If you ever have the opportunity to do this race - DO IT. I don't know what exactly made this one so much fun; it was my second triathlon, the swim was pool and not open water, and the atmosphere was much more. . .well. . .friendly. There were a lot of families doing this race - husbands and wives, parents and their kids, brothers and sisters, etc.
M and I made it to Glenwood Springs on Saturday afternoon and played tourist for a while. He dropped me off for the orientation, which was relatively informative. The USAT official was there to give us his spiel, and they noted that there were 75 first timers to race. I thought that was pretty neat. I found out I was in the first heat (6:30am start time), so we were getting up pretty early.
Like, 5am early.
I prepped all of my stuff the night before and packed my transition bag. I woke up at 5am and got dressed and ready to go. M went down to the car to make sure everything was okay on the bike (we didn't need that kind of drama again), and I tried to take a few bites of my Powerbar. We left the hotel around 5:40 and started walking towards the Hot Springs Pool. Our hotel was about 1/3 mile from the Pool.
One thing I really liked about this race was that they had an assigned spot for each bike. I like knowing I don't have to worry about where to put all of my stuff, or to fight with other competitors about who gets what spot. When I got to the transition area, they were just finishing the set up, but a lot of people were already there. I had an end spot on my row (score!), but someone was already there setting up. I started looking at the stickers to make sure, and when I made it to her she said something like, "oh, I didn't realize they were marked." Um, if you're here at 5:45 in the morning to make sure you get an end spot, I'm pretty sure you know how this works. Rant over.
I learned a couple of things from my first tri and how I wanted to set up my gear. One thing I noticed was that most people who wore socks rolled them up like pantyhose, to make them easier to get over your feet when they're wet. I had my bottle of water, bottle of Gatorade, and Shot Blocks set up and ready to go. It was pretty darn cold Sunday morning (~47 degrees), so I had a jacket ready just in case. We made our way into the main entrance of the pool so I could get marked and get my chip. They were running a little behind, and didn't start giving out chips until about 6:15. I was amazed there were people there that were in a later heat. Luckily, everyone was really nice and let me cut to the front of the line so I could get out to the pool on time.
M walked me outside to the pool, took my "before" picture, wished me good luck with a kiss and sent me on my way. The pool itself if fed off of a hot spring, which they said they "cooled down" for the race. I got in and basically knelt down on the pool floor to keep warm. If you've ever been in a hot spring (or even a hot tub) before, you know what it feels like to be nice and warm and then get out. As 6:30 approached, the race director started to call out the numbers of people that hadn't checked in yet to see if they were in the pool. We had 58 people in our heat, and I'm sure he called out at least 10-12 numbers. Hey, that means more room for the rest of us. We all counted down together, the buzzer rang, and off we went for our seven lengths (the pools is over 100m long).
I was definitely more aggressive during this swim than the last. I had a (slightly) better idea of what I was doing, and I wanted to keep the swim as short as possible. The pool was set up with one long string our buoys in the middle. I followed them intently to make sure I wasn't swimming all over the place. M said he was watching people zig zag everywhere. There was a woman right in front of me that I could drag off of; once she left me I could definitely tell what a difference she made in cutting the water. Thanks anonymous athlete! The water felt noticeably cooler than previous times I have been there, I could notice a difference in all spots but one. I'm sure this is where the hot spring itself spilled into the pool. It felt like I was using more energy in this spot, so I did my best to streamline myself. It really felt like I was going much faster than normal; I wanted so badly to come in under the 25 minute cutoff. Once I finished the 7th length, I didn't see any other way to get out other than to pull myself up on the side. My arms were *exhausted* by this point. I think I did a belly flop to get out of the pool. I'm sure I looked like a beached whale. I got myself up and raced over to T1. I refused to look back.
M was outside the transition area to cheer me on, which was a nice surprise. I was sure he was heading back to the hotel for a nap. He told me later that about 1/3 of my heat was still in the pool when I got out. I got into my gear, took a big swig of Gatorade, grabbed my bike off the rack and jogged towards the end of the transition area. Jogging in bike shoes is WEIRD. I felt like a horse running in its shoes with all the noise I was making. I decided against putting the jacket on; I didn't necessarily regret that decision, but more on that later.
The ride on I-70 was not as bad as I had feared. There were volunteers at every on ramp slowing traffic down so riders could pass. Everyone was very friendly, bundled up in their coats with their coffee just chatting away. It was on the bike that I started getting passed. I expected this to happen; I'm not the fastest cyclist in the world. I lost count at the number of times I was passed, but I made sure to shout out at each one of them, "have a great day!" I wanted to repay some of the kindness I received during my first triathlon from other competitors. The first heat consisted of mostly beginners or those of us who knew they would take a while (like yours truly). It was when I started getting passed by those in the heat after me that I got a little discouraged. As much as you want to say that you are competing only against yourself, there will always be a part of you that looks to the others. There is nothing wrong with that, it's simply human nature.
The course was quite deceiving when I drove it. It looked to be uphill on the way out, and downhill on the way back. It was in fact the opposite. Bummer. Once I got to the half way point and made my way back up I-70 to the Glenwood exit, I hit a horrible head wind. I hadn't had a chance to put a computer on this bike yet, so I have no idea how slow that second half really was. It's probably better that I didn't know. This is where I started getting passed by people in the second heat. I'm sure they are much stronger than I and could push through the wind. This is also the place where I was singing praises that I had a geared bike. I love my single speed, I really, really do. But, I don't know how I would have made it without walking a portion if it hadn't been for gears. About that decision not to wear a jacket on the bike? That head wind was *cold.* I had goosebumps the whole way back. I am very proud to say that I rode the whole thing, at no point did I have to walk. This made taking a Clif Shot slightly more difficult. I took my shot last time when I was walking up the widow maker, so trying to keep upright with a head wind and get all of the shot out of the package was quite the juggling feat. Maybe my real calling is the circus.
I made it back in to T2 and racked my bike. I swapped my shoes, which got a little frustrating as my socks had absorbed all of the water from my feet. This made getting my running shoes on slightly difficult. Having jello legs did not help this transition either. I saw some women sitting down on the curb, which I did not want to do. To me, it is a waste of valuable time to sit down and get back up. I grabbed my running hat and got on my way.
I really need to incorporate more brick workouts into my training. I have the hardest time making it more than 1/4 mile without stopping to walk during an actual race. It happened again this time, but because I had an opportunity to run the course the week before I felt a bit more prepared. There were more volunteers and more cheerfulness. The first mile of the run also took you by the finish line, which was neat to see before hand.
I did the run/walk method until I got to 27th street, which is the turn around point (around the three mile mark). My run/walk method is not time or distance based, but HR based. I run until I hit 165, then I walk until I come back down to 130ish. My HR recovers very quickly, so I was never walking for more than ~90 seconds at a time. Once I hit 27th street and got up the initial hill, I knew the rest of the course was a slight downhill. I knew at that point I was golden. I didn't stop running after that, I am proud to say. There were signs plastered along the back of the route; people cheering their friends on. My favorite one was a poster that said, "Run like hell, Katie Bell!" She was one of the favorites to win the women's title for first time triathletes. She came in 75th overall, and 13th for first time women. Great job Katie! I got passed some more on the run, more and more by people in the second heat. I didn't see anyone from the third heat, I think that would have really discouraged me. On Midland Avenue (the downhill stretch home), I was passed with 1 1/2 miles to go by a woman who told me, "thank you for being my pacer." I didn't get her bib number to see how she did, but I'll take that as a compliment.
I turned the corner at 8th Avenue and knew I had about 1/2 a mile to go. I tried to ramp it up and finish strong, but I had already given it every last thing I had. I'm sure I looked pitiful crossing that finish line, but I finished. They looked up your name based on your bib and called it out as you approached the end, which I thought was really nice. People cheered for everyone who crossed.
I immediately made my way to the service table. I was ravenous! There was quite the spread of goodies, of which I grabbed a banana nut muffin and some water. I made my way back to the transition area to grab my stuff, and then back to the hotel to relax and shower. The sulfur from the water gave me a nice "rotten egg" smell that I really wanted to get off.
Sadly, M was not there to meet me at the finish line. So, I don't have a picture of me crossing it either. I told him how long I thought it would take me, and he went back to the hotel to take a nap after he cheered me on at T1. M slept through his alarm and we missed each other by about five minutes. I'm bummed he wasn't there, but he beat himself up over more than I ever could (or would, for that matter). As a way of saying "I'm sorry," he let me choose where we went to lunch. M really wanted to go to this burger joint off the highway, but my hungry belly was saying Moe's. It was delicious!
My goal this time was to do better than before, but still not be last. My goal times were:
Total time: 2:45:00
My official times were:
Bike: 1:03:17 (stupid head wind)
Total time: 2:39:26
Coming in 5 1/2 minutes under goal time isn't too shabby, if I do say so myself. The overall time was over 15 minutes longer than Highline, but this was also a longer course. Being the math nerd that I am, I like to look at an apples-to-apples comparison:
Highline: Average .89 MPH
Glenwood: Average 1.20 MPH
Highline: Average 12.89 MPH
Glenwood: Average 14.22 MPH
Highline: Average 13:59/mile
Glenwood: Average 13:20/mile
There is still plenty of progress to be made, but I am coming along.
I have yet to download the pictures M took, so I will update this post with the "before" pictures later. Have a great week!