North East, MD
North East Community Park
Sunday, August 12, 2012
Race report--finally! Sorry for the delay, but I had a little skateboarding punk to deal with first! So, here goes . . .
3:40 AM: (No, that is not a typo): Alarm is going off and, well, race day eve is never known for being very restful. This is probably the earliest I've ever gotten up for a race!
4:20 AM: We were out the door and heading north on I-95 toward the town of North East, MD, which is approximately 90 minutes from my house (with no traffic, of course. Of which there was really none on a Sunday morning before dawn.) Thankfully, there were no construction delays either, so we cruised along, sipping joe and jammin' to tunes, desperately trying to Wake. Up!!
5:50 AM: Arrived at the race venue. Well, near the race venue, is more accurate. Parking was a pretty healthy walk from the North East Community Park. Lugging bikes and gear bags to the transition area was a great way to get the heart pumping and the joe circulating.
6:00 AM: Completed packet pick up, chip pick up and body marking in record time--one of the benefits of a smaller race: 163 competitors in the Olympic distance and 200 in the sprint distance. With plenty of time to spare, setting up transition was peaceful and relaxing. There was even enough time to chat with fellow athletes, take a few pics, and visit the pots (they had port-o's and real ones!).
Sometimes it is fun to listen to other athletes' pre-race chatter, especially those who have done the race before, know the course and can possibly provide tips/insight. Other times, it's best to avoid those who are a nervous wreck or generally spewing negative energy. Of course, there will always be one who racks their bike wrong and messes up the whole bike racking feng shui, and the chatterbox who has had waaaay too much coffee!
My chit-chatty neighbor wondered aloud why women always swim in the last wave and then answered her own question with "it's so the guys don't come up on their bikes and run us down." Speak for yourself, lady! Those guys have to catch me first :) Some women are nervous about racing with the guys; I'm not one of them. In fact, I quite enjoy passing (and beating) many of them! :) Chatty Cathy also had lengthy stories of saddle woes and her quest to find a "comfortable" seat. Why bust her bubble by letting her know there is no such thing?
7:00 AM: We were booted from the transition area and had 20 minutes before the national anthem, so my husband and I used the time to walk the venue and scout the swim course and exit area. I found a grassy spot to throw in a few sun sals, squats, lunges and push ups for good measure. The sprint racers went first so we were pretty much chillin' 'til our approximate 8:00 and 8:10 start times.
The water was warm. Really warm--I'm talking 80s--so wetsuits were prohibited. The water, while calm and at slack tide, was murky, as it always is in the Chesapeake Bay. I have mastered my open water swim game and no longer suffer from panic attacks and so, with confidence, started near the front of the pack, ready to focus on my own swim and not on the swimmers around me. As it usually shakes out, I end up somewhere near the front 1/3 of the group and typically pass some other colored caps along the way. The swim was pleasant & uneventful. I placed 64th out of 163 in the 1500 meter swim. Pretty typical for me.
Pretty long run from swim exit to T1, which counts as part of the swim time, but otherwise uneventful. I managed to find my bike on the first try and went out the correct exit too! Victory!!
If there is a moment for me to shine, this is usually it. The bike leg is always my favorite, and my one and only opportunity to pass lots of people--men who started in the waves before me and women who swam faster than me. I loved this bike course--rolling hills, mix of shade and sun, beautiful scenery, nice road conditions--and I gunned it for as long as I could, riding near 21 mph for most of the course, until my legs hit a point of total fatigue during the last 5 miles, the hills taking their toll, and I dropped to approximately 18.6. That's okay though; coming into this race, I was more unprepared and under-trained than usual. I finished 63rd out of 163 on the bike.
Having only to drop my helmet and switch my shoes, I managed in and out of this one pretty quickly--32nd out of 163 competitors. Nice!
Oh, the dreaded run. This is where I lose my sparkle. Any shine or verve I had on the bike disappears and I am about as shiny as a rusty, old penny. To my credit, I ran the first 1.5-miles pretty fast on my tired legs and looked longingly at the turnaround point for the 5K-ers, while staring ahead in dismay at the first of two big (and unexpected) hills. I did not like the run. (Big surprise). It was hillier than anticipated, in full sun, and on the shoulder of a busy road--no vista to speak. Mile 1.5 to mile 4 was a trudge and my average pace slipped 20 seconds per mile. Somehow, I found a tiny second wind for the final 2-mile stretched and recouped about 5 of those seconds to finish (sort of) strong. Not surprisingly, I came in 81st out of 163 in the run. The run has always been, and still is, my Achilles heel. The top 5 women all averaged between 7 - 8.5 min miles. 8-8.5 is something I can do for 5K distances, but not more. (One of the top 5 women, I might add, was 58 years old and she finished 10 minutes ahead of me. She rocks!! I hope I can be like her when I grow up!)
Though my overall performance, with all the youngsters and the men thrown in, was pretty average, my standings against the women fared better:
Division Place: 1st of 7 (and with the next closest competitor 7 minutes behind!)
Overall Women: 14th of 60.
So, in all, a pretty fine day, especially for a race I went into feeling unprepared. That said, I'd put no pressure on myself and really just enjoyed the experience. I would do this race again.
The food was pretty good; much of the usual--bagels (but only with cream cheese; I prefer PB), orange slices, bananas, fruit snacks, Nature Valley Granola bars, chips and an assortment of sandwiches. I felt yucky enough immediately post-race that food didn't appeal to me but, knowing how important it is to refuel quickly, I retrieved the bottle of Recoverite I'd brought from home and choked it down. Eventually, I grabbed a banana and a bag of chips but only managed to eat half of each. Though it was lunch time when we were leaving the venue, and I'd been hoping to check out one of the cute little restaurants, cafes or pubs in North East, my stomach just wasn't ready for it, and neither was my husband's (he finished 3rd in his division and 21st overall) so we pointed the car south and headed for home.
Ninety minute later, we were on the outdoor patio of a favorite local haunt, enjoying lunch and some of the best-tasting beers ever!