Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Iron Girl 2011 has come and gone. I can't believe I did my first triathlon a year ago and now I have 3 under my belt with one more to go this summer. The main goal for last year's Iron Girl was to finish and the icing on the cake was to finish in less than 2 hours. I'm happy to say I achieved both. This year was different because I put a lot of pressure on myself to really improve...and the pressure got to me race moring. But, before the race, we have to have some fun at the Expo.
Since last year was my first triathlon ever, Dan and Alex came to the race to cheer me on. Since this year I was a "seasoned veteran," they decided to head up north for the weekend. On one hand it was great because I could just focus on the race and getting ready and on race morning I could turn on as many lights as I needed and didn't have to worry about being quiet. On the other hand it wasn't so great because I don't sleep as well when I'm home alone, so I had trouble sleeping both Saturday and Friday nights.
Another nice thing about having them away was on Saturday morning, I could head to Expo as early as I wanted. The Expo started at 11:00 AM, but I really wanted a good place in line, so I was at Oneida Shores around 9:45 AM. There were only a couple people there, but soon a lot of participants started showing. I was happy that a few of my training buddies showed up early and we were able to wait in line together which helped pass the time more quickly.
We first checked in and got our number: #717 for me. Then we headed to the next table to get our packets with our bib number and race cap. I was a little bummed that I got a green cap again. Someone said, "it's just a cap," but not really. It's more like a combo souvenier and badge of honor. You don't buy the same t-shirt when you go on vacation year after year, do you? So, why would I want the same swim cap color year after year? Plus, its nice to have to wear at the pool and others will know that you are an Iron Girl. Yeah, it's just a swim cap, but it's a pretty cool swim cap.
After we got our numbers, we got our bikes to rack them. At this time we also got our timing chip...VERY important not to lose that!! The transition area was in the parking lot this year where last year it was in the grassy area. Not thrilled that we would have to run on the pavement in our bare feet in T1. So, the question was, do we rack our bikes so that we have less distance to run in our bare feet or do we go to the other end near both the bike and run exit? I decided to go near the exit. I chose a spot next to the first set of legs so I could have that little extra space for my gear. It ended up being a pretty good spot.
After racking our bikes, I wandered around the Expo with Erika. There weren't many tents and only a few had merchandise to buy. Two were Fleet Feet and Syracuse Bicycle, so I felt no need to buy anything there since I could go there any day. I did end up buying a t-shirt and sweatshirt at the Iron Girl tent.
We also stopped by the Athleta tent. They weren't selling anything, but they had a lot of nice stuff on display that we could purchase from their catalog. I love their stuff, but it's way too expensive. My friend Shioban who is injured and coudn't race was helping out at the tent, so we chatted with her awhile and hoped she could pull some strings to help us win the $500 gift certificate they were giving out...no such luck though!
After the Expo, I headed home to relax, have some pasta, and try to get some sleep. But, like last year, sleep just wasn't happening and I was awake 10 minutes before the 4:00 AM alarm was to go off.
I got up a little before 4:00 AM and headed to the kitchen to have a breakfast of a plain bagel toasted with PBJ and my home-made iced mocha. I wanted to try to eat a banana too, but I got full. At the Green Lakes Tri, my stomach started growling just before the swim and I was nervous about eating enough. It ended up to be OK for this race. Kelly's fueling plan was to have me start drinking a bottle of Gatorade from breakfast until the start of the race, so I started sipping that too. I got all my gear in the car and was on the road before 4:45 AM.
Traffic wasn't too bad when I got to the park luckily. Unfortunately I had to park quite a ways from transition. Didn't like having to walk all that way with my gear and disliked it even more when I had to walk back later with my bike. Oh well.
Not long after getting into transition, I saw Coach Kelly and she snapped this picture of me.
Because of the pressure I put on myself, I started getting teary eyed while talking with Kelly. I wanted to badly to see improvement in all the areas I've been working on for the last year. I think I was worried that I wouldn't live up to my expectations. I think I needed that little cry and talk with Kelly because I felt so much better after that.
Before we all headed out to the beach, the girls from the Y posed for a couple of pictures. It was so great to have all these women cheering each other on.
Next thing I know we are at the beach. No turning back now. I went back and forth trying to decide if I should wear my wetsuit or not. Last year I wore it, but this year I went without. Not sure if that was the best idea, but at this point, transition was closed and I had to live with my decision.
I was in the 5th of 9 waves. The 4th wave was just about to head out when my friend Shioban snapped this photo of me. I really know how to rock a swim cap, don't I?
Last year I started just about in the middle of the group. I found myself really dodging people swimming slow and/or walking out as far as they could. This year I decided to start toward the front to avoid that. The countdown started...5-4-3-2-1-We're off!
Until I got to the first turn, I was in a mess. I think swimming without my wetsuit hurt my speed and I found myself dodging people again. Once I made the first turn, I lost the crowd and was able to find a good rhythm. After making the second turn and heading for home, I actually found myself passing people from the wave in front of me. I was pleased with my swim at first...then I stood up on the beach and who was standing next to me but Coach Kelly from the wave behind me. Seriously?!?! I was hoping to beat her to Route 11 on the bike...looks like that wasn't going to be happening! Oh well.
Swim time 18:17. The jury is still out on how far the course was exactly. It was supposed to be 600m like last year. But EVERYONE who did it last year had a slower time this year. My time last year was 11:01. How on earth can I be 7:16 slower?!?! Either last year was too short and/or this year was too long. People I talked to with Garmins said they registered about 800m this year. Hmmmm.....
Transition was farther from the swim than last year, but I'm happy to report I improved from 3:34 last year to 3:09 this year. Woo hoo!
Last year I had the loaner bike from Bike Loft, but this year I took the plunge and purchased my own road bike, a Trek Lexa. And I finally found a name for her: Astrid. That is the name of the girl Viking in "How to Train Your Dragon." The character is a tough chick, so I thought it was fitting. I really wanted to improve on the bike and I did: 1:00:47 this year from 1:03:17 last year.
This is where I really put the pressure on myself to improve. Last year I was very disappointed with my 35:35 run time. It was my Iron Girl time that prompted me to join the Kevin Colling run group at the Y. I just HAD to get better in this area. My legs felt heavy at first, but they quickly came around. I found a steady rhythm and next thing I know I'm at the halfway point turning around. And, like last year, the one mile to go sign was a sight for sore eyes. Just as I entered the park, I was greeted by Erika and Laura cheering all the Y girls on. I sprinted to the finish: 31:07 was my time. Woo hoo!!!!! Not only did I improve, but it was a 5K PR. Not just a triathlon 5K PR, but a 5K PR. I couldn't be happier!!!
My final finishing time was 1:54:57 which was only 31 seconds better than last year's time of 1:55:26. If it wasn't for that darn swim, I would have done a ton better. You have to figure that I lost 7:16 on the swim, so I gained it by improving on all the other 4 times, so I'm happy with that. So, I achieved my goal of doing better. Not only that, but I also achieved my goal of finishing in the top half of my age group and I also finished in the top half overall. These two goals were things I couldn't really control because I could only control my own finishing time, but not the time of everyone else...pretty cool!
Here are some pictures of the girls with their medals:
After the race, we went home to clean up then some of us went over to Mary M's house for a post-race celebration. We had a great time comparing stories from the day and celebrating our individual achievements. My friend Shawn put it best when she said one of the things she loves about racing is that each person has their own definition of rocking it. For one person, it's placing in their age group. For another person, it's improving over last year's time. And for another, it's just plain old finishing. Regardless, we all rocked it in our own special way.
I'll post again soon with my 3G's of the Iron Girl. Until then...TTFN!