Saturday, July 19, 2014

Weekend Double - Lake Geode and Lakeside Triathlons

I've race the Lake Geode Triathlon the past two years, and it's been on my to-do list for 2014 for months now.  I love Saturday races so I can still get 'chores' done around the house on Sunday.  But, a few weeks before the race, my coach, Daniel, told me about the Lakeside Triathlon in Decatur, Illinois.  The race was created to honor Rodney T. Miller who was a local triathlete.  Daniel had done well at this race over the past several years, and thought it would be a good one for me to do.  I did a bit of research, including finding photos from last year.  I couldn't resist the chance to hold the oversized check and Wes agreed to drive me around, so I signed up a few days before the race!

2013 Men's Overall Podium Picture

Friday Night

I'm not a huge fan of getting up extra early and rushing out the door to a race.  I like to take my time, have a few cups of coffee to get things moving, then leisurely pack up the car and leave.  Lately we've been camping at a good amount of the races, so the drive's been pretty short (or, preferably, not drive at all as we can camp at the race site).  Lake Geode is about an hour and a half from our house.  The past two years we camped at the lake, but I didn't want to haul the camper to Decatur, so I reserved a hotel room in Mt. Pleasant, which is still about a half hour from the race, but takes an hour off the drive in the morning.  To me it was well worth it.  We even got there in time to take a quick dip in the hot tub.

Saturday Morning

The goal for the race was to conserve as much as possible in hopes to have something left in my legs for tomorrow.  I knew Joanna Hall was racing, and would probably be my toughest competition.  Her and her fancy new bike have been really closing the gap in our race times.

I arrived at transition when it opened, but it took longer than I had expected to get my packet and chip, and set up in transition.  The amount of time to warm up was really shrinking.  I got set up as quickly as I could and headed out for quick bike ride (about 2.5 miles total) to refamiliarize myself with the short out and back section near the end of the course.  It has some steep hilly, windy sections where you have to break and slow down to get through.  They even have bales of hay just incase.  I also got in a short (2/3 mile) run, and (few hundred yards) swim.

It's a pretty small race, so there are only 3 waves. They split the men into two waves, and us women all take off together.  The water temp was just above wetsuit legal, so I wore my speedsuit.  I was very happy not to have to squeeze into my wetsuit!  I lined up in the water on the inside of the line.  This required a little floating as it was just a bit too deep to stand up.  I wonder if that's why it was kinda lonely in that spot.

The swim is an out and back, with the buoys curving to the left on the way out.  This means the shortest path is not by staying next to the buoys.  I noticed shortly after we took off that there were only a couple of us still up front.  Then soon there were only two of us.  She seemed to be going a good speed, so I tucked in behind her and she pulled me almost all the way to the swim exit...until she started drifting off course.  I stayed on course and we pretty much exited the water together.  After the race I thanked her for pulling me along, and found out she swims for Grinnell College.  Nice!

T2 wasn't my best.  I couldn't get my speedsuit off over my timing chip.  Probably only added a few seconds, and still worth it to wear.  Took a quick look and didn't see any other women in transition.

Off on the bike and coming to the 'T' intersection swimmer chick was still ahead of me.  Unfortunately for her, there was no volunteers at the corner and she chose the wrong direction.  While I was second guessing myself on which way to turn, the guy behind yelled "Wrong way" so I yelled at her as well to turn around, and that's the last I saw of her.

I spent the rest of the bike just waiting for Joanna to catch me.  I kept my effort low and steady, including through the hills.  At the out and back section near the end I finally got my first look at Joanna, and she seemed to be over a minute behind me, and the next woman was much further back. Good stuff!

Coming into T2

So, Joanna kicks my ass at short distance running, but I've been able to catch her with my endurance and doesn't do well in heat.  I knew I could take it fairly easy, but didn't want to rule her out until I at least got a look at her at the turnaround.  At the run turnaround she hadn't made any ground on me, so I was able to slow it down a bit more into the finish line.

After the race, I headed to the beach for about a 500 yard cooldown and a massage in hopes to keep my loose for the Sunday race.
Lake Geode Podium with our cool geode awards!

Saturday Afternoon

As soon as I picked up my award (cash and a really cool plaque with a geode attached to it), we hit the road for the 3 hour drive to Decatur.  Ugh!  I realized shortly after we started driving that I had VERY little water with me.  Wes wanted to wait a bit before stopping, and I agreed with it.  Finally, about 2 hours later, we finally stopped at a gas station. Not ideal.

It was about 4pm when we checked into our hotel.  Just enough time to look up a place to eat for dinner, stop by packet pickup, and drive the course before sitting down to eat.  The Beach House restaurant was right next to transition and had good reviews, so we ate there.  It was good enough, but not a place I'd recommend or ever go back to.

Sunday Morning

The hotel was about 10 minutes from the race site.  Transition opened at 5:15 with the race at 7:30am.  I was up at 4:15am, made breakfast (the Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker is PERFECT for hotel rooms!), and checked the weather.  There was a line of storms south of the red dot on google maps.  Sweet!  The storms missed us again!  And, about 15min later I heard thunder.  WTF!??!  I pull the weather map back up and realize the red dot was on Decatur, IOWA, and Decatur, ILLINOIS was right in the middle of the storms.  Crap!

We hung out in the hotel room until 5:30am when the rain subsided enough to not be drenched while loading the truck.  I wasn't sure if we'd be able to leave the race before checkout, so we had to take everything with.

By the time we got to the race site the rain wasn't as bad.  Not too many cars there yet, either.  I picked up my chip and set a towel over the transition bar to save a spot for my bike.  I slowly got things ready as I wasn't excited about my bike sitting out in the rain.  While waiting I found out that the race was changed to a duathlon.  Not because of the weather in Decatur, but because the rain further north had caused dangerous currents in the water.  Instead of the 750m swim, we had a 1 mile run.  I was fine with that.

I knew each race this weekend had a chance of rain, so I packed both pairs of racing shoes.  I placed my Kiawe's in transition in a plastic bag to keep them dry, and wore my Ultra Tempo's for my warmup and the first run.  Since there was no swim, I decided to wear my Garmin so I'd have some run data.  

Swim (aka run 1) - There were 5 female elites.  For about the first quarter mile I was in dead last.  Then, like all other duathlons I've race, I slowly worked myself up and ended the run in second just ahead of Lauren (this was the woman I knew was going to be tough to beat).  I felt comfortable the entire run.  Not pushing too hard.  

Bike - After a HORRIBLE T1 by the run leader (she had 20 seconds on us coming into T1), I came out on the bike in the lead with Lauren passing me shortly after that while I couldn't get one of my shoes clipped in.  With the change to a duathlon, they only spaced the waves a minute apart.  It didn't take long before we were caught by a guy from the second wave, and we leapfrogged with him a bit until he took a wrong turn when the volunteer wasn't paying attention.  Good riddance!  I tried to keep just a bit behind (very legal distance) Lauren, which I did until a little before the turnaround.  After that, she quickly gained ground on me.   At that point I wasn't sure if it was due to my legs starting to feel really sore, or if she was picking up her pace.  After the race, when looking at my watts, it was the former.  My watts were 188 for the first half and 177 for the second half.  These are both REALLY low numbers for me.  They should be much closer to 200.

Run 2 - The second run consists of an out and back section that the intermediate race does alone, then heads back to transition, then merges with the sprint distance to run with their 5k, which is another out and back.  As soon as I got off the bike I wasn't feel well.  Not sure what it was...the heat from yesterday, being dehydrated from not drinking water for the first two hours of our drive yesterday, dinner last night, the water I drank from the swim yesterday, or just the race catching up to me.  After weighing myself Monday morning, I'm pretty sure it was due to dehydration.

My second run was pathetically slow.  The first turnaround is after just a half mile, and Lauren had over a minute on me.  With how I felt, I knew I had no chance in catching.  The next woman was about 2 minutes back, and I thought it was a stretch that she would pass, so I didn't push it at all.  At the second turnaround I knew Lauren had widened the gap.  The next woman behind me was a little too close for comfort, so I picked up the pace.  Eventually I realized she was in the sprint race, so backed down slightly, but still faster than the first half...just in case I was wrong.  Garmin has the run as being a bit short (4.36 miles instead of 4.5 miles) for a pathetic pace of 7:42.  Same pace as the hilly 10k at Lake Geode the day before.  

Trying to keep it together.

I ended the race in second place.  Good enough for a payout, but not good enough to hold the giant check.  If I hadn't raced the day before, or at least didn't feel like I could throw up at any moment during the second half of the race, I think I could have had her...or at least made it more interesting.  But, it is what it is.

Lakeside "Triathlon" podium...I'm the one hidden behind the check :(

Wes and I had a great weekend of traveling together, so I'm glad I went and raced.  On the 4 hour drive home, we managed to find 4 breweries along the way.  Unfortunately, the second one was closed on Sundays and the last one (Against the Grain Brewery) didn't have any of their brew available.  Good reason to go back.

Destihl Brewer in Normal, IL 

Iron Spike Brewing Company, Galesburg, IL

Against the Grain Brewery, Rock Island, IL
I spent a lot of the second run at the Lakeside Triathlon thinking that racing Kansas 5150 the following weekend was not something I wanted to do.  This thought carried with me for the first few miles of the drive home as well.  But, here I am, in Lawrence, Kansas writing this blog post waiting to race tomorrow morning.

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