Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Marble Falls Triathlon

I had never done the Marble Falls Tri before, people always said it was "very hilly" and I just checked it off the list of possibilities. But after riding in and around Marble Falls for the RAAM ride with Annette and Betsy, I thought maybe the MF Tri might actually be fun!

I raced the Couples Tri last weekend and raced Splash & Dash on Tuesday, both are short, but I raced pretty hard at both. I felt great after Couples and S&D, but then on Thursday morning my quads felt super sore! Coach Jen thought it was residual soreness from racing hard, so she suggested I run a little easier at our Thursday night run, and stretch and roll my hamstrings & quads. By Saturday I actually felt fine again! I did my 1:30 ride and 1 mile run with no issues.

Since I had never done this race before and it's an odd distance, I didn't really have any goal times in mind but I figured I should be able to swim about the same pace as I did at Couples, I just wanted to survive the hilly bike- although I kinda thought I might be able to average 15.0 mph, but I knew that might be pushing it on a hilly course I had never ridden before, and I hoped to run under an 11 min/mile pace- but I knew my legs might be fried after the hilly bike and racing twice the week before. My true main goal was to have fun racing with friends and enjoy the day.

I got up at 3:50 on race morning and drove out to Marble Falls, at 3:50 the people who chose to go up on Saturday and spend the night were looking pretty smart! I got a good transition spot, set stuff up (and Kim B. ended up right beside me) and went to say hi to everyone, between Tri Zones and TWCC I had LOTS of friends racing & spectating! At 6:30 I drank my Pre-Race and Linda and Laura joked about the crazy effects it was going to have on me! A few minutes later I found Justin and we went to do a warm up swim, he called the water "bathwater" but I thought it felt good, only problem was, I was freezing when I got out.
Interesting, I look deep in thought, but I could have sworn Kelly and I never stopped talking, but she's behind me and we both aren't talking. Photo by Bart Kleiman.
I went over to the start and found Kelly G. and Kelli H. I talked with them until it was time to get in the water. I probably shouldn't have talked to them so much because I forgot to zero out and restart my stopwatch for the swim. As race director Mario counted down, I pushed a few buttons, but apparently not the right one (this problem could be solved if I actually learned how to use the watch properly!) so I had no idea what my swim time was, and I like to look at my watch during the swim to see how I'm doing. Starting the swim I did not get touched by a single person! We had a big start area and a small wave- nice! It seemed like a LONG way to the first buoy, but then the second one seemed much closer. I did end up getting run into a couple times and I had a tough time getting around a couple breast-stroking guys from the wave before mine, but otherwise my swim went well. As I got close to the boat ramp, I knew it was super slippery so I swam as far up as possible then let the volunteers grab my arm to help me step onto the carpet and avoid the algaefied slippery cement. Swim time was 23:07  for a pace of 2:18 per 100m, just a tiny bit faster than my pace at Couples the weekend before.

I ran up the little hill to T1 and got my stuff together. I felt like I took a long time, but T1 was 2:45- not bad for me.
Starting the bike and waving to Tom. Photo by Tom Marek
I started the bike knowing the first 5 miles or so were pretty much all uphill. I had been really concerned about using Pre-Race for this race because I thought it might make me really upset about being so slow up the hills. But instead I kept thinking to myself "it's ok that your average speed is 10.x right now" and "don't worry about people passing, you need to ride your own race" I guess my Pre-Race focus ended up being on NOT getting too worried about my speed (or lack thereof) on the hills. I turned onto 71 and got some good downhills, but there were still some pretty big uphills too.
I started to think that Cindy and Kim H should pass me soon and just a few minutes later I heard my name and Cindy came by me, then I heard Vickie yelling "YEEEHA"- oh yeah, I forgot that I'd get to see Vickie too, and then Kim H. rode by. At the turn around my average speed had come up to 14.0, hmm I might actually be able to do 15 if I really take advantage of the downhills on 281. My legs were starting to get a little tired on some of the long uphills on 71. I saw Kristen, Katherine & Jody on their way out and cheered for them. Even though it was a challenging ride, I was definitely having FUN! Then I noticed Allison O. was right in front of me! She's a ton faster than me, so how did that happen!?! I was right behind her on a hill, I yelled something at her, she didn't hear me, so I raced up the hill to talk to her, then passed her. Of course she passed me back about 10 seconds later on the downhill. And she yelled to me "keep pedaling, don't stop pedaling on the down!" Yeah Allison, if I hadn't overcooked it passing you on the up, I could have kept pedaling on the down, but I needed a break! Oh well.
I finally made it back to 281 and I was determined to take the downhills as fast as I could and try hard to make it up to 15mph average. It started off great, but I was a little sad when not just 1 but 2 guys over 70 years old passed me! One of them was next to me in transition and when I saw him before the start I told Kim B. he was going to kick my ass! There was quite a bit of traffic coming back on 281, we had a big shoulder so it wasn't bad, and I felt like I was flying downhill! As I rode up to the 2147 intersection, I realized my shoulder was blocked by cement construction barriers and there was a ton of traffic stopped at the light, I slowed down and realized there was definitely not enough space for me to squeeze by the cars on the right (between cars and construction barrier), and there were cars in both lanes, so I stopped behind 6 or 7 cars at the light. I was NOT happy about it because my Pre-Race focus had kinda turned to "bring my average speed to 15 mph" and I was getting really close! And of course this light was on a good downhill, it felt like I stood there forever (probably only about 1 minute), there were a couple cyclists stopped a few cars ahead of me, and as I was standing there I saw a guy fly by in the left turn lane, hmmm that looked pretty dangerous, but at least he was moving! Then the police started waving cars through, as I got to them them I yelled "where am I supposed to be???" They pointed and yelled back "LEFT, LEFT" turns out the bikes were SUPPOSED to use the left turn lane (and stay in that lane all the way til our turn off 281). A sign or volunteer telling us would have been really helpful, turns out most people had the same issue as me. I got over that issue pretty quickly and was happy as I rode to transition and saw Tom, Bart, Linda, Laura, Gina, and Justin who had done the sprint standing there eating BBQ! I finished the bike in 1:33:25 for a pace of 14.8mph, but honestly 15mph was a very arbitrary goal, and I wasn't upset even being so close (and even on Pre-Race!). My main goal of surviving and even enjoying the bike course was definitely a win!

T2 was 2:02  and as I left I ran by the crew again and told Justin "it's not fair that you're finished already!"
Starting the run. Photo by Bart Kleiman
I started the run feeling good, my legs didn't seem to be bothered by the hilly ride or by racing twice in the last week. I saw Allison O. in front of me again and I thought about sprinting to catch her, but I learned my lesson on the bike and decided I needed to run my own race. But I did get to pass both of the over 70 guys who passed me on the bike, I told one of them "wow, I hope I can be as fast as you when I'm 71!" My first mile was 10:04- probably a little too fast for a 4.4 mile run, so I slowed down a little and walked while getting water from the first aid station. I caught Allison and asked how she was doing, and she said she was hurting and having a tough day. I think we all have fun passing friends, especially those we think are a little faster, but knowing they're having a bad race just takes all the fun out of it. I offered her my emergency sport beans, but she didn't want them. I ran on and soon I saw Kim H. she seemed to be having a better day, so it was a little more fun to pass her, especially after she flew by me like I was standing still on the bike. I turned back onto the main road and saw Kelly K. going the opposite direction, then Kristen (who gave me a puke face when I asked if she was having a good race :(, then I saw Katherine who had the biggest smile on her face and replied "I'm having a GREAT race!" when I asked how she was doing- yeah! I also saw Carolyn & Annette on their way out. I really enjoyed the run, it was fun to see so many friends on the course and the volunteers were all really nice and super encouraging! Heading back into the park I passed Tri Zones corner then saw Lynn & Ed, and then up the STEEP hill to the finish with the TWCCers cheering and Tom taking pictures! Run time was 47:39 for a 10:49 pace- a little faster than my pace at Couples!
On the run, just before the steep hill at the finish. Photo by Ed Sparks
Finish line! Notice TWCCers cheering. Photo by Tom Marek
Finish! Photo by Tom Marek

 My overall time was 2:48:56, since this was my first ever Marble Falls Tri (and it's a unique distance) I didn't have an overall time goal, but I'll have one for next year now. My main goal of having fun racing with friends and enjoying the day was a huge success!

I hung out post-race and cheered in the other Tri Zoners and TWCCers, and watched quite a few from both teams get medals for placing in their age groups. Then I went to the famous BlueBonnet Cafe with the TWCCers for lunch and pie, and there might have been wine too (notice the turquoise solo cups!)
Bart, Annette, Katherine, Laura, Linda, me, Anne, Jody, Cindy, Kelly and Kristen at Bluebonnet Cafe post race. Photo by our very nice and patient waitress Stacey.

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