Tuesday, August 14, 2012

SheROX Philly Race Report: Becky takes on the UNIVERSE

Well, another race down and another race report to write! SheROX Philadelphia was an awesome race, and I had a great day, but I think the real story was about the perserverance of my friend Becky through the events leading up to the race. She went through a few obstacles to get through the starting line that would have had me completely losing my mind! So, I'll be interspersing the story of her race with the story of mine. 

This is my friend Becky:

A few years ago I convinced her to sign up for a race with me in Delaware. She's been doing several running races since then, and is known for getting ambitious when signing up and then slightly less ambitious with the consistancy of her training... :) Anyway, I signed up for the SheROX Philly race because Becky said she was going to race it and wanted me to do it with her. I waited to sign up and made her promise that she would actually race. 

I didn't realize how hard she would have to work to keep that promise.

The timing of the race fit perfectly into the rest of my schedule for the season, setting me up for Nation's olympic distance in September and Waterman's half in October. I was really excited to sprint again. With each race I complete it becomes more and more clear to me that I am likely strongest at these shorter, faster races. This season has been aimed at half iron distance races, so I haven't done much speed work, but I think after this year that will change. Even without the speedwork, I was excited to see if I could effectively dose out my effort over this short race. Philly SheROX is a little longer than most sprint races, though. The swim was 600m, the bike was 15.5 miles and the run was the only standard, at 5k. A 15.5 mile bike meant that my time would likely be nowhere near the sprint I did earlier in the season with an 11.5 mile bike. 

I went up to the Philly area and spent some time with my family before heading into the city itself to stay with Becky on Saturday night. A few weeks before the race, however, Becky, who is a nurse, had found out that she was scheduled to work during the race. As of two days before the race, she still hadn't found anyone to cover for her and was sure she wasn't going to get to race. At 3pm Friday, she found someone to switch shifts with her, and she ended up working a 12 hr shift Saturday so that she could join me at the race Sunday morning. 

Packet pick-up was during her shift on Saturday, so when I went to get my goodie bag and numbers, I found out that she had to be at the race site at 4:30 am to get her packet in the morning. The expo was great, and when I went out to take a ride and spin my legs out, I was fortunate enough to meet another cyclist who showed me a route on closed off streets. At Becky's I took a little run, made pasta for dinner, and watched the olympics while waiting for Becky to come home...

Then she called me to tell me that her bike, which she had ridden to work, had been stolen.

 Luckily she had another bike locked up downstairs at her apartment building. By the time she got home after 8 she was laughing and saying the universe really didn't want her to race. Little did she know, her ordeal wasn't over.

We were up super early on Sunday, and I had my usual oatmeal and coffee. Becky planned to ride her other bike to the race site to get her packet. As I got ready for my pre-race shower and to pack up my gear, Becky called me again. She had snapped the key in her bike lock. Now she had no bike. 

No matter, she was tenacious. She called a friend and asked to borrow a bike. Maybe most amazing is that her friend was awake at 5am. She and I ended up at the race site around the same time, where she managed to get her packet, and then went back across the city to pick up her borrowed bike. We got there around 5:45. Transition closed at 6:45. Our swim wave was at 7:24. She had her work cut out for her.

I set up my transition and sized up the competition. The a few of the girls in my age group looked seriously competitive. I knew I had a tough race ahead of me, and I told myself that I had to push myself and run my race. I couldn't worry about that girl over there who looked like she should be an elite. I got in my run warm up and volunteered to sing the anthem, but they already had a singer. They also told me we couldn't get into the water before the race, which I found a bit disappointing. All the while I was listening to the announcer count down the time left before we had to leave transition. I had some of Becky's stuff in transition with me, so I set it up for her. At 15 minutes till the closing of transition, I started to think she really wasn't going to make it. 

Then with 5 minutes left, I saw her bob into transition with her friend's bike!

We set up her gear as quickly as we could, and hustled out to the swim start. The water temperature was 82, definitely not wetsuit legal. We were the 8th wave of swimmers, and when we waded in I was surprised by how large our age group was. 106 athletes in the Women's 25-29. Wow. We lunged from our in-water start at the horn and I settled in well. I felt great and swam well, but was soon climbing over ladies from the wave before ours. My swim was pretty quick, 12:28 for 600 meters. I came out of the water feeling good.

Enter the fastest T1 of my life. First we didn’t have to strip off wetsuits, so that of course made things speedier. I’ve also been working on riding in my new tri bike shoes without socks, so I was able to slip those on much more quickly than I normally would when wrestling with wet feet and sandy socks. I got in and out in 1:04. Zoom!

Onto the bike and right into a massive traffic jam. The mount line was in a narrow chute, and the lovely ladies from the wave ahead of mine had all stopped, maybe 6 of them or so, right in the chute. I wanted to run by them, but they were clogging it up and acting confused and water-addled. Bah! When I finally got out onto the course I basically spent the entire ride passing people from the earlier wave. I knew that when I came out of the swim there were maybe 8 girls from my wave (of 106!) ahead of me, but for the most part I didn’t see them. I passed I think two and one caught me, but otherwise everyone I saw was in an older age group. The course was pretty nice, with one significant hill and several false flats. It was a two-loop course, so all of that happened twice. Wasn’t my fastest time, and the course was a bit crowded. I had 51:16 for 15.5 miles. (Long bike course for a sprint made for a long overall sprint time…)

Out on the bike course I passed Becky at one of the turnarounds. I was happy to see that the universe hadn’t taken her out yet. She was still racing!

My T2 was not as fast as T1, but it was still respectable. I had to pull socks on for the run, so it was 1:24. I felt great going out on the run and kept up a good pace and cadence. Looking back I always feel like I could have pushed it more than I did, but at the time I felt like it was a really good effort. I ran the 5k in 25:12 and was happy the whole time, chatting up my neighbors. They had ice-cold wet towels out on the course, which were a welcome treat at the turnaround.

I finished in 1:31:26. As always with a sprint, it's hard to compare that time with any other because the distances are so variable. Looking at my splits, I could have gone a bit faster on the bike, but overall I'm pretty happy with my efforts. I was 31st out of 636 women, which I'm proud of. The fastest non-elite time was 1:17 and the girl who won my age group and got 3rd overall was went in 1:23. My age group was super competitive though (again, as usual), and I ended up in 7th. I still want to end up on the podium, but I definitely feel like I did well.

After the race I didn’t feel too spent (another indicator that maybe I should have raced harder?). I waited for Becky, who I had seen going out on the run when I was near the end. I screamed her in to the finish line. Becky:1, Universe: 0! We were all done before 9:30 am, but for Becky it felt like she had already had quite a day. We celebrated our races with Mediterranean take out and watched the Olympics. J

I am super excited for my next race. Bring on September! Unfortunately, I might not end up with any pictures of this race since we had no spectators with cameras and the official pictures are harder to steal from this race…But if I get some, they’ll get posted!

Currently I am at a self-imposed training camp in Minnesota. Expect a blog post about my adventures soon!


  1. I enjoy your blog, you seem to have a great time racing. I did my first sprint triathlon a couple weeks ago and I loved it. I also sing the National Anthem at races whenever possible! I did the National Anthem at the Turkey Trot in Chicago last year and then at a bball tournament in June and I am signed up to sing the National Anthem again at the Turkey Trot, only this time I get to run it! Thanks for a fun blog to read!

    1. Hey Herbert.mike! Thanks, I'm glad you like the blog! Keep singing and racing, and maybe we can do it as a duet sometime!!