Monday, October 5, 2009

Nations Triathlon: Part 3 - RACE DAY!!!

Here it is, Nations Triathlon Race Report!!!!

My day began bright and early at yeah, not so bright...but def EARLY! As typical with most racers, I didn't get much sleep the night before. I was ready for bed by a little after 9pm. I laid there and my mom kept talking and we talked until probably 10:30 or so. I finally dozed off...and woke up 20 minutes later at 10:50...and proceeded to stay away until about 1:30. I finally had to take a second muscle relaxer to fall back asleep. So I only got about 2.5 hours of sleep that night. :\

Here I am in the hotel before we met up with the team to hop the shuttle over to transition.

We were on the 5:15 shuttle and made it to the race site with PLENTY of time to set up transition, snap some photos, and then WAIT. The race started promptly at 7am. My swim wave actually didn't start until yeah, 2.5 hours to just "hang out" before the race.

Here's a pic of me & Ann all body marked up. We put our names on our arms so people could cheer for us. And I got a peace sign, for good measure. ;)

Here's a pic of me & Coach Jen before the race. Notice how dark it still was!

Here's a kinda cool pic of the sun coming up over the Washington Monument:

And a pic of Ann & Me at the "Run Out" area of transition.

With pleny of time before the race began, I made sure to set up my transition area perfectly. I met the girl with her bike racked to my right. The person who was supposed to be to my left was a no-show, so I actually got a little room to spread out. Ironically, the girl to my right was in the swim wave before me and we were in transition at the exact same time during both T1 and T2. I wish I could have met up with her again at the end to get a pic, but I never saw her again after T2. I met a really nice guy from the DC area named Hampton in line for the bathroom early in the morning. We met another nice guy in line for the bathroom in transition before the race started. The lines for the bathrooms inside transition were so long, we literally waited at least 30 minutes. At one point, a guy came up to us and said that his swim wave started in 5 min and wanted to know if he could go in front of us. Of course, we let him.

By the time I got out of the bathroom, it was time to get my wetsuit on and head over to the corral. As I was waiting in line, I saw my mom. I ran over to the fence to give her a hug. She wished me luck and snapped this pic:

The water was a chilly 72 degrees that morning, so it was a wetsuit legal race. It was 2 degrees cooler than it had been the day before, yet it felt fine when I got in. Maybe it was the wetsuit. Maybe it was the adrenaline. Whatever it was, the water felt perfect and I was very grateful.

At exactly 7:48, the horn sounded and my wave was off. I was soooo nervous about the swim. I had a horrible practice the day before and I have heard horror stories of so many people having anxiety attacks in the water. In fact, after the race my mom told me that they pulled a TON of people from the water that were not able to finish the race. I'm glad I didn't see that - it would have really shaken my nerves.

Anyway, my swim started out great. I was worried that I would feel clostrophobic and crowded in the water, but I was actually fine. I mean, there were a few times when someone would grab my ankle or I would brush up next to someone, but nothing major. I found someone about my pace to draft behind and just went for it. And amazingly, I swam really straight too. It's crazy, but my swim was just "on" that day.
If you zoom on this pic, you can see me with my PINK goggles. :) I am to the top left part of the photo with my face out of the water:

Before no time at all, I was already to the Arlington Bridge and near the turn-around point. Probably the only time I started to feel any anxiety was when I was swimming under the bridge. This is so funny, but I have had reoccuring nightmares about being in a river with a bridge falling on top of me. I always wake up thinking "When the hell will I ever be swimming in a RIVER??!! And under a bridge, no less!" LOL, I guess now I know... Anyway, I sucked it up and made it under both times just fine. Here's a pic of the bridge:

My swim felt great and I was passing the white caps from the wave 3 minutes before me all over the place. I even passed a few men from the waves 6 and 9 minutes before me. I remember looking up at one point and seeing the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial and thinking "Wow, I bet not many people have seen these historical landmarks while swimming in the Potomac River."

I just felt so good during the entire swim. On my way back from the bridge I actually remember thinking "I'm really sad the swim is almost over. This is such an amazing feeling and I just hope I remember how I feel at this exact moment for the rest of my life."

At the very end of the swim with only about 25m to the dock, I inhaled a HUGE gulp of water and started choking pretty badly. I remember just thinking to myself, thank the LORD this is happening now at the end of the swim and not at the beginning! That would have definitely rattled my nerves and probably would have blown my whole swim.
I climbed onto the dock and started running to transition thinking "WOW, that went by so fast! I can't believe the swim is over. And it went so well!" I got to transition, dried off, and started getting my helmet and shoes on when I remembered that I forgot to pee before I got out of the water. Damn....I really didn't want to waste time running to the bathroom, so I ignored the urge to go...and for a split second, I even contemplated going right then and there...I mean, my tri suit was wet from the river and everything...but I decided against it. I spoke briefly with the girl racked next to me, and then I was off. When I turned my bike computer on, I noticed that it had only been about 40 minutes since I started the race. Could this be right?? Did I really complete almost a mile swim in less than 40 minutes?! The fastest I think I've ever swam 1500m in the pool was about 40 min, and I had figured the race would take even longer with the zigzagging and the massive group of people all over the place...but when I got my splits at the end, I was shocked to see my swim was actually 35:20 - that's right, I killed it! :)
Swim: 35:20
T1: 4:50

My mom was waiting for me right outside of transition and caught this pic of me on my bike:

Okay, the bike portion of the race was definitely my weakest. Let me just say that I've never heard "On your left!" so many times in my life, lol! I was being passed all over the place. But I just started cycling less than a year ago, so it's to be expected. In fact, I really just started ALL of this in the past year, so it's not anything I'm stressing about. I'm just glad my swim went so well and just set the tone for the rest of the race. I tried not to stress about my slow bike time, but just tried to focus on having fun. And I definitely learned that I need to make some upgrades to my bike before the next race. For example, it's time to get clips. This will increase my speed AND help me use different muscles and expend less energy. I also need to get aerobars. My handlebars only allow for one position and not only is it not very aerodynamic, it's also rather uncomfortable. My back was in KNOTS for a good 2 weeks following the race.
The course itself was awesome. It was pretty flat for the most part and we rode through a beautiful wooded area into Maryland. I had a few minor complaints, like the roads were pretty narrow and didn't allow too much room for passing. There were also a couple sharp turns. The worst part of the course was that in the last mile, there was a MAJOR crack in the road AND it was at the bottom of a hill. There were volunteers out there warning people about it, but when you're flying down a hill at nearly 30 mph, not knowing what to expect, that crack/bump could (and probably DID) cause some major damage! In fact, for a moment, I thought I blew my tire! There were also not enough volunteers at the end of the bike course to remind the cyclists to lift their bikes up over the curb before running into transition. My mom said that people were blowing their tires all over the place, running them into the curb! Yikes! And there were several wrecks there as well. I remember thinking how lucky I was to have no wrecks/flat tires, etc on the bike course.
A few moments that stood out in my mind during the bike:
Overhearing a convo between two girls on their bikes:
Girl A: I sure am enjoying this scenery.
Girl B: I sure am enjoying this company.
-How sweet!-
Passing Jon, a teammate of mine, around mile 10. I was heading out on a loop and he was just finishing up. He passed and yelled my name - made me smile.
Hearing "Go Team!" more times than I can count - being an event to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, it seemed that MOST participants were members of Team in Training. There was such comradery on the course - everyone cheering each other on. What a great feeling!
Ann, who was in the swim wave 3 minutes behind me, caught up to me (and passed me) on the bike course with about 5 miles left to go. It was cool to see a familiar face. My last big race was the St Louis Half, and I did that entire race with my 2 friends. The thing about a tri is that it is impossible to do it "with" anyone. Aside from the fact that the swim waves all start at different times, you also can't bike side-by-side either. Basically, you are on your own the entire time. This is just something I'm not used to. But it was very empowering, nonetheless.
As I was riding along, I saw a catipillar in the road inching his way across. He got out of my path just in the nick of time. This also made me smile.
By the end of the bike, I felt very slow and like I had been passed by everyone on the course, LOL. But I was still having fun and I kept telling myself that my time didn't matter because I felt amazing and was doing something I had always wanted to do since I was a kid, but never actually thought I would have the opportunity to do. So I savored every moment and kept on smiling...and also thinking of what changes I need to make on my bike so I can improve next time - that's right, there WILL BE a next time! :)
Here I am at the end of the bike portion of the race. We had to dismount our bikes at the blue line and then walk/run them into transition. This part kind of sucked since I was in the row the furthest away from this side of transition.

Bike: 1:36:54, avg pace: 15.4 mph
T2: 7:48 - (I had to stop for a potty break during T2)
Here's a pic of me heading out for my run - my mom did a fabulous job of getting pics!

My run started out pretty well. I put some biofreeze on my knees since my IT bands had been giving me some problems. The biofreeze worked like a charm and I felt no pain whatsoever during the entire race. The first mile flew by and I felt great, but I was concerned that I didn't fuel well enough on my bike. I tried to eat a powerbar and just couldn't choke it down. I ate about 2/3 of my shot blocks, but the rest flew off my bike when I hit the "bump" at the end of the course. I had grabbed my Chocolate Outrage Gu before I left transition for my run, but it must have fallen out of my pocket in the bathroom, because when I went to reach for it, it was no longer in my pocket. So I was really concerned about fuel, but I knew there would be Gu at mile 4, so I just needed to make it there.
The first 2 miles were great. We ran along the Potomac River at first. There were plenty of water stations, and since we were mostly in the shade for the first 4 miles, it wasn't too hot either. Shortly after the mile 2 marker, I started to get chills/goosebumps. I was worried that I wasn't properly hydrated, and even more worried that I did not have enough calories to keep me going.
At about 2.5 miles in, I had to stop and walk for a minute. I just felt like I was running out of gas. No more than a second later, a girl came up from behind me and said "Looking good! you need a Gu??" It was like she was sent to me from God - YES, I would LOVE a Gu! She smiled, gave me a Gu, and was on her way. Bless her! A mile later, there was a fuel station and I grabbed another Gu because I had a feeling I would need it before the race was over.
Around mile 4, I decided that I really needed a salt tablet. I unzipped my fuel belt and discovered dissolved salt capsules all over the inside of my belt. Great. At the next water station, I scooped out a pile of nasty salt and forced it down. Gross. But I needed it. It was also about this point that I realized there had been no bathrooms along the entire course. I didn't NEED one, but wow...seriously? No port-a-potties at ALL?? Good thing I didn't have an emergency like I did in St Louis...or that would have been a mess!! You can bet your @$$ that I mentioned this on the event survey I filled out - must.have.bathrooms.on.the.course.
Shortly after mile 4 I saw Coach Jen. She came over and jogged with me for a bit - asked how I was feeling and said I was looking great. I immediately asked her for some salt tablets. She said she had some over on the other side of the road and that she'd meet up with me at mile 5. The road looped down and met back up across the street at mile 5.
That next mile was a bit of a struggle. It was getting into the 80's, we were no longer in the shade, and I was feeling parched and low on fuel. I had my final Gu that I picked up earlier and just pushed on. At mile 5, Coach Jen was waiting for me with the salt tablets. I took them with some water and she jogged with me a ways, reminding me that there was only a mile left to go. She said "just 10 more minutes and you'll be done." The guy behind us, who was quite a bit older said "well, maybe 12 for me." I smiled and thought "yeah, same here."
The last half mile was the worst. I could see the finish line, but all I wanted to do was walk. I was just completely out of gas. I wanted to sprint to the finish, but I was barely shuffling along. Just as I was about to cross the finish line, I heard my mom yell my name. I knew it was almost over and I felt a wave of excitement and pride rush over me.
During my training, I kept wanting to get a time somewhere in the 3:30's. Realistically, I just wanted to finish in under 4 hours. Idealistically, I wanted to be around 3:30ish...but mainly just under 3:40. After being sick the weeks before the race and not training for the last 2.5 weeks leading up to it, I thought that my goal of the 3:30's was shot...but I was still hoping for under 4 hours. Well, my official chip time was 3:39:16 - I came in under 3:40 afterall!!
Here I am, crossing the finish line - courtesy of Ann! (Someone stepped in front of my mom right as I was passing by and she missed her shot - she was so pissed!! But it's all good, cuz we have this one:)
Run: 1:14:26, Pace: 12:01
Definitely slow, but not bad for recoving from a stress fracture and having been sick.
So, to sum up, overall stats are:
Swim: 35:20
T1: 4:50
Bike: 1:36:54
T2: 7:48
Run: 1:14:26
Final: 3:39:16
Here's a pic Ann snapped of me shortly after I finished the race:

Here's a shot of Ann & Me with our medals:

Here we are being silly & high-fiving each other cuz WE DID IT!!

What a great feeling of accomplishment!

Here I am with Jon. We trained together for 2 seasons and finally got to do an event together.

Rylie made me a Hannah Montana bracelet with some beads she got for her birthday (the pink thing hanging down is a guitar, lol). It was too big for my wrist, but I wore it on my ankle during the run so she could be with me during my race. I took a pic so I could show her that I remembered to wear it. :)

Jodi, Ann, & Me: Trying to act tough. LOL

Jodi, Jon, Ann, & Me: displaying our splits:

Here I am with my proud mama - so glad she was able to go on this trip and share such an amazing experience with me!

After the race, I was feeling very weak and light headed, but was having a hard time eating. I just didn't even have the energy to chew. So I chugged 2 powerades and a muscle milk. But I really never felt all that great until after I ate dinner that night.

Here are some signs that were on the path that led to the transition area. Of all the times that I walked back and forth in and out of transition those 2 days, I never noticed these signs until AFTER the race:

After the race, we all headed over to the finish line to get our "finish line" photo with our medals...and turned out that they didn't have a professional photographer with a back drop to do an "after" photo. So we just had my mom take this one of us with the finish line in the background:

J.Ro, Me, Ann, Jodi, and Jon. Amy & Jeff were MIA...
And here are all of us girls by one of the flags. You can't see this, put we're throwing a "M.A." sign...for Mid America, our chapter. ;)

The shuttles after the race were supposed to start at 1pm. We got in line before 1pm and waited at least 45 minutes for the shuttles to show up. That was frustrating because we were all tired and exhuasted. By the time we got back to the hotel, all I wanted to do was take an ice bath, shower, and nap. Actually, I really wanted food....but didn't have the energy to walk 6 blocks to get something, and I figured dinner was just a few hours away. So I didn't get anything to eat. That was a mistake...cuz I ended up feeling soooo sick later before we got to dinner. And I tried to take a nap, but never did fall asleep...
Our Victory Party was held at ESPN Zone. It was fun, but I did have a few complaints. For one, the tickets were $43 and all we got were appetizers. For that kind of money, I better be getting steak and shrimp! Or at least get my drinks included, which they were not. :\ Also, there was one bartender in particular that was completely rude and unaccomodating. And not just a little snippy, but like the worst service I've ever encountered.

Here's a pic of Ann, Me, and Jodi at the Victory Party:

Here's a pic of us playing one of the video games, LOL:

This game was so funny! You had to "ride" horses on a race track and bounce up and down on the seats like you wer similating a horse race. Let me just say that 4 girls bouncing up and down on these things drew quite a crowd of guys watching our asses, lol.

After we left ESPN Zone, I walked down the street from our hotel with the team and we had some drinks at a little cafe. Ann and I ordered some tirimisu to share....hands down, BEST tirimisu EVER:

Yummmmmm, doesn't it look delic?! Here's a pic of me & Ann savoring the caramel sauce:

Yes, it was THAT good:

We had a great time drinking and reflecting on our adventure together as a team. Here's our last pic of the day:

From left to right: Jon, Ann, J.Ro, Jeff, Coach Jen, Me, and Jodi in the front. Ah, good times!
So, there ya have it. My first official Triathlon Race Report. It only took 3 weeks to post, but there it is. I want to take this opportunity once more to thank EVERYONE for all of the support along the way. It's been quite a journey....and it's only just begun. :)


Badgergirl said...

Nice job! I'm not sure how I stumbled across your blog, but I'm glad I stopped by. Loved reading your report, looks like a great race! Congrats!

teacherwoman said...

WAY . TO . GO !

You rocked it and what a wonderful race report and pictures! WAHOO!

What's your next event? LOL

Tara said...

Wow! Great job girl! I'm sure that it was an amazing feeling of accomplishment. You EARNED that Tiramisu!

Good job on your swim; that is one of the main things that keeps me OUT of triathon.

Mel -Tall Mom on the Run said...

Wow oh Wow! I would be freaked by the following.

1. Swimming near all those people and under a bridge.

2. Getting passed by countless FAST bikes.

3. No bathrooms?? REALLY??

Congrats pretty girl so proud of you. All the pictures are amazing you own the camera. And that dessert YUMMERs I love me some carmel..

Cant wait to see the pink highlights!!

Racn4acure said...

I'm proud of you, Ashley! You did it! I enjoyed your race report and it makes me want to do a triathlon. I keep thinking 2010 should be the year I tri!!!!

Thanks again for doing TNT. Survivors like me are alive in part because of people like you. Believe me, we appreciate it. Art

Big Daddy Diesel said...

Congrats, and what a great race report

Dancing Sweet Pea said...

So proud of you girlie! Love the pictures! Thanks for the tag too! I'll be doing it soon! xoxo

aron said...

you are amazing girl... CONGRATS!!! looks like you had a blast too :)

TP said...

Congrats on the finish. Great race recap!

Anonymous said...

I loved reading this race report! So awesome! Congrats on completing your TRI! You've inspired me to think about signing up for a tri next summer.. I've always been a bad swimmer. Sounds like you ROCKED the swimming portion.. you could give me some tips! :)
Great job!

RunnuRMark said...

Awesome job on the tri...I hope to do one of those before too long. Looks like I'll see you at the second leg of the 2009 Giblet Jog in a few weeks.
Okay, so I have to ask, since I'm new to your blog...I get The Running Lawyer and The Running Dork, but what is the origin of The Running Worm??