Saturday, May 30, 2009

Cap Tex Tri - Austin ITU Continental Cup Race Report

Mellow Johnny's -Lance Armstrong's bike shop in Austin!

This past Monday (Memorial Day) I competed in the Cap Tex Tri in Austin, Texas (which I’m going to coin as the “Boulder of the south” – so many active people there). I’ve never raced on a Monday before and I usually don’t train that much on Monday either because it’s always my recovery day, so I was very interested to see how this race would go…

Swim: We started the race with a deep water swim start, not one that I get to do too often. Basically what happens is that you get to pick a spot in the water based on your starting number, a rope is held in front of you as you tread water and you duck under it and take off when the horn sounds. For the first part of the swim I just hammered to try to get into a group. This worked well and for the first half of the swim as I had a draft to swim into. Eventually, I wasn’t able to hold the pace of the girls in front of me, but I still managed a low 19 swim, a huge improvement for me from last year! I ended up exiting the water right behind Kate Mcllroy from New Zealand, the eventual winner of the race.

Bike: Just like last week, the larger pack was in front of me. I traded off pulls with Lauren Goldstein-Kral (right behind me in the swim) for the first 2 laps and we were able to bridge up to Taylor Cooke who was a little ways up the road. By the start of the third lap, Annie Warner and Jocelyn Petrella had caught our group of 3 so we were now up to a pack of 5. Once Annie and Jocelyn caught us, the pace of our pack quickened and our group worked well together for the remaining two laps of the bike.

Run: The best way for me to describe the run course to you would be that it was a 1/4 mile steeplechase and 6 mile run. The run out of transition included hopping up 3 large stairs and I was quickly reminded why I’d avoided hurdles my entire life/track career and just stuck to running… once I got out to the road, I was able to push the pace for the first mile and put a gap in between myself and the other girls who had been in the bike pack. The heat and humidity were definitely factors on the run and I felt like mentally I was trying to sprint as fast as I could to each aid station where I would be able to grab a towel that had been soaked in ice water (total lifesavers!) and some sports drink as well to get some relief from the heat. As I got to the final lap of the run, I did a time check and saw that the girl in front of me had about a minute gap on me and I was at least 2 minutes ahead of my next competitor so I just focused on good form for the final section of the run. I finished up with a 36:19, 3rd fastest run of the day and a 9th overall finish!!

Right at the finish, I was greeted by a USADA (US Anti Doping Agency) rep. Turns out that the 9th place finisher had been selected for drug testing. At that point, I had an hour to provide a sample for them and I used every last minute of it drinking 3 bottles of water and 2 bottles of Gatorade. Unfortunately in this day and age, random drug testing is a necessary evil of sport but I was more than happy to comply – anything to keep our sport clean! :)

Many thanks to my Austin homestay, Mike and Lindsay Rosenthal and kids (even though they'll probably never read this)! Thanks for drawing me maps to everywhere in Austin, feeding me, and making me feel at home! :)

I’ve traveled and raced quite a bit this past month and now I get a little bit of a break to get a good block of training in and rehab a couple minor injuries. Next up for me is the Coteau du Lac, Canada ITU race in a couple of weeks.

Happy summer everyone!

Friday, May 22, 2009

OK in OK - The Oklahoma "Where the Wind Comes Sweeping Down the Plains" Race Report

Heading out on the bike

Last lap of the run - notice all the dirt on my face from the river! Yuck!

Pre-race: It was a 1pm start for the pro women so I was able to sleep in until 9am the day of the race. Those of you who have ever seen me before 9am know that later in the day race starts are definitely a good thing for me!

Swim: We had a pontoon dive start into the crystal clear waters *sarcasm* of the Oklahoma River. I was able to get off to a pretty good start and after jockeying around for position for the first 75 meters or so was able to find some open space to swim in before I rounded the first buoy. As the swim progressed, I pretty much ended up in no man’s land with a group directly in front of me and a group a little bit behind me. I entered the first transition out of the swim with the closest women 22 seconds in front of me and a minute and a half behind me.

Bike: Seeing that I was completely by myself and knowing that a large group was behind me, I decided not to push the pace on the first lap and hydrate as much as possible while I waited for the pack to catch me. They caught me right after the turn to start the second lap and I picked up the pace a little bit to hop on the back of the pack. Because of the intense winds, there was really no set rotation within the pack and a lot of the girls (myself included) sat near the back for a lot of the ride, took pulls for a couple seconds, settled back in the middle of the group and sprinted up to the front for every turn around (which came about every 3 miles). Unfortunately for me, I got caught in the middle of the pack at the turn around with 1.5 laps to go and the girl in front of me overshot the turn and braked (a big no no in draft legal racing). I was forced to brake as well not to crash into her and lost all momentum as the rest of the group surged out of the turn. I tried to sprint to catch back up, but wasn’t able to do so. From that point, I decided I could either push it and have my legs blow up on the run or go as fast as I possibly could while keeping a high cadence. I went for plan b and came into transition about a minute and a half down on the pack that I rode with for most of the bike.

Run: From the time I stepped off the bike, my plan was to hammer, hammer, hammer! I was basically sprinting the first lap, just to see how close I could come to the girls that had over a minute lead on me and then I settled in once I had perspective on who I would be able to chase down. The run was an out-and-back course, similar to the bike, which was very helpful from a mental perspective in that I was able to see my competitors about every 6 minutes or so and kind of gauge how much time I’d gained/lost per ½ lap. I was able to chase down about 12 girls, and ended up with the 5th fastest run of the day and a 14th overall finish.

I'd like to send a huge THANK YOU out to Amanda Jordan, my former teammate and friend from FSU for being my homestay for the weekend! Amanda devoted much of her weekend to showing me around Oklahoma City, driving me to the pre-race meeting, grocery store, ice cream shop, and being cheerleader/photographer for the race. Thanks so much Amanda - you and Pete were great hosts! :)

But although I had a big race this weekend, what I'll probably look back and remember about this weekend for years to come is how I was able to pull off flying to Oklahoma City and back without a photo I.D. to show in security.... whoops! Good thing I was able to locate it when I returned back home to Boulder because I fly out for another race on Saturday! I race again on Memorial Day in Austin, Texas so another update will be coming soon-ish!


Sunday, May 3, 2009

St. Anthony's

Swim – The water was so choppy that the pros were the only division of athletes allowed to complete the swim portion of the race. For everyone else, the race was turned into a time-trial start duathlon (bike/run only). I got off to a great start in the swim and was working well with a handful of ladies about halfway through when I turned to breathe and ended up basically drinking a wave. I tried to continue swimming but was choking so I had to stop, tread water, and clear my airways before I could continue on with the remainder of the swim. I’m not sure exactly how much time I lost when I stopped, but my swim ended up being about 3 minutes slower than usual. Yikes!

Bike – For the first part of the bike I felt drained (most likely from all the coughing) and struggled to find my racing legs. However, at about mile 15 I suddenly caught a second wind and was able to increase both my cadence and speed for the remaining 10 miles or so and do some damage control on my bike split.

Run – For the run, my aim was to stay as relaxed as possible, build the first 5k, and negative split the last 2 miles. While I feel I was a little bit too conservative for the first half, I was happy with my overall effort for the 10k and excited that I was able to run my last mile in 5:42 after over 2 hours of racing. If nothing else, I have that one positive to take away from this race.

Although this is not the result I’d hoped for after so many hours of training, I am excited just to be racing again and to be injury-free. In 2 weeks time I will be competing at the PATCO PanAm Champs in Oklahoma City so be on the lookout for me there.