) :)

The way back was a real slog. My feet were like chunks of ice. I had no feeling in my right foot, and my left foot was just about all numbed up as well. Mentally, I got bored, and had to next channel Susi's gerbil. There were a couple of moments where I found it really hard to keep my cadence up -- the wind was now head on, and man was it ever blasting. My legs were freezing, and I was really pushing myself. I don't have any bike data because I don't have a bike computer. (Well, I do own one, but I didn't want to hook it all back up to my bike again -- if it measured watts I would!) My saliva was really booger-sticky too. You know when it is cold and your nose is running, and every time you swallow your throat is sticky with Gatorade and you can't really swallow. I mean, I could swallow my drink, but in between, it's like my throat was closed off. I spit a couple of times, but it was just gross and didn't help much. I passed another person, and it was a girl in my age group. She had thighs of steel!!

I almost got lost biking back into transition. I was really close to these two guys (I can't believe the guys I had passed!!) but they pulled ahead when I slowed down to make the corners. The pavement was wet, I was being cautious, and besides, transition was really close. It's a good thing they didn't get too far ahead however, because we went back into transition a different loopdie-loop way. And, there were no volunteers in sight to tell you where to go. There was one point right before I rounded another corner when I yelled out "Where do I go???" I could see no one and had no idea if I was going in the right direction. Fortunately, I rounded ANOTHER corner and saw a volunteer pointing me to go pedal in another circular corner thing.

I quickly dismounted, had another awesome transition and took off like a bandit. I took off my sunglasses because it was cloudy, but that meant my sight went with it. Thank God for the zealous woman volunteer who yelled at me and waved her arm in the direction I was to go. Then, straight away I started going off the path and it was another competitor who yelled for me to follow the little pink flags. I was really disoriented because the little flags at the start didn't look like a path to me -- it was misleading.

My feet were like chunks of lead but I kept my cadence up. The path immediately plunges down a VERY VERY steep incline. It's like a frigging mountain. And, running on biking legs and frozen feet could be a recipe for disaster. I actually couldn't feel any part of my lower body, and I just hoped I would get down to the bottom without falling and crashing down. I passed another couple of men right away. :) :) This has NEVER happened to me before -- I never pass people during the run portion!! I started picking people off for once -- oh how I am grinning like a fool to be able to say that!!!

There was a man in a blue jersey up ahead that I eventually caught and then stayed right behind him and to the left a little. I was going as hard as I could maintain and couldn't pass him, so I just settled right behind him. I passed another person and then started getting really close to the man. I then recognized his jersey -- he was one of the two guys I had drafted off for the swim!! LOL!!!! I asked him, were you in lane 3? He said yes and then I delightedly pointed out that I had drafted off him for basically the whole swim. I thought it was so funny, but he was probably thinking to himself, "Oh great, first the swim, and now she is right frigging behind me on the run too!!" LOL!!!

He was going along at a good pace, and I was definitely pushing myself, so I decided to just keep at what I was doing, but not to "eat the paste!!" We passed the turn around and were on our way back when I started to gain ever so slightly on him. I was just about crawling up his ass and I apologized to him -- "I'm sorry, but I just can't pass you." He said, "That's OK" Poor guy. I felt bad because I was literally breathing down his neck and by this time it was the full on porn-star breathing. I think I was the loudest one on the course!! LOL!!

But, this is the first race where I was porn-star breathing and I could still keep running. Since I have started triathlons, when the wheezing/whistling/moaning starts, I am about to collapse. But today, I kept going, and going,and going. All that training is paying off!!!!! I was hovering very, very close to the retaste zone, but my stomach did OK too. Very soon, I found myself about to pass the man!! As I ran alongside him, I thought we would run together for a while. I said to him, "It looks like we are going to be passing each other back and forth." He replied, "Uhh, I don't think so.' At this point, I passed him. Solidly passed him and just kept on trucking.

It was about this time I saw the girl in my age group with the thighs of steel come running for the turn around. She was freaking fast and her running form looked effortless and strong, and I knew she was going to catch me. The course backtracked and it is a very hilly course. I took water at every station and even pinched the cup and kept running while I drank it!! YAY!! LOL!!!! Apart from my laboured breathing, I felt great. I wasn't hungry at all -- which has happened in the past. I had put 2 scoops of Carbo-Pro and 1 scoop of Gatorade powder into my aero bottle and had drank the whole bottle during the bike. The Carbo-Pro totally did it's job of adding calories without making me too full. Steel-thighs finally passed me and was it ever something to see her run. She has awesome runners' legs and continued to pass all these other people.

Now, nearing the finish line there is talk of "The Hill." The rule sheet enclosed with the race packet even mentions it and says you can walk or crawl up it. People I had talked to before the race warned, "Oh, the hill at the end. You know that hill? Well just walk up it." Other people had told me something about the last 100 m, there is a hill. They were DEAD wrong. I don't know what about this race that makes people give screwball instructions, but that WAS NOT A HILL@!!!$%@$%*&!!! A hill implies going up and then you are over. This was not a hill. We had to ascend the same frigging mountain grade that we had descended at the beginning of the race. It wasn't no 100m either. Try 1.5 km. The incline starts way the hell back and just gets worse. By this time, I was breathing full on porn-star and when I couldn't take it anymore, was forced to walk.

The sprint and super-sprint racers were now passing me and even they had to stop and walk. I walked until the incline leveled somewhat (underscore somewhat) and then tried running again. It was terrible -- I could barely breathe. Even walking had the porn-star breathing at max effort. I put my head down and wheezed and walked as fast as I could. There were a couple of signs -- One said something along the lines of "How do you like the hill?" The other said "You did it!" But you really didn't, because at the top of "the hill" was a little dip and then another frigging little hill.

Finally, as I approached the finish line, I heard the announcer say my name and all my info I had put down on the race form. That was awesome!! Usually, it's hit or miss if you happen to come in alone or with other people, but today it was like the announcer was reading my biography!! LOL!!!!!

Afterwards I met up with IG and some of the other people he coaches - I now have ANOTHER blog to read -- Leslie's!! Her blog is listed at IG's. I told Mark, the guy wearing the Speed Theory jersey, "It was ME in the swim!" I figured out he was the other guy I had drafted off . He was like, "Yeah there was somebody who drafted off me for like 1000m." HAHAHAHAHA! "It was ME!!!" LOL!!!!! I also met Iona (sp?) who will be coming to the Penticton training camp as well.

I had showered (but still had the race-red face LOL!!) and then dined on chocolate milk, fruit, and a muffin during the awards ceremony. I was chatting with IG, when I suddenly heard my name announced as third for my age group. I was in complete disbelief!!! I was all awkward getting my medal -- I tried hugging the volunteer before she gave the medal. I then said to Greg, "I'll wait for you to take my picture!" Iona had won her age category and IG had said his camera was too slow, he was going to miss the shot. I made sure to really pose!! LOL!!! I was so excited I felt like whinging the medal over my head like a lasso and yelling YAHOO!!

I feel like that at every race anyways!! Yes,I am the one who is friends with everybody, laughing like an idiot just glad to be alive and out there racing!!! LOL!!!

Final notes -- in my post-race state, I had wheeled my bike back to my car along with half of my stuff, and forgot about it. Suddenly, the skies opened and a tropical dump of rain pummeled everyone as I walked back to my car. As I neared the parking lot,I saw my trunk was still open. "DUH" Of course there were all these other people around so I announced, "Yes I am the dork that left the trunk open." Then, I found a pair of my socks outside on the ground. Don't even ask. After all this, I realized I had left the other half of my stuff back at the pool. Geesh. LOL!!!

I will definitely do this race again. The volunteers were AWESOME!! The sponsors, Runners Soul and the Penny Coffee House were fantastic. The only things I would love to see changed are:

* Include a course map in race packages with explicit instructions on all the dinking around you have to do in the various parking lots before you get out on the road. I actually saw two ladies who got lost doing the super sprint. They didn't know where to go through the parking lot and ended up right by my car.

* Spray paint arrows for bikers to follow through said parking lots.

* Do a physical walk-through in transition before the race like they do at Wasa, instead of the pool-side meeting. One lone dude with a microphone in the University pool does not acoustics make. Even standing right in front of him, I could barely hear him.

Hmmm, what else? Oh yeah, my time!!! I forgot to check my splits, but my total time was 2:45 and change. I didn't fully hear the time because I was talking to IG when I caught the info. Either way,it is a PB!!! I even beat my Olympic Wasa time even with all the bloody walking I had to do uphill!!!

Next up, Olympic tri in Wasa, June 15!!!!!! :) :) :):):) :): )

(Greg took some pics, and he is either going to post them, so I can then steal them and post them to my blog too, or he will email them to me. As soon as I get the pics I will post them!!!!)

:) :):):) :):) :) :) :) :) :) :)


Jenna said...

AWESOME Julie!!!! Whooo hooo! My favorite part was you getting all cozy in the pool and finding out it was Mark after :) and Steel Thighs :) Oh what a kooky gal you are - I hope you slep with your medal!!!

Keith said...

Hey, don't encourage them. Next thing you know some race organizer will decide a regular triathlon is just to darn easy, so they'll make it an obstacle course as well.

But seriously, you rock! All that training in the wind and cold is paying off.

runningman said...

Good job and nice report, I enjoyed the read. congratz on the PR!!!

Cath said...

Well done you, sounds like you had a blast - here's to the rest of the races this year hey?!

Susi said...

Brilliant race Jules!!! I love that you were able to dig deep and keep going even though you were pooped. Loved the picking off people strategy too!!!

See ya soon in Penticton!!

John Prince said...

Way to go Julie! Felt like I was right there with you. Thanks for that! Congrats!!!! :-)

qtlibrarian said...

Way to Chick the Boys! I'm getting you a t-shirt too!