Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Start of the 2012 Racing Season

It’s been a busy spring!  Between training, working in our garden and yard, and working on a garden at my office, I haven’t had much time to relax.  My goal for this year was to relax and have fun, but I was only getting in the later.  Since the beginning of May, my weekends have either consisted of playing in the garden or racing.   I just haven’t had the motivation to train on weekends, so my expectations for the summer races was low.   I decided this year to race sprint and Olympic distance races.  This was the first summer in several years not doing a half-ironman.

The first race of the year was Kansas City 5150.  I wanted to find a race that I could use to qualify for the championship waves of the Hy-vee 5150.  Originally we were going to race Memphis in May, but in December I found out that the Kansas City race had been acquired by WTC.  I did a bit of research on the race and we signed up!  Entry price at the time was only $50 (very cheap) and the top 5 in each age group won free entry into the Hy-Vee race.

KC 5150 was an Olympic race with a one loop swim, two loop bike, and two loop run.  After the 5150 waves started, the sprint distance took off for their swim, and one loop each of the bike and run, so we were on the course at the same time.   By the time I got to the run, I had no idea where I was in my age group.  A few people with my age group on the calf passed me, and I had hoped they were in the sprint distance race.  Most were, but one was not, and she won our age group.  I was very happy with my second place finish.  

Two weeks later was the Pigman Sprint triathlon in Palo.  Earlier that week we decided to upgrade our tent to a small camper.  This was the first weekend in our 4-weekend race spree, which included camping at each one.  A little bit of racing, and a little bit of relaxing.

I raced in the elite wave, which is a huge advantage in this race.  The bike course can get very congested with 700+ racers on un-closed roads.  Being in the first wave provides for some nice, open roads to race on.   After checking out the other women signed up for the elite wave, my goal was to finish in third place.  Coming out of the water I was in second place, but the third place woman wasn’t far behind.  I increased my lead on her on the bike, but she closed the gap with about a half mile to go on the run.  I’ve raced this race every year.  I compared my times with previous races, and I was slower than the past two years.  With how my training has gone, I wasn’t surprised.

Next up was the Holiday Lake Triathlon near Brooklyn, Iowa.  I have never raced it, but Wes has.  A friend of our, Ebe, was helping to organize it this year and talked us into racing, and staying around afterwards to celebrate his birthday.  We couldn’t say no, and it was one of the most fun weekends we’ve had in a while.

The race went good enough.  I had hoped to take it a bit easier to save up for later races in the month.  All of the women started together, so I knew where I was in relation to the others.  I ended up leading the women from the start of the race.  The swim and bike were pretty un-eventful.  Rumor was that it had a HILLY run, and they were not lying!  Since the bike had two turnaround points, I knew I had a comfortable lead, so took it pretty easy on the way out for the run.  At the turnaround I started counting to see how far back the next woman was.  I stopped counting after 2 minutes and just eased my way to the finish line.   Best part was they put up a finish line tape for me.  I’ve never had that before and it was fun to cross!

The rest of the day we hung out in the lake, had some great food, and took a boat ride to explore the area.

The following weekend was Quad Cities Triathlon.  While setting up transition, the rain started to fall, but stopped just as the race started.  The race had a time trial start with the elites taking off first, followed by the rest of the racers lined up in order of swim pace (fasted to slowest).  I was the only woman signed up for elite, and the men took off right after me, so I was pretty much swum over right away.  Not fun.  If I race again, I’m not sure if I’d even bother signing up for the elite division.

On the bike, I was surrounded by men.  A few passed me, and I passed a few.   I kept leapfrogging with one guy, so decided to just sit back behind him.  There was just enough headwind that I think I was able to get a bit of a draft off him even with the required gap between bikes.  Coming off the bike I was still the first woman, but I knew another one was gaining on me quickly.  Knowing that she started after me gave me little hope that I would retain the lead.  After about a mile of running she passed me.  I ended the race in second place.  At the awards ceremony they gave out some door prizes and I was the first name drawn.  I got a container of HEED (kind of like Gatorade) and a Patagonia sling backpack. Yeah!  For coming in second I received a beach towel, certificate, an envelope decorated by a child that contained the award check, and an oversized check. Awesome!

Finally the last race weekend, and the race with the largest payout, Copper Creek near Des Moines.  I went fully tapered into the race, unlike the previous three weekends.  I had no idea who was on the starting list.  The elite wave ended up with 25 men and women, by far the largest I’ve ever raced in.  They started us together with an in-water start.  I’m not all that great at beach starts (I blame my short legs), so was happy to tread water.  I could tell as I was swimming that there was a large group of people with a good lead on me.  I was able to swim with a few others, but didn’t get to do much drafting.  I came out of the water in third place, but didn’t know it at the time.  The start of the bike was a little stressful.  After a few miles in I was hearing a consistent noise from my bike.  I thought it was coming from my pedal area or my front wheel.  Wes had put my front wheel on my bike and I hadn’t checked it, so I feared that it wasn’t tightened.  I debated on stopping to check.  I kept looking down and finally saw where the noise was coming from.  The tape that covers the valve opening on my disk cover had become stuck to my bike frame. Each time the opening passed the tape it made a whipping noise.  I decided it would be better to just ignore it then to try to tear it off.  Shortly after that I women FLEW past me.  I’ve never been passed with such speed before.  As I was approaching the bike turnaround I counted the women heading back.  I was in fourth place.  They only pay out to three places.  Damn it!  But, halfway back I past a women and with about a mile to go I passed another.  I still had the run left, which I my weakest, so knew I would have to push hard to stay in the money.  After less than a mile on the run I dropped back to third.  At the run turnaround I could see that I had a decent lead on the next women, but didn’t want to hold back yet.  The last mile was around a lake.  I kept looking back and couldn’t see anyone, so I finally relaxed a bit and finished the race in third place.

So far I have been happy with my season.  Nothing great has happened, but no disappointments either.  Only three more races to go.  As long as I can find breweries for Wes, he's content to keep me company along the way.

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