Thursday, August 30, 2012

Red Top Mountain Triathlon

1500m swim, 42K bike, 10K run

August 26, 2012
Cartersville, GA

A Quick Recap
Swim: 25:27 (1:41/100m) - good swim for me, my first experience with a two loop course
T1: 1:02
Bike: 1:16.46 (20.4mph) - LOTS of hills
T2: 0:37
Run: 46:32 (7:30/mi) - ran my way into 2nd place!
Finish Time: 2:30:22
Finish Place: 2nd overall female

The Sport Factory takes 1st and 2nd overall females!
The Wordy Version
Pre-Race - I arrived in Atlanta on Friday afternoon to enjoy the weekend hanging out with my family before the race on Sunday.  Saturday morning I spent time hanging out with my brother and getting him all set up on a new road bike.  Watch out cycling community - this guy is ready to ride!  The remainder of the day was spent lounging on the deck and resting up for the day ahead.  The weather was absolutely perfect, and I could almost start to feel fall in the air.  Mom prepared an incredible pasta dish with tomatoes, zucchini, and Parmesan cheese for dinner.  It was a winning recipe!  Sunday morning arrived and I fueled up with an ezekial english muffin topped with peanut butter and jam, half a banana, and a cup of tea.  The race site was a short 12 mile drive from my parents house.  After getting my gear organized, I warmed up with a very short run and quick swim to get my heart pumping.

Swim (2nd) - Race morning brought the announcement that the course was being changed from single rectangular course, to two loops with us exiting the water and running 50 yards between each loop.  The start was a time-trial format, with swimmers leaving every three seconds.  It's pretty obvious that people lie through their teeth when submitting estimated swim times.  I was seeded number 21 with eight or so women ahead of me, yet finished with the second fastest swim time - you do the math!  My goal for the swim was go hard from the start and avoid settling into a "comfortable" pace.  I came out of the water from the first loop with a time of 12:30 on my Garmin, kept pushing hard, and was pleased to see 24:30 on the clock as I exited the water from the second loop.  Given my lack of a swimming background, I was both surprised and am very excited to have had the second fastest swim of the day!  I suppose all of those 5am swim workouts are paying off.

T1 (8th) - After exiting the water, we ran approximately 200 yards and then faced a wall of stairs - at least two stories worth.  I moved as quickly as I could to prevent losing any time to the field, but my heart rate sky-rocketed to 182 as I reached the summit of the stairs.  I did my best to strip off my swim skin and gather my bike gear and then set out of transition to attack the bike course.  Based on feedback from my Dad, I knew I was third female out of the water and second female leaving T1.

Bike (7th) - The course description for this ride is "strenuous."  Sounds like fun, right?!  As if my heart rate wasn't already high enough, several steep and long climbs leaving the park left me struggling to get control of my breathing.  Finally, the ups and downs turned into gently rolling hills and I found my rhythm.  Mentally, I struggle on the bike, and negative thoughts tend to fill my head.  Rather than dread all 26 miles of the bike, I broke it down into 8 mile chunks, and I definitely think that helped me to remain focused.

Cruising down the last downhill into transition
T2 (3rd) - In and out as fast as I could muster.  Nothing notable to mention.

Run (3rd) - Leaving transition my legs were certainly feeling the effects of lots of climbing on the bike.  However, after harping on my Dad about harnessing "mental toughness" for his most recent tempo and long runs, I knew exactly what I had to do to have a good run.  Leaving transition, I was in fourth place - approximately a half-mile out of third.  Coming in fourth and missing the podium just simply wasn't an option, so I found my running legs and pushed as hard as I could to close the gap on the women ahead of me.  I made a pass for third at mile three, and then moved into second at mild four.  The last two miles were a tough series of hills and a final steep climb to the finish, but the fear of being caught from behind kept me focused on finding my way to the finish line as fast as possible.

Trying to maintain good running form in my sprint to the finish.

Crossing the tape at the finish line

Post-race: After finishing second in my age-group in my past two races, I was frustrated and looking for better results.  I think that the combination of more challenging workouts and harnessing my "mental toughness" ultimately contributed to greater success this weekend.  Making a great race even better was sharing the experience with my parents, brother, and Bailey.  I thrive on their cheering from the sidelines, and certainly owe them one for braving an early wake-up call and hanging out with sweaty and smelly athletes all morning.  Love you guys!

My and my biggest fan - Bailey!  Such a good girl!

My next "A" race will be Rev3 Anderson in October.  Between now and then I have Tugaloo (still questionable) and Race for Abbey (a small sprint tri here in Charlotte) on the calendar.

See you at the races!

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