Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Rumpass in Bumpass Race Report! 1st Race of the Season!

So it's 10 am and I have already gotten in an hour and a half of studying today (My PhD qualifying exam is this week!) so I think I'll take a bit of a study break and work on my Rumpass in Bumpass 2012 Race Report! The first race and first race report of the 2012 season! Yaayy!!

The professional race photos are not up yet, but they are also not going to be free, so you're going to have to make do with the ones that Erin and I took. It was Erin's first time with my new, fancy camera and she did an admirable job. Understandably, it is difficult to take shots of a single, specific cyclist. You have to watch each one and decide whether or not that's your racer, then you have to get the camera ready and focused, all while the cyclist is barreling towards you at 22 mph. So the swim and run shots are a bit better. :) Thanks Erin!

Not only was this my first race of the season, but my cousin Anne was also racing the Rumpass for her very first triathlon! She had an awesome day out there, and I'm a very proud tri-momma/cousin.

 So our race weekend started with a long drive down to Bumpass, VA on Saturday. Turns out that place is seriously in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. Wasn't the most amazing drive with traffic and then small, strange roads and although we had planned to be there before the end of the olympic distance race being held Saturday, we were quite a bit late. It all turned out fine though, as Anne, who is a member of Team Z, was still hanging out with her teammates in their post-race tent. She had seen most of the Saturday race and had gathered a lot of useful information about the course, transition, etc. We wandered around and checked out the area and the course. Lake Anna is really beautiful, once you get passed being in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. And I am qualified to make that judgement, btw, given that I grew up on a horse farm, off a dirt road in PA. Anyway, I'm straying from the story. We went down to the lake and waded into the water. The air temp was pretty nice Saturday, low 70s I guess? By 3 pm the water felt really nice too. We looked over the swim course, which was pretty neat. It started and ended at different places, with the exit leading almost directly into transition. No long run in bare feet! YAY! Anne and I then took a nice 40 minute bike ride on part of the course to get our blood moving and make sure our bikes had survived transport unscathed. We then proceeded to packet pick up (great shirt AND socks! featuring Wild Things...get it? Rumpass?) (Also, thanks to Anne for not letting us drive too far before remembering about packet pick up) and then headed an hour back NE to Fredericksburg where our lovely hotel was located.

On the way to the hotel I noticed that my bike was missing an end cap on the handlebar. Many of you know that this is against USAT rules. They call it the "Core Sample Rule." You fall, your handlebar takes a plug of skin and muscle out of you (or worse, internal organs!). Anyway, special shout out to the guys at Olde Town Bicycles in Fredericksburg for hooking me up with 3 extra endcaps, after store hours. And thanks to my mother for teaching me how to talk really sweetly to people on the phone. 

We checked in and then Erin and I made our way to Applebees for dinner. I've never done a pre-race meal at Applebees before and I was a bit nervous, but I found something really simple on the menu and went with that. The good thing was that Applebees had TVs and they put playoff hockey on the TV above our table. Erin had hockey, she was happy. I had food, I was happy. Post-dinner we headed back to the hotel and I helped Anne go through all of her stuff to be sure she didn't forget anything. She packed admirably (with several extras) so we were all able to head off to bed.

I slept like CRAP!

The race started at 10am, which is by far the latest start time I've seen. I think they wanted to start late to give us warmer weather, but as it turned out the high for the day was in the mid 80s! Anyway, we rose bright eyed and bushy tailed at 6:15 am. My coach had emailed me a detailed outline of how I should proceed on race morning, and I have to admit that I didn't follow his plan exactly. First of all there was an hour commute to contend with. Second, he wanted me to spend way more time warming up than I would racing! I mean, I bet this is what the really good folks do, but I've never done all that before so I decided to break myself in nice and easy. Drank lots of water, took a hot shower before we left (at his suggestion...shower before working out??) and had my race day breakfast. I've changed it up a bit this season because believe it or not, bananas seem to give me heart burn. So I just had a small bowl of my 5 grain hot cereal (basically fancy oatmeal) with a little bit of Nutella mixed in and a few small pieces of banana (can't completely change it up), half a whole wheat bagel and some peanut butter. And a little coffee. And more water.

After an hour on the road (Thank you Erin for driving everywhere!! You are saving my back from a lifetime of misery!) we parked and I made the decision based on the time and on the amount of traffic on the roadway to skip the warm up bike ride my coach had suggested and just do a run and swim warm up. Got my timing chip, got body marked and set up my lovely transition area. Now, this was my first Setup Event and overall I have very few complaints about the organization of the Rumpass. It was a lovely race. But the bike racks are my first small complaint. I LOVED that they were actually tall enough for my bike seat to fit under and easily rack, but they lacked numbers. Instead, each section of the rack was assigned 6 numbers and you had to mark out your own territory. I was there early and didn't have a real problem, but the 6th person into our section had to move everyone's stuff around to fit in. On top of that, people weren't racking their bikes on the same side as their stuff and I imagine some people had a really tough time in transition because of that. I was spared and had relatively intelligent/experienced people around me but I know others weren't so lucky. ANYWAY!

After helping Anne set up her transition area, I headed out for my warm up run. Coach indicated he wanted me to run for 20-30 minutes. I decided to just do it be feel and check out parts of the course that I had heard people talking about before the race. There were two long gravel sections, and I wanted to see what the fuss was about. Turns out the gravel was very very large and deep, and therefore it actually moved under foot kind of like sand. Not very pleasant. I checked that section out and the run around the outside of a field and probably did a 15-20 minute warm up. With 30 minutes left till the start I headed down to the water and donned my wetsuit. The water was much chillier than it had been the day before, but it wasn't too bad once I got going. I was really glad I did the warm up and got back into the feeling of my wetsuit. It seemed to erase almost all of my pre-swim jitters. Anne and I were in the same swim wave, so we got to hang out for a bit and tread water together before our horn went off to start the race.

Once we were underway I lost track of Anne pretty quickly. The water was not very clear, although I was often able to make out the legs of other swimmers. I did a pretty good job drafting off of someone until we caught up with the stragglers from the men's wave before us, at which point we all got pretty strung out. The swim was pretty pleasant though, and I never felt like I was going to puke from exertion. Part of me thinks that is a good thing, another part thinks maybe I should have pushed harder. Only had one little entanglement when I accidentally swam between two guys from the previous wave who were going shoulder to shoulder. Got a bit pummeled, but ended up ahead of them and free. The course had a long straightaway and ended in a different place than it began, with a run right into transition. I guess I got a little cocky when I got out, because as I entered transition I heard the announcer say that the first 5 women had just gotten on course and I thought that might mean I was in the top 10 out of the water. Erin later informed me that after 8 women she stopped counting so I was likely a bit further down. Plus there was another wave of women behind me. My swim time was 14:33 for 750 meters.

Then came T1. I am not sure what exactly I did to take up 2 minutes, but I sure did it! I know I struggled hard with my socks. I need to learn to bike without them and to put them on when my feet are more dry in T2. I didn't have too much trouble with my wetsuit, although I did fight with my helmet strap a bit. Once out of T1 there was a steep uphill run to the road and I was stuck behind a lady who ended up being my slingshot buddy for the ride (I passed her, she passed me, I passed her, she passed me...you get it). She wasn't in my age group, and I also had a pretty good feeling I could outrun her, but it was good motivation to try to keep up with her because she was clearly a cyclist and she was gunning it. She wasn't too pleased with me I don't think. Anyway, the bike course wasn't totally flat, but there weren't any huge climbs. There were some rollers and false flats, but also just a lot of plain flats. It was a relatively fast course and I averaged 19 mph over 11.5 miles. I didn't have many women pass me, or many men for that matter. A few came up behind on their super aero TT machines with disk wheels sounding more like I was getting passed by a car or even a small jet plane than a cyclist. I didn't see any women from my age group on the bike. I finished at 36:14. Last year I averaged 19.5 mph over 56 miles, so I think I should have been pushing harder. We did, however, had a pretty strong headwind for half of the course.

T2 went relatively smoothly. I didn't go down the wrong aisle, thanks to a particularly loud towel I draped over my bike rack. I did get the back of my shoe stuck in when I stomped my foot in and had to curse at it for a few seconds. Otherwise I got out unscathed and began what turned out to be an entirely off-road run. There was not one, single paved section. I mean, don't get me wrong, I like trail running, but that wasn't what we signed up for. The gravel was just as squishy as I remembered, and there was a long, second gravel section I hadn't been on before. Still, with the two out and backs there was plenty of time to scope out the competition and see who was ahead and behind you. I also got to see Anne on the run as I was coming back in towards the finish. (I have no pictures of me running from the front yet. Apparently I surprised Erin, who was at a corner trying to photograph Anne on the bike course). In the last mile of the run, a woman passed me and I saw she was in my age group. She was trucking and I just couldn't keep pace with her. As I saw her fading into the distance it occurred to me that she was probably in third now, but it was too late. I was pretty hot at that point and had been pouring water on myself. I pulled out a final kick for a sprint finish and was very happy for my finishers medal and my bottle of water. I finished in 1:19:32. I was 4th in my age group, and 22nd in women overall.

I felt pretty good after the race, not too worked over. I found Erin and we took a sign we made and the camera back out to the last turn of the run course to watch Anne and cheer to the final stretch. She came in looking great and smiled for the camera as we cheered her on.

Anne finished really well, especially for her very first triathlon. We hung out with her team some post race and just unwound from the excitement of race day. Overall it was a great day for a race. I still wish I had pushed harder, or had just a little bit more in the tank, but I might be being too hard on myself. Technically it was a sprint distance PR for me, but it's really hard to compare sprint distance races because the swim and bike lengths aren't consistent from race to race. But as always, I loved racing. Can't wait for the next one!!

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